Darryl Smith @ Radioactive Networks: December 2005

Saturday, December 31, 2005

It is so beautiful up here on the central coast. I am in a house on the lake, and the breeze has been really nice. It did get slightly warm, but when the north-easterly breeze came things cooled down nicely. I went down to the waterline earlier whilst someone was fishing, but there were no fish biting... Then came some time in the pool - only a blow up pool about 60 or 70cm deep, but it was really refreshing. TOmorrow the plan is to visit the beach to swim in the surf. I am really looking forward to that!
I am now on the central coast... I know that my blog will be saying something different, but right now I am having to update that by hand since I do not have a tracker in my car at the moment. And right now I do not know what the Lat/Lon is so I cannot update things. Sure, I could work out where I was from looking at a map, but frankly I have better things to do right now. The drive up was fairly good. The only hassle was people doing 80km/h in the right lane on the F3 in the 110KM/H zone, but that is to be expected really. Traffic was not too bad either, but I am guessing that people will be coming up later, or came up yesterday.

I need to learn to stay away from record stores. I picked up a copy of a Tori Amos CD on special, and a also a Sophie Ellis Bextor one... I had been meaning to get the former since it was released. The latter I did not even know was available. Thankfully it was on special too.

Before signing off, there is a story about the NorWest precinct in the SMH. It details some of the design features of the area like lots of parking hidden by trees and loading docks hidden from the steet.
Yesterday when I took some cardboard and scrap metal (old computers) to the recyclers I dropped in at some shops to try to buy a cruise control unit. Try is the opperative word there unfortunately. I dropped in at Supercheap Auto. They had a good collection of stuff for sale but a distinct lack of staff. The response when I found someone was strange. They said 'if we have any left they will be by the CD players or in the glass cabinet', pointing to a glass case. Now, this glass case was locked and even if I had seen a cruise control in it then it would not have been possible for me to actually get it.

In the end they did not have any. Repco next door got a similarly strange reaction. Just the look of the salesman when I asked about it... Well, it was, um, strange. I got a look from the guy which said 'why would you come here looking for that'. Then I asked about a workshop manual for my car, and was told they didn't have one of those either.

There are reports from the SMH about how earbuds for MP3 players may be creating hearing loss with some users. What was not mentioned in the article is that iPods sold in the EU all contain modified software to limit the volume thanks to a french requirement. The FAA have also release a set of draft regulations for space tourism. This includes the possibility of a no fly list for passengers...

Friday, December 30, 2005

A site has been established for an internet connected weather station. It is based on the Netgear NSLU2 network storage applicance which can be purchased cheaply world wide. By attaching a Dallas Semiconductor 1-Wire Weather Station it sends the weather information to the 'net. This project is based on the Weather Underground side, which is sort of a competitor to the FindU.COM/CWOP system that I am more involved with.

News.Com.Au has a story about how a host of new laws are being introduced on Sunday. Mostly they refer to increased allowances for medicare and student allowances, totally missing the changes to a raft of legislation in NSW. I cannot for the life of me remember what is coming in, but I know there is a whole swag of changes coming in.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that when George W Bush finishes up in a few years after eight years they will hand over about 100 million email messages. This type of thing is creating a huge issue for the US Archives. The Archives is looking at technologies that can be used to keep the messages available in 20, 75 or 200 years. Having been involved with this type of thing for Pacific Power I can understand their issues. With Pacific Power all I needed to do was make sure that drawings were available a hundred years into the future, which was a problem for me when we needed to convert 250,000 drawings from a format that was unreadable by most pieces of software!

On a similar subject, the FBI is looking to hire IT experts to assist in upgrading systems to allow increased data warehousing and search engines.

And Computerworld has an article on 'What Tech Skills Are Hot For 2006'. According to their story, Developers, security experts and project managers will be in demand next year. Since i am a developer, this is good...

At times I have been a security expert too... Although I quickly gave that up since although it was an interest, I found it too hard to keep up. I did make some really good contacts, and once basically got offered a job at Cisco if I wanted it, but had to turn it down as I did not have anywhere the experience that they needed. Yes, there is a big story there, but not for this year! Maybe next year.
Last night I was watching the news I saw the results of the Sydney to Hobart race. They mentioned that the yacht AAPT had destroyed it's book making it to hobart, at a cost of $80k. They also noted that the skipper tended to drop out of the race and then win the Newport to Port Macquarie race. The interesting thing here is that the wife of the Skipper used to be my boss in Pacific Power at one stage.

Right now I am trying a program called AVI2DVD which converts AVI files to an ISO file ready to be recorded onto DVD. The one issue with this software is that the capabilities to pull seperate AVI files into a DVD player but does not break them down into the original AVI files...

Steven Speilberg has Outraged a the terrorist who masterminded the attack on the Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics. The terrorist was annoyed that Speilberg did not consult him on the new thriller movie named 'Munich' that Speilberg is working on.

The Economist has an article on 'Hacks', mostly at Universiry. This is a good read - and mentions an book about Hacks at MIT. I have two of the books from MIT about Hacks, and both are great reads. Hack's for information are fun things done mostly by students such as putting a complete car on the roof of a building...
I have had a really busy day today. This morning I did a few things around the house; jobs that really needed to be done such as replacing some shade cloth on the greenhouse, and replacing a nozzle in the kitchen. These went fairly quickly. The shade cloth was installation was much simpler since the fasteners were much sharper than the ones I had used in the past. 100 fasteners later it is installed - and alas no photo :-( The kitchen nozzle was interesting since there was putty under the fitting. I had seen that before, and I now realise it is an intentional trick... I just do not know why. Maybe to stop leaking or something.

I also installed a light in the garage that I had not got around installing the electricals for. It is now installed and working really well. So is the power point I replaced at the same time in the kitchen. It was cracked and needed replacing PDQ. So that also got done. Then there was a trip to the local recycling centre with a load of cardboard and some old computer cases. And thanks to this being recycling it was all free..

In the middle of all this I had a phone call from a friend from Pacific Power who lives on the water on the Central Coast. She invited me to stay with her and her husband up there New Years eve. This should be fun since I have not actually seen them since 2004, although we have spoken far more recently.

Anyway I have some paying work that needs to be done so I had better get that done...
Right now it is about 5:40AM and I have been awake for about 90 minutes I would guess. I woke up just after 4AM and I could just not get back to sleep no matter how hard I tried. So I am now writing here after doing a few other things. After all, if my blog can send it's readers to sleep, why can't it send its writer to sleep? And strangely, now that I have started writing here I am beginning to feel my eyelids feel heavy.

The SMH has a story about how a family worked out that their father was a bank robber, and turned him in once they realised that all the evidence was there. The sons comment was that they were raised by their father to act morally, and so in essence, he is responsible for sending himself to prision.

The SMH Business Section has an interesting article on the web is changing the travel industry and forcing many of the businesses to restructure their ways. This has been a continuing trend over the last few years it would appear. In the late 1990's I booked a couple of hotels in non-traditional (then) ways in the USA. In Atlanta I found a hotel on the Web using what was then a unique service allowing me to book my accomadation for any Atlanta hotel on a single WWW site. Then for Boston I worked out what hotel I wanted to stay at from the web, based on location and although the agent at this end was unable to pre-pay for it, they were able to book it.

Anyway I need to get some more sleep... Good Night!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Driving home I was thinking more on the odds of the Kentuky lottery. To pick the three numbers in order is one in a thousand. That is assuming that it is totally random for each number, and that a number is not removed each try (If it was, the odds would be 10 * 9 * 8, or 1-in-720). So the odds of having the same numbers three days in a row would be 1 in 1,000,000,000. Well, bit quite. The odds of having the same numbers two days in a row would be actually 1 in 1000 since the question we are asking is if two numbers are the same between two days, not that they were a certain number on the first day.

So for the same number on three days in a row the odds would be 1 in 1,000,000; but only if it must be those speific days. And this is what it is in most cases. It is not the case when you have a specific number sequence to find. Basic probability and statistics. But applying all this to the real world can get tricky...

Today the fuselage got a lot of rivets knocked into it. Maybe not a huge number, but a lot of fiddly triky ones got done. Sure, we needed to drill too many of them out, but overall it seemed to go really well. One of the final things we did today was to turn the fuselage over, up the correct way. I need to say that the fuselage is now really solid, and looks absolutly amazing. The undercoating inside looks amazing, and it will be soon possible to actually sit in the body and make the engine noises... I got a real sense of achievement over this milestone!
I found something interesting today... I was looking at the web site for Brazin, and found that they not only own In2Music and Sanity, and have some interests in Virgin music, but they also own HMV. The HMV is the interesting one. I had no idea that the were in any way related which is strange since I am a shareholder.Why I was even looking at their Web Site was that they also own Dusk. A friends daughter manages a store, and complaining that meetings for the company were held in Perth which puzzled me since Brazin was based in Bankstown. And he had no idea that Dusk was related to any other business. Unfortunately the shares in the group are under-priced, although with improved inventry control in stores I believe that the price should improve.

News.Com.Au is reporting that SOME 2300 guests have been evacuated from the Disneyland Grand Californian Hotel. This is one of the main hotels at Disneyland, and happened when a Christmas tree caught fire in the lobby. Two minor injuries were reported in the blaze, which broke out about 3am local time in an artificial, 10.5m tree at the 745-room hotel.
"It was electrical in nature. It was the lights on the Christmas tree," Anaheim Fire Department spokeswoman Maria Sabol said. The hotel sustained moderate water and smoke damage, and guests were allowed to return to their rooms within a few hours.
And the GoogleBlog has a story how one of their managers decided to buy about 130KG of silly putty as a reward to wmployees, but only then found out how impractical so much silly putty actually is.

And Comp.Risks reports that Kansas Lottery Picks Same Number Three Nights in a Row. The same three numbers (5-0-9) came up in the same order on 16, 17, and 18 Dec 2005 in the Kansas Lottery Pick Three. On the third night, many people
apparently chose 5-0-9, costing the lottery nearly twice what was paid in. Lottery security officials insist that the system was working normally.
More information is available here
I was thinking of going for a run this morning, but I had a choice between doing that and doing some paying work, and the paying work won. After all, being self employed I still need to make a living, even if this are quiet this time of year. The task last night, and continued this morning, was to write a small program to upgrade the software in the OzFlarm units I did the programming for. I need a small program to upload new copies of the firmware, which is what I have been working on.

The issue with the programming is that I am using VisualBasic version 6 since it creates much smaller programs, and will run on a bigger collection of PC's. But the compiler is missing many features, such as the advanced editor contained in the later versions of the language which help you program by suggesting code to you. Right now I am getting an error message saying it cannot connect to the hardware using the serial port I am telling it to use. The problem is that I am getting the same error message even on Com ports that are not on the computer, and that normally I would expect the software to ask me to reset the device. And I dont have this hardware with me either.

The SMH is reporting that the new Harry Potter book will be started early next year. I would guess that it will be released sometime early in 2007. They are also reporting on the baggage handling and related services associated with Sydney Airport. It would appear that Air New Zealand may be wanting to ditch Qantas in Sydney to save money. What I did not know was that when Qantas set up JetStar, they also set up a baggage handling organisation called Express Ground Handling, and with lower wages and poorer employment conditions. And this is just one of the ways they are able to reduce costs.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The BBC has a story noting that a survey has shown that Star Trek is the most missed series from TV. It is followed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Friends and Fawlty Towers. They are also reporting news being conducted in Scotland which is looking at answering the question , and I quote, 'does my bum look big in this?'. Four female models with various sized bottoms will wear different types of clothing as part of the research. The study will examine how designs, colours, patterns and fabric types affect perception.

Stripes in different directions are well known to affect the perception of weight and height. Patterns and colours are likely to affect perception in subtle ways too, as will the style of the clothing and many other factors. Correlating the results will be interesting to say the least.

According to Yahoo, Saudi telecom has stopped the SMS vote for Arab talent show. Saudi religious scholars last May condemned the hugely popular talent show aired by Lebanese channel LBC as a crime against Islam when a young Saudi returned to a hero's welcome after winning in the Lebanese capital Beirut. "The decision was taken last night because of a fatwa (religious decree) issued last year, since the program is culturally inappropriate," spokesman Humoud Alghodaini said.

I was re-reading the National Film Register's new entries, and noticed the one for the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Part of their comments in the press rerease are 'Words to remember: “It’s astounding, time is fleeting, madness takes its toll.”'. Rocky Horror has some interesting actors in it - Barry Barstow who plays the Mayor in Spin City across from Michael J Fox, and also Susan Sarandon.
More working on the plane today. So what did we get done, and what did we not get done? Well, firstly, we got a lot of the side skin riveted on attached to the forward metre or so of the side skin. This involved me sitting inside an upside down plane wearing ear muffs whilst richard was on the outside slamming in rivets with the rivet gun trying not to get a migrane. Sure, I have never had one, but I think now that I have some idea of what one might be like. Ear Muffs help, but when you can hear the radio in the background, you know that they only offer some protection.

Then after lunch we started on the floor, and getting it secured. More of me sitting in the middle of the plane, more coping with the hammering from the outside. This was fine until we got to the point on the plane where the floor attaches to the bulkhead that holds the wings on. Most of this was fine, but there were a few rivets that were absolutly horrible to hit. They would not behave at all. They simply would not work. Richard eventually sat inside using a small chissel whist I was the one outside making the noise. This worked mostly, apart from a single recalcitrant rivet that just would not go in! We ended up having to remove a bolt using a bizzare extension for the spanner to get access. In the end it worked. Tomorrow the plan is to get enough done to turn the fuselage over and make it into a huge cannoe, albeit with significant holes.

And in an important piece of technological legistlation, News.Com.Au>News.Com.Au is reporting that the there are amendments to the copyright act being made to allow recording to MP3 players and video recorders legally.

Finally, the Library of Congress has released it's list of this years 25 films for the US National Film Register. They have added 'Toy Story', 'Rocky Horror', 'The French Connection' and 'The Sting'. Not a bad collection of films...
It looks like Australia is going to get a non-cable TV video on demand download service thanks to QuickFlix, according to the SMH. This would be a real service to those with fast unlimited internet connections, but I have some doubts over the commercial success of this technology without some further work. I think that for this to work they would need to have partnering agreements with the major ISP's... Such as iinet, internode, Telstra, Optus and Westnet such that users on those ISP's did not have this traffic counted on their downloads.

I can just see a person on a 300 MByte/month plan downloading a 1-2 GByte movie (after compression) and then getting a $200 bill for excess bandwidth use. Try to tell me that will not happen. It will. Even if it is not intentional, it will be with some teenager who uses his parents credit card or account. Whilst I do not like such a service being restricted to an ISP, I think it would need to be set up so that you got tons of warnings if you were not with an ISP which they were peering against.

In Rome comes news that a Teacher is sueing because the trains in Italy are so unpredictable and are causing him stress. There are two things that Musolini did in Italy. He preserved a lot of the Roman architecture that was being destroyed by development. And he made the trains run on time!

Fibre Optics
I was having problems this morning downloading my mail, and logging into my server to do some work. I could not work out what was going on. Things just seemed slow - I was using WiFi, but everything else seemed to be working OK. Then I moved the laptop about a meter to the left, and things started working a whole lot better. I was wondering what was going on. Was this some strangeness that makes WiFi and the entire radio world an art and not a science?

Turns out this is not the case. I finally remembered that I had scheduled a job on the server that was using up bandwidth which finished at almost exactly the same time as I moved the laptop. It is strange how coincidences like that happen. And they do just happen. Anyway, thanks to WiFi and the like I can get my email and do work even if I am out and about.

One of the things that my brother bought me for Christmas was a book called 'Dumb Criminals' which is a hilarious list of the deeds by some crooks. Things like wearing a nametag to a robbery, or asking a uniformed police officer to hold the bottle of booze after an accident with the words 'take this before the cops turn up'. Much of the book was culled from the Dumb Crooks Web Site. I found the book an enjoyable read...

With the list of things to be done by people in 2006, or the predictions for 2006, is an analytical piece suggesting what microsoft needs to do to improve itself. I can see much gain if they implement this, but it would take much pain too...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What an interesting day... I spent a lot of time working on the plane today. It seems that we are finally getting somewhere on the fuselage. We got a whole lot of the front riveted on, and the firewall placed on the front ready to be riveted on tomorrow. At the end of the day tomorrow we should have most of the fuselage riveted on, at least on the lower level of the plane. Then there are a lot of internal things to be done, but it seems to be a real turning point on the project.

The LA Times has an article on how Hollywood should change things to get people back to the movies. This is things like removing the amount of advertising, and many other things. If all the suggestions ( and there are only 10) were implemented, I am sure that the entire movie industry would be improving. Then again some of the ideas are really radical. Forbes have an articles about 'Needies' which are Clingy, jealous, and possessive, Needies want nothing short of your undying love and attention--and they're prepared to fight one another to get it. And they use a wireless connection to communicate with each other.

And wired has the '2005 Foot In Mouth Awards'. The list is both short and inclusive. A would include some of the quotes but they are not as much use without the context of the quotes...
Last night when I was watching Love Actually my DVD player started really acting up. Firstly the DVD player crashed near the beginning of the movie. It just stopped playing DVD's. Then when I restarted the DVD player the audio had major issues noise on the audio, buckshot noise. Since the DVD player is about four years old am not surprised that it is on its way out. I bought this DVD player just before going to Hollywood on a consulting job, and it is rather large compared to the units on the market these days.

Thankfully I had a newer DVD player in the garage, so I swapped them. The newer one was an Audiosonic unit, and my mother had replaced it when it failed after 12 months. Then I managed to repair it by fixing the power supply. So right now I am finally getting some use out of the device. I might have a look inside the old DVD player and see if I can find out what is wrong with it.

It seems that the media is finally working out that there will be a leap second at the end of 2005. In Australia as mentioned before this means that we need to add the extra second at 11am on 1-January-2006.

Monday, December 26, 2005

I have just finished entering all my DVD's into DVD Profiler, and now actually know what I have in my collection. DVD Profiler's database did not have any knowledge of only one of my DVD's, and did not have cover art for another two. The one that it did not know about was 'Dishonoured Lady' staring Heddy Lamar. Given this movie is about 50 years old I am not surprised, but it is on DVD. [OK, so why do I have a movie this old and obscure? Well, she invented the technology I did my thesis on at Uni; the same technology in WiFi]

The two DVD's that did not have the cover art were 'Spinal Tap' and 'Teaching Mrs Tingle'. Both of these movies are not what I would call obscure. When I get a chance I will upload the art for these as well as the details for the Heddy Lamar movie.

The SMH has an article on the co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen. He is what would be called a quiet achiever I guess, just keeping out of the spotlight.
I have just finished watching Love Actually, and I forgot how much I loved the movie. I am not sure exactly why I like it - it might be the humor in it, or maybe the characters, or even the integration of the music. I can remember that I purchased a copy of the soundtrack a while back and I loved it. But the movie is so much better. With many movies the soundtrack is a poor copy of the movie. With this movie, the soundtrack is another part of the movie. One of the interesting parts is the number of pairings, and the interconnections. In many ways it competes with a movie like Lantana in terms of the interconnection of the plot.

I just loved Kris Marshall who plays Colin in this movie, who plays the idiot son Nick in My Family. Actually in this show he also plays an idiot, but is not so much of one...

PC World has an article on the 50 top gadgets of the last 50 years. The interesting thing is that the top gadget was the walkman followed by the iPod. This was followed by the HDD personal video recorder. These are technologies which are really important, although the PVR has yet to make an impact in Australia.
Batman Begins was an interesting movie to see - and explained all the details of the history of the batman franchise that I had never really thought about. The details on what drove Bruce Wayne to become batman. I should not really go into great details about the movie, but there was a great duality with good and evil. What is the right way to do good - and is it right to do evil to do good?

The other interesting thought was put forward at the end of the movie asking about who Batman/Bruce Wayne was - and what was the real mask. Was Batman the real person, and was Bruce Wayne wearing the mask, or was it the other way around? That is a great question that I am sure could be discussed for years.

When I was at Video Ezy renting this movie I also picked up a copy of Love Actually, and Crackerjack. Both are just classic movies. Crackerjack has Mick Malloy, Judith Lucy and a cast of so many other great australian actors. I have seen this movie a few times, and each time it reveals something new. I also love introducing the movie to people who have never seen it before - and seeing their reaction when I convince them to see a movie about lawn bowls. Just such a strange concept for a movie! And it works so well.
I had a look under the hood of my car today, and it would appear that getting access to the throttle cable will be fairly sinple if I want to add cruise control. What may not be as easy to get access to is the vacuum line assuming that I go for a mechanical unit rather than an electrical one. [They both work about as well as each other, but the mechanical ones are cheaper to build, and are therefore cheaper to buy]. Having access to the manual for the car would make the electrical wiring a lot simpler - particularly the brake lights.

So, now that I know that I can install the unit in my car, in the next few days I will just need to find an auto store to buy one. Tomorrow I will be working on the plane so I doubt that I will have a chance to get one then... Maybe later in the week. Then I just need to install it. [Oh, and the one part of the install that I am concerned about is the vacuum line - finding it and tapping into it may be a challenge. I have no idea where to even look at it.

I went down and rented a video from the local Video Ezy - 'Batman Begins'. There is a quote at the start of the movie that I like "...I dont care about your past. Just know that there are those who care about your future...".
I was thinking... What are my favourite christmas movies? That is movies about christmas, or set at christmas. My favourites. Now, let me start...

* Love Actually
I thought I had this on DVD, but I cannot find this. It is a movie that I think starts before the christmas season, but ends right at the christmas season, and it does have all the character of the meaning of chirstmas so it is on my list. In the next few days this will be added to my collection. The music plays an integral part of this movie.

* DieHard II
DieHard II is definitely at the oposite end of the spectrum, more towards an action movie rather than a romantic comedy. This sequel is set in Washington DC in Dulles Airport, and I can remember watching it a few days before flying into Dulles a few days before christmas. Not the wisest decision I have ever made, but it is an enjoyable movie none the less. And I do like the 'Let it Snow' at the end. DieHard I could have been added here but really it is not as good as the sequel.

* Home Alone
Adding this movie was simple and hard. I do not have a copy, but I did enjoy watching this movie for its pure slapstick comedy. What could be grander than seeing a young boy outsmart two dumb robbers - it is the stuff that cartoons are made of.

So that is my list of some of the best christmas movies, at least from my point of view. I actually found it hard to think up this list - and I thought it would be oh so easy. I was wrong.

And on the subject of the DVD library, I am looking at the DVD Profiler software from InterVocative. This software will manage your DVD collection including who you lend any DVD's to. I am looking at this software, and if it is worthwhile I might keep using it. I will see how that goes.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

I have been doing a slight bit of research on Cruise Controls when I have not been watching TV or reading... I found a Cruise Control unit that looks good for about $250. Doing a bit more reading I found out that K-Mart and AutoBarn often have the unit for unde $200. And from what I have read, the unit is not too hard to install. The main issue that I would have would be finding the vacuum lines. But that cannot be too hard, can it?

I believe that there is now a service manual for my car which would make some things a bit easier, like identifying the break light wire, and things like that. The main hassle with this unit is actually attaching a magnet to one of the drive shafts to measure the speed of the vehicle, so that the cruise control has something to match it to. I will look around in the next few days at where I can get a unit from. Then comes the fun of installing it.

The BBC is reporting that Winnie The Pooh celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday... Tomorrow I will be having a relaxing day to home. I will probably be reading, but I will see how it goes. I might end up borrowing a few videos... That is tomorrows challenge though...
I am now back home after visiting a couple of chrismas parties. First was visiting my father's at Marsfield just behind Macquarie University. I drove there by the M7 and then the M2, and got there rather quickly. I think I saved about 15 minutes by going that way. The hardest part was trying to keep to the speed limit on the M7. I think i will look at putting cruise control into my car. I believe that you can get DIY kits to fit this - how hard can it be to install it?

When I got to my fathers I found it was only myself, my father, his wife and an my brother there today, so I guess things were a bit quieter than I was hoping. Unfortunately none of my uncles/aunts were there, and neither were any of my cousins. Pity really. Speaking to my father, he might need to spend more time in Indonesia than he was planning. He was informed on friday that there is another project that he might need to put some time into over there too, although the exact start date of that is aparently an issue at the moment. But he is definitely leaving for Indonesia tomorrow.

Christmas dinner was what I would call non-traditional. We had pad thai, Pad Khi Mau Gai, some thai soup, prawns and BBQ ribs. There was also ham in the fridge which did not get eaten, and neither did the christmas pudding. Lunch was nice though...

Following that I drove back, and spent an hour with a family from the church which was good... Followed by coming home and exchanging presents with my brother and mother. And then there will be dinner tonight when we work out what we want.

Today has been good... although I think a few more people at some of the parties would have made things even more enjoyable... Right now it is time to put the PC away I think...
I guess the first thing I should say here is Merry Christmas. I have not had my visit from Santa Clause yet, so we will have to wait until later for that. Today I am visiting my father after church and having christmas lunch with him. Then I am having dinner with my brother and mother. And the plan for tomorrow is to visit some friends for Boxing Day. And sometime in the next week I need to visit my grandmother at her nursing home too... I am not sure who will be at my fathers - I am hoping that some cousins and other relatives will be there too...

I am just updating my iPod with a smart playlist with all the christmas songs I have on it... That will be good for driving over to dads, extending the christmas spirit... I just did a search of all the songs containing the word christmas in the title or the album and made an auto-playlist. I might add more songs later if I can find more, but that will be a good start.

The SMH has a story on the Scientific Discoveries of the last year. I had missed most of them, but although they were important, they were not all that much of interest to me. Nasa has been testing a new meteor detection telescope for the moon and managed to detect a metior hitting the moon on its first day out. Not a bad trial... It hit the moon with the force of about 70kg of TNT. They think it left a crater about 3m wide and 40cm deep, with the metior being about 12Kg.
I should have published this last night, but I forgot. This is a classic poem, which was released 20 years ago this month. It is an official internet standard, and you can read it all here.

Twas the night before start-up and all through the net,
not a packet was moving; no bit nor octet.
The engineers rattled their cards in despair,
hoping a bad chip would blow with a flare.
The salesmen were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of data nets danced in their heads.
And I with my datascope tracings and dumps
prepared for some pretty bad bruises and lumps.
When out in the hall there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.

There stood at the threshold with PC in tow,
An ARPANET hacker, all ready to go.
I could see from the creases that covered his brow,
he'd conquer the crisis confronting him now.
More rapid than eagles, he checked each alarm
and scrutinized each for its potential harm.

On LAPB, on OSI, X.25!
TCP, SNA, V.35!

His eyes were afire with the strength of his gaze;
no bug could hide long; not for hours or days.
A wink of his eye and a twitch of his head,
soon gave me to know I had little to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
fixing a net that had gone plumb berserk;
And laying a finger on one suspect line,
he entered a patch and the net came up fine!

The packets flowed neatly and protocols matched;
the hosts interfaced and shift-registers latched.
He tested the system from Gateway to PAD;
not one bit was dropped; no checksum was bad.
At last he was finished and wearily sighed
and turned to explain why the system had died.
I twisted my fingers and counted to ten;
an off-by-one index had done it again...

An update is available here

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Twas the Night Before Christmas, and I started thinking... Who have I forgotten to buy a present for. Then I remembered... I have not got anything for my best friends dog. Hmm... What could I get her? Hmm. Well, looking at TheRegister reviels that you can now get a PDA for a dog! Yes, for about US$30 you can get PDA's for man's best friend. You can enter your pet's schedule for things such as vet appintments, medication, playdates in the park, grooming etc. It can store contacts for the vet, groomer and the like, and even a picture of the dog. And it even has an index of pet-friendly motels.

This is just what you need for the modern pet. The only problem is that I dont think I can get one into the country by monday. Not much hope at all I would guess. Actually, make that no hope.

The RFS has placed their database of Current Incidents online. This is a better way to find out about local fires than the paper or news reports which are somewhat inaccurate.

I found some strange instructions on the net... How to convert a compressor into a pedal powered compressor. Just what you need to get exercise at the same time as using power tools! And the SMH has a story on Narnia.
Right now it is Christmas Eve, so I guess it is time to send out my electronic christmas letters... So here it is. At this point I really should wish everyone a safe and merry christmas, and a productive new year... I write a letter like this each year, but this is the first time it has appeared online... I might try to put some old ones online at some stage, but not today. Anyway, here goes the letter...


The first thing I should say is Merry Christmas to all… I guess that is the one thing I forgot to say in the first draft of this Christmas letter, with so much to tell you about. With that out of the way, lets’ start with the real content.

As is normal I tried to start this letter quite early… Some of it was actually started on the 25th of July, a date commonly connected with ‘Christmas In July’ parties. At the time I thought about sending out a letter mid-way through the year in addition to my normal ‘Christmas Letter’. So much had happened since my last letter, but work caught up on me. So in the end I did not get a chance to get the letter out then.

Some people might be wondering why I have been quiet at times recently. Let me take you back to last years letter where it was noted that I was dating someone. At the time I said that I had no idea what the future would bring. I had my ideas, but as much as they were right, they were also wrong.

Just after I wrote my Christmas letter and put it into the letter box last year, we got engaged. We were both so happy about this, and were really excited as to what the future would bring. This made the entire festive season far more meaningful for me than it had been for many years. And Christmas became such a special celebration for us both.

Unfortunately, things were not that simple, with the breakup of the relationship in the second half of January. We decided that going our separate ways was the best thing for both of us. This was a really hard decision, but in retrospect I believe it was the right decision.

The first couple of months were really hard for me, but things were made easier by my family and friends. Their support was invaluable, allowing me to go through the process of getting over the split. But it is amazing how things happen so perfectly at times. When I made the split public, I sent an email to a friend in New Zealand saying that the engagement was off, and that I was planning escaping for a few days, probably finding a beach somewhere.

Within a few minutes the wife of my friend in New Zealand had seen the email and invited me to stay in the guesthouse of their hobby farm just north of Auckland. How could I turn that down. It was so peaceful over there, and it was just what I needed. A serene farm in the New Zealand countryside with broadband access! The farm is just around the corner from where they shot the outdoor scenes to the new Narnia movie.

On top of the fantastic location I also got several Steinway piano recitals daily during my break. And had the chance to once again go riding on some beautiful horses, an offer I needed to turn down thanks to my inability to be able to actually ride a horse.

To be totally honest, much of the rest of the beginning of 2005 is a blur for me. Recovering from the breakup took much time and effort, and heartache. Following the distraction of my mother’s cancer last year, the distraction of the breakup was something I could have done without.

Professionally, I have been further developing my TeamTrack product into a more professional software package. I have also completed an advanced GPRS based tracking unit – both doing the hardware design and the software as well. Of course there have been the occasional issue with it, but generally things are going really well with it, with hundreds of my unit out in the world.

In the first half of the year I set up a business to commercialize the technology that is being developed by my business. This is now starting to come online and pay some dividends.

September took me to the USA once more for the TAPR Digital Communications Conference. With work commitments, I decided to only stay in the USA for a week, but I made sure that I made the most of this week. The conference was in Santa Ana which is just south of Los Angeles, which meant that I was able to visit Disneyland whilst I worked off the jetlag. Well, that is my official justification.

Disneyland was great, particularly since this was the 50th anniversary of the opening of the park, meaning that they were celebrating more than normal [Disney has turned their theme parks into a constant party, and will celebrate what they can in order to make their guests feel special. So they have continual anniversaries. 100th Anniversary of Disney’s birth. 25 years of Walt Disney World. 75 Years of Mickey Mouse. You get the idea]. And being September, there were no long lines of people waiting to get in. This really is an amazing time to visit the place. Not too hot and not too cold, although I did get sun burnt my first day.

The conference in Santa Ana was brilliant. I was there for the TAPR board meeting, the DCC Conference, and to meet on of my resellers. I ended up giving two talks/lectures and did a lot of talking. The downside was that I had picked up a mild cold and so I did not enjoy this as much as I could have. My travel diary is available on my Blog if anyone missed it.

October and November I did some work on a collision avoidance system for gliders. This was a challenge at times, but was actually really interesting. It has been good to do some good for the world at large. You see Gliders are somewhat prone to fly into each other, and anything that can make them safer is a godsend. In November I went up to the NSW Glider Championships at Lake Keepit, and we tested the hardware and software successfully. There were some minor issues, but generally things went really well. And I managed to get a flight in a Jabiru light plane, as well as a two seat glider.

To be honest the glider did scare me a bit. Not the fact that there was no engine, but the fact that there were so many other gliders so close. I was glad to be back on the ground.

In my spare time I have been busy working on ‘The Plane’ with my friend Richard. We now have both wings essentially finished, and the fuselage is slowly getting put together. Richard is hoping for a first flight at the beginning of July 2007, subject to time commitments of course. I actually find the work on the plane quite relaxing and stimulating at the same time. It is something different, and I am enjoying building the plane.

Richard and I often joke that he is going to have to help me build a four seat version of this plane once we get his running. Whilst this would be a bigger project, it would probably take less time than this plane thanks to the experience of building this plane. I would never start such a project without a pilots license, and this is something that I have not yet decided to do.

Anyway, that is my life in a nutshell for the last year. There is more of course, but I think this makes a nice summary. So, what is tomorrow going to bring for me? I have no idea. The Chinese have a saying that goes

‘May you live in interesting times’

The one thing that I am sure of is that I my life will be full of interesting times. Merry Christmas to all, and God bless.

I ended up going to see Harry Potter this morning. I arrived at the local shopping centre at about 8:30, and managed to find a really good parking spot about 10m from one of the entrances. Just perfect. Then I did a bit of window shopping - although most of the shops were not open yet so I looked around Big W and picked up some DVD's that were on special. More shopping once all the shops opened.

Then I wandered over to Cinema. This is not as easy as it sounds. I needed to ask the Customer Service desk how to get to the cinema. I knew where the cinema was, but I did not know how to get there since they had just opened some extensions to the shopping centre, closing the normal entrance to the cinema. I eventually found my way to the cinema by walking through the car park. I am told that this is the main entrance, at least until they are finished with the renevations.

Then I got into the cinema. There were only about 10 people in the room, which seated about 200. This is not really a good utilization, althouh I guess that most people are more worried about doing other things on Christmas Eve! During the advertising at the beginning with still slides something obviously went wrong, and there was only a white screen. I think this is a bit of an oops.

So how was the movie? It was good. It was certainly darker than the others, and the main characters are definitely older and more mature. It appears that they are more than 12 months older than in the previous movie... Or maybe they just had a huge growth spurt... Not sure. Anyway you look at it, the characters are growing up, both in real life, and in the movie.
I know it is too damn early to be up. But I could not sleep, and rather than stay in bed just contemplating life, well, here I am. Sitting here, thinking about finishing off watching 'Crimson Tide' from last night, and deciding if I will battle the hoards by going to see the latest Harry Potter movie. After all, how bad can it be? Actually, don't answer that question. I know the answer to that question... It will be bad. But if I go early I don't suppose it will be too bad. One thing I found looking at the Greater Union Web Site is that you can pre-order your snacks as well as your tickets. One more thing to delay getting your ticket on the express line. Or am I just being slightly cynical there?

Being Christmas Eve I found a story on the News.Com.Au web site about how Burundi is encouraging their citizens to artificial trees rather than using pine or fur trees, in order to protect the environment. Back when I was still at Uni I was doing a summer at Wallerawang Power Station just past Lithgow. They had a pine eradication programme as a way to promote the growth of native plants. So that year I managed to cut down my own christmas tree... Really cool, and environmentally friendly.

My iPod was playing up yesterday. It would not turn off, and even the screen menu to turn it off did not help. And the reset keys did not help either. Since it would not turn itself off it eventually ran out of power meaning that it gave itself a hard reset when it ran out of battery power. It is now being charged so that it will soon be healthy again.

Friday, December 23, 2005

In the News.Com.Au there is a story noting that Indonesia is in a high state of alert in the leadup to christmas and new year. As my father is leaving on Boxing day for 10 days over there for work I am slightly concerned. Sure the country is really large, and it is highly unlikely that anything will happen but there is still that chance. I guess I will find more out about his trip on Christmas Day.

StormForcePictures has a recipie for fake glass, commonly known as sugar glass. Basically it just involves sugar, water and golden syrup. The ingredients just need to get cooked together and cooled in whatever shape is requird. I am not sure if I will ever need this recipie but it is a cute thing to have in the background should the need ever arise.... Who Am I kidding? I will never need this. But it is cute to know anyway.

Right now I think it is time for bed. I have been watching the movie 'Crimson Tide' which is a submarine type movie by the same people as 'Top Gun'. The movie is slightly dated, but is not too bad. I am enjoying it. But right now I need to get some sleep.
The SMH has an article on John Spencer who plays Leo McGarry on The West Wing. Spencer died about a week back, and was one of the main characters in the show. But the show must go on... so the article describes how that may happen.

Now, I am not a fan of grafitti... It generally looks horrible, and is a waste of space and takes too many resources to clean up. However, one thing that does look cute is Grafitti woollen rug available from ToyCulture. The large red and blue wildstyle rug looks the best I think, and is a limited edition. I dont think I would actually buy one though.

Yahoo has a story about the hassles that the US Vice President had during a recent trip getting his iPod charged whilst in the air. Most of the power outlets on the plane were dead, and the media was trying to share the outlets. So some negotiation needed to be done between the media and the Vice Presidents staff to get his iPod charged.
Ahh, that feels better... A quick shower and some food, and I feel more human. A lot more human. On the plane I did a whole lot of riveting, or more correctly I was the sucker inside the plane bucking the rivets. This invloves holding a piece of metal on the inside of the metal plane whilst someone on the outside hits it with the rivet gun. This of course make a lot of noise, particularly if you are the one inside the plane. Wearing ear muffs certainly help, but it is loud.

I only messed up a few of the rivets. Given the fact that I was in the middle of the plane and and there were bulkheads in the way I had the keep crawling in and out the plane. And spent a lot of time kneeling on a cushion to get the right height. The good thing was that the fuselage tended to concentrate the air from the fan to keep me cool.

Next week we are planning to do a whole lot more on the plane. We might even get the plane to a state where we can sit in it and make plane noises... Sounds fun...
I have just got home after a long day... Firstly working at North Ryde on a project, and then more work on The Plane. Basically today we riveted the plane halves together and it created what seems to be a pretty solid plane... The fuselage seems to be solid which is great. We were both surprised at how solid it became.
Yesterday afternoon I watched some more episodes of the BBC's Rough Science show. This is really an addictive show which I love. I keep trying to work out what I would do if I was placed in the show in place of one of the contestants. How would I react if I was in the situation, or how would I solve the problem. And is there a better way to solve the task?

I was thinking about how this program was filmed too... The six episodes are shot in six weeks, and each episode is three days long. Therefore there are about four days between shooting each show. I would guess that each week the cast have at least one day off. Some of the other days I think involves research and working out what additional materials they might need to be given. Much as I would like to think that the entire show was planned without the scientists having any idea of what they would be getting, I just do not think that it works that way.

All in all, I would love to be involved with a show like this. Ironman did have the tropical location, and I did manage to go swimming in the sea, something that I have not managed very often since then. I guess I just like the whole idea of combining science and technology with nature. And solving problems, whatever they are.

I was reading Blogs.MSDN.Com and found a link to an interesting article on XML. Most people will find it boring, and I think I do to, but I suspect that one day I will need it, and will find out about it to my horror. XML is a way that you can store data in a long string to be sent through a communications network, and recontruct it at the other end. Unfortunately under .NET the string can get corrupted intentionally with carriage returns and linefeeds where they were not originally. This article describes how to fix this problem.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Independant in the UK is reporting that the UK is attempting to track every car journey in the country. They are intending to track usage of not only the motorways, but also traffic cameras and local CCTV cameras. This is a worying development, and seems to be the end of personal privacy. It is one thing to choose to place a GPS in a car. It is another to have it forced onto you...

The LA Times has a story about how the LAPD have just blown up 25 KG of dynamite after a standoff. They worked out that this was safer than trying to move the explosives. They are also reporting that the seaplane that crashed in Florida during the week had undetected cracks with the wing spans. What I found interesting was that the plane was actually built in 1947 so the plane was quite old.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting on a dinner party with the heads of Yahoo, Google and Microsoft email systems. Good read.
I have just got back from doing some work for a friend. This time just as I was about to leave he gave me some extra work. And since this work was really quick I was glad to do it - given that we had previously negotiated a rate per unit rather than per hour. So for once I come out ahead. Unfortunately the work over at North Ryde is not on today so I get to have the afternoon here in my office doing other stuff.

News.Com.Au is reporting that the Baggage System at Sydney airport has lost over 7000 bags this month. By lost, they mean it has delayed this number of bags, and they have probably eventually got to their owners. Baggage systems are notorious for not working. Searching for information on the Denver baggage system will show that it cost the airport far more money than the value of the system. If anyone can build a reliable baggage system they will take the world by storm. Until then the most reliable seems to be to use people for much of the system.

It is interesting to see what people being charged with sending SMS messages over the cronulla riots are being charged with. They are not being charged under the new crimes act, but the telecommunications act, and are being charged with using a carriage service to create a menace, harass or cause offence. This is really unusual since it is very rare that people are charged under this act. In fact when the police broke the act a few months ago nothing happened despite it making the front page of the SMH.
Summer Solstace today... The longest day of the year. Unfortunately that means that the days get shorter from hear on.

Also I got a purchase order for a decent number of tracking units overnight... I am really happy... I guess I can afford to eat this year :-)
There is a really really cool show from the makers of 'Beyond 2000' on Discovery and SBS called 'Mythbusters'. Actually this show is also shown on Qantas flights too, and is really really cool. The concept is that there are these two special effects people from Los Angeles who just work on busting myths. Things such as dubuking free energy designs on the Internet, proving that 40 fireworks bolted to a chineese throne would not get the person sitting on it shot into space, or even turning a car into a remote control car and putting a rocket onto it to prove it will not fly.

Anyway, SlashDot has an 'Ask Mythbusters' article where the two presenters are asked questions from readers of the site. The questions and the detailed responses are really cool, and show how much these guys really do love their work. You can read the responses here.

I think reality TV has gone slightly too far... But in an interesting way. There is a show on in the USA called Project Runway which appears to be a show where people need to design outfits to be used on a fashion parade runway. There is also a blog for Diana Eng who is one of the contestant - and somewhat of a nerd who loves to put technology into the clothes she designs. Coule be an interesting show to watch.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I got an email from Thailand earlier today. Rather a strange one... The email is :-
I am interested in tracking loss object e.g. stolen gun with kms range. The technique can be GPS tracking or anti tracker as your advertised system with reasonable price. Pls. suggest products that suitable for my application
Well, there are some minor problems. Firstly if you want a few km range you need battery power. And battery power means size. And a GPS receiver needs size too. And GPS means you need to see the sky. And if you were steeling a gun wouldnt you just remove the GPS tracking unit from it. Basically the response back was that there was nothing that would meet his need.

I have been watching some of the BBC called Rough Science. This is a sort of a bizzare combination of Survivor and McGuyvor or some other science show or junkyard wars. Basically they place about six scientists on a desert island, or in somewhere else in nature and force them to work together to solve tasks. And these involve taking things out of the lab and building them with old technology. Like developing sunscreen cream, dyeing fabrics, measuring the weather or even building an electric light for use under water.

I am assuming that the event is catered, but there is generally no or limited electricity or other technology... Generally only what was left when whatever user of the buildings they are using left behind. I really would love to participate in this type of a TV show... I love solving problems, and I think I would work well on this type of event. Unlikely that I will ever get the chance, but you never know...

Just checking the weather on the SMH for christmas day reveals that it has been cancelled. Well, not quite cancelled, but there is weather for wed, thurs and fri. And then the predictions for monday to wednesday. Someone has just forgotten christmas day.
Remote Desktop has some interesting implications. I need to do a demo at a client site soon. This is a complex demo with a number of pieces of technology which all must work together. So rather than haul another laptop into the client I just installed the client on one of my servers using remote desktop. Then I can run the software and the client just needs to provide a machine with internet access... Or I provide wireless. Whatever. Either option will work. And I can have the software just sitting there waiting for me to log back on. No having to log off... It just sits there. And just works.

One of my clients suggested an obvious feature in my TeamTrack software today. He thought it would be a good idea to see where people start and stop their vehicles on a map. That is such an obvious idea I am wondering why I never thought of it. When I reworked the reports a week back I did made the reporting engine more useful so it could return a datastructure with the information needed for this type of work pre-processed. There was only about an hours work needed to add start and stop points to a map like what appears below. FYI, this person (who I will not identify) stopped at this shop for about 70 minutes earlier today. I am guessing that they also got lunch there as well as getting provisions.

Finally, News.Com.AU has a travel section feature on places with names so famous you would swear that you had been there. Strangely I have actually been to one... MONTEZUMA...
I had a card from a former workmate today... Letting me know in verse what had happened during the last year with his family. Not quite in iambic pentameterbut close. Anyway news there was that his son, Tim Addison, had been drafted to the Western Bulldogs with the AFL. Knowing how much his father loves AFL I can only guess how proud he is.

Google has released their 2005 Zeitgeist list which details the most popular searches during the year in a number of categories, and plots their use over the year. This is an interesting piece of social history. O'Reilly also has a story that delatils how to use Google as a proxy to bypass corporate filewalls on various sites

News.Com.Au is reporting about a New Zealand fishing trawler that managed to capture a giant squid. The squid is now frozen in a block of ice and on show in Melbourne. Meanwhile, News.Com.Com have released a story about how a shop selling modded X-Box's in the USA has been raided. This activity would have been legal here in Oz. What would not have been legal would be the copied games on the XBox that the mod-chip allowed.
One of the cute features of Google is the ability to type an equation into the search engine and get it to give you back the results. You know, the sort of thing that you would normally do on a pocket calculator, or on the Windows calculator, or even maybe excel. Since I normally have a web browser open, and never have calculator open I generally find it faster to just use google. Sure, you need to be online, but these days that is normally whenever I am at my PC.

I dont think I mentioned this yesterday but I did managed to get some time on the treadmill, but not as much as I hoped. I only did about 15 minutes, having been interrupted again with a phone call. I will have to use the treadmill more often - it seems like a great way to get my phone to ring. Yesterday I actually answered the phone whilst I was still working out and the person on the other end asked if I was out and about, knowing that my phone diverts when I am not at home. He heard the background noise and made some assumptions.

Scientists in the UK believe that they have finally found the Beagle II Space Craft which appears to have crashed on Mars a couple of years back. From the grainy images they have deduced that the sandstorms probably caused the parachutes not to work as well thanks to a reduction in air pressure causing a hard landing. Having seen the image, they are better than me at working out what happened.
Where to start... I think I am going out to lunch today with a friend who I think needs some christmas cheer. I have a number of other things that I need to get done today, but I think this one has just jumped to the top of the to-do list unfortunately. Argh.

I think I mentioned a few days back about a reality TV show where the contestants thought they were on a space mission. Well, the 'Space Cadets' were rather unimpressed to find out they were still in the UK and had not left. The fact they had just been goven 25,000 pounds each helped, but they were a tiny bit annoyed. They begin to feel that something was not quite right when they needed to hold an event for a russian dog called 'Mr Bimby'.

Escape in News.Com.AU has a list of 11 presents you can get for travellers. Some of them are a bit out there, but there were two that caught my eye. There was a pin-hole camera which is not at all useful in these days of digital cameras, particularly at $310. It looks nice in wood and brass, but is not at all useful. The guide also listed a book called 'The Map Book' which described the history of map making.

Another book that looks interesting is DroidMaker which describes the history of Pixar over the last 20 years. I have just ordered this book - it looks so good... I also picked up a book on Tracking of Apollo which I had been meaning to get. According to Amazon.COM these books should be here in 11-16 days.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The SMH has a review of the year that was 2005. It is a good review of things from the AUstralian perspective. It was a good read. CNN has a story about the greek airliner earlier this year. A recreation was done yesterday, and it appears that one of the stewards was flying the plane for at least 10 minutes using portable oxygen. Investigations are continuing.

A government organisation in Sweeden has provided a Web Site that describes how womens magazines photoshop pictures to make the women look more attractive (and less natural). It is a good review of the techniques used which is why I was looking at the page.

Back to the programming... I worked out that there are about 33 different source code files in my TeamTrack application. This is a lot of code. And it is even mostly bug free.
I was going to post this on sunday but I forgot. And then forgot again when I mentioned about the drunk sailors earlier today. Anyway, Sunday was one of those occasions that I wish I had a camera. I was driving on the Old Northern Road in Castle Hill and I saw probably what could only happen in Australia. Just picture this...

Imagine a guy in his 40's walking on the footpath... It must be in the high 20's outside so it is a bit warm, and there is not too much shade. This guy is wearing a full santa suit, and looks like he is walking to the bus stop or something like that. Except for two things. The first is that his top was open exposing his bare chest. And the second was that we was talking on a cellphone. It just looked so, um, Australian. Like I said, I wish I had a camera.

My week is filling up... Thursday I need to visit Eastgardens and then North Ryde. Friday and Saturday I might be working on the plane. And then sunday... Ah, yes. I almost forgot. Christmas day. Lunch with my father and his wife, and dinner with my mother and brother. And probably veging out on monday... I had better leave things here... The Simpsons is about to start and I want to do a tiny bit more work
I have managed to get all of my christmas presents by now. I have friends who I know are still looking... It can be hard to find the perfect gift for someone. Thankfully I have had a fairly easy time - And I think my gifts will go down really well. The SMH does have an idea for those who have everything. It is Gold Plated Chocolate. Yes. 24 carat gold. And since it is so pure it is edible. This must be the ultimate indulgence. And chocolate is one of the five major food groups.

Nature Magazine tells of a rescue mission in a lab in the USA. According to the article, a radioactive sample got snagged in a delivery chute and was emiting deadly radiation. So deadly in fact that it knocked out a robot that had been sent in to save the day. On the third attempt the robot was actualy able to fix the problem, but only after a three week delay in planning.

Slate magazine has an article on why it is not a good idea to buy a dog for christmas. It makes interesting reading as to the ethics of buying a dog, and how one should go about it. I guess if everyone reads this article and heeds the advice then I will not be getting 'Byte' until next year :-)
People who are now reading this from the newest entry first will be wondering what I am talking about here... Well, I mentioned earlier I was having a problem with some hardware and software. Things were almost working, but not quite. I could not work things out. Nothing was making sense. Nothing at all. A few years back I bought a serial analyser. It cost me about $500 and I have not used it all that much. But there are times when it saves me so much time and effort. These days I use the hardware with the SerialSniffer software since it is at least windows based.

Anyway, what the Serial Sniffer does is allows me to see what is happening on a serial link in both directions at once. What I found was that the data coming in through the serial port was not being 'seen' by my software until a carriage return was sent. This was a revelation! It took me probably an hour of programming to fix this problem, but I have just got it working. Another case of a lot of time wasted, but lots more saved thanks to having the right tools on hand.

One other strange thing with the piece of software that I am working on there is that it needs to be manually recompiled each time I make changes to the code. This threw me for a while until I worked out that was what was happening. I will have to work out why this is happening - obviously it should not be. I suspect it might be related to installing the new version of VB.NET. We will have to wait to see if any other projects have the same issue.

Right now I should get back to programming...
ARGH! I am trying to debug two pieces of my own code running on three different computers interfacing to another piece of software, with two serial links, one of which goes to another computer, and via many network links. And of course something is playing up. And it looks simple, but I cannot quite work out what is happening. What makes it worse is that it is *ALMOST* working. It must be something simple. Must be.
For some reason I have been waking up a bit earlier than normal for the last few days. Not sure why that is... It would be nice to get more sleep, but I can cope. I guess it is because the sun has been rising earlier as we reach the equinox in the next couple of days. [Christmas was supposed to be on the Equinox on the 21st or 22nd, but someone made a mistake with the math which is why it is on 25th December today]

Australian IT is reporting that Federal Authorities have told Carl Scully that SMS messages used to induce riots at Cronulla can be traced. Legally a warrant, or probably a series of them, would be needed in order to trace the SMS as it went from person to person to find the source, and then trace it as it went back out. This is of course assuming that records exist of SMS messages once they are sent. From what I have heard they are kept at least a week in case of billing enquiries. And the headers saying where the SMS was sent from and to is kept longer - although access to all this information is tightly controlled.

The Register is reporting that up to 40 drunken santas have terrorised Auckland with their antics. Sounds like the plot to a sequel to 'Bad Santa'. Australian newspapers are also reporting that the National Geographic show which found the Japanese sub from WWII just found a sandbar in the shape of a sub. Not quite what they were looking for....

Monday, December 19, 2005

I spent a tiny amount of time working on VB.NET 2005 today. Not much, just enough to know that a few things have changed may cause me problems when I move from 2003. Mostly the issues that I had with normal applications was simple things such as just needing to be more explicit with the types of data now. I think the improvements will be worth it, but it will take some getting used to. Upgrades like this normally do need some time to get used to things. I got my TeamTrack Software to fully run, with all plugins within minutes. I am impressed.

One thing I have not found yet is the ability to create a new project in a directory of my choosing. I am sure that it is there, just that I have not found it yet. Failing being able to find it I will email Microsoft and see if they have any ideas.

According to the SMH, Delta Electricity has been the subject of an extortion attempt. The extortionist threatened to blow up one of the power stations. This is particularly of interest to me since I used to work for the organisation. Another interesting article on describes how a Ham operator detected the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) about 45 million KM away from earth.

The ACMA have formally proposed a new number range for VoIP services. They are suggesting that (05) 50xx xxxx be used for these type of service where the people are not interested in geographic numbers.
Ok. This is the second go at this entry. The last time IE locked up. Well, it probably did that for a reason, but let me explain. Microsoft VisualStudio 2005 arrived today by FedEx as a part of MSDN. It is something that I have been wanting to try for some time but which I have not had a chance to look at. Well, that is only partially true. I also did not want to be developing using it until it was released and stable. Now that it is released I decided to install it.

The install program said it was a 2.8 GByte install. That is one big program. Or actually a series of programs. But no matter what way you look at it this is BIG. Why is it so big? I dunno. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it also includes a new version of the .Net framework as well as a whole host of Windows CE stuff. Whichever way you dice it, VisualStudio 2005 is BIG. I dont think that the 2.8 GBytes includes the 1.8 GBytes for the full install of the MSDN library.

The install is not short, and the second half actually killed Internet Explorer and caused the computer to go into what seemed like single user mode without the ability to do anything else whilst the software was installing. So that is why this entry is being re-written. I am about to install the MSDN, and I will see if that is any better.

I will only provide one link in this entry... Cryptome has an article about how the president of the USA has broken the law by listening in on Americans without going though the FISA court to approve things. I suspect that this story is going to get bigger in the next few days...

Anyway, time to post this entry so that I can continue to install!
I have managed to get some exercise on the treadmill - 3km and 25m30s. Once more this was interrupted by phone call, but that seems to be about normal unfortunately. Maybe I will just have to start exercising a bit earlier in the day. Unfortunately I like to get some work done before having a break to do stuff like that. Mind you, I am feeling really great, and I might actually even be more productive if I did some exercise before starting work.

I have shipped what is hopefully the release version of the code for the glider collision detection system. There were some human factor issues which came up during testing on the weekend, and so I needed to make some changes. Just working out when a Green LED should be changed to Red. Simple change, but important none the less. And not being a pilot I really could not argue with the philospohy.

I got more of the TeamTrack stuff done this morning. I now have my software sitting there just checking the database every 15 minutes to see if any reports need running, and then running any that are needed. It now runs reports until it does not need to run any more reports. That is if it did a daily report for a day 10 days back, it would then check if it needed to do one for 9 days back. And despite a bug during testing, it will now finish sending them out when it gets to todays date. Next trick is some GUI stuff, for editing when reports get run, and what they do. This should be fairly simple.

And then there is the Web Service. I have heard back from microsoft on my issue. They are interested in it since no one else has reported this issue. So I really need to upgrade my VisualStudio in the next day or two, and I might also need to give Redmond access to my Laptop to play with for a few hours remotely. We will have to see how that goes.

Anyway I need to get some lunch, the mail, do some shopping and visit the local wishing tree... More work later as always!
Long time visitors to this Web Site (actually most people) realise that Radioactive Networks has nothing to do with Nuclear Material, bombs, uranium or anything like that. It has to do with radio based computer networks. That said, a friend sent me a link to United Nuclear which does sell nuclear material, but only within the USA. Personally I love some of their T-Shirts.

There is one which I suspect might freak a few people out... It says "There are no problems that can't be solved with a suitable use of explosives', and has the 'United Nuclear' logo on the back. Hey, maybe this could be a new Radioactive Networks Slogan. They also have some other semi-cool shirts. I have been meaning to get some polo shirts made... These might give me some ideas...

Time Magazine has released their people of 2005. They are Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono from U2. All are being awarded for their charity work.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Ahh... Sigh... I have just got home after being out all day, mostly working on the plane... But let me get to there... Firstly after church I drove over to North Rocks via the M7... That was fairly good until I got to the end of the M7... Then thanks to the road works it took a bit longer. Getting to North Rocks I managed to find a car parking spot and quickly raced in and found 512 MBytes of RAM for only $55. This was an excellent price. Then on getting to Richard's I found he needed to go to North Rocks. So it took some time to get started...

Once we got started we first finished getting the seat backs done. This happened fairly quckly, and allowed us to work on some other parts of the plane. I am just thinking what we needed to do then. Ah, we also worked on the lower forward seat belt securing point - mostly using pop rivets. With a total of 40 rivets we think that the plane can be lifted from these points. I would not be surprised. Then we worked on getting the sides set so that we could mate the two halves of the plane up once more. This was like a jigsaw but after some time we got the two pieces together. And then got the longerons installed too.

After that we spent some time getting some of the skins aligned properly, although we did not get this finished before finishing for the night. All in all a lot done... More importantly I guess I will be spending a lot of time over the coming weeks inside the body of the plane whilst richard hits rivets.

I had a phone call from my father asking about christmas... And wanting to know the type of food... And then asked if Thai for christmas lunch would be OK... Sure... But I did give an order for one dish. On boxing day my father is going to Indonesia for ten days I found out too... This is for work, but I dont have any other details... Anyway it has been a long day and I think it is time for bed...
I am just testing the scheduler on my reporting engine for TeamTrack. I am sure that it will work really well following the bugfix I just put in. I was ignoring the last date that the report ran, and running it from yesterday no matter what. This was wrong. It now uses the start date as the date that when the last report was run, which is how it should be. The only issue at the moment is that it does not matter if the end date for the report is in the future. I need to fix that - minor bug fix.

As I was writing that last sentence, I got an email... The test worked. I set the database up with a last run date of 1st, 2nd and 3rd for three report collections, and let it go. It ran the reports and emailed them to me, and updated the database with the next date as the next start date. This is correct. I can also make the whole engine more efficient. For a given report batch I am doing one database query download for each report run. For a report batch with four reports that means that I am downloading four times as much information as needed. A simple change will reduce the resource requirements to 25%. That is a change for later. I have added them to the ToDo list so they will get done.

I did note that one of the reports said that a particular trip was 15,000KM, in the space of a few minutes, giving an impossible speed. I think this is a bug. For some reason that report is getting the incorrect start position. When there is no GPS location known it uses 0,0. And if you use 0,0 as a start position and a valid end position, the trip in Sydney will be about 15,000 km...

Anyway, enough programmming... Time for breakfast.
More building today, although I will probably nip into North Rocks Westfields to the computer market on the way through. I need to get some more memory for a server... My windows server has only 512 MBytes of RAM, and it needs more. The lightning software running on it is running poorly, and memory is the issue. Given the prices of memory I am sure that the extra 512M will help. Actually I used to have more, but I needed to borrow some when I updated the firewall. Whilst I am there I might see if I can pick up some more christmas presents. The main one is something for my mother. I already have something for her, but I need more.

Today we might get the seatbacks riveted together. Yesteday we got one done... So we might get the second one complete today. Well, that is the theory. Given they only take about 15 minutes I think it is fairly certain that we will get that done. And there is a whole lot of other things to do. Hey, we have a plane to finish :-)

MSNBC has a story on the Most Popular toys by decade which gave be a few surprises. Crayons for 1900-1910, but I did not expect the Viewmaster to be popular for the 1930's. Speaking of toys, it appears that the president of the USA just uses Random Play on his iPod. And if you read the article you will see why I use the word 'appears'....

It has not caught on in Autralia, and I actually do not know if it is even sold down here, but the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner is gaining popularity in the USA. The manufacturer has just released details on How to reprogram the device with your own settings. The Globe and Mail has a story about Cell Phone Fraud and how a company knew it was going on and did nothing about it because the customers could pay.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Some other things... When I went to Camden I had the chance to actually sit in the RV-6. That was interesting... My seat was too high so the canopy was really close to my head. Bit it was cute sitting in the plane making 'Brooom Brooom' noises. Well, actually I did not make any of those noises mostly because I forgot to. Richard was thrilled with his ride in the RV... and seems really happy to be building one.

That is about all for this short update... More soon.
Dateline: Camden Airport

I am presently here whilst Richard is doing a training flight in the RV6 they have down here. It has been quite windy but the wind is calming down. Still, if t was me there is no way that I would be going up in this weather. I am a timid flyer right now, so I am glad that there were no seats in the plane for me to sit in. So right now I am just relaxing here catching up on my email, and writing in the blog.

I am impressed with the M7 motorway... It took me 40 minutes door to door to get to Richards place, and it took me 50 minutes to get from there to Camden Airport. I enjoyed the drive on the M7... The countryside is really nice. I think that at one point you drive through the middle of the fairfield city farm. It is a pity that it goes a bit far to the west from Castle Hill, and I suspect that the road is going to be packed during peak hour. Still, that can only be good for roads like the cumberland highway.

I can also see that Norwest Blvd exit from the M7 is going to be well and truely packed during peak times with people not wanting to pay the M2 toll as well as the M7. And I personally think that I agree with them. Anyway right now I had better post this and shut down the laptop.
Given the weather at the moment I suspect I will be building today... But we will see... The weather lately has been changing so rapidly that it is often hard to predict what it will be like a few hours later...

The word for today is Barratry, which is basically a vexatious litigant, or a master of a ship who doing something bad to it. Why do I know this? Well, an ex-boss of mine actually used it in an MSN conversation... Not exactly sure how (or why) but he did manage it. Seems that about once a week I need to look up a word that he uses... And I think I have mentioned other words before.

The SMH is reporting that QANTAS is looking at maybe outsourcing its "information technology application, maintenance and support services". They have about 700 IT staff and are looking at outsourcing the jobs of half of these. The airline noted it runs 600 separate IT applications - from flight planning, engineering, load control systems and ticketing to Qantas's frequent flyer scheme and website. Whichever way you look at it, 700 applications is a lot to manage, and I suspect that Qantas will also be looking at how to rationalize the number of applications.

Finally, eBay has admitted to an "extreme growth" in the number of personal accounts being hijacked by fraudsters. . Criminals are obtaining the secret passwords of eBay subscribers and using their sites to conduct bogus auctions for non-existent goods.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Right now I am not sure if I am building tomorrow... I hope I am since I am itching to try out the M7... And I am also itching to do some riveting on the plane... It has been too long working on the preparations for getting things built... So it would be good to actually start building the time... Putting it all together. We are thinking that the first bits should be fairly quick to rivet together. But we will just have to wait and see.

Google has released a new version of their GMail application. They have now released Google Mail For Mobile Phones. From all reports this is really fantastic... I will try it out later - although I do not tend to use GMAIL since i have access to the WebMail on my own server. That is just one of the advantages having your own domain.

Modifying existing products is a really cool concept. Given that this is the christmas season, Hack-A-Day have a link to how to make those singing 5 foot high santas and turn them into drunk Santas. Maybe not the best impression to give to children, but a cute concept none the less!
Sometimes I have D'Oh moments... Case in point. Just before I went out for dinner for a farewell I started copying about a GByte of files from my laptop to my server. Like, how much time can that take. 100 mBit/sec is 10 MBytes/Second. Assume that we get only 1/10th of that makes about 1 MByte/second. 1000 MBytes = 1000 Seconds or a bit under 20 minutes. So why was it still going when I got home after being out for about three hours? Well some dome person (me) is using wireless and ethernet. And it decided to default to the wireless for the copy. So things were taking extra long. Since the is 54 mBit (yeah, sure) wireless things took a little longer than the three hours. In fact it has 14 minutes left. Not so bad I guess, compared to the old 11 MBit WiFi.

The stuff I am backing up is most of my programming work. I try to back this up often, but my IT department (me) is sometimes slack about this. Given the size of the data that I deal with at times, not only is it important to back up, but to do it regularly.

I think I mentioned ealier that I need to do some work on a presentation... I have done some more thinking about that, starting to write down my ideas. This will be a really important presentation for me, so I need to put some effort into it. I still have not worked out what I want to say which is the real worry. Well, that is a lie. I have worked out what I want to say, but not the fine detail, and not how I want to get there... I guess this is just a process that I need to work though...
Like I reported earlier, the M7 was not fully open by the time I was going by this morning. The road was being guarded from the south by a lone road working sitting on an Esky. And there were a number of barricades. On the way back, that entrance was open, although I was coming back on the M5 since I had a meeting at Beverly Hills after visiting North Ryde. They were still in the process of removing barricades this afternoon on the M5 this afternoon at Prestons to Ingleburn to open the new lanes. And the slow lane still needed the left hand line painted on.

The first meeting was really really successful. I was going to say too successful, but there was a technical hitch meaning that I will probably need to go back to their parking lot to do some work in the coming week. But apart from that the meeting went well. I have also to put together a high level running sheet for a major presentation. This will take some thought time. I need to think what is achievable, and what would work to sell a concept. Some of the things I love.

So I guess I will be spending some time on this during the next few working days as well as doing a whole lot moe programming. It looks as if I will have a good amount of work to do over January which is good. Anyway I suppose I had better get some work done.... More later
Meeting at North Ryde... Now, if I am lucky, the M7 will be open so I can take it. If not... Well, lets just hope the m7 is open. It will be good to see how the road goes.

[Update... No such luck... Still closed... Just :-( ]

Some things are just too cute. If you love pictures of animals, check out CuteOverload.Com. It contains lots of really really cute pictures of animals. Such as kittens, koalas, puppies, that sort of thing. One of the cutest is a collection of ducklings waddleing behind a dog following it... Too Cute!
Quick update... I have the automatic generation of reports from the database mostly working. It is getting the data from the database, and sending the reports out. It is even updating when it was last run. The one and only thing that it is not doing at the moment is actually using the data from when it was last run to work out if it should be run now...

In other words apart from the fact that the back end is not finished as far as the web services for reporting, I think that I now have a fairly reasonable reporting engine in the product. I will have to get some screen shots and put them on the Web Site... But I am impressed...
Last night I was going really well getting the new database based scheduler running - and then I had a phone call from a friend... He needed some help with some software, and since he had helped me out with a job I really could not say no. So I have him a hand, and by then I had lost the chain of thought on what I was working on so I went to bed. I will get back to the coding in a few minutes when I have finished this entry. I expect the code to be finished within about 30 minutes... There is not that much to it. There are some complications, but generally most of it is fairly easy or I have already written similar code.

Last night I was talking with an old boss, talkjing about music... He brought up the song Summertime from Progy and Bess to describe his thoughts on summer. It is a beautiful lullaby... Very american, but very beautiful none the less... Until last night I had never really realised that it was written as a lillaby... But obviously it is...

In the papers you sometimes read about the Iraqi 'Oil for Food' project. In the USA they have a new project.... Blood for Food to encourage people to donate blood to the Red Cross. People who donate get a $5 voucher for use at Gas Stations. [Whilst we are on the subject, donating blood really does help. Last year when my mother was having Chemo for cancer she had to get three units of red blood cells thanks to the effects of the Chemo. And even then she was in hospital for over a week after that... ]

Finally, the SMH has a story on What Apple does to make themselves cool. Good Read.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

You know, I think it was a good thing that I have not been able to develop the WebService directly. It means that I have been able to quickly change the paramaters that I have been calling, and change the structure of the underlying database. Right now I have implemented a basic functionality with an access database, and also basic user interface to add a new report. I still need to write a function to download the paramaters and run the reports if needed... That will be my next challenge after this entry and before i go to bed I think. I do not see it taking that long.

I, Cringely on PBS has a internal look at the Google Adwords programme. What he is saying is that by increasing the dollar amount per advert increased click throughs, but not as much as one would thing. Then dropping the dollar amount per click though to lower levels but higher than the original never returned the results to what they had been. That is, the Adwords algorithm encourages people to pay mor for adverts, but if they drop back down they will not get the results they they used to have at the same dollar amount. Hmm.

Anyway I had better get some programming done... If I want to get to sleep before midnight that is...
I managed to get some time done on the treadmill... I did 3km and about 25 minutes on it. The exercise was good... I will probably not get a chance to use it tomorrow, but I will see how it goes...

The Seattle Times Investigator has some more news on the Qantas decision to by from Boeing. The best bit is the quote from CEO Geoff Dixon... "The best wine came from the Airbus side," Dixon joked, "Unfortunately, [the Airbus proposal] never made the grade.". Cute Quote.

Cathode Corner has an advert for a US$400 watch. This one is different... It uses cathode nixie tubes. These are orange tubes where the numbers glow orange. I have no idea how long the battery lasts, but it is really really short I would guess. And given the watch only has two digits makes the watch not quite as useful.

Nature Magazine contains a comparison between Britanica and Wikipedia for accuracy. They found about three issues on most pages on Britanica, and four issues on Wikipedia. Basically both sites contain errors and all information needs to be read critically. And finally there is a fairy story based on Snow White talking about IR reform in News.Com.Au.
I went to the local shopping centre and picked up some christmas presents. I already had something small for my brother and monther, but I wanted something more substantial. And I had nothing for my father. After some time looking I managed to find some books for my brother and father. If I could be sure that they did not come here peeking to see what they would be getting I would actually describe what I picked them up... Right now I will have to wait until after christmas to do that. I also needed to pick up some blank CD's... I ran out, and these days I use them so rarely. It is only rare that I need to put anything onto CD (or even DVD).

I have not managed to get the WebServices stuff working any further. But I have a solution. At the moment I will implement it locally in an Access database. That will allow me to get the data structures working correctly. Then I can move the functions across to the WebService when it is written and working. Not the ideal solution but it will work.

I have been thinking more of the problem, and I think I might need about six or seven web service calls. This will become self evident over the next few hours as I start implementing things. Of course when I have implemented it I then need to start documenting the entire system. Given the number of bugs I have removed in the last week I think it is about time that I document things. Maybe I should just pay someone to do that. Anyway time to get programming
I knew it would not be so easy. When I try to open a VisualStudio file on the web I get the following message followed by a beep
"contacting server to open web project"
Then iNetInfo just uses 100% CPU and does nothing. Something is wrong, but I am not sure what... Time for a reboot.

10:53 Edit...
I give up... I have emailed Microsoft wanting some help. I will see if my official Microsoft Buddy can shed light on this issue. I have wasted enough time on it. Time to do some other work.
Todays Challenge: Write a WebService that I can use to do the back end of my reporting engine. From what I can work out before I start I just need to write about five functions, and some SQL. It has been a few months since I worked on the SQL side of things so I might have some fun getting started, but I cannot imagine it will be too hard. After all it is just a special case of all the other funtions that I alread have... Right? This being IT nothing is for certain. But I am hopeful.

I am not what you would call a car freak. Cars are nice to drive, but I am not really into car races or that sort of thing. I am more interested in what goes into making them run, and the technology in them. Thanks to channels such as BBC world though I am now able to watch shows like 'Top Gear' - which I actually really really enjoyed. They managed to add some actual humor into a motoring show. I am not sure I will watch it again, but seeing a Bugatti race from Italy to the UK against a Cesna was interesting, even if it was rigged to make sure that the Bugatti won.
According to the Sun paper in the UK, the NatWest bank has removed clocks from their branches since they did not enhance the banking experience. What that really means is that people were recognising how long they were stading in line and were complaining about it.

Although the site is not working well at the moment, here is a link to a miniture remote control helicopter. By miniture I mean it weighs only a 49 grams in total. I have always wanted a remote control helicopter... This one just looks cute!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Right now I am downloading a 300 MByte file from a friend. It contains full video... It is great that this download will not count against my monthly downloads since it is coming down over the same ISP. The speed could be better but it is not costing anything. I have no real idea as to why it is so slow. Actually, I just worked it out. The other end doing the upload is only uploading at 256 kbit/sec.

Microsoft and MTV have joined up to start a Music Serice like Apple iTunes. It would allow a subscription version as well as a pay per download model. And I would imagine that Microsoft would be willing to put money into the entire system... From back end to marketing. Time to get going... There is a good show on TV and I need to concentrate
Despite some issues with software packages i have been really productive with programming in the last few days. I have been saving up issues that needed work, and in the last few days I have finally had a chance to implement most of them. There are still things that I need to do, mostly back end stuff, but it is looking great. I need to install the new version of VisualStudio in the next few days so that I can have auto-update of the software over the web - so that whenever I make a change it is automatically sent to all other people using the software.

It took me probably 15 to 20 minutes to work out how to add some plain text to the CrystalReports report. The problem was that on the left side they list the fields, and have unbound fields at the bottom, and I thought that the string was how to add static text. I eventually worked out that I needed to right click and select "Insert | Text Object", and that was that. My next trick is to do a daily summary report of how far vehicles have driven. I have some ideas on how to do this. I just need to make sure that they will work in practice.

Qantas have revealed that they are buying between 75 and 125 new planes from Boeing. They will be 787's, previously known as 7E7's. More details are available on the SMH. They also have a story on how people scam access to concerts and the like. Interesting read.
How big is too big for an install program. Yesteday after I built up the latest version of my TeamTrack application it was pointed out how big the install program now was. It had just gone from 1.5 MBytes to about 10.1 MBytes. That is a huge jump. And no, I did not write about a million lines of fully debugged code overnight - the increase was the runtimes for the reporting engine. I am thinking of making them a seperate install program. I just need to make sure that that complies with the licensing requirements of the software.

There is a story on news.com.au that Winnie the Pooh gets a girl friend. Notice the space. Disney is producing a TV Show of Winnie The Pooh, and they have added a 6 year old girl to move next to Winnie to broaden the appeal of the show. Winnie of course also lives in DisneyLand... And you can actually visit his house if you visit.

I did some more exercise a bit earlier today... All part of my effort to get into shape. Given the weather I could not get any running done... But I did do 25 sit-ups, and I plan to spend some more time on the treadmill later... Right now though I have some work to do.
This is going to be a horrible technical entry. I have been having a problem with Crystal Reports under VB.NET. I have not been able to SUM up fields. I have been able to get the MAXIMUM and MINIMUM of the field within a group, but not the SUM. Turns out that the MAXIMUM and MINIMUM are the top and bottom of the list if placed into alphabetical order.

Anyway, I have been using XML datasets in VB.NET to create custom data to report on. This makes the reports in crystal reports much easier since they do not need to include significant amounts of business logic that is best handled outside that application. Anyway to add the fields to the dataset I would use a line like the following one :-
And this worked. And it worked really well. But there was one problem. From what I can work out this exported the data as a text field, and not as a number. So I needed to change that. Reading the manual (Yeah, I know that is dangerous, but it worked this time) I found out that I could say what the data was. That is with a line such as :-
dsnew.Tables(0).Columns.Add("JourneyTime", System.Type.GetType("System.Double"))
This says that the data is not a string, but really a number. And since it is a number, Crystal Reports will do mathematical equations on it. Including SUM. In order to do a sum, all I needed to do was right click on the report and say 'Include Subtotal'. And that was that. Things suddenly started working.

I do not know how much time I wasted on it :-( Anyway it is working now. I did find another way around this - I created a virtual field with the value of val({FIELD NAME}), but this got messy. Doing it properly is clean. I did learn some Crystal Reports out of this, but I could have used the time better in other ways.
One program that I use occasionally is WinMerge. It is free, and allows you to compare two text files and quickly merge changes as required. The reason I was needing to do this today was to do some work on the RF Developments OzFlarm Glider system, and my client had made some changes to the code. So I needed to merge the changes. Thanks to WinMerge it all happened really really quickly.

SciToys has a description on how to build a Van Der Graff Generator using common materials including a coke can. The design can actually be improved by adding a lightglobe at the base of the unit - and injects more electrons onto the rubber band making the design more efficient. Sure to be a hair-raising read.

One musical instrument that I have always loved is the LaserHarp as popularlized by Jean Michele Jarre. The link I have just provided about how to build your own. I just wish I had the muscical ability to be able to play such a thing if I built one. I gave this link to a friend and he informed me that he once pulled an all nighter with Jarre talking about music following a performance at the Opera Orchestra de Pairs. I would love to see Jarre in concert... His concerts are just massive events!

Right now I have more programming to day. I want to get my reports to work... I keep running up against brick walls. Right now when I attempt to enter a formula into the report generation tool I gett the error message that "a number field or currency amount field is needed here". You know you are in trouble when a google search does not even provide other people having the same error message.... Anyway I will get through this... Eventually.
Crystal Reports is infuriating at times. ARGH. I am trying to insert a field into a report which has grouped data, and have a SUM of the field for each grouping... I can work out how to insert the Maximum of the group. The minimum, the count. The n'th smalled. I can sum the minimums if I need... But I cannot work out how to just sum. ARGH!

p.s. I just found the FORMULAS area... and defined Sum ({StartStop.JourneyTime} ) but this brings up an error... More ARGH!
Yesterday I managed to get some exercise done... It was once again too hot to run outside so I did some time on the treadmill. I did 15 minutes before the fist two phone called and a visitor at the door, and then I did another 10 minutes or so. It is harder using the treadmill than going running outside since the track is designed to slow you down. Also it is harder without the wind in your hair...

According to the UK Channel 4 WWW site, The worlds first TV Reality show space tourists are now orbiting the earth. You heard right. Although this is aparanently special effects, and is just on the ground in the UK. I wonder if they will actually pull this off... They have reportedly spent a huge amount on special effects.

SlashDot linked to a list of the '10 truths of system administration'. Number 1 is 'Users Lie'. Number 6 is that 'Hubs usually die one port at a time'. Number 10 is 'Reboots sometimes just fix things'. Since the link did not quite work at the time, you might want to check out the Google Cache. Also on the subject of Google, it has been added to the NASDAQ 100 list.

Some links: A bed frame made from recycled timber for only about A$15,000. Looks interesting though. According to The Register, The filesystem on the XBox 360 has been decoded although no anti-piracy stuff has been bypassed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I was just watching National Geographic about launching satellites from the equator in the middle of the ocean - for a company called SeaLaunch. It was interesting to watch this show since they also talked about the original satllite they launched called DemoSat. Now, why am I talking about a TV show? Well, DemoSat was an interesting satellite, with no electronics on board. It was only steel and concrete used to simulate the weight of a real satellite.

A few weeks before launch they asked a friend of mine if he could add an active payload to the rocket. The killer... He only had 10 days to get the device built and delivered. For the cost of abut US$2000 he actually built the satellite and got it to the launch platform. Unfortunately he could not get an export permit for the satellite in time from the US government. Ignore for a moment the fact that the hardware was a five year old design with a ten year old CPU. But anything going into space needs an export permit, and he needed one. Unfortunatly he did not get it. Not to worry... The satellite eventually got launched through some other means.

CNN has a story about the 10th anniversary of LASIK laser eye correction. It looks like a lot of work has been done on this in the last few years... And it is starting to get close to what I would call safe.
I finally understand some of what Telstra is thinking with their plan to get rid of CDMA. With time comes details, and with details comes logic. And I can see the logic in their plan. They want to basically outsource the building of the new network to Ericsson for about $1b, and do this over the next two years. This would remove much of the uncertainty as to CDMA. And there is a whole lot of uncertainty out there. I asked a supplier today about availability of UMTS modems at 850 MHz. I almost got a laugh at the end of the MSN chat session...

News.Com.Au is reporting that Belinda Emmit and Rove McManus are appearing on Spicks and Specs on the ABC. According to Rove, Belinda is liable to win the show with her knowledge. Of course he might be biased. The Guardian is also has a story how the CIA is being caught out on prisoner flights by aircraft lovers who happen to be taking photos at airports. Hmm...
I am loving the headset for my cordless phone. I just wish I had got a phone with a headset ages back... It would have saved so much effort. It allows me to work on the computer or anything else without being tied to the phone line. I can move to the filing cabinet or the bookcase if needed. The phone is working well too - the voice quality is good, and the range seems good too. The only hassle is that sometimes I forget to put the microphone on the headset down.

News.Com is reporting that Nero's Pallace in Rome has been closed for a couple of years for emergency repairs. Ehow has an article on how to turn a computer power supply into a Lab Power Supply. Cute.
I am really impressed with myself... I now have software working that will automatically generate reports for me and email them out. Even better it will combine a number of reports into the same email, and send them all out at once. The software is not yet finished but it is working. I think that there is some debugging to be done, particularly to make it bulletproof.

When I was telling a client I was working on this, his comment was immediatly 'So, you have heard about CRD' which he assumed I was using. This program apparently generates nice reports, which is fine if you are connecting straight to database tables. But since I am not I am unable to use this program. Licensing wise it is actually cheaper to do things how I am right now since Crystal Reports has some interesting licensing terms.

Whilst working on this I found a couple of interesting VB.NET functions...
Dim strFilename As String = System.IO.Path.GetTempFileName()
The first creates a unique filename for you to use as a temporary file. The second deletes a file. Useful.

Some strange news from the USA. According to Kron, details of some items on the US list of 'Critical Infrastructure' as defined by the Department of Homeland Security. Sources indicate that Emerald Hills Golfland, a three-acre theme park with two miniature golf courses had been added to the list. Nice to know that Put Put Golf is critical!
The location text under my photo has had a morph. Instead of being a text box, it is now a graphic. Basically the reason is performance. When the location database is not loaded into RAM on the server, it may take up to three seconds to do the transaction to work out where the Lat/Lon points to. And this would hold up rendering of part of the page since it was being implemented on demand as a script.

So what is happening now is that I am using the GD library in PHP to dynamically create a graphic 150 x 50 pixels with text added to the graphic. This graphic can be allocated to that size when the page is initially rendered, so there are few performance issues. Then a few seconds later the graphic will appear. So simple. If for some reason the underlying systems are not available the graphic will simply not display.

I have been busy this morning working on the reporting functions of TeamTrack. One of my clients is wanting emailed reports every morning, and has a whole load of sales when this is available. So guess what? I am busy working on this as we speak. Initially this will be a hard coded list of what reports to be run, and the batch will need to be started manually, but I cannot see how it would be too hard to implement. Famous last words I guess though ;-)
I have been a member of a social networking site called LinkedIn for about six months after a friend invited me in. At the time I thought it was cute, but I did not get around to doing too much with it - well until yesterday when another friend gave me a nudge. So I had a bigger look, and allowed the site to search outlook for other contacts. That was really interesting. I managed to find a friend from Uni who is now living in the UK with his wife. And a whole lot of other people I know too... I am yet to be convinced of a business use, but it is cute.

There are reports is issues with RIM at the moment over their Blackberry mobile email appliance. At the centre of this is some patent claims against them over push email technology to mobile devices. There is some documentation available here. Realistically from what I have heard most of what was patented was obvious at the time of the patent. Hey, I have friends who worked on similar systems well before this one was patented. Unfortunately patents are being abused in the world at the moment.

IBM have released a whitepaper on their processor. The paper actually suggests some techniques that might be used to install LINUX onto the CPU, given time and more information. I suspect that it will be interesting to watch this over the next few years. Interesting Question: Shouldn't I have a moral objection to people hacking the XBox 360?

Well, no. People have purchased the hardware, and they should be allowed to do what they want with it, provided that what they want to do is not illegal. Pirating games is illegal. However deciding to install your own operating system onto a computer should not be illegal. If microsoft or anyone else decides to sell at below cost then that is their problem.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I have managed to write a small application that will upload my current position to the WebService backend when I do not have a tracker in the car. And this app does not cheat - it actually sends the GPS positions to the back end system. The buttons are hard coded, so there is no config file. I could improve it by having everything based on settings, but realistically it is not worth it.
This afternoon has been rather successful for me I think - at least in terms of my TeamTrack Software Package. I managed to get a few items actually removed from my to-do list which was good. I finished some things that a couple of clients were really really desperate for, and I think that I have finally got around to solving the problems that they were having. No reports yet from the users. I imagine that I will hear more in the next day or so. Here's hoping.

Make has an article on someone who has too much time on their hands, and has too much technology on their hands. Would you believe this person has managed to turn a blender into a voice operated blender. Is it just me, or are there some things with too much technology in them?

The US Box office results are out for last weekend, and Tales of Narnia was top of the list. This was shot around the corner from a friends farm so I imagine the landscape will be fantastic. I definitely want to see this one - and also Harry Potter when I get a chance.
My reporting work is not yet finished, but I have at least managed to get it out to a few people for testing. The reports themselves need the most work, and then some documentation is needed. When I first made up the install program I used the incorrect registration code inside the install. This allowed the program to install, but then would return an error about keycodedev2.dll. There are two numbers supplied when you register Crystal Reports. One is a number, and the other contains numbers and letters. It is tha latter that you need to use. Unfortunately this needs to be manually entered in each application when you create the install program setup.

One of the things that I now want to do is create a back end reporting engine where reports are emailed each morning telling clients what they want to know. I just need to check the license conditions to make sure that this is legal. This will require more WebService work but I think clients will really really love the functionality! If they can be emailed a report each week saying how far their employees have driven then I think that they will be really impressed.

The SMH today has a report on Green Day and how they have saved their band with their latest CD and DVD. I found it interesting to read about some of the internal issues the band was having thanks to the success of previous albums. Good read. Enough from me... There is work to be done, and I guess I am the one to do it!
It looks like another drink needs to be added to the list of the five major foodgroups. Coca Cola is releasing a new drink next year called "Coca Cola Blak". This drink is apparently a fusion of Coffee and Coca Cola. They describe it as having an 'invigorating and stimulating blend', that combines the 'effervescent tast sensation of Coca Cola and natural flavours with real coffee.' The drink is being initially released in France with other countries to follow.

On the subject of drinks, I do not drink. I do not mind being with people who are drinking, but I do not drink myself. If I did I would probably try out some cups linked to from O'Reilly's MakeEZine. They are IceShot Glasses. That is they are small Shot Glasses made from Ice. I guess they would be great for something like vodka. Cute project - but there is a warning not to hold onto the glasses for long periods of time. But they do point out that people do not tend to hold onto them for long periods of time.

InventGeek has an article on how to repair LCD monitors for $20-30 when the backlight fails. And probably what is one of the coolest projects is the Cubatron which is a 9x9x9 pixel 3D matrix of multi-coloured LED's in an 8 foot cube. And they have animation playing inside it. I have yet to see the videos, but it looks like a really really cool scuplture. Perfect for a modern building or huge open space... If I only had the talent to program something like that artistically rather than just build something like that.

Finally, a LEGO fan has built another Escher scene out of, well, lego. Looks cool.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I know... It is a weekend and all that, so I should not be working on software, but since I work for myself, well, I work at strange times. That means that I can take time off to go to the movied, or to help friends move and the like. That is how it is. So I have been doing more on the Crystal Reports, and I have gone back the other way with the number of distinct report types. I had thought two, since the alarm report is just a special condition of the generic show everything report.

It is to some extent, but until I can work out some of the advanced reporting functionality, which at the moment looks to be over my head simply becasue there is so much of a learning curve, the simplest solution is not to worry about doing everything in the report. Basically I just want to return records that show when the report indicates that an input is high. But the position report is sometimes not associated with this report, so we need to use the previous good position report if we are needing to display the data. This is all business rules which need to be implemented.

I had an email from a client yesterday suggesting another field to be added to the report. This is a computed field, and I need to spend some time on how to calculate this... All this means in practice is that I need to generate a new XML file containing the data type being used by the software. I just need to generate a new XML, and then re-import the database definition. And just like that I will have the new fields.

Anyway I had better get some sleep... I am starting to fade, and if I want any hope of taking my glasses off before I fall asleep I had better finish here.
Under my photo on the right hand side of this blog of the form 'Darryl is in Ingleburn', 'Darryl is in his office', or even 'Darryl is at the Airport'. I am getting this information from a GPRS tracking unit that I have designed. If I am moving it might say 'Darryl is moving through Parramatta'. The one that I find really cute is 'Darryl is in Sydney and is in mortal danger'. The mortal danger triggers if I am driving at over 100 KM/H regardless of the speed limit. I just thought that it would be a cute concept to have a comment like that.

For the next few days the comment under the photo will not be changing as my tracking unit has been loaned out. Once it is returned this data will be updated every time the page is refreshed. I am not sure if this will stay on the site permamently, but right now it is there, and I might bet some graphics created for it at some stage too... More like the Harry Potter clock. I just need to think about how to generate some graphics that looks like it should appear on this site. Staying with the style is essential.

There are a few problems with the positions database that I need to fix. These will be improved over time. Castle Hill occasionally appears as as a location that is about 20km east for some reason. [One more thing to add to the To-Do List I guess]. My next task will be to have a small Web Page that I can use to send fake positions to the database in the case where I do not have the tracker in my car for it to work automatically.
No running today, but at least I did do some sit-ups. I actually managed to do about 30 which was really good. I am finding that it is easier to do sit-ups as I get more exercise and the muscles get stronger. I will have to then work out some other exercises to work do.
Yesterday I forgot to mention one thing... When I was cleaning the aluminium I was dealing with a weak acid so I used protective clothing. Just picture this... I was wearing dark blue disposable overalls over my normal clothes; and remember this was about mid-day when it was slightly hot. Then I had on a pair of gum boots like the type that pig farmers would be expected to wear. Heavy and black. Very black. Then there was the long black industrial rubber gloves. Oversized too, with a pair of disposable gloves underneith to make things simple. And I should probably been wearing a face mask too, but I had glasses on in case anything tried to get into my eyes. Can you picture that, dear reader?

And can you just imagine what the neighbours would have said if they saw me. I am not sure if they would have called the police or the anti-terrorism hotline, but I am sure that they would have rung someone. I must have looked so strange. But I was protected from the chemicals which is the main thing. Actually this is similar clothing to what I was wearing when I worked on the fuel tanks, except for the footware. Thankfully I was not needing to wear this type of stuff when we were painting. In that case I just had a filter cartridge mask whilst my friend who was painting looked like goodness only knows what with the external airline connected to white overalls and a head covering. The joys of a hobby. Or should I say the joys of one of the worlds stranger hobbies.

Right now I had better think about getting some work done. I have a few things I need to do unfortunately.
I think I was a bit exhausted last night I think...I can assure you, dear reader, that I slept really well last night. I also decided to finally implement the 'Weasley's Clock' from harry potter... I hope to have it running in a few days.

Driving home last night I did some more thinking about my crystal reports work. There are three main reports that I am interested in... In terms of the back back end data at least. Basically a list of all position reports, A start/stop journey report, and an alarm report. Thinking about things more, the first and the last reports are just different versions of the same thing, with some filtering. So that has made things a bit easier internally, and has meant that I can get rid of more back end code.

Being a GPS Professional, maps is an interest of mine. So I was intrigued with the following Following Map which has the size of countries depicted based on the population size. Cute.

Infoworld has a list of the best quotes from 2005 in IT. Fellow TAPR member Bdale Garbee has his quotes collection available here

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ahh.... After a shower I feel a whole lot better... It is good to be home after an exhausting day... We got a lot done but it was exhausting. Let me explain...

The first thing we worked on was preparing some parts for painting. This meant dimpling, deburing, removing plastic and that sort of thing. This did not take all that much time... Then we needed to place the parts into acid and then scrubbed all the parts. Then we 'alodined' the pieces, which is a process akin to dieing fabric, and changes the color of the metal. This process took until about 4:00PM

Then we took the parts to a friends house to use his spray painting booth. I think this took about three or four hours... A lot of work really.

What all this means though is that most of the parts are now painted. There are some parts that we need to get powder coated, but almost everything else is done...

Oh, and I also managed to cut my finger cut on a friends plane today on his firewall. I was pointing something out and accidentally hit the firewall and my finger started bleeding... A couple of bandaids fixed my finger thankfully... and it is not sore... My finger should be right in the next few days.
Not sure if this has been noted before, but I was having a look at a friends web site, and found a reference to ways that you know that you have a Klingon programmer. I then found the site here. I enjoy Star Trek but I do not own a single episode on DVD or tape... I am not into it that much. I just found the words interesting. Two of the quotes are :-
  • "You cannot really appreciate Dilbert unless you've read it in the original Klingon."
  • "Klingon function calls do not have 'parameters' -- they have 'arguments' -- and they ALWAYS WIN THEM."

According to Yahoo, the earth's Magnetic Poles are moving. The north pole is drifiting away from North America, and may be in Siberia within 50 years. Scientists believe that on average every 250,000 years the poles actually swap. Given that it has been about 600,000 years since the last swap then the swap is actually overdue - although the swap would take hundreds of years to actually occour.

Grynx has plans on their WWW site for a real HDD clock. This is one with real hands. More details are available here

Friday, December 09, 2005

I did not get a chance to do any exercise today, due to the weather. I could have used the treadmill, but I decided against it. So I decided to mow the lawns. I have been wanting to do them for a few days, but I have been waiting for good weather. And the conditions this afternoon were atually quite good. With the breeze things were quite nice.

There is a bit of a saga in getting the lawns mown. Firstly, I was having some issues getting the lawnmower started. I almost got it started when the starting cord broke. It took about five minutes to find a rope of the right type and size in the garage... I had given up by the time I found it. So then I needed to replace the cord... It took about 10-15 minutes to replace the starting cord once I found the rope. During this time my next door neighbour [an ambulance driver] came home and saw that I was preparing to mow the lawns and asked if I needed to be taken to the psychiatric ward for mowing in the heat. The thing is that it was not that hot. I would guess it was in the low 20's.

After all this it took a few minutes to get the motor started... It would catch and then just stop. I think it was some contaminated fuel. So then it finally started working properly. The lawns probably took me 45 minutes or so... I did a quick job, on the basis that I will need to do it again in a week or two...

I like the cordless phone... It has a hands free unit which is really cool... I have used that already. The only big issue with the unit is that the LCD is mostly black when the backlight is not lit which is a pain. You cannot see what the phone is doing unless you press a key. I would have preferred to have the LCD around the other way... I might need to fix this. The other thing I noticed is that there is a series of about 5-6 holes with gold contacts on the phone and the base station... I guess that this is actually for reprogramming the handset... Cute idea...
I was cleaning my desk and found the followig old Dilbert cartoon. I just love this one so much... And I can imagine it being said. Actually I have a feeling that one of my ex-bosses actually said it to me once...

I picked up a new phone today... From OfficeWorks. I spend some time looking for a phone that was priced at the right level without looking like a piece of 1950's kitchenware, advertised as european styling. There were the DORO phones at about $60 and then more expensive ones. Looking at what was available I found that nothing was all that interesting. So I visited OfficeWorks. and then I found what I was after. There was a Telstra DECT phone there with all the right sort of features for only $33 on special. The phone was reduced from about $100. Great. I picked that up. What is even better is that it has a socket for a headset. Perfect.

The new shops at Macarthur Square are interesting. The restraunts are not there yet, and a few shops are missing. They have a Dick Smith Electronics for the electronics style stuff, and a Dick Smith Powerhouse for the generally larger and higher value stuff. Interesting mix. I guess they are trying to work if this is a better stratergy for retail than a single store. The borders store is reasonably large with a decent music collection. I can see myself visiting there oh too often.

BoingBoing has details for a seat for parents with todlers. This seat sits about 5cm off the ground and supports the back when playing with children. It is also good for other activities that involve sitting on the ground, which I assume includes building planes!

Finally, there is an interesting story on The Register about an Auction on eBay that sold an XBox 360 item for 470 Pounds. The problem was truth in advertising. They were selling a photo of the XBox 360. If you look at the register story, they do detail this on the 2nd last sentence of the description of the item. Looks like an attempt to deceive to me.
I just got a cheque sent from Buffalo, NY on behalf of Google for Adsense revenue. The cheque was for $167.64 which is sort of cool. Nice to have Google sending me money. I would love to know how much money they made from the adverts on my site, but this is a good income. Thankfully the cheque is in Australian dollars on an australian bank so there will be no $30 fee to deposit the cheque.
I have to go shopping today - the battery on my cordless phone has died after about three years. Hey, they dont make things like they used to :-) Actually, three years is fairly good. I know it would be cheaper to buy a new battery, but there are some cute features on new units. I will probably visit the new Dick Smith Powerhouse at at Macarthur Square, along with the Borders store... I have some more presents to buy, so I might be able to get all this done today.

After that I need to do some work on the glider tracking. There seems to be a minor problem with the data parser that I need to look at. I should be getting a second unit today so that will give me the ability to actually do some real testing. I will probably place one of these units in my car, and the other in a large carpark or something. It is something minor I think, and should be fairly easy to fix up... Then I will be able to get an invoice out.

The SMH has an article about how the next US Predidential election might be Contested by two women. It would be an interesting presidential campain to watch.
This weekend should be fun. We should finally get a chance to paint a lot of the internal parts of the plane, ready to 'smash' the thing together in the coming weeks. Personally, I prefer the use of the word 'Rivet' rather than 'Smash' since the latter has some negative connotations when it comes to planes. One thing I forgot to note yesterday... I weighed myself, and over the last week I had lost 1.5 KG. And that is without doing much exercise. All I need to do now is to keep up the exercise.

Overnight, GOOGLE Desktop finished indexing my HDD. It found 71770 Emails and 165166 Files. The problem I have is that there are a huge number of duplicates in the index, particularly when you take into account attachments in emails. I have not really started using the program yet, but now that the index is complete I can actually start using this when searching for things. The syntax of the search is not the same, it would appear as using Google on the Web. In the back of my mind I have some problem with the software, but I am not sure quite what it is yet. More later on that...

'How Stuff Works' has a short article on how TV video game guns work. The article was not bad, but was a bit short. Concidering how little technology is in them I am not surprised it was a short article.

NEWS.COM.AU is reporting that Virgin's Richard Branson is thinking of starting Australia's 2nd international carrier, flying to places like Tokyo and Los Angeles from next year. Part of this plan relies on the government knocking back Singapore Airlines desire to fly the Sydney to LA route themselves.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I got my phone number today from Faktortel. The number is 02-8916-7306, and you can dial this from the normal phone network. A strange thing happens when you dial this number - you actually get a strange music on hold type music whilst waiting for the phone to answer. Not sure what is going on there. It does actually work though when the phone is picked up... Cute...
It is a bit hot to go running today - so I did the next best thing - I used a treadmill. This is not the best, but it is exercise. Since I was inside i set up the laptop with my larger LCD screen and started playing the DVD of Timeline which my brother lent me a few weeks back. I got about 25 minutes of time on the treadmill in total - but this was interrupted after about 15 minutes with a phone call and then a SKYPE with someone from Canada.

Yesterday I installed Google Desktop Search. It has been indexing my HDD for about the last 30 hours, and it is still only 68% done. Should be almost finished tomorrow morning I would guess. But we will have to see.

News.Com.Au has a story about how Virgin Atlantic Frequent Flyers will be able to use their points with Virgin Galactic which takes passengers to 100,000 feet for a joy ride. Cool, although you need about 50 business class journeys to London from Sydney.

There is a story on Yahoo about a seach for the top 10 living patent holders in the USA. This is not as easy as it would seem since the patent database is not set up to allow this type of seach. The article goes into some detail about the search, and then some of the top patent holders.
When I went to collect the mail today there was a letter there from my credit union warning me that they suspected some fraudulent transactions on my credit card, and asked if I wanted to replace the card. They provided a copy of the statment, and everything looked fine. I think they picked up on the christmas presents that I got mailorder which also arrived today. The people that they are for are really really going to LOVE them.

My work with Crystal Reports is coming along nicely. I have most of the fields that I need to in the standard report. I have also worked out how to merge datasets together so that I can use the GROUP feature in Crystal Reports to create some nice reports with correct formatting. Right now my report design is very basic, and 'Industrial' but that will improve. I still need to do some massaging of the back-end data to ensure that the data is sorted to reduce any information that should not be there. That should not be too hard.

My next job will be to do 'JOURNEY' reports, and 'ALARM' reports which require more business rules in the back end. But these need to wait until I have worked out how to sort data in the datasets.

I saw a great quote in the COMP.RISKS mailing list... It was 'To misquote the age-old schoolboy admonition, "if a sat nav system told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?" :)'
There are a couple of interesting stories on dogs that I have come across... The first is a story in WIRED called "Fido's First Cellphone". Basically, next year a cellphone will be released in the USA that will allow owners to ring the dog, and the dog to hear the owners voice. This could be as a way just to let the dog know they are still loved, to check on them, or tell them that they should come home. There is also a small GPS tracker in the device, with a geofense that will warn the owner when the dog strays. I am not sure if the phone will be available here in Oz. The question I have is 'How will the dog know to recharge the phone?'

If I ever get given that dog called 'Byte' I think this would have to be one of the first toys it got... There is also a story on News.Com.AU about a study into the behavior of dogs when their owners are out. Basically dogs that are the most loved are the ones who are least likely to play in a yard during the day when their owners are out. Very interesting read.

GreenGrassDesign has a unique way to present food. It is a plate for olives. The plate doubles as a game of solatare... Cute...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Crystal Reports Saga... I am getting my TeamTrack software upgraded to Crystal Reports reporting. Right now I have implemented a capability in the Config File that will allow reports to be added and edited at will, provided that you have a Report Creation Tool. I am allowing ten reports at the moment, and will see how I go. I have not decided if to use one dataset type, or four for the different types of reports. That is to be determined. And I believe that the best way to implement some of this is effectively to do a crosstab query in the backend, combining all the common data onto every line. I believe that the technical name for this is 'de-normalizing the data'.

Apart from some issues, things are working. The data is being displayed OK on the screen, and then exported to Excel, Word and PDF quite well. I am really impressed at how easy it is to get the data to display correctly. I am sure that when I try to do some fancy reports that I will have issues, but right now it looks fine.

With the SMH advising that the current temperature is 39C, I thought I would provide a link to a friends Web Site. FindU.Com agregates weather reports from around the world, and then sends it to weather organisations like the BOM and NOAA free of charge as a public service. According to this site, Bankstown and Sydney airports have reached 103F. That is hot

I am not sure where you would get it, but Slashdot linked to a board game called Deflexion. This is a game similar to chess and checkers, but many of the parts have mirrors and the idea is that after each turn a small laser is fired and if a non-mirrored part is hit, then that part is out of the game. The first person to hit the equivalent of the king in chess wins.

Make Magazine has an article how Custom Laser Etching is done on an Apple iBook. It is probaby not a good idea to try this on the lid of my poor DELL since it is only plastic with some silver paint. But for peopel with titanium or aluminium computers this is a cute concept. I guess this is also how custom iPod etching is done too.
Telstra has started playing games, according to News.Com.Au. They have released a site called Now We Are Talking that is aimed to convince the public that there is too much regulations in the Australian Telecommunications Industry. They claim that they have to submit more than 750,000 pages of regulatory material each year. I suspect that a lot of this is their pricing documents. If they kept their prices more stagnant and did not keep adjusting products then this would be a lowere burden.

Also, the government have just announced that they are spening $1.5B to build some new generation capacity. This is about time, but I doubt if it will be enough... Maybe in the short term...
It is definitely the christmas season... With gift buying happening daily... or so it seems. I have got some things already. I picked up my mother a present in September when I was in the USA. I still need to get her something else. I have a small thing for my brother, and need to get him something else. Not sure what I will be getting my father. And I have a few presents for friends already... Delivery should be today for most of those...

If you are wanting to get a useless present, according to CHOICE magazine, Ice Shavers should be at the top of your list. I am sure they have a use, but I think the use would be limited. For ths christmas parties, you can now buy fluffy multi-sided dice... And you can also buy a vinyl record snack tray.... This might be an interesting thing to try to make... Hmm... Let me think about that... It would make an interesting christmas present...

MSDN's Channel 9 has a video on how Microsoft.COM Web Site is run. Interesting video, even if it is 30 minutes long.

The SMH has a headline of "Airport Workers Face Security Checks". This must be one of the most obvious things to say in the current security climate. But what it is meaning is that the federal government has announced plans to set up a unit to check the bona fides of people working in secure areas of airports and maritime ports. Up until now it has not been a unit...
Last night I came to the conclusion that Crystal Reports does not have a report editing tool that you can distribute with your software. This is NOT good news. I may be wrong but this is what my research is telling me. This is really really dumb. It would make sense for a user to be able to edit their reports from within a program. But it appears that this is not the case. It looks like they want you to buy a copy of their software, starting at about $220.

I think they offer a 'COM REPORT DESIGNER COMPONENT' but this requires the software vendor to provide a copy of Crystal Reports Developer Edition for each copy of the software. I dont think so. COM is an old technology anyway. I think it would be cheaper to provide a copy of the base crystal reports. Seems like BusinessObjects have a monopoly on their product and are (ab)using it. It is really hard to actually find information on their WWW site... I did find a Feature Comparison List which did help.

I have found instructions on how to make a USB Charger for Nokia Phones. The concept is really really simple. This is a great idea for when you go away, and do not want to take one more power adapter!!!

MSNBC has an article on the Top 10 rules for google. This is a good read. Australian IT has more on the Kazza shutdown for Australian Users, arguing that shutting it down for us is violating the court order. Nothing yet on Groklaw.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I am still exhausted, catching up on some email and other work that I did not get done today. I really need a backrub I think. Presently I am playing with Crystal Reports, thinking about how to properly implement the reports. Right now the task is to see how to add the report editing tool into my software. I believe that this is possible without upgrading the software, but we will need to see I suspect. As normal with things, I do not seem to be doing things which are normal, and I am trying to do things outside the square.

In some interesting news, Kazza have restricted access to Australians as a result of the court case which they effectively lost. This is an interesting way to solve the problem. If they are not breaking the law in Oz they are less likely to face legal sanctions here.

Anyway I will write more later... That is enough for the moment...
Long day... Let me start. 9AM meeting in Ingleburn to draft a letter... Well, the letter was drafted last night, but since we wanted to send it out under two names I needed to meet with the 'co author' to make sure that he agreed with what was being said. He did, but we spent too much time talking about other things...

Then there was another crash on the M5. Thankfully it just slowed down the traffic for a little while, but quickly resolved itself. But I was planning to be at North Ryde about 10AM, and ended up there close to 11:30AM. Argh. Cest La Vie.

When I got there I needed to spend probably 90 minutes into the parking lot doing work. The end result after this time was that I did not have any success getting anything working. And none of this was inside my control. Just that I could not get anything to work... I just wish that the weather was not quite so hot.

After that I managed to get across the the new offices of C1 Consultings office in Pymble. Andrew who runs this is a good friend of mine, and it was good to see the new office. After I had been there for probably 15 minutes I realised that I had been there before. Turns out that about two or three years back I had a meeting in the same office when a previous tennant was there.

Right now it is time for a bath!
I somehow do not think I will be having lunch today... It is now 6:10PM and I have not had lunch... And I have not left North Ryde... I am really looking forward for dinner
I have got some of the Crystal Reports things solved. I got a programmer I used from eastern europe to show me how to do it. It looks like it took him all of five minutes to implement a simple report for me. There was a trick though. It has to do with the XML Schema.

In order to write a report you need to use (I believe) a schema that describes the data being sent through. Now, this data format varies depending on the data that I have, and could vary with the programming process. So the trick is to generate the schema whenever things change. Doing this is really really simple. The following command in VB.NET will do it :-

What could be simpler? I think I then just use this as the source in Crystal Reports and things then just work. I still have a lot of things to work with on this, but it is looking hopeful.

This is cute. Walmart in the USA are selling a Remote Control Plane with a built in digital camera. The wingspan is over 1m wide, and it can take up to 24 photos in the air. Cute toy. If only I could fly... And if only the plane had a radio link to push the pictures back to the ground whilst flying... That would be even more fun.
I think I am ready for todays meeting. Only time will tell when I get there if I actually am. Argh. I just checked the weather report. 31 degrees. Just what I want. Stuck in a carpark somewhere working on code. Argh. Anyway, we do what we must do.

According to a story in the Washington, Caffene in the form of coffee cust the chance of liver disease. The research is not to the point where they actually recommend 2-3 cups of coffee a day, but that will come. There are also no reports as to if drinking Cocoa Cola will also lead to the same results.

The SMH has a story today about How the bus transitway does not have as many passengers and is loosing money. This is not surprising. I could have suggested this to the operators before they started the project. It just did not seem to make sense. It will be interesting to see if the transitway on Windsor road does any better. I am guessing that it should.

And linked to from Hack-A-Day is another cute site. This time it is a Nixie Tube Clock. Nixie Tubes are the orange coloured glowing valves from the 1950's, and have an interesting retro look to them. Maybe too retro I would think, but a cute project none the less.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Argh... I just got home from a meeting... It is now 11:30PM and it was a 7:30PM meeting. That is too long for a night time meeting. And now I have a tactful letter to write before I forget what I need to say. One of those letters that is officially unofficial. When it is easier to get forgiveness rather than permission. I do not want to stay up too late since I have an important meeting tomorrow in North Ryde, mostly in a car park. I hope it is not too hot.

According to The Register, Netgear have agreed that their wireless advertising is slightly deceptive. One thing that I have been sceptical of for years is the speeds that are written down for Wireless access. For instance 11 Mbps is listed at the speed of 802.11b. In reality you can never get more than about 5 Mbps. Their MIMO product is the one which is under a cloud, since the advertising suggests that you can get it running at close to ethernet speeds. Which of course is hogwash. But the advertising assumes ideal conditions which is actually impossible. Welcome to my world.

I mentioned before about lightning detectors. You can see many of the detectors here
There is a story in the Denver Post about how a scammer made his own barcodes for items that cost about $5 and added them to iPods selling for $150. The scam artist was found out when a guard at the exit noticed that the receipt said that the person had purchased a set of headphones rather than the iPod.

A deluxe edition of Titanic has been released on four DVD's. In this case, the movie with multiple commentry is on the first two DVD's, with additional content on the other two DVD's. Might have to check out the price of this one. See how expensive it is...

Airbus is looking at building parts of some of their plans in china as part of a deal with China to buy 70 A320 planes. This would be the first time that Airbus planes have been built outside Europe. Given the union issues in the USA, it is unlikely that the USA and Boeing would follow the Airbus lead. Also in news with Airlines, QANTAS has announced that they will be dropping comissions on airline flights. Apparently the domestic base commission of 1% will be discontinued, and the international 7% will be reduced to 5%.
Why is it that I seem to have got very little done today... Well, I guess part of that is the fact that I was caught in a 45 minute traffic jam on the M5. Unfortunately the traffic was moving so I could not even get the laptop out and do any work. Right now I am taking a break from PCB design... Still at eastgardens working on it. I would guess I have at least another couple of hours work. ARGH.

Since about Friday I have been getting a lot of VIRUS messages. It seems to have slowed down a bit, but I got two main messages...

"Hello, Your email was received. YOUR REPLY IS URGENT! Please view the attached text file for instructions. Regards, User"

"Hi. Sorry, I forgot to send an important document to you in that last email. I had an important phone call. Please checkout attached doc file when you have a moment. Best Regards"

I was going to ask if people actually fell for these obvious fake messages, but I guess that they do since it is unlikely that I would receive more than a single message if people did not actually click on the messages.
Transport Canada is testing a device that can be fitted into a car and will make it harder to speed. That is, if you want to go much faster than the speed limit on a road it would make you press the accelerator much harder. This is something that I have been wanting to build into my car for a while, but as a cruise control system. The canadian device would work out the type of road by using GPS....

The Instructables WWW site has an interesting LEGO project. It is a Chocolate 3D Printer. This printer heats up chocolate and forces it out a nozle creating shapes and decorations. Not too many details are shown on the site, but it does look cool. Not sure on the software that goes with it either. Technically I think this is just a MILLING MACHINE, which is a toy I gave wanted to build anyway... One Day.

DIY Audio has instructions on how to build your own Electrostatic Airphones. Aparently the audio quality is fairly good.
I have a feeling I have mentioned this before, but a group in germany have released a real life TRON game where you go around the city on virtual motorcycles attempting not to ride into each other. This would be a cool project to work on. [Bit of Trivia here. My friend Bill Kovacs actually worked on this part of the movie of Tron many moons ago... ]

The I want one of thosse Online Store has a unique set of playing cards. These are actually made out of Stainless Steel and are etched. At about US$300 they are not cheap, but they look cool. They have all the normal sorts of things that you would expect from an online geek store. What I did not expect was the Laser Keyboard. This is a device that sells for about US$250, and projects a keyboard onto a flat surface, and then works out which keys you press!

Digicraft here in Australia have just released a 'History of Computing Calendar'. This could be interesting. Normally I just use Outlook when I need a calendar - it seems to work fairly well. But I may end up getting the calendar anyway. Time for some breakfast...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Many times when playing monopoly, particularly with bigger groups, the bank runs out of money. Therefore Hasbro has released a download of Authentic Monopoly Money that you can print out for adding to the bank. [Or if you are not quite so honest, using it to add to the 1500 issued at the beginning of the game]

"The more money you have, the easier it is to own it all - so print your own! Just click on the image of the money you want to find a whole page-full."

According to the BBC, some youths in germany have released a racy bible calendar. And the SMH have released their Book List for 2005. Harry Potter was top fiction, and the CSIRO Well Being diet was the top non-fiction. Dan Brown was the big fiction author with five books in the top ten.
Toms Hardware has a story called XP in your Pocket about how to put everything you need to recover a Windows XP computer onto a memory stick. I love the concept. Unfortunately the article is reasonably long, with lots of things to add to the memory stick.

There is a story in the SMH today about how a child care centre in Ingleburn is being forced to close because they are on is being sold as part of development of old defence force land. There is a bright side to this. My local church has a child care centre, and I and the chairman of the congregation have agreed to serve on the board for 12 months. Neither of us wants to, but we feel that we need to since all the previous board members from the church are leaving at the end of this year. Anyway the closure is sure to ensure that our centre has 100% capacity.

I need to get some work done. I was hoping to get some hardware working here, but there is some type of incompatability between systems so I will need to wait a few days and do the work elsewhere. This will be a pain, but it will work. I have some testing to do right now, and some setup so that when I can work with hardware which works then I will know that things should work!
The M7 opens on September 16th. That is a week on friday. Finally!

I have managed to do a bit of Christmas shopping today. I managed to order a few things over the internet - some items that people will absolutly love, but that took a little bit of searching to find. Unfortunately I could not (surprisingly) find one retailer who could provide all the items I wanted, whilst providing descriptions of the items so that I could be sure what I was getting. I find this strange.

What I did not like about buying was that more sites these days want people to register when you order things. I guess this is to reduce the chance of fraud, but even so it is a pain. I can never remember which sites I have registered on.

I just had an email from a friend. He wants to know if I can offer any suggestions into running a radio system in a sewer... Um... I have some ideas, but his view is similar to mine... Testing would be done by someone else :-)
I have started implementing Crystal Reports into my TeamTrack application. This is involving a steep learning curve since many of the things that I want to do. Crystal Reports looks much like the report generator in Microsoft Access, something that I have spent too much time working on over the years [Yeah, that is another story!].

The story so far. In VisualStudio step one is to add a 'CRYSTAL REPORTS REPORT' to the project on the solution explorer. This is just like you would add a new form, class or library. Simple first step. And then I believe that you just accept the defaults unless you want to change the name of the report. From what I can gather though, this only generates a blank report. But the report is not viewable. So then I need to bring up a form, and add a 'CRYSTAL REPORTS VIEWER' onto the form. Then things get murky.

The next two steps are to :-
* Link the viewer to the report
* Link the report to the data source.

I think I have worked out the first of these. The second requires more work. The issue here is that I need to deal with a WebService which is an XML dataset over the web. But I need to process it slightly in the middle. I may be able to do some of the processing in Crystal Reports but I do not think I can do all of it. So I need to act as a proxy. And that is where I get stuck. I know Google is the source for all knowledge in the known universe, and even more apart from that. Hey, I even use Google to search my own WWW site and Blog. But sometimes working out the correct keywords to use can be a challenge.

I have looked on the Web Site for BusinessObjects (The new name for the company that produces Crystal Reports) and found a support link. But basically I am out of my deapth there... I will see how it goes.

[Edit 2:35PM... I give up. I have no idea. I think I need to generate an XSD Dataset for the WebService, but I really have no idea. I think I will have to look at getting some professional help... ]
A friend provided a link to a video of what must be one of the most dopey pilots in the world. The pilot managed to clip a tree on landing. OK, no problem. Not too much damage done. Easy mistake to make. What is priceless is the fact that he hit another tree on takeoff, and this time managed to total the plane. And all this is unbelieveably on video. As the report says, one of the passengers earned 0.08 frequent flyer miles. Speaking to another friend from overseas about this, his comment was "Hmmm.......... never done that one.I have however landed and noticed some greenery on the wheels. Must've been on takeoff in the long grass."

FORBES has a list of the Fictional 15, some of the 15 richest people in fiction. This hillarious list contains biographies of Lex Luthor, C. Montgomery Burns,Scrooge McDuck, Jed Clampett and heaps more. A good read. Well worth it. FoundationTV in the UK has a short how-to on how to make your own Scratch Cards with a message underneath some paint. Cute.

Michigan Telephone has details on how to install telephone cabling in a house, with particular emphasis on VoIP. Cool article. If more people knew what was in here I would not need to climb under houses and into the roofs of friends to install network cabling and the like like I did yesterday at one point. [OK, well, yesteday I did not need to get into a roof, and the clearance under the house was good which made things easy, and the job was quick. Normally it is not quite so straightforward!]

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Earlier today a friend was looking for a USB controlled fan... They are actually available in oz here. This is cool. What is more bizzare is the USB Controlled Air Dart launcher available for only 20 pounds from Mark and Spencer. You actually control the aiming with the mouse... Cute.

According to the SMH, VIRGIN was forced to make an emergency landing yesterday when the front windshield cracked at 30,000 feet. The pilot made an emergency decent to 10,000 feet just in case the windshield disintergrated. This did not happen, but a number of passengers were injured thanks to the rapid decent.

The FLIKR photo sharing site has a photo of a chineese sign with the worlds worst english. If you look at it here you will see a sign which includes the comment "Have no the adult the child that look after with the old man prohibition against the next sea swimming"
I am just Taking a break from building... Fun.. Anyway, getting stuff delivered by courier is a pain. Yesterday when I was not home I believe that the courier tried to deliver a package for me. This package should have been sent express post, but the people decided to 'expedite' things and send it by courier. Which now means that the package will not arrive until monday or tuesday. Assuming I am home that is! Australia Post will just leave me a card in my postbox and I pick it up at my leisure. Australian Air Express will do the same. I just wish that other couriers could deliver to the post office like that.

Travel in News.Com.Au has a story about Artists in Broken Hill with a spectacular photo of a sculpture. Aparently Broken Hill, which is where I was born, has more artists per person than anywhere else in the country.

Why is it that software that works really really well in the lab fails as soon as you try to show it off? Case in point. I have been working with a reseller in Canada with some satellite hardware. Fantastic. It has been working. Until he actually tried running a report on the historical data. And then the program unceremoniously crashed! I worked out that the probelm was because I have a database of place names, and in this case every single position was really, really far away from all the place names, since all the places are in Australia, and the positions were in Canada.

I really need to spend some more time working on the reporting side of the software. A couple of weeks back I was talking with frineds, and the subject of Crystal Reports came up. Thinking about that later I realised I had a few copies of the software since I have Visual Studio and Crystal Reports is included. I now just need to work out how to drive the software from VB.NET. Most of the examples given have Crystal Reports being set up to go straight to a database to get the data. I need to get the data via a Web Service, and then process the data. I am guessing that you can do much of this processing in VB.NET but I have not tried yet.

I was looking at 'The Register' this morning, and they had a news story that I am intrigued about. A police officer in the UK gave a two year old child a caution for driving on the road without a license or insurance. The child was in a toy motorised car, and was being supervised though. But the police concidered it a motor vehicle, requiring it to be driven by a licensed driver.

Friday, December 02, 2005

With these storms it has been interesting comparing the weather radar with the lightning plots. The lightning plots with this storm have just been increasing over the last hour, to a point where there are now about 450 lightning strikes per minute. That is a just an amazing level... During the day I have been watching the storm come across...

It looks like Larry Ellison from Oracle is about to be a bit poorer as he has just been ordered by a judge to pay over $100m to charities as settlement over a court case. It would be nice to have so much money that $100m is just a drop in the ocean. SMH has a story about how a cat was accidently shipped as a stow away to france from the USA. AS a PR Exercise, the airline returned the cat business class...
I just had an interesting email from a mailing list I belong to. It is from a group called the DLF, or the Digital Labourers Federation - which is just a collection of people interested in the digital side of movies and the like. They were advertising a position that looked really cool - which was for a positioning technology specialist. If the job was not in the USA I might actually apply for it since it looks so cool. The job is with Rhythm and Hues in LA, which is actually owned by a friend of a friend. But really I do not want to be working in the USA... Besides which working for myself is rather cool.

The Register is reporting that the founder of MP3.COM is releasing a new service that integrates with iTunes to upload your digital music to a secure service on the Internet so that you can listen to your music anywhere. They are calling this Oboe, and believe that it is legal... Ir at least more legal than the previous MP3.COM offerings which allowed you to listen to music online that you had proved that you already owned.

A few days back I had a discussion with a colleague over the cost of bricklaying... My colleague did not believe that bricklayers were charging over $1 per brick. I found an onlne reference to this from 2002 that noted that the price per brick was at that time up to $1.50 per brick. This is a lot of money!
Building has been fun today... We have so far drilled some holes, and then pulled the plane apart... The plane is almost unrecognisable at the moment. We then need to prepare parts and then paint everything. So things are going well... We are looking at painting tomorrow but that is not definite. I dont think there is too much involved in getting all the parts ready for painting but I could be wrong.

I think my body is enjoying the day off from doing running... Four days in a row was probably enough... Five days would have been a bit too much I think... Anyway not running today is nice.

SMH has an interesting article about a canadian who has managed to rack up 1,000,000 frequent flyer miles in 61 days. Not a bad effort...
I hope to get lots of building done today - The idea is that if possible we get some painting done tomorrow. We will have to see how that goes I think... Maybe we will just get the prep work done... We will se...

Wired magazine has a story about a man in Alaska who wants to install a Cyclotron in his garage in order to generate radioactive isotopes for PET scans. The locals are rather scared, comparing this device to a nuclear reactor. Whilst I am not convinced that the Cyclotron is dangerous, I am inclined to think that it should be installed in a business park, not inside a home. Hmm.

The O'Reily MAKE magazine has released their list of christmas gifts generally under US$100. Some of these are pretty geeky, and I think many would only appeals to a subset of geeks too. Still, not a bad list.

Whirlpool has a story listing the current state of the VoIP playing field in Oz. Interesting. It looks like Telstra is attempting to bypass the ACCC as part of shutting down the CDMA network. This is to be expected of the current Telstra management I guess. Also on the telco side, Skype have just released a beta which includes video calling. The LA Times is reporting that Scientists have found Ebola in three species of fruit bats commonly used for food in Africa. This could explain where the disease hides when there are no infections for years.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

From the SMH, comes news that some Australians have been involved in a bobsleigh accident. They are attempting to qualify for February's Winter Olympics, had been given the go ahead to start their practice run at the Winter Olympics site when disaster struck at the ninth turn. The pair's sled hit German Raimund Bethge who was standing on the track leaving the German with two broken legs and trauma to the head although he escaped concussion.

From The Inquirer comes news that Microsoft has held its weirdest press conference ever. They held it in an Irish bar on St Andrew's Day - using the event as a wake celebrating the death of Exchange Server 5.5. And in XBOX 360 news comes advice that you can use an external HDD with a USB interface to bypass some of the limits that Microsoft have added to the XBOX.
The next two days are going to be fun... I am working on the plane most of the next two days... Apart from some breaks for work as required. With 802.11 and 3G I do not think I will have any issues getting work done as required. And of course my phone diverts to my mobile... Welcome to the 21st century...

According to the BBC, Police in El Salvador say they have exposed a planned bank heist after finding two naked would-be robbers digging a tunnel towards the vault. Or should I say that the robbers have been exposed. They were digging a long tunnel from a disused house into the basement of a bank when they had a cave in, and needed to tunnel up to save themselves. But they were so hot in the tunnel they had removed all their clothing. Meaning when they tried to escape they were totally naked apart from the dirt they were digging in.

The SMH has a review of the New Harry Potter film which opened today. Interesting review, which basically said 'Nice movie, but not great!'. LinuxJournal has an article on how to build a terabyte backup system for Linux.
I have just got home from my meeting... It went really well... Really really well. The requirements seemed to have simplified somewhat which is good. That in turn reduces the risk involved with the project. And since I am a partner in the project, reducing the risk is always a really good thing. What is just as good is that there were relatively few items to be added to my to-do list out of this meeting. Not none, but few. And they seemed really impressed with the work I had been doing too.

Right now I am waiting on a phone call. I had a call about mid-day and the person was calling from Brisbane. He suggested calling back 3-3:30 when I said I was out, and I said fine. And I was only leaving North Ryde just before 3:00 since I was running later than I thought I would be. Thankfully I thought he was talking my time. Actually he was talking his time, or 4:00 his time. I would have been in trouble if it was the other way around.

Lunch was also nice. I had a japanese dish at the Macquarie Centre, with an egg and onion and rice. I am not sure what it was since i did not order it, but I will certainly have it again if I can work out what it was... I really liked it. I like japanese, although it has been a few years since I last had it... I will have to get chineese more often.
Add another 6km to my total... I have just got back from running, and I was out there for 42 minutes and did exactly 6km - and although it was not as far as yesterday, I do think I did a fairly good job. I am not running as fast as I would have liked, but really I do not think that is the point. The point is to get exercise, and this is definitely good exercise. What I am finding is that I am generally getting tired in the runs now, rather than getting out of breath, or getting a stich, or anything else.

I do love having the iPod out the whilst I am running. I use the fast forward a lot to jump between songs on suffle... There are so many songs that are no good for running, or I just do not want to hear. And I get to hear the strange pieces of music from my collection. Case in point was the song 'Le Voyage' by Harrison Hogan. Kevin Crossley, a friend of mine from New Zealand gave me this album. He worked on a number of tracks as a producer and sound designer.

Anyway, the song Le Voyage is a beautiful soundscape. And it is totally in french. The chorus goes
Le Voyage
C'est La Vie
La Vie
C'est Le Voyage

or translated into english, using my limited knowledge of french
The voyage,
That is Life
My Life
Is a Voyage

Anyway I should get going... I need to get some more liquid into me following the run... And then get off to this meeting
The new Harry Potter movie is due out today... Not sure when I will get to see it - I am busy today with a meeting. Tomorrow I will probably be working on the plane, and probably much of the weekend too. So it may need to wait a week or two until I see the movie. I really want to see it when I can.

RIght now I am attempting to sort out a PayPal problem. When PayPal started it was not usable in Australia so I registered with a USA address... And never used the account. And then I created an account with a local address and a different Email. The problem is I just had a client send me money with my old Paypal, and I need to move the money out. This could get interesting to resolve.

I have been thinking ('Yes, I know it is a dangerous thing to do') about the M7. I know they are going to have some speed cameras on the road, but really, why bother. They have more than enough information anyway. The record when you enter the road, and when you exit the road. They know how far you have driven, and how long it took. Therefore they can use this information to tell if you are speeding. I bet they will be using it to determine how well the road is running, even if they are not sending out speeding tickets. But my guess is that this will be one of the first roads in NSW to have that type of speed detection.

The SMH contains a Story reporting claims from a psychiatrist that electromagnetic "smog" from mobile phone networks and whitegoods could affect mood and behaviour. The doctor has apparently found a link between the suicide rate and increases geomagnetic storms, triggered by solar flares. Hmm.

According to C-NET, the FCC have just released a report noting that A-La-Carte pricing for cable tv is economically viable. That is, rather than choosing a package of channels to watch, you choose actual channels. If you watch news but not sports, you do not need to get the sports channels. But if you for instance love AFL you can add that single sports channel. For some reason, the cable companies want to force you into more channels than you want, probably so that they can get more income in.