Monthly Archives: December 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!

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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!

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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

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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…

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