Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Vegemite Not for Birds

VegemiteVegemite truly tastes awful. I bought the smallest bottle I can find, and still took me months before I ran out of things to spread on my bread, and was forced to try it.

I have this habit of walking down to the Pyrmont Point and eating my breakfast on one of the benches along the promenade. Today's bread is a bit tough on the edges so I peeled part of it and threw it to the bird waiting on me. He had a hard time, too but managed to break it into smaller pieces. The Vegemite spread was so bad, I decided to share some of it with my bird friend. He walked near the piece with the Vegemite, took a whiff, and walked away. Didn't even look back once.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Importance of Being Focused

IBM x335Not much use being earnest with a server like an IBM xSeries 335. What you need when installing software on a pizza box is focus. The server knows when you're not concentrating and it'll do it's own thing if you don't pay attention.

The first time the x335 booted, I was reading emails, so I didn't get to press F12, which will force it to do a network boot and fetch the primary OS from the FEWS laptop. Second time around, I was able to press F12, but went back to my emails while the kernel is loading. I forgot that the priOS will prompt for the hardware type. The server got tired of waiting, so it chose the cp1 option when the right one should be x335. In the middle of the install process, I noticed that some important files were missing. A quick check of the previous commands showed that I missed a parameter, which meant a re-installation.

Sometimes I feel the more we try to multitask and maximize time, the more time is wasted.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Top 20 Geek Novels

Informal survey was conducted by Jack Schofield, resident computer editor of The Guardian, through Survey Monkey. Results shown below:

  1. The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
  2. Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
  3. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
  4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip Dick
  5. Neuromancer - William Gibson
  6. Dune - Frank Herbert
  7. I, Robot - Isaac Asimov
  8. Foundation - Isaac Asimov
  9. The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett
  10. Microserfs - Douglas Coupland
  11. Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
  12. Watchmen - Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
  13. Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
  14. Consider Phlebas - Iain M Banks
  15. Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein
  16. The Man in the High Castle - Philip K Dick
  17. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
  18. The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson
  19. The Illuminatus! Trilogy - Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
  20. Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham
Not so happy that I've only read 5 out of 20. I have Neal Stephenson's books stashed somewhere and Microserfs, so those are next on my reading list.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Question of the Day

Imagine you're a pretty systematic driver. After parking, you put the gear in park, engage the handbrake, take your foot off the brake pedal, switch the airconditioner to fan, turn off the car stereo, switch off the fan, switch off the engine, unfasten your seatbelt, disengage the lock, open the door, step out of the car, close the door, and engage the car's security system.

What would you have thought/felt when you get back to the parking lot after a few hours to find your car unlocked with the engine idling?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Becoming an Australian

Australian FlagI'm truly on my way to becoming a true Australian. No, I still can't sing Advance Australia Fair or the other national anthem, or applied for a passport, but I did buy a Victa lawnmower from KMart last weekend (after months of letting the lawn take care of itself). I'll make sure the immigration officer knows about this when I go for my citizenship interview next month. I might just buy an edge trimmer or a barbie for additional brownie points.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Thank You, John Safran

Winning Goal - Australia vs. UruguayTonight, the Australian Socceroos take on Uruguay at the Telstra Stadium for a spot in next year's FIFA World Cup in Germany. Just to give you an idea of how important the game is, Australia hasn't seen action at the World Cup finals since 1974. To win a place, the Socceroos need to win by two clear goals in this second leg of the qualifier.

Watching the game (on SBS), one can see that Uruguay is definitely better than the Aussie team, who kept passing the ball around. Things started to pick up when Harry Kewell came in. All of a sudden, there was renewed spirit and a sense of direction. By half-time, it's 1-0 Australia, courtesy of Marco Bresciano. The Aussies never let off the pressure, but the Uruguay defense is tight as a drum. So at the end of the 90-min. regulation time, it's still 1-0 Australia (1-1 aggregate), forcing a 30-min. extra time.

Lots of tries and misses and saves, but no solid goals, and so the match goes into a penalty shootout. After the smoke has cleared, Australia beats Uruguay 4-2 on penalties with Harry Kewell, Lucas Neil, Tony Vidmar and Jon Aloisi scoring successful goals. Special mention goes to Mark Schwarzer for pulling off two spectacular saves.

John Safran vs GodBut let's not forget John Safran. Rumors has it that the Socceroos had a curse placed on them when they were playing Zimbabwe in 1969. They got a witchdoctor to put a curse on the opposing team, so the Aussies won the match. They left without paying for the witchdoctor's services, so he then placed a curse on the team. Since then, it's all downhill for the Socceroos. In John Safran vs. God, Safran tracked down the same witchdoctor in Mozambique, and offered to pay the fee (plus interest???) in order to lift the curse. Aside from that, he had to undergo a ritual, where he is sprayed with chicken blood.

Australia, say thank you to John Safran!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Black Books in The Office

TheDropped by the library this afternoon, and was fortunate enough to find a copy of The Office: The Complete Second Season DVD on the racks. I've watched Season One and the Christmas Specials before, so this is the missing link I've been looking for. What will happen to David Brent after the branch merger? Will Tim and Dawn become a couple? Will Gareth ever develop a sense of humour?

Black BooksA few weeks ago, I was watching another British comedy series - Black Books. It's about this grumpy, sadistic bookshop owner named Bernard Black, whose only purpose in life is to read books, get drunk, torture his assistant (Manny Bianco) , and drive away all the customers. Fran, who is their next-door neighbor, acts as the mediator. The whole series is quite entertaining as the episode plots are over-the-top ludicrous and the slapstick is hilarious.

Just noticed that Dawn (Lucy Davis) and Bernard (Dylan Moran) play as Dianne and David in the movie Shaun of the Dead.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

So That's How They Do It

There are two things you can do to boost user traffic to your blog:

  1. Make a controversial comment. Say, something like (paraphrased): "Handicapped toilets shouldn't be for the disabled only. Having a physical disability is their disadvantage, but their bladders are still working, right? They should queue up for the toilet just like everyone else then." Guaranteed to generate lots of comments and discussion on the other blogs and forums, thereby boosting the site statistics.
  2. If it's not in your character to be tactless or rude or crass, do as I do. Write about the offending article, or link to it. Better if someone will actually link to your post. One way or another, some of the user traffic will come your way. Just a day after writing about Miss Cheng, my daily hits trebled.
My site statistics has since dropped down to normal, which explains this post. :-)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

flickr Off

flickrKeen-eyed visitors to my blog will notice something new. Amid the past post links, the Adsense ads, the Google search box, and the mini-banners, you'll find my own flickr Zeitgeist. Actually, that's the only reason I signed for a flickr account. Everybody's been raving about the service, but I don't really get what the fuss is about.

It's a site where you upload digital photos. That's it. What makes it different from other services is that it has a vibrant community of users who actively views and comments on pictures. A free account gives you only 20MB of uploads per month. High-resolution images are resized or scaled down. Only three photosets and the photostream view shows only the last 200 images. Upgrading to a pro account eliminates these restrictions, but you have to shell out US$24.95 a year.

Thanks, but I'll stick with the free account. Enjoy the Zeitgeist while it lasts.

Monday, November 07, 2005

DSL Dreams

Lately I have been in the habit of working in the dining room while watching TV. If a good show is up, I'll ditch the laptop and hop on the cushy couch. By the middle of the show, I'll be sound asleep only to wake up at 2am or 3am. No a good way to prepare for the next working day.

One time, I dozed off to sleep again and dreamed that I was working on my laptop. As I am wont to do, I surf over to my DSL provider to check my online usage. What the?! It's only the start of the month, and I've used about 600+MB already. Just yesterday, it was less than a 100MB. Must be all those nights of leaving the laptop on and Wi-Fi activated. What with all the auto-page refreshes and keepalives and retransmits. I woke up from that nightmare and realized it was just a dream. I put my laptop in suspend mode and went to my bed.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Ni Hao, Wendy Cheng?

Wendy ChengWho is Wendy Cheng? She says she is Singapore's top blogger. A digital lifestyle magazine I picked up during my recent trip to Singapore seems to agree. Recipient of the 2004 and 2005 Weblog Awards for Best Asian Blog, xiaxue.blogspot.com gets 20,000 hits per day. Is it really that popular? The hacker who hijacked her blog seems to think so. What makes a blog good anyway? If I knew, my blog wouldn't be getting only 10 hits per day.

I try not to read other people's blogs, but I read one page of hers (a long one). Definitely not a role model for her visitors, but interesting and loud and R-18 enough to get them coming back for more. Surprisingly (in Singapore), she uses a lot of swear words. She blasts to pieces anyone who crosses her path or criticizes her. I would've thought that the government would've shut down her site by now. Anyway, I feel the blog's a bit commercialized. She mainly talks about parties and events she's been invited to. She models clothes and other products and services, and posts bazillions of pictures. She actively seeks out invitations and endorsements, and readily admits that blogging is her main source of livelihood. (Never ever fault her for that, so she says.)

xiaxue Before and AfterI'll say one thing, if one day she decides to get out of the blogging business, she should become a make-up artist instead. Seriously. Just look at the before and after pictures, and tell me I'm wrong.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Back to Regular Programming

It's been more that a month since I last updated my blog (not counting the Nybble posts). It's always a busy time after coming back from two weeks of overseas training. There's the backlog of office work and emails that need to be dealt with. Bills to pay, mails to read or throw away. Photos to sort, select, annotate, and upload. Blog entries to research, write up, and publish.

Two weeks after I came back, our group leader decided to take a two-week breather in HK. I was made acting group leader. No wonder the guy needed a break. There's almost one meeting I have to attend every day. For any issue that pops up, people go to me instead of dealing directly with the concerned engineer. I start getting calls and emails from people I don't know inquiring about the status of stuff I have no idea about. Our customer calls me for every question they can think of, and each of them is urgent. Just the past two weeks alone, my group received something like half a dozen emergency calls.

I'll be real glad when my colleague comes back from his vacation.