Friday, January 28, 2005

Dance translated to music (for toddlers)

This toddler toy looks neat. It translates movement into music (different styles of music and sensitivity are selectable). I hadn't heard of something like this before. I can see such a toy being a Playstation control to create funky graphics as well as music. I can also see the applications of this in the realm of music therapy, especially for kids. Cute!

The Essential It's so Natural, by Alan Hayes

This is an absolutely fantastic book, packed full of natural remedies and recipes for all kinds of things! Topics covered include cleaning, body care, natural toiletries, natural health care, first aid, fragrance products, gifts, natural home products (including discussions about choice of of furniture, wall coverings, textiles, floors, appliances, shoes and more), pest control and so much more. The section on gardening is very easy to follow and covers the usual topics, such as composting, worms, pest control, fertilisers as well as keeping chooks and choosing the right plants for your garden.

Alan writes in an easy to read conversational manner, all the ideas are sensible and no-nonsense. The Australian author provides a list of further reading and resources (including many Australian references), which although somewhat out of date, most entries are still relevant. This is a book that I definitely intend to purchase when I get the chance.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Spirit of the Living Room, by Jane Alexander

This is a book full of beautiful ideas to enhance, declutter and decorate a living room. Jane looks at what the living room is used for and discusses various decoration themes based on the main use of the room. Feng shui techniques are used, energy flow is explored, colour and fabric use is discussed and aromatherapy basics are introduced. Energy cleansing techniques and simple blessings are also touched on briefly, and ways of using sound and textures are also considered. Creative storage ideas and finishing touches lend a practical aspect.

Beautiful illustrations enhance this simple book, written in an easy to follow, conversational tone, making this a useful resource for designing, creating and decorating a relaxing, practical and gorgeous family living space.

Sacred Space, by Denise Linn

Denise Linn has written a down to earth book, packed with ideas for creating peaceful, energetic, and happy atmospheres both at the office and home. Decoration ideas, the use of colour, light, sound, smell and textures are all discussed in depth, focusing on how each affects the perceptions and feelings of the occupants of the space. Feng Shui ideas are touched on, but a more relaxed approach is encouraged. Denise refers to this as 'intuitive Feng Shui', and is in my opinion, a more sensible way to analyse and decorate any living or working space, as opposed to following rigid 'rules'. Energy cleansing, clearing and enhancing techniqes using music, bells, incense, chanting, and many other tools are discussed.

Often the history of these techniqes is also included, with Denise noting where and how they are used in different cultures. Many anecdotes and practical examples are noted, which increases enthusiasm and understanding for working with your spaces. Although I think some of the decoration and placement sections would benefit from illustrations, there are excellent textual descriptions. There are sections covering gardens and office spaces, often not covered by other books on the same topic. A good reference for creating a 'home with a heart', ideas that are easy to use, and explanations that are easy to read.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

[geek] Suse linux 9.2 online kernal update - don't do it! (& how to fix it)

The online kernal update doesn't correctly change the booting proceedure, so you end up with a kernal panic after detecting hardware.

 This caused a minor panic this morning, and again I am so glad I have another computer to work from, even if it is only a Win98 system.

If you do the online update, you should check that in /boot, initrd is linked to the correct file (with the same ending as the vmlinuz symlink target). ie.     initrd -> initrd.<stuff here>.um     vmlinuz -> vmlinuz.<stuff here>.smb is wrong (and is what my system looked like).

 It needs to be:     initrd -> initrd.<stuff here>.smb

 If you have the kernal panic, put in the boot CD, select installation, select language then select "Boot existing system" - this will create a horrible set of errors on booting, but will give you access to your system.

I'd imagine booting directly to rescue would work too, just mount the system, fix the symlink in /boot and away you go... Source of fix-it information - found with google...

*woot* I recovered my system all by myself!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Education as a 'day job'

An interesting  essay about treating high school as a 'day job'.

Luckily, I was one of those few who did that, and my out of hours concentration went into music (jack-of-all-instruments and bands), loads of reading, working at the library and tennis.

Unfortunately after high school, the music aspect disappeared, tennis disappeared earlier (age 16) about the same time as my contract at the library expired (I got too old - 16), and reading amounts have been declining over the years.

I miss my music... Not piano or the clarinet, but definitely percussion, bass clarinet, and would still love to learn the cello and flute

I think this article should be mandatory reading on every high school and university year level's book list.

And now... I think I really shall go to sleep...

Product services has a very interesting article about Product Service Systems - how to still enjoy a 'stuff-rich' life without all the buying. Although the feed is in my friends list, I decided this was too good an article to miss....

Update to Suse 9.2

Well... after a lot of stress of backing up 17G of stuff from my linux machine to my windows machine, a relatively painless SUSE install from DVD, and now just starting the re-transfer of my backed-up stuff, I am back online, albeit without email, news, bookmarks, or anything else really useful. The personal release of Suse 9.2 contains hardly any of the programs I commonly used (kmoon, kteatime, Umbrello, Lyx, Pybliographer, most of the KDE-programs), so I am very un-impressed, although it was the smoothest installation I had ever witnessed of a linux system. It does mean however, that I will have to operate on a reduced system till February when, once back home, I can use the fast (and not over-quota) connection to get all my missing programs. *sniff* KDE3.4 is due for release sometime in March, and the features list looks spiffy - looking forward to that update.

Health == crap... depression has completely bombed me out. Brother has phoned a couple of times noting that "Nanna would absolutely love to hear from me" as she is in hospital recovering. I haven't given in and phoned anyone to find out what happened or if she is ok. I'm being strong on that front. Not being strong on the food or the 'go outside' fronts. I'm at the stage where I get panicked when I'm about to go outside. Not good... Possibly made worse by weaning off Effexor (down to 2/3 of a dose per night (150mg normal dosage)). I have to go out tomorrow as I only have one tablet left. *sigh*

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Is there such a thing as opposite-SAD, not for winter or lack of light, but in summer? It's my worst time of year, where I hate being outside and really withdraw from the world. My sinuses get a lot worse during summer too (fans and air-conditioning affect it much worse than any form of heating for some reason). I love the cooler, darker weather of Autumn, Winter, Spring.... trouble is, my veggie garden prefers the warmer, brighter weather :-\

Monday, January 10, 2005

Only the strong survive

My windows box has been raised from the dead.

Something took out everything except the processor, memory and the floppy drive.
  • First the power supply was replaced, as we thought that it was just that part, but no... 
  • Memory was replaced... no good, so we stick with the old memory for the time being. 
  • Motherboard was next, swapping over the cpu/fan from the dead one. 
  • That did something, but the fan on the CPU was dead, and needed replacing. 
  • When the hard drives were plugged in, one little bit glowed, smoked and burst into flames. So I lost my Windows drive and data completely and irretrievably! :-\ 
  •  The other drive was recoverable (linux) with a replacement controller board, but there was nothing I needed on there. 
  • Video board was dead. 
  • The CDRom had enough self-control to pull the drawer in and out, but not to turn. 
The current theory is that the power supply failed catastrophically sending a surge down the 12V line, which all the lovely drives were plugged into. The CPU survived as apparently there are loads of protective bits around it.

I think I slept through most of the ordeal, or watched various things on TV, trying to deal with a blinding headache (still have it).

 Installing windows was a pain as the DOS fdisk really can't handle large disks. So Knoppix came in handy ;> Finding drivers for Windows was also not too easy, most of the hardware is years younger than Win98. But, it's all up and running now, with enough space to pack various games in. Yay!

I can see a linux upgrade to Suse 9.2 around the corner too.. but that means backing up current install to the Windows machine, something I'm not looking forward to. But... if it stops the linux box from requiring a file-system check on each start-up, I will be much happier.

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Computers suck!

My legendary ill luck with computers has continued today.

I got a KVM switchy-thingy so I could just the same keyboard/monitor/mouse with both my main linux box and the Windows box I occasionally use for games (or stuff that just must be done in something MS).

Unfortunately the cables or the switch itself isn't that good quality as the video signal was being reflected (everything had these lovely ghost echoes that hurt my head).

So.... decided to return that, and just test the screen with my windows box, which had been recently moved to the main desk, but hadn't been used for a couple of months. It decided not to turn on. Not even just to twitch the fan. Grrrr. Probably a power supply...

I am taking this to be a hint that I really should not be playing games while I house-sit.

Saturday, January 8, 2005


I learnt something important last night - that if I drop a heavy dictionary on my foot corner first, it will hurt a ridiculous amount! The corner landed right next to my big toe joint, and broke one/more blood vessels as it bruised badly immediately. I iced it and kept it elevated overnight and currently it's a little swollen, quite blue/black/purple, my big toe doesn't have that much mobility, but I'm quite sure I'll make a full recovery. I won't be walking anywhere for a bit, or wearing shoes for a couple of days as they normally put pressure on that area. Annoying, as I needed to do some garden work before I leave to house-sit on Tuesday, for a month. I'm sure Gingy will miss me horribly as he is getting to be uber-dependant - crying if he doesn't know where I am or can't get to me (outside, closed doors, etc). Tummy has been upset for a couple of days, am powering through Bolletje (better than Zweiback - a little sweeter and lighter), lemonade, mint tisane and Mylanta tab-thingys. I hope it doesn't continue much longer.

Friday, January 7, 2005

Wake up!

Anyone heard of a progressive wake up clock available in Australia? (I found this one in the US, but the shipping is via UPS and for a US$50 item, US$100 is a little too steep!). Ideally it would also be able to provide nice relaxing 'nature' sounds to help get to sleep, or meditate, etc. similar to the reverse option provided by the clock above. I also like the idea of this zen chime clock, which is more expensive, and probably less useful. It is available in/to Australia for about AU$150, but I'd have to hunt to find where on the net is was available.