Sunday, November 30, 2008

Birthday returns

Due to preparing for another operation (on the 28th), the foods I could eat on the 26th were quite limited. No seeds or grains really cuts down my preferred foods list (no tomatoes, rice ...) At least my birthday wasn't on the day before the operation - when I couldn't eat anything!

I ran around during the day, getting my hair cut, going shopping, etc. My doctor even gave me a birthday present - bulk billing my appointment ;-)

I scored a bunch of books, a decent set of kitchen scales, and a grill/griddle, amongst other things. After wrestling the Griddler out of its rather beaten up box, I discovered that one of the drainage cups were missing, and the cleaning tool was snapped in half. The grill plates had been cleaned (!), but there was still oil on the housing. I was horrified that David Jones had not checked that they sold a new item rather than a return, and I was even more horrified that someone believed it was ok to return a used appliance with accessories broken and missing.

David Jones swapped it over, and I got to use it on Saturday when I got home from the hospital. Easier to use than a jaffle iron :-) and much easier to keep clean. I foresee fewer breakfasts eaten out...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Magnetosphere shortcuts

The built-in iTunes music visualiser, Magenetosphere (the best of the 5 provided visualisers in my opinion), has a few advertised and a few hidden 'shortcuts' to change settings. Unfortunately I haven't found one that saves the settings for when you next start the visualisation.
If you find any more shortcuts, please let me know!

?Toggle help screen
MChange modeCycles through about 20 different modes
PChange palleteDoes not work in all modes
IToggle track info
CToggle auto-cycle (on by default)Cycles through all modes
FToggle freeze modeLights still pulse, but effects are frozen
NToggle nebula modeOnly works when in certain modes
LToggle camera lock
EEnhance nebulaOnly works when in Nebula mode
AAdd light particlesThere are about 5 levels
SSubtract light particles
+Increase light intensityThere are about 5 levels
-Decrease light intensity
RResetResets light intensity and particle count to their default values

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Virtualisation wishlist

I looks like the virtualisation software available at the moment on the Mac, although massively improved in recent months, is still not adequate for me. The following aspects are those I consider important for how I use computers/applications:

  • cut/paste and drag/drop across all applications (Mac/Windows/Linux)
  • smooth and adaptive multi-monitor support (not just 2 monitors)
  • comprehensive game support (for large 'civilization building' games and first person and graphics intensive games, not that much into first person shooters though)
  • major applications supported without continual reactivation (MS Office, photography software, etc.)
  • flexible boot support, into both native OS and virtual OS from the same installation location
  • full read/write support between file systems
  • preferably fast, low latency and absolutely robust (at least as much as the virtualised OS)

Parallels and Fusion (VMWare), do cover many of these points, and can use a Windows installation from a Bootcamp partitition. Unfortunately MS Office requires re-activation with each native/virtual swap, in line with their licensing agreements, which is a shame, because I am using Office on only one computer, in one environment at any one time.

CrossOver can't cut/paste drag/drop between virtual Windows and Mac applications. Bootcamp can't see the Mac filesystem.

Parallels is rumoured to currently have the better game support, but failed to play my current game Caesar IV (not really a new game), and was not completely happy with a much earlier game (Settlers 3).

For the time being, I'll avoid virtualisation, and deal with the frustration of working in two mostly separate operating systems.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Limits on post retrieval (Ecto+Blogger/Livejournal)

New computer, new installation of Ecto. Unfortunately pulling old posts from Blogger seems to be limited to 500 (despite changing Ecto's preferences). I suspect this is on the Blogger side, because Ecto can only retrieve 25 posts from Livejournal (using the Atom 1.0 interface), which is definitely a Livejournal limitation.

I got around this last time by using Wordpress, but don't want to have to do that again. It was painful and time consuming. So, how does Ecto deal with using data from a previous installation on a different computer. I guess I'll find out later today...

Sunday, October 5, 2008


nifwlseirff on flickr
Went on a really long drive, up through the hills and far away, the long way to Healesville. Next to one of the smaller roads on the way to Narbethong (essentially one lane), a fairly young wombat was munching on the grass. Luckily there was enough space at the side of the road a little further down to pull over, and thankfully I had remembered to bring my camera.

He really wanted to munch on that particular patch of grass, and ran away a couple of times, only to return when we walked away. Considerately, he stuck his head into the sun, so we did finally get a few good photos, after swearing at my camera for not taking decent photos in the shade.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Manifest 2008

nifwlseirff on flickr
Manifest 2008 was a lot of fun, and I was a lot more relaxed this year (picking my registration card up on the Friday with no queue to wait in helped enormously). There were more cosplayers than ever, but the anime sessions were less well attended.

A few non-anime sessions seemed to not go ahead (wushi demonstration and the pocky eating competition!), and I didn't take anywhere near as many photos as I thought I would. It was great catching up with various friends. Unfortunately I had to leave early on the Sunday - I had wanted to see some of the later anime sessions. Most of the anime shown was quite old (for licensing and rating reasons, I have heard), but the one thing that I missed from last year, was a decent programme, that had a blurb about each session, and a timetable. I hear there were massive problems with the committee, and the printing of the booklets was one of the things to suffer. My photos are up on Flickr.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Strange iPhone problems

After setting up my iPhone last week, I found that there were some touch screen calibration issues - I couldn't touch the setup icon in the Koi Pond application - the screen ended before the point where the application wanted me to touch.

Thanks to a rather Apple saturated home, and installing the TouchTrain application on another iPhone and a Touch, my iPhone clearly showed it was registering touches about 5-10 pixels above where you actually touched.

A genius at the new Apple store in Chadstone happily handed over a replacement after a demonstration, and after setting it up and restoring it from a previous backup of my 'old' iPhone under Windows, the replacement also showed the same problem.

Setting up the 'new' iPhone as a new phone (not restoring it from a previous backup), fixed the problem. (Hmmm.... my electonic-disrupting field has been working overtime recently...)

My theory, is that the original backup 'image' was from a Touch, which had been trained or calibrated to my typing style. I had backed up my contacts to a Mac version of iTunes, and happily these made it back onto the new phone without affecting the touch calibration. If anyone knows the real reason why this problem occurred, I'd love to know!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A good weekend

Buddha's tears
nifwlseirff on flickr
Shopping for anime with a friend and having tempura for lunch, receiving a wonderful present, and winning mahjongg after a yummy dinner, made for a good weekend. Although I'm quite tired now!

The iPhone is very time consuming to set up, especially when there are so many apps to sort through. Most of them are quite crap, and I still haven't found a good free PDF reader and file manager! And I can't get into the setup for Koi Pond ;>

The Buddha's tears tea from the Tea and Coffee Hub in Box Hill is smooth with only a tiny hint of jasmine - quite different to the T2 Buddha's tears (which is full of jasmine). Very drinkable, but I prefer a little more jasmine.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Migrating from Livejournal to Blogger

Migrating from Livejournal to Blogger, was a painful process. I am still appalled at the lack of standard import/export formats and tools. Really, it should not have been this difficult to migrate a blog! I copied over all the comments (manually - urgh), but have yet to 'fix' the categories/tags. The steps I took:
  • backed up LJ account with LjArchive, on Windows and exported to an XML file
  • used a account to import the XML file (this lost the categories)
  • used Ecto on the Mac to grab all of the posts from the account (this lost the comments, and Ecto refused to grab the LJ posts, Windows Ecto just didn't work :-\)
  • copied all the posts from the Wordpress blog in Ecto, to a new Blogger blog in Ecto
  • a kindly Google employee temporarily increased my API posting quota, and I published all the 'unpublished' Blogger blog entries from Ecto in one lump (the Blogger API limits you to 50 posts per 24 hour period)
  • manually entered the comments, using LjArchive and the Blogger comment interface (viewing only those posts with comments is easy in LjArchive)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Future walking

New boots
nifwlseirff on flickr

The soles on my last hiking boots (Salomon sensifit) wore through surprisingly quickly. In under 3 years, they needed to be resoled. Admittedly, I wore them nearly all the time, but for the price that I had paid, I expected a longer lasting shoe. The fabric at the back of the heels had also worn through (fabric always does), but otherwise the tops of the boots were still very wearable. They were still very comfortable, so I decided to take them into the recommended hiking boot repairer (Walkalong in Camberwell).

Unfortunately, they are now unwearable. The sole that was fitted (and glued quite sloppily), seems to be less wide. The outsides of my feet now sit on the sharp edge of the new soles. *ouch*

So.... off to get new shoes, that are decent enough for work. I ended up with a pair of Asolo leather hiking boots. Very solid, inflexible, but quite comfortable. I shan't be driving in these just yet. I wonder how long they will take to break in, and how long they will last.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A whirlwind tour of Japan

Modern ojizosan
nifwlseirff on flickr
My trip to Japan was amazing and exhausting... including the earthquake which left me stranded in Sendai! ;> The lush greeness makes Australia look positively brown, especially during winter. I'm already saving for my next trip, but this time I must avoid the rainy season, and travel south to visit friends.

I was able to book hotels over a rather patchy mobile phone connection, and stumble my way through a very long conversation during a hike in Japanese, which I was very happy about.

My blue hair got mixed reactions from all ages - some loved it, some looked at me strangely then walked away. I was approached by one primary school group wanting to practice their English while in Nikko.

After a few days of huge amounts of walking on uneven ground, my ankle was unhappy, so I cut out a few hikes and visited a few more touristy places. Still, 220km walked during this trip!

I took about 1800 photos!

My itinerary and the weather looked something like below.

Narita: temples and park, overcast/patchy rain
Chuzenji ko: pouring and cold one day, gorgeous the next (warm and humid), hiked from Yuno ko to Chuzenji ko on the second day.
Nikko: temples, waterfalls, long walks and a stunning imperial villa, overcast/raining -- my favourite place - the sound of running water everywhere!

(3 days sleeping in Sendai - 3 different hotels :-\ )
Sendai: museum and castle ruins, hot and humid -- an incredible number of crows!
Hiraizumi: temples and a very long uphill walk/hike, very hot and humid -- lots of bugs
Sendai: earthquake... *pout* very hot and humid, and very frustrating. I didn't get to see Kakunodate this trip!

Hirosaki: samurai houses, town, zen temple precinct, castle grounds and parks, warm and overcast -- nice place!
Mount Iwate: Was gorgeous, but then the clouds rolled in and cancelled my hike down the mountain - visibility was incredibly poor, hot then mild and raining -- back to Hirosaki for an izakaya meal

(Hokkaido region)
Hakodate: town and night view from Mount Hakodate, hot and dry, then cold at night -- I am very short when compared to this generation of Japanese school kids.

Asahikawa: a long train trip from Hakodate, meant little sightseeing, very very hot and dry -- apparently it was a heatwave!

Wakkanai: northern shore, parks, small town (only one convenience store!), cold and raining.
Rebun/Rishiri: long day, ferry and bus tours, very cold and pouring. The mist stopped me from seeing much at all - not worth doing this in poor weather. Back to Wakkanai to defrost with warm sake and a good meal. Had there been good weather, this would have been a hike.

(I skipped Sapporo - didn't feel like visiting another city, and jumped back to Tohoku region....)
Wakkanai -> Morioka: 13 hours on 4 trains with a maximum of 10 minutes between each connection. Warm and humid.

Chuzenji ko: onsen and yummy food - it was pouring, so I didn't do my planned boat tour of the lake.

(Note to self and other non-Japan-residents - don't travel JR without a JR Pass.... awfully expensive!)
Tokyo: detached palace garden (Shiodome), very hot and humid. On Mondays most things are closed :-\
Tokyo: B arrived and we went shopping! (Yodobashi camera) Government building for the view from on high, then Ueno park, very hot and humid

Then to Germany (Bremen) for a whirlwind 3 days of catching up with family and friends and squeezing in some shopping, then a 54 hour trip home, only 8 hours of which is time difference...... *yuck*
From Japan I miss the food, cleanliness, green-ness, convenience stores and vending machines. :-) And the history... Australia is simply too young! I don't miss the insects!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

In the land of the living

nifwlseirff on flickr
It's been too long since I posted last. Increased work hours and project commitments meant I spent most of my 'spare' time away from the keyboard. However, changing circumstances (downshifting) means I will soon have a little more time and energy to focus on more important things.

Japan was incredible, and I already want to go back! The food was scrumptious, and the countryside so green! I walked a lot, experienced a strong earthquake (7.2 at the center), and travelled from Tokyo to Wakkanai and back on the trains.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I saw one of the most scary sights I have ever seen on the way home last night. The hills were glowing red and orange, with the occasional yellow tongue of flame leaping high. The council had planned another controlled burn, this time not that far from my house (two small suburbs away). I hope I never have to see an uncontrolled fire burning in these hills! I guess I won't be walking home any time soon. I think the back-burning throughout the Dandenong ranges was planned throughout April, May and June this year.

Many other houses in the area were adding to the pall of smoke over the hills, because burning off is still permitted. I don't know whether the recent introduction of a green waste collection will help to reduce the smoke levels on permitted burn-off days.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A long road

Last week I walked home from work, over the hill that was in the way. It took me 4.5 hours, partly due to a couple of mis-advertised roads and tracks on google maps, but I did it. The last 1.5 hours or more, were in darkness. At least I managed to reach 'back' streets as it was getting fully dark, but it would certainly have been easier in daylight! These streets were sometimes unpaved, grassy in spots, with very few street lamps.

Chandler track is steep. Really, really steep. For what seemed like an eternity, I was pushing upwards, stopping to catch my breath regularly. I was not at all prepared for such a hill climb. A few wallabies (or very small kangaroos) bounced away from the trail - it's the first time I've seem them in the wild. Other than that, and a flock of red-breasted tiny birds and the odd magpie, I saw no wildlife. There were no other people on the track, which was probably wise, seeing as it was dusk.

I was really disappointed that, no matter where I was, I could hear traffic. Sure, the noise receded, but it was always there. On a positive note, there was no litter on the track!

Mast Gully road is quite an incredible walk, down. It's also very steep, with no sidewalk, or even a good place to step off the road to make way for traffic. Luckily, cars were few and far between. Again, google maps misrepresented a few roads, so there were a few phone calls home to get directions. Especially towards the end, when I was exhausted.

4 restful days later, and I'm still sore and recovering. I'd love to do it more regularly, but the daylight hours are shrinking, and I won't be able to leave work early in the near future.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Unfortunately, it looks like the two new medications for fibro may not be of any use to me. It seems that there has not been any further development of anti-epileptic or nerve-relaxant medications for fibro. Most of the recent developments focus on anti-depressants and anti-inflammatories, both of which are essentially useless to me.

Duloxetine and milnacipran, proposed by the specialist, are based on anti-depressants. One in particular works very similarly to Effexor - a nightmare medication to stop. Three months of gradual dose reduction and another 2 months to get past the withdrawal effects (constant mini-black outs). Not something I ever want to repeat!
Most of the anti-depressants I have trialled do nothing or instead, worsen symptoms, and all seem to have awful side effects. Then there are the ones I'm allergic to. Yay.

I will stick with the tiny dose of gabapentin, the only thing that keeps me asleep at night. Strangely, my borg body has not yet adapted to this tiny dose!

Monday, March 10, 2008


My trip to Japan and Germany in June has been booked and paid for - I'm so excited! Now I need to work out an itinerary for Japan. I'll be focusing on the northern Honshu and Hokkaido areas, looking at loads of parks, temples, castles, onsen and 'wildernessy' areas. I'm hoping to stay in ryokan for much of the trip, but not sure how to get up-to-date information and reviews. Next trip will be a southern trip to catch up with pen-friends and see Kyoto and Nara.

Now, I have a date by which I must improve my Japanese vocabulary and listening comprehension!! It's so much easier to read and write in Japanese that it is to hear and respond. ;>

Sunday, February 24, 2008

So busy

Sprain, at just over 2 weeks
We are heading towards a massive deadline at work, with overtime being the norm. Unfortunately with flex-time being actively discouraged, this time seems to be non-recoverable.

I managed to get through the week of looong work hours, and even increased my step count, to the protestations of my ankle. It is definitely improving, making the osteopath happily tell me I'm allowed to strap it only every second day. Ouch.

Looks like the toe on my other foot may actually be fractured. Xrays were mostly inconclusive, and I can't afford to stop walking, so it will remain in this condition indefinitely.

Trying to find a good deal through a real person for my trip to Germany with an extended stop-over in Japan in June. We'll see early this week if they can come close to the website deals.

Anyhow... am not online much, thanks to the hectic work schedule, and still meant to be studying in my 'spare time' (it's just not happening at the moment).