Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Phone Bills

About 9 months ago, Telstra sent me a letter saying that if I didn't mind, they were going to change the frequency of my mobile bill from once a month to once every three months. It seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

Except now whenever I get a mobile bill, I have a small heart attack because the amount I have to pay is 3 times what I'm expecting...


This Applies To So Many Parts Of My Life

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


CD Shops

I think it was the founder of CDNow who went into a record store one day and asked where he could find some Miles Davis CDs. The shop person said "I don't know. Try under 'M'". He was so annoyed that he went out and started his own internet company.

I had a similar moment today while I was looking through CD stores. A helpful staffer had carefully stacked this under "S".

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Just Seen: X-Men - The Last Stand

The best way to describe X-Men 3 is to say it's a sequel. X-Men was a great movie, and everyone I know was pleasantly surprised when X-Men 2 turned out to be just as good if not better then the original. I had high hopes for X-Men 3, but it turn out to just be a sequel.

That's not to say it wasn't good, it's just that they fell into the trap most sequels do - it was like the original but more. More action, more mutants, more explosions, more More MORE! But I did enjoy it - it was a good sequel, it just was no X-Men 2.

Some Of The Good:
Some Of The Bad:
If you enjoyed the first two X-Men movies, then you should definitely go and see number 3.



A Rant About Cinema Chains

My TV is pretty decent. It's by no means massive or impressive, but it is widescreen. If I was so inclined, I could easily trade it in for something truly spectacular for a few thousand. I don't have surround sound, but it is something I'm planning on setting up fairly soon. My living room is very comfortable, with couches you can stretch out on or fill up with friends. It's a short walk from the normally well stocked kitchen or one of our several toilets. We have several video stores within a few minutes drive.

Considering the fact that pretty much everyone these days has a similar "home theatre", I sometimes have to wonder what the cinemas are thinking. Say a movie that I want to see is released. I can wait a couple of months and then hire the DVD for no more than about $5. I can then watch it on my reasonably-sized TV, complete with my soon-to-exist surround sound. If I'm so included, I can watch it with a beer in my hand and a bowl of popcorn, which might add as much as another $5 to the price. I can have some friends over, start it whenever we're all ready and even pause the movie if someone needs to go to the toilet.

Alternatively, I could line up to pay $15 for a ticket (and maybe pay another $10 for warmed up old popcorn), stand around for ages, maybe have to line up to get in, fight for a seat and put up with anyone who decides to be a jerk. Sure, the screen is bigger and the sound is better, but really, not by that much.

Of course, going to the movies is still fun. But every time I go, I'm seeing less and less advantage. The cinemas aren't stupid, and I'm sure they know this. But their solution seems to be to increase their prices more, make things less nice and then complain that DVD sales are killing them.

On Friday night some friends and I were going to see X-Men 3 at Hoyts in Belconnen. I figured that standing in line to buy my ticket was going to be pretty boring, so I when to buy my tickets online. After going through the entire process - including entering my credit card details - the system decided to inform me that actually, that session was sold out. I wasn't convinced, so I decided to try and ring Hoyts to find out. After navigating their phone system, I was left with two options:
  1. Call their session times hotline and pay 84c a minute for the privilege of being told what time the movie would start
  2. Try and talk to a real person, only to have the phone system decide (after 6 rings) that "no operator is available. Exiting system!" and hang up on me.
Fantastic. Wonderfully helpful. We decided that we'd try to buy tickets anyway, and if that failed we'd just go and grab a drink. Turns out they weren't sold out. So I didn't miss out on paying too much money to stand in two different lines for ages.

That massive TV is looking better and better...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Yay! Feedback!

I got some feedback recently about how I've been working. Fortunately it was better than Lindsay's "be nicer and dumber" - apparently I'm nice and dumb enough already.

The summary is that I don't like to do boring work, and sometimes I try so hard to make boring work interesting that I cause more problems for myself. While I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty when faced with a problem, it would be better to spend the time learning about the problem and planning out the best approach before I started. Oh, and I can get easily distracted...

On the plus side, apparently I've got a good attitude towards getting stuff done, I'm prepared to work hard when I need to, and I've got a good technical skill base. And (maybe most importantly) I'm doing a good job.

The question of Developer or Project Manager raised it's head again. Two years ago I was leaning towards PM. At the moment I think I'm leaning towards developer. But who knows?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Don't Worry About This Post

Okay. Most people who read my blog are going to find this a very strange post. If that's the case, don't worry - just mark it as "read" and move on. I'm really just using Blogger for some image storage, since I'm too lazy to bother getting an account with Photobucket or something.

I did these as a half-joke for my gaming group. They're Magic: The Gathering-style cards done for the roleplaying game Exalted. I used the MtG Editor to make the cards, and took the images and text from Exalted 2nd Edition.

Monday, May 22, 2006


More Silk Comments

So it looks like some class got set an assignment to find out where silk came from over the weekend. I suspect this because I had 7 more comments on my Where Does Silk Come From? page. And yes, it's still the top page in Google.

Of course, the comments aren't exactly what I'd might have hoped for...


Wee Jasper Weekend

We took a bunch of scouts and venturers out to Wee Jasper over the weekend. It was fantastic. It's been so long since I had a weekend where I could really get away from it all, and it's been even longer since I last went camping. So just for that it was a great weekend.

Saturday afternoon I did a bit of abseiling. Nothing too extreme - scouts aren't allowed to abseil anything higher than 30 metres - but still lots of fun. The bigger of the two drops had a section where you couldn't touch the rockface even if you wanted to.

That night, the rock team took four venturers and myself through the Dip cave and into the Gong Room. It was the first "real" caving I'd done - I've been into caves before, but only ever the ones upright through and have hand rails and stuff. As one of the instructors said, proper caving is just rock climbing in the dark without a harness. To get into the cave, we had to climb down a wire ladder that was secured to a steel pole across a hole in the ground. Inside you had to climb over big rocks, hurl yourself over big drops and squeeze through tiny holes. At least twice we had lie down on the ground to pull ourselves through a small crevice. And more than once we'd get into a chamber and thing "well, there's no where else to go", only to find that actually there was. The Gong Room itself was amazing. It was full of all sorts of cave features, but because it's so hard to get to, it was all fairly intact.

Part of the reason I'd gone caving on the Saturday night was so that if the caving group on Sunday was all full someone could have my spot. Turns out it was a good plan, so I spent most of Sunday doing some more abseiling. Fortunately, one by one the scouts and ventures all gave up, so we pretty much had the big drop to ourselves.

I got home very dirty, and with lots of cuts, scrapes and bruises. But it was well worth it.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Traits of a Good IT Manager #1

In lots of ways, developers are like children - they play in their own world, they speak their own language and they spend their days dealing with make-believe. A good manager, much like a good parent, needs to make the dev think whatever they've just done is very clever and impressive. Even if the manager doesn't really get how it works - or even what it does.

So in other words, one of the best things a manager can do is say "That's great! Let's stick that up on the fridge!"

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Why Do I Blog?

A friend asked me this question the other day. While I had an answer at the time, I've been mulling it over since, and I've decided it wasn't quite the whole story.

The simplest explanation of why I blog (and the answer I gave) is that it started because of work. We attempted to have an internal R&D blog at TOWER - the idea being that everyone could keep everyone else informed of what they were up to. The experiment failed miserably - after the first few weeks, nobody bothered to post anything and a few months later the box it was sitting on got used for something else (I'm not sure if anyone else even noticed). It did get the idea of blogs into my head though, and thanks to the prompting of some of the TOWER bloggers (mostly Mikal, who suggested Exceptionally Uncaught), I decided to give the idea a go.

But that's really only half the story. The other half is why I kept blogging. I'm pretty good at finding a new toy to play with, and then totally forgetting about it a couple of months later. I've decided there are a few reasons.

Stephen King describes in On Writing how he has to tell these stories. It's simply not an option to stop writing. While obviously no where near as extreme, I definitely have this fundamental desire to write. It seems to at least go part way to fulfilling this basic need I have to create - to turn ideas into something more than just flashes in my head. I (as I'm sure most bloggers do) often find myself mentally planning my next post - "ooh, that would make post", "I think I want to talk about...", "A friend asked me...". It's something that keeps me thinking and keeps me writing.

Everyone's Listening
One of the most fantastic things about blogging is that anyone - anyone in the entire world who has access to the Internet - can come and read my blog. I get a real kick out of knowing that because I had a problem, solved it and blogged it, I've made someone else's life a bit easier. I'm constantly amused by the number of people who discovered where silk came from because of me. I realise I'm a very tiny blip in the blogasphere - I'm certainly no Scobleizer or StillHQ or even an Over The Falls, but hey, I'm there!

No-one's Listening
I can' t be bothered to look up the actual number, but there are a lot of bloggers out there. So many that I don't have to worry about who might be reading my site. The day I ever meet someone for the first time and they say "hey! You're the guy who writes Exceptionally Uncaught!" I'll probably have fallen into bizzaro land. I can write reasonably person stuff when the mood strikes me, and not have to feel worried.

Blog Family
Probably one of the biggest reasons I've been at this for almost 300 posts is because of my blog family - Mikal, Gordon, Ian and Lindsay in particular (there are others, so don't feel left out). These were the guys who commented on the stuff I wrote, hassled me when I hadn't posted for a while and wrote interesting stuff I wanted to comment on. It also gives stuff to talk about in the real world. Thanks to blogging, I've gotten to know the members of "my family" better then I probably would have otherwise.

Keeping In Touch
I've been doing this for over a year now, and in that time I've circled the globe and seen many of "the family" move on to new cities and new things. But where ever I am in the world, I can stick a post up and know that my friends and family can read about what I've been up to. It beats email because I don't have to worry about sending it to everyone or spamming people I like.

That's why I have a blog and why I still blog. So come on then, why do you blog?

Monday, May 08, 2006



My cold over the last few days reminded me of the last cold I had. Last year a friend and I had managed to score tickets to the Tori Amos concert on the Saturday night, and then a Nick Cave concert on the Sunday night, both up in Sydney. My friend's girlfriend's grandmother lived a short bus trip from the concerts, and so luckily we were allowed to crash there.

I was pretty much over my cold, but really didn't want it to interfere with me finally getting to see Tori Amos in concert. So I had with me some cold & flu tablets - good old pseudoephedrine. So on Saturday, we got ourselves ready and were about to head off to the bus. I quickly ducked back into my room to grab a couple of tablets - I figured I'd just take them if I needed them. As I came back to where everyone else was, the grandmother looked up in time to see me carefully pushing a blisterpack with two white, unmarked tablets into my pocket

"What are those?"

Much hand waving and rapid explanations ensured as I desperately tried to convince the nice old lady that I wasn't planning on getting high.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Just Heard: Neko Case

Wow. Just wow.

I was driving to work to Monday morning, listening to Triple J. They had a promo for the Morning Show and they were talking about interviewing a woman named Neko Case. Then they played a 5 second song grab. I swore out loud.

Fortunately, the Internet was happy to help me learn more. The song I heard was called Hold On, Hold On, and I've haven't been able to get it out of my head for more than about 20mins since. I also managed to find a concert they did early last month.

Sure, it might fit into the "distinctive female vocalist" camp that a lot of my music does, but I think I really like her stuff. It's a bit different and very cool. Take a listen.


So Funny

For some reason doing this amused me greating

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Thoughts Mikal?

As my only access to the hive-mind, I'm curious to hear what Mikal thinks about this post from one of the Wired blogs.

The short version is that Google has pulled it's AdSense from the Mango Sauce blog (which I haven't read). Mango Sauce is apparently "about relationships and life and sex and being a Westerner in Bangkok". Google pulled the AdSense because they've decided the blog is pornographic.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Lego Mindstorms

Mikal has discovered that the new Lego Mindstorms firmware is going to be open sourced. Wired did an article on the Mindstorms' development a couple of months ago. It's a pretty cool read. I thought they'd announced that the firmware would be open source in it, but re-reading the article, it's just fairly heavily hinted at.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Firefox and SP2

I decided to put Visual Studio 2005 Express onto our laptop. But, as it turns out, I still hadn't gotten around to Service Pack 2 yet. So no VS 2005 until I've done that. Okay, fair enough. So across to the Mircosoft website I go.

But no. Microsoft don't want anyone who uses Firefox to get Service Pack 2. Apparently only those people who use IE 5 or better are "worthy". Grrrr.

Also, patching Windows in Japanese is reasonably tricky...


Just Read: April

I seriously considered holding off this months post until I finished my current book. But then I realised that would be cheating. So again, it's a fairly short list. As it turns out, reading 1100 pages when you're working 55+ hour weeks takes a while.

Dogs in the Vineyard by D. Vincent Baker
Discovered: A friend bough a copy a while ago, and then for some reason got sent a second one. Rather than pay to ship it back, he gave it to me (to pay for if I felt it was worth it).
About It: Okay, it's another RPG. But it's just as awesome as Game of Thrones. The best way to describe it is you play a gunslinger bringing God's Law to the wild west and you get to make up God's Law as you go along. It's fairly obviously based on the Mormans in Utah around 150-200 years ago. While it seems like a fairly narrow premise, it sounds like an awesome game to play.
My Rating: 4/5

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
Discovered: The last of my January Amazon books
About It: Cryptonomicon follows several individuals during World War II and their descendants in the late 90's. As the name suggests, the book is filled with cryptography - code breakers of the Second World War, hackers of today and crazy mathematicians. It's also fairly heavy on the technical detail - there's chunks of code, details on various pieces of hardware and technological snooping.
I've never read a book with this level of technical detail that played into my skill set. For someone not from a computing background, it probably would have been quite boring, but for me it was fantastic. I wish someone had handed me a copy of this book when I started my undergraduate degree.
Every page of this book was a pleasure to read. Every time I've had to buy a birthday present over the past three months, I've had to fight the urge to buy a copy of Cryptonomicon. This book was fantastic.
My Rating: 6/5

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?