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Sunday, November 25, 2007

The turd that wouldn't flush is finally gone

He's gone! Having lived just over half my life with John Howard as the prime minister it sure is hard to get my head around the idea that his reign of terror is over. I just hope he loses his seat as well. Last time I checked Maxine McKew was ahead by about 0.8% so the postal votes could still swing it, but I don't think they will. So now Rudd's the PM, which is fine by me. He may be a bit boring and not exactly going to revolutionise the country, but any politician who got kicked out of a strip club is a good bloke as far as I'm concerned.

Things have been pretty good in the last few days. I finished my exams on Thursday, which went pretty well for the most part. I'll probably get mostly passes but I reckon I'll get the old high distinction for Computing 1. For all the assignments I got full marks, including two bonus marks for the one that had two bonus marks available. The exams gave me no troubles, except that I forgot I'd brought my bag to the exam and went home without it. There wasn't anything valuable inside so I wasn't too worried but I didn't want to have to buy a new bag. But I got it back in the end, from the exam lost property place.

It's awesome to finally have time to do stuff. My to-do list is long and mostly computer-related, and now I am happily ploughing my way through it. First on the agenda was to sink my teeth into the new Matthew Reilly book. Going well so far. Next was to buy and read the new Scott Pilgrim book. Done.

I'll pause my recount of to-do list adventures to tell you about the magic that is the Scott Pilgrim series. This is basically the series that got me into print comics. I remember Ryan North linking to a scan of a short Scott Pilgrim tale that was done for Free Comic Book Day last year. I loved how the author (Bryan Lee O'Malley) mixed real life and video game logic, so I got the first three books on Amazon and zoomed through them in about a day. I re-read them recently, knowing that the fourth was due, and it was just as good as the first time. My expectations for the new volume were high, and it effortlessly lived up to them. Among the many reasons why this series is great is the art style. Some have called it amateurish, but I find it really effective for setting the right mood and I don't care what anyone says, it looks good. I find I can connect with a comic more if the art isn't too overtly skilful anyway. The characters are great, especially Scott. I see a lot of myself in Scott Pilgrim. I just hope they do the movie right. The signs aren't good to be honest: they're packing all six volumes (two of which have yet to be written) into a single movie, and also it's live action. They're going to need a miracle to find the right actors.

Anyway, back to out scheduled programming. Next on my list was to sort out how to connect my computer and Dad's computer to the interwebs at the same time. I've been meaning to sort this out for a while, not really knowing what to do. Finally discovering that all I needed was a $40 Ethernet switch. So that was very easy, which is rare when it comes to Problems.

Next task: to sort out my laptop which has been crying out for a reformat for ages. Something has recently gone seriously wrong with the Windows installation, making it all but unusable, so I decided to install Ubuntu on it. Using Ubuntu on my desktop has been a pure pleasure so far, so endowing my laptop with this king of operating systems seems the obvious route for my mental wellbeing. But before doing that I set up a dual-boot system on my desktop so that I would have Windows available on the off chance I needed it for something. I tried installing Windows on the hard drive I got the other day but that didn't work for some reason, so I set up an NTFS partition on my main hard drive and it all went smoothly from there. I guess I'll just use the other drive for storage. Not that I'll really need it.

Next I'm going to clean my keyboard.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Free Shit Day!

It's council clean-up time 'round these parts, so today I figured I might as well go for a wander around the neighbourhood and see if there was anything cool anyone had thrown out. My main target was computer stuff, since people often throw out computers that they think are useless even though they actually have useful components still in them. I was also vainly hoping I could spot a Model M around somewhere. (One is not enough!)

I started wandering around, going up and down the streets inspecting each pile of junk. I didn't find much and eventually I got sick of walking and went back to get my car. I drove around looking for cool stuff for a while, more to see where there was lots of stuff than to spot specific things. I noticed one street with heaps of stuff so I drove back home to proceed on foot. It turned out there wasn't anything good there, but eventually after lots more walking I found a monitor with a decent power cable, which I pinched. Eventually I started to head back home and on the way I found a computer a guy was chucking out. He told me some of the hardware was still good, including a DVD drive, a 256 MB SD-RAM stick and, best of all, an 80 GB hard drive. There's a few other odds and ends including a WiFi card which might be handy. I also found a small subwoofer which I'm going to hook up to my computer speakers if I can get it to work.

I haven't tested all the hardware yet but I did hook up the hard drive. Turns out the guy didn't format it so it has heaps of cool stuff on it: MP3s, episodes of shows (mainly Futurama and South Park but a bit of Monty Python, the Simpsons, Red Dwarf and others) and movies (some cool ones like Mallrats, Spaceballs, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail). There's also some personal stuff like photos and bank statements. People really should learn to format their hard drives.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Maths exam and a keyboard

I had my maths exam today. I'm pretty sure I won. I aced most of the algebra questions, in fact I pwned them in the face. They didn't know what hit them. There was one question I didn't know how to do at first, where I had to prove that a set of mutually perpendicular vectors was linearly independent. I left it for later, and then when I came back to it I thought about it for a bit and then realised what I needed to do. I busted out some algebra-fu and laid the smack down with a vector cross-multiplication. It was like that fighting game where the voice says "FINISH HIM" and then you bust out a finishing move, or just keep pressing the punch button so your opponent never had a chance to fight back and then he dies. Was that Tekken? I think it was Tekken.

Calculus gave me more trouble, but I figured most of it out. I never quite figured out Maclaurin series or second-order differential equations, but apart from that it wasn't too bad.

Anyway, exams come and go, but a Model M keyboard lasts forever. And that's what I bought on eBay last week. It arrived yesterday, and already I don't think I could ever go back to the spongy piece of shit I was using before. I feel cheated that I have used inferior keyboards for so long. This thing is so nice to type on. All I want to do now is type.

Here's a photo:

It's true what they say: these things are built like brick shithouses. It just feels so damn solid, like you could cut down a tree with it and then use it to type your doctoral thesis on the use of computer hardware as logging equipment. (Web logging, that is.) It weighs a ton and is made of some kind of plastic that gives an aura of quality and indestructibility. And, most importantly, it sounds great.

All is not perfect however. The eBay seller unscrupulously neglected to mention that the N key cap is missing. (EDIT: It turned out it just fell off when he was taking a photo of the keyboard. He sent me the keycap after he realised.) I was going to buy a replacement from, but the postage for one single key cap is about US$22, which is more than I'm willing to pay to solve a problem that is really only cosmetic. Also the thing's pretty dirty (it probably hasn't been washed once in its 17 years), so I'll have to give it a good clean some time. Another problem is that it takes up more desktop real estate than my old one so I've had to push back the phone book my monitor sits on and have the base of the big-ass CRT monitor hanging over the keyboard slightly. But I don't care. For I now possess the One True Keyboard.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fruit bag

I just saw a McDonald's ad. In their latest attempt to appear healthy they're apparently giving kids a choice with their happy meals: fries or a "fruit bag". The little girl in the ad, ordering a happy meal, made a big show of being woefully unable to choose between these options as if they were equally appetising, or equally unappetising as the case may be.

The fallacy lies herein: what kind of kid is ever going to choose a fucking fruit bag over chips? Nobody, that's who. No kid goes to Maccas to eat fruit. Imagine it: a group of kids go to Maccas for a birthday party or whatever, all getting happy meals. They're all getting chips, as you do, and then one of them gets a fruit bag. He is teased mercilessly by his peers and nicknamed "fruit bag" for years to come. Kids do that.

"Fruit bag" is the worst thing kids could call each other. As well as sounding like "fruitcake", and hinting at homosexuality, the "bag" bit alludes to such as ratbag, scumbag, old bag, and hoe-bag. Not to mention it would eventually be spoonerised to "brute fag". It could also be rearranged into the following unflattering phrases:
  • Fiat grub
  • I tug barf
  • Bra if gut
  • I, fart bug
  • I, fat grub
  • I, barf gut
Way to potentially scar unsuspecting kids for life, when they just wanted to eat healthy foods, MACCAS. You stupid fruit bags.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Woodford lineup

So! The lineup of artists playing at Woodford has been released. Looks pretty good! Here's some highlights:
  • That 1 Guy. A crazy American dude with an instrument made from pipes and various electronic effects.
  • The Cat Empire. Enough said.
  • Tommy Emmanuel. Guitar king. I saw him after my last HSC exam two years ago and he was so awesome I passed out.
  • Tripod. They bring the funny.
  • Vulgargrad. Cool Russian criminal songs.
  • Mal Webb. The only beatboxer who isn't a retard. (Also gets extra credit for writing the Lano & Woodley theme song.)
  • Madviolet. Canadian chicks I saw in Armidale a couple of years ago. They're pretty good.
There's also a Scottish band called Shooglenifty. Just knowing that makes me want to see them. Even the Emperor of Japan thinks they rock, apparently.