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without analysis there's no reason to play.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Life in the City

It's official. I'm a city slicker. Over the last few days I've gotten used to living in Lygon St. in Carlton. There's a tram stop right outside of Y's house, so transportation couldn't possibly be easier.

It's great being within walking distance of Safeway, Borders and Nova; not to mention all the funky Ice-cream parlors. I'm always 'out-eaten' by the more practiced Lygon Street locals though. The closeness to Safeway means that I needn't shop on a regular basis, and can take a haphazard, I've nothing planned for dinner approach. Borders is great too; having a book store around with a decent selection of chess books always is.

As for Nova, I was able to see Hotel Rwanda last night. It's definately worth watching, but not if all you're after is a "happy" (in the words of a friend) movie. The movie made me realise again the triviality of my own problems.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Back amongst the Wired

After paying Monash University a substantial sum of money to cover my last semester bandwidth overusage, I'm back amongst the Wired again. It's so good being able to blog without having to worry about how long it's taking.

On a related note, I lent Y my anime filled 250 GB external hard-disk. I'm not sure that he'll thank me though. He has a presentation to compile by Friday. I know that personally, I've had problems with anime in the past.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Monash University Chess blog

Yep, it's here.

I'm having a fun time hang around Melbourne city (I'm living in Carlton at the moment), but I've also been busy trying to organise the Chess association's Orientation Carnival stall. It's been much stress, much fun, and much done. Or at least I'd like to think so. Anyway, I've only got a half-hour on the Internet, so I'd best spend it well.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Blogging from Darwin Airport

This is the first time I've played around with Wireless Internet Access, and I have to say that I'm impressed. I'm amazed that WiFi has made it as far as Darwin. Free Wireless Internet Access sponsered by: ICA Solution, NEC, Darwin International Airport, and Optus.

This might be the last blog entry for a while, since I'm not sure of my future situation in Melbourne. I'd not be suprised if I'm without an Internet connection for at least a week or so.

If Sydney International Airport also has free WiFi, then I'll be set. University life should be a little more interesting given the good WiFi coverage of Monash and the freedom of having an internet connection on your own computer at Uni.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Japanese Smilies

Apparently, Japanese smilies have been around for ages. Here's an example:

(^_^)

The smiley is read in the orientation that it stands. Here, the caret sign is used to denote happy eyes. The smiley above is equivalent to the western smiley denoted by:

:)

Japanese smilies are much more flexible than western smilies. For example:

Trying to stay awake:

(+_+)(-_-)(_ _) ..zzZZ

Applause:

(^_^)//

Anger:

(-_-#)

Concealed anger:

(^_^#)

Blushing:

(*^_^*)

Yay Me!:

o(^_^o) (o^_^)o

Since the Japanese smiley allows for, inter alia, representation of hands, eyes, and mouth, the range of emotional responses that can be conveyed is substatially greater. For example:

Neutral face with nervous/exasperated sweat:
(-_-;)

Smiling face with nervous/exasperated sweat:

(^_^;)

Alternatively, you can use symbols to represent objects. Then you could use smilies such as:

Happily talking away on mobile:

(^O^);

You don't need to just represent people either:

Happy Cat:

(=^.^=)

Dead Cat:

(=x.x=)

Even with just the ascii characterset, the possibilities are much greater. Throw in the Japanese character sets, and you can get real creative.

Here's my attempt to convey the depth of my emotion in regards to blogging from an unstable, spyware/virii infested, Windows 98 PC on a 56kps dial-up connection:

(#=_=)p|_

Friday, February 18, 2005

Monash Law Boilerplate Letter

A letter arrived from Monash yesterday, congratulating me on my HD in Legal Process. The "we care about you" intention of the letter was hampered, however, by some interesting wording.

You will be pleased to know that your result of 80 HD placed you in the top 5-10% of students who achieved a High Distinction standard in this unit.


Now, a HD at Monash is anything 80+. If I just got 80, how is it possible for me to be in the top 5-10% of students who achieved a HD? I love compliments and congratulations as much as anyone, but boilerplate flattery? No thanks.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Last Days at Work

No, I haven't been fired for blogging at work.

I'm heading back to Melbourne for academic year 2005. I return on Sunday Feb 20. I've got a few projects that need finishing off, but the workload required to complete them seems managable.

I just won't be able to blog much. At work, anyhow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

This is why you don't.....

write bits of a card in a langauge you barely know.

Due to a series of coincidences, I went to see The Motorcycle Diaries with a friend last night. The film was excellent, thought provoking. It was also in Spanish, which was a refreshing change.

Anyhow, since yesterday was Valentine's Day, I decided to get her something. There was a chocolate store in Town which she seemed to like a lot, so that was my first port of call. After looking around for a while - there were quite a few people there, doing last minute shopping - I stumbled upon a set of chocolates in a gorgeous tapered cube box. It resembled the shape of a square-based pyramid with a significant portion of the tip removed.

Once I found this, I knew I had to get a balloon. Most of the balloons I saw around felt tacky and gaudy. They were all enormous, shiny, and completely unsuitable for the idea I had in mind. The balloons I liked best? The plain vinyl balloons in red and white. I did a bit of shopping, and found the amazing the sort of expertise, customisability and level of service you can get at some of those small specialty stores. Since I had a very good idea of what I wanted, I was able to ask the storeperson about various options that were available. I settled in the end, for a matt red balloon with white decorations drawn on it. There were the customary hearts, "Happy Valentine's Day" messages, and the not so customary, debian-symbol resembling swirls. I also got her a small card.

The woman at the store informed me to be careful when going from cold places to hot places and vice versa, as balloons have been known to pop if the transition is made too rapidly. I've been thinking about this, and I think I've figured out why this is so. Basically, I think it boils down to the ideal gas equation and the properties of a balloon. It's an interesting problem.

So, now I had a helium filled balloon tied to the cute box of chocolates, which looked something akin to a hot air balloon. All that was left to do was to attach the card. Unfortunately, as soon as I did so, the balloon sunk. I had to hack the card, both figuratively and literally, in order to make it "compatible".

I wrote a little snippet on the card, in Japanese, which she studies at Uni. I realised belatedly this morning that I had used the wrong tense. While it was supposed to be an affectionate, cheeky, "I like you", I'm reasonably sure that I wrote "I liked you"; not good. Usage of the wrong tense completely killed the message. I'm calling her soon to apologise. And not having learnt my lesson, I'm going to try and do it in Japanese....

Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine's Day

I've not been blogging much lately, and I think it's largely because of today. I've been feeling that peculiarly intoxicating mixture of anxiety and excitement that seems to make everything worthwhile. It's the same buzz I get just before exams; the same buzz I felt when I first started blogging; the same buzz I felt when I went to the pathologist's to get allergy tested: The buzz of adrenaline I feel from the uncertain and the unknown.

It's exactly this feeling that has drawn me to games of skill such as Chess and Go, and competitive games in general. I think that it's the pursuit of this feeling, which cannot easily be gotten from passive mass-consumption style media, that has largely lead to the "Pro-Am Revolution" (see www.demos.co.uk).

I'd blog more about it, but this nervousness is making it hard to string words together. And it's all because today is St. Valentine's Day.

[MT resumes his mass-consumption of ice-cold water]

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Blogger's Commenting Update

Blogger's commenting system has undergone an overhaul. Now people without blogger accounts need no longer comment as anonymous users; they can enter a name and sitelink as with other commenting systems. In addition to this, the default blogger commenting system now displays previous comments when you're adding a comment, fixing one of my pet grieves about the old system.

All in all, a useful and timely update.

Friday, February 11, 2005

www.demos.co.uk

This is probably old hat to all the people that've been in the blogging community for a while, but there's some very interesting reads over at demos, which describes itself as follows:
Demos is a greenhouse for new ideas which can improve the quality of our lives. As an independent think-tank, our aim is to create an open resource of knowledge and learning that operates beyond traditional parties, identities and disciplines.

They've got an awesome report on the Pro-Am revolution, which, with the now emerging prominence of Open Source software and blogging, seems to be a defining feature of our times.

Another report, entitled "Dream On" discusses work-life balance with emphasis on sleep; expecially relavent to a few of the law bloggers out there.

It's all well written, engaging and the ideas are interesting, so they're well worth the read. They publish under creative commons too, which is nice. Links to the reports are on the main page.

Jumping the Gun Again

Well, my bank balance was looking better today, which means that I'm now feeling silly about feeling silly. It turns out that admin had the right Bank Account number after all, and my lack of paycheck was only due to a slight delay.

I jumped the gun again and engaged in unproductive speculation. So sue me. Actually, now that I think about the people that visit this blog, don't.

Oh, I've had a few people visit over the last two days running OS X. All hail the Unicies!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Paycheck That Vanished

I'm feeling quite silly now about lashing out on Monday. The reason I'm feeling silly is to do with my paycheck or rather my lack of paycheck. I suspect that it's because of administration. Although all the intranet details point to my new account with HSBC, it must take longer for the paperwork to filter through. What's most likely to have happened is that the automated system tried to pay the money into my old account, which no longer exists. This sort of event is why you should be patient and not be a hothead.

While I'm somewhat happy with Monday's decision since I've already accrued $5.50 in interest; I'm also not so happy since I now have to track down just over a grand. At least being able to blog about it helps me calm down.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

No Chinese New Year Cinderella Clause

I'll have to say, midnight passed by quite uneventfully. I didn't turn into a pumpkin and there weren't any grand celebrations (this is Darwin remember). In fact, all that seemed to happen to actually mark the event was a great deal of absolutely nothing.

So, even though I'm not sure if it's traditional, I've decided to make a few Chinese New Year resolutions* in order to help myself remember that today actually happened:
  1. visit the doctor more

  2. be healthy more often

  3. find out which doctor in Darwin has my old medical records so that I can get all my files transfered to Melbourne


*There are a few silly ones I thought of, such as learning French through French Opera, that I've decided to keep off the main list.

P.S. I need a recommendation for a film. Not Sky Captain or Alfie though.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Not that kind of desperate

I'd like to confess that I really like desperate housewives. Oh wait.... Desperate Housewives. Now before anyone gives me a strange look or starts thinking that I'm perverted, they should actually watch the show first. No, it's not a reality TV show. Yes, I know that it's American, but I think that even in America, a reality TV show called Desperate Housewives would be considered a little tactless.

Admittedly, the sex scenes that are depicted in the trailers for the show are present in the show proper. However, it seems to me that the scenes are insanely over-represented in the advertising. Granted, sex plays a role in the story, but it's not that bad.

My interpretation of the title of the show is that it doesn't imply that kind of desperate. Instead, for me, it's about the quiet desperation of living your own life, the ability to overcome obstacles in your path and the struggle to be yourself. I find the sex to be incidental to the plot, not essential.

The comedy element is great, and I've had some good laughs with the family over some of the jokes. The 'pass the salt' line from the first episode was very well done. The consistent use of a narrative voice-over is also quite refreshing, though at times, the amount of blatant foreshadowing that takes place becomes annoying. The characters seem believable, though exaggerated, and the music is imminently suitable.

It takes a lot these days to keep me concentrated on a TV screen for an hour. Desperate Housewives makes the cut. Whilst Ivan seems to have copped it a bit rough, I'd like to public admit that I like the show. I like it a lot. So there.

Monday, February 07, 2005

More banking fun

Here's the follow up to this morning.

At 9:30, I was already at the the local Commonwealth branch, waiting for the doors to open. I got to be have the privilege one of the first customers at the information desk. To be honest, they couldn't have been nicer about it. After enquiring why I needed to close the account - I cited better interest rates, lower fees, linked stockbroking - they promptly did the paperwork required. Originally I intended to get the money transfered electronically into my HSBC account. I was informed that this would cost $28. Well, stingy person that I am, I asked what other options were available. A bank cheque for $5.40 seemed a reasonable choice.

Since making out bank cheques is done by tellers and not the people at the information desk, I was taken from the information desk to a teller. I didn't have to queue up which was good. It meant that I was kind of cutting the line, which was bad. The bank cheque took a while to do up, largely because the tellers don't get to do much account closure work - the information desk does it most of the time. There seemed to be a bit of trouble with the SDD tax of 10c, and credits and debits not matching up. This took around half an hour to sort out. In the end, I think I ended up getting paid 20c too much. At the end of the better half of an hour, I had in my hand a bank cheque for the contents of my account to deposit into my HSBC account. I also had the pleasure of cutting up my own Commonwealth bank card*, which helped greatly in releaving the stress of the entire morning thus far.

* Well, technically the card was/is the property of the CBA; at least that's what it said on the card. I was pleased when the staff allowed me to cut it up.

Now with bank cheque in hand, I was left with the problem with where to deposit it. If I had been in Sydney, Melbourne or any other reasonably large city, I'd have simply waltzed down to the nearest HSBC branch to deposit it. Darwin unfortunately does not have a local HSBC branch. I remembered something in the brochures about a charge for depositing from a non HSBC bank. At the time I thought it was ANZ. It turns out that I was wrong.

The ANZ people were extremerly helpful, especially considering I've never been one of their customers. I'd recommend them to anyone. Unfortunately it turns out that ANZ was not the bank of the big four that had the strategic alliance with HSBC.

Off to NAB I went. Here, I struck gold. Apparently, they were the strategic partner. Amongst other information, they needed the address of the branch where the account was held. Applying for a bank account by mail has this kind of problem. You don't actually know which branch you're money is with, let alone the branch address. Back to the office I went, clutching my bank cheque and now, an NAB deposit slip.

It's the Sydney branch on Georges Street, I'm told by HSBC telephone representatives. I was about to head off to the NAB branch again, when I realised there was a post office next door to the office. I thought "Let's try GiroPOST", and was handsomely rewarded. Not only did I get to miss out on additional fees (strategic partners come at a cost) - but I didn't need all that extra information. All I needed was my bank card, my pin, and something to deposit. Having all three, I was set.

After fiddling around with my fingers a bit trying to remember my pin - I'm used to the computer numberic keypad - I was met with 'transaction successful' and a much healthier looking bank balance. Relief at last.

It's time for a coffee.



Jumping the Gun

Well, we all know that I love HSBC. We also all know that I've had some issues trying to change who I bank with. Well, here's another post about the difficulties of changing banks.

This morning I checked out the online payslip system to see if the changes to banking details had been reflected there yet. It seems that they have. So far there's no problem. Then, I logon to the HSBC website. They've given me 99c for holding my $2000 for four days. Nice. That's what I would have got with my *entire* balance over the course of a month with whatever Commonwealth account I have. Still happy here.

Then I decide to logon to Commonwealth Netbank. Here's where the fun starts. The client numbers given to me by the CBA and HSBC share some similarities. Of the four last digits, three are in the digit in the same location. This morning I thought that all four were the same. So after accidently locking some poor sod out of his account, I phoned the CBA to try and figure out my actual client number. Unfortunately I pressed the wrong option on the electronic phone response system, and got forwarded on to a lady who could only tell me my client number if she also reset my password. Fair enough. After handing over a plethora of personal details over, the lady helps gets me my client number and a new 6-digit numberic password. Since my computer is right next to my phone, I type new password into Netbank, and sure enough, it works. So I hang up. Then I realise that to change my password, I need my old password; or rather my new one. Since for the interests of security, I never wrote the 6-digit number down, this meant another call to the CBA.

After being on hold for a little while, I got to speak with another CBA representative. I told him my somewhat humorous story. He didn't laugh. Oh well, I gave him the details required to reset my password yet again; this time I was determined not to make the same mistake. Only this time, I wasn't given the opportunity. He placed me on hold for a few minutes, while I chilled to some pretty funky latin tunes. Where do they get this music? I want some. It eventuates that because of difficuties in communication that the details I gave him didn't match with the records that CBA held. I needed to go to the local branch to do a 100 point ID check. This was the start of badness.

So I head over to the local branch, only to find out that it opens at 9:30 am. Here I realised that today might just not be my day. But in the process of getting from the office to the bank, I realised that in some ways this was perfect.

I need to close down my bank account with the CBA eventually in any case, and with my paycheck pointed in the right direction, everything seems ok. So this stuff up, which is mostly my fault, and only partially the fault of the CBA, might just be the impetus to help me get everything done. It seems my subconsciousness decided to jump the gun.

Anyway, it's 9:25 am now, so I'm off to the bank again. How does one say "I want to stop banking with you now, please" politely?

My Blog and I

Well, it's been about half a month since I started blogging, and so far I'm lovin' it*. I know. I've done tests. Blogging makes me happy.

It's not foolproof, but here's what I've found. I'm an amateur badminton and squash player. Due to my lack of training and competitive experience, my mood largely dictates how well I play.

When I'm feeling dejected, I'm quite apathetic about retreiving the ball/shuttle. If I try to pump myself up, things only get worse. I end up trying for unreasonable shots, which usually either don't make it, or are duly punished by my opponent. This leads to further anger and frustration. It's pretty ugly.

Well yesterday, it was nothing like that: It was beautiful. I was absolutely cane-arse at badminton. I had power in my smash, my clears to the back landed *on* the line, and I was willing to run all over the court. It was magic. So while this wouldn't even remotely qualify as an objective, quantifiable test - as I'm sure an engineer would tell you - I'd have to say that I'm feeling pretty damn good.

That being said, I think I landed on my ankle a tad awkwardly while playing yesterday. It's still hurting a little.

* Someone please tell me that McDonalds hasn't got IP rights over that phrase

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Random Google Referals

I don't know what I did, but this morning I got 9 random referals from blogspot blogs. This is highly unusual, as I usually generally get only 3-4 visits a day. Maybe it's because I talk about Google a lot.

Speaking of which, I had a very interesting experience with Picasa last week. For those of you who don't know, Picasa is an image management program that is owned by Google. I've been trying to convince my boss to use it instead of trying to get me to write him a photo-database. The office has a huge archive of work-related photos, circa 3.3 GB worth, and Picasa chewed through them in around 5 minutes. Personally, I think it's a brilliant program, and it seems like the perfect solution. However, when you first install it, the default setup is to scan for all images in typical directories. Now, because the only computer in the office that has a DVD burner is not mine - in the sense that I don't generally use it - I ended up having to click quite fast to save my skin. That's right folks, and here I'm taking a page from Ivan's book: hardcore porn. Well, not quite 'hardcore porn', but I thought I'd just mention that. It was in any case not office-friendly.

To be fair, the co-worker to whom the images belonged to had the images stored on his network drive, and it was only because he never logs off the DVD machine that this happened. That is to say, it was because he let me use his login that I accidently found out. So let this be a lesson people: If you're going to store smut at work, don't give other people your password.

Ah! I just realised that the title of this post also has Google in it. It must look like I'm fishing for referals, but I assure you, I'm not; That's why 'hardcore porn' isn't in the title. *Whistles innocently*

Blogging as a p2p medium/Blogging and Work: pt2

I've been meaning to write about Sarni's Anonymity and Identity post for a while now. I've avoided commenting until now because of two reasons: I felt I didn't have a meaningful contribution to make, and even if I did, I felt unentitled. The fact that I've spent the last half-hour or so deliberating how to word this post, indicates that I still feel the latter, though not so much of the former.

I spent Saturday at the Northern Territory Library, reading The Anarchist in the Library, largely due to this post at Weatherall's Law, and the enjoyment I felt from reading some of Lessig's works. The book is by Siva Vaidhyanathan of www.sivacracy.net fame, and discusses amongst other ideas, the effect that technology and culture have on one another.

One of my favorite ideas in the book is that ideologies are embedded in technology. For example, television embodies a set of ideologies - the right to know, fame, obscenity - and these ideologies are spread with the adoption of the technology. Siva argues that while these ideologies must exist in the culture initially, in order for the adoptation of technology to take place, widespread technological adoption increases the prominence of these ideologies in society. He then continues to discuss the ideologies implied by peer to peer filesharing services.

Here is where it got really interesting. Many of the ideologies that Siva links with p2p filesharing are implicit in other p2p technologies as well; I kept thinking of blogging. The ideology Siva pointed out which seems relavent to the ongoing dicussions about Blogging and Work is the assumption that "obscurity mimics anonymity" (Siva 2004).

Having had some experience in the p2p filesharing world, I know this assumption holds relatively true there. The peer to peer technology that I have been most accustomed to over the last two years is Direct Connect. The Direct Connect software/protocol combines two main features: a filesharing feature, and a chatting feature. In the communities that develop around the "hubs" that runs the server-side software, there are three ways to rise in prominence.

The first is to share more files. As a general rule, the more data a user has shared, measured in total storage space shared, the more likely it is that that user has something you want. Hence, people are more likely to have a look at your filelist first, and more likely to be nice to you/chat to you. The last effect is due largely to the ability of any of the end-users to blacklist any other end-user. People are generally nicer to you if you've got a lot of files, simply because there's a large opportunity cost if they get blacklisted - they won't have access to a lot of files.

The second is to be an System Operator (or Sysop). While as a rule, DC hubs like to have ample conversation and tend to encourage free speech, there are always those who behave inappropriately. Sysops moderate the chat channel, and try and stop more obnoxious and unproductive types of behaviour. Spamming the channel, using profane langauge, verbally (well textually) abusing other users of the hub, typing in ALL CAPS, are the sort of behaviours generally not condoned, which users will usually cop a kick (they are disconnected from the channel) or a temp. ban (they are disconnected and their IP address banned for a short duration) for. Since sysops have to use their own discresion in deciding what constitutes offensive behaviour, people are also generally nice to sysops. Directing personal attacks towards a person with the power to remove you from the channel is generally not a good idea; conversely, getting a few brownie points with the sysops can't hurt either.

The third is to be popular. Since Direct Connect contains an inherent chat medium, users will sometimes gain the respect of others through saying intelligent things (rarely) or funny things (a whole lot more common). Not only do these users tend to have good relations with the sysops, but also they're generally well liked. This means that people tend to be nice to them also.

Notice that I didn't mention a forth option - to be the person running the hub. Direct Connect uses both peer to peer and client-server to do its work. Client-server is used for public chat and searching, whilst p2p is used for actually transferring the files. In order for the client-server implementation to work, the needs to be a server. Now a server does not need to be an especially fast machine, nor does the person running the server have to do anything that really interfers with his own machine. All a computer needs to do in order to become a server is to be running a background server process (generally called a daemon), be connected to a network, and be turned on. The reason this forth option is not included, is that the person actually running the hub can pretty well be as prominent or obscure as they like. However, this relates to the three options above. Aside from the IP address of the server, there is no identifier to mark you as the owner of the hub. So unless the hub owner decides to share more files, become a sysop or is able to become popular, he'll remain relatively obscure. On the DC hub that I used, this was exactly what happened. Only a handful of people knew who actually ran the hub; the rest immediately assumed that it was run by the sysop with the most data shared. So while the owner of the hub didn't really make an attempt at hiding his identity, through obscurity, he was able to remain largely anonymous.

How does this relate to Sarni's post? Well, I think I've always subconsciously believed in the idea that "obscurity mimics anonymity". My line of thinking was that since I am, and should remain, relatively obscure, I was largely free to blog as I wished. I was content to use my blog as a medium through which to convey myself; to project myself to others through my writing. The problem is that where anonymity is most wanted is exactly the same place where obscurity as a defense is weakest. That is to say, that the people most likely to have the largest influence on your life are the very same people will most likely have to motivation to dig under the surface. Not that I've tried overly hard to be anonymous. By putting Monash Eng/Law student majoring in Chemical Engineering together, you'd narrow down possible options soon enough.

Anyway, already I'm finding the Aussie Blawging world to be a little too small for obscurity to offer any pretense of anonymity. The realisation yesterday that a person who reads my blog works at my dream firm (the firm where I'd most like to work) sent my mind reeling. It also made me realise, that I, starting the third year of a six year degree, have such a very long road to follow.

Really, I should stay away from sitemeter and APNIC.net whois stats. That's a bad 3rd year Eng/Law student: bad! Ah, what I'd give for the bliss of ignorance.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Possible things to do with Google Sets

Well, readers of my blog will know that I've been playing around with Google Sets. So far I've thought of some silly ideas of sets to look for. First, put the names of all the states of the U.S. into Google sets. See if you get any extra ones like Australia. Second, try and put the "set of all sets that aren't members of themselves" into Google sets. See if Google sets resolves the paradox of whether or not the "set of all sets that aren't members of themselves" is in fact a member of itself. Obviously neither of these set searches will get us interesting or funny results, but we all know that Google has a sense of humour.

As for some serious ideas on how to use the tool, I'm inclined to use it for "shopping around". Say I've used and liked the Gentoo and Fedora distributions of GNU/Linux, but I want to experiment with something new that's in the same group. I'd put Gentoo and Fedora into Google sets, and see what it'd bring up. Or say I found some excellent Hong Kong clerkship opportunities that seem to be available to Australian students. I might try putting the names of the firms into Google sets to see if these opportunities exist in other firms. The link here is very flimsy, and it is unlikely that Google sets will help me uncover additional opportunities, but it might be able to help me identify other things these firms have in common by adding other firms to the list.

Ivan's post: Blogging at work, my take

It seems Ivan's post about blogging at work has hit a nerve in the little area of the Blogosphere I inhabit. Here's Sarni's take on the issue. For some reason, this response to Ivan's post by QM struck me as being incredibly funny.

Here's my take.

I connected to some ideas that Sarni had regarding tracability. My sitemeter statistics for instance, tell way too much about my blogging habits for my liking. For example, by looking for a blogger.com referer URL, you can tell how often a blogger checks his own blog. And no, it's not because I've a big ego, I just want to check to see that my posts publish correctly.

So then you'd be here. By throwing the IP address that appears there into a whois lookup such as is available at APNIC, you may get the chance to have a look at where they're blogging from. Note, for APNIC, you need to replace any #s with any number between 0 and 255 in order to get a meaningful result.

Unfortantely, the APNIC whois service uses a perl script, so I can't link the the results. But needless to say, they say something about my blogging habits that I potentially may have liked to keep a little more private. Namely that yes, I'm working, and yes, I blog at work - though not exclusively.

I won't go into the ethical issues, but technologically, unless you're pretty careful, any interested party can basically see what you're doing.

Oh, and about my statistics: The 25% of visitors visiting from the NT time zone, they'd all be me. I am undoubtedly my own biggest supporter - which is a little sad; no ego boost here. I'm also a little bit miffed that I've not had any visitors to my site that use any form of Unix. When I get back to Melbourne and start blogging on my Laptop, that'll change, believe me.

I also caught something on the news this morning on the radio news attributed to Peter Costello, basically saying that the ABC should stick to the news. The programme futher went on to say that if the government controlled ABC, that it'd be more of the Cricket. There was no direct quotation by the radio show, so I'm not sure how true it is, and as it strikes me as an awfully contrivertial thing to say, it was probably taken out of context anyway. When I heard it, I had a good laugh. Nonetheless, I'm a little alarmed. You can never have too many sources of news. Anyone have a link to a transcript or an article?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

En animant peu a peu

I came across the French phrase in Debussy's Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum. The piece is part of a piano suite popularly known as Children's Corner. According to the translation given in the book, the phrase means "Becoming lively, animated, little by little".

I think it's quite apt that I've come across this phrase at this time of year. It describes what's happening in my life, and likely the lives of thousands of University students, quite well. Summer vacation is nearing its end. Soon hordes of students will be returning from scattered locations across Australia to converge at the huge institutions where they'll spend their time for most of the years reminants. Slowly but surely, the cogs are beginning to turn.

Already, people are starting to trickle back. Those students who hold commitee positions in student societies seem to be especially eager to return just a little earlier. There's good reason for this: Crowds of beady-eyed first years will soon be gracing our institutions with their presence. The clubs and societies are licking their lips with anticipation. They eye with glee the prey that they'll be trying to convert to their cause, the coveted prize of increased membership: Wolves in sheeps' clothing, luring with the irresistable candy of free goody-bags and beer.

There's some serious metaphor mixing going on in the above, so don't even try to resolve it. About the free beer: I've always liked the FSF comparision between free speech and free beer. Hopefully, O-week will contain a healthy mixture of both (free beer always helps free the speech a little), but methinks that the majority will be more interested in the latter than the former.

Oh, and apparently, chess and alcohol mix very well. We need us some of those to encourage the University spirit! I wonder if they make 'em out of plastic. If anyone knows anything about these things, please comment.

Google Sets

Now this is just cool. It seems to have been around for ages, but it's the first time I've seen it. Google Sets is able to "automatically create sets of items from a few examples."

How's this for size? I entered "melbourne" and "monash" and got:

  • Monash
  • Melbourne
  • Deakin
  • RMIT
  • La Trobe
  • Swinburne
(For overseas and interstate readers, all are names of Universities in the city of Melbourne.)

I've always been a bit of a Google man; I use google, gmail, blogger - heck, I even use Picassa at work! However, I still manage to be impressed by some of the things that the Google guys and gals have thought up. I haven't quite figured any uses for this particular technology, but it's very cool.

A bit of Aussiness on Slashdot

Some interesting internal documents have been revealed in the Kazaa case.

And four distributions of Linux were compared against Windows and Mac OS in choice magazine. Get this one quick before it falls behind the cost wall.

On the blogging front, there's an interesting post on blogging at work over at Ivan Rubinstein's.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Monash University Chess Association needs members

I'm not trying to fool myself here, and it is incredibly unlikely that this'll be relavent anyone who reads this , however.....

The Monash University Chess Association is in a spot of bother. They need twenty people from Monash Uni to sign up in order to remain associated with Clubs & Societies. If the Association losses this relationship with C&S, it'll not have a free venue at the university to conduct it activities. Strangely enough, the activities of the club are primarily member meet-ups so that much Chess playing can be had.

So, pass the word 'round the Melbourne blogosphere. Tell 'em Chess helps your logical thinking skills and'll help you become a better lawyer.

I'd be saddened if the largest university in Australia doesn't have enough people interested in the game to support a club. I don't know the exact number of students at Monash, but my guess would be lots. I'd be interested to know if anyone interested finds out about the club from this post.

Anyway, for those of you interested, or those of you who know someone who'd be interested, the Monash University Chess Association will be holding a stall during the Wednesday and Thursday of O-week. If I recall correctly, O-week is the week beginning Monday 21 Feb. The club needs just twenty new members in total, so if you've got an interest in Chess, please sign up!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A Freudian Slap

Well, I've been living with my family in Darwin for the last three months, during the summer vacation. It's been great, and I've really enjoyed being back with them. Yet somehow, during a casual conversation with my little sister, I managed to say "In three weeks I'll be going back home". When what I meant was "In three weeks I'll be going back to Melbourne."

Ok, so it was not a Fruedian slip, but it was, in any case, a verbal slip-up of the largest magnitude. Furious backpaddling on my part was of no avail. The damage had already been done. I had delivered an accidental slap in the face; and it stung. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it... I'm so sorry. But it's true, I didn't mean to say what I just said!

Yet despite this, and despite all my appeals to the contrary, behind the mistaken utterance, there was probably a granuale of unconcious truth. Maybe I'm beginning to think of Melbourne as home. I've never thought of it that way before, and I know why.

Largely, I think it was due to the fact that I was living on-campus. It's difficult to think of a single tiny room in a huge conglomeration of equally tiny, but differently shaped rooms, as home. Certainly, I never did. The feelings of abjection brought about from having use a kitchen littered with the unwashed filthy dishes and the coagulating dinner reminants of twenty or so floor-mates meant that I never could. Thankfully, I'll not be returning to that ant-infested hellhole ever again.

So, when I called Melbourne it was not while thinking of the place that I lived in for the first two years of my University life. No, when I called Melbourne home, it was while thinking of the place where I'll be living in the future. When I return, it'll be to a house. I'll be sharing with four others, three being fellow Chemical Engineering students, whom I think of as friends, and the other being the older sister of one of the three, whom I've never met. The three people that I know, I consider to be not only my friends, but also my academic competitors, and in some way, my teachers. I'm sure that my relationship with them will continue to grow and blossom in the future. I can easily imagine us living together, cooking together, eating together, studying together; having fun together, coping with difficulties together, maybe even going into business together. I can imagine us as being more than friends, being something akin to family.

While nothing can ever compete with the genuine article, this place and these people have the potential to mean something very special, something I've never had before: a home away from home; a family away from family.