Thursday, July 31
For the last few days I've been feeling increasingly tired and blerky. I don't want to get up in the morning. Uh, even more so than usual. I have this sort of dull headache half the time. I can't concentrate. Loud noises seem to roll around inside my head upsetting whatever it is that I keep in there. I almost didn't have the energy to write an answer for Frank's little contest.
This morning I woke up with a sore throat and the beginnings of a cough. I seem to be sneezing in spite of my usual anti-sneeze pill of choice (Polaramine). Now the rest of me hurts to match my head.
This means I'm sick. Which is a great relief, because I'd hate to feel like this when I was well.
Monday, July 28
I've just been having a peaceful weekend, reading, listening to music, writing point-in-time aged creditors reports, and not blogging.
Friday, July 25
Feeling zombificated. Need brains. Read Lileks... No Lileks?
Food. Need food. Light bulb in microwave gone. How me find dinner now?
Update: Lileks! Sleep now.
Thursday, July 17
Just 13 Words
Wedding gown, white, sizes 12 to 14. Brand new, never used.
There Is An Ancient Beggar
And he growleth at one in three.
I only realised today that he is, literally, singing for his supper - it's just that his voice is shot.
There's Nothing Like It
There's nothing quite like coming home of an evening to find your house surrounded by flashing lights. Uh-oh.
And a tow-truck. Whew.
No-one hurt, I hope. They were just finishing up as I got there.
Money For Nothing
There was a string quartet playing at Wynyard Station today. They were good and they were raking it in.
The Big Issue is a lefty
rag magazine in which I have little interest. Their TV ad isn't bad, though. They hire the long-term unemployed to sell their magazine, presumably on a commission basis.
Today, there was a guy on George Street giving an imaginative and entertaining spiel on just why you should buy his wonderful magazine. Not ten yards away, another guy in a smart suit droning into a microphone about why you should come into his store and buy his cameras.
If I was the camera store owner, I'd have dumped suit-boy and hired Big Issue Guy. Like a shot.
Signs of Intelligent Life
The Oni Blogger thinks that I am smart and funny. He also approves of the absence of Neon Genesis Evangelion from my top 25. Clearly another discerning individual. His site has some great photos, but (fair warning) one or two of them might offend some readers. Coffee drinkers, for example.
I've also been linked by Untold Millions. I bet it only counts as one link on the Ecosystem, though.
Monday, July 14
Let's see. Had an early lunch Saturday - yum cha with family and friends. My nephew Lionel was there, and after lunch we went shopping for a while. He didn't want to stay in the stroller, so I picked him up and carried him for a bit. When I tried to trade him off, he wasn't having any. Don't wanna be carried by Uncle Kay or Auntie Dee! Don't wanna be carried by daddy! Wanna be carried by Pixy! Sorry, Pixy's arm seems to be coming off. What has mummy been feeding you, lead pancakes?
There was a lovely table at Bay Swiss - at about twelve feet by four, it was even bigger than my existing dining table (which is about seven feet by three, but extends to ten feet). If I had the money (a snip at four grand!) and had the room (well, it could go on the balcony...) and had any idea how to get it home, I would have bought it. Zero out of three. Too bad.
I did buy some t-shirts at Kathmandu, which is a camping/hiking/mountain-climbing goods store. I've been in there at least a dozen times, and I've bought a grand total of... Nine t-shirts.
Hey, they're good shirts!
Then off to cousin Jay's for chocolate cake and hot chocolate and ice cream and accidentally breaking his coffee table. That wasn't Pixy, Pixy didn't do that! This evoked the traditional family response whenever something gets broken: bring out all sorts of tools and glues and assorted hardware and fix it better than new on the spot. I'm told things don't work this way in some families, which must be very strange.
Then back home, getting a lift in cousin Elle's new car ("Just drop me at the station." "I could give you a lift! I'm happy to give you a lift! In my new car! Isn't it a cute car!") which is a Honda Jazz. It has magic folding seats, shiny shiny paintwork, and the quietest cabin I've ever been in in a small car. Is the engine actually running? Must be, we're still moving.
Home now, but I seem to be out of food. Off to the supermarket, but on my way up the hill
(WARNING: RANT AHEAD)
I spot a leaflet stuck to a telegraph pole. It reads "SMASH MIDDLE EAST TERRORISM". Well, I'm all for that. "BOMB ISRAEL NOW". Right. That's coming down. It was glued on pretty well, so I was reduced to tearing it into illegible strips. At the next pole, some other right-thinking person had already started in on the leaflet, so I finished the job. And so on until I reached the supermarket.
To the backwards-evolved febrile pus-monkeys who stuck these things up: Your little hate-papers are gone now, suckers. And may you get run over by a speeding garbage truck before your next birthday.
Anyway, get to the supermarket (Did I mention that my idiot local council has a policy against providing public litter bins? They claim it increases littering. Which means I had to carry those damned leaflets with me until I found a bin at the supermarket.) and buy some food. (They didn't have Solomon's Matzo, only Sniders, and they don't carry Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds any more. Grr.) Eighty dollars? How did that come to eighty dollars? Is anyone else just the slightest bit suspicious about the official inflation figures? I wonder just what they include in their numbers; if they are including anything electronic then that will be off-setting price increases on groceries and other items.
I lug my goodies back down the hill, and find that there's no room at the inn for my frozen dinners. Oh no! It seems that the freezer door was left ajar a couple of weeks back (I think the Sticky Date Pudding held it open), and it quickly frosted up to the point where even after I moved things around the door wouldn't close properly. Another week, and my freezer compartment looks like a scene from The Day the Earth Froze. There weren't any saber-toothed squirrels in there, so it couldn't have been Ice Age.
There's so much ice that my roast chicken rolls and my beef in red wine sauce with unnamed pasta won't fit. This is a disaster! So, I roll up my sleeves (well, I didn't, though it might have gone better if I had), turn off the fridge, and get to work. About an hour later the massive ice shelf clinging to the ceiling of the freezer compartment finally gives up the fight and is ceremonially dumped in the sink. Then I wipe things down and stow away my dinners.
Upstairs now, because it's time for work. (Half-past seven on Saturday night. Sigh.) I have some database updates to apply, and this means shutting down the entire system, which is hard to do while people are using it. This turns out not to take too long; what was once an all-night job is done in an hour thanks to the miracle of being able to fit your entire database into memory. Bless you, Gordon Moore.
Then I relaxed for a while and read The Woad to Wuin, which is the sequel to Sir Apropos of Nothing. Or a couple of hundred pages of it, at least. I found myself stopping, not particularly interested in going further. The problem is, I think, that the book is just mean-spirited; it's in the first person, and our hero is a weasel. In the first book he was a much put-upon weasel and it worked; this time around he has no real problems but complains twice as much. No thanks. I have many books and a limited amount of time, so this one gets the heave-ho.
Dinner time. Odd, this frozen roast chicken roll isn't very frozen. Odd, the fridge isn't making any sound at all. Maybe it would work a little better if I turned it back on...
Sunday. I've been meaning to get my hair cut for about, oh, for about the last four months. Today is the day! Off I go... wait, more sleep? Okay.
Head into the city to get my hair cut and maybe do a little shopping. (Another beautiful winter's day in Sydney. Blue sky, sunshine, all of that. Ho hum.) There's a fifteen minute wait at the hairdresser so I wander into HMV and have a look around. Find a Weird Al album I didn't have and a best-of collection of the Hoodoo Gurus. Click-click... Oh, I have to take them to the counter, right.
Get my hair cut. I look human again! Haha! Just when my secret was in danger of coming out, my mask is back in place and I can...
Oops. Ignore all that.
I've been going to The Cartoon Gallery a couple of times a month since I got back into anime (and cartoons in general) in 1995. I've spent more money there than I have in any other single shop. Today they have half a dozen DVDs waiting for me: Cardcaptor Sakura #15, DNA Squared #3, Inu Yasha #7, Mahoromatic Maiden #3 (I like Mahoromatic a lot. It's kinda schizoid - light and fluffy but with a very dark backstory. And the closing theme, the Mahoro Mambo, is a delight.), Noir #4, and Sugar, A Little Snow Fairy #2 (what I refer to as Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar) I also picked up volume two of .Hack//Sign and volume one of... Of... No, I didn't end up buying Corrector Yui, so it wasn't that. Oh yes, Eden's Bowy. No, I have no idea what it's about either. Maybe if I actually read Newtype instead of piling it up in the spare room, I would.
Then down Pitt St to King's Comics. The last time I was in there (in their wonderful shiny new store), they didn't have anything I wanted. Not a thing. Nothing at all. Depressing, that, when you go to one of the best comic stores around and you don't want anything.
This time, I walk in the door and Peorth is looking at me. Peorth?! Yes, and Hild, too. Cool! I bag one of each to go with the Urds, Belldandys and Skulds I already have at home. Volume seven of Futaba-Kun Change is in at last, and so is a new Groo collection: The Groo Odyssey. All good stuff.
Oh, and my DVDs from the Cartoon Gallery didn't set off the alarms, which is a pleasant change.
Back up Pitt St to Grace Bros, where it's the last day of the toy sale. Lego is 20% to 60% off! Yay! I get some giant bugs, a plane, a couple of Star Wars sets (a Landspeeder and a TIE Bomber), and ooh! The Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets set, marked down from $140 to $59. Oh, little buckets with orange bricks, down from $22 to $15? I'll take a couple of those, too.
Dump it all at the sales counter. No, I won't be taking your six month interest-free offer on your store credit card. I don't have your store card any more. No, I won't be taking up your frequent flyer points loyalty card offer, either. Since I don't fly if there is any practical alternative. Now, if you had a frequent train-travel point scheme, I'd be there like a shot.
Now, pick up all my purchases and did I ever mention that in large quantities Lego is both very heavy and very awkward? Back through the Queen Victoria Building to Town Hall Station and home again. (Did I also mention that it's possible to get from the Zegna store on the corner of Macquarie Street and Martin Place, to the food court under the Coopers and Lybrand building on the corner of George and, what, Bathurst?, without ever coming out from under cover? Well, it is.)
Lug my new goodies home. Oh dear, my arm seems to have fallen off. How annoying.
Now I think I'll take a little nap.
So how was your weekend?
Tuesday, July 08
Went to visit my nephew on Saturday. And the rest of the family, of course, including Jupiter (the cat learning trig on the right). But mostly my nephew.
He's learned a new trick: When there are grown-ups sitting around the kitchen table talking (or more likely, playing with cool toys; on this occasion a collection of Hewlett-Packard calculators), he doesn't like to be left out. The solution, when you're two feet tall, is to stand on a chair.
Which he did.
Of course, it's only one small step from standing on a chair to falling off a chair, and in the fullness of time he did that too.
Not happy at all.
But in less than a minute he'd had enough of crying and was climbing back on that darn chair. Whether this is a sign of stubbornness or just a short attention span I'm not sure.
But he did seem to like the short clips of Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar, Mahoromatic and Steel Angel Kurumi that I showed him. Well, that's putting it mildly: He was transfixed, as my sister-in-law (no, the other one) said.
It can't be long before he starts demanding to be taken to Pixy's house. Pixy, after all, has all the cartoons:
And all the cool toys.
(No, under the table.)
Saturday, July 05
Happy Independence Day to all my American readers!
Where I am, the 4th is nearly over, so I hope it was a good day for you.
Friday, July 04
Had a long and blerky day at work (If you are expecting a file to arrive at nine A.M. as usual because you have promised to process it, check it, and get the results back out by mid-day, you can be sure of receiving it promptly at half-past-four in the afternoon) so... Where was I? Blerky day, yes. So I thought I'd have a nap before heading online for my daily fix. I didn't have pizza for lunch, so I have no explanation for this dream:
After a short film involving a Galactic Empire trying to select a suitable new ruler from among the hopelessly inbred children of the nobility (I blame this on too much MST3K), we moved to me at a Consumer Electronics Show demonstrating my company's latest product: A cluster of 192 Playstation 2's programmed to digitally apply make-up and costumes to actors in real time. I'm sure the hobbits and orcs in Lord of the Rings (not to mention John Rhys-Davies) would have appreciated our dedication. I wandered around the audience with a hand-held high-defintion digital video camera turning girls into princesses and boys into goblins.Which shows what my subconcious knows. Surely it should have been called DeerMaker .22?
A bonus feature was that it could also modulate voices, not just to another pitch, but to any pattern required. I demonstrated this by having audience members sing into a microphone, and regardless of talent (or the quite remarkable lack thereof) they all sounded like Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. The demonstration was a huge success until I reached the end of my power cord without realising it. Oops.
Cut to the commercials, quick! First up, two — let us say, low end — spin-offs of the same technology: DeerMaker and DeerMaker .45.
DeerMaker allows you to quickly and easily add deer to your family photos! And DeerMaker .45 allows you to quickly and easily — yes, that's right — quickly and easily add dead deer to your photos.
Wednesday, July 02
Between my ISP sending my packets on a grand tour of the Solar System and having to be at work early today (early being 8:30, as opposed to my normal time of 11), I forgot to shut off Kazaa, which was busy downloading a set of large files which I will refer to by the code-name "MST3K".
Well, what's the big deal? So I left my file sharing running.
The big deal is this: Between 1 AM and 8 AM, my ISP gives me free downloads (and cuts my speed by 70%, but I'll save that for another rant). From 8 AM onwards, they charge me - once I exceed my princely monthly allowance of 2.5 gigabytes - 14.9 cents per meg. (Also note that sometime in the night they fixed the problem so that my packets were now staying in the general vicinity of Earth.)
I had about 700 MB left for the month. (My month ends on the 10th.) Left to itself, my link can transfer about 500 MB per hour. I left home at 7:45, and would probably be back around 7 PM. So, that's eleven hours times half a gig minus seven hundred meg times 14.9 cents seven hundred dollars in excess usage charges.
The first of the month is by far our busiest time at work; there was no way I was going to get to run home and turn my computer off. The alternative - calling my ISP and telling them that I'd left my file sharing running and could they please disconnect my line - was more palatable than a $700 bill, but only just.
So... Think like a geek.
I SSH'd into my home firewall box. (Thank Linus for Linux, and thank my foresight that I'd set things up so I could do that. I hardly ever need to; mostly I work from home and connect to servers at the office.)
Now what? I'm on Linux. Kazaa is on my Windows box. If I was still runing ME I could have just crashed it remotely, but after the great Driver Plague of '03 I upgraded to XP, which is a little more robust. After a little thought, I set off a ping flood aimed at my Windows box (which is named Ukyo) from my firewall (Pixy). Hopefully that would choke the downloads enough so they wouldn't bankrupt me utterly.
Then I stopped and considered for a minute. I have a router. It's a little blue Netgear thingy that connects my home network to the internet (via my ADSL modem). I viewed it until now as a black - or rather blue - box. Plug it in, turn it on, start sucking data.
But it's a router. And routers route stuff. So if it works like a real router, I should be able to tell it not to let my PC download a squigabyte of data and burn my bank account to the ground.
It has a web interface, but that wouldn't let me do what I wanted. If it was a real router, the good stuff would be accessible by telnet. (Everyone know what telnet is? Good.) But was it? Easy way to find out:
Woot! I'm in! (Half the stuff I own is named "pixymisa" or something related to it, by the way. If I boot up an old, disused system that I'm planning to give away, there's a 90% chance it has a /pixy or a /misa filesystem. Or both.)
$ telnet router
Connected to router.
Escape character is '^]'.
A couple of minutes of poking around revealed the command
ip route add which would add an IP route. (Yes, the commands do actually make some sort of sense.) A route tells the router how to move packets from point A to point B. (This is why routes are called routes, and why routers are called routers. Simple, isn't it?)
In this case, point A was the Internet, and point B was my PC, and I didn't want anything getting from A to B. It's not hard to achieve this. Indeed, it happens all the time, mostly by accident.
Imagine that you were having a party, and wanted to invite everyone at the office except for this one person who you can't stand. You can't just not invite her; that would be rude. So what you do, is you give her bogus instructions. Turn left into Floogleman Street, you say. It's the house next to the Fire Station. You can't miss it. Of course, there is no Floogleman Street, no Fire Station, and you live in a condo. You take the phone of the hook, and the party is a huge success.
That's just what I did. I told the router that any packets bound for Ukyo had to go down Floogleman Street (after making damn sure there was no Floogleman Street on my network). The packets would arrive, wander about for a minute with confused expressions on their headers, and quietly expire. Since nothing ever came back, the servers at the far end eventually gave up sending anything, and my bandwidth (and my bank account) was saved.
Try that with a Windows box.
(The title comes from an incident that took place back in the dawn of time when I was at University. Uni, as we knew it. At Uni, there was an ornamental pond in the middle of the library lawn. One day, for no reason that was ever disclosed, the Powers decided that the pond was to be filled in. A group of workpersons duly arrived with a truckload of dirt and dumped it into the pond. One of the workpersons was heard to say the line, and became instantly - if anonymously - famous.)
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