Sunday, September 28, 2003

A New Experience


I've been watching a cool TV show called Queer Eye For The Straight Guy which, if you've been living under a rock and haven't heard of it, is a "makeover" program in which five gay men take a straight slob and clean him up, then have him host a party, or take a woman on their first date or something.

I've taken their "it's time to grow up" advice to heart and I'm trying to leave behind the desire to live like I did in my twenties - a live of video games, flannel shirts and ill-fitting jeans. As the Fab 5 say, it's time to buy "big-boy clothes" and embrace the idea of living like an adult. It's not something you "have to do", but its something you should do for yourself.

Anyway, I'm writing this because Deanne just used a hair removal cream on my back ! All my thick Mediterranean back hair is gone, leaving smooth skin I haven't seen for about 15 years. It feel weird...a soft cotton t-shirt is feeling prickly but I'm sure it'll pass.

We're driving to Miami today for a couple of days and, being a juvenile geek, I'm going to rent a Segway for a couple of hours...I'm may have given up my back hair but I ain't giving up my toys.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

When the cat is away, the mouseless will play



Deanne is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa today, so after getting home I cleaned up the house a little, ate a healthy little snack, did my exercises and watched the Cowboy Bebop movie. It was pretty good but I think I'm a casual anime fan; I can't get the enthusiasm up about these sorts of things like I could when I was younger. Oo-er, sounds a bit rude.


I moved the Belkin wireless receiver out of the laundry and into the dining room today, just to see if it improved reception. It did, so I'll have to try and find a nice way to make this a permanent move - I'm typing from bed and listening to live365 as I write. I updated Patch's diary with the "why is your neighbour allowed to have a horse in his house ?" story, updated my virus software and my cd ripper and discovered that my FTP client, Leech FTP has not been updated in three years, but it works just fine for me.


In other FTP news, Sausage Software released HotFTP, a program I worked on for a little while. I wonder how much of my original framework and/or code they ended up using ? I hope all of it :)

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Late Night Walk

Deanne and I went for a long walk last night. I thought it wasn't hot
outside, but boy was I wrong ! It's a half-mile walk to the gate that
leads to the beach and before we were halfway there I was feeling the
smothering effect of Florida's humid nights. Still we pressed on, with
Patch sniffing his way along and exercising his nose as much as his
body.

We walked half a mile up the beach and back, enjoying the ocean's cool
water on our feet while Patch was almost invisible in the clouded-over
moonlight. We saw something we'd never seen before though...two
baby sea-turtles ! Our beach is a nesting ground for sea turtles and though
we've seen the position of their nests (they're marked with stakes and flags)
we'd never actually seen turtles there either coming or going.

Each encounter was only a few brief seconds, but it was very cool to watch.
They're so small but they push steadfastly down the beach and into
the water. Each one faced at least one big wave that pushed them back,
but that same wave carried them forward again into the ocean. I'm sure
someone might think that was a metaphor for something, but not me.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Bloglines | Free, Web-Based News Aggregator is a good way to save time on reading those morning headlines on your favourite seven different news sites :)

I like to read Slashdot, Wil Wheaton's site, Wired, the New York Times....well wouldn't it be good if their headlines and a couple of paragraphs on each story were presented to you in one place ?

Try bloglines - it's free and easy. News Aggregation is the buzzword of the moment and it's kind of scary actually. We're making it easier and easier to keep connected to a lot of news source. It's part of the new "Always On" culture that I feel I'm already a part of...but can't quite figure out why I'd want to be. Still, it's there, it's free, and it saves me time...which I then spend writing here about how much time I've saved :)

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Liebchen, There's a Piggish Eater on the Lawn

In case you can't read it, this is a story about a wild boar hanging around German towns, eating garbage or plants or grass from people's gardens. So what you need is a Great Dane ! That's what they were bred for - hunting wild boar !

I showed Patch the picture on the news story and I'm pretty sure he growled. Or it might have been a burp from dinner.
Hot Deals Club is a good coupon-type site if you're looking for a tech deal. Look at xpbargains too.

Well it's been an interesting day. The weather is starting to cool a little here in Jupiter, Florida. I noticed the airconditioner isn't running non-stop and even with the thermostat set to 80 degrees the house didn't really feel hot when I got home for lunch. Strange...

I actually updated the Shadow Cabinet site two days in a row...wow, at this rate I might almost feel justified in saying it's an active site as opposed to an old snapshot. I need to get a lot more interviews and stuff in there though - my album pages aren't really needed since Kevin's discography is so detailed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Carbage : A term for the rubbish that accumulates in your car and, once in a blue moon, you remember to set aside ten minutes and a grocery bag so you can clean it out.
What a day...I completed work on two projects which are now through Quality Assurance, learned some Fileman commands, updated Patch's website, put the Steve Kilbey Heliopolis site up on Shadow Cabinet, signed up for bloglines, fed the pets, watched a Simpsons episode...so why can't I get to sleep ?

Monday, August 25, 2003

Segway Chat is a really interesting place to read about the experience Segway owners have with their new machines. I hope these cool "human transports" become more popular over the years; it really is a remarkable feat of engineering.

I'd love to get one but I don't think it'd fit with my life - I drive about ten minutes to work, but it'd be 30 minutes on a Segway. Florida weather isn't something you want to expose yourself to more than you have to! Also, I frequently need to run several quick errands over lunch, and a Segway just wouldn't cut it.

However, I think it's an important addition to the suite of transport options we have available to us. They should not be banned anywhere, and people with impaired mobility should be encouraged to buy Segways and get some of their life back!

Friday, August 22, 2003

Epitonic.com: Hi Quality Free MP3 Music


This is an excellent site full of unusual (at least to my outdated ears) cutting-edge music. They make it very easy to either download or stream music, save your favourite playlists etc.


The amount of information about the music is unbelievable; there's even a guide to the history of each genre to ease you into it. An avalanche of "similar artist" links ensures that once you've found a sound you like, Epitonic will guide you to other artists and give you loads of new sounds to broaden your mind.

Try it !

My Yahoo! Photo albums have some nice pics in them from my Mum and Dad's recent visit (early August 2003)

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Project Jupiter



This is a program I'm working on in my spare time, a couple of hours a night after work...while Deanne is away, of course ! When she's home we spend all our time together, but when she's out I flex my "independent programmer" muscles and see what I can create. I have almost completed "Mail Room", which is a business application and not really what I want to talk about. Project Jupiter is a rewrite of the Reptile program I wrote at Sausage Software, designed to allow a user to manipulate colorful, moving images of seamless textures. Not much to go on, I know, and I can't post images here, but just giving anyone who reads this a heads-up that this program is coming. I'm hoping it will be used at nightclubs as something cool to watch on a big screen, or perhaps projected behind bands when they play a concert.

It started out as a "sequencer" style of application, but last night it took a detour into more of a "live control" mode - you don't have total control over what it does, but enough to make it expressive and interesting, I hope.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

What to talk about today...

Deanne is away in New Orleans this week and she's having a great time sampling the local food and wandering around the tourist shops. I'm keeping the house clean (as best I can, being genetically incapable of seeing dirt), working on the MailRoom and Project Jupiter software I've written in my spare time, taking care of the pets and handling paperwork. The biggest thing is the refinance on the house, which should be completed in a couple of weeks, hopefully. We were on a pretty nasty interest rate, but thanks to careful budgeting ("Don't buy anything ! Eat sand for dinner !") we now qualify for a much better interest rate, which should make life a little more flexible and enjoyable.

Monday, May 12, 2003

I recently burned my first mix CD.

Yes, Brian, the guy who talks about computers non-stop and seems to know at least one web site about any topic, has *never* burned a CD until last week. For some reason, I just never got around to doing that; I ripped hundreds of discs from my own collection, and downloaded plenty of music from Amazon.com's music section and the wonderful Epitonic site, but only last week did I actually get hold of a good CD burning package. I used the Roxio's Easy CD Basic edition (which came pre-loaded on my new computer) to burn a nice mellow mix CD of songs I've downloaded from the net over the past few months. I love it...Deanne's not so keen on most of the tracks, but that's OK :)

I've just finished reading Cory Doctrow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which is a freely downloadable book that you can also go and buy. I liked it a lot, especially since I've spent quite a bit of time in theme parks lately, up in Orlando, which is where the book is set.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Travel Approaches

After three years in America, we're finally getting to go back to Australia for a visit ! We have to complete some paperwork, in person, for the immigration people and it must be done before October. In a strange little turn of fate, Mum and Dad will be coming to America to visit Keith and Beth in San Francisco, and Deanne and I in Florida around July. By the time I'd told them about us coming to Oz, they'd already started making plans to come and see us.

It's nice how things work out sometimes :)

I have a great new PC at work : 1.8 Ghz, 512 MB ram, 20GB drive, built in GeForce4 440 card. I also bought a new PocketPC which, if the rebates all come in, will only have cost me $100.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Monday, February 24, 2003

Night Swimming

Deanne loves to swim in our pool, especially just before bed. After a long day of dealing with the world and/or me, it's the best way for her to unwind. Since we go to bed quite late, we'll often be out there at midnight or 1 AM...yes, we have a pool heater and keep the pool at 85 deg. F. A few nights ago while we were floating around it began to rain. And it was such a beautiful sight that I wanted to write about it.

With my nose and mouth under water, and my eyes just above the surface, I watched the raindrops crowing the darkened surface. A small ring of water would spread up and out, and a single large drop would leap up and out of the water, something like this. The pool's spotlight lit this from one side, so it wasn't like seeing it in daylight at all. I'll try and photograph it next time it happens.

The nicest thing about this was that I'm not given to swimming much myself - this was all thanks to Deanne. Because of her I'm learning a lot of new ways to see the world and find beauty in places I never expected it.

Friday, January 31, 2003

Cleaning Up Pet Goop...and a Rat !


Patch is my first dog (I'm 32 years old) and as I was cleaning up after him today it reminded me of a progression that I've got in common with other first time pet owners. Besides Patch we also have two cats, Aura and Garibaldi. When we first got them and the job fell to me to scoop out their litter boxes, I was pretty disgusted with the whole process. I'd hold my breath while scooping the cat poo and urine clumps into a double grocery bag, then hold the whole thing at arms length when I took it straight outside to the rubbish bin.

Ah...the old days :) As many first-time parents will know (so I've heard, anyway) you quickly lower your "Eeeeewww !" threshold and get used to whatever you need to do. The cat boxes are a breath of fresh air compared with what I'll cheerfully pick up these days. When a Great Dane poops at the dog park, you grab the ol' inside out grocery bag, make sure there's no holes in the bottom of it, pick up the material in question (as much as will fit in one claw-like hand), flip the bag inside out, tie the knot and drop it in the provided bins with speed, accuracy and skill.

Well, today I know I graduated top of the class in the Picking Up Disgusting Things With An Inside-Out Baggie when I was summoned by our friend Vicky who was in a panic because the decaying body of headless, fetid, three-months-buried rat had been exhumed by their dogs and placed lovingly on the back porch. She saw it, screamed, ran inside and wouldn't go back out to save her life. Scott was working too far from home and could I stop by and dispose of it ?

"Not a problem !" says I, Master of the Disposal Arts. And I speak the truth, because it was no problem at all - hand in the bag, up comes Ratty, flip the baggie, pull the handy string provided, throw it away, wash hands and eat the lovely lunch provided to Brave Heroes such as myself. I even pretended to chew on the bag to see if I could make Vicky sick.

In four short years I've gone from barely being able to stand little cat poops to cheerfully extracting blackened, decapitated rodents. See, men can learn something.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Downloading Music


There's lots of good music avaiable freely and legally on the web. I just found Amazon has a lot of good music for free. Click on "Music" in their list of stores, then click "Free Downloads".

Sunday, January 26, 2003

The Church



Now's as good a time to any to point you to the site I run about my favourite band: The Church. They've been together over twenty years and you may have heard The Unguarded Moment or Under the Milky Way during the 1980s. Well, they've done a lot more than that - look at my Church site to find out more about them.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Adding Links


I've signed up on BlogRolling.com to maintain a nice list of links for this blog.

Writing to old friends


Now that I have a wireless connection to my laptop I'm having a great time sending emails and ICQ'ing to/with old friends. Having a wireless connection is really liberating, and makes being on the 'net feel like part of my regular daily activites instead of something I need to go to the office to do. I'd recommend it to anyone - I bought my equipment from www.amazon.com. Don't forget to check xpbargains, dealcatcher and hotdealsclub (all .com, of course) for coupons. There's usually a $5 off $35 amazon coupon around. OfficeDepot and Staples frequently have coupons at the 50-100 dollar level too, which is around the price level this stuff costs.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Headline


There's the clown, y'see, called "Flup" and he's involved in a scandal concerning open-toed sandals. What did the newspaper headline read ?


FLUP IN FLIP-FLOP FLAP


Actually, when the evening edition came out they'd changed it, since alliteration was against the evening editor's principles and they found out that Flup had actually damaged the flip-flops. The headlines now read:


VANDAL IN SANDAL SCANDAL



Some mornings I just think of these things.


And just so we'll all learn something from this, you can read about alliteration, rhyme and other literary devices at this web site about them.

Patch's Website



It must be fairly high up on the "stupid things to do with the Internet" scale, but what the heck. Our dog, Patch, now has his own website ! MeetPatch.com is the place (or it will be, once more content gets posted) to find out all about our wonderful Great Dane.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Booking Hotels Online


I've just helped my wife find a technique for getting good hotel prices - see if you like it.


She trains people to use software at Veterans Administration hospitals and has a fairly tight budget. Interestingly, the budget is fixed at $100/night, whether she's in Los Angeles or the corn-blessed expanses of Amish country. What she aims to do is find a good hotel as close to the V.A hospital as she can. Now Yahoo! Travel has the best prices we've found, but their search engine is a little lacking; for instance she can't ask for all the hotels which have available rooms on a certain day.


So here's the method we use:



  1. Go to maps.yahoo.com and enter the address of the hospital (or wherever you have to be)
  2. Click the "nearby businesses" link in the top right of the screen, and choose "hotels"
  3. Now you're looking at a list of hotels close to the address you asked for.


In another window (you did know you have more than one browser window open, didn't you ? Press Ctrl-N to do it quickly) go to travelocity.com


  1. Go to the Hotels section
  2. Enter the address, and the dates you'll be staying. Do the search.
  3. Travelocity is now showing a list of available hotels near that address.


Between these two windows you should be able to pick a nearby, cheap and available hotel. Travelocity has traveller reviews of hotels. I'd advise calling the hotel on the phone (you may need to find them on their own website, i.e Hilton.com, Radisson.com, to get a phone number, since the sites we used don't like you to use the phone instead. See if the hotel will give you the same rate on the phone - we do this because she's often booking for multiple people in multiple rooms, each with different needs, and it's really time consuming to do this through Yahoo...much easier on the phone. Be prepared for a rejection though - those rates are "Internet Only" for a reason and many hotels won't honor them over the phone.

OK, that's my advice for the day.