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Nov. 21st, 2010 @ 10:04 am (no subject)
We wnet and saw Harry Potter with plastic_logic and mad_hatter__. I'd forgotten how badly written the book was and the movie is unfortunately faithful to the original work. It's a loose collection of things that happen for no damn reason. People do things and say things and have mood swings that are just incomprehensible.

One of the greatest strengths of the Harry Potter series is that the universe is really well realised. The first couple of books set up a believable set of fantastic wonders, traditions and limitations. By this final instalment, things have gotten so messed up that the actions of the characters make almost no sense.

SpoilersCollapse )

I probably wouldn't recommend the movie to people. It'd be more fun to watch it on DVD at home before going to see the final part at the cinemas.

We went for afternoon tea and did a bit of shopping, randomly bumping into one of mad_hatter__'s friends who I was fairly proud to have almost remembered the name of. We did some random christmas shopping and parted ways in Minotaur.
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Oct. 14th, 2010 @ 09:01 am (no subject)
ACMA also referred three items relating to a newspaper story about the death of a woman in an Iranian demonstration.

The first, a page from the Sydney Morning Herald website containing a video news story of the event, was found by the board to be PG, as the "context of genuine news reportage mitigates the impact of the violence" and appropriate viewer warnings were provided.

But a YouTube page and another website, both consisting of user-generated comments relating to the woman’s death and accompanying video, warranted R18+ classification.

Source: Karen Dearne, "ACMA blocks more sites", The Australian

Remember folks, if you get your news from a government-approved news source it's okay. If you get the same story from another source it's not.
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Sep. 18th, 2010 @ 12:37 pm (no subject)
Our second day in Sydney began with some driving.

Let me reiterate one of Sydney's biggest problems: driving there is terrible. The city is a sprawling mass, the roads are badly designed and laid out and the drivers are terrible. (Probably not half as bad as many other places in other countries, but certainly far less courteous than I expected).

We had planned to drive to the zoo. We'd stayed at a hotel in the north of Sydney to make this easier. Our first problem was toll roads - there are major roads where you end up on a toll road with no advance warning and no way to get off before the toll point. We ended up in the botanical gardens on the wrong side of the bridge (the only place we could find to pull over and re-asses our options. After attempting to figure out the toll company's website, we eventually just gave up and rang someone. They don't do late-day type passes on their roads, so we'll be getting a few fine notices and will just have to deal with that when it comes. (I'll probably be able to put them against my e-tag here and avoid most of the cost, but it's going to be a pain)

We made our way back over the bridge and out toward the zoo. It was late morning by the time we'd made it through this ordeal and to the zoo. We figured that we really wanted a full day at the zoo, so we turned around and headed back toward the hotel, planning on taking public transport in to the city to do the rest of the Powerhouse Museum. We detoured via a number of train stations looking for parking but none of them had car parks. One had a parking garage nearby that wanted more than $50 for a few hours.

When we got back to the hotel, we asked the guy at the desk how to get in to the museum. He said they'd probably walk to the station ("five to ten minutes away") but wouldn't today because of the dumping rain. He was of the opinion that people just wouldn't go out when it was a day like this.

We hadn't driven up to Sydney to be put off by a bit of rain, so we head back out by car into the city. The guy at the desk thought this was odd, but admitted there was no other option.

Sydney has a problem with right turns, in that there's some religious or cultural ban on them because you can't do them anywhere. I was driving and Jen was navigating and it was a horrid experience trying to get to the car park near Chinatown.

We finally got into a car park at about 1:00. We'd spent the entire morning being frustrated at every turn by how hard it is to get around Sydney. I was left with the feeling that it's a pretty tourist-unfriendly city. The mess with the toll roads is particularly galling.

We made our way back up to the Happy Chef for lunch. This place was really one of the highlights of Sydney. (Not just because the food was free, either)

Sufficiently recharged, we headed across to the Powerhouse museum. There's a lot of awesome stuff in the museum. I'd have liked to see more of the exhibits working, especially a lot of the steam engines. It was really good to be wandering around during a weekday outside school holidays, though.

We finished up all the exhibits except the AC/DC exhibit which neither of us were interested in.

Jen had lined up dinner with a friend of hers - Aliese - so after a bit more battling with Sydney's roads and a trip back to the hotel we met up and found a little café.

Dinner was fun, but neither Jen or I were hugely hungry.

The next day we set out early to the Zoo. People and pamphlets seemed to indicate the only way to get to the zoo would be to take the ferry across the river, but parking at the zoo was readily available and not ridiculously expensive.

We were there a little before the gates opened. We wound our way through the zoo, sometimes having to double-back because the layout isn't great. It's a great zoo, but all up I think Melbourne zoo is a tiny bit better. Melbourne Zoo combined with Werribee Open Range Zoo is certainly better.

We saw a bird display, which was awesome. It started with a brolga flying down over the audience, and included a barn owl, peregrine falcon and a galah doing various impressive things. The most impressive was probably the condor who came swooping down to land ungainly. She was a juvenile and so was curious, trying to derail the show by trying to eat people's feet and an umbrella.

We were all done and had seen everything by mid-afternoon. We made our way back into the city and found parking to go for a wander through the markets. Jen tried on a few dresses and I bought her a full-length cheongsam. (Now I just need to make some excuses for her to wear it.)

Dinner was Wagaya (with touch-screens for ordering) with rxgra, a friend of Jen's she'd never met before. Thankfully he didn't kill us and stuff us into barrels. Dude loves his movies, though, as was offended when I said Bill Murray's part in Zombieland buggered up the movie.

We drove him home, then made our way back to the hotel.

The next day we loaded up the car and head out, intending to drive until we felt tired and find a motel to stop for the night. We actually made it all the way back home by about 10 or 11. The Hume is not just a bit faster than the coast road - it's hugely faster, though there were a few trucks that annoyed me to no end by only doing ~100 not matter if the speed limit was 110 or 80, causing an endless backwards and forwards of overtaking and being overtaken.

Overall the trip was well worth it. Sydney is surprisingly unfriendly to tourists, with terrible drivers and a public transport system that you can't get on to. There are also lots and lots of speed cameras. I don't think I got caught, but I wont know until we receive (or don't receive) a fine. They're all fixed in place, though, so Sydney drivers will speed everywhere except where they know the cameras to be.

There were a lot of other cameras around, too. Security cameras were on most intersections and public places. I suppose people don't notice them or they've just been added gradually. I wasn't really bothered because I knew we weren't staying but I wouldn't be happy about them if I lived there I wouldn't be too happy about being constantly watched by some unknown mook in a dark room somewhere.

Favourite parts included the food at the Happy Chef, the Chinese gardens and the steam engines at the Powerhouse Museum. I also had a lot of fun exploring the shops in Chinatown. Sydney's Chinatown is much more interesting than Melbourne's. Maybe one year in the distant future we'll head up to Sydney for CNY.
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Sep. 13th, 2010 @ 08:39 pm (no subject)
Well, we're here in Sydney. We set out from the Elsinor Motor Lodge (which, all I up, I recommend) sometime in the morning. Breakfast was McDonald's. That was very satisfying after we were slighted yesterday.

We drove in to the centre of Sydney, parking at the entertainment centre and making our way through Chinatown. Our first stop was the Chinese Friendship Garden. That was quite pleasant. There's a stack of photos on my twitter feed. clamwings was out with some cosplayers taking photos. The photographers were getting shirty at people walking around in their shots. I didn't stop to chat. (Mostly because it wasn't until I've come back home and had a look at her journal that I'm sure it was actually her)

We had sandwiches and apple cider to rejuvenate a little and then made our way off toward Chinatown propper. Jen has relatives who own the Happy Chef Seafood Noodle House in the Sussex Centre. We dropped by to say hello and organise a time to meet when they were less busy.

After that was set up, we went for a wander. Throughout the day we dropped in random little shops and picked up a handful of souvenirs. We found the Powerhouse Museum and wheedled our way into two days for the price of one.

We did the lower floor (including music and instruments, computers, robots, electricity, chemistry and transport). The museum is awesome. The transport sections was oddly dark - as if everybody had gone home and turned the lights off. A couple of school groups were going through but we caught the tail end of them and they didn't bother us much.

We had arranged to meet back at the Happy Chef at 4:00. Jen's relatives practically forced food on us and while I wasn't terribly hungry I did eventually relent and allow Jen's uncle to cook me their renowned laksa.

That was by far the best laksa I have ever had. It didn't matter that I hadn't been hungry - that laksa was going in my tummy.

We chatted a while with Jen's auntie and said we'd try to come back for lunch tomorrow.

Driving from Chinatown to the hotel in North Sydney was an event to put hair on your chest. The 5:00 traffic was just terrible. Sydney drivers are really, really bad. The roads are narrow, they speed by huge margins, they leave no gap and there were incidents that left me absolutely speechless. Once, a bus was pulling out, so I slowed to let him in. (Seriously, folks that's what this sign means.) Two cars came screaming in from the right to fill the gap I was foolishly leaving, trying to occupy the same space as the bus.

The hotel is modern and comfortable. It was advertised as having parking (which is does) and internet. It has internet but, unlike the last two motels where it came as free wireless, it's cabled and costs $20 for 300 MB. That's just offensive even if you ignore the fact we're paying hundreds of dollars for the room for our stay.

It's less convenient because I haven't set up anything but http (port 80) but we're working on my tethered phone.

I'm going to sleep tonight.
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Sep. 12th, 2010 @ 06:32 pm (no subject)
Jen and I are on a well-deserved and long-time-coming holiday.

We set out on Saturday morning and have little more plans than that we're taking the coast road. We stopped at Warragul for petrol and I took over the driving. The Civic we've borrowed from Jen's folks is a Mugen-tuned Honda Civic, and is not at all uncomfortable. It was rather dusty and the tyres needed air and we're actually driving quite sedately to save petrol but it's still a lot of fun.

We pulled in to Moe. I don't remember why - I think to look for antiques or something. We stopped at a park to have a swing on the swings. Getting out of Moe was interesting. There's a mess of a roundabout in the middle that we got wrong.

We stopped in Sale for lunch. Almost everything was closed (at 2:00PM on a Satuday). We did find a Baker's Delight and a little café. Maybe everything was closed because everybody was at the Polelicious Pole Dance Studio grand opening. Sadly, we missed it, only seeing Lydia's message as we were back on the road.

Jen drove from Sale to Lake's Entrance, where we stopped at the information kiosk to stretch our legs. There was some live band playing on the beach. They weren't terribly good.

We hit the road and eventually got tired at Orbost. We found a motel and ended up in a deluxe room. I'd hate to have seen the standard rooms. It was dusty and the shower didn't drain properly. At least the internet was fast.

We had dinner at the restaurant, which was quite nice but as we'd been snacking all the way in the car we weren't really up for the bigger meals.

The next morning we had a hankering for McDonald's bacon and eggs, so we set off.

I did a lot of the forresty stuff out the end of Victoria and across the border. We got down to the warning light on the petrol tank and so pulled over in some almost-nowhere to fill up at an exorbitant price. (It could have been Kiah, looking at the map). Jen took over from there.

I couldn't let us go through Yellow Pinch without letting Jen know about it. Many miles and not a single McDonanld's later we got to Bega and stopped for breakfast / lunch / cheese. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of cheese selections but lunch was filling and not too expensive.

Jen was driving on to Moruya, where we stopped to stretch and swap again. It was a fairly pretty little town. I just can't believe all these towns lack 3G. 2G wireless is like living in the dark ages, man!

We went straight through Bateman's Bay, and stopped for more petrol and to swap at Kiama. I got Jen a bit lost but we've pulled up in Dapto, just short of Wollongong. The Elsinor Motor Lodge is much nicer than the last place. The internet isn't as fast but still works. The room smells of air freshener but is comfortable enough. We're about to head out looking for food.

Also (Update), I'm starting to get into this flappy-paddle gearbox. (No way am I driving a sportscar in automatic.) I think I'd prefer it if the paddles didn't rotate with the steering wheel - sometimes when the wheel is turned more than 90º I forget which paddle is up and which is down.
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Aug. 2nd, 2010 @ 09:27 pm SOL

The Group Voting Tickets are out. These are the senate preferences you vote if you vote above the line. Again, you've got to vote so you have a duty to put a little effort in to knowing what you're voting for.

I'm a bent enough nerd to think it's interesting to go through the numbers. (For my own state, at least) It'd be nice if the data were available in an easier-to-analyse form (like a spreadsheet) but such is life. If you add up all the preferences, I wonder who comes out as highest and lowest preference.

Anyway, Family First, for example, give high preferences to The Climate Sceptics, Shooters and Fishers and One Nation before any of the major parties.

The Coalition gives their first preferences to Family First, which is a surprise. I'd have expected a little more sensible preferencing before we got to the nutjob parties. Next on the list is the DLP. It takes 5 parties before you get to the Democrats. They had at least the sense to put the CEC last, though the cynical side of me wonders if that's only because everybody else got in preference deals.

Labor has been much more sensible. They preference the Greens, which isn't at all surprising. Even if they hadn't done a deal the parties are fairly compatible. The deal with the Greens allows Labor to get run-off votes from people who would have otherwise fled the party's recent social authoritarianism. After the Greens come the Democrats, Senator Online, and the Carers Alliance.

The Carers Alliance seems to feature pretty high in many parties' tickets. It's the non-threatening, politically-correct choice. They've preferenced Senator Online and the major parties.

Senator Online was going to feature higher in my senate preferences until I had a look at their ticket. I like the idea of the party. (Their senators would put all legislation to their website in polls and will vote the result of the polls.)

I'd much prefer it if they didn't restrict the voting to registered voters - around a third of the people in this country don't get to vote and I'm not comfortable with that. Young people especially spend most of their waking hours in government-funded institutions being taught and tested to government-defined standards largely by government employees. Their lives are affected far more than most by the actions and decisions of their governments but they are denied the most fundamental of democratic rights to do anything about it. SOL could at least give them a tiny fraction of a vote.

SOL's ticket puts the CEC and Family First right up there in the first 20. I'm not sure if they put this to polls - a quick look didn't reveal any trace of it, and I'm apparently still on the mailing list but didn't get any notification. Either way, it's not something I'm as happy to send my vote towards as I was.

The Australian Sex Party (who are probably going to get my vote) preference the Secular Party. That's not surprising - in terms of policies the parties are very compatible. They've put SOL up in the first few parties, much higher than I'll be putting them. Their last place is reserved for Steven Fielding and Family First. The party will certainly be right down the bottom on my vote, but I think I'll be reserving my last box for Stephen Conroy.

No, seriously: BOOBIES.
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May. 29th, 2010 @ 11:14 pm (no subject)
So dad decided he wanted an iPad. As mum was coming through, she, Jen and I went off the Chadstone. Turns out Chadstone is a wee bit busy on a Saturday. The Saturday after the iPad release is a somewhat busy day for the Apple store. That said, they had lots of staff (~30) and many had credit card swipers on their iPhones so you could be served anywhere in the store.

I had a very quick play with the thing. Not enough to really get a feel for it. I was definately going to get one, but after my first impressions I'm not so sure. Trying to explain to dad why he couldn't just copy his movies or music to it (movies must be in the right format, there's no easy access to the filesystem or network shares, files must be imported off the server into iTunes on mum's computer, then the iPad needs to be synced) all kinda brought home how douchebaggy all of Apple's restrictions on the thing are. Dad just wanted to pick up the iPad, connect to the server and play a movie. This is meant to be a personal computing revolution and the damn thing is inferiour to a laptop at something as basic as playing a movie.

All the music is on the server shared through iTunes. Of course, mobile iTunes can't connect to shared servers. Dad then tried to plug the iPad in to a computer and copy the music from the shared library to the iPad. Again, no dice.

It was all just hard and annoying.

He may have found a partial solution, though. Elgato has an app that offers some streaming capabilities. That should allow him to watch things recorded off the TV, and there might be some way to get EyeTV to import downloaded stuff and stream it to the iPad.

Jen and I have been furniture shopping. We have been sitting on lots of couches. It seems the very first place we went to may have had the best ones. Today we bought a ottoman with a top that can be flipped over to form a coffe table. Also on the list are bedside tables and bookshelves. I think we've found bedside tables. But nice, simple bookshelves have prooven to be rarer than you'd expect. Ikea might sort us out on that score, though.

I'm still waiting for the internet to be hooked up. I've been living through my phone and it's hard, hard work (what you're reading is me without spellcheck or basic ability to edit. I have no idea if it's even comprehensible.) We're going with Naked DSL this time. As much as every single time I deal with them I end up with a sore jaw from clenching my teeth so tightly, we're going with TPG. Nobody else offers comparable megabytes per dollar.
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May. 24th, 2010 @ 08:54 pm (no subject)
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Dear cinemas: if I'm paying $17, I have a right to expect that you manage to put the movie on the screen and get sound to come out of the speakers. It's not unreasonable to further expect your staff not to wander through the theatre with their radios on.

And please, please patrons, if you insist on bringing your young spawn to an M-rated movie, kindly keep them quiet or, when the wretched little shit won't shut up, take it from the theatre.

I don't know why it upsets me. The cinema experience is a shit one and has been for a long time. Maybe it's a mis-placed desire to be part of something nostalgic and imbued with magic. Maybe it's a voyeuristic desire to watch a dying industry spasm.

Don't bother seeing Iron Man 2 in the cinemas. The grandeur of that world is long dead.

Do bother - very much - to see it in the comfort of your own home. The movie is spectacular. I would say it isn't quite as great as its predecessor, but for any sequel to be as strong a follow-up is rare.

Johannson and Downey Jr are blazing hot on screen. If Johannson's catsuit or Downey's charming biceps don't get you pulse moving I'd consider checking if you have one at all.

The jokes are really well-timed. Some have many layers. Some are the wonderful type that take different people very different amounts of time to get. I loved "The question I'm most often asked is how do I go to the toilet in the suit."

The writing is very clever without requiring you to think very hard about it all. They do drop in a lot of comic book stuff with not much introduction. That's praiseful damnation, though - you can almost always criticise a film for not being respectful enough to its source material.

I'm not a big fan of Gwyneth Paltrow - the girl needs a sammich. She just looked too strung-out too much of the time.

It's also a bit disappointing that a movie with complex layers of writing took so much effort to be bloodless. This, more than the CGI or wire-work felt fake about the whole thing.

It's a masterful movie that shouldn't be missed when it comes out on DVD. 99 NAULS.
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May. 17th, 2010 @ 07:00 pm (no subject)
Well, moving is exhausting.

The new place is very nice. Things are still in boxes, but I'm slowly unpacking. The TV is set up and on Sunday I played a few hours of Super Paper Mario because Jen had moved her Wii. Man, I'm mostly enjoying the game, but they really are dragging things out.

There's still no internet at the new place in Huntingdale, so I stop by Dandenong every night to do my internet stuff. (Like download Doctor Who)

Jen will be moving in soon, which I am seriously looking forward to.

We need bedside tables and want to get a nice couch. I also want to build desks and shelves in the second bedroom, but I haven't found somebody who will give me prices for this stuff, though I know a whole range of people make it.

Most of our neighbours seem nice. I thought there'd be more students in the apartment block (long walk from Monash, or a quick bus ride), but so far only one of the units seems to have uni people in it. That's Ken and Grace.

Grace, who I've only met once in passing, is an attractive asian girl who was covered in adhesive bandages. It was a little bit strange. But also a little bit awesome.

Levon's girlfriend, whose name I didn't remember to write down (she said she didn't live in the building, so it didn't seem necessary to add her to our little list of neighbours and their names) came over on Saturday night after we'd finished moving all the heavy stuff with lasagne. That was so astonishingly nice of her I was lost for words. We had planned to go to Mark / Sorrell's dinner thing but were too tired to think, so unexpected lasagne was brilliant.
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Apr. 5th, 2010 @ 08:29 pm LiveJournal: For those random times you need to write more than will fit in a tweet
I'm not too sure about Matt Smith as the new Doctor. He just can't do the dangerous-scary that Eccelston and Tennant could. But it's early days yet.

I like Amy Pond, though, which is a welcome change. I did warm to Donna in the end but I generally haven't liked the companions we've had. Amy seems much more fun.

I went for a bike ride today. Just a meander around Dandenong. It was getting dark as I was heading home so it might be time to re-design my lights.

Work is still great fun. I've got a couple of projects on the go. One of them is going to be a CANbus controller, which I'm looking forward to because I've been interested in CAN since I did that automation project for uni.

Little Miss moved out about a month ago. She needed to be closer to the city so she didn't have to spend an hour on public transport both ways each day. She's now in St Kilda.

Jen and I have been looking at places to live. This place is really cheap, but it doesn't make sense for me to be living alone and Jen would have the same problem Little Miss had (it's too far from the city). So far it looks much more promising than it did two years ago - there have only been a few couples at inspections.

Little Miss took the washer and dryer, so I went out a bought a new one. I bought a combination one largely because it tickled my love of new toys. Interestingly, it uses water to dry the washing (it uses the cool water to condense the moisture out of the heated air circulating through the clothes). I'd be happy to turn this off and live with a muggy laundry after running the dryer but it doesn't look like there's a button for that.

I've been playing some Plants vs. Zombies. It's great fun. I'm most of the way through the backyard levels.
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