Tue, 31 May 2005

Kingdom of Heaven

Drew, one of my LCA2006 organising committee, had some free movie tickets that were due to expire today. He and his partner would not be able to use them, so he gave them to me yesterday. Raewyn and I are going out for dinner with friends tonight (which also happens to be because an offer expires today), so we went to see a movie last night - Kingdom of Heaven.

It was pretty good actually - the story was interesting, and the characters believable (but I did slightly expect Orlando to do some crazy leaping around on a giant elephant... er hang on, wrong movie). The tale is of the Crusades, and of Balian's travels to, and subsequent defence of Jerusalem. One thing that piqued my interest, was that King Baldwin was a leper. I now have an interest to learn more about leprosy...

[21:04] [/Life] [permanent link]

Sat, 07 May 2005

Just Another Day...

...that happens to be my birthday. So, now that I'm officially an adult in my insurance company's eyes, my premium for the car policy will drop.. :)

Raewyn has been harrassing me all week - "What do you want for your birthday?", and yesterday she finally went shopping to try any find something... I ended up getting some questions via SMS messages that were indicating the general theme of what I was going to be getting.. well, ok, they were actually quite explicit.

Anyway, so last night she gave me the present she bought - the entire Blackadder series on DVD (Yes, REAL British comedy! None of this US canned laughter bollocks). Mmmmmmm. So, now, after dropping her at work, I'll go and do that morning stuff (S**t, Shower, Shave, as is said here), then blob in front of the DVD player for the morning.

I wonder if the day will get any better? The complete set of Open All Hours, or even Dad's Army would just rock!

[20:55] [/Life] [permanent link]

Fri, 06 May 2005

Duty Free Booze - part 2

Previously, I blogged about passing through Sydney on my way home from LCA2005, and purchasing some Duty Free Alcohol...

So, It turns out that Downtown Duty Free were unable to do the 'free bottle for pickup' thing, and ended up offering me a complete refund of the AU$150. Sweet! I followed all of their directions - Fax a letter with a copy of the receipt, my Credit Card details, and proof that I actually had a bottle of 12yo Glenlivet, not 21 (basically just quote the barcode number).

That was about a week and a half ago. I received no return phonecall confirming that they'd received my fax.. I was in the dark (Damn, faxes are so last century... I'm amazed they still exist). Worrying, a little, since I knew a refund from an Australian company to my Visa would take a little more than 3-4 days, I decided to just call and verify that they'd received my fax...

Well, that was the rudest Customer Service rep I'd ever dealt with. I introduced myself, and asked if I could speak to the person I'd been dealing with about a refund due to an incorrect pickup.. They must not get many of these, as the rep knew about it, and said she'd pass me on to the person who knew what was happening (her boss probably). Anyway, she neglected to put me on hold as she spoke to this person who must have been nearby, as I could hear the other person saying things along the lines of "Just tell him that we've put the refund through, and that's all we're doing" - This was where the rep started getting rude with me.. About this time I was desperately trying to get the point across that I just wanted to know if they'd received my fax and things were underway.

After that call, I decided I didn't like Downtown very much - it wasn't my fault they screwed up, and I don't see why I should be paying $100 extra for something I didn't even want in the first place.. I was happy that they'd offered me a refund, but all I really wanted was for the bottle I had to be traded for the bottle I wanted. It's all water under the bridge anyway....

Now, this morning, I checked my bank balances via my banks internet banking website, and I noticed that my Visa appeared to have a drastically different balance to what I was expecting... The refund came through! Woot! So, how am I celebrating? By getting drunk on extremely nice 12 year old Glenlivet, that's how! It's even nicer, because the price is right!

Now, I just need to convince one of the Ghosts of past LCA attendees to purchase me the bottle I wanted, and I'll reimburse them when they get here... :)

[07:55] [/Life] [permanent link]

Tue, 26 Apr 2005

On Duty Free, and Booze.

Ok, so, LCA2005 was great, and I had a wonderful time catching up with all these folks that I hadn't seen in ages. Excellent.

Anyway, as is your duty when you travel abroad, you must buy alcohol in Duty Free on the way home. I did this. Let's say why first - On this particular trip, I wasn't really wanting to get anything for us (my girlfriend and I).. the cupboard at home is stocked quite well. But, I did owe a workmate a small debt, and he said he'd love to get a bottle of his favourite whiskey as payment.

It happens to be a 21 year old Glenlivet. Expensive, mmk? Ok, this is fine, I do owe him that much, so the price isn't an issue. Anyway, I arrive in Sydney from Canberra, and spend a good day catching up with another Debian Developer (bod), and get to do a little Geocaching - sweet, I had some Travel Bugs to drop off.

To the airport with enough time to check in, get through security, and do the things I need to do (and you still end up waiting.. grr).

So, I wandered towards the immigration/security place, and stumbled across Downtown Duty Free. I had a little poke around, wondering if they had a 21yo Glenlivet. Turns out they do. Woot! And I only came into the store, because they had an AU$5 for 200ml of Johnnie Walker Black Label deal! Mmmm. After purchasing both, with a little interlude whilst I jumped onto the net with my PDA to transfer some funds to my Visa for the purchase, I dutifully wandered off to do the immigration/security thing. No worries. Came out the other side, fetched my Duty Free purchases from the collection point on the Other Side(tm), and boarded the plane to head to Auckland. Arrived in Auckland - whilst waiting on the flight to disembark, I had a peek in the Duty Free bag. There was a 200ml bottle of JW. Cool. And a bottle of 12yo Glenlivet. Swee... HOLD ON! 12 year old?!%^@!#!? F**K!.

Turns out they'd screwed up and packed the wrong bottle into the bag at the collection point. So, I have since done the deed and called to harrass them - they've given me 1 of 2 options:

  1. Take a refund from the 21yo price to the 12yo price - ~AU$100 (a bottle of 21yo scotch is expensive, remember?)
  2. Have someone pick up a 21yo bottle from a Downtown store for me, on their way to NZ. This has the advantage of giving me a free 12yo.

You can tell which option I want, right?

So, there happens to be a group of aussies coming to Dunedin in just under a month for Ghosts of past LCA's.. I can hopefully swing one of them to drop by and grab it for me.. But, if anyone else is heading to NZ sooner - please drop me a line, I'd love to organise with you to pick it up for me!

The moral of the story? Either never purchase stuff Duty Free at one of those pre-immigration display stores, or ALWAYS check what you pick up at the collection point, to see if it matches the receipt you get.

[00:46] [/Life] [permanent link]

Sat, 05 Feb 2005

That Geocaching Bug...

I've known about Geocaching for quite some time, but never really gotten into it, until joeyh Mentioned it a while back. Since he wrote that article, I've been slowly gearing up to have a go.

Since I've got one of those Pocket PC things for work, I thought I should find some software for it to record all of my cache attempts, and store the information from the website that I'd need for them. There's a few little gems available, which is good - currently I'm only using GPXSonar (horrible site), until I get an interface cable to link my eTrex with the Pocket PC, when I'll start using G7TOCE. I'm hoping to find something better that will let me do the GPS stuff on the handheld.. but that would probably be better with a bluetooth GPS receiver. Anyway, I digress...

Sooo, today, I finally get around to going out and having a decent go at this thing... What a rush! It really is a bug, and I'm definitely addicted. I'll have to try and pick up a Travel Bug before I go to LCA2005 - I'll try to bring one back too. Well, I usually don't like to subscribe to pay services, but this is one I'm happy to, since its fun, and it's nice to know that payment will help keep the website running. And the ulterior motive, is that you need to be a paid member to be able to download GPX files of multiple caches - great for things like GPXSonar above.

So, on my first day of caching, I got 8 caches - one of which was an FTF (First To Find), and another was a Multi-cache (follow clues from the start to the actual cache). A successful day, I think.

Anyway, if you have a GPS Receiver, get into Geocaching - it's fun, it helps get you out and about (exercise is a good thing, mmmk?), and it's just generally geeky! AND you get to call non-cachers "muggles"! :)

[09:38] [/Life] [permanent link]

Wed, 05 Jan 2005

It's Not Called Giving Up

It's called stopping. What are you giving up?

Jesus, As much as I applaud your success at stopping smoking, it annoys me when it's made out to be some sort of epic challenge that has to be overcome, and kept at bay.

When you can mentally be on top of it from the start, it's no issue.

For anyone else that's planning to stop this year, Go and read this. I swear that it will change your view on smoking and nicotine addiction, and you'll have stopped without all the struggle that everyone else whinges about.

[21:03] [/Life] [permanent link]

Sun, 31 Oct 2004

My Condolences...

Andrew, My condolences. Byron looked like a pretty laid back cat, with one hell of a personality - it's like losing a close friend when pets pass away.

One of my previous cats, by the name of "Sawyer" (long story), lived at home in the country with my Father. After I went to high school in the city, I never saw much of him. When I discovered one weekend that I was home that he had been hit by a car, I was quite upset (with my father too, It was a while before that weekend, and he hadn't told me at the time it happened).

Anyway, Andrew, give him a good burial spot, it sounds like he deserves it.

[04:45] [/Life] [permanent link]

Fri, 24 Sep 2004

Another vice to get lost with...

My pre-ordered copy of Starwars Battlefront for PS2 arrived in store yesterday, and I picked it up this morning... Now, I just know that this weekend is going to be messy.

I played for about 3 minutes on the console set up in the store... Now I can't wait to get home.

On another note, the cat decided to go for a bit of an adventure some time yesterday... we didn't see her all night. It's strange how this affected me, I was somewhat upset, and full of worry. I know there's no need though, cats to have this amazing ability to look after themselves.

The good news is that she turned up this morning after I'd dropped the better half at work, while I was in the shower. She made one hell of a racket, seeking attention....

[23:44] [/Life] [permanent link]

Tue, 31 Aug 2004

Blackhole Weekends

That is, weekends that just disappear, and you don't know what happened. Well, Ok, I do know what happened this time...

mjb@toolbox:~> arp -a ( at 00:04:1F:7D:64:AB [ether] on eth0

*sigh*. Still waiting on my backorder of SOCOM II to arrive (with headset), but I did hire it out from a local video rental outlet for the weekend. I think that's what happened anyway...

[22:20] [/Life] [permanent link]

Fri, 27 Aug 2004

Athens 2004 Mens Triathlon

Actually, Jordi, I think the Triathlon was a bit of a spectacular triumph! *g*. Ok, my commiserations, it's never nice to get so close, and yet be pipped at the post. As Kofi Annan is quoted as saying:

The greatest moment of a swimming race is not when one swimmer begins to pull ahead of the pack, or when one touches the wall in victory.

The greatest moment takes place before the starting pistol fires -- the moment when no nation is greater or smaller, or stronger or weaker, than any other.

For me, that is the Olympic Moment.

So, for that matter, Congratulations on Spain qualifying for the Olympics anyway.

Lets not talk about the mens points cycling...

[23:39] [/Life] [permanent link]

Mon, 14 Jun 2004

Stopping Smoking

Amaya, if you're serious about stopping your smoking, read this. (Anyone else who's trying to stop, should also read it)..

I bought this book on recommendation from another smoker, and read it over the space of 1-2 weeks. As the book says, don't stop smoking while you read it, and if you take in the information within, you'll never want to light another one, after that last page.

It works. That was over a year ago for me. No pangs, no withdrawl, and in fact, I don't even like smelling the smoke from others in bars.

Anyway, ex-smokers are the worst at trying to stop others, so I'll shut up now.

[00:32] [/Life] [permanent link]

Fri, 11 Jun 2004

Let's Play Catch-Up...

Again, I seem to have forgotten about this blogging thing. I promise I'll lay off the memes this time though. (Although, the last one was fun, I was fascinated to see it flourish).

Anyway... The position was filled, and I now have a new workmate. He started on Tuesday. Now I get to answer lots of questions :).

A lot has happened over the last month, I grew a year older, for one... I'm still looking forward to the next one though (25), so that my insurance premiums on the car go down. I'm paying an exorbitant amount now. I guess that figures, since I'm paying for full cover.

Jordi, yeah, Blog spam is pretty common, I dropped the comments plugin from my blog because of precisely that... if people want to comment, they can mail me. I don't particularly want to participate in increasing their link count with google (or whatever that thing google calls it).

I got an answer back a while ago from the Antenna designer, but he was basically avoiding the questions, and trying to say "Pay me, I'll make you one". Incredibly typical of HAM's in general. Even those that have been introduced late to the Open Source community still exhibit this behaviour. I must admit, it's very interesting to compare the two hobbies, Both are very technical in nature, both consist of a large amount of information sharing, but only the Amateur fraternity appear to be hung up about money. A good example are the sites on the intarweb where you can find manuals for various Amateur rigs - where you have to pay.... Not that I'm against this of course, it's a free world (supposedly) - but it does get a bit rediculous. Oh, the outcome? I built a boring old 2m J-pole.

My sister decided she'd like to gate crash my place, and borrow my TV and PS2 again, to watch a DVD. (I don't mind, free entertainment). Anyway, we watched Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine". A very good movie... I'd never seen it before, and I can tell you this, the guy is right on the button.. Not much I can add to it really, other than the fact that it's amazing that he's an a American that can see how fucked up his country is. (I'm sure there are others, but hey, he made a movie).

For my birthday, some friends got me some free movie passes.. WOO! We've (my girlfriend and I) been to see two movies so far, Some chick-flick that I forget, and The Day After Tomorrow. A lot of folks appear to find it stupid... Given, it was rather "hollywood", but I did find some of the theories presented interesting. The earth trying to keep an equilibrium in place was a good start.

Well, that's about it.. there's a few other boring and mundane things, and the shortly to be written entry above.. :P

[21:12] [/Life] [permanent link]

Sun, 02 May 2004

Long time no post...

In blog tradition, that is... Real Life(tm) has taken over, somewhat.

My sister was home for two weeks from the UK where she and her husband are currently working, which was nice. My girlfriend has now managed to meet all of my direct family! Most of the extended too, but that's only because my extended family is rather small.

Work went crazy, beyond all measure this weekend.. the latest M$ vulnerability hadn't been patched on the thousands of student desktops around campus, and the outbreak of a new exploit meant that they were all shut down, and rebuilt from scratch. Thankfully, it's not too difficult - 2 CD's worth of Ghost image later, and they're pretty much installed and waiting for login. I personally don't have much to do with the windows stuff, but since I was about I helped out with one of the largest labs, and got it done in approximately 3 hours. (roughly 140 PC's).

Not to mention, the fact that my fellow Unix admin decided to apply for the job upstairs, as a DBA, and got it... an ad for his replacement is currently being advertised. If you want to come work in NZ with me, feel free to apply! I'm even on the interview panel. Oh, and hurry, the application closing date is 5pm Tuesday, NZST (+1200) time! (the 4th of May)

There's more to blog about, but for now, I'll join in the latest blogging meme which I stumbled across whilst searching for an RSS reader for my PocketPC phone..

Instructions: Grab the nearest book, open it to page 23, find the 5th sentence, post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.


Ayla sniffed the aroma of the fruit as she held the cup to her lips to taste.

Who's next?

[06:47] [/Life] [permanent link]

Wed, 18 Feb 2004

Mythical Cats.

Damn neighbour has a cat that keeps coming into my house, through my cat door, intimidating my cat, and eating the cat food I paid for. Where is the justice in that?

Ok, so there must be a solution to this. I've been told that if I can trap the cat, and give it a hell of a fright it'll get the message it's not welcome. Supposedly something like bailing it up in a corner, squirting it with water, hissing and yelling at it should work. I've been laying a trap when I'm home... shut my cat in a room with food/litter tray and stuff to play with, and set the cat door to be 'in only'. Haven't had any luck yet.

I've been mucking around with MythTV a bit, finally deciding that there's a feature or two I want. One of which is a form of 'substring matching' on the program title. New Zealands free-to-air networks have a pretty crap set of data available for xmltv - on a fairly regular basis, the title will contain the episode name with no obvious separation between the two... Anyway, I managed to work out how best to do this within Myth's backend fairly simply, but it did mean I had to bone up on my SQL. Now I just have to get around to coding up some form of UI within MythTV's frontend to set up recordings using this....

Vim's a cool editor, but whilst writing this entry I could not, for the life of me, work out how I could set up a conditional execution of ':set tw=80' based on the filename, and said file's location on the filesystem. Something like:

au BufNewFile,BufReadPost,BufRead /blog/data/*/*.txt :set tw=80 what I want, but can I work it out? no!

[22:10] [/Life] [permanent link]

Fri, 30 Jan 2004

Don't buy a car.

I can't get by without one.. And I fully acknowledge that they're money sinks.

  • Tail light got smashed. replacement from a wrecker: $120
  • 4 year old battery finally gave up: $85
  • Front left tyre will not pass next 'Warrant of Fitness'. at least $130.

Let's not mention insurance, me being under 25 and all....

[01:15] [/Life] [permanent link]

Wed, 28 Jan 2004

Thought Provoking Movies

This evening was a quiet one, and I ended up watching American Beauty which happened to be showing on the local television network. The huge amount of different ideas presented certainly pushes home the complexities that life can hold.. Happy thoughts, sad thoughts, and some thoughts to ponder.

The last few days have been interesting to say the least. Everyone's been blogging about the latest and greatest mail-borne exploit for windows, so I'll not say anything more than I've had my fair share of cleanup from that too... The mind boggles at the number of people who open attachments from 'strangers'. Two (thankfully simple) mutli-user systems for a department at Work reinstalled with RHAS, from RH7.3. I have no thanks whatsoever for RH. Oh to have a simplistic, and SANE package filename naming scheme. Trying to replace the installed packages from the old installation to the new is a veritable nightmare.

I caught up with an old friend today, after she sent me a surprise SMS asking to go to lunch. We had an interesting chat about things that have been going on in our lives, and things that haven't. Well, ok, mainly about things in her life... I hardly got a word in edge ways. From what she was telling me though, I'm fairly sure I'm onto a pretty good thing with Raewyn. Speaking of which, it's only 9 sleeps till she's back! ... Ok, so I'm a sap. At least I can admit it :P

elmo pointed me to lrrd a week or so ago. After installing it at work to monitor some of the Debian systems, I've decided it's double-plus good. If you run a few systems that you need to keep a close eye on, it's a great tool, I highly recommend it. There are numerous times in the past when it's been useful to look at the graphs generated by <product> (I'm embarrased to admit we use it). lrrd looks like it'll knock the socks off it. Thanks elmo (and tore too...)

Still haven't found the envelope containing watch links. *hrmph*

Tomorrow morning will be fun, I'm sure - silly me, I haven't shaved in 3 days...

[10:59] [/Life] [permanent link]

Thu, 22 Jan 2004

Time Crawls when you're not having fun...

Ok ok, so we all know the lovely clichés about time, and the lack of it, but I appear to have too much. It's only 15 sleeps till my girlfriend finally gets back from her summer holiday up in the Far North (that's actually the province's name). I guess it's kinda pathetic how I act about this, but dammit, I miss her! She's been up there for the best part of 3 months, and I only got to see her for a week over New Year. So yeah, I'm pining pathetically, I know.

Work is starting to suck more and more.... Pretty much the same old dreary crap, and having to deal with RHEL makes it even more of a pain in the ass. RH pulling support for < RH8.0, really bites the big one. Especially when you've got systems that you can't just upgrade/reinstall at the drop of a hat. Why I didn't do the whole fight-tooth-and-nail for Debian earlier, I don't know...

I spent a good hour last night, looking for the small white envelope that had the extra 3 or 4 links for my watch.. It appears my arm is getting fatter. Perhaps this is my excuse to start on the whole lose weight thing.... *snort* - Yeah, right. It'll turn up.. I hope...

[03:23] [/Life] [permanent link]

Tue, 20 Jan 2004

Ain't no place like Home.

So, I finally made it home, after a complete day of flying and hanging around boring airports. I did manage to catch up with Brendan O'Dea at Sydney, and we had a quick coffee before I wandered off to board my flight to Wellington. He enjoyed the chance to go for a bit of a ride on his bike.. Lucky bastard. I had three or so hours in Wellington, so I ended up catching the bus into the city, and catching up with a friend there, who happens to have a 100Mbit link to the local CBD network, called Citylink. I'll just seethe with jealousy for a while. (6MB/s to Australia, dammit).

Got back into Dunedin at about 8pm, and was politely informed by the pilot as we landed, that we'd all missed out on a 30°C day. The airport apparently got up to 33°C. I was picked up by my 'Brother-in-law' (they're not married, and they don't plan to... it's just easier to say that), and delivered home. My cat was ultra-pleased to see me.

Anyway, to top it all off, There was a letter waiting from the Justice Department. Yay. The thought "Oh god, what have I done?" went through my mind. After opening it, I discovered it was a summons to Jury Duty. Great! A week off work! Perhaps I should demand compensation for the undue stress of receiving a letter from the Justice Department thinking I was in some sort of trouble.... Hmmmm....

[02:10] [/Life] [permanent link]