davidcook: (iFence)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 05:17pm on 03/12/2013
So, this year I've been getting back into fencing competitions, as regularly as can be managed around other commitments (i.e. Bub :) ). On average I probably get 1 hour of fencing training per week - far less than most "serious" fencers would think adequate.
Of course, I'm doing lots of cycling (should easily reach 6000km for the year), and every now and then I lift a weight or two (mostly Bub, he's getting heavier ! :) ).

So, how did I do ? Pretty well, actually.

Vic State Open #1 - 5th / 13
Vic State Open #2 - 5th / 18
Vic State Open #3 - 1st / 15
National Open #3 (Melbourne) - 8th / 72
Club Championships - 1st / 11
State Championships - 3rd / 18

The win in Open #3 is actually my first state-level Open competition win ... ever. I've come 2nd and 3rd a few times in the past, never quite managed to get to the top of the podium before.
8th at the National tournament is also an equal-best result for me - last time was in 2000 or 2001 or so. [1] [2]

So overall I'm pretty happy with my fencing year, and thinking of doing a little more next year (maybe I'll enter some of the Veteran tournaments locally, or maybe look at an extra National comp).

[1] Trivia - last time I made a national L8, I lost to Peter Osvath - this time I managed to beat him (in the last 32).
[2] More trivia - in the last four tournaments in that list, I only lost four bouts, and three of them were to Seamus.
Mood:: 'calm' calm
davidcook: (circuit2)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 10:57pm on 14/09/2013
Once upon a time, I knew some Chinese. Every now and then I poke at random resources on the Net that might help me remember some of what I once knew. A while back, I had the bright idea that if there were some Twitter accounts posting a few basic vocabulary words a day, I'd be able to pick some of them up over time and with luck, remember some.
I searched but didn't find anything existing that seemed suitable, and then I ran across the MDBG site, which has the usual Chinese dictionaries and things, but also has a page of feeds for the words in the HSK vocabulary lists (HSK is a standard test of Chinese level used in various places including China).
Bingo, I thought. ... but then, how to get them to Twitter ? Fortunately, there's a site around for just such a need, Twitterfeed.com.
So I created a feed there, hooked it up to a Twitter account, and to the MDBG HSK level 1 feed, and away it went, feeding me 10 random Chinese words a day from the list ... for a while.

There was a hitch, though. Every entry in the feed has an "id" field and a "link", and Twitterfeed runs duplicate checking which assumes those fields will be unique for a new entry.
The MDBG feed runs through the characters in the Level 1 list, and then repeats, and its "id" and "link" values are based on the URL linking to the word in their dictionary, and thus also repeat.
So after a month or so, the Twitter account dried up, and it took me a while to notice.

Eventually I did some tinkering in Ruby, and found that there were gems available for reading and parsing RSS feeds, and the "sinatra" gem provides a light-weight but useful web framework. 50-odd lines of code gives me a "web app" that reads in all of the MDBG feeds, adds the current date to the id field, and then waits for requests for the feeds. I run the app on Heroku - it's light enough that it can run on the free tier there.

... and it almost works. For some reason Twitterfeed only seems to be picking up the first entry from my feed, even though the only changes are the id and link fields to make them non-unique every day. One day I'll do more tinkering and try to work out why ...
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
davidcook: (castle)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 03:10pm on 30/08/2013
Adelaide people - [livejournal.com profile] rwrylsin and Bub and I will be over there soon ! Arriving on the evening of Thurs 19th Sept, departing again on the morning of Monday 23rd Sept. Would love to catch up with people !

(for now, Bub still mostly has some kind of nap in the middle of the day, and will need to eat around 5pm (CST), hopefully something can be arranged around that. Or come and visit us in sunny Largs North :) )
Mood:: 'calm' calm
davidcook: (iFence)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 11:18pm on 28/08/2013
Last weekend was my fourth fencing tournament for the year, this time the third of four events that form the national circuit for the year. This was larger (72 entries), and had many good fencers from interstate to add to the local crowd.
The pool round got the day off to a good start - won 4 out of 5 bouts, and the loss was close (4-5), and the wins were all 5-2 or 5-1 - that put me into the Direct Elimination phase seeded 8th, a pretty good place to be.

There was a bit of waiting around after the pools, as they ran the (incomplete) round-of-128 part of the tableau. When I finally did get on for my first DE bout, I was getting a little nervous (always seems to strike before the first bout in particular). Fortunately, the bout went comfortably my way (15-3) against a probably-junior fencer from NSW - it felt a bit mean, but on the other hand, I've been on the receiving end of that sort of scoreline in the past, and he didn't seem to have any answers against someone with my height and reach.

The next bout was against a fellow veteran (40+), and was very close all the way - lots of double-hits, we reached 13-all in a blink. I got the next hit doing something that could almost be seen as "second intention" if you squinted at it right, and then closed out with yet another double hit, 15-14.

Last-16 bout was against another NSW fencer, one I've never fenced before. This was also close, the lead changed back and forth a few times, and we ended up at 13-all again. Fortunately I got two hits in a row to close out the bout, 15-13.

That earned me a place in the last 8, only the second time I've got that far in Australian national-level tournaments - the previous time was quite a while back, possibly 2001 or so.
My quarter final opponent was someone I'd been hoping to fence - Seamus Robinson, arguably Australia's best male epeeist for most of the last 22 years.

The bout started well, I got the first hit within 5 seconds of the start. Unfortunately, Seamus hasn't lost his reflexive parry-bind-flick-to-foot action, and got to use it quite a few times in the bout - score was 3-6 at the end of the first period, 5-10 at the second, and finished (with 3 seconds left in the third period) at 10-15.

Overall, I was pretty happy with this tournament - especially in comparison with the last two national tournaments I competed in, where each time I lost my first DE bout to veteran fencers that I felt I should have beaten. Maybe now I'm taking on the role of "sneaky veteran that beats the youngsters" rather than losing to that type ?

Anyway, this has been a pretty good year for me in fencing so far, and in a couple of months, I'm planning to do it all over again in the State Championships (and toying with the idea of a trip to Canberra for the Nationals !).
Mood:: 'calm' calm
davidcook: (iFence)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 11:06pm on 10/08/2013
I haven't said much about fencing here lately. Obviously, I haven't been doing as much since a Certain Small Person arrived, mostly just going along to Saturday training sessions and getting a few bouts in (mostly epee / foil, occasionally sabre).

However, I have gone to the three state Open competitions held so far this year.

The first was in March - there were 13 entries, I had a reasonable pool round (4 wins of 6 bouts), won the first DE bout, then lost in the last 8 (final placing 5th).

The second was in May - 19 entries, and that time I won all of my pool bouts and ended up seeded 1st. Squeaked through the first DE bout 15-14 after a major brain fade, then lost in the last 8 (5th again).

The third was today - 15 entries (including three women, as there weren't enough of them for a separate comp), and again I won all of my pool bouts (7 of them, because they ran 15 fencers in pools of 8 and 7, rather than the logical 3 pools of 5). That got me a bye into the last 8, then I won bouts 15-10, 15-7, and 15-10 in the final to end up ... 1st !

I'm feeling pretty happy (and slightly whiskyed) about that right now.

If I remember correctly that's my first Open comp win in Victoria (think I won B-grade ages ago), and second Open comp win ever (the other was the Scottish Open 2007).
Whee !
Mood:: 'Whee !' Whee !
davidcook: (circuit)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 11:16pm on 11/07/2013
Three tech things make a post :

1. I upgraded my phone in September last year. I've finally reached one which does what I want from a mini-pocket-computer phone. The previous two phones were a Nokia N82, and HTC Desire - both had roughly similar sets of features, but both had significant and different flaws. The N82 could definitely connect to the Internet - but the interface for it was fiddly and slow, so I mostly gave up on using it unless desperate. The Desire had a great interface, but the fatal flaw was internal memory - it just didn't have enough, in the end I was fighting daily to free up some memory to be able to run stuff, and couldn't really install new apps.

Now I've got the HTC Velocity 4G - slightly buzzwordy, but I have a pocketable device that got about 20Mbps download and upload from speedtest.net (in a 4G zone), and has more than enough memory and storage to cope with what I need. Just as an example - I have Firefox on it, and earlier today, it briefly went over 30 tabs open before I bookmarked and closed a bunch. It's a computer in my pocket, and I'm very happy with it. ... it makes phone calls too, apparently.

(Ok, there is a flaw, one common to these devices - yes, it needs charging every day. Roll on the 10x improvement in energy density for batteries that was linked on Twitter recently ... )

2. RSS feed reader.
Unlike Everyone Else[tm], I wasn't upset at the closing of Google Reader, because I didn't use it (or any similar product that depended on it).
Until now, I've mostly been adding feeds on LJ or DW and subscribing there. This works ok, but I started to find that frequently-updating blogs were swamping the feed, and I was having to go to back more than 50 entries to view one day of feeds.
Since people were posting huge lists of Google Reader alternatives, I thought it was time to try a few of them out. First go was Feedly, and ... I disliked it. It seems to require a browser plugin, and then puts an intrusive feed symbol all over the place (including images). So I got rid of that, and poked at a couple of others. Most readers seem to give a reverse-chronological list of feed headlines (or entries) with all the feeds mingled together, which wasn't quite what I wanted (since DW gives me that anyway).
Finally tried Netvibes.com - it puts each feed in its own little box, and shows what's new since you last checked. Also lets you easily mark feeds as read (or everything, for a big catch-up), but makes it really obvious when the less-frequently-updated feeds have something new.

3. Mobile phone Twitter client
I thought my requirement was fairly simple and an obvious sort of thing for such a client - let me view my entire timeline, without gaps, and remembering where I last stopped reading.
Unfortunately, all the previous clients I tried (official Twitter, Twidroyd, Tweetcaster, Seesmic) had one flaw or other in meeting my needs - most of them left gaps in the timeline at some point, even if I set them to automatically loading more at regular intervals.

Seesmic was the best of those at not leaving gaps, but it would literally scroll the timeline from under me (even while I was looking at it!) when it updated (that is, if it loaded 30 minutes of new tweets, some older tweet I was looking at got shoved 30 minutes down !).

Finally tried Janetter, and it seems to do exactly what I want - if I leave it at 10:30PM pointing at a particular tweet, I can pick it up at 7AM and it'll still be showing the same one - and it will have loaded all the tweets since the previous one. It really saves an amazing amount of time in catching up ...
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
davidcook: (camera)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 12:13am on 01/07/2013
I remember now, I used to post photos here when I had nothing in particular to write about ... here, have a photo :
Mood:: 'creative' creative
davidcook: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 10:21pm on 30/06/2013
Brief life update:
- Life currently revolves around work, cycling, fencing, Bub, and squeezing in other stuff around the edges of those.
- Work is going ok, currently out at the Docklands HQ of $BANK (Docklands, Melbourne, in case there's any confusion). I'm currently juggling software across 200-odd Unix servers, projects are getting delivered, and I only need to rant at [livejournal.com profile] rwrylsin about the inevitable frustrations of working in large organisations every now and then.
- Cycling - over 600km in February and March, over 500km in May and June - and 838km in April. Certainly the most I've cycled in a month for about 20 years, maybe not quite the all-time high, but close to it.
- Bub ! He's 15 months old, walking everywhere, starting to get the hang of climbing stairs and working on furniture, which will add a whole new dimension to the existing mayhem. See lots more on his progress on [livejournal.com profile] rwrylsin's LJ.
- other stuff - well, there was Continuum 9, which was fun even though we were working our schedules around Bub (I got some quality play time with [livejournal.com profile] mireille21 and [livejournal.com profile] shazgirl/[livejournal.com profile] dalekboy's kids, apparently I'm good to jump on and piggy-back on and be chased by :-) ). Every now and then I poke at my Lego for a while, will have to starting building for the next Brickvention soon.

... all in all, going pretty well.
Mood:: 'calm' calm
davidcook: (music)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 02:59pm on 08/04/2013
So, most of Australia has now come off DST, and I think the UK went forward to summer time last week. That led me to a question :

Poll #13184 A question of time ...
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 10

How many devices around your house which display time did you have to manually change for DST ?

View Answers
Mean: 3.40 Median: 3 Std. Dev 2.06
00 (0.0%)
12 (20.0%)
22 (20.0%)
32 (20.0%)
41 (10.0%)
52 (20.0%)
60 (0.0%)
70 (0.0%)
81 (10.0%)
90 (0.0%)
10+ 100 (0.0%)

How many devices around your house automatically changed for DST ?

View Answers
Mean: 5.60 Median: 5.5 Std. Dev 2.24
00 (0.0%)
10 (0.0%)
21 (10.0%)
31 (10.0%)
41 (10.0%)
52 (20.0%)
62 (20.0%)
71 (10.0%)
81 (10.0%)
90 (0.0%)
10+ 101 (10.0%)

How many devices around your house automatically changed for DST - on the wrong day ?

View Answers
Mean: 0.11 Median: 0 Std. Dev 0.31
08 (88.9%)
11 (11.1%)
20 (0.0%)
30 (0.0%)
40 (0.0%)
50 (0.0%)
60 (0.0%)
70 (0.0%)
80 (0.0%)
90 (0.0%)
10+ 100 (0.0%)
Mood:: 'curious' curious
davidcook: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 02:50pm on 08/04/2013
Bub is walking ! And awake more of the day now, so we're considering having some wheels for him that are a bit lighter and easier to transport than the pram. Any suggestions for strollers ?
Mood:: 'curious' curious
davidcook: (circuit2)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 11:26pm on 02/04/2013
Something I was idly pondering while riding to work today :

Places I have worked over the years :
1991-1996 - University, 10,000ish employees

1998 - Contracting company, less than 10 employees, but contracting for :

1998-2004 - Financial institution A, 40,000 or so employees.

2005-2008 - Financial institution B, about 250,000 employees.

2009-2012 - Financial institution A, 40,000+

2012-now - Consulting company, 120,000+ employees. (and still doing work for Fin. inst. A)

... so I've never really worked in an actual small business (or even medium).
Hmmm ...

(on the one hand, I suspect my JOAT tendencies would be more useful in a smaller place; on the other hand, not sure the money would match up with "market rates" and all that ... )
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
davidcook: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 01:14pm on 31/03/2013
10 years on LJ !
I'm vaguely surprised that it's lasted this long :)

(for extra irony, I'm cross-posting this from Dreamwidth)

Anyway - 1045 entries, 2804 comments posted, 2756 comments received.

In other news - Bub has taken unaided steps a number of times in the last few days. Guess we can say he's walking now !
Mood:: 'calm' calm
davidcook: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 06:58pm on 23/03/2013
Guess who turned 1 today !

... I can't believe it's been a whole year already. Time just flies !
Mood:: 'happy' happy
davidcook: (music)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 11:13pm on 28/02/2013
It seems simple - I want to play music quietly while heading off to sleep, and loudly in the morning, preferably all from my iPod. [1]

There's an alarm mode, which lets me pick a playlist to start up with, and a sleep timer, but I can't see an easy way to adjust the volume of one or the other to meet the requirement.
Any suggestions ?

[1] Many years ago, I used to do this using a timer switch, a dual tape-deck and a CD player - before sleep, I'd put deck 2 in record mode, then pause it - then I could play a CD and adjust the recording volume to quieten it. The timer would turn everything off after a while. In the morning, it would turn everything on at a suitable time, and the tape-deck could be set to automatically start playing from deck 1 - and this was playing at full volume, so could be suitable for waking me up (I can sleep through surprisingly loud music, though - I once had a nap while at a rave).
Mood:: 'curious' curious
davidcook: (bicycle)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 10:51pm on 28/02/2013
Every winter, sometime around July, there's a cold, windy and damp week where I ride to work once or twice and think "now why didn't I do more riding in summer ? When it's warm, and I get to ride home in daylight, and probably won't get rained on and even if I do, it'll be warm".

This year, I managed to do more riding in the summer, particularly in February. In fact, I worked from home on four days, rode to work on 15, and only took the train once, on Tuesday this week.

I was trying to make it a train-free month, but the pouring rain on Tuesday morning persuaded me otherwise - at my current office, if my cycling gear gets wet on the morning ride, there's no good way to dry it in time for the evening ride, and cold, wet cycling gear that's been hanging around in a bag all day is extremely unpleasant to put on.

I may try to make March train-free as well, with one WFH day each week, and plenty of riding, but Autumn is just around the corner, and I wouldn't want to bet on too much more dry and warm weather to ride in. And then the end of the month will roll around and DST will end, and it'll be back to long sleeves and riding home in the dark and waiting for October to come back again ...
Mood:: 'calm' calm
davidcook: (circuit)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 10:37pm on 20/02/2013
Recorded for ... ummm ... posterity ?
open -a /Applications/Preview.app/ $( identify $( file $( find . -type f -mtime -7h ) |
 grep image | awk -F: '{print $1}' ) | sort -k3,3n | cut -d'[' -f 1 | tail -45  )

... translation: "Open, using the Preview application, the largest (by X dimension) 45 images among those found anywhere under the current directory, among those modified in the last 7 hours".

(I'm running it from the Firefox Cache directory, ~/Library/Caches/Firefox/Profiles/profile_name/Cache)

There's probably a better way to do it ... almost certainly suitable one-liners in Perl/Ruby/Python could be found. But this worked for me :)
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
davidcook: (letter a)
This comes via [livejournal.com profile] shadesong :
What I would do if $N dropped into my lap in some legal non-taxable (or post-tax) way:

$10: Keep it in my wallet, most likely.

$100: Spend it on books, or maybe Lego, or maybe Bub.

$1000: Put it in our bank account (mortgage offset) and decide what to do with it (maybe some work around the house).

$10,000: Put most in the bank account, consider new bike or laptop or books or Lego or Bub stuff or stuff for the fencing club.

$100,000: Pay a chunk off the mortgage, maybe keep a bit for house improvements etc. Also consider seeding a permanent venue for the fencing club and serious advertising to boost membership.

$1,000,000: Kill the mortgage ! And plenty left over for serious home improvements (I've been thinking that it would be cool to have a proper observatory dome on the roof :-) ), and to invest a chunk in a safe/reasonable investment (which would probably mean an investment property).
This is the first level that could bring major lifestyle changes - I could change jobs to something a bit more interesting than the IT side of the financial industry, [livejournal.com profile] rwrylsin would be able to do more fencing work (especially if I was able to work from home most of the time).

$10,000,000 (and above): All of the above, and I'd never need to work again. I imagine we'd work on a permanent home for the fencing club, regular travel to see family and friends in Oz and overseas, and hanging around and enjoying ourselves.

(I sometimes think about this while riding to and from work (good thinking time, when the traffic isn't trying to squish me), and figure $2-3m would do the trick quite nicely.)
Mood:: 'warm' warm
davidcook: (bicycle)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 05:49pm on 16/01/2013 under
Right, time for the next trail review ... I suppose I should tag these so they can be found later :)

So, this time I'm looking at the Mullum Mullum Trail - it continues on from the Koonung Creek Trail, starting around Springvale Rd, and turning into the Eastlink Trail somewhere past Ringwood.

Firstly, for commuters, this section of trail is not particularly useful - even as a connection to the Koonung Creek Trail, it twists and turns quite a bit, and has some reasonably tough hilly sections. Most commuters would save a lot of time by using the roads instead.

For a serious cyclist, again, the twists and turns make it hard to maintain a good speed or rhythm, and the hills are short and sharp, which isn't really what the serious cyclist looks for in a hill. Might be more suited to serious mountain bike riders, as the profile might be more like what they'd be used to.

The trail is probably best for casual riders - the scenery is attractive, the trail follows a creek most of the way, and runs between the back of suburban areas and forested reserves. However, some caution is required on descents and turns, and the hills can be hard work.

For riding with kids, I probably wouldn't recommend this section of trail, at least for the younger ones (I'm thinking 5-10ish age), as some sections are quite technical, and would require good bike control and concentration to manage, and the hills require good use of gears and enough leg strength to get up them.

Next post - Eastlink Trail, Ringwood to Carrum.
Mood:: 'calm' calm
davidcook: (bicycle)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 02:51pm on 10/01/2013 under
So, first route - "Koonung Creek Trail", the path beside the Eastern Freeway, starting at Chandler Highway, and out to around Springvale Rd.

From the communter point of view, this is a tricky route if you're starting/ending in the CBD, as there's no quick bike path route to connect to the start of the trail. You can take the Main Yarra Trail (as far as St Kevin's), then head north from there (partly on-road, then joining the Yarra River Trail), and then spend another 7km on Yarra Boulevard before you finally reach Chandler Highway - something like 15km of riding to cover a direct distance of 5-6km or so. Not exactly an optimal route for daily riding.
The quickest way is on-road - up to Barkers Rd or Studley Park Rd, then on Princess St to Chandler Highway, and to the start of the trail, but these are busy roads with lots of cars and trams and all the usual hazards.

The route itself is pretty good for commuting on - only a couple of road crossings required, other crossings are handled via underpasses/overpasses. There are a couple of hilly areas, but only shorts bursts of climbing required. However, as with most of these trails, the path is only wide enough for one bicycle heading in each direction - if commuting at a busy time of day, overtaking may require patience and waiting for clear visibility ahead. And of course, the trail is shared with pedestrians, and there are a couple of sections passing "leash off" areas for dogs, so some caution is required in those areas.

For a more serious cyclist looking to get some training in, this is a pretty good route - there are only a couple of places where you have to stop, and the hilly bits are quite manageable. However, as above, there are pedestrians and possibly dogs to worry about. Also, there are lots of twists, turns and bends, you won't be able to maintain a steady speed all the way along.

For the casual rider, the trail is good, but signage could be better in places - there are a couple of places where it's not completely clear where the main trail continues. And as is often the case with these trails, there isn't much signage to tell you which suburbs you're in, or can get to on the path. Otherwise, pretty good for the casual rider, and despite being close to the Eastern Freeway most of the way, the scenery is pretty nice, winding back and forth over Koonung Creek, through some parks and foresty areas.

Finally, riding with kids. The trail would mostly be good for kids - there are plenty of places to stop and rest, and a couple of water fountains along the way. However, the hilly bits may be too much for some, especially if they haven't mastered the use of gears, and some will end up walking up them. Some of the descents will need caution too, and enough strength to keep brakes held on sufficiently. The section between Blackburn and Springvale Rds has a hilly section that is probably best avoided with young kids.
Mood:: 'calm' calm
davidcook: (bicycle)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 02:48pm on 10/01/2013 under
This is the first in an occasional/irregular series of posts about the various bike paths/routes that I've used around Melbourne. This will mostly focus on the eastern suburbs, because that's where I do most of my riding ...

I want to evaluate them from a few different points of view - those of a regular commuter, a slightly more serious cyclist, a casual rider, and finally, a parent/adult with child or children in tow.
These are the different needs I see for these users :

Commuter - firstly, the route needs to go where the commuter wants to go. For many in Melbourne, that means the CBD. Ideally, the route would be fairly direct, and reasonably safe for riding on every day. Hilliness is a consideration, too.

Serious cyclist - might be training for a cycling event, or cross-training for some other sport. Broadly speaking, these riders will want routes without too many stops or slow-downs, hills may not be such a problem (unless the aim is to practice time-trialling).

Casual cyclist - I imagine this as someone going on a weekend recreational ride - they won't care so much about getting anywhere in particular in a hurry, but would probably prefer reasonably pleasant surroundings along the way. Signage is important, as they won't want to get completely lost along the way, and likely won't be familiar with the route.

Parent/adult with child(ren) - One or more adults, riding with one or more kids on their own bikes. Similar requirements to the casual cyclist, also good if there are places to rest and/or play along the way, and it's best to avoid hills (especially for smaller kids who may not have the control over gears and brakes required).

So, the first point is - I don't think any bike route in Melbourne would completely satisfy any of those groups. Every one is a compromise between "Tourist Route" and "Freeway" and "Playground" and so on - by contrast with roads designed around cars, which generally have a single focus and are planned around that. This is what happens when bike routes are an afterthought in a city.

As for me - mostly I fit in the "commuter" category, sometimes I go for recreational rides on weekends (mostly casual, sometimes I get serious), and I imagine in a few years, I'll be the parent with child.

... next post will be on the Koonung Creek Trail.
Mood:: 'calm' calm
davidcook: (autumn1)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 09:09pm on 06/01/2013
So, back in this post in September 2011, I wrote that I was worried we were slipping back into an El Niño cycle, which generally leads to reduced rainfall along the east coast of Australia (which sometimes leads to drought conditions).
History will show that I was completely wrong, and we had one of the wettest summers and autumns ever after that. Oops.

Anyway, I'm going to try again, this time from a cosy position in January ...

Now, it's not just that we've had a bit of a heatwave across the southeastern side of Oz recently (highest temperature I saw[1] was 48.2 at a South Australian town called Wudinna - oddly enough, not all that far from Thevenard, where I spent my first two years), but rainfall is down.

Melbourne has only had 30-40mm in each of the last four months, and none of the big downpours that are usually part of the spring/summer cycle around here. It hasn't rained since the 22nd of December, our water tanks are running low (they get used for laundry and toilet-flushing too), and the garden is suffering.
What I'd expect is that once or twice a month, we'd get a string of days getting hotter, leading to a humid day with a top somewhere around 35-40, then a big thunderstorm would roll through and drench everything.
Instead, we're getting plenty of Adelaide-like dry hot days, sometimes followed by a cool change, but not the rain.

So far, the Bureau of Meteorology have (as far as I've seen) been cautious about declaring the return of El Niño - the last news item I saw suggested that they'd seen it start to form, then reverse itself.

But I'm going to declare it: El Niño is back.
Time to break out the drought-resistant gardens again, rather than the deluge-resistant ones we've needed for the past couple of years.

[1] Excluding the 54.9 recorded at a Tasmanian town when the bushfire passed through the other day, though.
Mood:: 'slightly worried' slightly worried
davidcook: (bicycle)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 12:56pm on 01/01/2013
Final cycling tally for the year: 5002km
(down a bit from almost 6300km in 2010 and 6520km in 2011 ... but we did have Bub arrive this year :) )
Bicycle odometer is around 23,270km (since Dec 08). In that time I've replaced one wheel, quite a few tyres, the entire drivetrain a couple of times ... but it's still rolling along pretty well.

This year I'm thinking of aiming for around 5500km, and might try to do one of the big "event" rides (probably not Around the Bay, maybe Amy's Gran Fondo or similar sort of thing). First I need to get my position on the bike reassessed, I've noticed that on rides of 40km or more I start getting some pain in all the diodes down my left side my right knee/upper calf/side-of-leg area.

... and I need to find out what the best options of Bub-transport on bike are - trailer or seat or other.
Mood:: 'calm' calm
davidcook: (letter a)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 12:45pm on 01/01/2013
(based on what I tweeted as my reading log, don't think I've missed anything)

29 books for the year, although I'm sure Reamde should count as two or three ...

The Habitation of the Blessed, by Catherynne Valente.
Deadline, by Mira Grant.
Reign of Beasts, by Tansy Rayner Roberts.
Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor.
Liar, by Justine Larbalestier.
Shadow and Betrayal, by Daniel Abraham.
Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire.
Silver Phoenix, by Cindy Pon.
Zahrah the Windseeker, by Nnedi Okorafor.
The Folded World, by Catherynne Valente.
Blackout, by Mira Grant
The Kingdoms Of Dust, by Amanda Downum.
Dog & Dragon, by Dave Freer.
Hounded, by Kevin Hearne.
Sasha, by Joel Shepherd.
The Quantum Thief, by Hannu Rajaniemi
Rule 34, by Charles Stross.
Petrodor, by Joel Shepherd
Tracato, by Joel Shepherd
Liberator, by Richard Harland
Sharps, by K J Parker
Salvage, by Jason Nahrung
The Apocalypse Codex, by Charles Stross.
Walking Shadows, by Narrelle Harris
The Tempering of Men, by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette.
Ashes of Honor, by Seanan McGuire
Hexed, by Kevin Hearne
Splashdance Silver, by Tansy Rayner Roberts.
Reamde, by Neal Stephenson.
Mood:: 'calm' calm
davidcook: (my eye)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 10:42pm on 27/12/2012
Right, so, I'd been meaning to post something like the previous post (about Glitch) since around the time they announced it was closing. Oops.

Next in the meant-to-post-about-it list :

I was planning to post something about fatherhood, around the time of Father's Day ! (September 2nd !)

So far, being a father is about 50% excitement (We get to teach him to juggle ! And read ! And run and cycle and watch all our favourite TV shows and movies and play with Lego and take him cool places and ... *breathe*), 50% terror (I can barely manage my own life, now I have someone else's too ?), and 50% exhaustion.

But mostly it's good, and now that Bub is 9 months and a bit, there are plenty of fun moments to go with the nappy changes and Bub-calming and stuff, and that excitement for all the things we can do as a family in the future is bubbling away in the background too.
... and we're starting to think walking might be "just around the corner" - then again, we thought that about crawling for a couple of months before he really got it worked out.
Mood:: 'calm' calm
davidcook: (glitch)
posted by [personal profile] davidcook at 10:23pm on 27/12/2012
Right, so ... back in October, [personal profile] synecdochic posted about a browser-based MMO called Glitch, which included the following warning:
Everyone I have introduced this game to so far has fallen down a hole and emerged six hours later, blinking owlishly and wondering what the fuck just happened to them. It is that addictive.

At the time, I was looking for something casual/low-commitment to play - something a bit more engaging than Solitaire on my phone, but not as complicated as Civ or BG or TA, and less prone to eating whole evenings.
... at this point, anyone who did play Glitch is probably laughing, because yes, I did find it rather addictive. It was cute, whimsical, sometimes beautiful, and very playable - at least if you were me.
And it had an awesome player community - the game was almost completely non-violent, but being an online game there's always a chance that the players will still be pricks and try to ruin other people's fun - but instead, Glitch built up a community of people who helped each other to have fun, and made up their own fun.
The Glitch world encouraged this behaviour, too - for example, you could sometimes obtain an item called "Random Kindness", which gave you 20 charges of Kindness to bestow on other players (boosting their mood or energy).
You could set up resources to be harvested or mined on your "home street", and if other players visited your street and interacted with things there, you got a little bonus "Imagination" (the game's XP equivalent). If enough people visited, after you'd reached level 36, you could gain enough Imagination to reach an achievement badge called "The Kindness of Strangers". You could help build projects for other players, or simply give them items that they needed, or do quests in groups to make them easier.

... and then in mid-November came the dreaded announcement that they would be closing down on December 9th[1]. This shocked the players (and me !), and many people (including me) spent the remaining time frantically trying to experience as much of the world as possible, close off outstanding quests, and gain any final achievements they desired.

Even though I had less than two months in the game, I now include it among my favourite games of all time, and I hope that it will at least inspire development of similar games in the future.

I recommend that you watch this video of one mini-quest/puzzle/thing, "An Autumn Day", it gives you a small taste of the game.

Also, this article has more about the game and some analysis of what went wrong.

[1] They got hit by a bunch of intersecting things:
- the game was Flash-based, so there was no mobile option (thus locking out a large and lucrative market)
- and being Flash, it tended to hog the CPU and chew memory over time, requiring regular browser restarts
- marketing for the game was a bit very patchy
- they'd launched and then "unlaunched" once already, and many people weren't sure if they were in Alpha, Beta, or live (see also - marketing)
- they had a large development team, and lots of servers running the game, thus large monthly costs (variously estimated around 500-600k), but not nearly enough players, and not a high enough conversion rate to subscribers among players, to cover the costs
- there wasn't a clear reason to spend money on the game - it was free to play, subscribing was only required to access a greater variety of clothing and house decoration, there was no in-game advantage to subscribing (they were "too nice")
Mood:: 'calm' calm
Music:: something from Kajuu


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