davidcook: (Default)
2018-01-02 08:38 pm

Books read in 2017 ...

Angel of Storms - Trudi Canavan
The Rhesus Chart - Charles Stross
Magic for Nothing - Seanan McGuire
The Annihilation Score - Charles Stross
An Accident of Stars By Foz Meadows
Challenges of the Deeps - Ryk E Spoor
Uprooted - Naomi Novik
The Nightmare Stacks - Charles Stross
A Tyranny of Queens - Foz Meadows
Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee
Sorcerer to the Crown - Zen Cho
Fix - Ferrett Steinmetz
The Fifth Season - N.K. Jemison
The Obelisk Gate - N.K. Jemison
The Stone Sky - N.K. Jemison
Raven Strategem - Yoon Ha Lee
Kaleidoscope Century - John Barnes
The Many-Colored Land - Julian May
The Golden Torc - Julian May
The Nonborn King - Julian May
The Adversary - Julian May
Intervention - Julian May
Jack the Bodiless - Julian May

The last 7 books on the list are re-reads, which is something I hardly ever do. If I only have time to read 20-odd books in a year, I generally want them to be something new.
I chose those books for re-reads for different reasons - the Barnes, because I remembered that he wrote a few books dealing with "meme wars" (not the kind we get on the Internet these days :) ), and wanted to see if how his world compared to our one.

Unfortunately, I think I actually wanted to read "Orbital Resonance", the first book in the sequence, because the main thing I noticed about Kaleidoscope Century was how unlikeable the main character was, and how rapey (and sexist and racist) it was.

Hearing about Julian May's death in 2017 prompted me to see if those books were still worth reading - and broadly speaking, the answer was yes indeed. Intervention was a bit slow-moving after the Saga of the Exiles, and now that I'm in the final book of the Mileau Trilogy I'm not 100% sure if I've read them all before - in the Saga, I had at least a vague idea of the main plot lines, but I'm not getting the same feeling in the later books. But they're all enjoyable reads and I've had a few late nights reading them lately.
davidcook: (Default)
2017-04-06 11:30 pm

DW and LJ

In case anyone is looking for me on Dreamwidth, same username as on LJ (since, ummm ... 2009 !)
davidcook: (music)
2016-01-05 10:22 pm

Movies in 2015 ...

Well, I'm cheating a bit, because I only saw one at the cinema, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but I want to note down a few thoughts I had on it ...

First, the nitpicks (and these are pretty small things):
1. At some point I started noticing the sounds of peoples' footsteps, and they were just slightly jarring - first because they sounded just like some of the footstep sounds used in some Star Wars games (thinking of Jedi Knight mainly), and second because right at the end, when someone is climbing stone steps, the footstep sound used is far too loud for the situation (I could go up similar stone steps in my stompy boots almost silently, and the character involved wasn't wearing stompy boots ... ).[1]

Ok, this might be mildly spoilery ...  )

Now for other thoughts:
As many people better with words than me have noted, this film had lots of different audiences to attempt to satisfy, and lots of functions to fulfill. Yes, it played safe and had many similarities to SW IV, but it provides a good launching point for the next film. (Of course, if the next one(s) repeat plots from V & VI too closely, then I'll be somewhat disappointed).

For me, the film achieved something else - it made me want to read, play or watch something Star Wars-related afterwards, which is not something I've felt great drive to do in recent years.
I'm also considering seeing it again, which (with two small children in the house) is definitely saying something good about it.

Anyway, overall opinion is "thumbs up", definitely worth watching.

[1] There might be a bit of circularity happening here, as I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Jedi Knight games had some work done by ILM (and/or people who'd worked on the original trilogy), so maybe the games got the footsteps sounds from the movies in the first place, and VII is just re-using the same "soundscape".
davidcook: (ifence)
2016-01-05 04:13 pm

Poking people with swords in 2015 ...

Fencing results from 2015 - no competitions outside Melbourne last year, for obvious reasons :)

State Open Epee 1: Quarter-finals (7th)
State Open Epee 2: Quarter-finals (8th)
State Open Epee 3: Quarter-finals (7th)
State Open Epee 4/Championships: Quarter-finals (8th)
State Veteran Epee 4/Championships: 2nd

National Open Epee #3: 33rd
National Veteran Epee #3: 1st

Consistent, I guess, but I was hoping to reach the medal zone in at least one of the Open comps (like the previous two years). On the other hand, I had been making it along to State Squad roughly once a month (with Mr3 in tow) in the past couple of years, and didn't manage that last year. Once Ms0 is old enough, I'll try to get back into the routine ...
davidcook: (bicycle)
2016-01-05 04:03 pm

Two wheels in 2015 ...

So I managed to do a bit of cycling in 2015, but see if you can spot a number in the list below which stands out in some way from the others :


... yup, the last figure is the km cycled in 2015, way down from the previous five years. This was partly due to the baby arriving, but mostly due to having some kind of cold, cough, sniffle, or combination, for 11 weeks of the year (including the one that helpfully went around the whole family just before Christmas). The first of those left me coughing persistently for 5 weeks, and apparently that set the tone for the year.
davidcook: (letter a)
2016-01-05 03:44 pm

Books read in 2015 ...

... wait, it's 2016 now ? How did that happen ?!

Anyway, apparently I managed to read a few books in 2015, despite our little arrival :

Ink-Black Magic, by Tansy Rayner Roberts.
The Lives of Tao, by Wesley Chu.
Spheres of Influence, by Ryk E Spoor.
The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
Flex, by Ferrett Steinmetz
Hammered, by Kevin Hearne
The Future Falls, by Tanya Huff
Pirate Cinema, by Cory Doctorow
The Witches of Echo Park, by Amber Benson
Thief's Magic, by Trudi Canavan
My Real Children, by Jo Walton.
The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin.
Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor
Guardians of Paradise, by Jaine Fenn
Smoke and Mirrors, by Neil Gaiman
God's Demon, by Wayne Barlowe
A Red-Rose Chain, by Seanan McGuire
Blood of Tyrants, by Naomi Novik
The Book of Phoenix, by Nnedi Okorafor
Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie
The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende.
Mad Skills, by Walter Greatshell
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman.
davidcook: (music)
2015-04-13 08:47 pm

Baby !

Lisa and David are pleased to announce the arrival of a baby girl !
Time: 11:42am. Weight: 3.9kg. Length: 52.5cm.
Mum and Bub are well and resting.
davidcook: (Default)
2015-04-06 10:24 pm

In Limbo ...

At one point on Friday night, [livejournal.com profile] rwrylsin and I were totally convinced that Bub2's arrival was imminent (as in, bags-in-the-car, emergency-babysitter on red alert, prepare to announce 4/4 as Bub2's date of birth to the world, and to tell work that I wouldn't be in for a month).

... but it didn't happen. There have been contractions, back-aches, appetite and energy fading in and out, kicking and shifting of Bub2, but no arrival yet.

If nothing else happens before then, Bub2 will be induced next Monday anyway, although we're still thinking we're on for arrival sometime this week.
So it's back to waiting ...

... and coughing. I came down with some nasty virus early last week - so wiped out that I spent half of Tuesday in bed, didn't even stagger along to fencing training that evening. It's mostly involved coughing ... so much coughing. [livejournal.com profile] rwrylsin has had a similar cough for weeks now - our theory is that she can't fill her lungs up enough to really shift the "slime" that's built up (since there's Bub2 in the way), so it just persists and drives her to distraction.

I suspect it was a delayed reaction to the last 6 weeks or so, which have been flat-out busy, both at work and around the house. We've had bathroom renovation when half the tiles in a shower started falling off, room movements to get Bub1 out of the nursery and into his own room, which meant moving [livejournal.com profile] rwrylsin's office across a room, plus various painting, fixing, etc. On top of this, our club was involved in a couple of fencing demonstrations, there was a fencing tournament, a birthday party for Bub1, and so on - basically, I spent all of February and March thinking "no, I can't get sick now, I have to do X" every time I felt a tickle in my throat - and we finally reached the last commitment just over a week ago, and it all caught up with me.
I'm finally feeling mostly improved, but quickly running out of energy, and still coughing.

... and waiting. Whee. We should probably pick a name :-)
davidcook: (music)
2015-03-17 05:08 pm

iTunes migration ...

So, here's the situation.

Currently, my music gets synced from my old laptop, running Windows XP, and iTunes 7.1.

I have two other computers :
New desktop with Windows 8.1, no iTunes yet.
Old-ish Mac Mini, with OS X 10.6.8, iTunes 11.4.

I want to get the iTunes library off the XP machine, and onto one of the others.

Is it possible to migrate the library and retain the playlists, favourites, play count etc ?

If so, what's the best way ? Should I try to upgrade iTunes on the XP machine, or copy the files to one of the others and import somehow ?
davidcook: (letter a)
2015-02-12 12:14 am

Books read in 2014 ... a bit late :)

13 books read in 2014 ... not much reading time around these days, apparently.

Ecko Rising, by Danie Ware
Ecko Burning, by Danie Ware
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, by Ambelin Kwaymullina
The Disappearance of Ember Crow, by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
Half-Off Ragnarok, by Seanan McGuire
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, by Catherynne M Valente
Sister Mine, by Nalo Hopkinson
The Fractal Prince, by Hannu Rajaniemi
The Oath of the Vayaputras, by Amish Tripathi
Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie
The Human Division, by John Scalzi
The Winter Long, by Seanan McGuire
davidcook: (grass)
2015-02-11 12:05 am

Anyone for ... cricket ?

Ok, it's summer, and summer is the season for cricket (well, for me it is).

So I'd like to get a bunch of people together and play Park Cricket.
Park Cricket, of course, is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea cricket, the basic idea being that we find a suitable park somewhere, play something involving a bat and a (tennis) ball (and probably stumps), everyone gets a turn, and hopefully everyone has fun.

("Fun" could also include finding a shady spot nearby and enjoying a picnic and entertaining toddlers and small children, of course.)

Anyone interested ? This is most likely to be on a Sunday morning sometime, probably in March (before Bub2 arrives, and while there's a reasonable chance of a nice day for it).

There are a few rule variations to think about - whether catching is one-hand-one-bounce, whether bowlers can bowl underarm, overarm or either, and if batting is "tip-and-run". I figure we can work that out on the day ...
davidcook: (castle)
2014-12-29 07:23 pm

Travel and stuff ...

The overnights meme:

List the places where you spent a night away from home this year, marking places where you spent two or more non-consecutive nights with an asterisk.

... needless to say, this list is rather less exciting than it was when we were living in Scotland :)

*Foster, Victoria
*Adelaide, South Australia
*Nhill, Victoria
Canberra, ACT

I suspect next year will be similar (perhaps without Canberra), as Bub2 is due to arrive late April ...
davidcook: (iFence)
2014-12-11 10:08 pm

Fencing Madness 2014

... this is the short version. I did 7 fencing competitions over 4 weeks. Ummm ... it seemed like a good idea at the time :)
And I've had some kind of cold or cough or bug coming and going for most of the last 4 weeks ...

1. 14/11 - State Sabre Teams championships - I got roped in at the last minute to make a team so that the competition would actually run. We came 3rd of 3 teams, although it was closer than that makes it appear - each team won one and lost one, the ranking was made on indicators.

2. 22/11 - State Open Epee championships - 3rd (of 16). (note - with 3rd place play-off)

3. 29/11 - Club Open Epee championships - 1st (of 7).

4. 30/11 - State Veteran Epee championships - 2nd (of 7).

5. 6-7/12 - Oceania & National Open Epee championships - 20th (of 63).

6. 7/12 - Oceania & National Veteran Epee championships - equal 3rd (of 25).

7. 7/12 - Oceania & National Veteran Epee Teams championship - 2nd (of 7 teams).

My competition placings for the whole year go:
5, 1, 7, 1, 3, 3, 1, 2, 20, 3, 2
davidcook: (music)
2014-11-12 01:04 pm

We bought a car !

So, the background: As mentioned previously, Bub2 is on the way.

We regularly transport large amounts of fencing equipment around the place (5-6 full fencing bags, plus scoring boxes+spools, etc).

Our previous car (Renault Scenic) had an awkward placement of child-seat anchor which meant there were two straps extending from the back of the child seat to the back of the luggage space. With one child seat in place, this was just manageable for our equipment transport, with the other two seats folded down.
However, with two child seats in place, it would be impossible, there might be room for one or two bags and that'd be it.

That meant that we needed to start looking for a new car with just a bit more space, and a better design for the child-seat anchors.

[livejournal.com profile] rwrylsin started looking at reviews and specifications of various cars, and then searched around Melbourne car dealers looking for possibilities for us to test drive. The Skoda Octavia came up as a "possible", so we went along to the car place, tape-measure in hand, and poked around that and a bunch of other cars.

Many (including the Skoda) were ruled out, for being too small, too large, too fuel inefficient, too SUV/4WD/tank-like, or too people-mover/bus-like. A few were left, mostly a bunch of different Holden models with different badge names but all basically the same model.

Back to the research we went, and up came a Ford Mondeo wagon, with one available in Ringwood. [livejournal.com profile] rwrylsin took it for a test drive and measure one day while Bub was in childcare, and decided it was a possible candidate and worth me taking a look. A plan was hatched where we'd pop along during my lunch-break on the next Tuesday when I was working from home and check it out.

Tuesday dawned, and so did Bub, probably very early (6am is becoming a trend, lately). I think we started with breakfast as normal, and then we played for a bit. Bub threw a Duplo block at me, hitting me in the head, so I said "ow" and asked him to say he was sorry. And asked again. And again ... and waited. And asked ...
Yes, it turned into a battle of wills with a toddler. At that point, I decided it was important to wait for an apology, and apparently he decided it was important to skip it.

Time passed.

Almost 90 minutes later, he finally apologised, and I collapsed into a willpower-drained heap, before getting on with the day.

So we made it to lunch-time, went along to the car dealer, and I took the car for a drive.
Yup, it was definitely a car ... despite being quite a bit larger than the Scenic, it didn't feel *huge* as such, and seemed to run ok.

We went in to chat to the dealer, talked price and trade-in and all that. Time passed, and I needed to start heading home to join a work conference call.
Then he asked me if we wanted to buy the car ...

So there I was - on the spot to make a decision, time running short, sleep-deprived, and sapped of willpower.

So now we have a new car :)

Fortunately, it does seem to be a pretty good car, and a) isn't a 4WD/SUV/tank, b) isn't a people-mover, and c) isn't a complete fuel-guzzler. Whew.
davidcook: (inconceivable)
2014-10-16 12:22 am

News !

... I tried to use the "Share" button on LJ, apparently a "Share window" is supposed to appear ? But it didn't, on Firefox or Safari, so:

We have some news ! And since [livejournal.com profile] rwrylsin posted about it first, I'll just link to her post. :)

(Edit: hopefully posted with the correct date now, with luck someone will actually see this ...)
davidcook: (circuit2)
2014-09-04 01:04 am

Technology woes, Part 2

So the other technology woes I've been having lately :

1. Last Thursday in the small hours of the morning, we had a power outage. Only 30 minutes or so, but it was enough that the hard drive in my main computer (Mac mini) failed.
The official Mac repair places want $400 or more to replace the HD, a bit steep given that the drive would be $70-$100.

Fortunately, there was a detailed guide online, and once I had the new HD and required tools, it took a very careful hour or so to open up, dig my way down and extricate the old HD.
Even more fortunately, it works ! And Time Machine restored everything to just the way it was. Whew !

2. My camera (8ish years old) chews up batteries like candy, and doesn't even power on for recharged batteries. Verdict from the camera repair place - would probably need to replace the logic board (around $400) - but you can't get the parts now anyway.
And there's an official power supply, around $100 (!), but they sold their last one in 2007.

Fortunately, Jaycar had a suitable power supply (official supply is 6.5V, 3A - Jaycar one 6V, 2.2A), and the camera will work with this. Of course, that means it is only really usable as a "studio" camera now, which means I need to work out what camera I'll get next.

3. My camera flash - bought second-hand from a camera store many years ago (at least 10), appears to be showing the signs of age - the flash output has dwindled away to almost nothing. For quite a while, I've thought I'm Doing Something Wrong when trying to use it, but now I'm sure it's actually an issue with the flash itself. Looks like time to shop for a new flash ...

4. Bike issues - recently had to get the front wheel replaced, as the previous one just couldn't be straightened up properly (after 32,000km, so I guess that's a pretty good lifespan).

5. Phone issues - for a week or so, it was chewing through the battery, with no obvious cause, and regularly required a power-cycle to restore data connection. Strangely, this has settled down and it is mostly behaving itself now ... I suspect it knows I'm coming to the end of my contract, and could start shopping around for a replacement :)

... well, I guess my general technology philosophy is to use things until they fall to bits. I just didn't expect them all to fall apart at the same time :)
davidcook: (Default)
2014-09-03 10:40 pm

Technology woes, Part 1

Update on this post.

The situation :
Video card died, laptop wouldn't boot up, and there was some kind of error message about memory.

This has been a slow-moving process, as it needed me to have time (around work, fencing, and Bub), and energy (hi Bub!) to look at it, and motivation was sometimes a bit short too (I have some games on my mac[1], enough to keep me occupied :) ).

First thought was RAM, and I wanted to upgrade from 2Gb to 4Gb anyway, but that didn't improve anything.

Second thought was video card - and here I was lucky, in having a laptop using a MXM-compatible graphics card. I think the original intent was for laptops which could be upgraded just like desktops, although in practice the four (or more) different MXM standards, and limitations on power/cooling inside a laptop, probably made this uncommon. However, it did mean that I could get a compatible replacement card off eBay :)

Delicate surgery was performed, the card was installed ... and neither XP or Linux would start.
However, a USB drive with a later version of Ubuntu started up fine, giving me some hope that just a little software maintenance would be required.

First, there was an annoying error message at boot, which came with 30+ seconds of loud internal-speaker beeping and waiting and an announcement that performance was being throttled. (And if I ever find the engineer who thought that was an acceptable way to deal with an issue, there may be a different kind of throttling going on :-) )

Anyway, eventually I came across ways to reflash the graphics card's BIOS, with modifications made in a binary editor to resolve the beeping/waiting (well, beep disabled, delay changed to 1 second, annoying message still present).

At this point, XP was still hanging while booting, and it was time to delve into trying to repair it. First plan was to use the install disk and try a "repair" install, but it didn't offer me that option. Second was to tinker in the recovery console, but that was blocked by an administrator password being required and not being bypassable.

Finally found some combination of copying files saved as part of system recovery (e.g. registry files) and/or deleting/moving some driver files that appeared to be causing the hanging (all of this done booted into the Ubuntu USB drive mentioned earlier), and got the machine to boot.

Yay ! But ... the system was fine in normal use, but very slow in anything requiring 3D (around 2600 in 3DMark06, compared to 8000+ originally).
"Oh, this'll be due to the throttling", I realised (eventually), and set about doing something about it.

This needed more tinkering, more BIOS editing, and numerous reflashes of the graphics card BIOS again to find settings that were acceptable, but didn't cause system crashes/blue-screens at regular intervals.

Finally, I've reached a point where it seems almost stable - it does randomly restart every now and then, I suspect I need to lower the graphics card settings slightly again. However, 3DMark score is back up to 7600, and ... I can play Skyrim again :)


[1] Notably, Civ2 and SMACX - and that's why I'm holding off on upgrading from Snow Leopard just yet, because the compatibility/emulation/whatever that let me play them are gone in Mavericks.

[2] This laptop is 6 years old,
davidcook: (ifence)
2014-06-10 10:58 pm

Fencing update !

Three fencing tournaments so far this year to report on :
"Pre-AFC1" (in other words, the State Open tournament held two weeks prior to the first National Open event of the year (Australian Fencing Circuit #1)),
"AFC1" (aka the D.H. McKenzie),
and "Pre-AFC2".

Pre-AFC1 was held early in March. Unfortunately, the Fencing Victoria website hasn't yet been updated with the tournament details to jog my memory - pretty sure the pool round went ok, I either lost one bout or won them all. First DE bout went ok, putting me into the last 8, but then I lost to the current Australian National Champion, scoreline around 10-15 - I got 4 or 5 hits behind early in the bout, changed tactics and managed to keep level after that, but wasn't able to pull it back.

AFC1 was also in March (two weeks after the first one, obviously). For that, at least, full detailed results are available online. I had a pretty good pool round, 4 wins and one loss, but I was a bit frustrated at not winning the final bout - it felt possible, I just didn't quite put it together at the time. Ended up seeded 13th into the DE (out of 71).
First DE bout was against someone from my club - always unfortunate when that happens, since we've fenced each other a few times in training, and I've usually won. The bout was close in the first period, but I lifted a gear in the second and won 15-8.
Second DE bout I lost, 13-15 - I struggled at the start, and was down 4-8 at the first break. A slight change in tactics after that (pressuring rather than pushing for hits) saw me claw it back, and a full-length lunge with a hit to a tiny exposed bit of hand edged me in front, 11-10, at the second break. After that, my opponent set up a couple of good hits and got ahead, and as time started to run out I was back to pushing for hits, and getting double-hits at best.
Final position 23rd - not what I wanted, but I was generally happy with the way I'd fenced on the day.

Finally, Pre-AFC2.
I tweeted this afterwards:
Today's fencing, in numbers: pool 4V0D, +11, 3rd seed. DE: 15-7 v Tayler, P; 15-8 v Osvath, P; 15-11 v Robinson, S; 15-9 v Bianchin, M

I think the best way to describe my fencing was "on fire" - and that semi-final scoreline underlines that - "Robinson, S", known by a generation of Australian epeeists as simply Seamus, three-time National Champion in epee (possibly four, unless there was a coincidentally-named "W. Robinson" around in the 90s), also a World Cadet (under-17) Champion back in 1991.

I'd never previously beaten him in a competition DE bout - my few pool bout wins, and one 15-hit training bout, are etched in my memory as highlights from the 17 years since I first faced him.
I lost to him in last year's AFC competition in Melbourne, and again in the State Championships, and I've never really come up with a strategy that would counter his incredible skills and experience of fencing.
I'm still not completely sure what I did differently, or better than before, but it worked from the start (up to a 7-2 lead early), faded a bit while he caught up and I tried to catch my breath (7-6), and then I got back on top, pulling ahead to 10-6, then 12-8, and then finishing it off.

Of course, I had to re-focus for the final, and my opponent there had just comfortably beaten last year's National Champion in his semi-final, so he was also having a good day. This one started close, level at 5-all at the first break, but I got the next hit after the resumption, and never looked back after that, out-scoring him 10-4 in the period.

So my State results since the start of last year go 5, 5, 1, 3, 5, 1 - not bad for a veteran !
davidcook: (circuit2)
2014-02-19 04:48 pm

Computer choices ...

So, when I started writing this post (a couple of weeks ago), this was mostly academic, however last night my laptop "died" (blue screen with some message about a "memory parity error"), so it's acquired some urgency.

Short version - I'm trying to decide whether to upgrade my 6-year-old laptop to move into the post-Windows-XP era, or buy/build a desktop to replace it, and/or what to do with the Mac Mini I have.

Long Version is long )

So, any thoughts ? What should I do ?
davidcook: (terracotta warrior)
2014-02-12 03:41 pm

Self internet archaeology ...

Quoting myself from a really old web-page of mine :
I am about to move to Melbourne, Victoria - in about 3 weeks (around Nov 20th 1997 - so if you see this here in 1998, you know I don't pay much attention to my web pages :-)
... and if I see that still there in 2013 ? I'm sure there should be some sort of prize :)

The main page is slightly better, but still thinks we're in Glasgow, so hasn't been updated for at least 5 years now :)

... actually, I don't think I can log in to the server it's hosted on any more. Wonder how long the page will stay there ? (Ping AndrewR on the off-chance he reads this to let me in ...)