Blog entries from December, 2004

PS/2 to USB adapters

Wednesday, December 29th, 2004 at 07:10pm

Back in June when I got my PowerBook I also picked up a cheap no brand PS/2 to USB adapter so I could run the PowerBook through my KVM switch when at home so I could use a full sized keyboard, mouse and monitor. Unfortunately the adapter just didn’t want to work when connected through the KVM switch.

This afternoon while at Tandy, because Phong wanted to get a USB card reader that was on special, I impluse bought a Belkin branded PS/2 to USB adapter. Superficially there are only a few differences with with Belkin one:

  • costing AU$10 more
  • being black in colour
  • having ‘Belkin’ moulded into the side
  • having a slightly different shaped centre piece

However there is one key difference:

  • The Belkin one works with my KVM switch.

Now I can run my Powerbook through my KVM switch I only need to work out whether I still want to…

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Apple Newton MessagePad

Monday, December 27th, 2004 at 03:24pm

Today saw the addition of a new item to my computer collection, a Apple Newton MessagePad. This unit is a H1000 model which is commonly referred to as a ‘Original Message Pad’.

I have had a quick play with it and for something that is over ten years old (released in 1993) the handwriting recognition is pretty impressive. Once I can get my hands on a digital camera again I will be able to take some photos…

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Access logs

Thursday, December 23rd, 2004 at 10:58pm

Every couple of weeks I have a look at the access log reports (generated by AWStats) for There are typically around 600 ‘visitors’ per month using up a massive 250MB of my bandwidth quota so there isn’t much to see. Ignoring my own hits in order to update this blog most of the traffic is for the inactive Stephen’s Wallace and Gromit Page. Following behind that is my collection of old computers.

The section in the stats report that interests me the the most is ‘Links from an external page’ which invariably starts off with the The Wallace and Gromit Web Ring but then gets interesting with the current report including:

The stats for Amusement Ride Extravaganza, for which I look after the technical side, are a totally different story with at least 4000 ‘visitors’ and 4GB of transfers a month…

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Last day of work for 2004

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004 at 06:06pm

Today was the last day of work before the Christmas/New Year Closedown period. Although since we spent the afternoon at the South Oakleigh Bowling Club for a barbecue and lawn bowls not much work got done so yesterday could probably be considered the last day of actual work…

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I have way too much junk

Sunday, December 19th, 2004 at 10:39pm

After helping Damien clear out some stuff when I was over at his place on Friday night I was inspired to sort through some of the stuff that I have collected over the years. Like him I have come to the conclusion that I have to be rutheless by classifying most of it as junk and throwing it away. For instance why do I have a box full of old ISA IO cards? I no longer have any 486 computers to put them in and any motherboards more recent (which I only have a couple of) come with IO onboard. The same goes for the box of network cards, the box of sound cards, the box of floppy drive cables, etc.

There is some stuff I will keep for purely sentimental reasons such as my original SoundBlaster 16 and CD-ROM. What this item has going for it is that it has now been returned to its original packaging, including the speakers and manuals. If I could just find the rest of the driver disks it would be complete.

One thing that I found that I had thought I had lost was a CD set that came with the July 2000 APC magazine that contained Red Hat 6.2, BeOS Personal and OS/2 Warp 4. This means that I could have a functional OS/2 system using this and the old hardware from Gromit (Pentium 233, etc)…

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It is time for a new bike

Thursday, December 16th, 2004 at 09:19pm

While smoothly turning a corner on level ground one my way to work this morning yet another spoke on my rear wheel decided to let go. What this meant was that I stopped by a bike shop on my way home to get a replacement fitted. As my current bike is at least ten years old and I have been thinking about a new bike for over two years now I have decided that I will have a new bike by mid January.

So while I was there tonight I enquired about a new bike and the suggestion given was for a 2005 Apollo Aspire for AU$999. Being an Australian company Apollo doesn’t have the reputation that the big American brands do but this bike does have all of the name brand components.

A few weeks ago I had a look at the other bike shop and there was an older model Giant Rainier for AU$1350 (reduced) that was also tempting.

One thing that I am sure about is that I will be visiting a number of bike shops early in the new year…

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Thunderbird also has an RSS feature

Saturday, December 11th, 2004 at 12:00pm

Since I only just got around to installing Thunderbird I only just realised that it, like Firefox, has an RSS Reader feature. It looks more like a full aggregator as you can say that all the entries from multiple feeds will a grouped together in a single folder and it also shows the page that the item refers to as the message body. Unfortunately it is still tied to a copy of Thunderbird installed on a single computer which doesn’t suit my requirements.

Although there should be something about sharing/ syncing Firefox or Thurderbird profiles…

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Firefox, Live Bookmarks, RSS and blog

Friday, December 10th, 2004 at 11:45pm

After being reminded today, technically yesterday, about the Live Bookmarks feature in Firefox I decided that it was about time that I switched Shaun, my windows box at home, over to the Firefox and Thunderbird combination instead of the Mozilla Suite.

In all its a pretty cool feature but I’m not sure if I’ll make much use of it, especially since my browsing is divided between my work box, laptop and home box. What I have actually been using is a prototype feed aggregator that I wrote a long while ago for work that runs from my work sandbox. It is just a single page that displays the contents of a collection of feeds that I have gathered over time. I might get something like AmphetaDesk set up on Gromit, my core linux box, to access both at home and remotely.

The offshoot of this that has occupied my time for the past hour and a half is adding in the link tag to the template of this site so that the people who do use Firefox get an icon saying there is an RSS feed available. Who knows I may even get someone to read it one of these days :) I then fixed up the navigation in the blog archive section by adding the ability to move back and forward between posts…

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Cleaning my new PowerMac 9600

Thursday, December 9th, 2004 at 09:44pm

In preperation for taking photos of my new PowerMac 9600 this weekend I stripped it down to give it a thorough cleaning. Unfortunately while the case design makes it trivial to get to the PCI cards, memory and drives it is very frustrating once you need to remove something like the logic board or the outer plastic skin…

My method of cleaning is to break it down into components as much as possible and brush the dust off with an old paintbrush. In a wet area, ie the bathroom, a combination of Spray n Wipe, an old toothbrush and water is very effective at cleaning the slightly textured plastic…

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Final Perl Mongers for the year

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004 at 10:12pm

Tonight was the final Melbourne Perl Mongers for the year and since the OSDC was just last week we didn’t bother with any talks that might make us think and just went straight to the pub. Also due to the OSDC were two new faces; Debbie, who actually teaches at Monash, and Greg, who used to work with John (from work) at Ericsson.

Like last month I got a lift in with Alfie and we stopped at Spencer Street Station to look at the progress and take some photos. However I ended up taking better photos from the car of bits of the CBD as we drove along Kings Way/ King St which will be available shortly.

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New items for the collection

Tuesday, December 7th, 2004 at 08:04pm

Today I took possession of the Powermac 9600 and Powermac 7600 that I mentioned just over a week ago. Now to find some time to clean them up and take photos…

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The Art of UNIX Programming

Sunday, December 5th, 2004 at 10:18pm

Rather than do anything productive today I finished off Exocet by Jack Higgins (for some straightforward action) and got stuck into The Art of UNIX Programming by Eric S. Raymond. I really should hold off and let other information digest in my brain as I explained yesterday but I couldn’t help myself…

Oh well back to a ‘normal’ work week tomorrow. I just wish it still wasn’t 26°C in my room…

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Hackers and Painters

Saturday, December 4th, 2004 at 08:59am

Last night I finished reading the book that I started earlier in the week, Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham, and I’m realising it was probably a bad idea. Not that I’m saying there is anything wrong with the book… just that I have an information overload right now due to OSDC

Currently I am excellent at perl (what I do at work and mostly at home), passable at PHP (what this site and others is in) and for some time I have been comtemplating learning another language. This book has insipred me to choose Lisp and the LISP Primer looks like a good starting point.

Unfortunately the OSDC has inspired me to learn the basics of python which the Python Tutorial should give me. Naturally both of these languages will be added to my todo list alongside Java (because unfortunately if something happened to my position at Monash…) which means that I may never get around to any of them…

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Powerbooks here, Powerbooks there, Powerbooks everywhere

Friday, December 3rd, 2004 at 09:21pm

One thing I forgot to mention in my previous posts about OSDC was that the majority of laptops that I saw were Apple Powerbooks. And a fair number of those where 12″ just like mine

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Conference is over…

Friday, December 3rd, 2004 at 08:45pm

The third and final day of OSDC

  • MySQL In 2005 by Luke Welling
    This keynote talked a fair bit about the composition of MySQL as an international company that makes most of it’s revenue from licensing and support to a very small percentage of the userbase.
  • Docbook by Scott Penrose
  • Regexp::Common by Abigail
  • Developing the Monash Research Directory by Stephen Edmonds
    I was forced to go to the talk because I was presenting it…
  • Lightning talks
  • Templates Templates everywhere but not a drop to drink by Scott Penrose
  • Lightning talks
    All that I recall from this session was Damian’s two small talks, one of which was another song…
  • Sufficiently Advanced Technology by Damian Conway
    Damien’s talks are always good value, his keynotes expecially so, and this one was about you should be writing modules that make things happen in the rest of your program with little or no work.

I also won a copy of Essential CVS because my answer of K3.21 to the question of what was the actual room number of ‘room 1’ was close enough… K3.21 was actually ‘room 2’ with K3.07 being the truly correct answer.

In all the conference was excellent and I can’t wait until next year…

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Summary of Day 2

Thursday, December 2nd, 2004 at 09:28pm

With my slides for my talk tomorrow at the Open Source Developers’ Conference complete enough I suppose I could go through a summary of Day 2…

  • Open Source Trends by Nathan Torkington
  • “Scripting Language” My Arse: Using Python for Voice over IP by Anthony Baxter
  • PHP and MySQL Web Development by Luke Welling
  • Javascript Game Development by Simon Hildebrandt
    I didn’t realise just some of what is possible to do by using JavaScript to interact with the Document Object Model (DOM).
  • I didn’t know perl could talk to hardware? by Scott Penrose
    This talk has inspired me to revive some of my abandoned projects. In particular getting the 1-wire temperature sensors I have hooked up and wiring up at least one of the LCD displays I have had for at least six years now. And of course I will be interacting with them through perl…
  • How to build a Web Grabber / Screen Scraper by John Kaye
  • Overview of Perl Security Modules by Craig Pearce
  • Lightning talks
    This was probably the most value as there was a lot of interesting topics which were then capped by Damian performing his rendition of “Everything I need to know about the Perl community, I learned in kindergarten”

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Day 1 Complete

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004 at 10:07pm

The first day of the conference concluded with the social dinner which means my talk tally now includes:

  • Coding standards while programming in PHP by Jeffery Fernandez
    This was pretty much a waste of time for me as it only covered the basics of coding standards, consistent naming and formatting.
  • Doing stupid things in Perl by Paul Fenwick
    This was an excellent reminder of the stupid things that people often do and it was a laugh to see one of them being something Paul found in the portal code when he was in on a contract.
  • How to Make Money from Open Source Software by Con Zymaris
    The actual talk was a bit of a disappointment as I was full of food (it was at the social dinner) and couldn’t really hear him (no decent sound setup). However since I was a reviewer for this talk I know the content was interesting…

Under 37 hours until my talk. Maybe I should get around to finishing off the slides…

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Mostly through day 1 of the OSDC

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004 at 03:03pm

The first day of the Open Source Developers’ Conference is almost over and so far it has been pretty good with the talks (that I attended) so far being:

  • Perl 6: OO Made Insanely Great by Dr Damian Conway
    Although this was essentially the same as the Perl 6 that I heard him give back in February it was still interesting as I had forgotten much of it.
  • Beware of Benchmark by Abigail
    A number of potential issues exist with the Benchmark module such as being aware that the code under test is run with no strict and that you must make sure that the code isn’t optimised away.
  • The trials and tribulations of a test suite in Perl by Scott Penrose
  • Evolution of a Perl-based Knowledge Portal by Robert Barta
    This was pretty interesting but I will probably need a lot of time to actually understand topic maps.
  • Open Database Access Protocol (ODAP) by Clancy Malcolm
  • Managing an Open Source Development Environment by Nathan Bailey

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