Blog entries from January, 2009

I dislike hot weather

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 at 07:12pm

In general anything, over 30°C, but I have special feelings for all temperatures over 40°C. Like the bulk of this week.

Right now I should be in the city having some nice refreshing drinks at Sub Standards. No. Instead I am out in the heat waiting for a tow truck.

With Monday being a public holiday I took the remainder of the week off in order to get stuck into my todo list. This worked well and over the first few days I was able to tick a few items off.

But then the weather got hot. Above 40°C for all of the days I took as leave.

I did manage to make a new off-site backup (to an unused hard drive that I will keep at work) yesterday and this morning, but my part in that was only to plug the drive in and start the copy. For the remainder of the time I sat in the heat and watched a couple of movies.

Because of this, and a decent amount of traffic on the mailing list, I decided that I would borrow the car and drive into the city. Which was working out fine until after I dropped something off in Heidelberg on the way.

First the radio cut out, then the indicators stopped working and shortly after that the engine cut out at a set of lights. Not good as it appeared that this car still has electrical problems.

After the guy behind me helped me push the car off to the side of the road, I called the RACV, but was on hold for 15 minutes before being told that due to where the car was – on the nature strip next to a turning lane – they couldn’t just send a mechanic, the car would first need to be towed somewhere safe (straight to our usual mechanic). I had to accept that, only to be told that it could be an hour and a half before a tow truck could get there.

So here I am, sitting in some shade across the road from the car. Grumble.

Now, if the temperature had been more reasonable – at most 30°C – I would have done a lot more at home and then caught a train to the city where I would be having nice cool drinks and talking about stuff.

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Joining the camera club this year

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009 at 09:34pm

After going on the outing to Docklands with the Waverley Camera Club both David and I were thinking about joining. Unfortunately neither of us were able to make it to the December meeting – I was in Sydney for OSDC2008.

When I checked earlier in the month the website hadn’t yet been updated for 2009, but when I checked tonight it had been and I found that this year’s program included an outing last night to a nearby park. I hadn’t checked it sooner as I had assumed that the first meeting wouldn’t be until February.

Another change is that this year they are having a regular Sunday excursion which sounds very interesting.

Now do I get the details for the first Sunday in February, or do I just go along to the meeting on the following Tuesday?

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Eastlink at night and a bridge removal

Sunday, January 18th, 2009 at 04:34pm

Last night Damien and I spent a few hours taking photos from various places around Eastlink before heading over to East Malvern where they had shut down the freeway to remove the pedestrian over-bridge. I have just finished uploading a selection of the photos to Flickr and here are some of them:

Eastlink at night

Pedestrian bridge over Eastlink at Koomba Road

Behind the ventilation stack on the Eastern Portal

East along Eastlink from Springvale Road

Removing the East Malvern pedestrian bridge

Preparing the lift the second span

Cutting the span free

Swinging the span between the cranes

Lowering the span onto the trailer

I also uploaded a couple of other recent(ish) photos:

Sunset on clouds from my window:

Sunset on the clouds from my window (2)

A handheld shot of the city at night:

Handheld shot of the eastern Melbourne CBD

and finally Alfie in his attention grabbing pink top:

Alfie in his pink top

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I don’t do voicemail

Monday, January 12th, 2009 at 10:12pm

The situation is simple: I don’t do voicemail.

If I am away from my phone (eg it’s in another room) and it urgent that someone talks to me right now, then they can keep ringing until I hear it. If whatever it is can wait, then they can send me a text message. This serves the same purposes as a voicemail, yet it is in a much easier to use format. People (myself included) seem to take ages to get to the point in a voicemail.

At work (because I am at work, doing work stuff) it is not uncommon for me to decline an incoming call. Especially if I am working with someone else. If the caller were to leave a voicemail it takes a lot longer to listen to it than it takes to read a text message.

Before I got my iPhone I was with Vodafone for quite a few years.. With them it was really easy to change the diversion and voicemail settings through their website.

My iPhone is with Optus. So far their customer service sucks. Aside from the waste of time when I tried to call them (the amount I am getting billed is still different each month) their website is crap. The most obvious flaws (to me) are the poor navigation and the agonisingly inconsistent page load times, sluggish through to network timeouts.

Shortly after getting the iPhone I created an account on the my.optus site so I could view my bills and other things online. Through this I found a page to change my services. I unchecked voicemail and clicked submit. I can’t remember the exact terminology but this appears to trigger a job/order and a few days later I found that if I declined a call it didn’t go to voicemail. Exactly what I wanted.

But then it broke. A few months later I was told by someone who tried to call me that they got a voicemail setup message when they called my phone. Calling my own number confirmed that the voicemail divert was back and because I hadn’t setup voicemail it was giving a message that wouldn’t make sense to the caller.

I ignored it.

Until today when I was reminded that it was still happening. This prompted me to search to see if anyone else had problems turning off the Optus voicemail. There were a few results, but a recent blog post caught my eye as it gave different instructions than what I had done before.

I cancelled the diverts using ##21#, and then disabled both voicemail and the missed call SMS service through the mobile.optuszoo site. This seems to have worked and I hope it stays that way.

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Geohashing again by bicycle

Sunday, January 11th, 2009 at 08:48pm

I went on my fourth Geohashing expedition yesterday. While I have previously mentioned the first one and the second one, I haven’t mentioned the third one as there wasn’t much to say.

After looking up the location and seeing that it was not too far away in Boronia, and more importantly quite close to the Blind Creek Trail, I decided to ride over to arrive just before 4PM. I waited around for about 20 minutes, but no one else arrived so I left.

Instead of heading back the way I came I continued on to the Ringwood-Belgrave Rail Trail and headed towards Bayswater and the Dandenong Creek Trail:

Bicycle Path - Gardiners Creek Trail (upper) at

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Finally looking at python, to debug a problem

Friday, January 9th, 2009 at 10:24pm

For over two years I have used rss2email to deliver new items from quite a large number of RSS feeds (which is a post of its own) into my Inbox. This works extreemly well, except for one problem: pizzaburger.

I didn’t know what that is, but that this is the title that around half of the items from the FAIL Blog come through with. The other half have a title similar to fail-owned-desert-foundation-fail, but that isn’t the real title either. Two recent posts with these strange titles are actually titled Pen Trick Fail and Foundation Fail.

At first I thought there might be something screwed up with the RSS feed. However a quick look showed that the title tags are as they should be. After looking a bit deeper I saw where the strange titles were coming from, the media:title tag inside a media:content tag.

After checking that I was using the latest version of rss2email my thought was that rss2email is using media:title instead of title. It looked like it, but I decided to find out. One problem, rss2email is in python, which (despite meaning to for the last few years) I have yet to take a decent look at.

Hey, debugging someone elses code isn’t that bad a place to start…

Half an hour later I have determined that the problem was not in rss2email. It appeared to be in feedparser, a module for parsing all types of feeds, so after checking that I had the latest version I wrote a simple script to confirm.

Instead of digging into the feedparser code I first turned to Google to find a blog post about the same problem which in turn led to a bug report.

I now thought the problem was on its way to being solved, until I saw that the bug had been resolved just over a year ago. So why didn’t the latest version have the fix?

I then spotted the nightly build page that references version 4.2. That’s greater than 4.1 which is the latest stable release! From there it was a simple matter to download the latest nightly build and use my script to verify that 4.2 contained the fix I needed.

Even though I had resolved a problem that had annoyed me for months I wasn’t quite happy. Why had the feedparser maintainer sat on 4.2 for so long?

And how did I find python?

Once I started to get my head around the different syntax there wasn’t anything fundamentally different to other languages. As expected I had the most difficulty with understanding how someone else had structured their code.

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The last ride of 2008

Sunday, January 4th, 2009 at 02:24pm

After posting about yesterday’s ride with Damien I realised that I hadn’t said anything about a ride last week with Hamish.

After riding over to his place in Ashwood we rode up the Gardiners Creek Trail to Blackburn:

Bicycle Path - Gardiners Creek Trail (upper) at

From there we headed along side-streets (including along the Eastern Freeway for a short section) to Ruffey Lake, the start of the Ruffey Creek Trail:

Bicycle Path - Ruffey Creek Trail at

Ruffey Creek (and its trail) flows into the Yarra River (and its trail) which formed the second half of the ride. We ended up taking the easy way out and jumped on a train at Kooyong instead of riding other lower half of the Gardiners Creet Trail.

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The annual ride with Damien

Sunday, January 4th, 2009 at 01:11pm

Yesterday Damien and I went for a ride. This is on track for being an annual event as the last ride we went on was last January. However I have still been going on rides, either by myself or with Hamish.

So where did we go?

A few months ago I found out about a trail along the old Maroondah Aqueduct which sounded interesting:

Bicycle Path - Maroondah Aqueduct Trail (with Main Road) at

But that isn’t much of a ride so it needed to be part of something bigger. The obvious choice is the Diamond Creek Trail, but we had riden that before. Then Damien suggested cutting across to the Ring Road Trail which led to considering another path that we have not covered, the Craigieburn Bypass Trail (now signed as the Galada Tamboore Pathway):

Craigieburn to Ring Road via Hume Freeway at

So that is what we ended up doing:

Bicycle Path - Eltham to Craigieburn (with Maroondah Aqueduct) at

The day started with catching the train out to Eltham, followed by tackling the Maroondah Aqueduct Trail first. Riding along Main Road was fairly average, but it was quite nice once we got to the acual aqueduct as most of it is lined with pine trees. Once we got to Allendale Road it was clear why the recommendation it to do the trail anit-clockwise as it is a sizeable hill down to the bottom of the Diamond Creek valley. It was easy to maintain 65km on a mountain bike.

After passing the railway line and the Diamond Creek Trail we continued up the other side of the valley, thankfully not as steep as the way down, and then along the pipe reserve to get to Diamond Creek Road. From there it wasn’t far to the path alongside the Greensborough Highway which meets up with the Ring Road trail. None of this was particularly interesting.

Once we reached the Craigieburn Bypass Trail it went from not particularly interesting to annoying as much of the trail was dominated by the thump, thump of the concrete seams. It was only towards the end that it changed to sawcut concrete. Even then we cut it short by leaving the trail early at Craigieburn Road to get to the train station to head home.

I would ride the aqueduct again and use the ring road trail to go between other trails, but there is no point to ride along the Craigieburn Bypass. If I were to do it again it would only be to start at Craigieburn and ride south as that is downhill.

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