Blog entries from June, 2014

The next phase

Friday, June 20th, 2014 at 11:09am

This day six months ago was my last day working for Monash Uni. Though not much work was done, it was a matter of making sure I had all my personal things, the handover of my (and others from my team that also took the package) laptop and ID card before heading over to our usual last day BBQ. Except that this time it was also a farewell for those of us leaving, combined with commiseration for those who were not.

The next month was surprisingly busy with Christmas, new years, two weeks in Perth, and even a call in for jury duty. But that was part of my plan, to have some long overdue time off from work.

In February and March I got through a number of house related tasks (some like gutters and cleaning study were from my original list, others like drip irrigation were not) but an unexpectedly large amount of time went into research for two trips, the easter long weekend up to the Victorian high country and my four stage trip to the US which includes TAM and OSCON. (In fact I am still researching what to do for my six days in San Francisco, apart from accommodation and the Alcatraz tour nothing is booked, it it just a big list of places to go…)

In between these other tasks and travel research I was slowly going through old records to build up a list of things I had achieved while at Monash, eventually this was refined down into a resume. At various times I was toying with the idea of changing career direction, moving away from writing code to something else (eg interface design), but the act of listing my achievements and continuing to write code for little things at home reminded me that I really enjoyed building things by writing code.

By late April I had an updated resume, but that it only part of the job search process. Through a couple of my former colleagues I ended up in contact with a recruiter (but he didn’t know about any jobs at the time) and I started looking through online job sites. While I did send off a couple of applications, my expectations were low as they were for technologies that I didn’t have much experience with. I was also not very active with the job search as not being available for four weeks in July could be an obstacle.

Then I got a call from the recruiter, would I be interested in a job that had come up? I said yes and they must have liked my resume (no opportunity to write a cover letter) and I went in for an interview. While I had been on the panel side of interviews many times at Monash, it was my first interview in eight years and my first proper interview with people I did not know. Luckily it wasn’t as formal as what Monash imposes – more of an extended discussion – and I must have done well as I was offered the job. I am going in this afternoon to sign the paperwork and I will start right after I return from my trip.

I only have a little over two weeks until I leave for my trip, but I think they will be the busiest in months as while there a couple of trip things to do, some of the house related things (such as getting quotes) will be easier to do now while I am available during the week.

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The cost of the commute

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 at 11:19am

If things stay on track, when I return from my US trip I will be one of the many that commute to and from the CBD every day. This is quite a change from the short commute I had when I worked at Monash Uni for all of those years.

A few weeks ago I decided that it was highly likely that I would end up getting a job in the CBD, so I looked into what options there were and what they would cost.

Driving all the way is definitely out, and while long term cycling should be an option, in the short term I will commute via train. But even that has variations:

  • walk/drive to the nearest station which is in zone 2
  • drive to a station in zone 1
  • Early Bird – free travel before 7am
  • Myki money versus Myki pass (specifically a 33 day pass to cover 5 working weeks)

Others have already done some of these comparisons (eg Ways to save with myki) but I didn’t see the scenario of weekday only travel, no regular weekend usage.

For the scenario of traveling every weekday the weekly costs I got are:

 Zone 1Zone 1+2
Early bird morning, 2 hour afternoon$17.90$30.30
Myki 33 day pass (starting on a Monday)$29.04$44.88
Daily tickets$35.80$60.60

Committing to using early bird every day of the week does give the lowest cost at half that of daily tickets, but you need to be able to have an early start at work. The pass is cheaper than ad-hoc daily tickets, but not as much as early bird and you commit to the pass for five weeks at a time, even if you do not use it. If you cannot use early bird at least twice a week (three or more for zone 1+2) then you are better off with a pass.

As it happens I will have 7AM starts, so early bird is the go both for price and the flexibility for when I do eventually start riding at least some of the time.

That is the type of ticket, but what about the zones? It is clear that getting to a zone 1 station is cheaper for the ticket, but what about the cost of getting to the station.

There are three likely stations that I would use, with different timings:

 Home to stationStation to CBD
Walk to closest station (zone 2)1.3km, 15 minutes30 minutes
Drive to next closest station (zone 2)2km, 5 minutes33 minutes
Drive to zone 1 station8km, 15 minutes23 minutes

I’ll probably drive to the zone 1 station. Even though that would cost around $1.40 in petrol (compared to $0.40 to the zone 2 station) it still comes out ahead of the zone 1+2 cost and means less time on the train itself and I don’t expect there to be much traffic at 6AM.

Of course all this is just theoretical, what actually happens in eight weeks time might be different.

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I like automatic perspective correction

Monday, June 2nd, 2014 at 11:11pm

As a rule I try to avoid spending too much time post-processing my photos which is why I have been generally satisfied with the simple (compared to full Photoshop) adjustment tools within Lightroom. There are of course the occasional exception to any rule.

I have mentioned before about how I went from this (as-shot) image of the Albury train station:

Grand old station

to this brightened, sign and chimney removed, and perspective corrected image:

Grand old station (modified)

What I said in the previous post wasn’t quite correct, I actually cloned out the signs and added a gradient before I decided to try to correct the perspective using GIMP. I recall that this took about an hour to figure out how to do, then the image went back into Lightroom to clone out the third chimney and some final tweaks.

That was two years ago. Today in version 5 of Lightroom is a perspective correction tool. You don’t have full control to change the perspective, instead it is a couple of correction settings that work in an automatic way. Since it was introduced it has been a very handy tool.

I don’t know why, but a few days ago I thought of this image and wondered how the built in perspective correction would do. So I went to the original image in the Library (ie all the edits up to the point it was exported to TIFF for GIMP), made a virtual copy, clicked the ‘Vertical’ perspective button, recropped and then cloned out the third chimney to arrive at:

Grand old station (modified 2)

If you open both modified images and swap between them you can see that the only difference is a slight difference to the proportions of the building. But when you consider one was a few seconds to click a button while the other was at least an hour and then the change history is split across two files, I am glad that Lightroom now has built in perspective correction.

I am also hoping that over time the perspective correction tool is expanded into something like the Adaptive Wide Angle filter from Photoshop. While I am wishing for things, I would also like Lightroom to get content aware fill…

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