Blog entries tagged with "house"

The next phase

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

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 (for Linux conf and then a week sightseeing), 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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Next year will be … different

Saturday, December 14th, 2013 at 4:16 pm

A little over twelve years ago (8 November 2001 to be precise) I sent an email regarding a position listed on the student job site at uni. This was the start of my work on my.monash as a casual. Later becoming full time, then a senior developer and eventually a team lead responsible for not just my.monash but also email hosted via Google Apps and the email routing infrastructure. Throughout this we moved to offices off-campus and endured a number of rounds of organisational change.

This is all coming to an end in just a few short days, Friday 20 December 2013 will be my last day at Monash.

The last couple of weeks have been the busiest in a while as we try to tie up as many loose ends as we can, but unlike the previous years they have not been stressful. I attribute this to actually writing code and doing technical things, not managing people or dealing with internal politics.

I do not have a job lined up and I am looking forward to having a break. This is my list so far:

  • clean and oil deck
  • clean gutters
  • sort garage
  • paint hallway and laundry
  • Arduino based home automation
  • get flyscreen doors
  • paint gutters and eaves
  • sort through remaining old computers
  • assemble some Lego
  • tidy up study
  • change which photos are on my walls

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Has it really been one year?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 at 10:38 pm

One year ago today was settlement day, the day that I picked up some keys and took possession of my place. Within two weeks from then I had moved in, but in the almost year since then I have been working through a todo list. A list that is seemingly endless as items are added at around the same rate that they are completed.

The completed things (mostly in order of east to west through the property) include:

  • new television
  • mounting said television on the wall
  • new shelves to fit in the alcoves on either side of the television
  • additional antenna socket in the study
  • network cabling between the television and the study
  • a two seater couch and two armchairs
  • a number of my photos mounted on the walls in 16×20″ frames
  • all sorts of kitchen utensils, cutlery, crockey and appliances
  • swing out rubbish bin under the kitchen sink
  • two stools for the kitchen bench
  • new deadlocks and entrance sets, including the garage
  • remote opener for the garage door
  • additional towel rail in the bathroom
  • shelves within the cupboard in the study
  • cutting down trees and removing stumps from the front garden
  • digging over front garden beds
  • removing bamboo along driveway
  • taking down unused curtain rail hooks

The larger items currently on the todo list include:

  • put up venetian blind (currently on order) in kitchen
  • get quotes for new screen doors
  • finalise new line for edge of the garden beds and put in concrete mower strip
  • rug in the lounge and a new coffee table

Here’s to another year…

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The TV on the wall

Saturday, April 16th, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Shortly after musing about a media player, and before I moved, I picked up a WD TV Live. My reasoning being that it was cheap enough that replacing it later wouldn’t be much of a sunk cost and I knew it would serve my immediate needs once I moved.

And it did, albeit on an old CRT TV. So, thanks to the boxing day sales, I bought a new TV, a 40″ Samsung Series 7. I had decided on 40″ as that was a suitable size for the space and I ended up with the Samsung as it was both thin and the sockets on the back did not come straight out. This model supports 3D which I didn’t really care about, but the price difference with the next model down (only 2D) wasn’t much and the 3D model has a redemption of a second TV, some 3D glasses and some 3D movies. As I don’t need a second TV, my plan is to sell it and also some of the 3D glasses (I don’t need six pairs) which makes the price even better.

I am fortunate that the previous owners had removed a gas heater and converted the space into an alove with a pipe running through to the wall where, after buying a nice thin mount, I have mounted the television. Inside the alcove are powerpoints and the aerial socket, the only thing mising is a network connection.

So what is in the alcove? Two devices, the WDTV Live and a Sony BluRay player. While the WDTV Live will get the most use in playing media from the network, I wanted something that could play DVDs and since I have a 3D TV I decided to splurge a bit on an inexpensive player that supported 3D movies. My choice came down to the Sony and a Samsung player for the same price, but I decided on the Sony as when I was fiddling with the Samsung player on a Samsung TV in the store, I couldn’t tell if I was in the menu for the player or the TV as they looked the same.

With the addition of an ethernet switch and a cable running around the walls (eventually I will run it under the floor) all three devices are on the network and I am satisfied with the setup. More so after picking up a universal remote to control it all

But there is an issue. An issue with the WDTV Live that is could turn into a deal breaker.

For some reason the WDTV Live does not let you skip forward or backward when playing a video. It does let you fast forward or rewind, but skipping back 30 seconds is much easier than rewinding the same amount. It is also an issue skipping forward to a point where you want to resume playback.

An alternative is to watch videos directly on the TV – it does support an impressive array of formats – but it cannot read off network shares and connecting via USB storage isn’t as convenient. The TV can play from a UPNP server, but so far I am not impressed with the couple of Linux based ones I have tried so far.

Investigations will continue…

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Am I becoming a gardener?

Sunday, February 13th, 2011 at 5:53 pm

It is now two months since I started living in my own place and the most surpising thing I have how is how much gardening I have been doing.

It all started with the grass, which I mowed a couple of times using a borrowed lawn mower. While the edges in the backyard were easy to handle with some shears, in the front yard there was a ground cover plant blending in. I say ‘was’ as a few hours with the shears filled up my green bin and exposed a rock border.

My long term strategy is to have a garden that doesn’t annoy me. This means that the things that need doing don’t take much time or do not need doing very often. In the case of mowing the grass, I will at some stage add a concrete strip in front of the rock border to simplify future mowing.

For a week or two nothing annoyed me, until the bushes around the letterbox started to envelop the letter box and the bamboo down the side of the driveway started to rub against the car. An afternoon with shears solved those problems, but only for the time being as they will eventually grow back. The long term strategy there will be to remove the bamboo completely and put something else near the letterbox.

The outcome of this and other jobs (such as trimming back the other edge of the front lawn) is that I have been filling up my green bin every fortnight and it looks like it will continue to be filled up for many fortnights to come.

To enable this gardening I have accumulated some tools; spade, fork, shears, secateurs, gloves, broom, etc. While I did borrow a lawn mower a couple of times, I realised that I needed to get one of my own as I intend to get into the habit of keeping the grass mown.

To avoid the hassle and noise of a petrol lawn mower, I decided on electric. Granted, I did buy the cheap small electric mower from Bunnings, but so far it has worked out nicely. Although I haven’t quite worked out a good way to manage the power cable as running over it with the mower is not a good idea.

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Three posts tonight

Monday, December 6th, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Tomorrow I shall take posession of a two bedroom unit in Mount Waverley. I expect that settling in to it will occupy every spare minute I will have for the next few months. I have lists of things to get and stuff to do, but once I move I expect that there will be numerous things that I haven’t yet thought about.

On another list are three blog posts that have come about from events in the last two weeks. One about OSDC, one about the first ever TAM Australia and a final one about Microsoft ruining an otherwise useful product.

I will try to write all three posts tonight. The first two should have accompanying photos, but I am even more behind in sorting photos…

Update 11:13PM: The posts are done:

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Musings on a media player

Saturday, November 20th, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Settlement for my place is coming up soon, in two and a bit weeks. My current plan is to move the big items (bed, drawers, corner desk) in on the following Saturday, three weeks from today. Although not high on the list of priorities, I have been spending a fair amount of time researching my options for a media centre. While the television I will have initially is a CRT hand-me-down, I expect to have something more modern with HDMI inputs.

At a high level I have been considering three option types: small dedicated device, XBMC running on a low power PC, or Windows Media Center on a PC.

All three of these options will allow me to play media from the network on the television, while the third option allows addition of a TV tuner so that broadcast TV can be recorded directly on the media centre. Also the PC based options can include a DVD (maybe Blueray?) drive for playback from discs.

The small dedicated device that it at the top of my list is the WD TV Live. I know at least three people with it (they are happy with it) and it could be a nice simple cheap solution. It may be possible to use third party firmware and a USB DVD drive to add on DVD playback.

The low power PC running XBMC would be based on something like the ASRock ION 330HT. This specific unit has the nice advantage of coming with a media centre remote that is fully supported, however the much larger disadvantage is the significantly higher price tag. XMBC does have additional functionality over the WD TV Live in regard to having a library of media instead of just being file based, but I cannot see myself using that enough to justify the extra cost.

The PC running Windows Media Centre would be based on common desktop PC hardware, from what I can tell the cost might be comparable to a ready-made low power PC. With a TV tuner I could directly record broadcast TV, and as it is on top of Windows 7, I could also switch out to a web browser or any other installed application.

Until today I was going to head down the Windows Media Centre path, but I am now considering the WD TV Live again. It will work out of the box and it is very cheap, so cheap that I would have no problem replacing it later with a Windows Media Centre box. It also has a composite video out so I could use it with the hand-me-down CRT television.

After bookmarking it a few weeks ago, today I got around to having a look at DV Scheduler. This is one of many alternatives I found for recording TV in the background of a Windows box. I had begun researching that as my new ‘server’ will be Windows based, so why not have the computer that is on all the time anyway handle the recording?

I know I could have been doing that for a while now under Linux with MythTV, but I am lazy and I wanted something that would install and just work. I had looked at other Windows based recording (eg the TV engine from MediaPortal) but I hadn’t been able to get them working properly. DV Scheduler on the other hand just worked once I installed it. Another option would be to record in the same way I currently record TV, using the software that came with the tuner card, but that doesn’t have a web interface or the ability to schedule recordings based on a search of an electronic program guide.

In the next few weeks I may change my mind again, but a followup post can be expected…

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Do I get my Saturdays back?

Saturday, August 7th, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Today, after spending many Saturdays looking, I bought a place. In principle.

At the auction I made some bids (against one other bidder and a single vendor bid) then later I signed various pieces of paper (one being small with special printing). All of this means that come Tuesday 7 December I will entitled to vacant possession of said unit.

Does this mean I will get my Saturdays back?

Sort of. While I no longer need to go to open for inspections, I should be spending that time sorting through my stuff. Decimating the collection has been a big part of that so far, but I have a lot of other stuff that I don’t need. This is compounded by the stuff I don’t have but will need. That second group contains items such as furniture and appliances.

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I want my Saturdays back

Saturday, July 10th, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Since late last year I have been looking for a house to buy and then live in. I ramped this up a few months ago which means that on almost every Saturday I have driving around to various open for inspections and watching a couple of auctions.

On two occasions I placed offers. In one case the successful offer was $70k above my offer and in the other the successful offers was $45k above. Ouch.

So what am I looking for, where am I looking, and how much can I afford?

Money

Of the above three factors, the money is the easiest to sort out as it boils down to two factors: my savings, and the most of my take home pay that I am comfortable committing to loan repayments.

Working backwards from a loan repayment figure gives me the loan about. Adding my savings and then allowing for other costs (stamp duty, etc) gives me my maximum figure.

Location

Where to buy is the hardest of the three factors to work out as it has a number of sub factors:

  • I don’t want to be too close to work, but I also don’t want to be too far to make commuting by bicycle impractical.
  • Some areas are clearly out of my league, but I don’t want to be in what I have come to think of as a rental area, especially in a block of units where all the other units are rented.
  • I would like to be close to public transport, including making it easy to get to and from the city.

Based on these I have been looking in the Mount Waverley/Chadstone/Ashwood area. Less than 10km from work, has a fair number of units and is near the Glen Waverley railway line.

What

My budget and location have led me to look for a two bedroom unit, preferably with its own street frontage (ie no common driveway). A two bedroom house in my price range would need too much work, as would a three bedroom unit.

When I started this I had no idea how much of my time would be consumed by it. May an evening has been spent reviewing listings online and my Saturdays have been taken up by going to as many as six open for inspections. In two weeks I am intending to bid at an auction and hopefully that brings the hunting phase to an end and I will be a home owner.

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