Monday, October 31, 2005

Shenanigans Central re-launch

I spent a day (months ago now) totally restructuring the SC website and I've finally released it from my hard drive to the Web. It should now be easier to navigate around, including switching to the Bachelor University site. There's a direct link to the discussion board, where you can add insults (or something more productive) to your heart's content, plus a pointer to K-Dawg's little business venture (which I hadn't put there before because I was too lazy to manually change 40 separate pages).

What's next? I plan to fix the BU enrolment form so it can actually send, maybe get some stats more recent than 2004, link the photos page to my Flickr account so I can include larger versions of the pictures and add in Road Trip reports from days gone by (and maybe a preview of the one currently being written). If you have any suggestions for things you'd like to see, just let me know.

Nature photo

Last weekend I went for a walk, finally organised enough to bring my camera with me to take shots of the scenery along my usual path. So, 10 minutes in, I took this photo. As I went for photo number 2, my camera gave me a friendly "Change batteries now" message and powered off.

As I'd prepared for my walk, the following checklist ran through my head: pants? check. keys? check. walkman? check. mobile phone? check. camera? check. Not once did I think a couple of AAs would come in handy. Lucky my one photo turned out well, and if it stops raining for more than 5 minutes at a time this week I might get to add to my collection of original digital art during my next traipse through the back of suburbia.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Can't stop the music

For those who don't read the comments, I thought I'd reply to Liv's comments on my last entry here:

Yeah, the quality thing's important, and I will certainly still largely buy CDs. There's not much point owning expensive, big speakers and then listening to compressed music when I'm at home. Even my very untrained ear can hear the difference. But for those artists I only want a single from, iTunes is convenient (and close to instant). It avoids the only thing I hate about on-line shopping: delayed gratification.

"What's that, you've taken my money but I have to wait 3-30 days to watch my new DVD?"


On a positive note, several of those slow-arriving DVDs have made their appearance at my door in the past 3 days: Veronica Mars, The Pretender Season 2, Arrested Development Season 2 and The Daily Show: Indecision 2004 all helping fill up the diminishing space on my shelves. I just broke the 500 mark!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rotten Apple

I know Liv's a big Apple fan now, and rightly so with her lovely new toy. But sadly for comparative Luddites like me, with my 2 year old MP3 player, the news of Australia iTunes finally coming on line is not such a boon. Because of the horrendously restrictive DRM, and a whole new format (M4P), I can happily buy new songs from iTunes, but can only play them using iTunes. Windows Media Player (which remains my preferred PC music player) and my walkman can't play the file at all.

I had suspected that would be a problem, so only purchased a single track (for $1.69, which is less than my $2 per track limit) - Dear God by XTC - to test it out.

So if I want to walk and listen to my legally purchased music at the same time, I'll have to buy an iPod. As much as I'd like to say I won't, on principle alone, I actually had planned to get a new player soon-ish, and I do love the convenience of purchasing music while sitting. So Apple may win on this one ... or I may just keep buying second-hand CDs and ripping away... or I'll just wait till the conversion software available to take DRMed music to plain old MP3s catches up to iTunes 6... Yeah, I like that last one. All the convenience of on-line shopping plus being able to listen to music I buy.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Who's interesting now?

I don't know how this is worked out, but it may well be the only time you will ever see me considered more interesting than K and Batto combined. A red letter day for consistency and tedium!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

What is this, Melbourne?



in only an hour.

Glad I didn't go for the morning walk I planned! Makes me a bit hesitant about bringing my walkman and camera for a walk into what is currently brilliant sunshine.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Being a hobbit's not so bad

Turns out I'm:

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

"A brave and loyal associate full of optimism, you remain true to your friends and their efforts, to whatever end."

Disclaimer: The statistical methods used in this survey are spurious at best.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

DVDs good for my brain

OK, that's not exactly what this says, but I've been doing pretty well at entirely avoiding ads and TV news, and feeling much less ANGRY all the time. Admittedly, much of my DVD collection could not be classed as "food for the brain", but a guy's got to watch "Old School", "Road Trip", "Without A Paddle" and "American Pie 3" sometime...

Cricket good, media boring

I think all the negativity about the cricket Super Series is a bit over the top. I enjoyed seeing Australia kick the ass of an underprepared World XI. Gives me a little something to fill the gap in my memory that was everything that happened in England after The Ashes Game 1.


I can't tell if this brings up wonderful memories of Simpsons episodes past, or saps all the joy out of these awesome words. Maybe a bit of both.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Safer, fairer propaganda

It's been a while since I vented my anger about the infuriating Liberals, but a non-stop, taxpayer-funded (to the tune of $12 million) propaganda campaign on the new workplace relations "policy" has me ready to rant.

The beauty of TV ads for this dictatorship is there's no expectation that issues will be covered in depth, and they can play on the subconscious of the already largely ignorant electorate. Promising protection of our rights while actually weakening them is easy when it's made to sound like we're being given extra things (who doesn't like presents?). Unfortunately, we already have all the protections being offered, and far more, guaranteed to us by existing laws.

It's reassuring to know that if my boss takes a dislike to me for any reason, as long as it's not demonstrably based on sex, race or religion, he/she can simply dismiss me, say it's because my position is no longer needed, and I have no recourse. To quote from the detail, spoken by the Government itself, on how employers can happily screw their employees:
"claims cannot be brought where employment has been terminated because the employer no longer requires the job to be done (i.e. operational requirements)"
It's another nice feature that the decision on whether assistance is provided for a claim of unfair dismissal is made by a Government department (DEWR) who, I'm sure, will help you out if it's them (or another department) who've sacked you.

Most conditions taken for granted (especially in the Public Service) will now be up for grabs in any agreement, and can be entirely removed. Which is nice for someone who'd like to be employed by DEWR, or other organisations, who are already making it mandatory for new starters to sign an individual agreement. Choosing between an AWA (which for all I would have known as a new starter was a perfectly fair contract) and having a job offer taken away from me is a pretty obvious choice. Who is that "choice" fairer for, though? Hmmm, that's a tough one...

Here's what Kim Beazley had to say on October 14, the summary being:
"What is being mounted here--and it was not foreshadowed during the last election campaign--is the most massive attack ever on the Australian way of life by an Australian government. It will mean the destruction of the lives of ordinary Australians, about which the incredibly wealthy people on the Liberal-National front bench chortle and cheer in question time after question time. They will haunt the houses of average Australians with the propositions they are going to put through: no umpire, no protection, no underpinning, no-disadvantage test--nothing. There will be absolutely nothing but a master-servant relationship in which the power persists with the person who owns the business."

Friday, October 14, 2005

Fading fast...then eating

Well my enthusiasm and busy-ness ran out sometime around 11am this morning, making the rest of the work day drag horribly. I'm going to try to forget the fade-out of the week, and focus on how good I felt while I all too briefly had work to do on Tue and Thu.

Making it easier to forget was the amazing dinner I just ate: bolognaise and pasta! It was chicken mince (since beef is still off the menu) and gluten-free penne pasta (which tasted exactly like the real thing) but, for someone who lived on pasta for my first 5 years out of home, this was as close to culinary heaven as I'm getting any time soon. Sadly the store was out of the gluten-free spaghetti I sampled at my family's place last week, but as soon as that's back in stock I will at last, after 2 years without it, enjoy the glorious taste of my favourite all time food. Is anyone else hungry right now? I just ate and I think I need a snack...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Now showing...

Originally uploaded by bertiemabootoo.

The beginning of what should be an explosion of Road Trip photos. Here's my friend the dolphin. And here's where all the new photos will be.


Yesterday at work my projects finally got underway. After a month of impatient waiting, I had an excellent day. I got to work with several people, was thoroughly impressed with the new starter doing stuff for me, and also made a few breakthroughs in structuring my project plan. My meeting count is starting to climb (which in itself isn't necessarily good, but these are focused, worthwhile meetings), and I felt for the first time since I moved to this section like I actually belong. Not bad considering I was on the verge of calling in sick when I woke up. Luckily several caffeine doses and the fact I had worthwhile work to do kept me going, and that momentum carried me all the way through a full work day and fun little trivia night, where (on the positive side) I knew Reverend Lovejoy's first name and Tom Cruise's first wife, but (on the negative side) thought Hallowe'en was October 21 and listened to K when he confused a dodecahedron with an icosahedron. Lucky he doesn't still play D&D or he would have been verbally pummelled..."PAIN! PAIN IN THE GLAYVIN!"

Monday, October 10, 2005


I had a whole post-in-waiting prepared - Seeking a Calling - but after it got to 2 written pages, and rambled aimlessly for most of that, even I got bored with it.

Mostly it talked about searching for some kind of purpose for my life, and how my work doesn't seem to fit with what I want to be doing, which is building a strong team, seeing my team grow in skill and confidence thanks to my leadership. Once I'd gotten rid of 2 pages of whining, I decided to take one more try at converting my current role into what I want it to be, before I finally admit I'm due for some radical change in how I make my living, something which I can be passionate about, the way I used to be when I started at the ABS. So how did that plan work out today? Not too bad.

I kick started one of my projects, getting the only person who's free to do work with me involved and moving forward. Tomorrow I'll be meeting with another of my "virtual team" and that will also make me feel a little more relevant. Still nothing looking like keeping me busy, though, and I left after only 6 hours of work today because there's simply not enough to do. In the past I've run a team of 7, with 16 different projects on the go, and still had time to do some programming work. Right now, I have 2 projects (one of them very small) and only 1 staff member (who doesn't even directly report to me). Fairly obvious why I feel underutilised... because I am.

At least I made use of my extra time at home. Instead of sitting frustrated at work I got to do some weights (5th times in the past 16 days, which I'm pretty happy with), and watch WarGames, with Matthew Broderick (pre-Ferris) and Ally Sheedy (pre-Breakfast Club). It actually holds up OK, considering it's 22 years old and about computers. OK, we don't use 8" floppy disks much any more, or rotary dial phones, but I was won over by Ferris (I mean Matthew) changing his grades using a computer. Wait, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is just a huge rip-off of "WarGames"!!! I can't believe I never saw it before...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

[DVD] Runaway Jury

I just watched "Runaway Jury" last night, and was thoroughly impressed. I'm not usually a courtroom drama fan, but this had me genuinely interested throughout the entire 2 hour running time (impressive considering how unfocused and impatient I've been lately). Having talent like John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and Rachel Weisz involved certainly adds credibility to any movie, but I think the story was strong too, and I cared about what was going to happen.

While I'm hawking John Cusack's work, you should definitely catch "Grosse Point Blank" as well. I re-watched it during the week and it was even better than I remembered. Excellent supporting characters and a fantastic performance from JC make this conflicted and yet hilariously funny. Any movie which makes me laugh out loud consistently is a success in my book.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I just want to work!

Still not much action on the work front, and I'm just barely staying positive in the face of enormous frustration. If nothing gets started early next week, I think I'm just going to take some days off and let everyone else get ready, so I can do something worthwhile. Because when I'm not at work, I'm feeling great! And that's been a rare thing for me lately, so I'm enjoying it. Almost as much as starting two consecutive sentences with conjunctions :)

Since none of that was amusing, here's an update on those shoes, as they look for somewhere to live.

Is this our home? Posted by Picasa

[Hint: The answer to the shoes' question is NOOOO!!!! That's not your damn home!!!]

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Uncle Orson agrees with me

Praise for Serenity from possibly my favourite author. Now I just have to wait till "Shadow of the Giant", book 4 in the Shadow series following on from the Ender saga, is released in paperback, to conform with the rest of my collection.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Switched columns

I basically only changed the layout so I could add the "Library" item, and I got sick of trying to get it to work in the left column. So, a few hours of stuffing around later, ta dah! a new look. I may also make a colour change at some stage. Orange is a fine, fine colour for a basketball team, but it's a bit bright for a web page. So look for the steadily fading colour scheme sometime soon!

Just made it

Well, my actual job provided me no work at all, but thankfully my old team mates chipped in with some stuff for me to do, and I staved off the spectre of boredom for another day. After getting home and doing some weights to the sounds of the entertaining "Futures" album by Jimmy Eat World, I'm feeling pretty good. All psyched up for an energetic evening of watching DVDs, having fulfilled my blogging obligation for the day ;)

And since I know everyone is crying out for more of my friend's surprises, here's something I discovered last week, at 6.40am when I got up to get ready for work...

Good morning! Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 03, 2005

Serenity kicks gorram ass!

I've spent 6 months getting excited about "Serenity" and it lived up to my internal hype. Now all I have to hope is it's commercially successful enough to spawn more movies, and there can finally be some more sci-fi with heart, brains, humour and whizz-bang special effects. It's a shame Mr. Lucas couldn't have aimed for at least 2 of those 4. Luckily Joss Whedon knows how to create great entertainment, with characters worth caring about.

In the words of a couple of "Batman Begins" pushers: "Go see it! See it! See it! ... See it!!!"

This One's For Liv :)

An afternoon spent with an awesome friend is cause to celebrate an increasingly positive attitude. Will it survive another day of work boredom? I'll say yes and make it a self-fulfilling prophecy (or hope it's not boring at all, which would be better).
In the meantime, is anyone hungry? A friend of mine is willing to share his left-overs...

Mmm... crusts! Posted by Picasa