Friday, February 29, 2008

The time is nigh

...for a new video card.

When I got my new computer I mentioned getting a video card to replace the not so good graphics it came with. Until today I thought I would get an Nvidia 8800GT when the prices get pretty reasonable.

Well, today I did my weekly check of prices at MSY (the website is really crap but this is the place to go to get computer hardware, plus it's around the corner from work) to find that you can get a generic branded 8800 card for about $260 and a Gigabyte branded one for $290, which to me is pretty reasonable. What I also discovered was that the new 9600GT has been introduced. Going by price (about $240) it would sits between the 8600 (which it is a direct replacement of) and the 8800. Reading a review it would seem to be right in the sweet spot for me. The 9600 is based on the 8800s technology, but has some features and processing power missing, but it's cheaper, and better than an 8600. Sounds good to me.

Whether I get one or not is another issue. Thinking about going on Monday after work if I can wait, otherwise it's off to a swapmeet this weekend.

No idea

Can't think of anything else to blog about

Ooh just got distracted for several minutes by the fireworks out the back... The finale of a Defence force school of music concert. You should hear it when they do the 1810 overture...


Ah yes. I happened to read a certain blog on The Age website today at work. It is about flag-cape wearing yobs using patriotism as an excuse to be rude and obnoxious those they deem as "un-Australian". The writer of the original blog post was over generalising (again), but I guess that is his job in order to create a discussion. I dislike the racist under(0ver)tones. I've seen a few of the "Lovie it or leave it" stickers on cars, usually a hotted up Toyota Hilux with a massive bullbar, 400 gigawatts of lighting, a Conargo pub sticker, and some other sticker about pig shooting.

I guess some of the comments were correct in that harmless symbols become associated with certain groups over time that everyone else tries to disassociate themselves from. The example of the man who had a swastika tattoo before the Nazi's adopted it as a symbol was a good one. I quite literally cringe very time I see a youth (I feel old now, but it's apt description) with a flag as a cape. Like tonight on the way through Richmond station, they were everywhere.

On the topic of the flag itself, I don't really care about it. I don't mind the one we have, and I understand the meaning behind the parts of it. If it were to change , it would have to be a good design, so far I haven't really liked any of the proposals over the years. I guess I could get used to it if it were to change, I'm not a total stick in the mud.

Sunburn: The Saga Continues

In other news, my face has just about stopped falling off after Sunday's major sunburn incident. I think I've gained some insight into why it's rude to stare at people who don't quite look "normal". It may be that I'm a bit sensitive or delusional, but it's damn annoying having people looking at you all the time. I feel like telling them it's highly contagious.

The two days I took off work earlier this week did me some good though. And I know sunburn sounds like a weak excuse, but on Monday I think I would have struggled more than usual for a Monday, I was quite sore. Tuesday I was less sore but all the same, felt it best to rest. I did end up playing some backyard cricket with my nephew though, first ball and he belts it over the fence. The neighbours have given up and just allow him to go in and out of the back yard at will, and leave the ladder permanently up against the house for when a ball goes on the roof.

On Wednesday I thought I'd better go to work. after 5 minutes in the dry air conditioned air on the train my face started cracking up and flaking everywhere, and continued for the rest of the day in the air conditioning at work. I did take my Aloe Vera, which did help, but only lasted for a about an hour after I put it on before it started again. Thankfully on Thursday it stopped hurting so much, but I had a major "face-dandruff" problem. This morning most of the redness went away, but the shedding continues. My forehead, nose and chin are clear now but my right cheek (face!), ear and neck are having a go now. In general though, I feel a lot better.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Like a beetroot

Yesterday I went to the Point Cook air pageant. It wasn't a hot day at all, it was quite cloudy for most of the time. I had a jumper on all day, there was a lot of sun glare though. Lucky for me I had my sun glasses. On the way home I could tell my face was sun burnt, but it didn't feel too bad. I get home and look in the mirror and my face is beetroot red, the rest of my body is white, including the area shaded by my sunglasses. I treated it with ice and aloe vera, it still hurt. I wake up this morning feeling sorry for myself, and decide to take the day off work. My face is still red and sore. I'm not very happy with myself.

Why didn't I even consider putting sun screen on?! The thought didn't even cross my mind before I left home. At the air show I thought about it but dismissed it, it was cool and cloudy, I wouldn't get burnt. I feel so stupid.

I don't know if I can show my face at work tomorrow either. I think I'll lay low until it goes away. My new mantra is to just put on sunscreen before leaving the house, saves a lot of bother that way...

Thursday, February 21, 2008


No doubt you've heard about the official death of HD DVD, with this weeks withdrawal of support from the formats major backer, Toshiba. It's been pretty clear for quite a while now that Blu-Ray was the leader of the race. Blu-Ray had most (now all) Hollywood studios on board (the porn industry went HD DVD I believe, not sure), sold the most players (mostly SONY Play Station 3 consoles), and I suppose most importantly sold the most discs due to the wider range of titles available. It is good that the race is over, but people are rightly worried about pricing policies.

None of this matters to me, or to anyone really as "SD" DVD is still the most widespread format. To me DVDs just look and sound brilliant. Even if you happen to have a HD capable display an up-scaling DVD player can boost image resolution to near HD. Ironically it is said (on the DTV forum anyway) that the best up-scaling DVD player is/was the Toshiba XE1 HD DVD player (BD and players do it too, but not as well as this one).

At the moment I'm looking at a DVD player. The basic features I'm looking for are that it does all the usual things such as playing DVDs (a no brainer) and viewing photos. But what I'm really looking for is a player that plays DivX and XviD encoded videos and has a USB port. The reason I want DivX is just because it will come in handy from time to time. For me it's the USB port where things get interesting. Instead of burning mp3s and photos to DVD, it is much easier to just put them on a USB drive, the DivX videos are also playable from the USB port. Strangely enough it seems that the only models that have these features are up-scaling players, but that is of little use to me as I only have a CRT TV. At the moment it looks like the player I will get is the the Pioneer DV-400. I was looking at the more expensive DV-600, but I can't seem to find any.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

On the train one day

This is a comment I made on one of High Riser's posts, and thought that it is worthy of it's own post.

One day on a train I sat down on the middle seat of group of three, someone was already at the window seat. Instantly I decided I was a bit cramped so I moved across to the aisle seat for more leg room. It was then that the person at the window spoke up and said, "it's OK I won't bite". I looked up, and he was an African man. I then realised that a few of the people in the surrounding seats were looking at me. I remember feeling quite embarrassed.

The comment was made in good humour, and I don't think he actually took offence at me moving seats. My action certainly wasn't made because of his skin colour, but I doubt a white or Asian person would make a comment such as this. I still think about this incident frequently when I'm on public transport. It is quite funny looking back at it.

I guess the point is that everything comes down to intent and perception. You're never going to get both to agree 100% of the time.


So I am sitting here eating my breakfast and all I can smell is smoke. I look outside and the sky is that murky smoke colour that you get during bush fire. It's not far away either. I haven't worked out which way the wind is going. I suspect that it will be the bushland along the Plenty River.

Last Saturday morning the Chemist shop in Main Street Greensborough was gutted by fire, saw it only a few hours after, but before the clean up had begun. The windows were smashed and the inside was black. By Monday the front was covered in sheet metal and what was left of the destroyed awning at the front had been removed so it was now safe to walk past on the footpath, the smell remained. Don't know if it was deliberately lit or not.

It is also the 25th anniversary of the Ash Wednesday bush fires that ravaged large areas of Victoria and South Australia.

EDIT 10:27 AM: just heard on the radio that the smoke is coming from a fire near Mathoura in south western NSW.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Update 2: Random day out

It was Saturday the 2nd February. I resolved to go to a computer swap meet at Bundoora RMIT just to have a look at prices and stuff like that. At 9:30 I left the house and walked down to the bus stop to get the 9:38 513 to Greensborough. From there I intended to get a 566 to Plenty Road in Mill Park. I had no idea of the timetable for this route, and was prepaired to wait. As it turned out a bus was due shortly before 10 AM so I had relatively short wait. After 10-15 minute bus ride I was at my destination.

Navigating the grounds of RMIT to the sports centre was no mean feat, but I eventually found my way. As with every other computer swap meet I've ever been to I came out more confused than I was when I went in. It took me a few minutes to get my thoughts in order I walked back across the grounds to Plenty Road and over to the University Hill development.

After walking around the small, but considerably well used shopping area (considering most of the development is still under construction or in planning stages) I made my way to the tram stop and caught a number 86 tram towards the city. I hadn't been on this tram for a while, so it was interesting seeing what had and hadn't changed along the way. The corner of High Street (route 29)and Clarendon Street in Thornbury is still more or less unchanged from 16 years ago, when my nana lived there (in Clarendon Street). I can see that Thornbury, like Northcote before it is undergoing a "trendification" as the later becomes more expensive. Halal butchers are still the norm in both suburbs though.

The tram passed through the uber-hip (anyone know how to type an umlaut?) Westgarth (aka vegan/organic central) and crossed the Merri Creek into Queens Parade through Clifton Hill and North Fitzroy before turning south into Smith Street Collingwood. Smith Street is still very much rough around the edges. It's an intriguing mixture actually, as you've junkies rubbing shoulders with bargain hunters at the factory outlets. It was interesting to note that there are two Kathmandu factory outlets in Smith Street. One at the northern end and one at the southern end.

Along Gertrude Street and into Nicholson Street. I got off the tram at the intersection at Albert/Lonsdale Streets near the northern entrance to Parliament station and walked along Lonsdale to QV. Oporto for lunch at QV, and an obligatory trip into Big W, where for some reason I tried on a couple of pairs of shoes, Dunlop Volleys no less and some sort of skate shoe that didn't come in my size.

I wandered on along Lonsdale Street, stopping in a hobby shop and JB HiFi. It was here that I decided to just have a look at the computer shops in the Lonsdale/Queen Street area. The story goes that this particular shop had a large order, but the client wasn't ready to take delivery of the assembled PC's. So rather than have them sitting around the office they would rather sell them at cost price (I didn't buy that one for a minute). Apparently what I got was an upgraded version of the standard model they advertise (sort of, they advertise in every Tuesdays MX too). OK sounds good. I haggled a bit, took a few options out of the package (no monitor, kb, mouse etc) and within 15 minutes of walking in, I was walking out the door a brand new computer. I spent about what I thought I would, and got around about what I wanted. I'm still not sure if I got a good deal though. Doesn't matter now anyway.

I had to carry the computer to Melbourne Central where I stopped in the food court for water and a sit down. This computer buying and carrying business was thirsty, tiring, and not to mention awkward work. Feeling revived I went down to the station and soon boarded a train home. Thankfully I arranged a ride for the 1.6km trip from the station home. I've carried mice, keyboards, routers and monitors (LCD) that distance, but I don't think I could have made it with an actual computer.

In sumary:


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Update 3: New Computer

I don't care if I'm posting these updates out of order. This is the easiest one to do...

Last Saturday during my random day out (see Update 2), I happened apon a computer shop and bought a new computer, just like that. It's big and black and very noisy because of all the fans. In comparison my old computer was silent. It's not a top of the line gaming rig but it serves my purposes very well. Did I mention it is fast, I like it.

Oh yeah the specs well lets see

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 4500 2.2GHz
Motherboard: MSI P4M900M3. - That's a Via chipset not Intel or nVidia possibly the major weak spot in the system, but we'll see...
RAM: 2 GB of 667 DDR2 ram of some generic flavour.
HDD: 250 GB SATAII Maxtor.
Optical: LG DVD burner -Lifes Good!
Case: In Win EA002

Notice I didn't mention graphics? Being a cheap computer it's got an integrated chipset. Believe it or not it's an S3 chipset, which I thought went out in the stoneage, Pentium 1 with Windows 95 and all that. Thankfully (or not) Via has decided to re-release an all new graphics chipset under the brand Via Chrome. I plan to replace it believe me. A guy at work was trying to talk me into an NVidia 8800GT, but I'm not sure if the motherboard would take it. We'll see.

As far as operating systems go I opted for Windows XP home. It's OK I guess. My old PC had Windows 2000, which is basically XP without all the eye candy. It's pretty similar except everything got moved around and I'm still finding my way around. Now this may shock people, but after using Vista on my laptop, and then XP on this computer, I'm thoroughly convinced that Vista is actually an improvement. Sure things look nicer but I think it is a better operating system, or will be once all the bugs get ironed out. Hopefully Vista SP1 fixes them. I actually wish I had gone for Vista Home Premium, and I still might.

It took me a week to get all my music, files, email and photos transfered over as my old computer has an ancient very slow network card (complete with a co-axial BNC connector), but as of yesterday this is now my main computer.

Now all it needs is a name...

Update 1: Down the bay

The Pier at Flinders. Philip Island and "The Nobbies"
can be seen in the background.

The 'straya day long weekend saw me tripping around the Mornington Peninsula on the Monday with my Mum. We went to Flinders and had fish and chips for lunch in the park overlooking the Jetty. After that we headed over to Rosebud. While there we went and had a look at my grandparents former home. My grandfather actually designed this house, he was an electrical engineer so he was pretty good at this sort of thing. A lady was out the front washing her car (Are the Mornington Peninsula on lesser water restrictions?) As is typical of houses of this vintage, it is constructed from fibro cement sheeting. To it seems as if most of Rosebud is constructed of Fibro.

After heading down to Rye we decided to turn back to Melbourne. We decided to stop at Rosebud for afternoon tea. We ended up at what is named the "New" Rosebud Bakery. While the service was pretty good, the chocolate milkshake I had was not so good. The best milkshakes are the ones where you get the tin cup with another glass or two worth of shake in reserve, sadly this was missing and my glass was empty all too soon.

Our refreshments done away with we drove to the Rosebud Pier across the road. It was a warm day, and this was the place to be. There were a lot of people on what little beach there was due to a high tide. What I've always found quite amusing about this part of the bay is how you can wade out for 100 metres, and the water goes no higher than your knees, and that's at high tide. On the pier there were lots of kids and teenagers jumping off and splashing around. Strangest of all some young girls were even sunbathing, strange given all the warnings of danger of this activity.

A ship passing Rosebud Pier

At both Flinders and Rosebud the colour of the water was unreal (as seen in the photos), I don't recall seeing water this colour before in Melbourne. Also on the pier there were a few people fishing. No one caught anything while we were there, but on the way back I saw a school of some reasonably sized fish. All this brought home to me the uncertain effects of the channel deepening dredging and eventual blasting of the heads that was due to begin in the next week or so after we were there. I have no idea, what will happen, but I suspect that the Port of Melbourne Corporation probably got the environmental effects statement they wanted.

Arthur's Seat from the Pier. The water really was that
clear, and that colour!

The road home lay ahead, taking us along the bay via Dromana, Mount Martha, Mornington and Farnkston to Edithvale where we headed up Springvale road and Westall Road home. Getting closer to home it was nearing dinner time so we stopped at Hungry Jacks at Forest Hill for a bite to eat. Why is it that the air conditioning in these places is always so cold?

Plenty of ideas

Ok, so I have plenty of blog ideas, but when it comes to actually getting them on the screen I seem to forget them.

Why not start with what I've been up to in the last few weeks?

OK good idea. Posts coming soon...