.: allrite elsewhere
As soon as the door bangs behind B Kita starts barking and I have to let him out. Then it's back up to the loo with stomach cramps. Then it's have a shave and dress myself and Alex. He eats half a banana, I make myself a hot chocolate for breakfast. Then while Alex watches some Octonauts I roast some capsicum and start on preparing our soba noodle lunch for next week.
B arrives home surprisingly early, just as I'm about to begin washing up. Alex pleads to go to the Sydney Aquatic Centre, the "Bucket Playground" now it's Spring, even though it's only the first day. It's almost warm enough to be Summer outside, and the rest of the month is busy enough that we accede to his request. It takes us an hour to get ready.
We stop off at the bakery to buy buns for lunch then drive up to Homebush. The traffic is terrible as others try to visit passed relatives at Rookwood Cemetary. It takes us more than twice as long as it took B to drive the same path earlier in the day.
We spend a couple of hours at the aquatic centre, much of those in shallow and cold pool while Alex plays on the slides. But he does a great job of swimming on his back, something he's been struggling with at lessons. Plus we all have fun racing round the "river".
As soon as we reach home it's time to wash our grubby car, then I get on to dinner, which is a fish stew with a tomato, leek and roasted capsicum sauce that I invent as I go along. It takes about an hour to cook and clean up, but, hey, it tastes good. Then I quickly take Kita for a walk before returning for dinner. 6pm is an early dinner for us, but B wants to watch X Factor on TV. I bathe Alex, then shower myself. At 7.45pm I finally have my first chance to relax all day. Now it's almost time to read Alex his stories and send him to bed. I need another weekend!
This discussion is ludicrous. Microsoft is not solely a one dimensional consumer app or gadget company. It remains the world leader in business applications and platform support. The Office suite is still used every day in most businesses around the world. SQL Server has made major inroads into industrial strength datbase markets. Azure is a major leap forward in cloud service delivery and in the developer space tools like MVC Entity Framework and Silverlight are far more comprehensive and feature rich than competitor products. Sharepoint has become the leading business content repository. The world still uses Microsoft as the core business delivery platform. It seems the readers of this article are unaware of that. Firstly let me say I am not a Microsoft employee or acolyte but I have to disagree with some of your comments. I am a developer and I recently evaluated Java FX and .NET MVC for a complex multi layered browser based UML diagram modelling system. .NET MVC was selected so I don't agree that Java is taking over. Corporate and Government Azure uptake is slow because of concerns about data sovereignty. Microsoft has introduced a network utility to incorporate inhouse database servers. They are also building an Australian data centre. I dont understand the comment about SQL Server being stagnant. SQL Azure has hundreds of new instances a day. Windows 8 will take a while for Corporates to appreciate the benefits. With BYOD growing exponentially Win 8 offers a uniform OS across the desktop and the device. When you get into the service delivery area in Microsoft's development suites there are countless quite brilliant innovations happening all the time. These are largely unobservable to the public, but to claim that Microsoft do not innovate is simply nonsense.Joseph is right that Microsoft is still heavily used in business and indeed it does have some good products (but not necessarily all those listed above). But I've found that those developers who have grown up within the Microsoft ecosystem struggle to understand that users may want to do things outside the Microsoft way. Maybe they don't want to build an enterprise app or invest in a year of Microsoft Certified training to write a simple program or website. Or maybe they want their application to interact with non-Microsoft products and data. Take his mention of Sharepoint - we use it, but it's a usability nightmare and traditionally doesn't play nice with non-Microsoft browsers and files.
Microsoft is not cool because Microsoft doesn't support diversity and choice. It's not agile or interested in letting users drive it's developments. Instead Microsoft wants to make those decisions for you and it doesn't understand any other way.
As soon as we arrived we got out a sheet of card, punched a tiny hole in it with a pin, held it out towards the sun and projected the image on a sheet of white paper. You could certainly see where a chunk of the Sun had been taken out by the Moon.
Back at the office I made a more "sophisticated" version by cutting out one side of an old tissue box, punching a tiny hole in one end and sticking some white paper at the other. Then I went outside an photographed the results. Unfortunately , the lens protector on my camera didn't fully retract, but, hey, at least I got something for surprisingly little effort.
When I returned to my desk I discovered that the education group had been running an eclipse viewing session outside an adjacent building, but it's kind of nice to have done something yourself.
ABC Science has more information about the eclipse.
Sitecore had also managed to set the database connection string to my local user rather than a builtin account. I had to edit the username and password in AppConfig/ConnectionStrings.config in Visual Studio and rebuild the solution in order to make it work.
I wish Sitecore would use HTML documentation rather than PDF - it makes jumping to the right spot in Google searches very difficult.
In order to practise, I've had to setup a local version of Sitecore on my desktop machine. Sitecore provide an installation file, but I had issues attempting to connect to my instance of SQLExpress as it appears to need an SQL Server user rather than using the default Windows authentication. To resolve this I first had to download and install Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio Express. I then changed the server authentication mode to permit SQL Server and Windows Authentication.
After entering the credentials of the sa user I was then able to install Sitecore.
I then needed to create a Sitecore Web Application Project in Visual Studio 2010. Note that the Sitecore webroot can be found in the Website subdirectory of the directory setup by the Sitecore install. With replicated folder names in Sitecore directories the instructions can be a little confusing.
First came the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Tokyo Disneyland. Then I bought the soundtrack while over in Japan. Today I attended the concert performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Opera House, along with one of my brothers and his wife.
The principal composer Klaus Badelt was joined by his Media Ventures colleagues, including boss Hans Zimmer, in writing the music for the film. Media Ventures (now Remote Control Productions) soundtracks tend to have a similar sound about them and Pirates was no exception. The music is a guilty pleasure, like fast food. Easily digested with an immediate flavour hit. But it doesn't contain the subtleties of composers like Williams and Goldsmith that often only reveal themselves through repeated listening.
The orchestra, conducted by American Richard Kaufman, was performed to the film and dialogue projected on the a screen behind them, much like an actual film scoring.
I'm not a huge fan of these type of concerts as it is easy to focus more on the movie than the music. But better this than no music and you get good at filtering when you are a film music buff.
The orchestra certainly has to be in its toes as there US no room for slipups. And I don't think there were any. We were seated in the middle of the very front row. These were cheap seats as the screen was obscured. What they gave in return were wonderful views of the strings and the conductor, so close you could smell his BO wafting down.
The bombastic music kept the string section busy, with some lovely individual cello passages and the menacing ostinato that surprised in its complexity and vigor. The percussion was well defined and drove the action. The Cantillation male choir added wordless vocals. This music, like the movie that it accompanied, was there to be enjoyed for its action and excitement, not for its originality and deep artistry, and it certainly achieved its aim, the music propelling itself to a pounding finale.
A very fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Arrrrr!
Update: After listening to the soundtrack again I realise that one of the great things about attending a live concert was that the music didn't sound like it was generated by a synthesizer. I suspect Media Ventures filter their sound way too much.
Opening the door, still bleary eyed, I spotted a small boulder rolled against our porch. A landslide triggered by the rain, which was still falling? It was difficult to believe. Then I stepped outside.
A black Mazda 3 embedded in bushes towards the top of our driveway, interior lights still one. I hurried up to investigate, fearing that people were trapped inside requiring medical attention. Then I heard a "Sorry. I'm so sorry."
The lone driver, a young man, was standing at the top of our driveway, obviously shaken, apologising, admitting that he had too much to drink. He handed me his keys.
We gave him a phone to call his parents, only a couple of blocks away, then called the police ourselves.
Both soon turned up. Both were very courteous. The young man returned an over the limit reading on the breathalyzer and was taken away for a blood alcohol test.
The morning revealed the extent of the damage. The car was a write off, its front smashed in, one wheel wrenched off, all driver airbags deployed. It had been driving at speed up a steep hill, gone off at a tangent at the curve, mounted the kerb, smashed the top of the neighbour's retaining wall, become airborne and ripped up the murraya and callistemon shrubs between our houses, knocking a big stone down our driveway and destroying a pot that had been with us since the early days of our last house.
It was fortunate that a large dead eucalyptus tree had been removed months before as he may well have suffered serious injuries and the tree done major damage to either us or our neighbour's property had it collapsed.
The car was towed away and the guy and his father carried away the fallen shrubs and scrap in their trailer to the tip. Driving under the influence of alcohol meant that their insurance would not pay for the damage, or the smashed car, but fortunately it appears that the property damage is fairly minor anyway - for us, not them.
We frequently hear people hooning around these tight curves, certain of their superior driving skills. They don't realise how close they come to seriously injuring themselves or those that live along the street. Hopefully one now realises his stupidity in drink driving and how close he came to killing himself.
When management say they want to minimise support costs by settling on a single enterprise platform for websites what this can mean is that they are stifling an organisation's flexibility and capacity to innovate. Big enterprise systems often lack functionality that, while not traditionally popular in a corporate environment, can be highly popular across the general internet (social media being a case in point) or for specialist tasks. By their very nature, it can be relatively difficult to add functionality to such systems, especially when you do not want to impact upon their stability and usability of the main websites. The response, which may be valid, is usually that by using a single system you can take advantage of integration across your platform.
Allowing non-integrated third party platforms to be installed may increase support risks, but it can have allow organisations to rapidly respond to users' and customers' needs and enhancing satisfaction. As such, it should be considered as a valid strategy.
Do not do a simple blanket search and replace, because the constant names need to remain as INQUIRY. Only change the values.
I'm not sure if these changes will be overwritten if you update the theme.
The WWW was developed at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research and home of the Large Hadron Collider for the purpose of allowing CERN researchers to share information about their experiments, facilities and the organisation itself, partly as a way of mitigating the loss of institutional knowledge due to staff turnover. The original proposal is fascinating for its outline of the problems and proposed solution and as Berners-Lee wrote:
"Perhaps a linked information system will allow us to see the real structure of the organisation in which we work."When the WWW expanded out of CERN it was into other research organisations and the universities and the content was primarily scholarly in nature.
Today the WWW is a very different beast. While there is a massive amount of well researched information available resources online about an almost inconceivable range of subjects (take Wikipedia for example), the real driver appears to be advertising. Not just advertising driven giants like Google, Facebook and media outlets, but all sorts of organisations and individuals attempting to sell a product, service or even an opinion to readers online.
My organisation is not alone in forcing researchers to pass information to "communicators" who rewrite it for general consumption before it is allowed to go on the main organisational websites, even internally. The intended audience is almost never fellow researchers, but stakeholders with money (even if only the public's taxes). The content ceases to become a real information resource and instead becomes advertising.
Thankfully, there are initiatives for sharing organisational scientific information online through publications and data repositories. But for many the WWW is no longer a tool for opening up information for discovery and instead it is for controlling what information is available out in the open.
The whole point of the WWW was the ability to turn text into hyperlinks to more information about a term or resource. If that link pointed to an entirely different website then great, you had expanded the network of accessibility of that information. It's amazing what random paths you could be lead upon and what you could learn from such links. Now authors are often discouraged (apart from Wikipedia) from creating inline links, with what links that exist in a page usually designed to guide the reader along a specified path within the site.
Perhaps some of the responsibility for this change lies with web standards themselves. When it started the formatting options for web pages were very limited - the main point of a page was the content and the hyperlinks elsewhere. Now web development is all about format over content. No longer can anyone simply write up a HTML document for the web, now HTML standards are mindbogglingly complex and websites require the input of graphic designers, accessibility and search engine optimisation experts.
I love great design and the amazing tools now available online from banking and booking to satellite photo maps with incredible overlay options and video editing online. But I do wonder if the need to be visually stunning often prevents us from really communicating. It's like "Keeping up with the Kardashians" replacing a Sir David Attenborough docummentary. I think we've lost something precious in the transition.
I got pretty annoyed with a fellow commuter on the train home today. This middle aged cyclist was sitting opposite us unnecessarily taking up three seats at the carriage end of a packed train. Alex had fallen asleep on my shoulder and I was rather drowsy.
This bloke lifts up his iPhone and prepares to take a photo of Alex and I.
I shook my head, but he went and snapped the photo anyway. I told him I said no, but he replied that he wasn't going to publish it and it was just a beautiful shot. I complained that he was pretty inconsiderate.
What annoyed me was the blatant impolitness of his photography. Had he asked permission I might well have said yes, but as a private individual with a small kid I feel like I should have some rights to my and his image.
While Sydney complains about the first 40 degree day of summer I'm loving it. Sure, it's a guilty love, with the dreadful fires that accompany such days, but for someone born in Victoria these hot dry days are what summer is all about. It's like the air glowed with heat, but put me in some shade and cricket on the radio and I'm in summer heaven.
Last year Alex was frightened of Santa, making work and preschool Christmas parties challenging, as was the annual shopping centre photo shoot on Santa's lap. This year he has been totally into the whole Santa thing. He talked himself into being confident receiving presents at the parties, pleaded to have his photo taken at each visit to the shopping centre and has been acting extra good (if that's even possible) to ensure that Santa will leave him a gift.
What makes him most confident that Santa will be pleased with him is that he has been very helpful when brushing his teeth. Not sure if there is a little Santa/Tooth Fairy confusion going on here.
Anyway, he absolutely deserves those presents under the tree, unlike the young idiots who placed a used condom on our front door handle this afternoon. On one hand I'm glad they used contraception because I would hate for them to breed. On the other I'd be quite happy for them to contract an STI that causes their privates to drop off.
But back to happy thoughts, I am so glad to be spending a couple of weeks together with the four of us (dog included). Merry Christmas!
It was Sydney's turn today to host the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular. Back in February the family attended one of the sold out Melbourne shows and I reviewed it as
One of the best concerts that I have attended. A perfect performance by the orchestra, choir and soloists as well as a wonderful atmosphere generated both by the production and the audience that attended it. The whole family loved it.So how did Sydney compare?
A bit has changed between the two shows. I'm now more familiar with the music, having had time to listen to the Series 6 soundtrack. Much of the music of Series 6 takes a few listens to appreciate in full, but it is highly rewarding to do so.
Gone were the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Concordis Choir and the venue of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, to be replaced with The Metropolitan Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and that most famous of all concert halls in Australia: the Sydney Opera House.
Alex Kingston (River Song) and Mark Williams (Brian Williams) replaced Mark Sheppard (Canton Everett Delaware III) in hosting duties.
The line up of pieces to be played changed slightly, with An Untimely Arrival, Almost People Suite and the Closing Time Suite replaced by Brianosaurus and The Final Chapter of Amelia Pond.
I was quite curious to see how The Metropolitan Orchestra would perform as I've been quite disappointed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra's performance in comparison to the Melbourne Symphony. At least the conductor would be the same Ben Foster who conducted not only in Melbourne, but for the series recording themselves.
The Sydney Opera House is a lot tighter venue that the Melbourne Convention Centre. The foyer was chaos as Doctor Who attired patrons attempted to buy merchandise, pick up special memorabilia packs, purchase drinks or take photos with various Doctor Who cutouts and costumes. Fortunately there is an outdoor area, where we escaped to watch the Costa Romantica cruiseliner push past the Harbour Bridge and berth at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. I met a work colleague also attending the concert and we chatted while B and Alex bought a TARDIS soft toy. Then it was time to go in.
Our seats inside the concert hall were quite far back as the very large front sections were unaffordably expensive. Still, I don't think they were any further than in Melbourne. The hall was much narrower, however.
After a prerecorded introduction from Matt Smith, the current doctor, on the video screen behind the orchestra the performance began with A Madman in a Box. Immediately, I thought the Soprano Antoinette Halloran was tonally wrong, despite her flawless performance in Melbourne. In fact, the whole orchestra's sound seemed a bit off.
The reason why didn't hit me until Alex Kingston emerged to introduce herself and the next performance. She was typically sassy, taking full advantage of River Song character being a far more substantial member of the series than Mark Sheppard's Canton. However, her voice, and that of every other announcer, came out of the auditorium speakers sounding thin and missing in middle and base frequencies. Either the speaker system is flawed or the acoustics of the hall are faulty.
Unfortunately, these issues detracted from the entire concert for me. The orchestra sounded unbalanced, unlike the near perfect sound in Melbourne, but I just don't know if it was them or the venue. The choir too sounded unbalanced, with the male voices too weak. It looked to me that the choir had fewer members than in Melbourne.
Despite the problems, I did enjoy the concert, still got tingles down the spine when listening to The Majestic Tale of the Madman in a Box, the Saturnyne vampires in Liz, Lizards, Vampires and Vincent, farewelling Amy and Rory in The Final Chapter of Amelia Pond, the powerful countertenor voice of Daniel Bonic-Goodwin sing Vale Decem and the encore Song of Freedom.
It was also nice to hear from the composer Murray Gold, who again attended the concert.
Four year old Alex was a bit tired today and fell asleep during the beautiful Abigail's Song, to awake after the interval for the Daleks of Battle in the Skies. He asked too many questions during performances and complained later that the show was too long. Understandable, as he usually sleeps longer and some of the pieces are a bit slow for his age. I let him play Angry Birds on my phone for a while to keep him quiet. When the Daleks, Cybermen and other creatures appeared on stage Alex loved it. Especially, when a vampire lady stalked the aisle beside us. He also swung his arms around in excitement, conducting and dancing, when he heard the recurring I Am The Doctor theme, his movements reaching fever pitch during the Ron Grainer's Doctor Who theme. He was singing it out loud as we walked along to the Opera House.
Was it as good as Melbourne? Sadly, much as I still enjoyed this concert I could not answer yes to this question. Perhaps the orchestra and choir wasn't as good as the MSO and Concordis choir, but more than anything I blame the venue. The Sydney Opera House may be the most famous piece of architecture in Australia, but I am certain now that there are serious issues with its acoustics and it's really starting to annoy me. (That, and the sloppy disdain for modern popular music held by the Sydney Symphony and those associated with it).
But if you are a Doctor Who fan and there are still seats to the Symphonic Spectacular available don't let my criticisms stop you. You must come and see the concert, because it really is spectacular and a lot of fun.
The Madman With A Box
I Am The Doctor
A Stitch In Time
The Doctor, The Widow & The Wardrobe Suite
Battle In The Skies
The Majestic Tale Of A Madman In A Box
Liz, Lizards, Vampires & Vincent
The Wedding Of River Song
This Is Gallifrey/Vale Decem
The Final Chapter of Amelia Pond
Song Of Freedom
Doctor Who Theme
It's hard work being the support crew, but that was our role on Saturday as we hosted a greater collection of superheros than The Avengers movie at Alex's fourth birthday party.
Three long nights of cake baking, decorating and popping. My hat goes off to my fanatic cake decorating colleagues as it is a fiddly and expensive process, belied by the simplicity of books and YouTube videos. Alex helped where he could, but even he slept late.
When the day arrived we go stuck in a jam trying to enter a Hurstville carpark so we could collect the sausage buns we had ordered from a Chinese bakery. Then a magically lost ticket turned a free park into a $25 one.
We barely made it to the park on time, so thanks to the in-laws for grabbing a table for us. We quickly set up the food as the first guests arrived. Family, B's friends, Alex's preschool friends, many dressed up in superhero costumes, as was a muscly Spider-man Alex.
Faced with a larger crowd than initially expected we hired an entertainer to keep the kids amused and it worked a treat. Spider-man/Isaac had the kids in stitches with his magic tricks and games. The huge smile on Alex's face made it all worthwhile.
When Isaac started making the balloon animals other kids asked for dinosaurs, flowers or weapons. Alex requested an apple!
Much of the food was devoured, the fruits, spinach cob dip, jellies and cake pops, leaving us enough buns for half a week's lunch. And the rain stayed away, despite the threatening grey clouds and the torrential (but localised) rain and hail of the day before.
Afterwards, my side of the family and us headed off to Top Ryde to find dinner, ending up in a pub after the other eateries proved too expensive. Alex fell asleep on the way hope and refused to wake up for a shower or change of clothes or even the gorgeous firework show that magically appeared over the Georges River.
This was certainly a different birthday to last year's in Paris and far more exhausting. It may not be easy being in the superhero support crew, but it is fun.
Speaking of them, I was, as always, appalled by our Federal (Liberal) member who praised coal, iron and entrepreneurship as the greatest things about the country. Spends all his time complaining about taxes. Oh well, now B gets the chance to decide on his future and that of the rest of the country, including our son.
There are many things that diversity brings to Australia. One is definitely food. Prior to the ceremony we had a quick dinner of "modern Vietnamese cuisine", which was quite nice, despite the pan-Asian nature of their menu, plus a couple of nods to local tastes. After the ceremony it was mini meat pies, sausage rolls and ANZAC biscuits.
The entertainment at the ceremony consisted of a couple of guys dressed in stockman outfits singing typical Australian folk songs.
To me, that's not Australia anymore. I'm not quite certain what it means to be Australian anymore. I'm not sure I care much about nationalistic identities, but I do think it should be richer, more sophisticated and more diverse than it so often portrayed as by "True Blue Aussies". Let's cast off our cultural straightjackets and celebrate and share our many different cultures. Once you accept that culture is a living thing and traditions are not laws life is far more fun.
As the final ceremony of the London Olympics fades away the media are already asking whether they were better than Sydney. I have no answer to that question as I have only seen a little of these latest games, held as they were, across the other side of the world. It matters not in the end, for hopefully each Olympics learns from the successes and failures of those that preceded it.
Yesterday we visited the Sydney 2000 Olympic site at Homebush for one of its fine legacies, the Aquatic Centre. Unfortunately, the water playground was closed for maintenance, but it did give us the opportunity to drive elsewhere around the site.
The location at Homebush has many detractors, but I suspect that many are from those who restrict themselves through snobbery to the eastern areas of this city. I like the lonely grandeur of these venues that only come alive for sports matches, concerts and the annual agricultural show. Maybe because it allows me to remember the crowds and the buzz of twelve years ago.
I don't think Sydney has ever been better than it was during the games. When not attending events I was in the city. It had a relaxed and happy atmosphere, workers crowding around the big screens at Martin Place and elsewhere to watch Olympic events, or on the televisions which sprung up across offices everywhere. More people supposedly departed Sydney than arrived for the duration of the games. I like to think that the city's nastiness departed with them.
So I think the Sydney Olympics were a success, if only a fleeting one, just to show that this could be a great city. I hope that London enjoyed its time too.
I missed out on the Sydney Symphony's Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring concert last year, mainly because I had blown the concert budget. But also because I attended the SSO's Lord of the Rings Symphony way back when the composer, Howard Shore, conducted it. Truth was that I was a bit disappointed at the lack of the original exotic instruments and hence a different sound. The SSO has got me before like than, most notably with Tan Dun.
I've probably blown my concert budget again this year (whole family down to Melbourne for the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular) but I waited until the cheap restricted tickets were released for the SSO's LOTR: The Two Towers performance. Okay it meant restricted vision, but I was there for the music.
In my opinion the music of the Two Towers improved upon the first installment's. I first really listened to the soundtrack while on holiday in the South Island of New Zealand, and there can be no more appropriate place than that.
The deal with this performance was that the music would be performed by the orchestra while the film was shown on a big screen above. I didn't expect that the dialogue and effects tracks would also be played, but they were. I couldn't see the point of that, as you can always watch the movie in the comfort of your own home in that case. It's difficult not to focus on the film because it is rather good!
I was seated in the middle right section of the very front row, but I still had decent vision of most of the screen. Unfortunately, I found the nearby speaker rather distracting and confused my localisation of sound from the orchestra. Still, that was a minor issue. The other downside of the seat was that I could only see the conductor and the front strings sections, when vision of the rest of the orchestra would have been interesting. I shouldn't complain though, the tickets were discounted.
Unlike my last few experiences with the SSO, the performance was generally excellent, with only a few minor wobbles from the brass section. The sounds seemed genuine, though I do wonder if it was actually a hardanger (Norwegian fiddle) used for the Rohirrim scenes as the chief violinist's (she did the solos) instrument looked the same as a normal violin, except there were electrical wires emerging from it. Sound modification or just a soloist's microphone, I wouldn't know.
The two choirs, the Sydney Philharmonic and Sydney Children's were both fantastic and the solo vocalists Clara Sanabras and Sebastian Pini were wonderful. The Opera House's acoustics again seemed to detract from the overall sound. It's a pity that this wonderful piece of architecture just doesn't support the perfomers properly.
Will I attend the final installment, The Return of the King? Quite possibly. I'm sure that it will be staged because all sessions of The Two Towers appeared to be virtually sold out.
The applause at the end lastest as long as a Peter Jackson battle scene: The Extended Edition.