Welcome Terry Dowling

Array of radiotelescopes in front of a mountain

I have been neglecting this blog of late, spending far more time updating my travelling allrite blog instead. So I'm about 2 months late in welcoming Terry Dowling to this blog. My excuse is that I only checked the user list tonight!

I have mentioned Terry before on this blog. He is my favourite author, a writer of such vivid imagery that you would swear that you are living in the pages of his books.

Funnily enough, yesterday I was composing a letter to Mr Dowling in my head, commenting on the ending to Rynemonn: Leopard Dreaming, the final book in his Tom Tyson sequence. I shan't spoil it for those who have not read it, but it is a powerful ending, a good ending, yet possibly unsatisfying for those who like "and they lived happily ever after." After so many years and so many mysteries perhaps it would have been wrong to tie everything up too neatly, to leave nothing unsaid and unexplained. And of course there is sadness at the end of such a long adventure.

So thanks Terry for registering with this site! If only my writing here was worthy! 


Broken week

Array of radiotelescopes in front of a mountain

Last week was rather messed up. I was sick on Tuesday, then that evening B went and broke a bone in her foot chasing Kita on the stairs, so she had a couple of days off. Now she has to walk around with a big supporting boot on her left foot. Meanwhile, I was supposed to go to Canberra for a night and a day to talk shop with the corporate web group. I had booked a hotel room and train ride home. Then the boss decided to change it to a single day trip next week. That was good for B's sake, but now I have a flight down and back to Canberra when I would have preferred a more environmentally sensitive railway ride.

I'm finding it difficult to overcome my loathing of the corporate website. The navigation doesn't work for me and there is too much small content all over the page. Elements such as fast fact and pullouts just confuse things further. And the interface for entering content is horrible. Just for sanity's sake I would rather concentrate on our divisional page, which uses my own content management system. It's long overdue for a total overhaul.

Speaking of the division I work for, we didn't meet our budget targets, management is trying to spin failures as positives and some good people have left. Morale is understandably low. I hope this proud organisation improves soon.

Back from Malaysia and Thailand

Array of radiotelescopes in front of a mountain

We arrived back from our 10 day holiday in Malaysia and Thailand on Friday. Still feeling the effects of the time difference and lack of sleep on the flight back. Slept in until midday yesterday. Kita is happy to see us again and is very clingy. I do think that he enjoyed his time with the other two dogs though.

Brought back a Sony VAIO VGN-CR35G/R notebook computer. So much faster than my Mum's Celeron Acer. 

You can read about the trip on my travel blog.

Family matters

Array of radiotelescopes in front of a mountain

A lack of updates because of a lack of time. We've had my Mum and sis down from from Queensland occupying much of our time. We shipped sis off to Amsterdam last weekend to be with her boyfriend so things quietened down a bit. It's her first trip overseas and if things work out she should be there a year.

We are off ourselves to Malaysia and Thailand shortly. Also purchased tickets to Europe later in the year at the recent Flight Centre travel expo. Trying to fit in our travel before life changes, if it ever does. As usual, see travel.allrong.net for the travel blog.

I'm typing this on Mum's new Acer laptop, an Aspire 5315. I bought a bottom of the line model for her as she only wants to check her emails and copy photos from her digital camera. With a Celeron 530 1.37 GHz and 512MB of RAM even Vista Basic runs like a slug. Now I understand why so many people loathe this operating system. My Sharp PC-CV50F Muramasa is about half the recommended specs for XP but it runs like a dream in comparison.

I want to purchase an Asus EeePC for her, but she only has dialup internet access and the Eee has no modem. USB modems are seemingly quite expensive and she hasn't the knowledge to setup new hardware. I'll just have to ask her to get more RAM for this one.

Setting up a new Windows PC from scratch is always a pain in the neck. Google Pack makes it a bit easier by providing a range of useful software through a single installer. I prefer AVG to Google's Symantic Virus scan tool and would rather use OpenOffice than StarOffice but it's still easier than downloading each item from separate websites. I've switched software like Firefox and Picasa to be the defaults away from Vista's own offerings. At least I can more easily support them seeing as I don't own a Vista PC.

Hope the nearly incessant rain stops for long enough this weekend to allow me to the mow the lawn and hang out the washing. At least we'll have water when we return from holidays. 

The storm

Array of radiotelescopes in front of a mountain

The last of the rain clouds drift away and we are left with sunny skies with the odd fluffy white cumulus. Later in the day the air is still, hot and sticky, sickeningly so. Then from the west, unannounced a grey wall approaches, full of menace, as is Hell has come upon Earth.

The heavens break and the humid air condenses around us as huge droplets strike the roof. The storm has come.

2007: The year that was

Array of radiotelescopes in front of a mountain

2007 began with a quest. The rest of the year was probably spent questing for a suitable quest. January saw the deaths of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant noodles, and a local police officer. It was also a productive time work wise. Beginning in January and continuing on to March I began exploring information about China online in preparation for our holiday there. I also redesigned the allrite.net home page, investigated Second Life and had to temporarily relocate from my office when the ceiling fell in

In February I also had issues with climate change doubters, celebrated the arrival of the Queen Mary 2 and Chinese New Year20 years of mobile phones in Australia and wrote about the difficulties of blogging on a Zaurus

March was the big month of the year. We spent most of it in China and Hong Kong, followed by Japan in the first week of April. On my return I was moved to a new office at Macquarie University. By May I found myself restless and bored. So I booked us a holiday in Japan with Jetstar to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It was supposed to be a secret, but B soon discovered it. I started writing Javascript again, watched Crude and Air Crash Investigations on the television and ate Peruvian food at Cronulla.

June saw me waxing lyrical about iGoogle's teahouse theme, but our Japanese plans turned sour when B was refused leave over the dates I had booked the trip for. At work I wrote a paper on planning online communities and added iCalendar functionality to our intranet. I also released an iGoogle gadget to track CSIRO news, events and podcasts. Before the end of the month I had written advice on Asian transits and rebooked our Osaka holiday

The second half of the year started with a lovely walk through Kyeemagh. I noted that my Views from a Train blog was seemingly more popular than this one. There were also a couple of entries on health issues and flying – altitude sickness and the safest seat. I flew down to Canberra for a meeting on developing a Capabilities Browser and had a couple of weird days.

I rediscovered the night sky in August, enjoying a lunar eclipse. While I liked jQuery, Microsoft's SharePoint left me very unimpressed.

For the second time in a year I visited Japan and had a wonderful holiday. Later in September we also experienced the Korean Chuseok festival and ate Brazilian snacks at Darling Harbour. Still on the travelling theme we drove to Canberra for Floriade and took the dog for a swim at Kurnell.

My great achievement for October was my recipe for Thai style Lemon and Coconut Prawns. I also moved back to Marsfield and decided to end my involvement with the Capabilities Project.

In November we were seriously considering a holiday in Europe early next year. Eventually we decided to fly Jetstar to Malaysia in February instead. I mused on a creek much closer to home and prepared for Malaysian food with some satay and roti canai at Mamak.

December started off loudly with a concert of John Williams' music at the Sydney Opera House. It gradually got quieter with Christmas. We were tempted to end it with a bang at the harbour fireworks, but we left the crowds after the mostly unseen 9pm pyrotechnics. So it's back to the window and the television to see off 2007.

Happy New Year!