Archive for August 2010

A Pyrrhic victory

August 28, 2010

A Pyrrhic victory is one that comes at great cost to the victor. Let me explain.
This morning was the monthly Begian Beer Cafe Cycling Club brecky. A must not miss ludicrously cheap breakfast and social get together for the very very elite of Melbourne cycling. Afterwords I had to go and help a mate move….a sad story that certainly should not be related here, and a tough second half to the day. But the morning promised to be fun.

So up at some silly hour before dawn. It was pouring.. seriously teeming down. I changed…. gulped down a coffee and set off. Soaked in meters. Ahhh well. On to Whitehorse road. where in Box Hill after a short chase I caught another cyclist. We looked at each other.. both wearing spray jackets, his red.. mine yellow.. both with faces streaming with water. I said “morning”, he replied “lovely morning” “Mmmmm bit damp” I said, and we splashed off in our different directions. Turning up through.Burnley for the 3rd month in a row the same fool in the dirty unpainted aluminium riveted body 8 ton van brushed past within inches. This time however I saw where the tu$% parked outside Burnley Golf club. Heheheheheh

It stopped raining in South Yarra. Met up with the motley crew at the BBC and we set off for the traditional pre waffles ride to Black Rock and back. Trying to organise a peleton but honestly its like herding ducks. Me Sally, Brice, Dale Katrina and Thorie did our best to set a good example up the front. I managed a mild dig off the front at the Black Rock but was beaten in style by Baudman. Meh. Amble back somehow again on the front. Chatting to various acquaintances, admiring the female joggers.. especially the HAF exhibitionist in the halter top. By the time we got to St Kilda only 5 or so of us were left. In spite of our best effort. Be patient, I am getting there.

Pootle down Barkly st marvelling at the lack of skill of the average car driver, and then the big dig for the days remaining glory. KIng of the Mountain of Barkly st Hill. Big dig… look back.. no one close. Baudman 100 metres back and everyone else not even that close. Across the line. Win. Glory. Roll to a stop at the lights. THen Baudman and a couple of others.
And a car in the other lane. Apparently had been driving beside the others yelling “Allez Allez” out the window.

And he says out the window to Baudman. “What happened? You let the old bloke beat you”

Sigh.

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Well it WAS a good day.

August 26, 2010

THere is always so much I want to fit in these blogs. I always post so much less than I want to say. Sometimes I go back and edit but there are few of them I am really happy with. ,starting to try to segment the cycling, social comment and work bits..but life does not come neatly parcelled and mostly neither do my posts.

On Tuesday evening I went to the aid (sorta ) of a mate who is going through a difficult time. Aiding him consisted of listening to him while eating his pasta. Its the sort of thing I do for my mates.. eat their pasta. As to my enemies… well actually I have no enemies.. a few people I hold in total contempt but I digress.

On the way there I saw the single stupidest pedestrian of the year. I was at the intersection of Brunswick St and Johnston… heading north. Red light. Off to the right is an ambo with lights and sirens in splendid working order coming towards us. We get a green light. Amazingly no one moves. The ambo moves into the intersection at barely walking pace. Tall young african girl pushes through all the 20 or so peds waiting for the ambulance on the SW corner of the intersection and ambles across. The ambo has his hand on the horn.. both sirens working and has stopped a metre from her before she notices. She does a classic double take and still takes another few seconds to get out of the way. Some of the other people gave her a spontaneous ironic clap. Which in Brunswick St.. not the home of the worlds smartest pedestrians, has to mark her as something very ‘special’.

Seriously. Aside from the fact you are just not a useful person if all you contribute to the world is getting in the way of an ambo.. what sort of person goes through life that enclosed in their own mind that they miss that much of the world? And what is the point of living with that minimal amount of awareness of the world you live in? I see dumb people all the time.. people with minimal awareness of anything outside themselves Wake up guys. Smell the roses. Have a look around. The life you save may be mine. Besides if you don.t notice anything of life.. how much point is there?

We did a seminar in Docklands, the Melbourne Bayside and up and coming area. It was on small business opportunities and directions.. and part of the state government’s month long push to promote small business. By weird coincidence I ran into a bloke I had just met the day before at Monash. And a bloke studying business at Swinburne Uni where I have my degree from. And made a bunch of potentially useful contacts. Kathy and I got up early and went into town two up on the motorcycle.

I cannot understand why anyone would commute by car.. I would commit suicide or homicide in a month. I guess many do. Some drivers out there were insane… Would the woman in the Honda Jazz please put her book down. And you the loon in the silver Audi (why does no one sane own a silver or black Audi, is it some sort of sales requirement.. “Oh look a loon.. lets sell him a silver one”) 6 inches from Kathys left boot at 60 KPH is not as smart as you think it it. I know you think you won,t get hurt in the .. and I use the word loosely… accident… don’t take that for granted. 😦 Was fun watching you squeal to a stop in Victoria St when you realised you were not going to fit through the gap we did tho. Heh. Get a motorbike mate. Or a pushbike. Then it will be you that your inappropriate overly agressive driving hurts. Which seems far more morally acceptable to me.

We went in by the MRR. The Maling Room Ride. A regular bicycle training ride that ends at the Maling Room Cafe. I do the ride pretty regularly and Kathy caught up with some old friends. It was cool turning up on the motorcycle. No one wanted to take me on in the hill climb. And surrounded by the shivering lycra clad, us two leather clad people felt smugly warm. 😀

The seminar was great. Took a phonecall from a client about a dead laptop during it. Not actually when one of the speakers was up…unlike the loud woman nearby. She probably did not need the phone.. was talking loudly enough to be heard by the person she was speaking to, without telecommunications. About time we started telling people like this how bloody rude they are. Anyway I arranged to call in on the client on the way back to PNHQ (Perfect Notes Head Quarters) Got a lot of ideas out of it all. Starting to implement them now.

What do you think of this as an elevator pitch for PerfectNotes?

We do IT related support for your small business

Yes? I really think that that one works. Would appreciate feedback tho. A bunch of stuff to implement. Mark and my website for Marks online plant sales is up at plantsupplies.com.au It has no content yet but it will happen pretty soon. Quite a lot happening at the moment.

We left.. swung by the client and I sorted his machine in… oh.. 15 mins. Smug grin. We went to Lygon St and ate lunch, then went home. And thats when I discovered I had lost my new camera. Bummer. I am seriously depressed. Must have put it down when I answered the phone. Idiot. Total idiot. Seriously upset about that. Spoilt my day.

Ok in an attempt to cheer myself up this really good Vidman pic from Sundays ABOC session

Most of Team Splat! training

Team Splat!

.

TGIO

August 23, 2010

Thank God (or other deity of choice ) that the whole election thing is over. Except that it isn’t of course. But at least last week is over. Last week was intense. I had two or three jobs on that just took hugely more time that I can possibly charge for them. Still its all good. It just made for a really really tough week.

I ended up voting pretty much for the Sex Party. No I am serious. I liked their preferences… loved their add and I think pretty much that whatever the hell someone does with another consenting adult of whatever gender or species is probably none of my business. And I was not voting the majors so…

Family first came last. Really, Bunch of Killjoys they are. They took a beating this election. They pretty much push the line that whatever the hell anyone does with another consenting adult absolutely is their business. Some of the nastiest people I have ever met have been the extreme religious and I think Family first push that envelope a bit. Probably offending many readers here. Sorry. Of course my opinions may not be the same as everyone’s opinion at Perfect Notes IT

Effectively my vote was for the greens. Mostly agree with the Greens. Bunch of silly idealists but not all that much wrong with that. There is certainly a joke lurking about the Sex Party and votes for it leading to a hung parliament.. but my wide eyed naive innocence is preventing me from seeing it.

Conroy looks like keeping his job. Curses. Maybe I will send him a book. The dummies guide to the internet?

Data recovery.
I am going to put all the weird commands we use on salvaged drive data into a program..probably in C++
. It will dump every file fragment under say 16 Kb.. they are never useful data, and sort all the rest into appropriate directories. Be useful and get the data down to a size thats a lot easier for the machines to cope with. Then we need something that will go through the docs.. pull out useful data to rename em with and automagically do that. And something that can do the same with pics… maybe pull the date out of JPGs that encode the date.. rename the file with that. That should make it easier to cull system data from personal data. Anyone with any ideas do feel free to comment. If I can just get the thing to automagically dump porn it would not hurt.. not likely to be possible.. how to distinguish between porn and art? I may not know much about art but I know what I like?

Cycling.. Managed maybe 250 klicks or so this week. All of it in the rain. Lots of wear on wheel rims.. what can one do? Look at the bike and it would start raining. Won a tram race. Tram racing is my favorite commuter sport.

DISC tonight. Me and the rest of Team Splat! I have to get some Team Splat jerseys made.. any expressions of interest?

Some pics from tonight. Sally on the front of a paceline, me and Jenny hanging on at the back. Moi coming around someone, Jenny,

Paceline DISC

Dave

Jenny

Election day.

August 21, 2010

And two diggers killed in an IED explosion in Afghanistan, hope its not an omen. But since I don,t believe in omens I guess its unlikely. They were killed and two others wounded in a Bushmaster, the first fatalities I have heard off in a Bushmaster, considered a very safe light armored vehicle. Damn it.

Lest we forget.

OK I don,t care who you vote for.. well I guess I do. But not that much. But do put that dweeb Conroy last.. and do vote under the line. Let this be Conroy,s last day in the job. Lets get rid of this internet filter garbage and send a clear message to people wanting to stomp on our freedoms.

Good luck to us all.

One less car! :D

August 17, 2010

I cannot believe it. 6 days without a new post and wow.. a new highest number of hits.. and a steady climb in readership. Must be a lot of intelligent articulate types out there just discovering my verbose nature.

The toyota has finally gone. A young bloke won it for.. oh about $225 so about 75 bucks less than the first time it was up for auction.. but still about $100 more than it was worth as razor blades. Its in the area I could live with. So its gone. Our dweeb tombro1546 who won it the first time but never responded has er.. left ebay.. time wasting piece of cow dung that he was. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

When the boys turned up they spent so long playing with the thing I honestly thought they were going to give us issues. I mean honestly.. its straight.. never been seriously hit.. has no rust.. moves under its own power both forwards and backwards and they got it for pocket money. But the buyer did not seem totally happy.. It did turn out that every battery I had was incapable of keeping the thing running. They ran it out of fuel on the test drive. And in the end took off with one of my fuel cans. Sigh. Nothing is simple. They turned out to be ok. Maybe they will bring it back. My can that is. NOT THE CAR

I went out before they took it away. Took a couple of pics with Kathy on the bonnet. Meh. Here is the good one. I swear the other one is one of the more unflattering pics I have ever taken. If enough people ask I might just put it up. But for the moment I shall be kind.

Kathys Toyota

The BMW in the pic behind Kathy is the next thing to go. Kathy has some time ago devalued it by a few K in about 0.5 second. Its not worth heaps. Want it?

We went to DISC again Sunday. Sally managed to have a light fall.. dodgy tire.. and my mate David who I had dragged along.. in his first 10 seconds or so riding on wood managed to run over her. And stay up Nothing wrong with his bike skills. I have quite a few pics to put up this time. Mostly taken by Jenny who did not ride this time.. the dreaded lurgy. Convincing proof that I am crap at holding a wheel Here is one shot. I,ll put up another couple later.
Dave1

The pic below was taken by Rach. Pretty good shot of a pretty bad paceline.
Dave in bad paceline

I have a couple of jobs at the moment I have way underquoted on. Always depressing. Not big jobs tho. Finally have bits of the plantsupplies.com.au site happening.. in fact I will spend some of tonight getting some of the nursery pics in shape for it. Is going to be really cool. That site is going to make us some real money. Just as soon as I figure out how. Sigh.

The Mullum Mullum trail post I did spawned a thread on BV forums here. It did not lead to the huge explosion in comments I was hoping for.. with plans eventually to maybe make a reporter notice it, instead leading to a couple of pages of discussion on the forum. But its all totally solidly in support of my point. For example rjk starts off like this

The wooden bridge i had the off was on the one just past quarry road on the way to Mitcham damage 2 ribs and bottom bracket axle, right pedal and crank, also probably weakened my handlebars which might have caused my big off 6 months later.

Also this grate gave my a brown pants moment
Photobucket

The election is 4 days away.. I have no clue how I am going to vote on that. But Sally has made her own points in her own blog I will be putting Conroy last. Way last. Very last. I hope its last enough.

Its election time.

August 11, 2010

Oh boy this is going to be a tough one. Julia cannot be trusted. Already posted on that subject here. And some of her maths is decidedly odd. She seems to be giving away rather more money than she actually has. But on the plus side she is the prettier candidate, seems personable and likable, seems to have only run 20% or so over reasonable costs in her job running school upgrades (can you spell Miki?) and is definitely not dumb.

The opposition led by Abbott hold political views to the right of my own. … slightly to the left of Hitlers. No that is slightly unfair of me but Abbott is on the record as having rejected the government’s fairly pathetic climate policies and as having moved the party to the right. The opposition are also against the resources tax which I strongly support.. and I am already disenchanted by Julia,s weakened stance on that issue. They are getting hammered by union adds on the likelihood of Abbott bringing back workchoices under another name which while alarmist in the extreme is somehow rather convincing. I can see Abbott making the same mistake twice somehow. And Abbot is getting hammered for his poor understanding of economics. Which is interesting because it seems to be Guillard making all the big spending promises.

Abbott to me comes across as a weaselly shifty creep. But that is entirely my impression based on seeing him on TV. Means nothing compared to how he does his job. Its Julia that has stabbed her boss in the back after all

The Greens are likely to have rather more power after this election. Although you need to be careful where your preferences go.

To my mind the most important issue this election is Internet Censorship. I have spoken on this before here and here . Stephen Conroy is the current Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. His position on internet censorship is that he is highly in favor. The family first nutters have significant power in politics in Australia and a so not in favor of internet freedom. Conroy is as I have said in the past, “the wrong man in the wrong job in the wrong century”

Its not my ability to trowel for porn that I am worried about. Any filter the government puts up is going to take me about 5 seconds to get through. Open proxy anyone. No its your ability in the future to become informed about nastier effects of the government policy and the like that matters. Not to mention the waste of money involved in slowing the interweb. And of course the fact its a stupid idea that speaks to a lack of understanding of the technologies involved by a so called ‘broadband’ minister. A broadband minister with narrowband ideas. Heh… I like that.

Want to beat an internet filter? There you go Hope your connection is fast enough to see it.

This is how I will decide my vote anyway. And no I have not yet decided. But this issue is the decider for me

On any sunday.

August 9, 2010

Feeling very lazy here. Doing lots of entry of data into a customer site. I must ask Kathy what we charge for this. It cannot be enough.
Its a case of creating the object.. uploading and editing a table type description, doing a short description of the thing in English and I know little about these particular ‘things’, more than anyone else here does mind you, and then guestimating shipping weights and dimensions. When we show all this to the customer hopefully he comes back with more accurate numbers and I get to put those corrections in. Oh joy :D. When I spoke to him on FB the other night mind you.. he said I was spot on with some of them.

Its a grind. Needs to be done tho.

How many people picked up on my cunning plan to fix the temporary power outage on the top floor of a customer building? I,ll give you a big hint. It involved an extension lead. Not by any means a perfect fix but hey it got their mail happening again. And I did check with them to find out if such a solution was acceptable. And yes I did go in early Sunday morning and implement it. If its stupid and it works it ain’t stupid. I shall write about dodgy but working tech solutions soon I think. I have a couple of great stories.

A 24/7 support organisation us. Woot. PerfectNotes IT… for all your IT, some of your cycling and all your 84 Corona needs. And yes someone has bid on the ebay Corona, and a nice young couple came around and looked at it last night

Too much data entry to do.. so to fill out this post.. pics follow from DISC last night.
Last night was as always good. I am still slow but working on it. Jenny came and was very brave. The sad news that an unnamed Team Splat! rider will be moving to Newcastle in the new year hit Team Splat!s race director hard 😦 The individual concerned claims its for personal reasons but the rumor is that they have signed a lucrative contract with a pro team and will be racing in Europe next summer.

I had a win in that Swervin Merv Hughes bought some surplus cogs along and gave me a 12 (never had a 12 before) and a 15 to replace the one Sally had borrowed. Sally bought the 15 back as well (heh) so I was able to tell her to keep it. Thanks Merv, I owe you a beer for that.

Very atmospheric shot of Jenny vs ‘the Wall’ that I think captures something of how scary it can be
Jenny

Sally vs ‘the Wall’
Sally2

Practicing starts.
Starts

Emily launches
Em launches

Carl “Mr ABOC” Never called that. Sometimes called Bleve.
Carl

A really good pic of Sally
Sally1

Team Splat! girls
TeamSplatgirls1

TeamSplat!girsl2

ABOC training group.
ABOC training

Maybe we should have let an engineer design it?

August 8, 2010

Instead of the work experience kid.

On the other hand not just everyone would give an 18 year old engineer a budget of $21.95 and responsibility for an entire bike path.. and even fewer would give him a case of booze before turning him loose with a drafting table. And the results have given us all so many giggles.

So on Saturday I was woken up by Kathy.. server had fallen over at a clients work place. Eventually I drove in and checked it out.. Server had fallen over because the UPS had gone flat. Because it was getting no power. Because the floor had no power. Hmmm. No immediate solution but I do now have a cunning plan. (to quote Blackadder) Next post may elaborate. Or not. Guess you will just have to read it to find out.

So back home. Young Jenny turned up and we decided to go for a ride. I have long meant to comment on the superb design qualities of the mightly Eastlink bike path and so I took my new camera and we set off. And just a couple of klicks from home is the first interesting bit of er ‘innovative’ design. Entertaining design anyway.
Photobucket
Just a tunnel you say. Nothing bad about that. No at that point 15 feet or so from the end it looks fine.. just a blind left turn.. keep left and you will be fine… Except for this Photobucket A steel grate hidden just around the bend exactly square in the middle of the left side of the path. If you do not know its there then its potentially lethal and why would anyone expect it to be there? But if you do know its there then the safe way to pass it and avoid any chance of a head on with an oncoming cyclist or jogger is to pass the grate on the left. Which means your helmet clears the corner of the tunnel entrance, which is hard edged concrete, by a few inches. If it were wet or icy and there was traffic going the other way it could end in tears. Total genius. Someone who owned a funeral parlor contributed to that design.

See what gets me most about this sort of stupidity is that no one would ever do it on a road. They would expect to get their ass sued off when inevitably some less than bright person stuffed up and got hurt. But its a bike path so who cares? Its a foreseeable hazard so take care and if not, too bad. But really.. no one expects freeways for bikes.. but surely we can do better than this.

This bit is cute. Its not actually dangerous.. and in fact its fun. But really…. either this is a path for saturday pootles or one for commuting.. This is a bit experts only.. Oh the path is just barely visible in the top of the pic to the right. Well maybe only cos I know its there. Thats right.. they could have done it all in a straight line

Photobucket

Wooden bridges and especially curved downhill wooden bridges with camber are sort of dangerous to bicycles, I have already written about one recent death on one. There have been others. Really a stupid thing to put on a bike path therefore… a wooden bridge. Like this.
Photobucket

Slippery when wet

And when dry. When covered in leaf litter. When frosty. When cold. In fact slippery all the time except for at noon on a hot day in summer. All of em are curved. Mostly downhill or uphill. One of them leads straight onto another one turning the other way. The one below has wire netting into the braking zone.. to improve traction. Its the only one. I guess someone got badly hurt their and the Parks people decided to do something. Hmmm. Something is wrong with that plan I think
Photobucket

How about this? Jenny propped in the middle of the path?
Photobucket
Or not.
Photobucket
Amusing huh? The road actually goes no where. Its a dead end. And the car traffic faces a give way sign for the bike path. So I guess bothering cyclists by telling them of the road would just bother them unnecessarily. I mean the cars are going to stop. Right?

To keep us amused the path has a couple of little road sections. This is one.
Photobucket

Yes.. Thats all of it. Cute huh?

Lots of the path is really really pretty. Lots of the corners have little streams running across the path after our recent rains. To be fair Easlink undoubtedly spent more on drainage for the tollway than they did on the whole path. The other amusement is the rises and falls in the path. While cars have to manage with pesky engines and so need a near flat surface bicycles suffer no such issues. Here our lead climber tackles a steep pitch without even a rope to save her from certain death.
Photobucket The slow sign is totally redundant. Personally I think it a sick joke on the part of the designer, The path goes around that bend then kicks up steeper for a couple more hundred metres with (of course) another ‘slow’ sign. No problem for grandad on the K mart roady and the 5 year old on the tricycle. Not much.

The path is more than twice the distance of the on road route. At a guess it has more than 4 times the amount of climbing. Its probably 3 times the distance of the onroad route if bicycles could use the tollway. So as a commuting route its rubbish. As a jogging path its fine…as a sunday ride path for families its rubbish.. As a skills session for the reasonably quick who are decent climbers and not totally adverse to sharing the path with the odd rabid out of control dog and its rabid out of control owner its wonderful… just not sure that thats the target market for this sort of infrastructure.

Let me know if you want to see more?

Us on the web.

August 6, 2010

The one market area Perfect Notes IT never really wanted to target was web design. And yet…slowly and steadily the number of web sites we have on the books (heh.. books…on the spreadsheet more like) continues to rise.

We had a bunch of reasons for not specifically targeting web design. Everyone and their dog is doing it… competition is intense. Everyone’s second cousin can do a template web site. Or they have a kid who can do it. Or maybe a dog. And they may indeed look ok. And in some cases be ok.

And then there are those people who have genius artistic flair. Like David Rafferton of Vidman Designs No way do I have his talent. Although when I give it some thought its actually obvious that practically no one has his talent Certainly many of the web designers out there lack any talent at all.

On the other hand we can and do hire him for the really creative stuff. As it turns out. Important to hire the right people for the right jobs. Who would have guessed? Senator Conroy, the wrong man in the wrong job in the wrong century. Not to mention the wrong country. But I believe he does not speak Chinese

As to the nuts and bolts of building and running web sites? Yeah I can do that. And I have a degree in multimedia from a pretty good university in Arts (Swinburne) so I doubt I am totally talentless. Its just not where I thought we were going.

However we are doing more and more of it. For example this week. We were approached a couple of days ago to do a web site. I have been putting data in another plone site all day. (OK we always expected a fair bit of work doing that sort of thing but it is one of our sites) And Mark and I have decided to do a site of our own.. ‘www.plantsupplies.com.au ‘ to move Mark.s thriving part time business along a bit. And when its up we will run that one too. (and pay the bills on it.. and take a slice of the profits for perfectnotes) And Kathy is just finishing off another site we built. WIth some bits in it from Vidman Design. Looks gorgeous. That site goes live next week and I will be sure to link to it from the blog when it does. Looks great

So it seems we are in fact web designers. One of the things I like most about running a small business (other than moving it towards being a medium business) is the constant surprises. I seem to be spending a lot of time thinking “how did that happen?”

Love it. Got a web site you need done? Contact us.

No bids on the Toyota yet. 15 Watchers. Hmmmmm.

Harden up princess.

August 5, 2010

from a sign that hung in Christopher Reeve’s therapy gym

For everyone who thought I couldn’t do it
For everyone who thought I shouldn’t do it
For everyone who said I didn’t have it in me
See you at the finish line.