The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

Recruiting

My employer is looking for a software developer.

We develop in Borland Delphi, for windows / PC, though Delphi experience is not a prerequisite.

We’re looking for somebody who knows a bit more than the superficial stuff about programming, but actually knows what bits and bytes are, and has a bit of knowledge about (or at least an interest in) embedded systems.

We offer a pretty good development environment – in reasonable surroundings (admittedly based in a fairly industrial area). We are ISO 9001 accredited and whilst that imposes some processes on what we do, we are not overly restrictive about the “procedure police”.

We make use of modern software change control systems – in our case we use Rational ClearCase. We also use a defect tracking system and expect everybody to use it, and stick to it.

We test carefully, and aggressively, and occasionally expediently. We try to do about 3 to 5 releases a year – which is a lot, and it keeps us on our toes.

The recruit would join a group of 4 other software developers and work with them on enhancements to existing software, development of new software as requirements come up, as well as general helping out, fixing defects and other things like that.

The position is located in Adelaide, a mere 5 minutes from the CBD.

What we really want:

- A passion for software.

- A good sense of humour to blend in with the other ratbags.

- Some prior experience is desirable – preferably in Java, C++ or Delphi. We aren’t ruling out graduates (but a graduate showing they have done some software development or something, for someone, in some capacity over and above studies will sure go down well.)

- An ability to communicate – both speaking and in writing. We don’t want Shakespeare, but an ability to explain yourself is essential.

So, if any of the 2 readers out there either fit the bill, and are looking for a job – OR if you know somebody who might be interested, please email me – the contact details are over on the right hand side panel…. A confidential chat can be arranged either during working hours or in the evenings.

Oh… and if you email… please attach a CV…

Next in the series of “old pic of the day”

Scanning in old pics…

Time for the next exciting installment:

Back in 1990 we spent a few days in the Flinders Ranges – far north South Australia. Very rugged country, visually stunning. We were there in January, when the daytime temperature can reach 50 degrees in the shade. If you want to see the wildlife, you need to be on the road EARLY in the morning.

By about 9 am it’s so hot that the wildlife is under a tree, and it’s only mad dogs and Englishmen, out in the midday sun…

On the side of the Bunyeroo Gorge road, about 6 am, you might see this:

Jan_90-16_cropped.jpg

And that little road trip – over roads marked “4WD only” was all done in my old Ford Laser – including the creek crossings – with no trouble at all.

Such stunning country – might drop in a few more pics from the Flinders some time.

IKEA

We dropped my parents at the airport yesterday, and did two things we don’t normally do:

1. Bought a meal at the airport; and

2. Went to IKEA afterwards.

First the meal.

Most airport food places are overpriced, low on quality, and generally fairly crappy.

This was a welcome exception. I think the place is called “Billy Chu” – something like that anyhow. Asian stuff. My Malaysian chicken curry was full of fresh vegetables, bits of chicken, chilli, lots and lots of flavour. Everybody else felt much the same. And prices ranged from $8 to $12, which is not bad for a meal that leaves you very filled afterward – especially in a place like an airport. Confidence was inspired by the little Chinese guy at the wok behind the counter. By about 1pm this place got very busy with airport staff – that tells a story in itself.

Second, IKEA.

For those who’ve been living under a rock, IKEA came to Adelaide about 3 months ago, on cheap Commonwealth airport land – and therefore exempt from all the usual planning permissions.

I swore that wild horses would not drag me into the place, but seeing as we were so close I consented to go.

Impressions:

  • Big
  • Careful manipulation – you HAVE to pass everything to get to something in particular – really bad for the weak-willed impulse buyers, which is of course why they do it
  • Amazing what you can do with a flat pack
  • Why does all the timer look like plastic?
  • EVERYTHING is imported
  • No attempt at all of localisation – of sourcing or using or supporting local industry or product

The amount of STUFF is impressive. What’s not impressive is the damage this place must do to the country’s balance of payments – all this stuff that’s imported… much of it is “me too” – something similar is available locally, from local manufacturers, making employment for locals, at much the same price.

In the electrical goods, every lamp fitting uses Edison screw WHICH IS NOT STANDARD IN AUSTRALIA! And much of it uses a miniature version, which means that when your lamps go you will be either up for an expensive replacement or a trip back to IKEA.

And what the heck is the obsession with Swedish meatballs in their cafeteria? More signs and piped announcements than you can poke a stick at!

And finally, I though most of what they had on offer was pretty tasteless. Not that we need furniture anyhow, but nothing leapt out at me screaming “wow what a great piece of furniture… take me home!”

I won’t be going back.

Tagged by TFS

Looks like I’ve been dobbed into a blog game… I’ve been tagged to answer a few questions.

So here goes…

1. One book you have read more than once:
Oh oh – difficult one. I’ve read many books more than once, though I usually leave a long time in between (that way I forget what happens). The one that springs to mind is “The Client” by John Grisham.

2. One book you would want on a desert island:
Really difficult. “Godel, Escher, Bach – an eternal golden braid” by Douglas R Hoffstadter. I’ve been meaning to read this since 1982. I finally bought it 18 months ago, it weighs about 25 kilos, it’s got TOO MANY PAGES, and I’m find it hard going. It would be ideal for a desert island because if there was nothing else to do I might actually read it. And if I got too pissed off I could always burn it.

3. One book that made you laugh:
“Billy” by Pamela Stephenson. A biography of Billy Connelly. Well written, a great story, told with hilarity and sympathy. Billy really is a crazy guy, and the story of his childhood helps to show why he is the way he is. So damn funny I was sitting up in bed reading this and laughing hysterically. SWMBO could bear it no more after about 10 minutes of this and threatened to tip a bucket of water over me.

4. One book that made you cry:
There was one… once… but I cannot remember what it was.

5. One book you wish you had written:
Almost anything by Sue Grafton. I really like the tight, economical style, the cynicism, and the touch of wit.

6. One book you wish had never been written:
Arrrgghhh. High School English. So many to choose from. “Capricornia” By Xavier Herbet (I think). A horrible story set in Queensland, in about 1880. Long, turgid, boring, tedious, long, boring, long, arrgghhh. This left me phsychologically scarred for years. Notable mention: “The Mayor of Casterbridge” by Thomas Hardy. Literature, but crap. More long and boring. Used to be known as “The Mayor of Caster-oil”. And “Silas Marner”. More literature, more crap. Tedious. And “The Lord of the Rings”. So repetitive that I could never finish it.

7. One book you are currently reading:
“To dare and to conquer – a history of special operations” by Derek Leebaert. Slow going but an interesting take on 2000 years of miltary victories by unconvential means.

8. One book you have been meaning to read:
That damn “Godel, Escher, Bach”.

9. One book that changed your life:
“Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. It was only a SMALL change, but learning a little about how the human brain is built has made me change some of my behaviour :) . Specifically, finding out that when under pressure, we usually react before we think has been a realy eye-opener. It’s helped me to learn to try a lot harder to stop, be quiet, say nothing, and calm down for 10 to 20 seconds, so the rational side has a chance to kick in.

And another one: “Why men don’t listen and women can’t read maps” by Allen Pease. Controversial, but very instructive about the differences between men and women. From that I learned that when I’m doing something and a women wants to talk… there are two choices: STOP and listen and engage, or ignore her. Men cannot listen and do something else at the same time.

10. Now tag five people:
I don’t know if these folks will want to play the game, but I’d be interested to see what they answer if they do:

Duncan,
Darren,
Gra,
Andrew in Lithuania
Andrew & Gail in China (I’ll count you both as one – still being newlyweds!)

Old old pics

Been scanning the old negatives.

It’s a slow, slow business.

I’d forgotten some of the photos we took years ago, BC (before children). Forgotten some of our photos, some of the places we’ve been, and just how stunning some of the Australian countryside is.

I’m going to drop in a few selected highlights from the old, old photos over the next few months. I’m also going to put a lot more up on Flickr – after taking out a professional subscription to it…

Anyhow, here is sunset near Morgan on the mighty River Murray:

Jan_90-34.jpg

Old, old whine

My parents are off to Europe to visit my sister who has just given birth to ATRI.

So before they leave, we’ve had them around for dinner.

Tarragon chicken was not bad. A green salad with lettuce, sun-dried tomato, capsicum, avocado, mandarine (from the garden!) and more was a damn good accompaniment. So was Nick Nairns Bashed Potato. (Recipe another day).
The highlight had to be a 1996 Henschke Julius Riesling, and a 1997 Joseph Moda Amarone.

Anybody who says white wines don’t age is just plain wrong. Apart from the crap cork on the Henschke (which fell apart and we fished bits of cork out all night) it was DAMN GOOD. Lesson: a good well made Riesling will do 10 years, and still maintain a decent acid balance, develop a lovely golden colour, and have a complexity and depth you would not believe.

If you can afford it, buy some good to expensive Rieslings (preferably sealing with a screw cap) and set them aside for a LONG time.

And the Joseph was a MIGHTY fine red. But that was expected anyhow.

Trouble is, I have to go to work tomorrow…. (And I’m half cut, and it’s amazing how DIFFICULT it is to write this!)

Sky Marshalls

Crazy!

Sky Marshalls have quotas for reporting people. No report -> bad performance review!

(Thanks to crypto-gram)

Waste, waste, waste

So much waste around us. So many examples of unthinking silliness.

Here are two:

  • Why do phone bills come on A4 pages? Usually 2 or 3 pages long. Once upon a time a phone bill was the size of 1/3 of an A4 page. WE STILL HAD TO PAY IT!
  • Why do companies send out forms to be filled in and sent back, on nice heavy paper. It’s only a form. You fill it out, send it back, somebody types all that guff into a computer and then the paper is tossed out.

How to save the planets paper:

  • Use the lightest grade of paper you can for routine bulls**t forms. The difference between 70 gsm and 80 gsm paper will not even be noticed, but the lighter grade uses 12% less. Going to 60 gsm paper is a saving of 25%.
  • Use smaller paper. Why put invoices, bills, and so on, onto an A4 page when A5 (1/2 the size) will do? This should cut the paper bill by 50%.

Two simple measures. For anybody who adopts them, the saving in paper could be from 50% to about 75%. That’s less paper consumed, less landfill or recycling to worry about.

——

I *know* – A5 paper, and below standard 60 or 70 gsm paper are harder to get and therefore probably cost more. The price would come down if there was more demand… It’s a Catch-22.

——

The “gsm” rating of paper refers to grams per square metre. 80 gsm means that if you had exactly 1 square metre of that grade of paper, it would weigh 80 grams.

Interesting market – at last

The share market has finally started to get interesting.

For that last 2 years its been pretty much month on month rises, where any turkey can make money buying and flogging a bit later.

Now it has finally started to get intesting again. Some prices are not rising so much any more, some are falling, some just bouncing around a bit. Companies have been reporting big profits and their prices have been going down instead of up.

This is a market I kind of like… When others are losing confidence and driving prices down, it’s a time that I’m beginning to get interesting in buying.

I’ve recently bought a few shares in a company that I’ve been watching for 6 years. That’s a long wait for the price to enter a zone I consider reasonable!

Now I’ve noticed that some of the listed property and infrastructure trusts are selling for less than their asset backing – most have been selling at a premium for the last few years. Why would you pay $1.20 for $1.00 of value? Finally tere seem to be a few cases that seem more like paying $0.80 for $1.00 of value. That’s interesting!

At last! Nice!

Honest John & a lack of interest

Remember the last election?

Remember the endless junk mail – much of it from the Liberal Party spouting about how they would keep interest rates low?

Remember that Labour could not be trusted?

Since then, Honest John The Deputy Sherriff, and Bumbling Pete His Trusty Sidekick, have presided over 3 interest rate rises with more to come.

We also got a nice big tax cut (thanks Pete) which was supposedly endorsed by the Reserve Bank. Trouble is, today the outgoing governer of the Reserve told Parliament that he’d been misrepresented.

Now… basic economics time. A tax cut delivers more money to the public. Most of the public spend it. This is called a fiscal stimulus.

An interest rate rise takes money out of the public, it’s the opposite of a fiscal stimulus (whatever thats called).

In an ecomony with inflation at the top of the target band of 2 – 3 %, a tax cut tends to push inflation UP. More spending, see.

So we need an interest rate rise to moderate the effect.

Bumbling Pete and Honest John have brought the interest rate rises upon us by hurling around their fists full of dollars.

Mind you – I’m happy to take the extra cash thanks, and the interest rate rise does not affect me much. But I’d rather the money have been spent on something truly nation-building.

How about this for a radical idea: Abolish the evil HECS, and make ALL tertiary education free again.

This would have the effect of removing the HECS injustice, and encouraging everybody who has intellectual merit to do further study. Could be a Govt funded TAFE spot, an apprenticeship, or a Uni degree. With manufacturing industry on the decline, this would go a long way to making Australia a genuinely cleverer country.

But Honest John does not want a clever population. They might think. They might think he’s a tosser. Better to give them a fist full of dollars and rant about the Labour Party.

So, Big Kim, how about it? Want to take up this idea for your up ‘n coming election?

The colossus of Oz

From Wikipedia:

The Colossus of Rhodes was a giant statue of the god Helios, erected on the Greek island of Rhodes by Chares of Lindos between 292 BC and 280 BC. It was roughly the same size as the Statue of Liberty in New York, although it stood on a lower platform. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Our friends at 101 uses for John Howard have a new suggestion: The colossus of Oz. Go and check it!

Negs

A while ago we bought a scanner that can do negatives.

The idea is to scan about 20 years worth of negatives, firstly to preserve them, and secondly to finally do the cropping and other processing that I’d always intended to do in a darkroom.

I even built the darkroom – at about the time that digital cameras and editing software were a silly price. Should have seen that the technology trend would make it all so affordable that the old ways of chemicals and stuff would die.

So, anyway, we have the scanner, and we’ve started loading negatives.

A couple of impressions so far:

  • It is amazing how much detail is captured using a good camera on plain old bog-ordinary 100 and 200 ASA film.
  • To get that detail in the scanned image, the scanning resolution needs to be pretty high. We’ve settled on 2400 dots / inch, which is very high by most standards. The scanner will go higher!
  • Its painfully slow. Each frame from a negative takes around 6 minutes to scan. The scanner can do up to 12 at a time – but each one still takes 6 minutes. Most commercial negatives are cut into strips of 4 frames, so realistically its only possible to do 8 in a batch. To preview, adjust colour balance, and scan, means that 8 frames takes around an hour.

The results of the “happy snaps” don’t justify the high resolution, but some of the landscapes and other things we’ve done over the years certainly do.

You can find an example here.

The biggest downside with digital photos: Making sure they last forever. A hard disk crash can be devastating. I’ve bought 2 USB hard drives for backup. About $100 each on eBay. Always a risk they are crap, but I’ve given them a good test, and that’s part of the reason for having two.

—–

Technical details:

Camera: Pentax SF7 – bought in 1988, or maybe 1989
Film: plain standard Fuji, 200 ASA

Taken: sometime in 1989

Scanner: Canon 8400F

Post Processing: Google PICASA for cropping

Novels of Shane Maloney

SWMBO and I have recently discovered the novels of Shane Maloney, an Australian writer who does mysteries with Murray Wheelan as the somewhat bumbling central character.

So far we’ve found 2 or 3 of the series in the local library, and it’s a really good change to be reading an Australian novel set in Australia. The scene, the people, the descriptions all have a context we can easily related to. It’s even better that Maloney is a witty writer with a prose style that is easy to sink into.

As I read fiction by different authors, there are two things that always stand out to me – the first is the construction of the story, the second is the style of the writer (the prose). A lousy construction and plot usually take a while to become apparent.

The writing style and turn of phrase are usually apparent within a few pages. In mysteries, I’m always taken aback by Sue Grafton, Robert B Parker, and to a lesser extent John Grisham. Some passages I have to read several times, looking at the way a few sentences can be put together to be descriptive, or humorous, and yet simultaneously be economical with words. Gee I wish I could write like they do!

By way of comparison, I really struggle with P.D. James, who has a tendency to use lots of words, in long flowery turgid passages that make the reading a labour rather than a pleasure.

Shane Maloney fits more into the mould of Grafton and Parker, then adds the spice of Labor party internal machination, inner-city ethnic politics and bickering, and a bumbling main character who falls into a hole and rather than thinking, tends to dig, and dig, before finally escaping his predicament.

Thoroughly enjoyable, and witty. See Dougs comment here, for a lovely quote.

And for something similar, read Naylors Canberra.

Obscene

Looking through the weekend financial review…

The Breitling Cockpit Lady watch, with a diamond bezel, a mother of pearl dial and diamond hour markers on a lizard strap, yours for $9510.

A silk evening gown for $1584.

Chanel sunglasses featuring studded quilting on the arms, a mere $407.

And some hideous 50’s throwback chairs: $3989 and $4092.

The world is truly crazy for people to produce such stuff, and even crazier for others to buy it.

Truly, we are a society with too much money, and not enough brains.

I hate email (but I’m trying to tame the beast)

I hate email.

I hate the expectation now that sending an email will give an instant response.

I hate how it has become a cop-out for thinking or making decisions (”just send me an email about it blah blah blah”)

I hate how I have fallen into the trap of using that cop-out.

I hate how I receive 40 to 80 emails a day at work.

I hate how much time I have to waste reading emails that are of only marginal benefit to me.

I hate how I have to spend time archiving what I receive and what I send.

I hate how the email programs have stupid rules about how much you can get, store, and archive in a single file.

I hate how people make CC lists a mile long and copy vast amounts of crud to others.

I hate even more how people use the BCC (blind copy) lists to make hidden copies to senior managers that the rest don’t know about.

I hate how people who get crud on big lists of recipients hit “Reply All” to send their 2 cents worth instead of thinking about the time being wasted by all those other recipients of a mail-storm.

Email has taken over our lives, slowly, subtly and by stealth.

It’s time to fight back.

Merlin Mann at 43 Folders has some wonderful productivity enhancing ideas for killing the tyranny of the inbox.

I’m now trying to change my wicked ways:

- Wherever possible – see somebody face to face AND TALK

- If a face to face is not possible, USE THE PHONE

- Put the smallest possible number of people on copy lists (apologise to those who get cranky because you left them off)

- GET RID OF that annoying pop-up or symbol that shows you have new mail. Why? Because I DETERMINE WHEN I WILL READ MAIL! Not the mail program! And not the person sending mail to me. I do not want the distration pulling my off to read email when I’m supposed to be focussed on something else.

- Only ever open the mail up to see what is there if you are prepared to spend HOWEVER LONG IT TAKES to do what has come in. So if you don’t have 2 hours available for doing the unexpected – don’t look at it.

- File, archive, action or delete EVERY new item of mail. Sometimes things HAVE to hang around for a few days, but try to get rid of everything that comes in, in a week.

So far, I’ve been able to get my inbox down to an average daily maximum of 20 items – the lowest it has been in 5 years. Right now its creeping up again -because I’m in meetings all day, every day, this week. But next week, I’ll kill it good and proper.

Oh yes – and one of the biggest improvements you can make to find things amongst all those archived and carefully filed emails: Google Desktop. The search and retrieval of old emails is unbelievably fast and accurate. I can now find anything in seconds. Worth its weight in gold.

Characterising our Federal Pollies (chapter 3)

Finally… the honourable mentions… Those former pollies, or those who are not in senior positions but who deserve a special mention anyway.

As before, here are the categories they get lumped into:

  • Evil
  • Bumbling Fool
  • Means Well
  • Good Guy

The has-beens…

Meg Lees

Also known as Meg Sleeze, helped to deliver Little Johns glorious GST, but in the process made it infinitely more complicated than it needed to be – by exempting food. But not all food, only “fresh food”.

So going to Woolworths and buying an uncooked chook is GST exempt, but buying a cooked one has GST. But bread is cooked and GST free. The list of whackiness goes on, and on.

Meg might think she is a Means Well, but adding more complexity and cost to the tax system makes her a Bumbling Fool.

Natasha Stott-Despoja

Also known as Natasha Spot Destroyer, our Nat is best known for her appearances on “Good News Week”, where she specialised in trying to look cute. Not much sensible came from her appearances in this comedy show, and not much improved when in parliament.

Another who thinks she Means Well, but the lack of achieving anything tips the scales more to Bumbling Fool.

Bob Hawke

Swept to power in the 1980’s in time to celebrate the Americas cup win, the Silver Bodgie was everybodies friend… well, all bar one (see below). Best known for drinking vast quantities, and running the peak union movement, Bob was soon ineffectual and became old Jelly-Back.

Became Labor leader by doing deals to dump Bill Hayden shows a certain cunning – leading to a possible assessment of Evil. A desire to change things, and significant economic reform gives an assessment of Means Well. Prone to silly promises (children & poverty) makes me think Bumbling Fool. The wild gyrations mean that history will be the best judge, and even 10 years later, it is still too soon to really tell.

Possibly a Means Well, probably a Bumbling Fool.

Paul Keating

Clock collector and one-time pig farmer, the self-proclaimed “Worlds Best Treasurer” had with a most colourful turn of phrase. Perhaps that’s where Delfin got that line from for their Golden Grove residential development (for those not in the know – the self-proclaimed “Worlds best development” Pfffttttt!).

Politics has been infinitely more dull since Pauls time as Treasurer and PM. No more banana republics, no more calling people maggotts. It’s all boring now. Bring back Paul and put some colour into Canberra!

Definitely not a Good Guy, and too smart to be a Bumbling Fool, he could be Evil, and could equally be a Means Well. What a combination!

Robert Hill

This former Liberal Minster of Defence distinguished himself by scrapping an evaluation of new aircraft for the Australian Defence Force, and signing up the the US-developed Joint Strike Fighter.

Following what will prove to be the most foolish, expensive, and disastrous purchase decision, ever, he has been promoted to better things – now ambassador to somewhere-or-other.

Quite possibly Evil, but most likely a Bumbling Fool.

Peter Reith

Former toe-cutter, head kicker, and general all-round thoroughly nasty guy. Bad Pete was responsible for pushing whatever the rabid Liberal message-of-the-day was, until finally undone by the famous phone-card scandal. Now retired, to leave the peddling of pure evil to others. Notable devotees are the Mad Monk, and Kevin Andrew.

This one is easy: pure, unadulterated Evil.

The wanna-be’s…

Trish Draper

My local MP, best known as an anti-smut morals campaigner, who also took a boyfriend on taxpayer funded overseas trips and claimed spouse allowance. When it became public knowledge she reluctantly paid back what she should not have claimed.

If only Trish could spend more time sorting out her own morals, and keeping out of the lounge rooms and bedrooms of the rest of us. Considering retiring, was brow-beaten (ugh!) by Little John into staying on. (What a hideous image that conjures up).
Trish has now decided to retire. Hooray! Trish, you are a dreadful person. Not clever enough to be Evil, too awful to be a Good Guy, and too ineffectual to be a Means Well, means Trish is a Bumbling Fool.

——-

AAARRGGGHHH. There are bound to be more, but writing this has left me so despondent about our leaders, our would-be leaders, and our wanna-be leaders that I despair of the future of this country.

I struggle to think of any polly of any colour who possesses both honesty and integrity. I suspect there are one or two who are well-meaning and intelligent, but they are in the minority.

What is to become of us, led by a bunch of no-hopers like this lot?

Powered by WordPress 2.8    Rendered in 23 queries and 0.356 seconds.    CleanBreeze Theme