Hugh Blemings's Blog

Hugh Blemings's Blog, A Diary and Miscellaneous ramblings

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    Thu, 05 Jun 2014

    A new page...

    Thanks for dropping by! I've recently setup a new blog & homepage at Enjoy! :)

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    Mon, 25 Jan 2010

    #nocleanfeed matters to you...

    Facebook and social networking sites are an odd medium - like many I'm fortunate enough to have a wide circle of friends and family represented under my "Friends" tab. Hence they make it easy to reach out to people with minimal effort.

    I view spam on Facebook or the Blogosphere as just as unwelcome as it is in email or written form (remember paper chain letters ? :) So I choose carefully when it comes to promoting a cause or an issue...

    The Australian Governments proposed Internet filter is a Bad Thing (TM) for everyone, not just people who work with computers routinely as I do.

    Indeed for those that possess some technical ability as I would modestly claim to it's less of an issue - we know how to route around it without too much ado. This is much more an issue for the day to day user who lacks the skills to circumvent such filtering.

    Where it is a common issue for all Australians is that it will cost us money and achieve nothing worthwhile.

    For our friends in other countries it is also a threat by way of the potential to set precedent. A nominal democracy like Australia adopting Internet Censorship is a very different animal than in countries that are not not known for their freedoms.

    Please, all of you, take a moment to read the background material at and if you are so inclined, take the various steps outlined to show your disapproval of the proposed legislation.

    I commend the initiative to you.

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    Fri, 13 Mar 2009

    root@canonical:~# adduser hugh

    I've been fortunate to have a nice break, plenty of time to consider options and recharge batteries. Even got some embedded hardware and software design done, more on that presently. But now it's time to get back to work...

    Monday (16/3/9) will be my first day at Canonical, I'm going to be working as part of Pete Graner's kernel group growing Canonical's engineering presence in Asia Pacific. We're fortunate to have a number of hardware partner in the region and want to be better placed to work with them.

    I'm quite excited about the new gig, will mean a bit of travel which can be a mixed blessing, but on the upside working with a great team, both folk that are new to me and some old friends too :)

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    Fri, 30 Jan 2009 2009

    Was fortunate enough to attend again this year and it remains my favourite Free Software centric event. For me it's a great mix of technical and social happenings - as I joked to a couple of folk it's good that we have such events or we'd never get the whole family together!

    All involved did a great job, the organisers having made nice tweaks to what has become quite a well established and successful formula. I particularly appreciated the availability of decent espresso in the main conference venue :)

    During the miniconfs I alternated between the Kernel, Business/Legal and Free as in Freedom tracks and found some good food for thought in both. That as a community we are attracting talented people from disciplines outside Computer Science/Engineering to our ranks is a great thing.

    Thursday right after lunch I co-presented a session with Jon Oxer on hardware hacking with the Arduino. It seemed to go over pretty well though we both noted things we'd do differently next time. It was the first time I'd worked with Jon on a session and it was a delight to work with him - sharp guy and boundless ideas.

    Thursday afternoon I presented "Tricks of the Trade: Learning Free Software Hacking from Clever People" - a session based on what I'd learned from working with smart folk in the community and the guys at OzLabs. I'd presented similar sessions in the past which had gone very well but this time around it didn't quite flow as I'd have liked. Not helped it seemed by me forgetting not to mumble and some connectivity issues that hosed a couple of the planned demos. Have some thoughts on how to re-work should I do it again though - we live and learn :)

    Friday morning was humbling for me - Linux Australia announced the Community Recognition Awards at Janet Hawtin and Alli Russell received awards for their work in the community in Graphics Design and Speaker Liaison for LCA respectively, thoroughly deserved both.

    I was completely caught by surprise when it was announced that I was the third recipient, the endorsement reading "For helping build and maintain the Linux Australia and IBM relationship in support of over the past 10 years"

    I've been fortunate enough to be involved one way or another with CALU/LCA since it's inception. Over the years I've been an attendee, speaker, general volunteer, company representative and occasional sounding board for the organisers and have been delighted to have had such a broad involvement in an event I enjoy so much.

    Guess I just saw it as doing my bit but to have it recognised by my friends and colleagues in the community just blew me away. I don't think I managed to string anything terribly coherent together at the time so will re-iterate my thanks here :)

    Chris was kind enough to send a photo.

    Last but by no means least, props for Arjen, Paul et. al. for taking the initiative to setup and distributing stickers for same at the conf.

    See you all Wellington :)

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    Thu, 04 Dec 2008

    Bye Bye Big Blue

    After nearly eight years at IBM, I finished up with the Linux Technology Centre last Friday (28/11).

    What's next ? Some time off for school holidays with my family then will see what the new year brings - it'll be OSS/Linux related though on current plans :)

    Deciding to leave is one of the hardest decisions I've made, IBM was a great gig and provided the opportunity to work with some astonishingly bright folk both within IBM and in the broader Open Source community. It was also the source of many happy memories and I'm pleased to have left on a good note.

    The nice thing about OSS work though is that I still get to interact with many of the same people just from a different standpoint, so this is more the end of a chapter than the end of the story. In some respects this made it easier to decide to go, but I'll miss the office banter :)

    2008 has also proven to be a tumultuous year personally and this weighed in the decision making. So all considered, some time off is sounding good...

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    Tue, 10 Jun 2008


    Our "prototype" is no longer a prototype - it has a name, a photo and somewhere to get one :)

    Big thanks to everyone who has worked on this so tirelessly - all the good oil is here.

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    Mon, 31 Mar 2008

    A little rant

    So courtesy of a failed firmware flash we need to access some debugging pins on a bit of hardware here. Initial prognosis was that it's a dual in line 60 way connector - two rows of 30 pins, 2mm pin spacing. Unusual, but not that odd - laptop ATA drives are 2mm spacing for example.

    However, have now just realised that while the row spacing is 2mm, the "column" pitch is 0.1" (2.54mm) which makes it a very odd animal indeed. Thankfully we only need two signals plus ground off this puppy so can stick some wires in to get at them, but, sheesh, why mix standards!

    Ok, I'm better now, thanks for listening.

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    Mon, 28 Jan 2008 Day 0 & 1

    Arrived in Melbourne Sunday afternoon for in time to see Rusty and Kelly do their Newcomers to lca session. Really worthwhile - I dunno why we didn't think to do it earlier. The group of 50 or so then retired to a nearby bar where Rusty kindly bought a round of beers (no, really!) to kick things off

    Bumped into some familar faces which was nice but also met some new ones including Johann who had come from Iceland to attend the conference. Ended up having dinner with him, Chris, Matt and a few other folk - most agreeable.

    Monday wandered up to the rego area to get a few things organised - we'd sent a couple of POWER6 boxes down for the guys to use for video transcoding. Unfortunately after much poking around we had to conclude one of them had been trashed in transit as it wouldn't go past the first level of initialisation before the management console said no dice. Service call placed...

    Sat in on a bit of the Wireless Mini-conf sessions, few interesting things there, then spent the rest of the day remonstrating with the broken server and chatting with people - the latter was lovely :)

    Took off from the conference late afternoon to meet up with Debbie, friend of the family that stayed with us for a while and is now living down here. Pretty much Rachael's de-facto older sister. Was great to catch up with Deb and hear how well things are going.

    Dinner was noteworthy - Deb's a vegetarian so we went to the Vegetarian Nirvana Cafe in Richmond (Stop 21 on Tramline 75 IIRC) We ordered Samosas for entree, Shari Paneer, Navaratan Kofta, Garlic Rofi Chanai and Basmati Rice for mains then finished up with Gulab Jamun and Halava for dessert. It was one of the most delicious meals I have ever had. Indian cuisine, friendly service and I-am-speechless, wonderful wonderful flavours! Go there before you leave Melbourne.

    Been nice to be back in Melbourne, I'd forgotten just how nice it is down here, much more my cup of tea than Sydney if I were to choose big cities.

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    Sat, 29 Sep 2007

    Press for our Prototype

    A press release for our machine just went up on to coincide with the developer conference in Austin this week.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Willoughby Photography :)

    Brian, Nathan, Ian, Dave, Kaveh and a cast of many put in some hard graft to have the machine ready - the box they demoed was one of the production prototypes so is very close to what will be available. Other thing that is nice is it's using an open source driver for the XGI card, only the card init is done through x86 emulation code running in the bootloader.

    Thanks to the folk that wrote after my earlier post, will be staying in touch as we get closer to availability.

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    Mon, 24 Sep 2007

    Cheap Embedded Ethernet

    I'm always interested in cheap ways of getting small embedded devices onto an Ethernet network. For some time now the cheapest options seemed to have bottomed out at the USD$40 mark (chip + magnetics + PCB ready to go) or so. Still not quite at the point where you'd sprinkle a dozen around the place and not think twice about it.

    An article in this month's Circuit Cellar magazine about the WIZnet devices caught my eye. The chips in question are about USD$4 or you can get various eval boards starting from USD$12 for chip + magnetics + PCB. This is low volume pricing - one to ten pieces!

    A quick dig through the data sheet of the part in question (iEthernet W5100) yielded the following;

    • SPI and MCU Bus interface options
    • Integrated 10/100 Ethernet MAC and PHY
    • Inbuilt TCP/IP stack
    • Onboard RAM for TX/RX buffers or "Socket" buffers

    From an API standpoint you basically get a set of memory addressable registers where you set things like MAC address, IP address, Netmask and Gateway etc. Another part of the register space lets you configure the "Socket" mode where you can set the chip up to run as a TCP Client or Server. When a connection comes in you get an interrupt and take things from there.

    On an initial read through they really do seem to have done the heavy lifting so you can read/write bytes from a socket (or UDP) connection as trivially as you would a simple UART.

    Have added one of their boards to my "Buy and poke at" list, will write up what I discover once I get started on it. Must admit to a couple of other things needing sorting first tho, so feel free to beat me to it... :)

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    Sun, 05 Aug 2007

    One of our prototypes is missing

    Finally catching up on things so a few words about OLS this year. A highlight for me was a BoF we ran for Linux on POWER - we had Freescale, PASemi, Terrasoft Solutions and Sony there in force along with our own little display.

    Our own little display ended up being a bit of a story in it's own right. For some time now I've been working with some colleagues to get a viable, low cost PowerPC developer workstation out, kinda filling the gap left by Apple's move to Intel.

    Thursday night was to be our big debut but, alas, we were thwarted and our machine spent the evening of the BoF in the no doubt salubrious surrounds of a bonded warehouse at Toronto airport. Improvisation was the key so an appropriately labelled cardboard box was pressed into service...

    Happily the next day it made it to Ottawa and the OLS guys kindly let us show it off anyway.

    Thanks to Brian Cwikla for these photos, RGB has a few up from the BoF here as well.

    So the long and short of the box is that it's a four way PPC970MP design (that's two chips, two cores per chip) clocked at 2.5GHz with a coupla gigs of 667MHz DDR2 RAM, Hard disk, XGI XP-10 Graphics (Open source drivers - suweeet!) which we plan on having out toward the end of the year. We expect it to be quiet enough to be able to sit under your desk without driving you nuts. I want one myself and I hate noisy machines so I'm kinda pushing this angle :)

    We're still finalising how we will get them out into the market since it's a limited production run, but we're aiming to have them on people's doorsteps at a hacker friendly price. FWIW you can send me an email and I'll make sure you get updates.

    The BoF was lots of fun and to my thinking the rest of OLS was as good as ever, great technical content and always nice to catchup with friends in the community too.

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    Mon, 21 May 2007

    And Lo, he was named Drake

    We've been contemplating getting another cat, a companion for our Tortoiseshell, Duck, for some time now. We found a delightful kitten at the RSPCA on Sunday which we brought home, bringing with it the heady responsibility of selecting a name.

    I happened to mention this most serious of decisions over lunch today and the ever practical mpe gave us the obvious solution - "Drake".

    And that was that :)

    Duck, if you're curious, was named by Rachael after a childrens book she was reading at the time, "Duckcat". The storyline revolves around a Duck that thinks it's a Cat...

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    Tue, 12 Sep 2006

    To Boldly Go

    To his considerable credit, I think Chris is the first person I know personally that's actually got Asterisk up and going. I wonder if he gives lessons... :)

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    Mon, 21 Aug 2006

    Beamer the heir to the Magicpoint throne ?

    I'd pretty much always used Magicpoint for any presentations I've needed to do. Always liked the simplicity of the file format and the ability to separate, at least to a large extent, content from presentation. What wasn't so pleasant was occassionally having to fiddle with X11 fonts and the fairly crude output if you generated postscript or PDF.

    I've been doing more and more stuff in LaTeX of late and so cast around for a way to use it for presentations as well, having seen a couple of my lecturers at Uni doing so. While the style sheets they used worked pretty well they were a bit hard to customise - I'm by no means a LaTeX guru. Enter Beamer

    Beamer provides an amazing degree of flexibility, indeed with care you seem to be able to use the same source file to spit out your thesis, the slide show for your work as well as your speaker notes. For screen based presentations (usually rendered as PDF files) it can do transitions and all sorts of funky stuff - not things I use personally but I guess if you're into eye candy it's covered. Even though it's very flexible it's dead easy to get going - the hello world equivalent runs to 20 lines and is mostly content rather than setup.

    The documentation is excellent and includes a bunch of examples to help you get going. Well worthy of your time to take a look :)

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    Thu, 03 Aug 2006


    Did some nice rides while in Austin and in Ottawa, will put up a little bit of information about them when time permits including some GPS logs. Had a good time at OLS too which I planned to write about, but at this rate that might be Christmas so will let the photos tell the stories for now.

    Starting here shots enroute to and riding around in Austin. Then Ottawa including riding up a big hill with setuid and then the post OLS hacker bike ride

    Some other shots from OLS including of course the post conference party at the Black Thorn.

    Nice to be home, but don't need a photo to show that :)

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    Sat, 01 Jul 2006

    Germany v Argentina / The Kindness of Strangers

    Yesterday afternoon I headed to the local Biergarten as there was a footy match on that the locals seemed pretty keen on.

    Found a (relatively) quiet place to stand to enjoy a Wiezenbier and watch the game unfold. The atmosphere was amazing, very boisterous but not at all threatening.

    Argentina of course scored first whereupon things went very quiet indeed. Germanys reply in the 80th minute sent the place into an uproar bettered only by the elation when they prevailed in the penalty shootout. Along the way got chatting with a couple of people nearby who kindly explained a couple of the nuances of the game when it came down to penalties and extra time.

    After the match I went outside with everyone else and watched people disperse, much tooting of car horns and waving of flags. Got chatting with Ralf who I'd spoken to inside and he in turn introduced me to Rebecca and her partner Jürgen. They very kindly invited me to come with them to a street party in the next town, Schönaich.

    The party was just great - couple of the streets in the village were closed to traffic, stalls set up selling food and beer and a stage for entertainment. Had a pretty decent covers band playing most of the evening, covered everything from Santana to Jethro Tull. We were joined by another friend of theirs, Torsten and a thoroughly enjoyable evening ensued solving the worlds problems over a beer or two and savouring the day's victory.

    I think the thing I was most taken by was the simple kindness and welcome I received as a complete stranger to the area and just how civilised the whole evening was. This care extended through to Jürgen & Rebecca arranging a taxi to get me back to Böblingen rather than me having to rely on phrasebook German to do so.

    Thanks guys, hope we get to do it again one day :)

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    Sun, 28 May 2006


    Was in Tokyo for work last week and was able to catch up with some friends based there ahead of things kicking off on Monday.

    On the Saturday spent a thoroughly enjoyable few hours with Stuart, a friend of ours that is doing Japanese language studies there for six months or so. We took a trip to Akihabara and had a good geek out looking around. I was particularly impressed by Stu's faculties with Japanese - effortlessly ordering us up some nice Udon for lunch while texting a friend in Kanji on his mobile phone.

    Akihabara has changed a little since I was last there (c.2002), couple of new buildings and a few less of the tiny hole in the wall places that I personally prefer. These latter are just amazing for anyone of a hardware hacking sort of background. By turns a great array of surplus/second hand odds and ends, just right for that next project, mixed with shops selling a tremendous array of small hand tools, test equipment and new components.

    In the evening Ben, Arnd and I met up with Raster and Horms for a little sightseeing and food. We had a good wander around before having things cut short by a rain storm. Fortunately our guides were able to find us shelter in a nearby yakitori place which (obviously) sold beer and nibblies which allowed us to while away a couple of hours most comfortably.

    Eventually the rain gave up and we went down to the Ginza district which was a bit of a eye opener - almost brighter by night than by day courtesy of the many signs and large LED screens around the place. Certainly gives Times Square in New York a good run for its money.

    Went to a great place for dinner, it's good to the point where I want to write up how to get there etc. so that will have to follow presently. A really nice evening and great to be able to catch up with Horms and Raster IRL for a change.

    Sunday hooked up with one of our hosts in the morning and he led us on a tour through Akihabara (as you'd have gathered, I don't mind repeat visits to the area at all) he kindly helped me bridge the language barrier and buy a couple of specific things. That afternoon I caught up with a mate of mine from IBM who's there on assignment - we only chat a few times a year but it's always a pleasure when we do.

    Remainder of the week was throughly enjoyable both professionally and socially, our hosts were very gracious in taking care of us and the various technical discussions productive as well.

    Did a final run out to Akihabara in the afternoon before we flew out and picked up an assortment of PIC microcontrollers and some neat little QFP probes made by Sunhayato. These latter are a particularly neat little tool as you can clip onto lead pitches down to 0.5mm which means you can get at most SMT parts in a hands free manner. The former are bound to come in handy at some point :)

    A good trip, my only regret is that I don't get to Japan more often as its one of the more consistently enjoyable places I travel to.

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    Sun, 07 May 2006


    ...came up when several weeks of phone/SMS/email tag drew to a pleasing conclusion this weekend.

    [art]baghdad is the name of a Sydney based photographers collective set up by Dave and Colin (mentioned previously) and a few like minded friends.

    Some fantastic images in there, and for those of you in Sydney, they run exhibitions now and then. Worth a look and, yes, work safe :)

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    Sat, 01 Apr 2006

    April Fool ?

    Not sure whether to laugh or cry having seen this mentioned in Chris' blog. Despite the timing seems to be the real thing.

    Think I need some tea and perhaps a little lie down.

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    Fri, 27 Jan 2006

    Next Wednesday...

    Next Wednesday I move back into a technical role with OzLabs and Martin takes over managing the team. I'm delighted, not, I hasten to add, because I dislike management, but simply because I've missed doing technical stuff.

    For the last six years I've had the privilege of managing the OzLabs team. First the group that made up the Australian arm of Linuxcare then for the last five years our broader team at IBM that includes some very capable folk in the US. It's been great, indeed it has proven to be without a doubt the most rewarding period of my career.

    So why change then ? Well, as I note above I simply miss doing technical things. Our group does some seriously cool things, much of which ironically we often can't talk about. I figured rather than continue to live somewhat vicariously through what the guys were doing it'd be interesting to get back "on the tools" myself.

    Martin had expressed some interest in people management and would clearly fill such a role very capably, so it kinda went from there. I should make it clear that I spent a lot of time saying things like "It's too late for me, save yourself!" but he remained both undaunted and quite keen.

    Management in the Linux Technology Centre and IBM Australia have been enormously supportive so it's really made the whole thing a no-brainer. I still get to work with the same fantastic group of people and only have to move my stuff about four desks to the south :)

    The new role is sounding quite fun, will be a mixture of planning/strategic sort of work as well as a decent amount of coding. Also get to keep working on my masters course which ought to finish up at the end of this year. Even the scope to keep studying beyond that, but figure I'll see how December 2006 looks.

    So, next Wednesday starts another chapter, one that promises to be at least as rewarding as the one draws to a close.

    Wonder how long it will take for the pointy bits in my hair to disappear ?

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    Thu, 13 Oct 2005

    Cruise Ship Australia

    bje pointed out this piece by David Williamson. Long, but thought provoking. Definitely worth a read.

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    Sat, 01 Oct 2005

    Time off

    Coming towards the end of the first week of a few weeks leave. Been nice to have a break, miss the guys a bit but has been cool to have family time.

    Had a nice evening tonight catching up with old friends, as always left thinking that really must do this more often. These guys I've known since my teens so there's a lot of capacity for "remember when..." which is kinda fun.

    Tomorrow will be out to Chris & Fiona's place for lunch and a spot of 802.11 hacking, of which more to follow...

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    Tue, 13 Sep 2005

    Sporting clubs are the McDonalds for Adults

    I hate to miss a trend and besides, I tend to agree... :)

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    Sat, 10 Sep 2005

    On a lighter note

    Courtesy of The Register. Doing a google search on "failure" provides an amusing 1st result at present...

    And in a similar vein from the same story (and on JWZ's blog I think, but couldn't find the link.)

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    Tue, 30 Aug 2005

    The Daily Spam

    in 1817 in 1843 cat Houses
    Magazines Erika may hit

    I'm sure this means something, or maybe it's just my brain is exploding.

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    Thu, 18 Aug 2005

    More on food reviews

    Both Lu and Mel pointed out that Mel already has a great site up with restaurant reviews, focus is on vegetarian cuisine.

    Not sure but I think I owe Mel dinner to avoid a patent infringement claim or some such judging by her email... :)

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    Tue, 16 Aug 2005

    Food Reviews

    Came to the realisation that I was avoiding blogging anything simply because I was daunted by the prospect of having to cover all the intervening news. Rather foolish in hindsight, not as if there was an undertaking to provide a daily missive. Not as if there's been that much exciting either come to that :)

    Nice to be home though, rest of trip was fun, back into study at Uni which is hard work.

    Anyway... I'd been meaning to start a part of my blog devoted to good places to eat and so do so for your amusement and/or (hopefully) gastronomic pleasure.

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    Wed, 20 Jul 2005

    For Chris

    .- .-.. .-.. / .-- . .-.. .-.. / .... . .-. . / -.-. / ..- / --. ..- -.-- ... / ... --- --- -. / ...- -.-- / --... ...-- / -.. . / .- -.. ..... .-. ...- / -.- -.-

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    Fri, 15 Jul 2005

    What's all this in aid of ?

    Work side of things over last few weeks (the reason I'm travelling) has been going very well. Nature of most of it is such it's not really appropriate to discuss in any detail, but will note that it's been great to be able to catch up with colleagues and visit the various labs where the guys work.

    One geeky highlight was visiting the East Fishkill facility which is where IBM has its 300mm fab plant. One of the guys we work with, Frank, kindly showed me around the fab and some of their test facilities. Very very cool stuff, can't go into detail, but cool.

    Next week I head up to Ottawa for OLS which has a great program this year. Will be great to catch up with people too :)

    So that's what I'm really doing here, despite the prevalance of blog entries about bicycles and so forth...

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    Mon, 27 Jun 2005


    On Saturday I had the good fortune to attend LinuxTag in Karlsruhe. Saturday is when most of the OSS/technical presentations are held, I was particuarly keen to see Arnd's presentation on the Cell processor and it didn't dissapoint.

    After some minor travails in getting there I arrived at the conference a little after lunch and got my registration organised. The event is held in two of the halls of the Karlsruhe Exhibition Centre. One hall is mostly trade show / corporate style booths with some OSS projects that receive free floor space. The second hall has the usual laptop/networking area along with areas for other OSS projects and LUGs.

    The conference had a great feel about it - reminded me a lot of OLS/LCA in that respect - lots of folk hanging about, hacking, chatting etc. Presentations covered a wide range of topics and seem well received.

    Standout for me, and, judging by the number of people who listened, for most of the attendees was Arnd's presentation on the Cell processor. As you'd know, this is the chip that Sony announced would be used in the Playstation 3. Arnd and the Boblingen team have done some great work to get Linux and the toolchain up and running on this unique chip - gonna be cool to see how it goes!

    Took a few pictures at LinuxTag too - starting here. There's some shots of the prototype Cell systems too for those with a hardware bent.

    Quote of the day surely goes to Arnd - I gave him a lift back to Boblingen from the conference. I was lamenting the fact that the rental car had satnav but no cruise control. "Cruise control isn't so useful here - you have autobahns, and you have brakes." Quite :)

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    Sun, 26 Jun 2005


    Left home on Friday 24th at around 11am, got to my hotel room here in Sindelfingen, Germany at 10am local, some 31 hours later. One of the more anticipated showers I've taken for a while :)

    Air portion of trip was uneventful if a bit hurried to start with due to a late departure from Canberra. Rather than having a couple of hours to kill in Sydney as I'd expected, had to run flat chat from transfer lounge to gate. Was thankful for having got my fitness levels to the point where this didn't add a coronary to the days achivements.

    Had a delightful fellow passenger for the Sydney to Singapore leg - she worked for Cisco and was taking a well earned coupla weeks off from what sounded like an enjoyable, if full on gig. It's amazing how much quicker a trip goes if you've good company :) Downside of such pleasant company of course was that it made me miss my girls that much more :|

    Managed some sleep before arriving in Frankfurt, immigration and customs uneventful before picking up a rental car. The latter required a bit of negotiating to get a vehicle with navigation as I'd requested, hey ho. Quite unable to work out how to switch it to English I still managed to get my destination loaded and off to Boblingen/Sindefingen I went.

    This was my first experience driving on Autobahns - pretty impressive roads to put it mildly. With the odd (very well signposted) exception they are very smooth and clearly designed to high speed driving. I was puttering along in the far right lane with the other slow people at 100-120km/h while the fast lanes saw various bits of exotic and not so exotic machinery whiz past at 50-100km/h faster. Don't drift into the left lane...

    Arrived at the hotel, much anticipated shower then got organised to drive over to Karlsruhe to checkout Linuxtag, on which more presently. Did manage to get the satnav into English only to find it wouldn't calculate a route to the conference centre anyway. The autobahns are very well signposted so decided to wing it and got there just fine.

    Having returned from the conference slept very well indeed, a long, but enjoyable haul.

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    Mon, 30 May 2005

    Busy Busy Busy

    Have had a very busy, though largely enjoyable few weeks. Assignments for Uni, various goings on at work and life in general have allowed little time for blogging or anything much else actually. Indeed I hadn't realised it had been so long between blog updates until Chubb made a passing comment to that effect when we dropped in at the shop on the weekend.

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    Wed, 04 May 2005

    LCA Wrapup

    To the credit of the many volunteers involved, this year's LCA built on the successes of years past with a smoothly run, and fun event. I've been fortunate enough to attend the event each year since it started as CALU and it really has gone from strength to strength. The quality of the presentations was very good and as always was nice just to catch up with friends from the community. Looking forward to 2006 in Dunedin, NZ

    Have got the photos mostly organised, here are a few links to get you started. If you're in one of the shots and I've not identified you, or, worse, have identified you incorrectly please let me know :)

    As noted above, corrections to captions welcome

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    Thu, 28 Apr 2005

    Blog Delinquency & Big Airplanes

    Bunch of stuff to write about from last week's LCA which I'll get back to once have got photos sorted and collected thoughts a bit more. Summary - went off very very well, credit to all involved.

    Big news, literally and metaphorically this morning was the maiden flight of the Airbus A380, reported here amongst many other places. Hope to get the opportunity to fly on a 380 one day, an impressive bit of aeronautical engineering to put it mildly.

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    Mon, 11 Apr 2005

    So much to blog, so little time

    An extraordinarily busy two weeks, some high points (which I'll touch on) and some low points (which I won't bore you with)

    Had a group assignment due in for COMP6311 which was intersting, albiet a lot of work. Was in a good group - four of us in total, Tony Breeds (of LCA fame), Aaron, who I started studies with last year and Puthick that we met in the first tutorial. While we all contributed, Tony and Puthick in particular really pulled it out of the hat I reckon. Good to have that handed in and behind us.

    Have an assignment due on Wednesday for COMP6464 which is pretty cool. We're doing a molecular dynamics simulation using Visual Python to do the 3D visualisation. The first pass was entirely written in Python, we've now had to re-write the computation side of it in C and call from the Python code. This turns out to be remarkably painless, must say I'm getting to quite like Python.

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    Thu, 31 Mar 2005


    Been quite a week, utterly exhausted but end of the day today saw some light at the end of the tunnel.

    Meant to comment earlier that Mikal had put the talk on Blosxom up that I mentioned previously.

    During the talk Mikal mentioned a neat little RSS aggregator called Liferea that I can commend to you - very nice way of staying in touch with what's going on, including tapping in to RSS feeds of such founts of knowledge and wisdom as Slashdot.

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    Sun, 27 Mar 2005


    This, from the St Petersburg Times by way of Boing Boing left me pretty flabbergasted. We are truly losing our way folks... :|

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    Fri, 25 Mar 2005

    National Folk Festival

    After having a great Saturday there last year, am going to spend much of the Easter weekend at the National Folk Festival held here in Canberra. Has a really nice feel to, very relaxed, good food and beer, good music and company. What more could one ask for ?

    If you've not been before I can recommend the Spooky Men's Chorale - one of their more memorable songs kicking off with

    We are the Spooky Men
    We dream of Mastodons
    Practice mysterious handshakes
    and we can grow beards...
    if we want to

    ...very serious stuff :)

    Enda Kenny is worth a listen too, not sure if he'll be there this year or not. His material isn't quite as tongue in cheek as the Spookymen - more traditional folk. I picked up his "Cloud Lining" album last year and is still a favourite. "Sorry Little Man" is a bit of a shot at our, ahem, "Honourable" Prime Minister, "Al Saunders Garage" is just a really cool story.

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    Pleasant evening at CLUG last night. After too many months of not being able to make it due to travel or family commitments was good to get along.

    Mikal gave an interesting talk on Blosxom, along the way answering a couple of niggling questions I'd had about it. Was encouraged to hear that I wasn't completely off track in not having found a way to implicitly set dates for posts, rather making use of touch -t 200503232359 (filename) schenanigans when I wanted to have a post appear on a particular date.

    Mikal gave a very good summary of plugins too, something I'd not really got my head around so you may see a few more bells and whistles appearing on my site :) Hopefully he'll put the slides up on his website, or may have already and I've not looked hard enough.

    Afterwards we had the customary pizza and a good natter, nice to renew friendships and hear what people were up to :)

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    Sun, 20 Mar 2005

    Taking a break, Bandwidth

    Am taking advantage of the proxmity of Canberra Day and Easter to take a ten day break. Mostly pottering and going to Uni I suspect, have a few hacking type things I want to do. Got off to a good start yesterday with a bit of tinkering with a 500m 802.11 link - more to follow :)

    Can't resist commenting on Stephen's comments here where he discusses the bandwidth of a USB memory stick carried on a mountain bike. This, as he points out, being a reference to Tanenbaums remark about station wagons and nine track tapes. Stephen is one of the fittest riders I know - we recently discussed average speeds and we concluded he'd be averaging around 30-35km/h where I'm currently only managing a leisurely 20km/h or so... Gives me something to aim for tho :)

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