Lexifabricographer - Where good concepts go to die
Words that go together, although not necessarily terribly well
Sometimes I like to pretend to be other, better people
Stands for Play By Mail, or possibly Postal Brutality Mongers
Yes, of course I have one. Doesn't mean I'm not prepared to trade for yours, though.
This is where the bodies are buried
Talk to me
Get me the hell out of here!


Monday, January 31, 2005

If for some reason…

You’ve been trying to call the house over the weekend, you may have been perplexed by our non-responsiveness. This has nothing to do with completed immersion in World of Warcraft – far from it. In fact the phone line suddenly stopped working on Friday evening and hasn’t come back all weekend. We’ve been completely unable to make a connection, or even get a dial tone, and calls made to the phone ring and ring until they’re too rung out to bother any longer.

Complaints were duly lodged with the proper authorities, and while we might have muttered petulantly about our severed links to Azeroth, there was no choice but to settle down to a traditional weekend of real face to face human interaction, damn it.

The penny dropped this morning when I got to work to learn that a permanent ADSL broadband connection had been established to our home some time on Friday night. This had the hilarious result of making the phone connection fuzzy and unusable, for one cannot operate analog and ADSL devices concurrently on a phone line without the intervention of a marvellous little filtering device. This handy little gadget separates the two bundles of frequencies used by the two types of devices so that they don’t muddy each other’s signals. (You may perceive, even through this dumbed-down explanation, that I’ve been doing some research and appear to have learned some basic principles of telephonic engineering).

Unhandily, the gadget in question, ordered as part of said broadband deal, must necessarily come to me through the wholly physical medium of a courier service from Sydney. This does not, except as strictly usurious rates, happen on weekends. I think you can see where this is going…

Hopefully when I get home today there will be a parcel waiting, or at least a note telling me where the parcel can be collected, after which I can apply said device to the wall socket or wherever and restore the natural flow of information to and from my home.

And then I can hook up the wireless router to the various PCs about the place, attach a drip to keep me sustained, and once again restore myself to a near-constant state of online gaming bliss.


Cricket

I haven’t done a lot of mentioning of this summer’s outdoor cricket season because I have played so very badly that it is difficult to express it in words that don’t sound precisely like “I suck”. That all changed yesterday, not-altogether-ironically with my last game of the season, when I passed a number of fairly elementary milestones that had heretofore eluded me all season:

  1. I didn’t get out for a duck. While I have never provided more than a brief flourish of entertainment with the bat, in the past I have been reliably good for at least a couple of runs before I sky something I should have blocked, or fail to block something I should have blocked, or whatever. Yesterday I finally got my first runs off the bat, achieving a reasonably respectable 9 (and participating in two partnerships worth a total of 50 runs – I’m very good down the other end from a decent batsman…)

  2. I got a boundary. I’m not quite sure how, but I managed to clobber (there’s no other word for the artless crossbat slog in question) a boundary straight back over the head of the exasperated bowler. Poor sod was probably rightfully wondering how I managed to get it at all after stepping so far away from my stumps, let alone middling it for four.

  3. I didn’t get out. Normally the other thing I can be relied upon is to lose my wicket, usually doing something elementary. This time, all the batting coaching which my colleagues have thanklessly attempted to drill into me at training this year actually sunk in. I defended good balls, swatted bad balls, and didn’t offer any chances (there two very high hits which would have been sitters for better placed fielders, but they were significantly elsewhere).

  4. I took a catch. It was a pretty good one, too, crossing to my left from deep mid on. The sort of thing that’s bread and butter at training, but which is all-too-easy to bungle in a real game. Our team’s turned dropping sitters into a real art form this season, so I was glad not to perpetuate the tradition.

We also won by a hundred runs, which was nice. We’ve lost three out of five, though, so even if we win the next match – which I will be away in Perth so will miss – I don’t think we’ll make the finals. Ah well. At least (for me) it was a good finish to the season.


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Friday, January 28, 2005

Oh dear lord no

It has taken nearly two weeks for me to notice that the logical – if utterly abhorrent – theme song for my tauren (bull minotaur) hunter (carries a blunderbuss with which he shoots everything he sees) is Dana Lyons’ addictive novelty dirge Cows with Guns.

Khaaaaannnnnn!

On the plus side, the ironic image of a gun-wielding bull blowing away wave after wave of human marauders for stealin’ his lands and killin’ his kin is kind of amusing...


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Post-Invasion Day Blues

The traditional Triple J Hottest 100 party on Wednesday was accompanied by the traditional bloody hot weather and too much beer too early. Nobody seemed to have much enthusiasm for overt celebration, just low key beer consumption and trying to make oneself heard over the slightly-too-loud radio. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the outcome this year – victory by an unprecedented margin for Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out - was in so little doubt, or perhaps the fact that of everyone there, Fiona and I may actually have been the only remaining regulars JJJ listeners (we set the Breakfast Show as our alarm clock).

Eh. Whatever. At the end, there was more bad karaoke, thanks to Simon’s insidious Playstation attachment (which includes as its only recent track the aforementioned Franz Ferdinand hit). Dancing pants were worn, by and large, however they were not employed usefully. I don’t think this year’s crop of music was particularly dance-inspiring either, but never mind.

Now, two days later, I am sore and tired, seemingly without justification.


More news from Azeroth

Vasharda, my tauren hunter, has been stuck in a grind for the past few days, constantly running into situations too tough for him (or at least beyond the limits of my l333t sK1llz, as the young people are saying). I was beginning to tire of it and look into an alternate character, but (very late) last night I finally knocked off a quest that had been bugging me, thanks to the timely arrival of another player on the same quest – together we formed a mighty team of clam-and-centaur killers. Don’t ask…

To me there are two chief attractions to this game, apart from its slick look and newbie-friendly gameplay. The first is the sheer fun of temporarily ganging up with a bunch of complete strangers to put the hurt on some troublesome monsters that your solo character could never manage by themselves, in between which is generally crammed some cheerful bragging and amusing banter – and dancing, on occasions. The other is the changeability of the game environment – the last time I logged in, I was grinding away endlessly on a barren plain, slaughtering beasts vaguely resembling velociraptors, moas and zebras and skinning them for my collection of hides; now I’m infiltrating a human-occupied fortress to hunt for a murderous gunnery sergeant (or something) and spying on a vast army of pirates. Sure, it all still mostly revolves around slaughtering the Enemy and taking their stuff, but the scenery, my motivations and the general capabilities of the monsters in question keep things interesting.

The next big challenge is to head into a dungeon, which generally requires a party of at least five. Since I don’t know anyone in real life who plays on this server (Cenarion Circle) – except for Simon and Jimbo, who are using my account and with whom I can therefore not play simultaneously until we get a broadband connection and two more copies of the game – this means I have to team up with strangers and hope they know what they’re doing. That should be…interesting…


Rearranging the deckchairs

So in the wake of various taskforces created to help coordinate with the tsunami relief efforts, work has once again shuffled a variety of Branch Heads and Directors into new jobs. So the new Branch Head who was appointed just before Christmas, for whom we have been delighted to work, has been shoved sideways into a job she doesn’t want, to make way for a replacement with whom we have no desire to work. Given that I’ve just agreed to stay in my position for the next six months on the basis that we’d finally have a stable leader who understands the job and has even the faintest commitment to the corporate services area (an area held in the most contemptuous regard by the vast majority of my colleagues, because it has No Glamour Value), I am a little miffed. Especially since this will likely be the final nail in the coffin for my two direct supervisors, both of whom are currently considering moves to other areas.

In their likely absence, I am of the assumption that I will be completely without either guidance or support, since they are by far the two most competent (non-technical) people in the branch. That is a pity, because I really don’t think I’m ready to do this one by myself. Sigh.



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Monday, January 24, 2005

Wurk wurk wurk

Surprisingly busy at work as the project heads towards wrapup and the next project starts to take shape. I’m taking a more upfront management role in the next one, which means I don’t get the luxury of blithely sitting back and waiting to be told what to do. This goes against every fibre of my being, but what can you do?

Work-wise, the big news – finally confirmed last week – is that I’m getting an all-too-rare perk trip in a few weeks time. The new application is being deployed to several universities, and I’m providing training to Curtin Uni and the Uni of WA in Perth. I’ll be away for a week. To make it even better, Fi’s trading in her frequent flyer points and coming over to spend the weekend as well (and providing training at the Perth branch of her work, so they’re chipping in some travel allowance, which is a bonus).

Hopefully we’ll get to spend the weekend with Jill, but so far she hasn’t replied to the emails I’ve sent, which makes me wonder whether I have her current address right. If you’re reading this and you’re in regular contact, can you send me her email address or let her know to send one to me? Ta.


Ten days in Azeroth: let me tell you about my character

Okay, so after spending a total of 19 hours over the weekend before last downloading the 50 Mb+ patch for WoW, we finally logged in and started playing. I say ‘we’ because Jimbo and Simon are now as addicted as I am (though they are piloting sitting back while I hog the computer a lot!). I’m playing a tauren (big bull minotaur-looking feeler with clod-hopping cloven hooves) hunter (as in big game, complete with blunderbuss and skinning knives) named Vasharda. I also have a pet wolf named Snarls.

I’d go into more detail, but I don’t want to be boring about it. One thing I will say is that despite the horrid lag induced by the slow dialup connection – which occasionally makes the game unplayable, but only occasionally – this game is utterly wonderful. I really could spend years just wandering around and looking at the scenery, killing monsters and skinning them for their hides and even just fishing (don’t ask). Apart from the engrossing gameplay, it’s just so pretty to look at. Last night, I entered a new area for the first time (leaving the tauren starting-player ‘newbie’ area of Mulgore) and was amazed at the way the scenery seamlessly shifted from rolling hills of bright green fields to desolate, earth-toned badlands, parched and desperate-looking. Like watching The Sound of Music segue into The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, complete with a soundtrack transition from cheerful tribal drum bombast to hollow haunting minor-key neo-Morricone-ism.

So. Very. Cool.

And last night, I took my first flight on the in-game fast-transit system, which looked a bit like this. Words fail me as to how breathtaking this experience actually looks, except to point out that you can swing the camera’s point of view around and look at the landscape zooming past below. You’ll just have to come over and look or get yourself a copy (and then join me on the Cenarion Circle server).


Bikes

Fiona’s been searching for a new motorbike for the past month or so, but the urgency has started to increase over the past couple of weeks, as we get closer to the trip to Queensland at the end of February. We’re going to the WIMA AGM on the Gold Coast, and then spending a couple of extra days using a cheap-holiday voucher in Noosa. Oh yeah, looking forward to soaking up the sun-drenched, gaudy, muggy and ever-so-slightly tacky atmosphere of Noosa.

But back to the bikes: she’s got one main criterium for her Socratic ideal, which is that it is Low Enough. She’s short, and her short legs don’t actually reach all the way to the ground on most bikes, which are fixed at a height of around 80 cm off the ground. So the front runner so far is the Cagiva Raptor, which is low slung and quite sporty. In fact, it has quite a lot of oomph. The problem is that she took one for a test ride, and it had a fierce back-end wobble that made her look like a drunk driver. She had to wrestle it the whole way, all the time looking like she was going to swerve straight into the next lane, lamp or tree. The sales rep at the shop seemed to think there wasn’t anything wrong with it (presumably with the implied position that she was covering for a lack of confidence, competence or testicles) but made vague promises to ‘get the mechanics to look at it’. Whatever, buddy, we weren’t planning to buy an overpriced new bike from you anyway, we just wanted a test ride…

Anyway, in preparation for that trip, I took my first tilt at riding with a pillion passenger last weekend (Fiona). It turned out to be surprisingly easy, though there were a couple of moments when I found the bike responding sluggishly, particularly in the braking. After a faultless morning’s riding around, I almost managed to drop it in our front driveway, but luckily I’m pretty quick at getting my feet positioned to support the weight. Comes of all that time falling over as a teenager, no doubt.

We also went hog-wild with the credit card and finished assembling my collection of riding gear, picking up some new summer gloves, Rossi boots and a pair of Draggin’ jeans (like ordinary jeans of more-than-ordinarily-unfashionable cut, but with Kevlar lining located at strategic points to avoiding major skin-loss in the event of a slide). Not a cheap way to spend the day, but at least I’m kitted up in full safety gear now.

Now to never have a crash again…


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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Thus laden, he went

Alastair’s desperately overloaded car dragged an even more desperately overloaded trailer out the driveway and off to Adelaide this morning. While it remains to be seen whether said vehicle will ever make it to The Promised Land, I don’t think it’s too far from the mark to say that Al will probably be better off out of Canberra. His past few years here, since moving back from Melbourne, have been pretty hard for him, and despite being close to his sisters, the proximity of family hasn’t done much to help move him out of his funk. Nor, admittedly, has he done a lot to help himself, but that’s how depression works, robbing you of the impetus to change your circumstances while dropping constant sadistic reminders that things could be better with just a little effort or luck. I’d like to think that Adelaide will be the turning point that he was hoping Canberra would be.

I also hope there’s enough space at his new place for all his stuff– he’s left several tonnes of boxes behind, and he was still carrying enough to furnish a decent-sized mansion…


And now for Jimbo

I missed the showdown, but apparently Jimbo has won the dubious privilege of moving in with us and taking Al’s vacated room. Kate is no doubt sobbing with disappointment. There’s a pretty good chance that he’ll start jamming some stuff in there (possibly including himself) by Saturday, which I suppose means that we’ll be spending Friday night clearing the detritus and spraying chemical products on everything else.

Unfortunately Fiona can’t bear to live with cats, so it looks like I still will not be reunited with my beloved kitten (now 10+ years old, I guess) Printy and her vile monster-sib Manson. I will miss out on her delightfully cute drool attacks and concrete writhing, but also his frequent infections and tactical urination. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.


Mieville

There’s an Australian collaborative blog site called Crooked Timber, the defining theme of which I have never been able to precisely determine; sometimes literary, often political and generally social issues seem to crop up for discussion, which makes for a pleasantly eclectic collection of largely left-wing views suited to my preferred stance as a committed casual browser of Stuff. Of interest however to you, Dear Reader, or you, Jimbo, is this collection of essays on China Mieville’s The Iron Council. I wouldn’t know for sure, because I haven’t read that book, so nor have I read the avowedly spoileriffic essays, but as Mieville provides a response to the essays with one of his own, it’s probably worth at least looking if you’re a fan. And if you’re not, you should start reading Perdido Street Station right now and not stop until you have finished or your eyes have exploded.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Damn technological wasteland

After two calls and another visit to the Telstra shop, I have now determined beyond all doubt that there is no possibility of getting anykind of (Telstra) ADSL link to my house. It is, apparently, too far from the exchange to maintain connection integrity. This information, which was delivered after a quick line check by a young guy whose apologetic shrug was somewhat dampened by his obvious expectation that I was going to lose my shit, came as both surprise and disappointment. I don’t think I was nurturing some delusional hope in expecting that, less than three kilometres from the centre of the national capital, the electrons coursing through my phone line would be sufficiently virile as to carry a few thousand extra bits of signal every second. Even with twenty four hours’ grace to burn off the warm burst of incoherent rage that settled comfortably in my throat and temples as I tried to digest this news, I still don’t believe I was asking too much in expecting to be able to access a reasonably-priced broadband connection of modest performance.

Wow. I got through that whole paragraph without swearing. Albeit only after several edits.

There are several real difficulties arising from this news. Leaving aside the fact that I still really want to play World of Warcraft, a wondrous magical land whose Swirly Portals of Egress are looking increasingly Closed To Me. Even leave aside the fact that I’ve paid for and installed the game (though thankfully I haven’t opened an online account yet, which would now be lying fallow and sucking up monthly fees for no adequate return). First there’s the cost of the immediate alternatives, which are cable broadband - available through a single provider whose pricing structures are byzantine and not especially affordable - and dialup. Bigpond’s dialup service is riddled with spam (filters available for an extra change) and slow. Really slow. I mean, you may think Tarkovsky movies drag a little towards the end, but that’s just peanuts to the dismal connection speeds afforded by Bigpond’s ghastly dialup service. It takes me upwards of forty minutes to download a week’s mail at the moment (95% of which consists of conspicuously unfiltered spam). With my current account, that means I burn up my monthly timed connection limit just checking email, let alone doing anything on the web (and if I do, need I say it, it proceeds at a glacial crawl).

While Fiona’s modem is a creaky old thing limited to 19.2 kBps, I’m pretty sure that an upgrade is not going to help much – the Bigpond connection rarely gets up to such dizzying velocities – so I throw myself on the mercy of those with broader technical horizons. Does anyone have any suggestions that might achieve or even faintly simulate decent online access?


One door closes…and then opens up again to let someone else in

So Alastair’s leaving for Adelaide tomorrow (assuming he receives some sort of divine intervention that helps him finish packing by tonight). But already we’ve been offered the opportunity to fill the void in our lives left by one less person in the house – either Kate (who asked first) or Jimbo (who sort of has the prior claim) might be joining us at Casa del No Fucking Broadband by the end of the month. Or week, who knows? I like to entertain the notion that they are fighting, perhaps with pistols or knives, for the chance to occupy the cramped little closet under the stairs. I suppose in reality they will resolve the issue with polite debate, like little babies, but one habitually tends to entertain such little fantasies when one doesn’t have the fucking internet to distract one, doesn’t one?


Introducing Radioactive Levee

So, there’s this Japanese name generator doing the rounds, and apparently…well, see for yourself:

My japanese name is 川添 Kawazoe (riverside) 大輝 Taiki (large radiance).
Take your real japanese name generator! today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Name Generator Generator.

Hmm. Not so sure about that first part, but the second sounds kind of hardcore. Mind you, I don’t feel all wide and radiant right at the moment, let me tell you.



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Friday, January 07, 2005

That’s the end of year thing done. Now what’s in store for 2005?


Back at work since Wednesday - Monday being a holiday, and Tuesday being a day upon which Fiona and I decided that our lives would be richly enhanced by not going to work but instead inspecting motorcycles, dining well and catching up on DVDs – and am slowly gearing up towards reinstating something resembling a work ethic. This is to say, I’ve just made out a list of all the things I should probably attempt to accomplish before my boss gets back next week. The list is not inconsiderable.

I’ve been asked to stay in the IT Section for ‘the next couple of years’ to manage a small project and the section’s governance. The latter means that I will be managing the budget, improving the record-keeping from its current negative state and ensuring that our reports to the Executive aren’t a source of shame and embarrassment. Not exactly the synopsis of an arresting career, but I give the impression of having an aptitude for it, so there, it appears, I go.


Broadband


My quest to actually play the copy of World of warcraft sitting on my desk continues to suffer setbacks. Having cheerfully selected an extremely good ADSL connection deal offered by TPG.com.au, I was rather bitter to receive an email last week informing me that my house was too far from the telephone exchange for their connection to work. Bugger. But if you’re in the market for cheap and quick broadband and you do happen to live in one of our nation’s larger metropolises, do check out their deals. At the very worst you’ll know for sure whether you live in an technologically-remote neighbourhood...

As for me, it’s looking rather tragically like I’ll have to go with the suboptimal lowest-common-denominality of Telstra BigPond.


One of us. One of us.


Rob has a blog now. Pity him even as you fear for yourselves.

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