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Series of Windows 8 Apps (10/12/2012 07:13:49 PM)

With the Windows 8 store out and experience with Windows Phone 7.5 development, I've submitted some apps to the store recently. Just search the Windows Store on Windows 8 for "Craig Mattson" and you'll see what's been published.

  1. Stamp Duty Australia
  2. Vic Traffic Tracker
  3. Victorian Train Tracker
  4. LAN Party Finder

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Melbourne Train Tracker temporarily unavailable. (18/07/2012 08:20:46 PM)

Hi All,

Melbourne Train Tracker is having it's fair share of delays since Metro released a new version of their website. Since Metro removed their iPhone version of the website (the page on their website with the lowest data requirements), Melbourne Train Tracker is unable to download updates (in fact, if you try to load the application, the message in the Toast Notification bar area will say it was unable to download updates).

There won't be any visible crashes within the application, but the application will show the last set of updates (which is probably from Sunday with the Glen Waverley bus replacement constantly highlighted red). Unfortunately, I'm suspecting some bad reviews flooding in for my application - perhaps this is something I should have looked at peering first and definitely something on the agenda for the next version of the Train Tracker.

The good news though is I was able to quickly remedy the solution by finding an alternative data source that is actually smaller than the original iPhone page - and even includes the time the update was released! (Should be handy for those that do make use of the Live Tile - I sure know it's my favourite way to keep up to date with my train lines!). I've also put a new colour in for the disruptions - yellow indicates a minor delay (I'm hoping the colour should be easy to read, and if not - feel free to hassle me on Twitter or via e-mail!!!) with red to indicate all other delays. Tonight for instance, the Glen Waverley line has all of the information pertaining to Bus Replacements for the next couple of nights coloured red - but earlier today was coloured Mango Orange when a train was only 15 minutes late.

Anyway, I have re-submitted the application this-morning after writing new logic to read the new website for delay data and hopefully that's published very shortly (not sure when updates will hit, but let's hope very soon!!!).

I have not given up on Version 2.0 of the Train Tracker, but I've had a large amount of work on my plate in the last month - at least it's easing up now. I plan on dedicating part of this weekend to fast-tracking the second version which includes Timetable data (which is pretty much clean now), a way to make that data available Offline (something substantially more tricky to manage), find your closest 5 stations and a way to view scheduled runs.

It won't yet have the logic to do any form of Journey Planning (I could write some path writing algorithms, but I'm pretty sure the first generation Windows Phones will absolutely crack the sads - and I'd hope you're planning the journeys before leaving!!!), but perhaps that can be an enhancement for Version 2.1.

So how will it work? At this stage, you simply select the train station you want to get a train from, and it'll list the next two trains and their countdown to when they're supposed to leave (you could flip a coin as to how accurate that will be though ;) - at this stage, I'm not aware of any system I can hook into to extract delay information). It will also list the next 10 departing times as well as an indication of whether it's an express train or not.

I'm actually finding this easier myself to use (for us regular commuters, we pretty much know what station we are going to, we just want to know when the next one is departing - and if there are any delays on that line), but I also understand that there will be plenty of people out there who don't. I'd like to investigate a "Route" option rather than a Journey Planner (for those who are unfamiliar with the public transport network, I would urge to use Metlink's website directly for properly generated maps etc...) that can list the next trains, what time those trains meet up with a station on your map and what time those trains depart from. Not entirely sure yet.

Anyway, enough waffle from me -time to wait for Microsoft to approve the update.

Cheers,
Craig Mattson. 

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Train Tracker Update (04/06/2012 12:30:15 PM)
Hmm... looks like some people aren't happy with the intention of Melbourne Train Tracker for Windows Phone (app here). I'm starting to look at implementing something to the effect. The app doesn't promise Time Tables yet, but happy to investigate! Stay tuned.

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Collection Manager for Windows Phone 7.1 (21/01/2012 08:14:40 AM)

Wow. Just wow. Dusting off the old cobwebs of this website from a platform I coded now 5 years ago. Anyway - just a quick note on this website to say that if you're looking for support for this Application, please feel free to send an e-mail to appsupport [at] craigmattson [dot] net.

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HTML 5 v Silverlight (30/08/2010 08:06:13 PM)

There are many opinions in the industry as to who will be the major winner out of HTML 5 (dubbed the "Open Web"), Microsoft Silverlight (a client-side sandboxed web application utilising the Microsoft .NET Framework) and Adobe Flash (the current dominant player in Animation and Web Applications on the web). What I am trying to understand is why such an argument exists? Steve Jobs has actively suggested many times that Adobe Flash is irrelevant when you compare to the functionality to HTML 5 (particularly the Canvas technology) but perhaps the consistent outbursts are misunderstood in the industry.

A majority of the banner advertisements, multimedia containers and 2D Games that you see on the web are more than likely developed using Adobe Flash / Shockwave and yes, Steve Jobs is correct for the majority. At the moment, web-based applications such as Google's YouTube and Maps are experimenting with offering HTML 5 versions of the website to enable content to be embedded directly to the browser - so such "Open" functionality can and does work. Canvas technology does allow 2D games to be created as well as better Banner Advertisement systems that don't bring your PC to a screeching halt. The downside to your average consumer is how effective banner advertisement and popup blocking software is going to work? This is perhaps considered a feature of HTML 5 that Google, Microsoft and Apple (as well as various other third parties pioneering HTML 5) due to the massive revenue opportunities that exist for these companies. With a rant like that, you are perhaps expecting me to say HTML 5 is the loser? Absolutely not and for the very reasons HTML 5 is lacking in development complexity is the very reason Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Shockwave Flash exist.

HTML 5 is a good standard for us to use as the "Assembly" of Web Programming. The raw nature of HTML 5 will ensure all devices designed to browse the web have at least a common core of multimedia functionality that can be presented to any Web Client be it a Mobile Device, Tablet, Kiosk or PC. It is absolutely necessary that we have the ability to drive multimedia content to multiple devices particularly due to the way social networking websites dominate total internet usage, and the potential future for news and the e-zine industry boom. But the trick is HTML 5 is simply a standard. It's not a programming language; it's not a particular technology. It is a baseline with a set of semantics to build websites that can render properly under a particular language definition irrespective of the target device. This is very important for the industry as a way forward past the primitiveness of HTML 4.

However - HTML 5 and its Canvassing technology, Integrated Video Streaming and Tagging amongst data integration is simplified to ensure it is possible to be implemented in its entirety amongst various devices. This is where technologies such as Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash can bring proper complex web applications to the internet.

Video Streaming

YouTube is a fantastic website for streaming video footage and has assisted in the promotion of multimedia streaming for many corporations around the world. It has encouraged smaller businesses around the globe to also upload video footage to the internet. The main caveat with current HTML standards revolves around the lack of built-in language definition for multimedia applications. What Adobe Flash provides is a sandbox to allow the client, irrespective of what media player is installed, to stream the content. There is also some control over DRM (particularly where publishers want to restrict access), and a way to control the interface. Microsoft Silverlight takes a different approach to Video Streaming technology. When encoding a video, you can encode to multiple bitrates (quality levels to control file size) so that instead of buffering, Silverlight can use an algorithm to determine how much bandwidth you have available and will switch streams seamlessly to ensure you don’t have to buffer (except when your bandwidth drops below the minimum stream threshold).

Complex Software Applications via the Web

Over the last few years, emerging technologies such as json and jQuery have allowed web developers to create web applications to pull data via web services of sorts; however anyone who has attempted coding an interface with json and jQuery will understand there is a significant amount of work that goes with it, including browser interoperability. Strictly speaking, a technology such as Silverlight perhaps is nothing more than a sandbox primarily designed for Microsoft Windows PC’s through Microsoft Internet Explorer, however with Silverlight powered by the .NET Framework, you can expect that your various Business Logic Layers already implemented in existing projects can be reused within Silverlight applications by exposing WCF Services. Silverlight allows a web developer to design a rich user experience rapidly, reuse a common complex development framework interconnected with web services to capture and deliver content. Whilst we are seeing great progress with Google Documents, YouTube, Facebook and other Web Applications not using Flash or Silverlight, they are a long way off being viable alternatives for industry-grade applications.

Consider a Data Entry platform in a large multi-national corporation where your support services are located in another continent. Leveraging built-in features such as Web-Cam integration, support can be provided by visually communicating with the end-user and controlling what they see in a Remote-Desktop capacity. The possible argument is existing technologies exist for the sole purpose, but having it built as part of an application eliminates the need to deploy such services. Remembering that all you need to run a Silverlight 4 application is the Silverlight framework on a Windows PC reduces deployment time significantly.

New Features and Experiences

HTML 5 is a standard. Well, not really a standard in its’ own right (yet). In less time than it has taken HTML 5 to gain some traction, Silverlight and Adobe Flex (an SDK for Flash) are in their fourth production releases with features being added all the time. Granted, some features are still not complete, but there are many customers of Silverlight and Flex solutions that are remarkably happy with their rich user experiences. Particularly in the last two versions of Silverlight, we have seen IIS Smoothing (Adaptive Video Streaming), Web-Cam integration, Drag-and-Drop integration and the roadmap list for both products is growing considerably. HTML 5 is still being drafted and parts are being implemented into browsers claiming to be standards – when they really aren’t! Standards take years to develop, features take months to develop and continue growing. Are we really going to be talking about non-DRM Video Streaming in 2020, or even using a 2D Web by then? Truth is, no one knows – but one thing is for certain, “now” technology can be provided by sandbox frameworks.

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Internet in Australia (10/08/2010 12:42:20 PM)

With the Australian Coalition's announcement today to spend $6.3bn for a broadband network versus the government's $43bn on a National Broadband Network, I'm stumped as to where my vote goes. Here are the two core issues:

  1. I fully believe the Coalition can sustain $6.3bn on a network where the minimum speed is 12Mbps - many Australian's already have access to up to 24Mbps so for the few areas remaining with ADSL (and heaven forbid Dialup), this is perfectly achieveable. BUT! With content for multimedia streaming in 1080p rapidly becoming the future, 1.8MB is required per second to achieve a 6.5GB video - a minimum of 14.4Mbps!

  2. The current government's plan to offer up to 100Mbps of family friendly filtered internet at $43bn is a much better option (minus Steven Conroy and his filter). HD Multimedia already requires a hefty stream, and unless you've been sleeping under a rock; 3D content and much better resolutions are coming out for TV that are going to push up the bandwidth required exponentially. This is perhaps the best option we have for Australia going forward over the next 20 years. BUT! ALP have a notorious history for blowing way over budget and over schedule with technology it's ridiculous. Take Myki, Grocery Watch and Ultranet for example. I do not believe such a network can be built for $43bn. Perhaps with an extra "0" for padding we will achieve it. (Granted, Liberal had their own issues with the $84 Million Porn Filter grossly overbudgeted - particularly when a Melbourne Teenager circumvented it).

So... a slower unfiltered network not capable of handling future traffic or a faster filtered network that will blow out millions? A very, very tough question.

Proposed solution? Australia has way too many disparate towns and a low volume of people per square kilometer versuses other countries which can sustain "Super Fast Broadband". So perhaps the best solution is to set up a decent Fibre backbone and push fast internet out to towns that have the population to support it. Getting 100Mbps to a farm 20km from the main town is just not feasible with current technology. Perhaps in the future as we refine Wireless technology, we can deliver faster broadband to the country.

I guess the reality for Australians is don't get too excited about either government about their internet policy. Both are absolutely flawed and are not technologically or economically feasible projects. Sure, I would jump with joy having a 100Mbps internet connection for TV Streaming, Downloading, Video Games etc... but I don't want to have to pay $1,000 per month just to have fibre to my house. It's time to get a little more serious with future proofing Australian's internet to both governments!

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News, news, news! (29/01/2010 07:31:32 AM)

I don't generally re-post news items but today will be an exception. The Herald Sun (one of the two leading daily news papers in Melbourne) has been quite amusing today covering how flawed the law is in Australia.

Notorious sex fiend on the run, but Herald Sun cannot identify him because of privacy concerns

We have an escapist in Victoria, and a potentially dangerous one at that - and we can't publicly name him in the view of possibly catching him? A perfect example of the law protecting the guilty. I'm also impressed that the ankle bracelet does not have GPS tracking in it? What the hell? I seriously hope this guy doesn't re-offend before being captured!

Driver fined for blowing nose in van

This is just pathetic. Yes, it happened in the UK - but seriously! Blowing your nose in traffic? Apparently in comparison, this is as "dangerous" or "bad" to speeding and drink driving (particularly if you align the fine issued with Victorian fines). I seriously hope for the sake of Australians that this ridiculous law doesn't come into effect. Surely there are better things the police could be doing with their time instead of booking people for being hygienic! This guy however, was named - unlike the offender in the first article.

Man 'filled parking meters with glue'

Probably the funniest article I have read all week - and potentially the most amusing thing to have on your Criminal Record. I love the bail condition though: "that he not go within 20 metres of any parking meter, and is due to face North Sydney Local Court on February 23". Turns out this guy can't be named (or the Herald Sun didn't investigate who it was). At least we know Parking Meters in Sydney are now safe for another week.

Cheers,
Craig Mattson.

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Very, Very Basic Game Prototype! (17/01/2010 12:13:06 AM)

Hi All,

Yes - it's 2:20AM in the morning and I've been on a role working on a prototype of a little 2D game I'm in the process of creating. For those who don't want to read the details can just go to the prototype located at:

URL: http://www.craigmattson.net/Development/BlammersGame/setup.exe

This is a ClickOnce application, so things install a little differently (to your AppData folder as a Web Application). Why do this? Well, it makes it easier for me to push updates to anyone that wants to test the game logic. Everytime the application is launched, a check will run on the URL to see if there is a new update. If there is, it will automatically update. Pretty neat technology! It'll also pick up the prerequisites for the XNA Framework.

So, what is it? It's a pretty simple game concept. You click balls and they disappear. Ideally, I will put in logic for colour combinations, not missing balls, accuracy etc... The game is anticipated to be a sandbox game - so you keep going until either time runs out, your threshold is too low or something (yet to be determined). Feel free to make suggestions. Whilst I'm prototyping the game physics, I figured I'd better use XNA as it's pretty quick to prototype a 2D Game up using it.

At the moment, it's pretty plain. You get a menu screen and if you left click - you're given a blank canvas. Right Clicking on the screen will generate a ball that will float to the top of the screen. If you click the ball (slightly off centre to the right), the ball will disappear. So nothing thrilling at this stage - but if you want to keep your eye on it. Download, install and get the framework sorted out.

Once I'm satisfied with the game logic, I'll export to Zune (i.e. the Microsoft MP3 Player), Xbox 360 (I'll add Controller support) and then port it to the iPhone. I'm hoping soon that something like the following screenshot will appear on the App Store:

 

iphone_screenshot_636

 

Anyway, I'll keep you all posted.

Cheers,
Craig Mattson.

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HorsesRUs.net to close 31st January 2010. (14/01/2010 08:20:15 PM)

Hi All,

Just letting you know that as of January 31st 2010, Horses 'R' Us will go offline as a forum indefinitely. It's been a great 8 years of running it but due to increasing hosting costs, lack of income and support staff moving on - I can't keep the forum running. Thank you to all those who contributed in some way - it's been a great little project and I appreciate all your efforts. It's also time for me to move on and look at new projects as well.

I'll keep you posted.

Cheers,
Craig Mattson.

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Key Performance Indicators for Programmers? (08/01/2010 12:50:45 PM)

Another Friday passing by ... slowly and I'm at work trying to determine what Key Performance Indicators apply to programmers. Maybe I can get some suggestions? Here is my list so far (feel free to agree / disagree - and keep in mind these really need to be tangible).

  1. Ratio of Defect / Bug Fixes versus Change Requests;
  2. Efficiency of code versus hours of development;
  3. Problems solved within allocated timeframe;
  4. Defect / Bug Fixes related to implemented Change Requests;
  5. Number of regression issues, and;
  6. Application stability (calculated by server uptime);

There is some argument to Quality of Code, but the problem is - how is it measurable? Performance and efficiency may be identical (or close to) for varying code. How does one differentiate between what is quality code and what is not? One developer may use less lines of code but the code may be less readable? Another developer may put too many comments into code, name things properly so it is easier for other developers to understand? There is also the fact that not many HR Personnel at review time who understand code well enough to make that distinction. In fact, unless you have the code peer-reviewed by a third party organisation (which may also have confidentiality impact as well) - how do you justify? 

Anyway, I'm kind of keen to see what others use to measure KPI's particularly aligned with an industry where a developer is hired for initiative and knowledge in problem solving rather than their ability to remember a large number of key words. At the end of the day, it's how we solve the problem that is important; not whether we can code in Low-Level Assembly and solder together our own circuits to produce an electronic abacus.

Cheers,
Craig Mattson.

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New Multi-platform Game Idea... (iPhone, PC, Xbox 360, Pocket PC (03/01/2010 01:08:27 PM)

Hi All,

Aside from doing absolutely nothing over the last 10 days (well, it's been a holiday away from work - but really looking forward to going back), I'm on the hunt for a graphics designer who would be interested in doing some tile-based 2D / 3D work for a small game plan I have. I'm kind of between projects at the moment, but one idea I have could be relatively successful in the indie scene. Something that would take about 6 weeks development time once I have the resources at my disposal to piece together.

Requirements? Well, not much really - just looking for a modern 2D Cartoony style of drawing. Things like Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario Bros, Knights on Rush for the iPhone, World of Goo etc... just something graphically easy on the eyes.

These ideas aren't huge, or designed to generate a substantial amount of income, but there would be benefits to the right individual.

Cheers,
Craig Mattson.

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Protoman Theme on Piano / Keyboard - YouTube Video. (29/12/2009 06:01:48 PM)

Wow! My Video Camera I brought almost 2 years ago has finally been used. Well, sort of. More like I'm feeling incredibly bored at the moment. Not used to time off work! (I go back to work on January 4th... so still a little while!) Anyhow - the video camera has been used a few times, but now finally for its intended purpose! I've started going through the requests for the last 6 months via YouTube and E-Mail. Beginning with a new top-down version of Proto-Man on Keyboard. There'll be a few more blog posts in the coming days (sorry tech blogs picking up the RSS feed, you're about to be spammed!).

Anyway - here's the first of about 5; re-recorded.

Cheers,
Craig Mattson.

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Xbox 360 + My PC (Windows 7) = Perfect Companion (28/12/2009 04:02:05 PM)

Ok... so I'm behind the times a little this week. Turns out DivX 7 includes MKV support for consoles. Having just installed and tested it, I can report that the Xbox 360 as a Media Centre Extender now works correctly for all my MKV content. Basically that means my 720p and 1080p content now runs at awesome quality on my TV.

Off to watch some TV... Ciao!

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The result of collecting coins over 12 months... (26/12/2009 07:25:39 PM)

So, what do you get when you collect coins over a 12 month period? Well - apart from spending some of that the last couple of weeks on food (read: Subway - $4.95 6-foot subs), Train Tickets (Z1+2 Daily - $10.60 and Parking ($5 if I drive to work), I now have $212.75 left in change to get through! That almost suggests at one stage there was more than $300.00 in loose change floating around my house, car etc... I'm kind of amused.

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Microsoft loses patent appeal - forced to withdraw Microsoft Wor (23/12/2009 07:59:53 PM)

If you haven't heard yet - Microsoft yet again has lost an appeal in regards to a "lowly used algorithm" present in Microsoft Word. As a result, Microsoft now have to withdraw all current versions of Microsoft Word and Office available for sale, and compensate the patent holder - l4i - $200,000,000USD for loss and damages. Quite a bit of damage there - worth a read.

I doubt I will be blogging before the new year (maybe on New Years Eve), so to all readers, have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

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VB6 --> VB.Net and J#.Net --> VB.Net and C#.Net --> VB.Net, C#.N (20/12/2009 09:58:56 PM)

Turns out I haven't posted about this one - unless you've been stuck under a rock for the last 12 months in the development industry, you've probably already heard of Microsoft's new introduction to the .NET Framework - F# (pronounced F-Sharp) - which is a multi-paradigm programming language (that is; a language built on incorporating flexibility in programming styles and code constructs). Ideally, those familiar with Object Oriented Programming and Functional Programming concepts are said to be able to adapt easily to F# to write logic the way they see fit to perform a function quicker than in, say, VB or C#.

The idea of incorporating multiple languages into one framework is supposed to mean that if we were to take a complex project such as a corporate website with heavy business logic, the classes could be written in one language, data access layers in another language (or a combination) and finally - the webpage could be written in one or more languages. Introducing F# is supposedly a way to allow more people write code to achieve a task. The fundamental idea is that you could effecitvely have a VB.Net developer write some source code, and a C#.Net developer could interface the object(s) writing equivalent C# code.Example of a VB Class.

Public Class Person

  Public Name as String
  Public Address as String
  Public DateOfBirth as DateTime

  Public Function GetAge()
    ' Calculate Age as age
    GetAge = (DateTime.Days / 365.24)
  End Sub

End Class

Example of a C# Class handling a Person object:

public class PersonDriver
{
    static void main(String[] args)
    {
        Person person = new Person();

        person.Name = "Craig";

        Console.WriteLine(person.GetAge());
    }
}

Now whilst a good developer who understands logic can understand just about any language by reading the source code, effectively in a larger project where you may be maintaining a module (particularly when a product reaches end of useful life), you need to understand all languages in use. This isn't particularly useful where as a developer - one now has to understand both languages anyway!

So with the introduction of F#  - are we going to see a similar trend with VB.Net and C#.Net? I understand that Visual Basic in many ways is an easier language to learn (semantics closer to English than C# is useful for many people starting out). C#.Net introduced a standard very close to Java which for me allowed me to design better applications and objects quicker. F# I'm not so sure where I place it yet. Obviously time will tell over the next few years with how well adoption of the new language will be, but seriously - a language built around flexibility of managing your own code which is effectively encouraged will have massive implications on developers in the near future. I could be wrong and it may supercede C# (given the similarities to F#).

I'm certainly not looking forward to have to maintain reasonable knowledge in VB.Net and F#.Net which distracts from my primary languages (which at the moment include Javascript, Classic ASP and ASP.Net (predominantly C#)).

Cheers,
Craig Mattson.

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Hey! Don't forget the people! (14/12/2009 08:38:06 PM)
To those who read my blog, it's nothing new when I talk about how much of an arduous task it is to work through the Software Development Life Cycle to deliver on a project. Even for what appears to be the smallest of tasks (for instance, a small spreadsheet-style application for storing small volumes of data), a considerable amount of analysis is required to ensure successful sign-off. Successful and useful analysis generally flows to a good system design which flows on to a good useful system. It sounds simple enough, right? So why then, particularly lately, am I stuck in a position where systems all around (and some with heavy investment) failing? I've done a bit of ad-hoc research into why systems are failing and the common pitfall seems to come back to Human Computer Interaction (HCI).

This has been something that has plagued some of the ingenuity of systems I've developed myself, but seemingly more of an issue now than back when systems were fairly basic (think: Windows 95 / 98 / XP). One system I have worked on recently involved the automation of data entered by multiple users (particularly customers). Whilst a considerable amount of time went into analysing business requirements, and proper coding practices were followed - the system took off to a rocky start (as most systems do and expected). Initial problems were to do with performance issues, accuracy of data and the inability to do something that was easier to achieve under an old system. None-the-less, these clients were quite positive about moving into a new system (albeit, they didn't have much of an old system in the first place). With centralising the system, the real time saving was the entire end-to-end process. Whilst certain parts of the system (particularly in the initial transactions) were slower than under a previous system, when the automation component kicks in - time savings were considerable (or so we significantly over-estimated).

So why did this happen? Well, the application was data-driven and the platform was a website. A big no-no when heavy amounts of data are required. Whilst an application may have made the initial transaction quicker, the small volume of data processed isn't much of a concern - so we had to look elsewhere. We optimised Stored Procedures, Code-Behind, created reports on alternative platforms, pulled features out etc… Whilst we were quite happy with the performance we were achieving, the client was still dissatisfied. It turns out one of the most basic fundamental principals of the system were overlooked, or what may have been something we shadowed when discussing automation.

The fact is, whilst the system automates and validates most input, the client wasn't looking for 99% accuracy, they were looking for 100% accuracy. This is fair enough, and working towards 100% was what we were hoping to achieve. With initial problems with the system, they were also expecting the system to store data inaccurately. This was proven not to be the case. The system stores exactly what you tell it. If you try to go around the perimeter of the application, or feed it garbage - of-course the data returned is going to be garbage.

The issue was quite simple and could have been rectified if we still were working on the system. They wanted to check all data coming into the system just to ensure that any mistakes could be rectified before doing anything with the data. As we are taking large volumes of data to glance over (say 94% of the input was accurate, with the most common thing - incorrect spelling of suburbs or road names making up the remaining 6%), the best way to present that is in an editable grid (or something like excel). This means you could download 100 or so records, check out, fix the data within the data grid and submit changes once you're satisfied. Quite a simple task - and oddly, something that was provided in the primitive nature of their existing system.

The point of this is to suggest how something so simple can lead to a significant waste of time. So what happens when we scale up the project from a small management system to a large state network? Maybe something like Myki (a Smart-Card Ticketing System for Public Transport in Melbourne).

Myki itself as far as I am concerned is already a failed project and not because of the usefulness (or teething issues), but because it's already 3 years overdue and way over budget. For such a simple idea, there seems to be fundamental issues with the implementation and HCI component of Myki. The two most common issues at the moment are to do with the Decision Engine for fare calculation and how long it takes to swipe a card. Myki is similar to my example above in that the end-to-end process is substantially quicker than Metcard (a metallic zone-based card system) - but particular issues are preventing users from appreciating these benefits.

Let's talk about the decision engine for fare calculation. There are quite clearly issues (such as double charges, incorrect zone charges etc…). On paper, it sounds easy - let's take a GPS device, develop some software around the GPS to pick up where the transport is, pick up the destination point on the GPS and away you go. Based on the start point and end point, you can calculate what zone you are in and away you go. This is fine for something like Melbourne's 2 Zone system (i.e. Zone 1 and Zone 2 cover the entire Melbourne Suburbs from Pakenham to Werribee and Epping / Hurstbridge in the North). There are points where Zone 1 and 2 overlap - but those are relatively straight forward to pick up.

Where Myki is failing is in the country on Bus Routes (where the primary testing is). Whilst again, on paper, you could calculate how many Kilometers have travelled, how many "stops" have been passed on the journey etc… There are points on a map you can mark as a stop. If you were to code it in an exact form, what happens if the transport is 1m ahead of the point you mark as the charge point? You could increase the variance of the stop (such as a radius of 300m?). This may be OK in a country town where stops are in excess of 1km apart, but what about the ones that are not? You end up with significant overlaps which could cause the system to confuse particular stops as being more than actually covered. Another issue may be to do with what happens if a GPS is slightly faulty? What if, the GPS signal returned goes 20km away from where you are (promptly followed by targeting back to where you are). The system may assume some 40km was covered thus you should be charged accordingly! These types of anomalies will only be uncovered through huge testing. I'm sure the developers behind Myki have seen what they would consider tiny issues as well.

In regards to swiping on and off. A contactless reader should realistically take less than a second to validate and away you go. In peak hour, you could probably move 40 people per minute (compare that to 15 with Metcard at the moment). The problem is, the boasted time saving isn't happening right now. Why? There could be multiple explanations from the system taking a moment to recognise, find an active connection to the network etc… or maybe it's to do with how the user is using the system? With Metcard, you swipe your card, the card comes out, you take the ticket with you and you can read on your ticket the expiry date / time and the zones you are allowed to travel in. You also have, if you buy multi-use cards, the ability to see how much "credit" you have left. But you do this away from the system as it's printed on the Metcard. With the recent media hype of the lengthy delays in using Myki, it is of no surprise that people are taking their time when using Myki. My "usage" of Myki certainly suggests a fairly instant procedure (much quicker than a validator impacting my ticket to print the expiry date when boarding a bus). You swipe, and the Myki reader returns some information. Hold on, returning information? On a screen? That isn't portable?

The issue doesn't seem to be due to the hardware. Granted, slow network traffic won't help - but maybe the issue is (due to the media hype in particular) that people are trying to read the information on the screen because if they don't, they have no other way of accessing it! Maybe the best thing to do is remove the screens and information all together - OR - replace the messages with a big smily face that indicates your ticket was successful. With the number of internet-capable phones and free wifi hotspots (and internet kiosks) around, maybe the solution to presenting the information is by SMS to a Mobile Phone, E-Mail, an Application (like Tram-Tracker for the Apple iPhone).

Human Computer Interaction is a big component that seems to be lacking in detail through lots of software development courses. At least, in my course I completed, the HCI component was a pile of garbage. Trying to research how a user will use a system isn't exactly easy either. Having a "tester" for instance, particularly a qualified one may yield different results compared to someone who has no idea about testing. One component of Project Management I feel many people have misunderstood was the concept of research one-on-one and a survey / discussion. The basics have been one-on-one is most useful to get targeted answers whereas a survey could be used as a preliminary discussion. What they seem to forget is that whilst a group discussion may yield only one or two main points, those one or two main points could be mission critical to the success of the project. In Myki's instance, if a group of every-day transport users were given a prototype to look at (just in the way on using the card as part of human instinct), they may have found a more appropriate way to present the interface.

So yeah - next time you are analysing something, ensure you consider your users and how they will use the system beyond the basic keyboard / mouse interaction. It may save a lot of hassles down the track. Similarly, don't get too disheartened if your system fails in User Acceptance Testing (UAT) phases. Chances are, finding the flaw in UAT will be significantly easier to target than in a controlled environment.

Oh well - time to sign off for the night. I'll try and post a little more regularly now that I have time to.

- - Craig Mattson.

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How to learn C# - The .NET Way (09/12/2009 12:33:31 PM)

Hi All,

Just a quick post today - I've just noticed today that in the Getting Started box of Visual Studio 2008, we have a couple of interesting tasks.

visualstudio_amusement_250

Apart from the fact that the first link doesn't go anywhere (it returns a Microsoft Cross-Link error), I'm kind of amused that Microsoft would consider a scenario where a user would randomly stumble across a product worth thousands of dollars, load it up and install it without first learning OR creating their first application. Apparently you can even learn C# in the click of a button.

Could this explain why so many terrible developers exist these days?

Cheers,
Craig Mattson.

EDIT: I did successfully move out - no longer a Neerim South resident :)

[0 Comment(s)]


Moving on... thoughts, etc... (28/11/2009 07:07:33 PM)

Hi All,

Most of you know by now that I'm moving out of Neerim South to Edithvale in the next few days - that's why I've been a little quiet on the blogging front. Today, I've finally finished my furniture shopping which included new Sony Bravia LCD Television, Sony PlayStation 3 (part of some redemption offer), Fridge, Tumble Dryer, Washing Machine, Leather Couch and Queen Size Bed. All of the above is new (believe it or not, I'm not that much of a tightass it turns out!) and I think in total, I'm just under about $7,000 for the lot delivered.

The move will be good. Apart from being about 100km closer to work (each direction), I'll have a little more time to myself (sure, I'll have to cook dinner, wash clothes, clean) and a chance hopefully to settle down once and for all. Things have been a little crazy (as most of you know), and I appreciate the support some of you have given me through those times (be it you've taken on work, tell me to settle down or just simply listen). I promise the volume of whinging will drop in the coming weeks (at least I'm working on it!) and hopefully I'll start to be a little more energetic and outgoing.

So where to from here? Well - maybe kind of jumping the gun here - but given I'm in the city, close to the beach and Moorabbin, I'm considering some hobbies. I'm at the realisation that Pubs and Clubs just aren't for me, so how do I still get out and meet people?

Become a Pilot:

Turns out that there's a few flight schools around that for about $10,000 I can learn to fly a plane. Hoping that my eyesight will pass me (and that I'm in good health - no diabetes please!), and that I can after 6-12 months, take passengers with me. I've always wanted to be a pilot, and given I live a few km's up the road, now's the chance to get out and start flying.

Start a Band / Find a Band:

Possible, not likely though. I'm kind of hunting for people interested in playing more as a talent-style thing, video game music. Sure, it's completely nerdy - but come on - it's pretty cool to hear something you wouldn't normally expect to hear. Anyway - I'll see what the progress on this one is like.

Join Facebook:

Well, there is only ONE other person I know of who would be within 5 years of my age bracket who doesn't have a facebook. I'm sick of being hassled for it. I might join it, just really not interested in talking to my former conglomerates which kind of makes it almost pointless even having one. *Sigh* another thing to maintain possibly. Maybe one day, I'll be p***ed enough to sign up for one.

Join a Gym / Start a Sport:

Hmm... yeah right. Me? Ok... really got to sit down and work that one out.

Suggestions ???

Well, come on... clearly I'm not big on ideas. Maybe you guys / girls can help me out here. Trying to find some hobbies that I might be interested in. You know how to contact me.

Well  I'd better get back to packing stuff up.

Cheers,
Craig Mattson.

[1 Comment(s)]


The Sims 3 on Macintosh (08/11/2009 07:21:20 AM)

Hi All,

Just a quick note for anyone considering Windows gaming on a Macintosh. Last night, I installed The Sims 3 to my Mac, and after investigating how it is installed - it turns out that Cedega (from Transgaming) is installed as a layer to allow The Sims 3 to run! What does this mean? It may be possible to install many other games on Mac using the launcher for The Sims 3!

It also means that The Sims 3 has the potential to run on Linux. Obviously the binaries for Mac will be tailored for Leopard and higher, so it won't be as easy as copy / paste the binaries over, but with The Sims 3 running reliably and smoothly (1280 x 800 x Medium-High Detail on a 9400GT), it may mean that other games can run almost natively as well.

So yeah - I have some playing to do tonight!

Cheers,
Craig Mattson.

[2 Comment(s)]


Wierdest Screenshots (23/10/2009 04:28:39 PM)

Hmmm... one for today. Installing iTunes on my PC resulted in this rather amusing screen.

 

itunes_514
 

 

[2 Comment(s)]


Life Update (13/09/2009 07:54:10 PM)

I've been flying under the radar lately due to the immense pressure surrounding client work lately, so my apologies for not blogging earlier. Basically this blog post is really nothing more than a reassurance that I am not dead (or to put it bluntly, I still have a pulse) and as such, there isn't too much exciting to post about.

minip180_q_400PC Upgrades:

Last time I blogged properly, I had been to Respawn LAN (which surprise, surprise is on again this weekend) with my PC and the truck load of HDD's I have. Well, suffice to say I have finally moved my HDD's into the new case and using the wonders of IDE technology, have managed to free up enough SATA ports for my collection of 1TB Hard Disk Drives. The downside to the current set up is I now have nothing RAIDed (although the important client files are synchronised properly between my Mac and Laptop). Still on the hunt for a Micro-ATX motherboard with 8 SATA Ports and isn't too expensive. Not getting far with that, mind you - I haven't exactly had the time to really hunt one down.

I've still got a little way to go with my PC; the first step will be 4 x 2GB DDR2-1066MHz RAM (more because I can than anything). I'm still working out what to do with the video card. The 512MB HD4850 is absolutely fine, but that may turn into a 1GB HD4870 (size reasons only - the HD4890 would require me to remove 2 HDD's).

Windows 7:

So as part of working for a Microsoft partner, I'm supposed to enjoy and promote new Microsoft technologies. I've migrated my Laptop and PC over to Windows 7 (Mac gets the privelege of Windows XP) and the good news is the Laptop is running much more reliably than it ever did under Microsoft Windows Vista. However, you must keep in mind that this was migrating from Vista x32 (Business) to Windows 7 x64 (Ultimate). Hibernate times are much quicker, start up times are much faster and the number of crashes are minimal (even with RTM!). Anyway, it's good to finally have a laptop that I enjoy using (although I need to reseat the Heatsink for the video card - 70*C is not cool enough on idle for my liking!).

On a side topic, at work - my manager / supervisor managed to load up Windows 7 onto a stock-standard Intel Pentium IV-2.4GHz and 1GB of RAM. After turning off some services, Windows 7 was running on about 280MB of RAM, and was running quite smoothly. Granted, any form of cool-looking Aero GUI was turned off - but the Windows Experience Index still reported a good 3.0 for Processing power and HDD speed. I can't comment on applications (such as Microsoft Office), but it's certainly easy to see why Windows 7 may soon be on Netbooks and Atom PC's.

True Blood:

front_cover_521Mmm... now here is a TV show that I've been convinced to watch by a couple of individuals. For those who don't know, it's based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels (Ok ok... so I stole that off Wikipedia) and involves some very insane acting and story lines. Some kind of R rated drama / comedy (who'd have guessed) that is, lets face it, poorly executed - but somehow very addictive.

In it's own crude way, it's much akin to Outrageous Fortune - just replace Vampires with your typical islanders and bogans from New Zealand, change V with Marijuana, base it in West Auckland as opposed to Louisiana and you have yourself Outrageous Fortune (in it's own unique way). That's not to say that True Blood is anything like Outrageous Fortune - most certainly nothing like each other.

Anyway, if the intro theme doesn't suck you in (Bad Things, Jace Everett), then I don't know what will. I have the sound track, and the music, for the most part is pretty good. I suppose I have been a bit of a sucker for western music, but this one seems to be well crafted.

Finally - it most certainly isn't some chick flick like Twilight (ducks for cover). It's also the only TV Show since Outrageous Fortune (2005) and The IT Crowd (2006) that I have been not only sucked in, but addicted to.

iPhone Development:

Ok - not so much in the way of actually releasing anything yet for the iPhone, I have something in the works as a bit of a "working with the framework" that might make it to the App Store by Christmas. The short of it is that it uses multi-touch, but the genre is most certainly for a niche market. I can't say much yet, but it's along the lines of watching paint dry and / or watching grass grow. We'll see what happens, but the idea is kind of cool enough that it is a viable $1.00 application even if nothing more than a gimmicky game. Unfortunately, I've only had about 2-3 hours to really dedicate to it. In that time, I have some game music in the works as well as some graphical assets. Although, I will be looking at outsourcing my graphics work soon *hint hint!* as - lets face it - I can't draw for shit.

For those who know me and shaking your head, you're probably right - the idea won't get completed. The difference is I have some motivation this time (i.e. App Store + Extra Income), so all those projects such as the XNA Bogan Kart, Theme Hospital remake, Sekryt Projakt etc... have pretty much died.

Having said that - Bogan Kart may still come. There's still some interest out there - and XNA is pretty easy to use (deployment to Microsoft Xbox Live would be awesome). As soon as someone wants to do some 3D modelling (and do it unpaid), I'll start coding the framework!!! It'd be awesome to drive around in shopping trolleys, cardboard boxes and toilet seats around race tracks. If Bogan Kart was ever released, it would be Open Source and free ofcourse - it's just there because I think it'd be awesome to play a racing game as your typical Bogan.

Future:

Hmm... don't know yet. A few places to check out this week around Nunawading (Wow... 3 N's). After coming off the pressure this weekend, I have some time to clear my head (as best I can) and focus on my real job. Things are CRAZY AS HELL at the moment for me, so apologies for not keeping in touch with everyone as regularly as I would like to. A few of you know the full story - more of you know parts of it, but an average of 5 hours sleep a night is not good - so to get back to 8 hours is the goal.

RESPAWN THIS WEEKEND!

- - Craig Mattson

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Head fried (28/08/2009 07:46:30 PM)
 
HEAD-FRIED!!!
 
 
Yep... that's right...
 
[EOF]

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General Update (18/08/2009 06:27:08 PM)

macbookpro2008concept468_468It's been a while since my last post - and a lot has happened in the interim. First of all, I finally own a MacBook Pro for iPhone development. I got it on 6th August 2009 so I've had some time to play with it at work and on the weekends. The laptop is a fine piece of engineering - the Aluminium shell is particularly solid, rivaling and in many cases beating my IBM ThinkPad T60p. It's a lightweight with the battery lasting around about 3.5 hours. The LED screen is very sharp and bright, and the finish is perfect. There is little flexing on the unit - and there is no obvious noticable noise. The keyboard itself though, while looking the part, is poorly designed. The keys themselves feel loose, very spongy and in general, have an appearance that they are layered on Jelly. Also, what is up with the Backspace Delete key? The key clearly functions exactly as a Backspace key! Pressing the Delete key when selecting a file should Delete the file. Not do absolutely nothing! I cannot get used to the gesturing mouse... No matter how hard I try, I always do something random (seriously, the mouse takes up about half of the room below the keyboard!). It's annoying - just like some of the stupid gesturing easily replaced by actual buttons on the iPhone.

So - engineering wise, the laptop is pretty sweet. That's about all the praise I have for it though - the Operating System is just bogus. Just like my limited experience with OSX 10.4 (Tiger), things are slow to load, icons bounce up and down like crazy - rivaling the annoyance of nudges on MSN Messenger, and just about every "logical" place to look for a setting has been replaced with an "intuitive" method. Anyway, I figure I will buy some RAM to bump my laptop up to 8GB. Hopefully 8GB will be enough (2 x 4GB) to achieve something.

So far, the only useful application on my Mac is VirtualBox. Why? Because when I turn it on, my laptop starts doing "useful" things - like allow me to do work. Windows XP flies on this Mac virtually which is a good sign I suppose, although living with the realestate of 1680x1050, and 3960x1080 - you just can't go back to 1280x800. At least I only got the MacBook for iPhone development which brings me to my next point.

XCode is great. It's a very capable IDE representing something like Notepad. Yes, that's right... Notepad. 2GB of downloads to effectively install Notepad with a file list that launches various applications permitting the filetype supports it. There's no intellisense (there is autocomplete), although the Objective-C language looks pretty straight forward in a View-based way. If only I had experience playing with MVC's :)

That's about it for my MacBook Pro. I have one, and apart from the hardware - I hate it. In a way, it has given me a greater appreciation for my IBM ThinkPad T60p which is still going (and hopefully will continue to do so for just over a year). Hopefully it will be much quicker too with Windows 7 (which courtesy of working for a Microsoft Gold Partner = no more licensing fees!).

Respawn LAN v13

flatout21_640Ok, so I finally ventured outside of smaller LAN's again to Respawn, and I was overall, pretty happy with it - although it is quite clear that I can no longer handle the all night events followed by sleeping in the car. Between 2-3 hours sleep is not fun in any sense of the word, so next LAN will probably just leave at 3am / 4am in the morning. It's good not having to take the biggest car load of garbage to these LANs (or everyone else!) as those who have seen what I used to pack for GreenTubeLAN would appreciate. Plenty of gaming, plenty of competitions, plenty of random games (Armagetron), plenty of Linux ISO's - what more could you ask for. The entry fee is a bit steep though - $30.00 and only getting a worse seat and table than what we get at DLC / GreenTubeLAN / SAN? Oh well, *note to self - bring chair* - there's one coming up next month - 19th to 20th September. I might venture to that with a few upcoming PC changes:

My motherboard sucks and I have wayyyyy too many HDD's now. So here's the plan:

  • Intel Core2Duo E8400
  • 16GB of SuperTalent / YeahDone / PNY / Gingle RAM
  • 512MB ATi Radeon HD4850
  • 3 x Western Digital 1TB Blacks
  • 2 x Western Digital 1TB Greens
  • 1 x Seagate 640GB
  • 1 x Western Digital 500GB
  • New Motherboard (4 x DDR2 Slots; 8 x SATA; Dual GBIe NIC; mATX)

So yeah - I'm on the hunt for a new Motherboard that covers DDR2, 8 SATA and Dual NICs. I'm guessing somewhere around the $200 mark would be appropriate - but it has to fit in my current case. I will also have to look out for a Hot-Swappable Caddy to fill my bottom drive bays. All up? This will add about another $400 to my PC, on top of the $3,000 already spent. That's $3,400 - on what is still a sub-standard PC hehehe... Just think how many nice dinners and outings that could have been for a special girl ):|

RAM Names

I've already made two references in this blog, but one thing that is striking me as odd are the list of random brand names plaguing MSY's Price List. Of late, there are a few new additions including PNY, YeahDone (an Australian company) and Apogee (sorry, no free Wacky Wheels or Duke Nukem here). This is on top of the already garbage list of Ritmo, SuperTalent, Strontium and Gingle. SO it's got me thinking - how hard can it be to release a new brand of RAM to the market? All you have to do is give it some canny name and MSY is sure to buy it. Maybe BLAM RAM would be a good name, or should we call it Jer0Jigabits. Maybe just N-RAM (or Naverage). Either way, there will be a logo floating around soon(ish).

That's about it for this blog post.

- - Craig Mattson

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New Keyboard In!!! (05/08/2009 06:51:58 PM)

Just a quick note to say that after four months since ordering, my keyboard finally arrived yesterday via DHL. It's a pretty unique keyboard (not one you can just buy off the shelf) - and even rarer that Lenovo managed to run out of them!!! Anyway... it's basically the equivalent of the IBM ThinkPad T40 keyboard - with a numberpad. So, now I'm just getting used to the fact I am using a laptop keyboard on a PC.

keyboard_480

In other news, I thought I would try an experiment tonight. Upon leaving work at 5:00pm, it takes roughly 10 minutes from leaving work to get to North Richmond Station. The distance isn't that far - as you can see in the image below, 1.6km is the distance between the Tram Stops. According to my iPhone, the average speed in Peak Hour is 10.4km/h, or roughly double the speed of [power] walking. Ironically, the time waiting at the Tram Stop when the tram is delayed (usually shows up at 5:10pm), it would be comparable to walk the distance as it is to take the tram's rather pathetic 10.4km/h.

iphone_tramtracking_480

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SANLAN Over (02/08/2009 08:21:13 PM)
sanlan_306

img_1_500Ok... so I'm right to make a quick blog post now about SAN-LAN this weekend. With GreenTubeLAN pretty much at an end and with DLC just looking at somewhere to be, SAN-LAN kicked off their first LAN in Frankston. The LAN had a turnout of about 40 people all up with your regular GreenTubeLAN / DLC-Lan atmosphere.

So here's the details - we had a fully Gigabit network distributed over a HP Procurve switch (thanks to Sleeper for organising that!) and three 3com Managed Gigabit Switches sponsored by 3com themselves. Network performance was very stable, aided by the fact that there were probably 12 on each Gigabit switch gave us all you could ask for (however, we had a Procurve with a backbone capacity of 36.4Gbps - need to get some patchwork happening!). The power capacity was not a problem at this LAN *touch wood*, and now that we know there is a 32A Three-Phase outlet in the factory / dance studio, there is probably a realistic capacity of 70 people.

The turnout was pretty good - 40 all up is not a bad number to get a few games happening. Clearly, the LAN was more social than gaming, but when the competitions start - you can guarantee that most people were in on some game. The FlatOut 2 competition was pretty well run - 3 races at 3 laps got people interested! Call of Duty 4 as far as I know ran pretty well with minimal hiccups (I'd imagine those who wanted to play CoD 4 were prepared for it!). All the fun really started to kick off at around about 6PM with most people having fun in some way or another.

Tip for those registering - registering with names such as m_0n_ash and Navg@rash and using m_0N_ash at the LAN and paying as Navg@rash ends up with announcements such as "Do we have a Monash in the building?". Most hilarious over the PA when an entity as asked for.

Food was great - and available in a very large quantity. However, after eating a Hungry Jacks Ultimate Double Whopper meal that morning - there was no way I could eat anything between Lunch Saturday and Dinner Sunday. Most disappointing as it is hard to not accept free food. Anyway - I must remember there is a Charcoal Chicken in Belvedere - as great as Nando's is, the meals prepared for lunch at Charcoal Chicken look most delicious.

img_2_500A nice surprise to see was Unreal Tournament making a comeback at this LAN. When a few guys start, there's alot of interest. Unfortunately with other commitments for Sunday - I couldn't stay the night - so that was a disappointment.

Anyway - thumbs up from me - worth going to again, and kudos to Neon for running a LAN single-handedly. It takes a LOT of effort to pull it off, but things remained fairly under control. However, if SAN-LAN is to grow, a team of Admin will need to be assembled. No - that doesn't mean me!!! If you're interested in running a LAN, can commit to 3-4 LAN's a year, have reasonable technical troubleshooting skills then - I'm sure there are plenty of ways you can help out.

So yeah - next LAN I'll probably be at is Respawn if I can get a spot on August 15th. Probably only be there for Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Cheers,
Craig Mattson.

[0 Comment(s)]


Quality of Search Engines (24/07/2009 10:27:04 PM)

I've been asked alot over the past few weeks as to which search engine I use. The answer is Google. I don't have a need at this stage to change my search engine - so Microsoft's Bing or Yahoo! Search aren't things I would normally consider when I need to search for something quickly. Like most products, I use Google because I have no reason to change *yet*. Google is still a streamlined search engine with a no frills layout and generally a fast interface. So what about the competition? Bing is slightly more bloated with the unnecessary loading of images - but then again, that has *always* been the Microsoft way. Take a look at this parody video of packaging if Microsoft released the iPod. It is still light weight enough that your searches are purely that... searches. Finally we have Yahoo!7. It's as bloated as they come (the search page takes forever to load!), but Yahoo! serves more as a portal than just a search engine.

But let's get one thing straight. Using a search engine is about the quality of the results returned by whatever decision engine is driving it. Bing has been noted as potentially being better than Google - so tonight (at the time of writing this) is about finding out which search engine offers the best results for a set of 10 keywords. I've tried keeping these keywords specific and general, based on things I *have* searched for in the past. I encourage you to do the same thing and compare the search engines as I have done here.

  1. Computer Stores in Clayton
  2. Video Game Music
  3. Train Timetables
  4. Cheap Games
  5. Things to do in Gippsland
  6. The Sims 2 Sheet Music
  7. ASP.Net C# Data Abstraction
  8. Content Delivery Network Hosting
  9. Left 4 Dead Console Commands
  10. Removing Mites from Blue Tongue Lizards

Computer Stores in Clayton

For this phrase, Google correctly identified MSY and Scorptec on the first two pages. I'm surprised Centrecom didn't make the page, but with MSY listed as Result Number 1 followed by Scorptec at Position 4, these are pretty good results. You'd find pretty quickly your stores. No maps though pointing to the store. Bing was the least relevent - in fact, so irrelevant that MSY didn't even make the first page (or second or third!!!). Scorptec was listed multiple times through the results - which suggests a problem with relevancy scoring. The maps were absolutely attrocious pointing to Game stores in America!!! Result number 1 wasn't even a computer store - it was a consultancy / business solutions company. Unacceptable. Yahoo however was on a par with Google with quality of results. Both MSY and Scorptec appeared (however Scorptec appears number 1 with MSY down the list) but surprisingly also links to CCW through Techstores. So with the diversity of results slightly better on Yahoo - Yahoo is the winner.

Results: 1. Yahoo, 2. Google, 3. Bing

Video Game Music

Ok - this isn't something everyone searches for Daily, but generally speaking; OCRemix, VGMix, VGMusic are widely known amongst the niche community as primary resources for Video Game Music. So now time for the results. Google returns both VGMusic and OCRemix. GameMusicThemes is pretty tiny and was placed higher than OCRemix giving the illusion it's better. GameAlbums is a new one, but the site is fairly incomplete. It's a pretty average result. Yahoo returns oddly enough, a Wikipedia entry. Not useful for my purposes (I'm looking to listen to music). VGMusic appears on the results, but Yahoo! seems to be returning alot of "information" including how to write music. Arguably, the term is fairly vague so Yahoo or Google could be placed either way. Finally, Bing returns VGMusic number 1, and EA Music somewhere on the page (which is quite interesting). Bing has tried to combine Information with Music - but failed to return OCRemix. So here are my results:

Results: 1. Google*, 2. Bing, 3. Yahoo* (* these could be switched depending on your desired goal).

Train Timetables

Technically I googled it to get Metlink's website, but I figured it would be interesting to see if the search engines can detect my localisation as Victoria / Melbourne. For this search, I forced Bing to use the Australian counterpart (for some reason, it assumed I was in the UK). From Google, all I get is Australian train operators as well as Metlink at result 2. This is a good set of results from Google. Yahoo! was on a par with Google, no real changes. Bing tried to be smart and build a URL for Metlink based on the fact "Train Timetables" had it's own page on Metlink's website. In this case - this wasn't as useful as going to the home page. Having said that, the page *did* have a list of train timetables I could look at. As a result, Bing is a better result - ALTHOUGH - the search engine did not pick up Australia as my localisation.

Results: 1. Bing, 3. Google, 3. Yahoo (Yahoo and Google were on a par this time).

Cheap Games

Looking for cheap Video Games? I've found a few websites but nothing that I would commit to. CDWow has some cheap games, but I would also expect the likes of EBGames and Steam to show up. While they aren't always the cheapest, it would be nice to get a list of video games. Google returned some spam (as expected with the phrase), but ultimately did return me GameHead, ShopBot (a website designed to search for the cheapest price, ReplayGames etc... so the results were usable. Yahoo returned a pretty similar set where as Bing produced the biggest pile of spam links I have ever seen.

Results: 1. Google*, 1. Yahoo*, 3. Bing (*Results were indistinguishable)

Things to do in Gippsland

If you read one of my last blog posts, you'd be aware that I tried finding things to do in Gippsland. There has to be something out there, and I was using Google and got no where. So I figured maybe the other search engines are more appropriate for this? Google returned bugger all but we did get GippslandTourism as a website. I would have thought the council websites (such as Baw Baw, Latrobe City) would show up, but most just ended up as spam. Yahoo on the other hand disguised a Melbourne based page as Gippsland. Unacceptable! However, it did also return more "useful" information than Google (at least on the first page). Bing produced much the same level of usefulness as Google this round, linking to websites that have little to do beyond Phillip Island. I can't say I expected much, but Yahoo wins this round by a very small margin.

Results: 1. Yahoo, 3. Google*, 3. Bing* (*Results were indistinguishable)

The Sims 2 Sheet Music

For something a little more specialised, I am after some sheet music or some cues to playing some of the music on Keyboard. I can't sight read, but I can use some ideas from proper sheet music to improve my playing. Google returns me with hamienet which I use often, and The Sims 2 website. A couple of YouTube videos were there as well (which kind of has some relevance), but Hamienet is probably the closest I got to some sheet music. Bing returned YouTube videos and The Sims 2 website. Yahoo was more intelligent and actually linked to at least one piece which *was* useful when I found it after hunting through Google. Yahoo did also have some Spam. Now, this is where my results need some explaining. Bing is clearly last - more garbage than the others. I'm placing Google first because of Hamienet AND The Sims 2 website. Yahoo is a very close second, and could be considered first if you just wanted some sheet music to play. But for my purposes, Google is first here.

Results: 1. Google*, 2. Yahoo*, 3. Bing (*These could be swapped depending on your requirements)

ASP.Net C# Data Provider Abstraction Layer

I was looking ways to implement a Data Provider Abstraction Layer. It's quite a simple concept that allows programmers to define the database in one layer, and run an "abstracted" version of queries in an Access Layer. The end result basically means you code your queries and results in your Data Access Layer, point to the Abstraction Layer which basically translates your Queries and Parameters to the respective control (or monkeys if you had a monkey layer). So I did actually search for this one. Google did return me relatively quick some implementations on CodeProject, but wasn't quite what I was after. I did eventually find a blog with a useful example and was able to build my DPAL relatively quickly. Bing returned me Wikipedia (I can't think of anything more useless in this scenario!), but did return me some proper DPAL implementations. Yahoo! missed the point (DPAL not DAL) and thus I got results to do with caching. Not what I was after.

Results: 1. Google*, 1. Bing*, 3. Yahoo (*Both Google and Bing produced correct results)

Content Delivery Network Hosting

This one is fairly simple, I need to find a CDN for hosting a live stream. The results on this one were interesting. Google produced a tonne of Hosting companies to choose from. These aren't ranked in any order, but I quickly was able to find suitable cloud hosting for my purposes. Bing produced a range of information again, some hosts but predominantly information on what a CDN is. The key word is Hosting. I was hoping to find some prices and companies. Yahoo! was very similar to Bing on this one, although did produce slightly more hosting results than information results.

Results: 1. Google, 2. Yahoo, 3. Bing

Left 4 Dead Console Commands

If you haven't heard of Left 4 Dead, it's a Zombie Shooting Video Game. Anyway, to make the game interesting - you can change some variables such as increasing the number of Zombies your computer will render at any one time, or just spawning more enemies. Anyway, what I am after is a complete list of commands. Google returns me alot of quesions asking for the whereabouts, but I also got a list in the first two results. Bing was relatively similar but Yahoo got the result first. This one is pretty indistinguishable all round given I got the results straight away - so it's a 3 way tie.

Results: 1. Google, 1. Yahoo, 1. Bing

Removing Mites from Blue Tongue Lizards

Trying to find number 10 wasn't easy, but then I remembered the difficulty in finding a way to remove mites from a lizard. Google had the infromation hidden under forums, what I was after was proper information from someone who has taken the time to write and publish information (rather than a quick reply to a "HELP!" question. Yahoo! provided me with the better quality of information sites to do with reptile care, and Google provided me more cautionary results rather than treatment. Yahoo was more relevant to the subject matter. Bing also produced relevant information which makes this result pretty indistinguishable as well.

Results: 1. Google, 1. Yahoo, 1. Bing

 


So, with these taken into consideration, the scorecard is as follows (lower the better):

Google: 14
Yahoo: 18
Bing: 21

Clearly the statistics are based around my personal preference as to which results provided me with the best all round information, and it's clear that Google is leagues ahead of Bing. Yahoo! is interesting though - in some cases, the information was a much better match than Google - but not so much that Google was useless compared to Yahoo!. Bing on the other hand seemed to miss the point in most searches. Where Bing did excel though was in returning information rather than commercial. Having said that, Google and Yahoo also displayed information - generally to a lesser extent unless my phrase was tailored for an information specific purpose. At this stage, I could probably get away with using Yahoo! and even consider using Yahoo! if Google wasn't returning the quality of information.

What is clear, however, is that Google returns the results I expect. They may not always be perfect, but they generally get me to where I want to be. You could argue that it's up to the web developers to make their websites better for Search Engines. However, the point of a search engine is to find information quickly and accurately. Irrespective of the phrase I put in, I should get consistency in the results I am commanding. Some of my phrases above are not as specific as they could be, but that's where Google appears to be working with me. Where I miss out on key points that may alter the quality of search results in the likes of Bing and Yahoo!, Google does seem to understand what it is I am looking for.

At the end of the day, it's up to you what search engine you use - but it's definitely something worth investigating. For the time being though, I'll keep Google bookmarked for my searches.

- - Craig Mattson

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Bizarre Error with Screenshot (23/07/2009 08:08:29 PM)

Now this is one for the books. The following error popped up whilst trying to compile a C#.Net Class Library. This was a simple build, nothing too draining - yet this bizarre error popped up:

wtf_362

I often experience delays... infact my Vista installation is always delayed. I wonder if I should report it :)

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Two new screens and the sights in Gippsland (19/07/2009 08:18:16 PM)

Woohoo! I'm now the owner of 2 x 24" Viewsonic LCD's to upgrade my Just-Over-18-Months old 19" LCD. Now all I need is my Ultranav keyboard to come in and I'm set for some more development. At the moment due to space limitations, I've only got one set up - but when I move out (I promise - it's coming!!!) - I'll have two side by side... totalling 3840 x 1050 in Screen Realestate. If that's not enough to develop more rapidly, I don't know what will help. So yeah, this brings my PC worth somewhere above $2,000 now, leaving the specs at:

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
Motherboard: Asus P5B-MX
RAM: 4 x 2GB DDR2-800 Transcend (Read: Yum Cha)
Storage: 2 x WD Black 1TB HDD, 1 x Samsung 7200 1TB, 1 x 640GB WD Green, 1 x 500GB Seagate 7200.11, 1 x 160GB Seagate 7200.11 - Total usable storage: 2.8TB
Video Card: ATi Radeon 4850 - 512MB
Case: Antec P180-Mini
Power Supply: Seasonic 550W
Keyboard: Logitech Ultra-Flat (Soon to be replaced with Lenovo Ultranav when it arrives)
Mouse: Logitech MX-400
Screen: 2 x 24" Viewsonic LCD's (1920x1080 full HD)

So yeah, that's about it for the spec showoff... I just need my Ultranav in and I'll be set!


In other news, I spent some time with a mate from Melbourne around Gippsland and I swear it's incredibly difficult to find things to do in the area. When you think about the large area of land just in West Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley, you'd think there would be plenty to see. So, here was today's list of things to see and do in Gippsland with someone from Melbourne completely oblivious to what is east of Pakenham:

  • Princes Fwy between Pakenham and Longwarry - lots of "random" signs.
  • Labertouche (in General) - Nice to see some real regeneration since the fires.
  • Tarago Reservior, Neerim South - I live here, yet I've never actually been to the Reservior... Nice views there...
  • Neerim / Neerim East - Lots of cows, sheep, trees, forests...
  • Crossover - BIIIIIG houses, Camels!!!!
  • EDIT: Nilma - A CROW FARM AND A TIRE FARM! WHO'D HAVE THOUGHT!
  • Darnum - Milk Processing Factory (Fonterra).
  • Yarragon - LOLLIES!!! Seriously, best place to stock up on hardboiled lollies.
  • Moe - Watch out for Bogans...
  • Morwell - Power Stations, more Bogans...
  • Churchill - Monash University - THEY'VE REMOVED THE BINISHELL?!?!?! The land looks sooooo bear without it.
  • Back to Morwell - Courthouse, Legal Aid, Smashed Windows, A Monash Liveried Bus on it's way to Moe!!!
  • Warragul - Old decrepid Milk Factory. Words from an outsider seem to indicate it should be destroyed. I agree - it's absolutely attrocious. Either restore it or bulldoze it.
  • Lardner Park - Massive plantations of god-knows-what...
  • Drouin - Biggest Bus Shelter known to man...

Um... that's about it. While the drive is nice, 400km and there's bugger all to see. Nice views, but seriously - the most lively town was definitely Yarragon followed closely by Warragul. Moe and Morwell were just about as dead as a door knob.

I'll edit this post later with pictures.

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Per Hour Hosting (16/07/2009 07:55:41 PM)

This is just a quick shoutout to "The Rack Space Cloud". Now here's an idea that I would have initially thought who would bother (long term hosting would result in a very expensive server indeed!), but for Video and Audio streaming, it's not a bad idea at all. How would you like to get access to a server that costs you $0.22 per GB transferred, 1.5c per hour per 256MB RAM required? Well, it turns out that video streaming for a client of mine will be really cheap.

A server that costs 6c per Hour (1024MB of RAM), 22c per GB Transferred (a 256kbps stream should work out to be 60-80MB per user, multiplied by 100 users = 6,000MB to 8,000MB per session). So far, $1.76 per session + 18c per session (to set up, run a script) = a total streaming amount of ... $1.94 USD for 100 users to stream 45 minutes of video.

Anyway, it's a pretty nifty idea... could probably use these as temporary game servers as well! Check out http://www.rackspacecloud.com/ anyway.

Also - SAN LAN is on August 1st 10:00AM to August 2nd 3:00PM. Register at http://www.sanlan.com.au ASAP!

- - Craig Mattson

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Protoman Video Game Theme - On Keyboard (15/07/2009 07:29:08 PM)

Ok... time to stop all your whinging! (You know who you are!) I finally managed to upload the Protoman Theme on Keyboard. Enjoy. My apologies for recording more of my shoulder than the keys I am (was?) pressing...

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Linux makes headlines...... or does it? (11/07/2009 09:02:49 PM)

googlechromelogo_430How do you get Linux to make the headlines portrayed as the next big thing? Simple. You get one of the worlds biggest internet companies announce that they are releasing a new Operating System based on the Linux kernel. That's certainly what happened at the end of this week and the fanboys from all walks of life are already forming opinions on a not-yet-released Operating System. So I suppose in many ways, I'm obligated to form an opinion and prediction.

First and foremost, the operating system is not promising to be the next Ubuntu (which now appears to be replacing the term "Linux" amongst technology enthusiasts) - nor is it claiming to be an alternative to Microsoft Windows or Macintosh OS X. Simply put, it's a standalone web browser with a few offline applications bundled in (Docs, Calendar etc...). It is aimed at PC's and Netbooks (which I will get into later), so its installation base will probably stem from low-powered hardware to make a functional and fast machine for basic use.

The Operating System itself will basically be an interface between the user and the Google Cloud (which is basically a bunch of web services) with a few modifications, particularly to the security layer of the Linux kernel in an attempt to thwarte viruses and malware. I don't quite understand how you could kill a browser-only operating system, to me - that's just as logical as bricking the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). If the Google Cloud introduces a new service that allows users to login and store their profiles at Google, then a malfunction in the Operating System could almost be fixed instantaneously by a reinstallation of the Operating System itself.

So could something like this work on a PC? Absolutely - given the right environment of course. For instance, you wouldn't have this Operating System in a home as the primary computer - but a student may find the system useful - if the educational institute was to support the platform. Likewise, the uptake in web-based applications replacing client-side applications within SME's can reduce the TCO significantly where a Web Browser is necessary. With one of my clients controlling most aspects of their business online, they could theoretically replace one of the three systems with a web browser only Operating System. Other situations could be Retail Point of Sale Systems whereby a computer is designated to run one application over a network. Significant savings may be available for corporations using web applications.

But why would this be useful now instead of deploying Ubuntu? Well - nothing is stopping Linux systems being deployed to solely run Web Applications (in fact - in some SME's I have worked with, they have!). It's little surprise to find that the concept of Linux (freedom of choice) could be a potential flaw in GUI consistency. The thing about choice and freedom to develop is when someone doesn't like the way a particular application works - it either gets forked or something new ends up being developed. I can only imagine that's why there are sooooo many flavours of Linux. Has anyone tried to use Firefox and aMSN on Ubuntu where Ubuntu has fully Anti-Aliased fonts? Firefox doesn't carry those settings across, aMSN just looks like garbage and Open Office still looks like your typical unfinished Java application.

I believe the critical success with Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and even various Mobile Phone / Smart Phone devices has been the User Interface. No one wants to be working with a dogs breakfast if they have a choice. If you load any application in Microsoft Windows, you will find many commonalities such as a Menu Bar (with the same fonts used), the same style command buttons, the same style text boxes etc... as long as the developers have chosen to use defaults. Even well-written Java applications look relatively standard. This is the same with Apple as well. A great deal of time goes into presentation of the application to retain consistency overall. For instance, if you want to change settings for an application, you will find them generally in the same place (Tools > Options..., Edit > Preferences etc...). I suppose it's a requirement too to have proper UAT especially when an end user is paying for something - but how many Open Source applications clearly don't have any Project Management letalone conform to some sort of strict SDLC?

acer_aspire_one_400A recent statistic on one of the forums I frequent suggests Microsoft has a marketshare of approximately 90% in the Netbook market. This is probably true - particularly from observations on my weekday commute into Melbourne CBD. The number of Netbook users is pretty high (9" Acer, HP, Asus and Lenovo), and all I have seen run Windows XP. I don't know how anyone can stand Windows XP at a non-standard resolution resembling that of a 14" CRT - but anyway - that's why I have 15.4" with 1680x1050 screen realestate. The common applications open are Word, PowerPoint, Visio and Outlook - so this suggests that Netbooks are being used as Laptop replacements, albeit operating terribly slow. The interesting thing is most of the people with Netbooks are also "suits", so the device is being treated as some form of portable assistant (where I would suspect the user has a PC at work and would perform some form of synchronisation).

If my predictions are right, then the solution to dominating the netbook market (which I believe would be pretty easy to do given the right OS is released) is to design an Operating System that incorporates synchronisation against compatible lightweight applications. I'm not talking about using an Xandros ripoff with Open Office installed, I'm talking about a unique and fast operating system that is visually pleasing to use. The iPhone manages to run a rich GUI on hardware slower than any of these 9" netbooks, so I'm sure something could be done for netbooks as well. A standard Office 2007-compatible should also be designed, as well as an optimised PDF reader and rich multimedia tools. The fact is, you could price a Netbook at the equivalent price of a Windows netbook if the Operating System was something akin to Mac in the visual appearance department as long as the system was also backwards compatible with Windows Applications. If the Operating System supported proper synchronising, then there would be no need for Microsoft Windows XP on these devices. Windows XP is clearly an interim thing that "just works" on netbooks, and I'm sure people would make the switch - much akin to Mobile Phones - as visually pleasing features come along. It's all about making applications suitable for netbooks, rather than using what we have.

It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with Google / Chrome OS especially to follow the impact. While there are certainly advantages to having a standalone web browser, I question how useful the Operating System will be in a home environment if all it is, is a web browser.

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Busy, busy, busy. (06/07/2009 05:42:01 AM)
My apologies for the late blogging, but while I have an hour or so this morning on the train - now would be the most appropriate time to blog. Anyway, here are the highlights and topics for the week:

Work Life
Not much more on last week really. I'm now working on an ASP.Net system designed as an inhouse product (which basically means we have the power to approve and reject features as we see fit). The latter half of the week involved playing with spreadsheets and rewriting formulae to work in our application. This was pretty cool - although the amount of code written versus time spent is pretty low - but I suppose there's not much you can do about it while you try to dissect a spreadsheet full of ridiculous formulae and a long testing procedure. I'd imagine I'll be starting the week finalising one calculator, and apparently this week - I get myself an introduction to the system. Unfortunately, they had a party on some yacht across the Yarra Friday night - disappointing as I thought I had other arrangements - I couldn't feasibly go. I'm sure there'll be plenty more where that came from though and hopefully I can make the time to get to a few.

Back in regards to Calculators, I thought C# and VB were supposed to be equals. If that is so, why the hell are all the financial calculations under Microsoft.VisualBasic.Financials?????? Sure, I can import them to C#, but why is there no global class? Grhhhh!
Mobile Internet
Seriously, what is the point. No, I'm not talking about Mobile Internet being pointless - just that there are some nights my Mobile Internet drops in and out with the only way to reconnect to launch an internet application on the iPhone. Where the HELL is the always on component? More importantly, what's the point of having 3G if all it's going to do is drop in the middle of a phone call? I'm not too impressed given I'm paying $70 a month for the service! It's a joke.
The Future of GreenTubeLAN
Last night, the 4 of us who run it got online for a meeting about the future of GreenTubeLAN, and we're all of the same opinion. GreenTubeLAN as a public entity has run it's course. It's clear that the combination with DLC-Lan works, however we have lost alot of people over the years and those still coming would register for just about any LAN with any name. So that's why GreenTubeLAN will be going invite-only and when we want to run it with about 15-20 people. The fact is none of the admin team (myself included) have much time to prepare much and we've been burned at the last few LAN's after many days of preparation (whether it's people not showing up or the gods against us - complete power failure in Narre Warren rings a bell!).

So yeah - it is with great regret we are rolling back the operations to an invite-only LAN, but this decision shouldn't affect many people. I will still be around DLC-Lan as will most of the other staff. We will still have 60 player LAN's in Frankston, just not under the banner of GreenTubeLAN. There is talk of a reshuffle with admin and staff for a more publicly aimed LAN in Frankston and I'll keep everyone updated here as the news comes. I suspect some decision will be reached during the first week of August.
That's about it for this week I'm afraid. There isn't a lot of news, I haven't moved out yet (although this week there's a few $120-$140 pw units in Drouin about 500m from the Station I will look at checking out during the week!) and yeah...

- - Craig Mattson

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Woohoo! A New Wireless Router! (28/06/2009 10:04:45 AM)

It's been a pretty BIIIIIG week again with a lot happening. I am enjoying a very quiet Sunday so I can catch up on much needed rest / game playing etc... At the start of the week, the new iPhone OS 3.0 was released introducing features that most normal standard Mobile Phones have such as MMS and Internet Tethering. I can't exactly see why it's called 3.0 given the interface hasn't changed, menu's haven't changed much either... looks more like another Service Pack / Minor Revision to me! If Microsoft had the same approach, we would be up to Windows 21 by now (think of all those Windows 2000 Service Packs!).

Work Life

Anyway, in regards to work life - things are starting to make sense more rapidly (last week, I did say that I wasn't picking up things as well as I would have hoped for) - at least with the product I am currently working on. I've been able to fix some bugs with relative ease, and implement new functionality in regards to business rules with e-mail requirements (to which a build is apparently happening Monday for - so fingers crossed I didn't introduce any bugs!). I'm certainly enjoying the job more-so than last week. I'm hoping this again improves over the next couple of weeks.

Mobile Again!!!

Thursday night, I finally got myself a new battery for my laptop - after spending 2 weeks without one, it's great to be mobile again. Being able to do some work on the train, reading e-books, doing some work for some clients etc... it's great. And now with 3G Tethering, at least when I am in Pakenham onwards - the internet is quicker than my home broadband connection! I'd better watch the data ofcourse - I don't want a $4,000 bill just for one days use of the internet heheh... But the speed is good - and hopefully if I do move out (and it happens to be in Melbourne somewhere), I can pay for an extra 5GB and not worry about the landline! I'm still annoyed I can't break into iPhone development yet - this requirement to get myself a MacBook to do some Objective-C programming is really giving me the shits. If I knew I could make $30,000 or so out of an application - then sure, I'd splash out on a MacBook Pro straight away. But for the time being, my ThinkPad T60p is still well and truly overspec'd (It now has 8GB of RAM and soon to be running Piss64) with a great screen resolution that it's not going to be replaced any time soon!

Wireless Router!!!

Yes, I finally brought one - just some random D-Link run-of-the-mill router. So far, the internet has been live for 18 hours with no crashes, so I can re-retire my old Netgear 802.11b router + D-Link DSL302G Modem once again. This now leads to another important point - it's time to dismantle and smash up the Billion 7300G. Much akin to the video destroying my old Toshiba Satellite 200CDS, I need some suggestions as to what could be fun - whether it be a sparkle bomb, hooking a rocket up to it, drop testing it, the good-old car running over it trick (a truck or tractor maybe?), horse stomping on it........ It needs to be fun though.

Music

I've been pretty quiet on the music front lately. I have a few remixes in progress - particularly for Wizards and Warriors and a few videos that have been requested for YouTube. So far, that list includes: Mega Man 3 - Protoman Theme, Air Fortress - Introduction Theme, Faxanadu - Overground Theme (again), Mega Man 3 - Dr. Wily Stages 3 / 4 and for some reason, some real music - Titanic - My Heart Will Go On and Forrest Gump - Main Theme.

They *are* recorded on my Video Camera already, and they will be posted on YouTube when I can be arsed getting them off the camera (truth be told, I can't find my Firewire card - and my battery leaked!!! Shows just how much I use it.). But anyway, once they are up - I'll post an alert here.

Wish List and Things To Do...

With some newly found freedom over the weekends, I've got to start putting them to good use. First and foremost is moving out. Again, I'm in 2 minds about whether I move into Melbourne, or just move into Warragul / Drouin. Pros and Cons to both. Warragul / Drouin being on the Train Line ~ $58.90 per week by Train, rent is approximately $150-$180 per week, I gain 3 hours each day to relax / work on client business. The second option is Some of the South Eastern / Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne. Rent is approximately $250-$300 per week, I lose 120 minutes each day on Public Transport (crowded / standing), but closer to work (particularly if I am driving or were to look at Box Hill).

The better financial and personal decision would be Drouin / Warragul (or even Longwarry - Nar Nar Goon), which gives me time to browse over the next year to purchase a house (wage is just under the right amount for a good home loan, and I want to ensure I have some sort of future where I am first before consuming myself in debt!).

The Wish List has already begun which includes an LCD TV, 2 x 24 " LCD's.

LAN Party - Coming Soon

1st to 2nd August at the DLC Venue guys!!! This time, the LAN will be run by Neon and his group of Admin. Great news for me - I will actually get some time playing games. It's $20 per person, and estimated to get 60 people registered. I know it's not over the school holidays, but it should still be fun - at least if you do the Saturday night, go home early Sunday Morning. I think the arrangements will be very similar for a DLC + GreenTubeLAN (i.e. midday to 10:00AM) - have to keep your eyes on the DLC website.

Um... that's about it. This has been a ramble. I'll try to make minor updates during the week, but if not - until next week.

- - Craig Mattson

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First week at work amongst other things... (21/06/2009 07:57:29 AM)

Ok... so it's Sunday morning, and I did promise an update on the weekend (so those of me through various IM clients who have been bugging me for this update, here it is!!!).

Work has been interesting. I've been getting up at 5:30AM each morning to catch the 6:51AM train from Drouin, got myself a weekly ticket which was expensive - but much cheaper than a couple of driving trips. The good thing about paying full fare is First Class seems like a bargain which is particularly useful for the 6:25PM Bairnsdale service. Travel does also consist of one tram change which has proven to not be much of a problem at all. In fact, although I spend anywhere from 1:30 to 2:00 to get to work (and of course, again on the reverse), the travel time seems like nothing. I suppose I do have work to do, music that needs listening, people who need my technical expertise etc... But otherwise, the trip to and from is pretty easy and relaxing.

As you would expect, moving into a development job does require a good understanding of what systems you will be working on. Unfortunately for me, these systems make Access Education look like Hello World even with it's 40 tables and 200 stored procedures, it's nothing compared to the first system I am working on. So yeah, it's quite daunting.

This week has mainly been reading Source Code, setting up my computer, setting up Virtual Machines, setting up IIS7 (which after installing one system, I've learned heaps about Application Pools and Components) and setting up COM+. By about Wednesday, I had the chance to look at Source Code and start to piece together the workings of one application. Classic ASP is pretty easy, and particularly, the integration with COM / VB6 does make things more appealing than PHP in regards to setting up complex business applications. By the way, I really should put a plug in here for Professional Active Server Pages 3.0 by Wrox as the book is easy for beginners and covers a complex range of integration topics namely Active Directory, ADO, XML, COM and COM+, Message Queuing etc... So yeah, if you need to learn Classic ASP, that's the book you want! Much better than Google + Brain!

On Friday, I was finally given some bugs to look at fixing, and I'm happy to report that I was able to offer a fix for it. Although, the fix was with a Stored Procedure rather than the application code - I was pretty happy with myself.

So, do I like the job? I honestly don't know. This week, for the first time in my life, I thought I was a complete dud. That is; I wasn't understanding things as well as I would have liked which conflicts with everything I have done. Towards the end of the week, I was feeling much better - especially after being able to do something useful! The other thing I'm not good at is relaxing. I'm a person who wants to do stuff. I don't like to wait, I don't like feeling like not achieving anything. I know it's not the right attitude to have when it comes to programming (the Access Education website was similar in regards to not achieving much in a single day), but yeah - just getting used to the whole proper development role for a company has been interesting thus far. Compared to my other jobs I have had, the days go very quickly. That's a bonus as far as I'm concerned at the moment.

So yeah - in other news, Railworks has finally been released - on Steam. If you signed up like I told you to do (on the website), you will find it available for $29.99USD with your promotional code. So get downloading! There's a million improvements in regards to signalling and lighting, and worth the $38.06AUD it cost me when I brought it.

Also - there is a possibility of a LAN Party happening in Seaford again, this time not run by GreenTubeLAN + DLC-Lan. Instead, Neon from SAN-LAN is looking to do something in August if interested. Keep an eye on the DLC-Lan forums. I'll be there!

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Finished Casual Work! (13/06/2009 04:03:36 PM)

So... I finished my last shift 3 hours ago from the time of posting. I have now finished up at all casual jobs, ready to start a full-time permanent position as a .NET Developer in Richmond! I'm certainly looking forward to it - and actually launching my career finally in Software Development / Consultancy / Whatever-IT-Related... I'll post more about what I end up doing at the end of the week.

- - Craig Mattson

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Help! I don't understand how to program! (11/06/2009 09:48:48 PM)
Programming - yeah I get it. It's not everyone's cup of tea. It's also not terribly difficult either if you bother to plan your strategies properly. It's not hard to plan, and with a good plan - it becomes an instruction manual. Once you have your instruction manual, you're translating between your plan and the programming language. At the end of it, you have a program. It sounds so simple and so easy, so why do newcomers still find programming a challenge?

Lets face it - if you struggle with programming, when was the last time you actually sat down to plan out properly how you will tackle a program? We have standard ways to represent various abstractions of a program. We don't have them to look busy, or to make some business executive happy - we use them because they help. Granted, for many things I do - I don't need a plan, but as soon as something becomes complex - out comes Visio, NetBeans or just Pen and Paper. Again - I don't do it to look busy, it's merely there to help.

So why don't newcomers do it? Is it they are unaware (unlikely given most good tutorial websites and programming courses discuss Class Diagrams, Sequence Diagrams, Activity Diagrams, Pseudocode etc...) that tools exist to help? Is it considered "stupid" to plan? Is it just simply trying to cut corners and do the bare minimum to pass? I've been trying to work this out for a while - but the clear link between someone who struggles to understand programming and for those that do seems to be at the planning stage.

Over the years, I've worked with people that know the syntax, can write if I give them step by step instructions which suggests they understand the programming language - but getting an idea onto paper seems to be where the problem is. So why is it so?

Lets, for example, take a simple Member Database application. All we really have to do is Create/Read/Update/Delete members and provide a mechanism for doing so. A Member may have a First Name, Surname, Address, Suburb, State, Postcode. So instantly, I can see we need to set up a storage component for Member details, and an application to control the storage component. Class Diagrams (UML) are a good way of representing our objects, methods etc... If you know Class Diagrams, then you would understand the following:

* * * * * * * *

Member
_____________
-firstName : string
-surname : string
-address : string
-suburb : string
-state : State
-postcode : string
_____________
+Member(firstName : string, surname : string, address : string, suburb : string, state : State, postcode : string)
+getFirstName() : string
+getSurname() : string
+getAddress() : string
+Add(member : Member)
+Get(id : int)
+Update(id : int, member : Member)
+Delete(id : int)
+Delete (member : Member)

State
_____________
VIC
NSW
QLD
NT
SA
ACT
WA
TAS

* * * * * * * *


So it's easy to determine our data and methods based on the information above. So what about the methods? This is where Sequence and Activity diagrams shine - but for the purpose of this blog, I'll keep it simple with Pseudocode. I won't go through all methods here, but here's just a few:

getFirstName():

Return the member's first name.

Add(Member):

Add a member to the database

Get(id):

Find a member in the database corresponding to an ID
If member exists then
    return member
else
    return nothing

Update(id, Member):

Find if a member with an ID exists
If member exists then
    update member details in the database
else
    display error message

* * * * * * * *


So once you have your pseudocode down, and your classes drawn up - it's now just a translation process into your favourite language. Whether it be VB, Python, C#, Java etc... the process is simple. Translate the class diagram into a normal class, then for each of the methods - translate the Pseudocode.

If you practice enough, you will find that for smaller tasks you don't even need to plan, or that simply put - you end up coding your classes as if that replaces the need for a class diagram (I will more often do this instead of creating Class Diagrams followed by plenty of refactoring).

If I can be bothered in a future blog post, I'll translate it into various languages - but even a newbie programmer should be able to see how to piece an application together from this.

[0 Comment(s)]


I'm now employed... full time! (09/06/2009 09:45:38 PM)

Hi All,

I think I've told most people now, but if you haven't heard - I've finally scored myself a job as a .NET Developer in Richmond, Victoria. The title so far is ambigious - given my first set of tasks will be to learn ASP and maintain an existing system (that IS correct - ASP, not ASP.Net - using VBScript, not C#). This isn't so bad either. While I have never actually completed any ASP work before, I have played with VBScript - and given the years I've played with Visual Basic, ASP does look pretty easy - albeit frustrating without semi-colons.

It's quite funny actually - looking back on Visual Basic, I knew my way around it pretty well prior to 2006 (when I actually used it religiously) - but trying to remember NOT to place semi-colons and to use "Dim <name> as <Object>" instead of "Object <name>" - it's almost like going backwards! The good news though is my PHP skills are translating over nicely - and good to see the striking similarities between both platforms.

There was one thing that striked me as odd though in the interview. For one, I didn't realise XML / XSD / XSLT's are used much in the industry. I couldn't fathom why we covered such a boring and mundane task in Web Systems 2 at University, but I'm glad I did - and more importantly - remember the concepts taught in the two weeks we covered it. I mean, I know XML is the backbone of most communications (you look at SOAP, NAB Transact's XML API guide, Configuration Files in .NET in general) - I suppose it makes sense to understand XSLT's to skin and separate your data.

Anyway - the good news is that I can, finally and regretfully, move on from current part-time and casual employment and launch a career in IT. I know I've done a lot of work for various clients over the years and most of that work has kept me afloat through Secondary College and University. I am appreciative of the support both employers and clients have given me over the past few years, but now is the time for me to move on and get some proper industry experience.

I start Monday 15th June - so it'll be a very interesting (and tiresome week I would imagine). I've never actually completed 5 days straight; 9:00AM to 5:00PM going to work. Sure, I've pulled about 2 years of no breaks - but I swear, it's going to be a cultural shock to have set hours, regular and secure pay, weekends off and ANNUAL LEAVE!!!!!

- - Craig Mattson

[0 Comment(s)]


An Anticipated Delay (07/06/2009 04:36:37 PM)

Here's one for the books! An "anticipated" delay as opposed to a confirmed delay. See for yourself:

iphone_sms_vline_488

Question: How does an anticipated delay help anyone? That kind of suggests that if the service is on time, that the train will leave. Lets face it, there's bugger all to do in Warragul at the Train Station - if it was confirmed late, then you could go and do something useful - such as eat at Subway (closest slow fast food).

Edit (09 / 06 / 2009): Turns out that V/Line is using the term yet again this-morning! Straight from my inbox:

email_vline_636

[0 Comment(s)]


A hidden feature... (02/06/2009 03:40:45 PM)

Hi All,

I haven't written for a little while, so here's a bit of a "packed" update:

Hidden iPhone Feature:

Using the iPhone yesterday at work, I pressed the power button and the "button" button (does it have a name?) and the camera noise went off - and the screen flashed. Didn't know what it was doing, I just figured it was a short (or long) way of taking a photo. As I was going through my photo roll last night on the camera, I noticed a few screenshots appearing.

I can't say it's widely discussed anywhere (and a bit odd to pull off a power button and "button" button action in it's silicon case) - or how it's even useful for most people. I suppose the best use I have for it is to take random screenshots and send them [via Palringo] to random people on MSN Messenger as clout.

Ummm.... that is all.

My degree finally arrived!!!

I now have a degree in a tube, delivered by A/Prof. Aust Post. If anyone is interested on MSN Messenger, I can send a photo of the degree - and it's anomalies. For starters, how does a printer mis-align / skew text - let alone the spelling of "authorized" (sic) for an Australian University.

I must say - for a prestige university, they certainly don't act like it sometimes!

Finally, tonight...

Ok, ok... This isn't going to help 99% of the people who read this blog - but NZ's Outrageous Fortune Season 5 premieres tonight on TV3 in New Zealand. If you want to read more about the show (chances are, you've probably seen some episodes in Australia), then visit the website here.

If you are wondering why we don't have it in Australia, something to do with Season 1 and 2 being aired simultaneously on Channel 9 and Ten last year may have something to do with it.

- - Craig Mattson

[1 Comment(s)]


What a load of ... (23/05/2009 02:34:14 PM)

garbage! I must have missed the absurd claim by Sunrise in April made by Peter Blasina "The Gadget Guy" who suggested the internet was filling up - but apparently the claim was made and has caused a stir (I haven't heard about this until today, so I can't imagine the stir being so great). So who better to get on board than the Herald Sun of the internet? That's right! ZDNet is on the prowl again trying to make a funny out of the most absurd statement I've heard in a long time.

Maybe the notion that there are not enough IP addresses in IPv4 (i.e. 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255) to allocate to each machine is the problem - but this is where a temporary solution of NAT may be useful for home internet users. Not everyone needs a physical IP address. But with IPv6 making headway, this still is a ridiculous claim. Maybe the reference is to the pipeline between Australia and other countries in which can be fixed (and probably will be).

Anyway - I will wait for the next absurdity...

[0 Comment(s)]


What is Vista... really? (19/05/2009 09:06:58 PM)
take_secret_898
 
This explains a lot... an operating system chomping on RAM and HDD's. A game that is enjoyable for a small amount of time.

[0 Comment(s)]


This month's most incredibly pointless website... (18/05/2009 05:15:53 PM)

I might make a regular feature of this... but anyway - today browsing the internet, I found this:

This is possibly the most incredibly pointless website I have seen. Why? Simple. All PC operating systems that could run this website ALREADY HAVE A CALCULATOR BUILT IN!!!

[1 Comment(s)]


Counterfeit Yum Cha Products Anyone? (17/05/2009 05:50:25 PM)

I'm currently battling with potentially the strangest thing I have come across to do with Hardware and counterfeiting. It turns out that my Billionton Bluetooth USB Dongle is ... counterfeit. It's also more-bizarre-than-normal as Billionton itself is a Yum Cha company probably ripping off other designs as well. The company itself even boasts a counterfeit guide showing what to look for, as if a $7 Bluetooth dongle is worth all that hassle. Check the website out : www.billionton.com

Anyway, turns out that Bluetooth itself isn't exactly free - and battling with Yum Cha products is making my hair fall out (not that some would consider that a bad thing)... But anyway, a rather strange thing.

- - Craig Mattson

[0 Comment(s)]


I haven't done anything new lately. (16/05/2009 09:44:14 PM)
stumbled_524

Looking through Windows Live Messenger today, I found that apparently I have a profile of some description that people can find or something to that effect. I think it's trying to be another social engineering site - and failing... clearly. The fact that it thinks I've done nothing new lately is absurd - and clearly a demonstration of how sucky Microsoft is at determining what I am doing "lately" in my life. Lets start with the last two weeks.

Sunday 3rd May: A few clients called with some minor problems in regards to websites, applications, or general needing help with computers. Easy to deal with as they come while I worked on a few packaging ideas for one of my work places.

Monday 4th May: Work - plenty of it! Must have performed at least 10 miracles.

Tuesday 5th May: Rostered day off... or so it was to be. Has one client on the phone for most of the day with website related issues. I was going to use it to catch up on other client work - but noooo... the calls just kept coming in.

Wednesday 6th May: Work again - photo taking this time though for a product catalogue. After listening to a billion excuses for why things aren't done / don't work, I went home to answer 4 - 5 client calls.

Thursday 7th May: Website maintenance at it's best. Sometimes, people just need to look at the facts rather than listen to the voice of one person. Anyway, another pressure filled day.

Friday 8th May: A day of absolute mayhem. Apart from working late, traffic was annoying and waiting was worse. Good news was the Nando's in Ringwood! Bad news was home at midnight. In bed sleeping by 2AM.

Saturday 9th May: Worst possible Saturday ever - while we were understaffed as it was, we still managed to process the work and then it was time to do some Mothers Day Shopping. For the first time ever, I drove to Frankston, seen a bunch of cars around, couldn't find a car park so I drove to Warragul. The first time I haven't felt like stopping!!! Anyway, did the shopping - Warragul is completely dead after 5:00PM Saturday.

Sunday 10th May: HEAD FRYERS ALL DAY! If it's not my old web host playing up, it's some one wanting something for nothing. Good news was the slight 1 hour distraction in the afternoon to be a human Java Debugger. The concept is quite simple. Java has a shithouse debugger. Go back home to a tremendously large amount of waahs!

Monday 11th May: Got some packaging approved, got some cards ordered, a really good day for productivity.

Tuesday 12th May: Another day of head fryers. This was GOING to be the day I spent on one client's website - but completely overrun with a billion issues with another. Should put a side note here for data recovery - an actual real existing assignment deleted. The world brings new surprises. All data was recovered nicely.

Wednesday 13th May: The most unproductive day I have had at work. Made one change to a card - and that's it. I suppose I did some more catalogue work - but I could have done this at home where I was set up to do it.

Thursday 14th May: Head Frying day. Spent the day striving for an idiot-proof website. Clearly that won't ever happen, but getting close. Rode 2 different Hitachi's today mind you! That was a positive, even if it was for the total of one station each time.

Friday 15th May: What do you do to kill time after finishing work at 2:30PM? You go for the worlds slowest drive to Fountain Gate, spend the longest time possible in Cash Converters trying to spend money, find the furthest plausible McDonalds with Free Wifi, find the one in Berwick is a good enough drive, spend an hour eating potentially the worlds most disgusting meal (it's up there with Tandoori King), drive back to Fountain Gate to check out what Harvey Norman is selling cheap, buy a cheap $10 3.5mm Retractable cable with a 10% discount ($9), drive back to Berwick 1 hour before I was supposed to, figure out what is around Berwick (I was contemplating at one stage seeing how quick I could drive to Lilydale and back), ready to watch a game of Hockey. Got home late (again) ready for the internet to drop out every chance it could to irritate me. The final thing to tick me off was AMH losing 3 months worth of data due to a corrupt backup. Guess what's on the cards Sunday :(

Saturday 16th May: Adidas and their sales... Good work to all those bargain hunters that taken up all our parking space for work. At least I got a park. Quite funny to see the police around booking illegally parked cars mind you.

So as far as Craig hasn't done anything new lately? Well sorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry if I can't be arsed updating the what I've done page on some profile I stumbled across today.

* * * * * *

On a more serious note, I've not just gone over the threshold - I've passed it well and truly this time. The lack of energy, lack of motivation etc... at the moment in conjunction with not being able to secure many interviews has worn my patience thin. I'm not in need of more clients, more websites etc... I'm tired and worn out. Finishing up where I am is the goal now - I'm hoping to take 4-5 days off all work at the start of next month. (Starting Saturday arvo until Saturday the following week).

[0 Comment(s)]


Windows Vista ... plausible (14/05/2009 07:22:18 PM)

For those who have followed this blog, or know me - knows that I absolutely hate the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system. It is slow, poorly coded, battery draining and incomplete (just take a look at display settings!!!). Anyway, with Windows 7 on the horizon, I figured I would get myself a copy of Windows Vista x64. If you are a student with an *.edu.au e-mail address, you can purchase a copy for $80 off www.itsnotcheating.com.au.

Anyway, I installed Windows Vista x64 Ultimate Edition onto my PC. My PC isn't slow by any means, it has an Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0GHz, 8GB of RAM (DDR-800), 2 x 1TB Western Digital Black drives (RAID-1) and an ATI Radeon HD4850 512MB - Vista happens to be running reasonably well. I suppose I would expect any Operating System to run that well under any Operating System.

I haven't used it that much - games are still slower than XP, but if you are sick of slow Vista - maybe spend a good $1,000 upgrading your PC and you may just get something reasonably fast.

[0 Comment(s)]


Server Changed (11/05/2009 09:15:27 PM)

Hi All,

Just to let you know that if you're seeing this message - my domain has delegated to my Australian hosting provider. Hoping for a blog post or two soon(ish).

Cheers,
Craig.

[1 Comment(s)]


Another iPhone Review (01/05/2009 09:58:28 PM)

iphone_495After owning an iPhone for more than a week now, and the constant "what's it like" messages I'm getting (which consequently has made me turn off my Personal Messages on MSN Messenger), I'm telling the world!

Hardware

Let's face it, the iPhone looks sweet. It's got shiny metal, a glass screen and did I say it's shiny? To pick it up, it definitely has no plastic feel to it - just a solid device that feels like it would shatter rather than crack if I dropped it. To me, it feels like "right" weight and size.

The sound from the device is nothing spectacular, but then again - what Mobile Phone is? The phone speaker is noticably clearer than my previous mobile phones. The antennae must be weaker in some respect - as there are certainly more dead zones at home than my previous phones.

The touch screen is really sensitive (at the right tolerance level), and the screen is large and bright (I have to turn the brightness down so it doesn't blind me inside...). The whole "feel" of the device to me is great - the buttons "just" work.

I can't really fault the hardware - rather I could say it would be nice to have the arrows on the button somewhere.

Software:

What the iPhone can do, it does really well. The User Interface is nice to play with, the applications bundled work well (i.e. searching for contacts, e-mailing, the web browser, the iPod etc...). Applications run extremely quick, transitions are quick and a LOT more pleasant to play with.

The web browser for a mobile phone is great, except when you are on a 2G connection. While there are anomolies in the web browser, it is easily the most impressive feature of an iPhone (which really sucks - as it's just a stripped down version that acts exactly the same as Firefox, Internet Explorer etc...). On 3G however, the browser really shines. While Opera Mini is good, it's much more convienent to have tabbed browsing and the zoom in / out features of Opera Mini.

A compression option would be nice!!! But understanding how Opera Mini works, I wouldn't anticipate it being terribly useful either. The short of it all is that 3G really should be standard now anyway, and hopefully Australia can catch up!

Third Party Applications

There is a LOT of rubbish in the iTunes store. The number of messaging clients that are rubbishware really irriates me. The biggest letdown with the architecture of the iPhone is possibly background applications. Maybe I'm just used to a PDA multitasking, but knowing how slow a standard 450MHz Windows Mobile PDA can get, I can also understand why Apple doesn't run things in the background.

This ofcourse, makes it a problem for background applications (which is where this Push technology is kind of useful - especially where developers make use of it). Push is basically a method of alerting the user of something happening sent from Apples servers. I believe it shows up similar to an SMS which can be useful under a lot of contexts.

This really shows the way of future mobile computing (that is; process data on powerful servers rather than on the device itself). Some forums suggest that multi-threading is a major oversight putting the architecture back 10 years - which is true to an extent, but Push and external servers can easily compensate for that and it is definitely evident in the GUI that the iPhone attempts to use minimal resources as possible.

So the App store is easy to use, but with the tonne of rubbish on there, it is really hard to find a useful and workable application. Given the way the device works, no programs I have downloaded apart from Palringo (an IM+ client) restore the state of the application upon reload. It just so happens there is clearly a crowd of developers who design crap interfaces for the iPhone (fring comes to mind).

The Phone:

The phone itself is garbage. Having owned one of the first hybrid Analog / Digital CDMA phones years ago (that could only receive SMS's - not send them), I was able to define my own ringtones and SMS tones without having to pay anyone any money.

So with Apple's super-dooper-easy-to-use philosophy, the way I was able to upload a custom ringtone was to locate my song in iTunes I wanted, go to the song's properties, reduce the play time to 40 seconds, create an AAC version of the song, rename the extension to have "r" as the final character, select ringtones, drag the new file in, go to Synchronise, find the Ringtones tab, select the ringtone I want to synchronise, click the synchronise button, wait, go to settings, find the phone options and finally - set the Ringtone.

So I thought that was ridiculous until I found I cannot upload a custom SMS tone without Jailbreaking the iPhone. USELESS!

The synchronising of contacts from Outlook automatically was good, as I now have complete details for all my contacts (e-mail addresses, phone etc...) - the keypad looks hideous and yeah...

For a phone, it is really ... something ... to operate. I believe it is potentially the biggest flaw on the iPhone (close to Apple's NDA's)

SMS

I love G-Mail, and have done ever since I was invited on the launch day. SMS's work as conversations on the iPhone - and as G-Mail does the same thing, I find it a really good way of representing SMS's. Just had to get that out there!

Battery Life:

Having owned a Nokia 6300 for the past 18 months, I must say I am impressed with the battery life of the iPhone. It is still terrible to see the phone only last a day, but it is doing more than my Nokia 6300 used to do (which barely lasted half a day). The fact the phone goes into standby quick is a good thing, and it doesn't whinge when the battery is running low.

Charging via USB is a welcome addition to my phone of course, especially at work where I use the internet, MP3's etc... the most.

Multimedia:

Easily the best thing the phone can do. I've never really liked iPods. I've given soooo many away as birthday presents because I always hated the interface. The iPhone still shits me that I have to synchronise it with whatever client I happen to be using - but anyway, I can get my stuff onto it and use it to listen to music (hardly worth carrying my Pocket PC around if I have a device supposedly better at playing music).

Having a proper device designed for music through headphones is a welcome addition though. Unlike my Pocket PC which managed to stuff up even the best headphones, the iPhone manages to have a good equaliser for the supplied headphones. I do enjoy using the headphones - but I really hate having to create a playlist (coming from Linux and Windows, I'm used to grouping my music into folders - not albums).

Videos are good enough to replace my laptop for watching. Normally when I would go to bed, I would use my laptop to play a movie. The iPhone really excels at video playing (once converted), and with sound makes it easier to watch something on the train or in bed.

Having a native YouTube app is also cool. Watching The Apprentice UK on the iPhone of a Friday morning is something I've been able to do twice - and really cool.

Productivity:

Uh... what is productivity? You mean... use Office... on your mobile? You mean work?... as in handling lots of e-mails???... If productivity is your main concern then forget the iPhone. It's utterly useless for large volumes of data. Believe me, I've tried dealing with e-mail accounts in the inbuilt application - and it's just impossible.

I'll just use Safari to browse the internet for the time being.

Verdict:

The iPhone is certainly cool (especially with some of the games), and it is clear Apple has tried to design an easy to use interface and on the most part has been successful. Does it replace my other phones? Absolutely not. Most other manufacturers seem to have a differing philosophy to Apple. That is; when you buy a Nokia mobile phone, they basically give you permission to go nuts. They give you everything such as turning your mobile phone into a modem, setting everything, downloading applications, uploading anything you want really. But not Apple. To make the device more useful, it looks like I will be Jailbreaking it soon.

I have a good anecdote for this. Imagine you were buying a kitchen consisting of a Stove, Microwave, Kettle and Cabinets. Everything looks fantastic - the best thing you have ever seen. They all have nice clear LCD's with touch panels and have the best user interface of any kitchen appliance you have ever seen. The microwave has been finetuned to cook your food evenly and efficiently without your input. The oven compartment of the stove is easy to use, you type your meal in and it'll adjust it's settings for you. The price is right too! A good medium price for a high end product. You're about to sign up and pay for one of these kitchens.

You ask the salesman "does the stove come with the stove top?". The salesman says "No." You say "can I get a third party one?". The salesman says "Absolutely not.". You think Ok... maybe you can get away with buying a hotplate later on because the rest of the package is great. You look at the supplied kettle and think wow - I could make hot chocolate, coffees etc... with the kettle so you ask the salesman about what you can do with the kettle. The salesman replies "You must use compatible coffee only.". You say "can't I use Nescafe?". The salesman replies "No. It must be from our store, otherwise it won't make it". You end up buying it because it's just too shiny and too good to walk away from. You get it home, and try to use the oven and the microwave at the same time - but it's not going to let you because you can only use one thing at a time. That's what the iPhone is like.

Now, in another kitchen store, you find the Nokia, Samsung and HTC equivalent kitchen. They look like a standard kitchen with some pricey, some not-so-pricey. The oven is just standard, and requires you to use manual inputs that take a while longer. The kettle does everything you want, but has 8 settings - 6 of which you will never use. The Microwave requires you to read the manual to find the location of the stop button, but once you find it's under a completely unrelated menu item, you know how to operate it. You ask the salesman about the kettle and how you would like to upgrade it. The salesman says "yeah, sure - all these kitchens can run a third party kettle as long as you have this free attachment.". You also ask about the stove - can it be shiny? The salesman says "yeah, for $10 extra, you can get this coat of paint that makes everything look shiny". This is what other devices are like.

At the end of the day, the iPhone is a consumer device - nothing more. It's a cool item to play with, but the novelty will eventually wear thin. If you're looking for productivity, the Pocket PC is the way to go. Although the Pocket PC or even Nokia / Samsung / Motorola / LG / Sony etc... may not look as nice, they do the job. I could never see the iPhone becoming a business tool - but definitely the other brands can be.

I didn't get the iPhone because it looked cool, I got it so I can start developing applications for it. Not to mention, the cap plan is really good value for the amount I'm using the phone now. So yeah - hopefully I will be releasing a few applications soon.

Anyway, I have a workplace to supervise tomorrow - better get some sleep.

- - Craig Mattson.

[0 Comment(s)]


Zombie Macs Sighted!!! (21/04/2009 09:07:23 PM)

With the recent Macintosh trojan making headlines on Tech websites, there's definitely plenty of people arguing if Macintosh is really secure, is it as bad as Windows, could Linux get this type of trojan and whether pirated software is good / bad. At the core of the issue though is the Trojan itself. It's nothing overly complex, or technically penetrating any flaws in the Operating System itself. It is simply relying on permissions granted to the Trojan as part of an install process.

This is pretty common in the Windows world - and most of this stems from our good old underground software groups. You see, if you install an application and give it root access, then you're bound to have trouble. If I was hypothetically going to create a crack for an application and embed code to open a CD tray every 5 minutes, all I need is access to root to install a service.

Under Windows, this is automatically granted in Windows XP if you are the system administrator - not so in Vista if you have UAC enabled (you know, the annoying messages everyone turns off!). Under Mac, you log in as a root user to do so (or at least, grant the software administration rights as part of starting the installation). Is this a flaw? For the Apple Macintosh and the Setup Packaging suite, it very well could be - but no more than Windows and cabinet installs - where if you launch it, the operating system assumes on your approval that the software is fine.

MSN viruses seem like they target the operating system. Granted the Jpeg buffer overflow trick workedin older versions of Windows XP, but newer versions are all about exploiting software to trick the user into installing applications and granting permission through Social Engineering. What is stopping iChat receiving a trojan (if not already happening) that tricks the user into installing random "cool" updates.

With advertisements such as the Viruses campaign Apple released upon the rebranding of Apple Macintosh, it is no wonderthe botnet was successful. This is something Apple may need to address in the future is that while the core is secure, the core does not stop applications playing up - and with comments like "I can download anything I want without getting viruses" being fairly prevailent amongst "John Citizen's", this type of thing will continue happening on mass scale.

We'll see if the media picks up on the Macintosh trojan and milk it for what it's worth.

[2 Comment(s)]


GTA IV weighs twice as much as me!!! (05/04/2009 07:54:03 PM)

floppy_394When I am bored, sometimes I sit down and think of something to calculate. So today, I did just that - I got out GTA IV DVD's. Now lets face it, how I come up with things is even beyond me - today's comparison was how many Floppy Disks would it take to store GTA IV. So here's the result:

GTA IV DVD1: 7,553,034,240 bytes
GTA IV DVD2: 7,313,483,776 bytes
Floppy Disk (1.44MB): 1,474,560 bytes (remember, there is a file system overhead!)

If you wanted to factor in spanning using ZIP, then you would have to add header bytes and spanning into your equasion (header once, spanning * number of disks).

Total Size: 14,866,518,016 bytes
Total Disks: 10,082.003 (Technically, this would be 10,083 disks).

No where has the exact weight of a floppy disk, but it is acceptable that 10 Floppy Disks in a box weigh 200g, so minus the weight of the box (say 2.5 FDD's worth) = 150g / 10 = 15g.

Total Weight: 10,083 x 15g = 151.245 Kg

So... That's the equivalent to double my weight! Now to work out how long approximately it would take to install...

If a floppy disk has 80 tracks, latency is ~100ms, access/stroke time is ~900ms and track to track access time is ~140ms, it takes approximately 1.140s to read a full track (these values are experimental and are not intended to be accurate by ANY means!!!). So... 1.140s x 80 = 91.2 Seconds or 1.52 minutes. Add the time to change the floppy disk and to click OK, + 10 seconds.

Total Time: 1.62 x 10,082 = 16,332.84 minutes OR 272.21 hours OR 11.34 days.

This is not taking into account either a CRC error on some disk in the middle. So there you have it. All I can say is:

Thank God for DVD's.

[1 Comment(s)]


LINQ - You know... just another acronym... (29/03/2009 08:43:45 PM)

crystal_clear_app_kedit_128Since the .NET Framework 3.5 was released, one buzzword floating around was LINQ (Language Integrated Query). I didn't take much note of it until tonight when I was looking for more jobs to apply for. So anyway, for those of you who haven't (and are C# or just .NET developers), this may be an interesting read for you.

What is LINQ?

If you've played with an ANSI SQL99 compliant database (read: MySQL, Oracle, MSSQL etc...), you will understand the following code:

SELECT * FROM table1 WHERE column1=expression ORDER BY column1 ASC;

The idea of LINQ is to take a similar structure and apply it to an array or list of objects. The concept though of LINQ isn't to create a list of methods (although the Language Integrated component acts as a pointer to a set of methods which I will discuss later), but to add keywords into the language to flow it similar to SQL.

Example Please!

The first and probably most easy example is to create a standard 1D array of strings. Lets assume we have Victorian suburbs / towns as the names:

string[] towns = { "Neerim South", "Caulfield", "Clayton", "Pakenham", "Drouin", "Warragul" };

These are in no particular order - so I will use LINQ to sort these into alphabetical order. However, LINQ (as far as I can tell) is only usable if the object uses the interface IEnumerable. This interface basically allows you to implement foreach iterations without requiring you to set up counters etc... Anyway, if you are using IEnumerable (or an object that implements the IEnumerable interface), you can use the following code:

IEnumerable sortedTowns = from t in towns order by t select t;

So that's just it. If you were to put a where clause in, you would do it between the from and orderby. From here, the data is sorted in alphabetical order and will return the t as the string.

What about classes?

Lets assume I have an object called Item with properties Name and Age. I will create 4 objects:

List i = new List();
i.Add(new Item() { Name = "Craig", Age = 21 });
i.Add(new Item() { Name = "Arkady", Age = 24 });
i.Add(new Item() { Name = "Claudia", Age = 21 });
i.Add(new Item() { Name = "Daniel", Age = 17 });
i.Add(new Item() { Name = "Benjamin", Age = 21 });

So now that I have my objects, lets create a query:

IEnumerable query = from item in i where item.Age > 18 orderby item.Name select new Item() { Name = item.Name, Age = item.Age };

What this does is iterate through the list and we are returning an Item (as defined by the ). Now, just like any IEnumerable class, you can use a foreach to iterate through:

foreach(Item itm in i)
{
    // Handle the Item
}

So how does it work again?

Quite simply, the keywords are mapped to methods in the IEnumerable interface. That is; OrderBy<>, Where<>, Select<> etc... are actually methods that are aliased by the use of "orderby", "where" and "select" keywords in the .NET Framework. So you could theoertically do the same thing above except use:

query.OrderBy(item.Name);

Conclusion

This LINQ stuff is pretty neat! It would have been particularly useful in one of my recent projects instead of writing a bunch of Stored Procedures to handle different sorts (or converting data to a dataset to sort). Anywho - we'll see how I go using this stuff now. Unfortunately, this is yet another one of those very handy at reducing code features that PHP is missing. Sure, I can code my classes to replicate those methods, but that takes time.

It's clearly evident that development time in ASP.Net is becoming substantially quicker than PHP, especially in data driven applications. With DataGrids, Classes, Direct Integration and Code Generation - you could build a Content Management System in hours (if you weren't worried about appearance) as opposed to a day or two in PHP.

Now all Microsoft have to do is speed up the processing of an ASP.Net website! (Oh, and stop using stupidly large amounts of RAM!)

_______________________________________

Edit: Turns out TinyMCE is stripping away my < T > and < string > when no spaces are between the < and text. For the examples above, IEnumerator should read: IEnumator< T > to resemble type, and what you are trying to store shoud have a type as well. So the first example should have IEnumerator< string > and the second: IEnumerator< Item >.

[0 Comment(s)]


Five things driving me nuts!!! (23/03/2009 10:44:59 PM)

Number 5: On the weekend when I was in Frankston with Michael buying up on very cheap video games, someone asked us where the bottle shop was. Normally this wouldn't drive me nuts, but you know - we're in Frankston and some dude asked ME where a bottle shop was.

The thing that drives me nuts, is we were walking along the Nepean Hwy and well - I didn't even know where one was! WHAT GIVES!!! It's FRANKSTON!

Number 4: Modem kicking in and out - it's back on the blink, and I still haven't got my new router set up yet. You'd think I would instead of whinging about it here, but none-the-less - driving me nuts!

Number 3: ASP.Net, MySQL and Windows Server 2003 combination. Since when was Web Development so hard? Soooo many tiny bugs and it's still not done! Let's hope I can pull through on this one.

Number 2:  I haven't got a proper job, and I haven't moved out yet. I'm still at home... in the middle of no where... at 21. Once I get a full time job, and hopefully soooooooooon! I can move closer to Drouin / Warragul to make my daily commute to work easy.

NUMBER 1: I have NOT been on Public Transport since January! How could this be? I mean... I have lost my concession, but I miss it. I'm having TWS or BWS... Not the liquer store, I'm talking Train and Bus Withdrawl Symptoms... If I don't get this fixed soon... who knows what will happen.

_______________

On a slightly more interesting note about Public Transport, since I haven't been on it - my phone has racked up 84 SMS's with late/cancelled trains. Glad I'm NOT on them! Let's hope next week I get to use them... in fact, this Thursday - I might take a trip to Caulfield by Train.

[3 Comment(s)]


The difference between a good and low-end computers... (22/03/2009 09:20:40 PM)

In the last few months, it has become increasingly obvious that those buying low-end computers thinking they are high-end is becoming an epidemic. Some of you have asked for advice particularly in the last few weeks, and get quite upset when I bag out a sub-$1000 PC. This isn't because the PC is bad, but if the same thing was to apply to cars - a small Toyota Corolla no matter how suited to the task, is not as powerful as a Ford Falcon GT.

So, as a reference - here are my guidelines for what is a Budget (Low End / *crap*), Don't Bother (Mid-Range / *good*) and Awesome (High-End / *fantastic*).

Budget (Low End):

Anyone who has spent less than ~$1,000 (or ~$1,500 on a Laptop) is probably in this category. Typical traits here are:

  • 3GB of RAM or Less (i.e. 32-bit)
  • 512MB 8600GT / 9600GT / HD3650 / HD4650 or Less
  • Any AIO Motherboard where Onboard Sound / Video / LAN is used
  • Any Dual Core Processor (or Dual Core less than T7000 in Laptops)
  • Anything less than 22" Full HD LCD
  • Cheap case / PSU Combination

These computers are not bad - but it must be understood they are low-end hardware. That is; if you are the user of one of these systems, you can expect a useful life of approximately 1-2 years after which you will have upgraded at least one component for it to remain useful.

Particularly useful for those in an office situation, or someone who has low, but a regular source of income. They will (if brought today) run today's applications - but you must expect that some tweaking may be necessary.

Don't Bother (Mid-Range):

Mid-Range is probably where you will find families buying into, or those who get easily wow'd into cool technologies. These computers don't see a terribly large improvement over Budget PC's, but are obviously quicker and can last on average, an extra year longer without an upgrade.

The reason I say Don't Bother is because lets face it. You don't get that much more over a Budget PC (you may get a Quad Core, better RAM, extra FPS out of games because you have 2 Video Cards), but if you can still live with mediocre settings in games, or tweak - then you may as well tweak the entire application.

Computers in this category are:

  • 4GB of RAM
  • PC: 2 x 1024MB 8800GT / 9800GT / HD4850 / HD3850
  • Laptop: 1 x 512MB 8600GT / 9600GT / HD4650 / HD3650)
  • Dedicated Sound Card
  • Quad Core Processor (Triple Core AMD)
  • Anything between 22" - 24" LCD (Full HD)
  • Proper Case / PSU (spend at least $150 here!)

The cost is remarkably high compared to a Budget PC (i.e. ~$1,000 - ~$2,000 for a PC, ~$1,500 to ~$3,000 for a Laptop).

Awesome (High End):

Awesome computers are just that - very expensive, very powerful and will last a good 3-5 years before a real need arises to upgrade hardware (doing so is more-or-less a case of I want the newest technology). They have ridiculous specifications for you to really get the most out of a computer.

Computers in this category have:

  • +4GB of RAM
  • 2 x 1GB GTX260 / HD4870 / Other high end cards > $500 each
  • Expensive processor (such as the Core i7)
  • Dedicated Sound Card
  • Proper Case / PSU (A good $200+ here)
  • 2 x 24" LED LCD's

These are expensive. Real Expensive. Back in 2005, we had Pentium-D's and Extreme CPU's. The extreme's had 1066Mhz FSB's and the 7900GTX's were around ready for SLI. One that I know of with such a setup has no intentions of upgrading yet - and lets face it - it kick's my current PC's ass (even with it's 8GB RAM and HD4850!).

____________________

So yeah - don't go thinking your computer is awesome when it clearly isn't! My stuff certainly isn't awesome and never will be. But come on guys! There's absolutely nothing awesome about low end or mid range hardware. If it works, then good for you.

[2 Comment(s)]


Routers for a Home (05/03/2009 10:15:07 AM)

linksyswrt100rangeplusrouter_505When it comes to software and modifications to control / add functions to a router, there are plenty of packages available. Those such as DD-WRT, M0n0wall, pfsense, OpenWRT etc... are pretty neat and lightweight packages to control QoS, Route Tables etc... as well as provide Captive Portals. This sounds all well and fine, until you require a server to act as the authentication device for RADIUS, or add a web server to activate the Captive Portal. To me, this is a waste of effort if the Router is incapable of providing a low-key Captive Portal.

M0n0wal is mostly there by providing traffic shaping pipelines and inbuilt user authentication. The only thing it doesn't do in that regard is shape the amount of data or control the amount of time a user has to access the internet. More problematic is the lack of proxy filter. I suppose at the end of the day, you can't expect much from a device using merely 8MB of Storage.

The other packages do varying levels as well, such as DD-WRT not actually producing any RADIUS-like properties. I suppose this is where a niche market may be found for the home user. I suspect there are a lot of parents out there that would like to lock down the internet and restrict the time on the internet in a capacity that their children cannot tamper with (or at least - increase the difficulty). The only real way to do this is thorugh the use of a Modem / Router. Ideally, a router should be able to block keywords (usually sufficient enough), ports and dictate time / bandwidth someone has. Ideally, given the home usage market, the RADIUS Accounting packets wouldn't have to be particularly accurate, in fact - the router can probably measure at a given point in time the average packets-per-second transmitted, and count the time connected.

One possibility is to subscribe to a RADIUS server (the device is on the internet allowing access to the internet), but surely something can be done on a router for light-weight stuff. I'm not talking super-duper GUI stuff (playing with Colours and Arial should be plenty). Couple it with lighthttpd, PHP and sqllite and we may have something usable. So yeah, over the next few weeks I'm going to investigate something like this and see how I go.

[0 Comment(s)]


Week beginning 23rd February 2009 (27/02/2009 07:21:05 AM)

60cbeb2a968b4abb9ed35a7105ff5c74_504Hi All,

I know it's not the end of the week yet, but I figure it's about time I post something to try and keep up to date with blogging. The truth is; I've not been myself over the last few weeks. Maybe something to do with the bush fires, maybe something to do with stress, maybe it's just guilt - I don't know. I just feel ... terrible.

I suppose it really boils down to the recent events in the world and how they're effecting me. For instance; before Christmas, I had a full schedule to keep me on my toes. Of course, I wasn't particuarly pleasant in the latter half of 2008 - but I was working 4 days a week, University 2 days a week, and a particular assignment on the "day off" a week. Now I'm pulling a 1.5 hour shift at one workplace during the week and getting a relatively good shift at my other workplace where the roles have really reversed. I can't say I'm impressed with the way my primary work is going (that is; give everyone an even distribution of shifts irrespective of if they are emergencies, trained up suitably etc...), but that's their decision and this gives me a new reason to source a job as soon as possible.

Job Hunting has been slow, very very slow. I've applied for a handful of positions, not too many and no real bites yet. So I'm going to scale up the job hunt next week as lack of money, running around with the lack of money and well - living in the area at the moment is pretty draining.

This year more than ever, my 21st birthday has been and gone without really doing anything for it. That is; it came - it happened (sort of) and it's now gone. Not that I'm worried about having a party (since when am I ever anyway???), but for it to really just drift past with everything happening may be an indication of things to come. I'm not in the mood for a party, nor am I really caring at this stage - might do something next year to make up for it, but yeah.

So what could be getting at me for guilt? I don't know really - I'm doing what I can without really pushing me over the line, and maybe starting to really get annoyed with the amount of donations requested for the same charity where-ever I go. Saying no to these people gets a long hard stare from the requestor, in particular at Flinders Street Station the other day. I do my bit to help, unfortunately I can't keep putting money in boxes for each and every person who requests money. I've made a sizable donation in total already (that figure will remain undisclosed, and the reason it's relatively high is I expect to have to pay back tax this year). So why guilt? I really don't know.

Moving out will be next on the agenda after getting a job. I have a feeling maybe it's independence I need rather than having to deal with coming home to the tiniest of room that just keeps getting piled up (I seriously have a stack of things infront of my PC screen - thus haven't used it in the last few days). So when I move out, I trust one less stress will be there in regards to coming home only having to spend 2-3 hours searching / moving stuff to do something.

My entrepreneurial skills are being utilised at the moment with a few business ideas and plans becoming properly written up and bound, although I suspect that these are still a few years off persuing some of these business ideas. They range from retail chains through to consultancy firms and methods of rolling one out. At this stage, everything remains top secret (stored somewhere no one would ever look) until these ideas are realised (if they ever are).

I got a new keyboard finally! Yamaha PSR E413 to be precise. Nice little keyboard this is! It's a good mid-range keyboard suitable for a lot of different tasks such as performances and midi controlling. I've got everything with it (case, stand, pedal, USB Cable and Power Supply which yamaha now sell separately!!!), and it sounds pretty cool too! With my video camera and a good keyboard - I suspect I will be recording a few performances for YouTube to complement and replace existing ones. Anyone that has heard me play probably thinks I'm pretty terrible (which well, lets face it - the keyboards I have had don't do justice to myself), but after this keyboard sounding very real (i.e. the Grand Piano noise sounds too good to be a Grand Piano!!!) - I'm happy to report that my playing doesn't sound like a cat s***ing on a hot tin roof. So yeah, I suspect I will be playing a few things soon(ish) for recording purposes.

It also means that my FL Studio work should increase as the Midi controller works properly (no dodgey writing of driver hooks in VBScript or JScript for the other keyboard I had). It's now about time to look at an X-Fi sound card as well to write some of these instruments for midi into the card for a bit more remixing. Who knows, one day - a remix may end up on OCRemix after all!

Anyway, that's really all I have time for at the moment. Hopefully I get back on my feet soon - I've never felt not in control before quite like this. At least Monash have fixed up my Majors (Net Centric Computing and Security / Bachelor of Information Technology and Systems) on my transcript. So roll on job hunting!

- - Craig Mattson

[1 Comment(s)]


Nokia Mobile Phones and User Interface Design (19/02/2009 09:02:33 AM)

nokia63001_400The Nokia 6300 is a well featured cheap phone that boasts quite a number of features that turns this phone into a step below a smart phone. For instance, you can access the Internet using Opera Mini through a GPRS connection on a GSM network. The phone also plays MPEG4 videos at 25fps and acts as an MP3 player, so as far as usefullness goes - it is a step below a Smartphone.

While it doesn't boast GPS technology, infrared or a Microsoft / Apple operating system, it is a good lightweight and thin mobile phone that has suffered through heavy use, including multiple drops onto concrete at work and on the run. My phone is still functioning well, however the battery life is pretty ordinary (although I suppose this is in proportion to the somewhat ambitious features that Nokia has included if used continuously for a short period of time).

This is where my blog today stems from. With the battery life pretty ordinary on the Nokia 6300 as is, you would think they would pay particular attention to efficiency and power saving features of the mobile phone itself. Not true in the case of a low battery. My biggest gripe about the Nokia 6300 is the fact the phone when low appears to use more power than when it has sufficient charge in it. For instance, I would expect a device low on power to disable features and to run in low power mode (dim the screen, turn the volume down etc...), but not this Nokia. Each low battery alert begins with a white screen with grey text "Battery Low". The brightness stays on for approximately 5 seconds until it fades half way for another 10 seconds before shutting itself off. The pattern repeats itself approximately every 2 minutes until a point where it is critically low and repeats every 30 seconds to 1 minute. On top of this, a loud tone is made. Now, with Bluetooth turned on and a GPRS connection, logically I would have figured GPRS would be disabled and Bluetooth turned off. Instead, the Nokia just flattens it's battery quicker by displaying useless warning messages.

Now the interesting thing is, my Pocket PC has a low warning / critical battery feature and dims the screen. It's biggest power saving feature (and possibly one of the more annoying ones) is to disable SD / MMC Card access. This is OK, if you aren't working on a document that requires SD card access (so you can't SAVE!!!!!). If anyone has ever owned a Motorola (particularly, a RAZR V3 or KRZR K1) will know how annoying the tone is on a low battery. For those who keep their phone on all night, the loud tone that never seems to stop will appreciate why there are some nights I simply cannot get back to sleep (I'm one of those people who takes ages to sleep - and if I get up, I can spend another hour trying to get some sleep).

All in all, it seems to be a common thing. "Oh my! Battery Low! Lets alert the user by brightening the screen, playing audio every 1 minute so someone can charge me!" seems to suit the Nokia model at least. I await the day I get a Mobile Phone that lasts as long as my ancient brick Motorola CDMA phone (the one that lacked SMS sending capabilities) and has the functionality of my Nokia 6300. I'm guessing I'll never see one :).

- - Craig Mattson

[2 Comment(s)]


Long awaited update (10/02/2009 06:58:42 PM)

Hi All,

I know it's been a while since posting - but there's alot been happening too! So where do I start?

Recession:

I'm now qualified, I have some experience and I can't find a job in IT. I suppose this is partly due to the fact that I am also not looking for many jobs at the moment, but there is definitely a decline in the number of jobs on offer - in particular for graduate students. It's annoying that I'm still doing Data Entry, now that I am qualified and all - and even that's coming to an end with Newspaper jobs declining (or at least, for CareerOne and Times Education Supplement).

The IT industry seems to be one of the hardest hit with the recession, and I suppose that stems from the attitude that businesses can function without Information Technology. One client has discovered why it is necessary to have an IT department, but in many cases it's just a scale back.

Microsoft announced that they were axing the Aces game studio (responsible for many franchises including Microsoft Flight Simulator and Train Simulator). One has to ask the question - why? Is Microsoft really suffering a bad loss by having Aces open? For a game so close to release - including procedural rendering technology in regards to DEM data, Train Simulator 2 was to become a showcase for this if you will, that could potentially open up the possibility of other Supply Chain / Logistics simulations and What-If Analysis simulation of transport systems. But apparently, this wasn't to be - and a potential loss for Microsoft. Not only that, but they also put on hold Flight Simulator - a game with over 25 years of development. Strange one though!

University:

Ok - Monash is completely finished, and I'm glad. But you'd think with all their best efforts in causing many administrational errors, they would be able to produce a proper transcript? BZZZT! WRONG! Somehow, I was not enrolled in the Security and Net-Centric double major. Pretty darn annoying! So after a lengthy chase up of my Transcript, it turns out that they acknowledged they were wrong and amended my Transcript. Did this solve all the problems? No! I was expected to pay for a new Transcript. After some threats and quotations of the Trade Practices Act (1974), I received my new fancy Transcript with the specialisations listed.

I swear, with the dis-organisation of the university, I really do question how they would go with a larger faculty.

Last LAN:

GreenTubeLAN + DLC-Lan #2 was held on 31st January to 1st February and I must say - it was another fun event, although fun for a different reason. After the hot weather, I suppose it was only expected that we would have 10-15 people show up. This was rather disappointing for the figures to cover expenses, but none-the-less, we all had fun with a lot of games being played! The network was reasonable (although with 12 people, even a Gigabit Hub would have been suitable) and we played games all night.

I found out that Call of Duty 4 is much more fun when I don't have people telling me that it's fun. There's also a bus bearing the numbers 754 which is particularly close to 457. But yeah, compared to Counter Strike: Source, I much prefer it.

Anyway, cheers to Noel for the barbeque and the use of the hall again! We have tested and confirmed that we have a working PA system, so hopefully next LAN we will see beyond 40. As the numbers were extraordinarily low, this won't be considered a LAN that we have run, evident by the lack of photos and videos.

Anyway, bring on the next April LAN. I might even head off to Respawn before then to see what ideas and recruits I can get :)

Fires:

For those who know, we've been under fire alert. I won't go into too many details - newspapers are plentiful here, but yes - we were under threat from the Bunyip fires. I am alright, as is my family. Just to show you how close we came, here's some photos.

bunyip_fires_003_400
Approximately 12:00PM :: Saturday 7th February 2009.

bunyip_fires_032_400
Approximately 3:00PM :: Saturday 7th February 2009.

bunyip_fires_038_400
Approximately 3:30PM :: Saturday 7th February 2009.

bunyip_fires_046_400
Approximately 4:00PM :: Saturday 7th February 2009.
 
bunyip_fires_084_400
Approximately 4:30PM :: Saturday 7th February 2009.
 
bunyip_fires_085_400
Approximately 4:30PM :: Saturday 7th February 2009.
 
bunyip_fires_116_400
Approximately 6:00PM :: Saturday 7th February 2009.
Anyway, I have other pictures of Labertouche and Jindivick - too many really to post here, so I may post them at a later date. The long story short is that I am safe. Not so for some of the families I know.
Ciao!!

[0 Comment(s)]


7 Great Disasters (24/01/2009 04:03:31 PM)
big_hindenburg_explodes_over_lakehurst_566
Hindenburg
firehouse_530
House Fires
plane_500
Planes
traincrash01_382
Steam Train Crashes
hurricaneritalg_458
Hurricanes
 lghtng5_454
Lightning
vistasidebar_470
:)

[0 Comment(s)]


High Scores and Hacking (04/01/2009 05:49:06 PM)

Ever wanted to create a High Score system, but couldn't think of a way to prevent (or at least, deter) hackers from submitting fake scores? It's something I'm facing at the moment, and I have developed a few theories with Advantages and Disadvantages below. Hopefully it may be helpful to you!

PHP Script using Challenge (Public/Private Validation)

1. Client requests challenge from Server (i.e. random value between 0 and 100, lets say 3 in this example)
2. Client processes using own algorithm (i.e. 3 / 22)
3. Client responds with result (i.e. send 3 / 22)
4. Server validates the result (i.e. checks to see if a request was made by an IP, then checks itself using the same algorithm - 3 / 22 == 3 / 22)
5. Server waits for score (encrypted of course)
6. Client submits the score (i.e. 500)
7. Server checks the score is within reason (i.e. below 1000) and stores it

The problem with this method is that it relies on a server that accepts any input. What is stopping me reverse engineering a client and obtaining the algorithm? All I have to do then is query the server for that value, calculate it myself, then send it a random score.

A replacement for an algorithm based problem could be an image validation problem. If I make my own image format up (which could be cracked), I could display it in the program and request manual input. May not be ideal on mobile phones or PDA's, but a PC based game could utilise it. Be creative! Algorithms don't specifically mean an equasion.

Direct connection to the database in a client

1. Client requests password from server (encrypted of course)
2. Client connects to server
3. Client runs SQL Code

Secure right? Wrong... If it's decrypted in memory, it can be seen. You could obfuscate it by declaring lots of variables, but at the end of the day, some function has to restructure it. Also, what is stopping a protocol analyzer detecting the password when it is sent to the server?

Capture User Input and Validate

1. Game Starts with an Array for moves declared
2. On each game update, add to the array a move type
3. Compress and weed out unimportant data (a couple of kilobytes per update at 60 frames per second can be in excess of 1MB per 10 seconds!!!)
4. Send to Server the Array with Score
5. Server validates all input
6. Server stores the results

This is probably one of the most secure ways but at an expensive bandwidth cost. You can reduce the updates to just each keypress at a given timestamp (pending your game is programmed not to skip frames), but as soon as you remove data - there's room for doubt which must be factored in. It would still be pretty hard to predict most of the game output. In something like Tetris however, you could seed the time and pass that to the server. This almost makes for a foolproof way, as a PHP script could detect an applications output.

Maintain a persistent connection

Basically it just involves one of the following methods:

  • getUrl() in Flash (or whatever is the equivalent now)
  • WebClient in .NET Framework
  • Url in Java
  • wget in Unix/Linux
  • javascript in HTML

The URL to request would be a heartbeat monitor which naturally would have a threshold as to what is an appropriate delay in respect to the internet. For instance, a gap of 2-3 seconds may be appropriate, or if you're really smart, use a Ping request to get the maximum delay and multiply by 2. This doesn't exactly solve a memory hack problem unless used in conjunction with the above.

- - - - -

So with that all out of the way, it's clearly evident that the best security is a big problem in regards to usability. This isn't practical, in particular in a game that has more than just a player update. What if we look at a phychological approach?

- - - - -

If any of you know me when it comes to security, you know I love honeypots (a mechanism to isolate "caught hackers" in a play pen to simulate a real target). For a honeypot to work properly (and not catch legitimate traffic), what needs to be done? We need to check the process.

Lets assume a .NET game at this stage. We use a php script to collect a score at http://www.craigmattson.net/score.php. We use the first method described as normal (i.e. numbers / compute the challenge etc...). Unless the server (or client) is dodgey, this challenge should always register true. You know something is wrong if many logs start appearing from all sorts of IP addresses. What we can do is check for normal application use. That is; lets say the game is delayed 30 seconds from replaying packets. We can use this to our advantage as a hacker may try multiple times rapidly to log a score.

What we do is instead of going "HA HA! YOU'RE A HACKER AND YOU'VE BEEN BLOCKED" (which would only result in a more determined hacker), we simply black list the hackers IP address (or username if applicable), and still post the score with a mark next to it. In a getscores.php file, you would read that blacklist and if the hackers IP address exists, then return all scores (otherwise return a clean set of scores). The hacker thinks he is successful when in actual fact - all you're doing is simulating the scores he wants to see.

After a few days, you could run a clean up and simply ban any user with a blacklisted IP address. Simple as that. (The reason I would use IP addresses is the hacker may log out / in and check the scores are right. You would also want to blacklist any usernames at the time too!).

This method isn't 100% secure either. If the hacker gets wind of this, the system is ruined (which is why a closed source server is the only protection).

- - - - -

At the end of the day, there's no one method that is always going to work. Everything can be spoofed, so all we do is make it harder. Some hackers like the challenge, others will go for an easier target with more damage. For instance, what type of hacker is going to spend 6 hours trying to crack a Tetris High Score list, when he could spend that same amount of time getting money in Habbo Hotel?

Anyway, this is just some food for thought. Good luck!

- - Craig Mattson

[0 Comment(s)]


The best way to stir up controvesy is to declare PS3 the Winner (04/01/2009 01:19:41 AM)

Hi All,

Unless you've been carbon frozen for the last three years, you know that the console wars for the current generation are potentially causing more fanboi's now with the expansion of the internet through mobile devices. So, how do you stir up people of Australia? Simple. Just declare using some pretty charts from Microsoft Excel that the Playstation 3 is the winner for 2008.

That's what IGN Australia did in it's recent Console Showdown 08 article, and you have your regular crowd of gloaters (Playstation 3 Fanbois), whingers (Xbox 360 Fanbois) and non-fanboi's (Nintendo Wii Fanbois). Apparantly, according to the four part series, IGN Australia ranks the consoles Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii in that order, stating that the Playstation 3 had a better range of releases this year.

Is it true? Well, maybe for the core demographic IGN Australia targets (that is; blood thirsty 16 - 35 year old males), which is why articles such as the IGN Australia series produces a large proportoin of hilarious comments.

1. "WE WON WE WON!!!! PARTY!!!"

What exactly did the Playstation 3 owners win? What respect do they command by having the perceived best games? LittleBigPlanet is the only thing on the list of 11 games that I have been remotely interested - much like my interest in Spore. Don't get me wrong, I'd sooner have a Playstation 3 due to the lack (lesser) of hardware faults over the Xbox 360. There's only so many times you can send an item back and declare it the most warranty repaired device you've ever owned.

So apart from LittleBigPlanet (and how on earth did a Golf game make the charts?!?!), the Playstation 3 list looks pretty bleak to me. That's not to say though that the console is terrible. Clearly games like Metal Gear Solid 4 are proof that the console is of good quality - if you like that type of thing.

2. "WE STILL HAVE MORE SALES!!!"

The Xbox 360 as most of you know is plagued with hardware faults, although - since my last repair in early 2007, my Xbox 360 has suffered a fall and lots of Grand Theft Auto IV without fault. But what about exclusives? When the prices drop a bit, there are three games I would like to try. Banjo-Kazooie (being a fan of the N64 variant), Fable II (Fable was most disapointing due to story line, I still enjoyed what I got out of it), Viva Pinata Trouble in Paridise (Rare of course) and Ninja Gaiden II (Again a Nintendo favourite).

Even the arcade stuff is improved this year, with my only purchase being Worms all year. Granted, if I had a Playstation 3, I'd have downloaded Lemmings - but some old Rare titles such as the original Nintendo 64 Banjo Kazooie, and a potential merger in the future (i.e. Nintendo and Xbox 360 to release Rare games) could be interesting to watch.

At $228 in Big W, the console probably is worth buying now - even as a solution to buying an ATi Radeon 4850...

3. "I'M ABOVE 30 AND HAVE KIDS AND WE ALL LIKE THE WII"

Well, not entirely surprising - it's my only console purchase myself... As in, I shelled out 1/2 price on a Nintendo Wii on Catch of the Day last year. Why did I buy one, after already having access to one in the house? I must say I have had some very good enjoyment out of it. Anyway, of the 13 exclusives, I'm quite surprised to see only two show up:

  • Mario Kart
  • Super Smash Bros: Brawl (including the 300 songs in the soundtrack)
So yeah, of the list this year, I have selected 2 that I wanted to play (and did buy... twice!). However, the Wii was also the source of other games too... such as:
  • Harvest Moon
  • Mario Party 4 (GC)
  • Mario Party 5 (GC)
  • Mario Party 8 (Wii)
  • Zelda: Twilight Princess

At the end of the day, I think the Wii is still the best console, with the Xbox 360 coming in close second - in particular with their cheaper price and half decent lineup this year. I was almost tempted to sell the Xbox 360 earlier last year, but I'm glad I didn't. Some of the games (such as Burnout, Flatout and GTA) are released on both PS3 and Xbox 360, and that's why I have no need for a Playstation 3 *yet*.

Also, it's not IGN Australia and their pick for best console based on "Worst Games below 4.0, Worst Games below 4.0 as a Percentage, Most reviewed games, best exclusives, Highest scores etc..." which ultimately turns graphs upside down and back to front (I suppose it's the equivalent of counting 1, 2, 3 and then 3, 2, 1 to get the same results from a different view-angle). They specifically make mention in their article:

This was a ...strange... year for Wii owners. On one hand, Nintendo has aggressively expanded in the market, forging forwards in the sales charts off the back of massive successes with Wii Fit and the continued popularity of the Wii Sports pack-in. Of course, unless you count yourself amongst the most banal of mainstream Wii-owning society (and come on, you're reading IGN, so clearly you've impeccable taste and common sense), then jaunts of Wii Fit and the occasional tennis match just aren't enough to keep you going long-term. <snip>

Clearly, some of the people forgot to realise that IGN Australia is followed by a lot of hardcore gamers, and naturally - the ones that are going to consistently win are First Person Shooters with new Physics, better Guns, better Team Play, better Explosions, better Replayability for HOURS of fun (not the hour or two I spend in a blue moon on my Wii). And who's to say that it's not the best for their audience? Clearly their reviews look upon highly on it, but I'll stick with my PC, Wii and Xbox 360 for the time being - until I win a Playstation 3... Then I might get LittleBigWorld.

N.B: A not surprising statistic, Grand Theft Auto IV has been my most played game for the year, which is followed by Microsoft Train Simulator et. al. Quite funny to see Grand Theft Auto IV being disappointing and the most enjoyable game this year to own.

[0 Comment(s)]


What you see is what you get (30/12/2008 11:23:29 PM)

Here it is... the long awaited update since 2007... my new website layout. Basically I've tried to personalise the look and feel more-so than looking like "every other" content management system that I produce. Whilst I will miss the old colours, I believe my website should be more of a portfolio than a website. That's exactly why it looks more like a blog, and less like some corporate website (even if the colour scheme wasn't exactly corporate(ish).

I've finished University completely now, and am not looking (at this stage) to go back. Maybe in the future, but now's the time to hone in on my IT skills, start gaining some business acumen and hopefully start down the path of becoming an IT Consultant / Project Manager in the future.

New website = new blog posts, and here's hoping I can keep up with it like I did back in 2007. Tips and Tricks to come, especially with my new found interest in XNA and Xbox 360 Software Development! I might even bring back some PHP / MySQL tips and tricks, as well as starting to create a few ASP.Net applications after my Industry Project.

So yeah, everyone (who still attempts to read this) - happy new year!

-- Craig Mattson

[1 Comment(s)]


Long Time Update (02/11/2008 04:10:03 AM)

Hmm... so many things to keep everyone updated on, so little time... Technically I should be studying for Mobile Middleware, but yeah - the notes are written by a Ph.D. holder, so naturally they are hovering around the 100 slides a week. But I'm sure you don't want to read about that.

On a positive note, I am finishing my final exam, tomorrow at 5:40PM. That is it. No more after that. Do I plan on going back? Probably one day to do an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) as naturally, that just appears to be what the industry needs. That is; dually qualified Business and IT people. So I figure, I know enough about the technology, but still need to learn about Business. I mean, sure, I deal with many businesses and requirements but certainly not at a level yet that I feel is entirely appropriate. So yeah, if I ever go back to uni, it will be to do a Masters in Business Administration and even at Monash University - seriously Business can't be as terrible as IT has been? So yeah, after tomorrow, I will be able to look back on three years of this University course and start applying for jobs.

GreenTubeLAN is coming up! Gossip has it that it will be 6th to 7th December 2008, so keep an eye out on the website. I've been playing about with Mobile Development too for the PDA, and here's the iPod ripoff of the next GTL management system for Pocket PC/Windows Mobile.

taste_531_01

More to come after tomorrows exam! I will probably redesign this website too in the coming days. So over this 4 year blue look I've had for the last few years. I mean it's nice and all, but it'd be nicer to see it in a new colour scheme.

 

[0 Comment(s)]


Long Time Overdue (26/10/2008 10:41:17 PM)

Hi All,

I know it's been almost a year since my last blog post, mostly because I had another blog going during a project at Monash University. As it is all over now, I'll be back to posting here!

Catch you all around laters,
Craig.

[0 Comment(s)]


An Experiment... (27/01/2008 12:49:00 AM)

Before the return to uni, I thought I would run a wee-little experiment. Lets see how many people remain oblivious to what's about to happen over the next month or so. Consider it a bit like the experiment Lisa Simpson ran to compare Bart to a Hamster.

Not much has happened - except work atleast 5 days a week, and the fact I have had some time to tidy up CMSv3 which should be ready to trial as of tomorrow night.

ohmg_120

I brought n IBM ThinkPad T60p aswell. Has the following specs (which consequently makes it the most powerful computer I have now)

  • Intel Core Duo T7200 (2.0GHz)
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 100GB SATA HDD
  • DVD Burner
  • 15.4" Wide Screen (1680x1050)
  • 256MB ATI FireGL V5250 (Equivalent to Radeon X1700)
  • 9 Cell Battery
  • 3 Year Warranty

Got it for a steal - $1,302 brand new! So yeah - I can now say that I have purchased a brand new laptop before ;)

Catch you guys around,
Orb!ter

 


Update: 8:00PM

I thought it was worth me putting my few cents down here aswell. Linux is gaining a lot of popularity recently, especially through devices such as Asus' eeePC and numerous other vendors giving major discounts for choosing Linux over Windows. Take for example American vendor gOS. They are manufacturing Sub-$199US PC's that run their own Mac OS X ripoff of a Linux Operating System.

When it comes to deciding what needs to be in a Personal Computer these days, it's gone beyond the 'walk in, walk out with $$$ PC', people are considering the alternatives in the market to the standard Microsoft Windows offerings. With Linux, we have an entirely new line of computing that means just about everyone can own a modern computer system without feeling like they are operating an old clunker from 1965!!! What market am I talking about? Well, one market often sought after by the IT Geeks who can build their own computers themselves by getting the best bargains is that market!

Whilst there are some subtle differences (such as the architecture, size and power) as per group, having a $200US computer (under $300 Australian if in the future released here) brings about a whole new definition of cheap computing. By avoiding Windows, a consumer can potentially save $50-$300 on a computer, and one such example currently offered by Acer is one of their latest Celeron-M powered notebooks at $499 after $80 cashback

Which one looks more pleasing to those after a general, every day computer? The Asus eeePC with 7" Screen. limiting RAM and HDD Space and no optical drive, or the Acer 14" Wide Screen laptop with DVD Burner and 80GB HDD? Whilst the consumer could shell out and purchase a Compaq, HP etc... with a Windows license, for those simply using Office related products, browsing the web, burning a few DVD's, listening to music, checking e-mail, using VoIP products, editing photos etc... Linux offers it all, and now without the headache of preconfiguring all the software yourself.

I mean, have masses of people yet complained about the eeePC being so difficult that it is next to impossible to use or configure to run the latest sound card, or view the 3D Desktop under Ubuntu in eeePC's offering? I didn't think so (and any minor complaints could potentially match that of Windows and Macintosh users) and it does go some way to proving a theory I and many others share. Linux is NOT difficult to use, nor is it difficult to configure - just as long as the right mixture of options co-exist to create a usable operating system.

Whilst there is some evidence suggesting that some people simply wipe the existing Linux installation, and install bootlegged copies of Windows XP on these computers, but how many "average users" buying these computers would know where to look for these patched operating systems to use on these altered architectures? 

[3 Comment(s)]


YouTube Morons (13/01/2008 05:12:12 AM)

After watching more moronic actions from the inhabitants of this earth that we like to classify as humans on various media sites, no wonder there is so much discussion on the problems associated with the so-called "kudos" these idiots get.

This and this stunt are probably the lowest things I have ever seen recorded. Why? Not because the kid is stupid and running on the track, but because the imbosol didn't seem to consider the driver (or two) in this locomotive travelling at what could be up to 130km/h for one moment. Not only would the driver been shitting themselves (wouldn't you if some moron ran out pulling the same thing in a car?), but if the dickhead got hit, where does that leave the driver? Whilst many locomotive drivers return to the industry after accidents, some do not - the psychological burden left upon some of these drivers is enough to ensure they don't drive again.

Now what annoys me even more than the complete moron acting it out, is the support this guy is given from randoms on the internet saying how this guy has balls for completing such a STUPID act. With comments like this, those who are psychologically deranged end up contemplating their own variant of this stunt (and ultimately could get killed in the process).

Now, presumably if the kid died, what happens? The media goes crazy, the parents get shoved on Today Tonight/A Current Affair criticising the Train Driver because (s)he should have seen where (s)he was going, and how the kid is an A++++ student, a good kid and how (s)he is socially popular, whilst the train driver remains traumatised for life.

[4 Comment(s)]


End of 2007 (31/12/2007 06:23:34 AM)

So, another year down. Well, it was at the time of the post, so what am I doing? Well given I am posting this entry now, one could be thinking he's doing nothing special. You'd be right. Currently, I'm staring at the following:

image005_800

If I tilt my head 90 degrees to the left, I see this:

image004_800

So that explain what I'm doing for New Years Eve? Just sitting in my room, mucking about with computers trying desperately to get my Content Management System Version 3.0 finalised for use in the new year. Anyway, here are the random snarls over the last two weeks:

Trains:

Yep, first topic is stupid dumb trains and their operators (yes, I realise Trains are objects without the ability to utilise any form of memory - thus invalidating the term dumb). It appears as if V/Line are not allowed to run their trains passed Pakenham causing me to waste valuable money in Petrol to travel to work the past week. Why have I driven? Well, to put it bluntly, trains on a weekend or public holiday timetable (letalone the free transport offered lately) would cause me to miss my bus connecting to work ontime. Weekdays should be fine and I will ofcourse test this myth out on Wednesday.

Work:

Work has been up and down like a yoyo. What is the point of running shifts that finish at like... 10:30AM? Or better still, todays 9:12AM! Whilst it means I have the rest of the day to do important things like shop for Christmas presents, buy myself an LCD or run around finding my brother parts for his PC, the trip in and out is just so boring. There's no form of civilisation until just before the turnoff to Monash Berwick! That's 60km of nothingness except cars overtaking me when I'm not exactly driving like a grandma.

Christmas:

Yeah, that thing called Christmas happened - lots of stress, running around and many more car trips planned (I had planned a total of zero and managed every day from Thursday to Monday). All for what? A morning of opening all those presents and having a lunch... almost like any other day on the calendar. It's all nice and fun to have Christmas and what ever, but is the prior week(s) (months for some families) of organisation really worth it in the end? Letalone all that money to make a single day special? Don't get me wrong, I'm not bagging out Christmas, but it just doesn't make sense to me atleast as per why people rack up huge debts to make someone happy for the day, letalone the stress before hand.

Hell, it taken me on the Saturday 45 minutes just to move 500m down the road from the Dandenong Market. All because some people didn't use their brains (maybe they should rely less on their kidneys) to work out that going through the town = not going to work. Seriously! Once I got to the end of the street, and still seen traffic banked up like no tomorrow, I was able to turn right, go up a few small residential streets and on the M1 towards Warragul in about 2 minutes. Rubbish!

Anyway - I'm really buggered, tired etc... I don't think I'll be up to see the new 2008 but yeah. One things for sure, nothing below a HD (overall mark) and definitely 1440x900 and 1280x800 are my new years resolutions (saved up around the $10,000 mark to buy a house for 2008 is my real sane resolution) ;) for 2008.

Happy New Years Peoples who can be stuffed to read this :) 

[2 Comment(s)]


The last month (15/12/2007 06:56:52 AM)

nokia63001_400Hi all,

I suppose you are wondering (or not) why there's no post here? Yeah, thought so too - probably not! Anyway, so much to say, so little time - but whilst I have the next few days off work, I may aswell spew it all out here.

University Results

Well, I suppose it all began with receiving my marks in amongst all the other rigmarol with work at the time. As to be expected, I passed everything... actually I kinda HD'd everything yet again (there won't be any top of the uni letters this round, but I'm remarkably happy with one unit in particular; I did NOT expect to HD Information Technology Project Management at all even if my marks for all three assignments would have suggested otherwise. That was one class that was just imperitively difficult to get to - but all in all, I got through - without doing much work at all yet again :)

Work

It feels like a long time since finishing uni (and I honestly wish I was back there just to have an excuse to cut back on work), but whilst there is no uni, it's a perfect opportunity to save up for future plans. The plan is to save up $10,000 between now and the end of 2008 so that I can move into a full time job ($45,000-$65,000 would seem to be the norm - especially for someone as highly equipped with the necessary skills such as myself) and have a deposit on a house, most likely in the Trafalgar/Moe area (due to low housing costs/better access to public transport than my area).

Somewhere in amongst all of this, I was promoted to 2IC (Second In Command for those who don't speak the lingo) for Saturday work, including what appears to be a supervising role for New Years Eve according to my latest roster (bring on the whopping $2 per hour pay rise). The offer for 2IC couldn't have come at a better time though - I was planning on taking up an IT position to mingle in with work, but it looks like they have the hours and willing to put me on, so I'll stay where I am for the time being!

Yes, the work is still brain-numbingly boring, but what-the-hey, I get paid too well to knock it back!

GreenTubeLAN 7

Last weekend was GreenTubeLAN, and it was by far, the best fun I have had for ages! I actually got to play Flatout 2 Multiplayer with :o other real people (even if somehow I only came second in my school bus out of 7 others - and I was beaten BY A GIRL!) - but seriously, it really was fun. I even found myself killing lots of people in Quake 3 Arena on a model of our old venue. All in all, was quite fun excluding the fact that I think I myself am over these overnight LAN's that finish 10AM Sunday.

There's a hint too of a Warragul one coming up, probably during the day (due to our packup being approximately 1 hour) for a period of 12 hours. If we sit down and investigate GreenTubeLAN, we seem to only ever force 11 hours of gaming (2PM to 1AM), so maybe we can do a 6:00AM to Midnight to get gaming happening from 10:00AM to 10:00PM. I think it could work, but it would be a Sunday (have to cut back my weekends).

New Mobile Phone

Yeah, not exactly new news now, but I signed up for a $20 cap through Virgin Mobile. Basically I got a Nokia 6300 (pictured above), a free iPod shuffle and $50 worth of calls a month. I figured I should just sign up for a cap because I was spending in the last two months about $20 a month, so why not get a free phone with it that ACTUALLY WORKS?!?!?! So I did, and wow - I've used many Nokia's (most I found pretty difficult in terms of layout), but this one - too easy. It actually felt like my Motorola's easy menu system when I first picked it up, and it even runs NES games :D So, yeah - I'm happy. The camera is reasonable... for train picture taking just so I can rub it in on Zer0 that I take a Hitachi to work, and he has to put up with random cat-pi$$ smelling Sprinters :)

So yeah, the phone is nice, and despite being thin actually has some form of weight and size.

ALDI in Warragul

About freakin' time we get something new in Warragul since The Warehouse all those years ago (and I think Subway around that time too). Consequently, it's almost directly above the Railway corridor so there's a perfect photo point *wink wink, nudge nudge Nic* for any trains coming through. Anyway, when they have specials, they HAVE SPECIALS, and the best thing about it being in Warragul, is the same reason any retail outlet that has something new in the area does. Basically, when something is out of stock in Melbourne, you can guarantee it's still in stock, and in a pile rurally.

They have some 22" LCD's I am waiting to drop to the $249 mark. Once that's done, guess what I end up getting :)

Life

Ok, so here's the part about where I am at. I seriously feel so drained of energy it's not funny. These 5:30AM starts are really starting to eat me alive, which wasn't assisted too greatly by loud *doof doof* music, cars reving in the area, taking the weekend off by running an all night LAN Party and the fact that certain stability/hosting issues start happening with *some* client websites that I cop the blame for. Between the last 3-4 weeks of stupendously long weeks, lots of train travel (which doesn't bother me ofcourse :)), and trying to do the right thing by people doesn't seem to be paying off too well.

Infact, it seems to be having the reverse effect. I won't go into too much detail here because nothing is finalised yet (and I don't want to point fingers at the purpertrators *yet*), but it really is starting to feel like a huge waste of time trying to help anyone lately. Each time I try to help some of you guys, the shit gets thrown back on me (to the point where you guys are either a) completely confused/frazzled over what is happening/has happened or b) have no bloody clue what the real story is). I would like to believe I try to help everyone out to the best I possibly can, but the feedback I am receiving seems to be of the opinion that I am trying to get everyone else in the shit?

If anyone seems to feel this way, I would like to say now that this is not the case. It's been happening a fair bit lately, and frankly - I'm at the stage now where Craig Version 1.0 is making a return! Frankly, I'm sick and tired of hearing how it's my fault for trying to help *some of* you guys out, or how what I do is not good enough for me to offer assistance and get no where with it. Whilst I don't expect any praise or anything in return for helping you guys out (never have), I certainly do not appreciate being spoken to negatively nor have rumours/opinions spread over my assistance.

That's my rant for the last month, and yes - it had to be said. I'm driving myself insane here! I've just about killed my left leg (somehow I sprained it laying down on my bed? Felt WORSE than spraining something, but the after-affect appears to be soreness from a sprain) which isn't helping!

Anyway, a few things to come up over the next few weeks include *sekryt projakt* to be announced, redoing of my Video Game Music on keyboard (I brought an el-cheapo one with Midi) and possibly a few more midis as I have a few days at work off coming up.

Cheerio! 

[4 Comment(s)]


Weird Al - Close But No Cigar Midi/MP3 (10/11/2007 06:49:00 PM)

Hi all,

It's been ages since my last post because of Work, Uni and Exams, but now that Uni has finished, and work is about to die down for the year, I am having some me time again :) First thing first, I sat down for about 4 hours last night and put together Weird Al's Close But No Cigar into Midi/MP3 and it's now finished (I'll perfect it maybe one day) so if you want to download the midi or mp3, then go to my music download page.

Exams were relatively easy (they get that way when they were all copy/paste of sample exams and replace the word and with the word but type of thing), and yeah... GreenTubeLAN 7 is coming up as soon as a venue is confirmed.

I'll make a proper post in a few days, but right now I have things to do - like finish CMS Version 3.0

Craig. 

[0 Comment(s)]


This weeks ramblings (22/10/2007 08:47:16 PM)

Hi all,

It's been a long time since my last post, and yes I am still busy with work and uni, but uni should start to die down soon and hopefully a couple of jobs will come up over the holidays.

A few interesting topics have come up since my last post that I should address here:

New Laptop:

I brought an Acer Aspire 1650 after my IBM ThinkPad T40 taken its last breath a week or so ago, which is a shame - the machine was stable, sturdy and tolerated alot of damage that would have had any other normal laptop begging for mercy, but oh well, not much you can do about that. The reason I brought an Acer Laptop is not because I value Acer high on my preference list at all (infact, Acer is down there with HP/Compaq, Toshiba and Dell on quality), but the specifications in this one were too great to pass up the opportunity. Although not much of an upgrade, here is what they are versus my old thinkpad.

Acer: Intel Pentium-M 1.66GHz, 80GB HDD, 1024MB of RAM, 128MB ATI Radeon X300, DVD-RW, Intel 802.11G, 15.4" WXGA, 3-4 Hour Battery.
IBM: Intel Pentium-M 1.3GHz, 80GB, 1024MB of RAM, 32MB ATI Radeon 7500, DVD-ROM, Cisco 802.11B, 14.1" XGA, 3-4 Hour Battery.

New PC Parts:

For the first time in five years, I have purchased components to make a personal PC. My last proper PC purchase was back in 2002 when I brought an AMD Athlon 1800XP+ System, 256MB of RAM, 40GB HDD, Liteon CD-RW for $400. This time, I have an Intel E2160, 2048MB of RAM, 160GB HDD, DVD-RW for $320. So yeah, I now have a powerful PC again :)

Racism:

After a few random trips on buses to work, this is starting to get on my nerves. A few fundamentalists? have travelled on buses with me who try and explain to everyone how racist white Australians are. I was born and bred right here in Australia, and when I am told by non-white Australians that I do not deserve to be in this country, it ticks me off (as it would do with any one being told they don't deserve to live in their own country). I won't go into too much detail on this conversation as I understand these extremists tend to only speak for a small minority of their larger counterparts, but I might explode the next time some one tells me about how I don't deserve to be in this country!!!

CMS Version 3.0:

Yeah, I probably should be studying for exams more than I am (but I know most of the stuff already, reading over the same and boring jargon I already know just ... well ... is unnecessary.) I have been working on CMS Version 3 though, and in comparison to Version 2.x, the system currently looks brilliant (yeah, I'm being biased here), and functionality is about 100 times better. I have included a screenshot below of how it looks :)

page_120 menu_120 menu2_120

[0 Comment(s)]


Ramblings (15/10/2007 10:19:36 AM)

Hi all,

The last week has been hectic without a working computer. Two assignments happened to be due within that week which is largely impossible to complete when your laptop dies, but somehow I managed to complete them.

My new Acer Aspire 1650 laptop is in aswell, and it's a typical non-IBM machine. That is; flimsy, wide screen, glossy screen, terrible keyboard, no trackpoint and runs substantially warmer than my ice cool IBM. But what can you do hey. I picked it up very cheap and it even has a decent video card in it (ATI Radeon x300 Dedicated), so most of the issues about it being flimsy are relatively void. Why? Well, if it lasts me one year - it's doing well...

Kuju Rail Simulator has just been released aswell, so I am just waiting for my import to come in so I can simulate ... er ... drive trains :) Preferably down a massive mountain so I can launch it into a tower hehehe...

RADIUS:

I spent most of today dealing with the implementation of RADIUS for my latest assignment, and I thought Linux's implementation was largely complex (until I read the FreeRADIUS website rather than the random HOWTO's on the net). Once I followed some basic structure, I was successful in setting up a full accounting server to work closely with my M0n0wall. In reality, it taken about 20 minutes to set up after I followed instructions.

Now, one would have thought that using Microsoft IAS would have been easier, but just like DHCP and DNS on Windows Server 2003, it is quite the opposite!!! I simply could NOT get anything working with it. I either got rejected or just simply ignored. So who'd use it :P

ASP.NET:

Simply sucks! Read other blog posts for more details hehehe... Seriously though, the concept of using DataGrids and DataSets is all fine and dandy in applications, but when an application is introduced to the internet? There's just something about random and pointless controls that I don't like in ASP.NET. I'll be glad to go back to PHP after this semester :)

So... ok, there's absolutely nothing of any importance posted here. Only another full week to go :) Stupid University and Work! 

[0 Comment(s)]


Fantastic Week and Recursion (06/10/2007 08:24:08 AM)

Yep... as the title suggests, I have had a great week. Between cars and computers, I don't know what the hell is going on. Most of you already know how the start of my week has been, but to top it off - I now have my IBM ThinkPad T40 yet again dead from the Video Card issue.

One thing I haven't done yet either that I figure I'll do now is post about Recursion in Java specifically. (Link Here)

 

[0 Comment(s)]


Money Dilemma (29/09/2007 10:02:36 AM)

 Ever had the feeling where you have plenty of money, but you feel like you dont? At present, that's about what I am feeling... I have money, but I don't want to spend it... I never used to be like that - if I had $20 in my pocket, I used to have it well and truly spent before it was in my wallet (which is well... eight years old from memory now). So what is annoying me so much?

Lets face it, I have about $1,000 sitting in my bank account doing jack-all. I have work three days this week, I had work three days last week, I've done some websites in between and some general work. So what things do I need? Well, for starters - a Mobile Phone with the "9" key would be a good starters... $79 through Virgin can do that. A musical keyboard is on the list of things I should have purchased in the last five years atleast... $150. Finally a personal computer - I have been without a PC for 18 months now, and with games coming out that I am looking forward to playing in great graphical quality, I kinda need to get something to play them... $400 for a relatively decent gaming computer/box. The problem? I don't want to spend any of that money on any of the above. Undecided In fact, I don't want to spend un-necessary money period.

I mean, I could get a decent Video Camera... but what for? I'd use it maybe two to three times and uh... that'd be the end of it. A Mobile Phone is well, going to have to happen before I throw the peice of garbage I currently own out - but again, that's $80 I have to come up with for a prepaid option. So maybe I get a cap plan at like $20 per month or something - but then I have to spend $20 a month (mind you - I do that on prepaid a month so nothing would be new). As for the computer, do I really need it? The answer is probably not - when do I get off my coight to play games anymore? I mean... in reality, I would play maybe... 2-3 hours of games a week these days?

I spend around about $50 to $60 per week on travel ($30 petrol, $30 train) for the five days a week, but yeah - I just don't know. Maybe I should invest it and uh... keep it piling up for a house. Give it this time next year, I may have enough for a deposit on a house in *shudder* Moe or *shudder* Trafalgar. The thing though I look at is, if I get a job in Information Technology one day (yes, it's still impedingly difficult to find a half reasonable, part-time job that doesn't involve asking someone 'have you tried turning it off and on again?' - even then, I can't get that type of job because I'm either overly qualified without a certification or too-far out).

Funny thing this work business too... I don't actually feel like it's work at all. I mean, sure - I have to get up in the morning (sometimes at 4:30AM - damn those early 8:00AM starts hehehehe) and I have to spend two to three hours travelling to get where I want. I work, I get paid, I don't spend money, I'm actually doing something more than sitting infront of my slightly tiring IBM ThinkPad T40 (in need of a format) browsing the internet for something to do.

WARNING: This is a boring life story

 Another topic people keep bringing up is travel. Apparently in the world of sane people, travelling for long distances daily is just stupid. So why do I do it? Apart from having an interest in Public Transport, when it comes down to it, I do alot of thinking and studying on the train. In fact, I get all my assignments done on a train, I get websites done on the train - as silly as it may sound - I concentrate much better on the train. I mean, it's an hourish each way... 10 times a week... that's 10 hours of work that I can focus on. When I'm not working, I'm thinking about algorithms and problem solving. If not, I read the newspaper, listen to music, sleep, eat, sight trains...

I will be honest, the first time in ages since regularly taking trains was in December, 2005 and it was an extremely long trip to get to Glenferrie Station. To get there, I had not alot to do (my laptop at the time... actually... I didn't have a laptop at the time thanks to a scamming twit on eBay) and well - my MP3 player died at about Caulfield on the return trip. Very very very... long... trip that was. That was succeeded by taking a train from Warragul to Caulfield to Edithvale Station which was also a very long trip to stay with my relatives for the week to be introduced to life at Monash Peninsula. Train trips were easy, daily Zone 1+2+3 tickets were easy (after a true Australian actually shown me how to purchase a ticket from the most confusing Metcard dispensing machine ever) and well... travel was still long. The following week though, I stayed with my Uncle in Drouin as I was at University five days per week and I think I spent about four weeks there. The first week was tiring - the whole Train from Drouin to Dandenong, Dandenong to Caulfield (was cheaper this way as I had to travel Zone 1+2+3), Caulfield to Frankston... then the same in reverse.

The funny thing though was after about a week of that, the travel did not seem to bother any more. I had an MP3 player, I could eat on the way, I could read the newspaper... then I found a quicker way - Drouin to Dandenong, Dandenong to Frankston via Carrum Downs and The Pines on a bus. Long trip - yes - but it didn't seem that bad at all. After this, I stayed with my grandmother for a few weeks (which was made largely uncomfortable by many parties). In April, I got my license and my first car. With the RFR going ahead and closing down Gippsland's line for five months, it was alot easier to drive than take about one million buses to get to my destination. Was great aswell - I would park up next to Leawarra Station, it used to be quite warm - barely any clouds - and would meet peoples at the cafe or one of the labs in the G building. After the semester break, I drove the three days a week to uni until... August... when I wrote my car off and severely damaged another... in Drouin of all places! This forced me to alter plans significantly and take the dreaded bus from 8:00AM Neerim South to 8:20 Warragul, 8:25 Warragul to 9:10 Dandenong, 9:15 Dandenong to 10:15 Frankston... then rewind it all again... 3:15 Frankston to 4:15 Dandenong, 4:25 Dandenong to 5:20 Warragul, 5:30 Warragul to 5:55 Neerim South. Unfortunately - I did have to spend a week taking buses from Warragul to Pakenham, but luckily - trains were restored. Tuesday this week was a warm-ish day, barely any clouds and it reminded me of catching a bus from Frankston to Dandenong... then when I got to Dandenong, catching the train home again... Used to make it a very long day, but yeah - travel wasn't the concern nor was the time.

I suppose not much more that I can really say - I have work coming up, I have uni finishing, I have a great opportunity to earn some money for savings purposes and yeah.

Ciao!

[5 Comment(s)]


Random Thoughts (27/09/2007 08:22:47 AM)

Hi all,

One would expect a big blog post of stuff that's happened since my last rather brief post and well, there isn't much. Life's been work work work, assignments and more work. So, hilights of this week?

Goodbye Optus, Hello Netspace

Sometime during my last blog post, NetSpace finally was enabled on my telephone line so I have 1GB less download with free servers to download the most important stuff:- Linux. So far, nothing is different apart from the fact that domain name resolution with localised Australian servers that aren't overloaded seem to be doing their job. Downloads are pretty high though considering someone hadn't realised that the new Off Peak data period is before 7:00AM and not 12:00PM. All in all, thank christ we are away from Optus. It's stupid to think that it was only three months ago that I was paying $49.95 for Internet and $34.95 for the phone and then some for the relatively few calls. With Optus now, they moved us for some reason to a $55.00 Business plan and charged a bundle for calls. Pretty PATHETIC when the phone bill went from the usual $40 a month to $80!!! No kidding!

That's what originally prompted the change (amongst Optus's database issues - they simply were incapable of clicking an UPDATE button on their application infront of them!) and I'm happy to say that for $84.95 per month, I get 1500Kbit internet with 10GB/10GB downloads, marginly less upload speed and the phone line with $10 of included calls. Really does suck when compared to a major telco that used to be very cheap.

V/Line launches new livery

Finally, they launched their new livery beginning with the grey I have posted and the new Macca's coloured trains. Doesn't the picture just make you want to order fries with your ticket. Maybe the next station is McWarragul? Well, either way - still looks strange and I uh... haven't taken the FSH25 or the 7007 yet so I can't report on the internals of them.

On the topic of trains, I'm surprised that at Dandenong Station last night that a) The PID stated 6:20 TRAFALGAR and b) The PA man thingo managed to say Trafalgar clearly. Why? Well, I don't know of any train that has EVER terminated at Trafalgar letalone any new services that do. I taken a photo, but the thing is too dodgey to even contemplate putting up.

Work and lots of it

Looks like I've been made somewhat more regular than previously. I have three shifts a week, and I'm making a bundle. About $350 to be precise per week so I should be able to afford a new phone, new keyboard and new computer very shortly. I figure a PC with a dual core processor (E2140's looking sweet at the moment :P), 2GB of RAM ($78 seems cheap enough at the moment), 160GB SATA HDD and uh... probably an 8600GT for < $350 looks good enough for me to play the up and coming rail simulator.

Music

Yeah - once I work out if I want to actually upload music I have been working on, they'll appear on this site somewhere.

ASP.NET truly does suck!

Ok, why do I think it sucks? All it is, is merely a Javascript + HTML generator with nothing more than a page processor in the background to deal with sessions and scripting. Whilst it seems a good theory to be able to deal with the .NET framework, things I find practically a joke when built into the core are:

  • asp:Calendar, asp:AdRotator, asp:CreateUserWizards... They are all HTML Code Generators. They produce code based on a few properties you define. Seems to me an utter waste of resources. Good for Rapid Application Development where no one looks twice at the workings, but ultimately - nothing more than generated code.
  • ASP Textboxes, Labels etc... uh... why? WHY?!?!?! Apparently we need to use more code than <input type="text" name="name" id="id" /> to display a simple textbox.
I'm too tired to think of any more, I'll continue this discussion in my next blog post - but seriously, ASP is just a bloated pile of dog crap trying to do what Visual C++.NET did to C++ :) I'm still oblivious as to why cookies are absolutely screwed in ASP but yeah - that is a discussion for another day. PHP, MySQL, Javascript, Linux - all the security I could possibly need :) *waits for flamewar*

Um... apart from that, not much. Sekryt Projact dubbed Black Pineapple is coming along nicely and is on schedule for release by the end of the year. Infact, it should be finished (the coding of 250,000 lines) in November for it's scheduled December release date. It's an MMO that I endeavour to make freely available, but probably will not interest any of the visitors to this website. So don't worry :P Maybe the code and concepts behind the project will.

[4 Comment(s)]


Week in a nutshell (21/09/2007 10:38:22 AM)

Clients, Late Trains, Uni, Late Trains, Work, Crowded Trains, Work, Seat on Train, Uni, Slow Train, Clients, Work, Family, Sport, Shopping, Uni, Late Trains, Copyright, No Trains, People, Trains, Grease, 4:30AM, Pakenham Trains, Work, Tired, Sleep, Late Trains, Sardine Trains, Money, Flu, Late Train, Head Spinning... Work Due... Not Finished... Wake up Late, Head Spinning, Web Development, Head Spinning, Submitted, DEAD.

There's the last 2 weeks. 

[3 Comment(s)]


How to stop office Gossip (13/09/2007 03:47:16 AM)
Fully uploaded this time... Viewable here! Anyone recon it looks like an old Lecturer and Tutor of Databases?

[1 Comment(s)]


Websites Updated Again (10/09/2007 09:17:11 AM)

Hi all,

After a longish day (by the time you take into account my travel), I finished off two more websites that will keep me out of the red for a few more weeks to come! Also, one of our horses foaled thismorning at 7:55AM, so that was also news for today. Um... not much else to say, except w00t - almost finished!

Craig. 

[0 Comment(s)]


The last two weeks. (08/09/2007 08:21:56 AM)

Hi all,

Well, I know it's not exactly breaking news now, but I still am chuckling over The Chaser team after their antics this week at the APEC summit, and yet again - the media (well, more correctly TT and ACA) is still saying "no one is laughing" at the stunt when polls state quite the contrary. I find it even more funny that the police are still looking at charging the 11 "Chaser's" that were involved, when in all reality - it was the fault of the security team letting fake pass holders and Osama Bin Laden enter within 10 meters of the building. One things for sure, I can't wait for next weeks episode.

In other news, I finally won my personal protest against FIT3024: Internetworking and Wireless Communications. Infact, I have no fees owing and I don't even get a DISCONTINUED on my transcript. Quite happy with that outcome, given the courses content was really dragging me down simply because Attenuation signals and launching satellites are not part of my Information Technology career. Maybe had the course been on routing and the TCP/IP suite, then I wouldn't have had to drop the unit.

Work is back on the agenda atleast for two more weeks which lets me afford petrol to go up and down the road to University, so yeah - that's been good and really appreciated. Have applied for a couple of new jobs for the summer period, so hopefully I can get a real boost for next year. Mainly back-to-school jobs (and knowing my luck, I'll get one for $10 an hour in Geelong or something stupid heheheh... Maybe I can find an actual Information Technology related job?

Today, my Content Management System Version 2.1 turns one year old. That's right, Friday 8th September 2006 was the day I first rolled out Content Management System Version 2.1 onto my website, followed by my slightly older version by one month on the Neerim Wolves website. So yeah, I am working on Version 3.0/Version 1.0 which is basically the next version under a new name given CraDanKa! is slowly dying down. It'll be pretty much abandoned as soon as my Google Applications work on my domain.

Um... yeah... not much other news except the new V/Line livery for FSH25 is out now running around for testing purposes, and well - it really does look shite. Not that I think the red and blue waas something special. I wouldn't mind seeing the Chicago Freight livery locomotives running infront of these though, would look sweet. I still prefer the Tangerine/Grey livery and the old VicRail blue and gold one. They stood out, and they never blurred in with the landscape :) I will admit, the H cars now look comfortable. A shame that only one service runs down our line thats a H set now (IIRC that is).

Ciao!

*UPDATE* My new e-mail addresses are working :)

[0 Comment(s)]


Welcome to the new Site!!! (06/09/2007 07:58:58 AM)

Hi All,

Um... ok, so it's not exactly a new website, but it does have a new proper domain. Hopefully I can add a few more things to this site versus the other. So uh... yeah - new site...

Craig. 

[1 Comment(s)]


A Weight has Lifted (30/08/2007 09:18:12 AM)

Hi all,

Now that I am not burdened with the subject FIT3024: Internetworking and Wireless Communications, I can sleep easily tonight :) Infact, I can get back to boring old me ;)

Craig. 

[3 Comment(s)]


The Problem with Vendor Industry Standards (27/08/2007 10:28:34 AM)

Hi all,

There's been a fair bit of news I thought I would comment about today that should fill up enough kilobytes to annoy you all.

Vendor Industry Standards:

Yes, as the title suggests, I am not happy with Vendor Industry Standards. Microsoft has been attempting to push their new document format, Office Open eXtensible Markup Language (OOXML), for quite some time now and thank god that at least one group gave the OOXML a thumbs down. So why am I glad? Well, Vendors are great for making software that works and integrates with each other, but there are times when big players want to take out the smaller players in the effort to create competition and promote their own products.

poisson_400With Microsoft, they want their Office 2007 format to be an Industry Standard simply so they have control over who can use the format and the types of revisions they use on it. Now, do we really need Microsoft owning any more of the Information Technology community? Lets take the humble .doc format. For those who don't know, .doc is a propietry format for Microsoft Office 95/97/2000/2003 and even older versions. Basically what that means is in order to view a document file with the extension .doc, you need special file reading algorithms to translate the document.

So why is this such a problem for the end user? Well it limits choice. For instance, loading up a document file in Open Office looks substantially different, and saving from Open Office to Microsoft Office is a conversion process aswell that isn't 100% accurate. We already have an open format called ODF (Open Document Format) that Microsoft could use, but no - they have to make their own vendor formats that mean Microsoft not only dominate our office, but they dominate our files yet again.

I mean, what kind of an open format is one that has XML tags called (and this is the most funniest one I have come across) ? This is supposed to be an open format, and it is making reference to propietry software?!?!?! The format specifications are also a supposed 6000 pages or so. I mean seriously, who wants to read 6000 pages on the format.

You HAVE to use Windows:

A man who was sentenced to five years imprisonment and a further five years confined within his house for pirating Star Wars Episode III via BitTorrent has just been sentenced yet again with having a stipulation that he MUST use the Microsoft Windows operating system simply because they require monitoring software to be installed on his computer (and currently, it only operates on Windows). His concerns aren't so much that he has to have monitoring software installed (it's part of his sentence), however to be told you can no longer use Linux is like a second sentence!!!

I mean, can a court really stipulate the type of Operating System he must use just because they cannot locate an application to monitor computer usage? Surely keyloggers exist for Linux that could monitor everything done on the computer. Oh well, more fool him in the first place for pirating stuff.

Kid cracks Porn Filter:

I love the wording that has been used lately to describe the methods in which a 16 year old kid hacked in to an application the government spent millions on developing. The software, Net Alert, is designed to prevent pornography access for children to further secure a childs life.

linuxNow I will admit, the kid did a great job finding a way around the software, but it's by no means cracking (or hacking in its pure definition). I mean, I don't consider my workings at school (breaking NetOp, bypassing Proxy Servers) hacking unlike the *two* times I found my way in portions of the school database that I shouldn't have had such easy access to and neither should this kid.

I mean the kid bypassed the filter and is a great screw you to the government on spending money on software children can find their way around (it's inevitable given the way the application is designed), but I wish the Television would stop making him out as some sort of guru over it - I especially like the offer Kochie made on Sunrise (a Television show in Australia) about the government employing him.

So yeah, the kid did a great job bypassing the filter - but it's definitely not something one should cheer about public - hell, I'd have been inundated with press if half of the things I did were ever released hehehe... like unsecured marks and family details databases... Wink

Media and Inaccurate Descriptions:

Finally, I want to complain about the media. What a pack of morons they have been this week and it's not just one news paper or TV show. For instance, earlier last week the A66-MTH-MTH Stony Point train hit a truck at Somerville and the bulls#it flying about this incident was hillarious. Here are the inaccuracies so far caught by the media:

Anyway, there has also been some inaccuracies with the horse flu thing I'll post tomorrow or something. In the mean time, I'm going to sleep!

Ciao

[1 Comment(s)]


*sigh* (23/08/2007 08:42:37 AM)
*sigh* nothing more needs to be said.

[1 Comment(s)]


Commercial Addon Royalties (22/08/2007 06:58:36 AM)

Hi all,

Only a small one today, but with the release of Kuju's new Train Simulator, there has been some varying discussions on royalties Kuju will be charging for the creation of commercial addons. The problem appears to be those trying to make money by creating routes would have to consider parting with approximately $2,000US. This may change at a later date, but it does question whether it is right for a company to charge for commercial addons. My opinion is yes, I think the small fee of $2,000US that you pay to create a commercial route is next to nothing; that is only if you are serious about creating it commercially. What do you think in a general sense for creation of commercial addons (that is; modifications and addons that you make money out of to profit).

Craig. 

[0 Comment(s)]


Action Replay in Games (13/08/2007 11:25:23 AM)

On MSN tonight, I was discussing the theory of Action Replay in games and how to apply this technology to my own programs. For those reading this and wondering what the hell is this guy talking about and want something more interesting to read/see, might I suggest you look here.

For those who were not mesmorised by the above link, Action Replay is a concept used in games to record replays or demos of what happens within a game. To keep the file sizes down, one would assume they use their own algorithms to store important data to be replayed back in a stream, probably tied together using :o timers or threads. But how do they do it?

I am working on a web project (for argument sakes, lets assume I am creating a knock off of the game, Quibbles that I first had a VB3 version of in 1995) that requires me to record an instant replay of these 3 quibbles during a race. There needs to be consideration on file storage (lets say 100MB for race Storage), and consideration on the accuracy of the race. So how does one approach it?

Record using Video:

This is by far the most accurate way to record anything. What ever is recorded in video format is guaranteed to be the same on all computer systems and other video capable devices. But this poses the biggest problem of all. File size. In 100MB, that's less than 100 races. What if this project of mine is to last for 2-3 years at any time before a clean out? Say 8 races a day for 365 days a year at 1MB each, this is just way too much. 2920MB just for races is a little bit absurd.

Record frame by frame where each and every object is:

Most games these days probably use this method given the file size of the demo files recorded. For instance, 5-6MB for a file storing 20 seconds of footage must be storing something spectacular. This type of method would be great as no actual physics has to be recorded, nor do you have to record un-necessary footage on each frame like the landscape. In this type of game above, we are looking at storing say: the quibbles x and y position for the entire race.

If a race lasts 30 seconds, and a quibble moves 30 times per second, then this is a staggering 2,700 frames. Whilst the file size is much smaller to store 2,700 peices of information, what happens if the project was to be increased to have 30 racing and races go for 2 to 3 minutes? This becomes up to 162,000 frames. Certainly unviable when file sizes would reach 1MB very quickly (only 33% of that of the video option).

With this in consideration, maybe we should investigate a hybrid of the above theory, especially for a website?

Random Seeds for AI:

This theory comes in handy. In computing, each random number has a seed. For instance, a seed of 1 may produce between 1 and 100 the series 1, 5, 9, 16 as the first four numbers. This is the same as long as the seed is the same, so instead of storing each frame, maybe we just give each quibble a random generated seed that is stored somewhere for the replay? This theory is a supurb theory for this kind of game, but what if we wanted to take speed into consideration? The seed isn't very helpful then.

Probability Distribution with Key Frames:

Well, here is an idea that may be useful. Lets say we are running a replay on a race for the 3 minutes defined above. The important key thing to take into consideration in a race is precision, especially within the last part of the race, say... the last half of a screen? What if, using the example above we worked out that for the last 400 pixels of a race that happened to be 10,000 pixels long was the most important? You know, ensuring that the finishing position didn't change?

The idea is that say each second of the race (180) up until the last 400, we store in the initial recording the position. This means for approximately 170 seconds, we store just one value. For the last 10 seconds roughly, we can afford to be more precise and at 30 for 10 seconds means about 300 extras on the 170 there. This mounts up ofcourse to about 15,000 frames. Certainly more managable at about 40-50KB.

So in the replay how do we deal with the gaps between the one second? Well, if we store in the keyframe that at 1 second, the x value needs to be at a particular place, you can either use a probability distribution of values to get there, or just increase an average of the distance (for instance, if x was 2 for the frame before and is now 4, then move 2/30 per frame). This would do the job, but would look very strange.

The 2 ways to fix this is to either a) increase the key frames to once every half a second (increases overall data to 20,000 (50KB to 60KB) making it more accurate) or b) use probability to generate some form of movement. As long as they get to the end and roughly resemble it, the user should be none the wiser unless they are analysis buffs.

Seeds with Key Frames:

The final idea is to use seeds at particular key frames. As mentioned above, the seed has a predefined sequence of random numbers that could be used appropriately. Given we want to take into account speed and skill to generate a race, it is possible that the script organises before the race starts a random number. This would be stored in the demo file, and before the race starts, we would then define what the maximum left/right is and how often it can reach the desired maximum left/right movement (speed and skill respectively) and use the seed to generate.

The only concern I have is the synchronisation so to improve this, you could introduce key frames at every second or two just to ensure everything is on track.

Here is a rough type of thing I am trying to replicate that would work all the time providing a random seed is generated. Please note that this is almost pseudocode for PHP. Although this code compiles and works, it is only a working model and doesn't actually produce anything more than a list of numbers.

 <?php
        srand($RANDOM_SEED_NUMBER); //Seed generated at random by script
        $high = 0; //Sets up a count
        $low = 0;  //Sets up another count
        for($i=0; $i < 100; $i++) //Tests 100 times
        {
            $testseed = rand($SKILL_LEVEL,100); //Determines high/low probability for skill
            if($testseed >= 90) //If reaches certain point
            {
                $avd = rand($MEDIUM_SPEED,$FASTEST_SPEED); //Move high amount based on medium speed
                $high++;
            } else {
                $avd = rand(1,
$MEDIUM_SPEED); //Move up to medium
                $low++;
            }
            echo $avd."<br />";
        }
        echo "High: ".$high." Low: ".$low;
?>

Either way I choose to go, this is one widely undocumented feature that Google can't seem to find for me. I'd be interested to hear other input on this situation, so yeah - if you have anything you could possibly add, the comments are there for your use :)

[3 Comment(s)]


apt-get install life (11/08/2007 12:27:53 AM)

dishwasher_400 Well, I'm feeling much better today. At least I'm not trying to rip anyones head off anyway *yet*. In my last blog post, I said I had finished my Web Systems 3 assignment, to which I have and well, I thought I would post (after a few requests) a screenshot of the main page.

emoroadYesterday whilst *trying* to find somewhere to eat, we walked right down Waverley road only to find an interesting road. I wonder who decided to put Emo road in Caulfield/East Malvern and then decide to close the road for resurfacing! Only in Australia???

Apart from that, had the second easiest test of my life... Packet Analysis with Ethereal Wireshark and we were asked to write down certain parts of a packet header. Interestingly enough, I still managed to spend an hour or so doing stuff.

emoroad2_335 So um... not doing much. I have work coming up though between 30th of August and 1st September which should get me... $200 or so to pay the car rego, and hopefully get my tax return back ($123) which will pay for a couple of weeks in V/Line tickets, and yeah - then I'll be broke yet again *sigh* straight after it.

On top of the whole frigged up week thing, I just got a nice yellow envelope with a letter inside it telling me I have been called up for Jury Duty. At least because I am a full time student I can deny it, but otherwise I was expected to travel some 60km's to Morwell return with $38 per 4 hours which well... wouldn't pay for the petrol pretty much! Damn society.

Um... nothing more I could possibly think of rattling on about, except I truly suck at getting money off eBay... 1c for 3x Sticks of DDR RAM... pathetic. Even the expensive keyboard went $50 cheaper than one with a busted key so yeah - go figure.

***2:47PM UPDATE***: Many of you are wondering why I have got into the whole scam busting scene, well it's crap like this man received that prompts me to fuck about with these disgusting scammers. I have also had a couple of people I know lose money to them aswell. But yeah - interesting to read anyway as to how far people can go.

[0 Comment(s)]


Grhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (09/08/2007 11:39:00 AM)

So bored... Yet again, todays class was appauling at best. What did we cover in the lecture? Information again not related in any way to the course. In the tutorial, we covered material I covered in Mathematical Methods in Year 12, Semester 2 but to a much more difficult scenario. I mean hell - this is stuff from Physics 101!

Why am I complaining? Well, it appears as if Monash really made a mistake when it came to admitting people into the course based on the grounds of low ENTER scores (the final year score for admission into universities) and only requiring Year 11 Mathematics (General). Apparently you can even bypass this unit (or RPL it) by completing Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Modules 1 and 2. Now, I have read into Modules 1 and 2 for my own benefit, and I never EVER seen the following things that have been conducted:

> Analysing a peer reviewed IEEE article based on Mobile Computing (answering if the article was of good quality, what referencing methods are used)
> Discussing how a Pizza gets ordered and delivered using a "Layered" approach
> Calculus methods for calculating signal attenuation, bandwidth etc... on CDMA networks

Yes guys, it's true! This is the type of material discussed in the course that can be credited by completing CCNA Modules 1 and 2. So yeah, I'm bored and somewhat annoyed.

Well, for the first time in my entire life, I have completed an assignment approximately 1 week before it is even due! Go Me! It's a website for an ASP.NET unit which covers some of the basic programming techniques in ASP.NET, and the topic is on Tumble Dryers. Pretty cool website, and once it is marked, I will upload it here as it could constitute as me copying off me... thanks to the new plagarism website detection thingo's.

Yesterday was a rather perculiar day. Infact, I was told by a particular someone that I wasn't respecting this person enough to talk to him online which wasn't a concern - the guy's totally useless for my benefit so for him to block me is well, nothing at all. Interestingly enough, I thought I would log into my own *sekrit projact* website which tells me how my clients websites are going in terms of websites that are using my CMS are concerned.

The project doesn't infringe on peoples privacy as my clients know this well and truly before I do the website. Helps me keep a list of Administration details handy for cross-site scripting to fix issues with (especially when some of my clients are clumbsy and lose both their hosting password and their admin password). To my utter dismay, I found 2 websites that came up that were rather odd (keep in mind, I hadn't checked this system for the last 3 months due to lack of clients) and what do you know, but this dickhead had removed all copyright notices which isn't that greater a concern. What floored me the most was the fact the bloody moron had replaced Powered by CraDanKa! CMS Version 2.1 with his own and passing it off as his own f***ing creation!

People wonder why I get pissed off greatly by certain people on the internet? Well - to be told I don't respect some nutcase enough only to find that my work is nothing to him is beyond me. I've dealt with many arseholes in my life, but nothing quite to this extent.

On top of this, but I had a rather perculiar e-mail back about sponsorship details from a particular IT related company for GreenTubeLAN asking if we are running another 50 player LAN as you did at number 2? My first instinct was to reply with "What are you on mate ;) We never ran a 50 player LAN" until it got me thinking. OK, this is only a theory at the moment, but how far can someone go with a god damned lie? As far as getting $200+ sponsorship?

So yeah - I don't know what to feel... Better go and sleep it off. Some fancy wancy test tomorrow for Network Standards and Specifications.

[0 Comment(s)]


What the? (08/08/2007 05:38:56 AM)

Hi all,

Just a quick one today. Interestingly enough I was going through my garbage and well, found this SHS-10 keyboard floating around and thought I would put it on eBay especially as I had searched and found it had been going $300-$400. Anyway, can anyone believe that this keyboard (pictured below) is worth $151+? With 1 day to go on eBay, it is already $151! That's like... I can get a decent Casio or Yamaha PSR-2## keyboard for that sort of money. Oh Well...

Orb!ter

2abf_1_400

[1 Comment(s)]


New Update from the Random Update (04/08/2007 04:52:43 AM)
Cars working, DVD Drive somewhat working, no job, no money... I suppose things aren't all bad :)

[0 Comment(s)]


Random Update (02/08/2007 10:36:02 AM)

emoticon_guy_looking_sad94579_129Hi all,

Well, where do I start? I'm jobless (I didn't get the support job at the plumbing company), I'm broke, my car has a flat battery and today's lecture and tutorial for one of my subjects was dead-set boring. BOOOOORING.

Jobless:

Still no word from Digital Motorworks, so I assume there's no work there which is a shame - the work was boring but doable and paid quite well I believe, but when there's no jobs to process, I suppose yeah - they have to make some cutbacks somewhere. Got the call Wednesday to make up some silly story about how we were all exceptional candidates (honestly, I'd prefer the you're too far out and you can't commit crap than the I feel sorry approach - especially when the interviewee's had wondered why I didn't have a job heheheh... but yeah if they had come up with the can't commit crap, it'd have been a lot easier to contemplate at the moment hehehe... so yeah) didn't get the gist of what was said over the phone as of the dodgey reception, all I know was I didn't get the job - none of my referees were called either Undecided

Money:

The money I had since June has well, been depleted... the car costs money, V/Line costs me money, food costs me money and now I am broke with money borrowed off my parents just so I can get down to Uni and back. See Jobless for more information ;)

Car:

On my very slow trip home, my red light came on for the battery and well, yeah - flat battery + night driving = slow trip to ensure I don't run into someone so I'm back to taking the bus maybe for Friday, but Tuesday and Thursday next week just can't happen until I get a battery!

University:

Frankly, I'm getting sick of it... I'm getting really REALLY sick of going into a lecture and sitting down that it is so UNBEARABLE to even listen or read the notes. I'm getting sick of going to a Tutorial only to hear crap about questions that I can concentrate much better on my own with. I'm getting sick of well... Uni in general.

So yeah... not much news, just a random bitch hehehe... Hopefully this job situation gets sorted out in a couple of weeks... Looks like I'll be flipping burgers with you, Pranesh!

Orb!ter

[2 Comment(s)]


OMG Portfolio Updated (29/07/2007 09:30:46 PM)
Well, another website is finished which is good and now I have decided to redo my Portfolio page. No news today yet :)

[0 Comment(s)]


Irony on the internet? (28/07/2007 10:28:40 AM)

Is it just me, or is this post hypocritical of itself?

......have read these stuff what whining people is saying. They're assholes who's bitching for nothing. The project what team is doing is free for us, and no-one dosnt pay to them, so they are free to do the mod when they want. I agree with that people wants this mod, but whining wont do the mod relasing faster. So stop whining and start to stimulate team, so they maybe would do something. But i would wanna too to get an update or some page, witch would tell us how the mod is going and stuff, not like updates, just telling what problems is and maybe when it's going to be finished.

I wonder if by any chance this guy himself would stop whinging? This is also from the same forums:

you're all idiots, learn to wait and stfu, end of.

Recon this guy would do the same? I suppose my point is I understand the concept of telling a group to shut up, but to add additional remarks like these 2 posts do is just absurd. That's like me saying something like STOP POSTING WHINGES!!! Think that's absurd? Check this one out:

omg,
every update produces like 100+ comments from guys whining for not releasing and additional 100+ comments from guys whining back to the whiners not to whine.
thats so sick. as if you could change something!

so what can we do? well, check the site once a month. then see - most likely - no progress at all. then leave the site. when its october grab a <console> and <game>.

and: as i am now commenting i can't refrain from giving another opinion:
obviously fanbase means shit to the <project> team - and the guy saying that there is communication (meaning the few comments in the forum) is the most sick of them all. i mean u can't tell this communication - no infos at all on any progress, no information what they are doing right now, no dev blog. we don't even know who is still in the team. oh i forgot: everyday they give us a fuckin picture showing them playing <game>. wow. if i want to see nice pictures i check www.phun.org so long

This is my favourite of all for obvious reasons. Not only does he whinge about the whingers, but he also manages to whinge about the whingers whinging. What makes me laugh even more is that people whinged about this guys whinge on top of his whinges... Following?

Orb!ter 

[1 Comment(s)]


Todays antics (27/07/2007 10:38:30 AM)
conjob_400

Hi all,

Well - today I had my first interview for any job (yes - that's correct, my first interview for a job) and well I suppose things went wellish (how am I supposed to know if I went good or not. I answered questions without boring the interviewer(s)) and well I suppose I find it all out whether I got the job (or not) on Wednesday. Anyway - now it is up to the referees and well I suppose this will be the test to see how satisfied some of my clients have been with my work. A little unsure of how it'll pan out (again, refer to the first interview component :D) so yeah - either way, I'll end up getting a position somewhere, someday, somehow......

Today's networking class was strange to say the least... Yet again work with ethereal revealed that many websites, including the famous MySpace send your password completely unencrypted in a network such that your POST requests well... are sent in plain text. This basically means if it's not a http, then programs like ethereal are going to well - turn up the password some way or another.

After observing it, you certainly don't want to be at a school, internet cafe or library (unless you use SSH for tunneling or some form of VPN) using MySpace... I would have thought they would have had an SSL layer for logins or even javascript for encryption atleast... but yeah - you've been warned ;)

This weekend I endeavour to have all clientel up to date with websites so that I can sit down and get a Tutorial knocked up for this weekends Marratech class 1:00PM Sunday :) Feel free to join in, I think I'll be covering the Assignment...

Anyway, sleepy times...

Orb 

[2 Comment(s)]


MSY Damn You!!!! (26/07/2007 09:21:02 AM)

Today really has ticked me off in regards to MSY and the entire run around I have been doing for the past 4 weeks for clients. Today started out by me driving down to Caulfield for the first time with the total cost of the trip at $39.00 (versus my usual train ticket of $7.80) in both fuel and parking *sigh* and the reason to drive was to get some "stuff" for a Job interview I have tomorrow for a plumbing company at Clayton for IT Software Support (finally an interview for an IT position Surprised).

Anyway, once I got all of my "things" (Fountain Gate truly does suck for both parking and the 'right' shops), I went straight to MSY. I thought I'd be smart and turn off at Stud Rd, and move up Wellington Rd to MSY to avoid traffic congestion but as fate would have it, not 1, not 2 but 3 separate lane closures (1 on Stud, 2 on Wellington) brang traffic to a stand still.

I got to MSY, parked, walked in and waited about 30 minutes before I was served. I enquired about laptop bags for one of my clients and they just told me to go over to the wall where they were and well - yeah... I have a look and I can tell you now... I'm not PAYING $25 for nothing more than a neoprene folderish type of bag. Anyway, went back to CentreCom on Springvale Rd and well, they had no laptop bags so I just left.

I then went up to Suntrom (my favourite computer store) and well, they had laptop bags and I even asked to see them. When they shown me what they were, all well and good! Exactly what I was after at the right price as well. It's pretty pathetic when it comes to going to a store I normally by used/refurb'd PC's from to buy things I wouldn't expect them to stock. Not only do they actually have things in stock, but I'm not treated like a complete moron when going in there! So yeah, I think it's back to getting everything from Suntrom (even if they are a tad bit dearer, their customer service level is fantastic and always has been...)

Anyway, got to Caulfield, lecture was boring, Vista crashed XP and itself, Linux and Mac booted, lecture was boring, I browsed the internet, boring lecture followed by a boring tutorial that James snapped in (for all the right reasons Wink - how does reviewing a paper directly effect networking protocols I have no idea). Oh well, wish me luck - I may have money to continue uni shortly! (Still waiting for my tax return).

[0 Comment(s)]


University Menu Added (16/07/2007 09:08:13 AM)

Hi all,

Due to my recent tutorials that will run parallel to 2 different units this semester, I have put a link in the menu before Links to UNIVERSITY. This will contain basically all of the material for the 2 units I will attempt to tutor. Hopefully I can pull it off hey :)

Orb!ter 

[0 Comment(s)]


Long time no post (03/07/2007 08:26:53 AM)

754326804_cf39dc61e3_400Hi all,

Thought I would make a post as I have been busy over the past 3 weeks that has prevented me to even make a small update on this website. So where to begin...

Exams:

Well, all 4 exams are finally down and well - they were all too easy. The Unix exam out of the lot of them was the most appropriate though testing all aspects of the unit, not specific portions. My theory on an exam is that it should cover everything to test what you know, not what you don't know. For instance, a student who attends all lectures and tutorials and studys say 90% of the course work should be able to get a pretty decent mark of about what the person has studied - however there are occasions where exams will study 5-10% of the subject area that the person did NOT study causing them to get a substantially lower mark despite what they learned.

I suppose I'm lucky in a way - I know enough about computing to simply walk in, sit down, write and walk out with fairly minimalistic study in any subject but time and time again - I see fellow students split down the middle of what is easy and what is not. Infact, some have even said they didn't study much at all and were able to assume they did exceptionally well whereas someone who hadn't done well claimed to have studied. This didn't happen at the end of the Unix exam surprisingly.

Network Administration on the other hand was very practical based - and for the first time in my life I have seen Bonus marks on an exam worth more than 10% of the final mark (ie 15 marks out of 95 - that is a substantial amount). I could have done did that exam off the top of my head so it'll be interesting to see how I went in that one.

System Analysis and Design was an interesting exam - no tricks, but as it's analysis (and I spent about 0% of my time studying for it), I don't know how I will have gone here. My guess is after the course restructure, not as well as desired.

Introduction to Security was a strange one. It did seem to test what someone didn't know rather than what was known. It was also the poorest designed exam paper I have ever dealt with (even more so than the random whiteboard exam questions in Year 8 for English hehehe). The simple fact is, if we are expected to do an exam, how the hell are we meant to know if we are to circle answers in the book (given no answer sheet is provided), draw a diagram (without a nice blank sheet of paper) or even write a legible answer down (with no lines for guiding). I think I did exceptionally well on that exam, but who knows - when questions come up that I swear were never covered in the course, well - yeah.

681495884_3140b2af5a_400Job:

Well, for the last 2 weeks (and the next 2) I have no work which is really pissing me off. Just one day a week to get $75 a week would suffice at the moment to pay some small bills and travel expenses as I go but noooooo - the only time I have a break, and I can't find work *mutters words*. So I'm back on the job hunt - probably look for help desk positions whilst I'm still in the black.

Car:

Exactly 10 months and 1 day after my accident where I caused $12,000 damage all up, well I finally brought another car. 1990 Holden Commodore VN Executive and well - it has 4 wheels and goes, so now I'm mobile again! Given I'm mobile, maybe I can score some free fuel doing some night shifts at petrol stations hehehe....

GreenTubeLAN:

Well, GreenTubeLAN 6 has been and gone and mostly due to not having a working OS at the LAN party, I had about 10 minutes of gaming on Yousef's laptop during the night. The rest was running around for people (which given the limiting budget came out of my god-damned pocket... damn you petrol prices!!!) but not all is bad - I still thoroughly enjoyed the night. Atleast we had something we didn't have at the other LAN's, People and CAKE!!!

So when is the next LAN? I don't know - depends how I'm going money wise but I anticipate middle of August for the next one which will be a Cheap As(s) one whereby it'll be 12 hours, no servers (apart from INTRANET for DHCP and BITSERVER for my own personal use). Maybe at this one, I'll get to play GAMES!!! HEHE...

Miscellaneous:

Uh... just installing my laptop at the moment and have a paper trail a mile long full of tasks to do for clients (namely polish and update some client websites for the new financial year) hehe...

Ciao

[2 Comment(s)]


The number 67,137,648 (17/06/2007 11:31:41 AM)
67,137,648... is the same number in MB that the *nix UFS (Unix File System) can store EXTRA over the Windows NTFS (the one used in Windows XP) per file. Wow... that's like 67.13 Terabyte HDD's :)

[0 Comment(s)]


Java != Javascript (15/06/2007 11:11:04 AM)
Once again, a complete moron who is supposedly a Web Designer AND Java programmer believes that Javascript is not only made by Sun Microsystems and is a derivitave of Java, but also believes that the Java framework must be installed for Javascript to execute. So here is a little image for that person who I know does not read this webpage. (Tough if they do :P)
 
grhhhh_591

[5 Comment(s)]


Hospital Tycoon (15/06/2007 03:59:47 AM)

Hi All,

Today I for the first time loaded up Hospital Tycoon after working out why the hell it wouldn't run on my laptop - it turns out that it defaulted to high quality, 1024x768 on a not-up-to-scratch system. So, I got the game running only to be greated by the worst music imaginable - Bus Driver has much better music (even if it was made using FL Studio hehe). Anyway, I have never been a fan of any 'Tycoon' badged game (yes thats right, I didn't even like Rollercoaster Tycoon, Railroad Tycoon, Monopoly Tycoon, Transport Tycoon, Realestate Tycoon, even School Tycoon was a disapointment) so I wondered if this game was any different.

The main reason I do not like 'Tycoon' games is because they seem to require too much effort to do anything useful... I certainly found that with most of them I have played anyway - but is Hospital Tycoon any different? Well, coming from the Theme Hospital world, this game is nothing more than a rip off combined with the relationship management (probably better done in Hospital Tycoon though) from The Sims 2. After getting passed the crappy music, it was time to load the game up - and what the? The first 'mission' starts up as an introduction to some fubared American drama - it introduces your staff :S and they Talk! (which would have been OK if they didn't directly rip off the sims here - that garbled talk does not impress me).

Anyway, once I got passed this stage of the intro video (this is 10 minutes into the game by the way - given the stupendous load time on my laptop), it was time to play. Now, Theme Hospital made it easy - I remember the first time I played Theme Hospital as per how easy it was to build a room (that being build a building, place an object, build a desk, hire some staff with flashing queues) and Hospital Tycoon atleast had this element so that it was easy to work out where to start. The only problem here is that the 'helpful' doctor in Theme Hospital is replaced by a 'Teenager souding' Receptionist who talks just like a real Sim. You would have no idea how much hearing a high pitched sim voice really annoys me. Even in todays age, the characters can't speak! The queues in Theme Hospital "Doctor Requirity GP's Office" are helpful - the "meningbla gibulabla compnrenre" means diddly squat to me. Instead of building specialised rooms like Theme Hospital, you get to build pre-defined sizes (which is disapointing - I wanted a whole plot to be a Ward Frown) and put your items in there - which I suppose has it's advantages - instead of deleting a room, you can simply replace items in the room to make it a new one. Another great thing I found was the ability to put bin's ANYWHERE in the hospital.

So, a patient sees the reception desk as normal and goes to the 'Examination Room' where a Nurse sees the patient and takes her into the doctors office - in there, they are Examined (could you believe) for their illness and once done a POKEMON card came up called a Curedex (Pokedex???)! Whilst this is a great idea - it can be annoying that I have to click a Computer to find this card whereas Theme Hospital would just pop up a little icon to click (a green box with a ? or ! to be precise).

I suppose I'm just a bit disappointed in the whole game - it's not fun, it's quite boring infact. I couldn't get myself to play it anymore than the first Scene. There is just nothing fun in listening to some sim bitch for ages and have a hospital already built for me (that seems to be what the rest of the scenes are) and all I have to do is run and modify. I know there is a sandbox mode that may be a bit of fun - but really... there is alot of garbage in there to do anything.... A true Tycoon game hehe...

Before anyone says play it as Hospital Tycoon and Theme Hospital... Well, there was only one way to play it and I have been looking forward to this game for ages. It's a downright disappointment - no skill required, shitty music, an unhelpful doctor that tells me how to play the game speaking in a high pitched voice and relationships between stupid doctors and nurses is just unnecessary in a simulation designed to build a hospital. I suppose I should have seen it coming with School Tycoon ;)

I'll play it some more ofcourse before I give it my final verdict - but yeah... off to play Theme Hospital for a while ;)

Orb!ter

UPDATE: Zer0 from Drouin updated me on the latest disaster with Public Transport. V/Nacho's!!!! are no longer for sale... infact they have been BANNED!!!!!!!!

[0 Comment(s)]


Sun Microsystems - how long until death? (14/06/2007 10:46:13 AM)

Hi all,

I don't know how many of you keep up with the exactly 6 years older than me, Sun Microsystems, but has anyone noticed the impending doom on Sun Microsystems? The once king-pin in both servers, desktops, operating systems and entire business consultancy is just going down the gurgler so-to-speak. What makes me say this? Well - has Sun Microsystems done anything major lately that will have increased their marketshare and profits?

Originally Sun created a version of Unix known today as Solaris which was their primary product, yet not that long ago, Sun Microsystems made Java an Open (Closed?) Source framework - why? Well, they claim it was a great move for Java to go down that path with little-to-no emphasis on why now, and not before. One of their greater achievements was purchasing the German made StarOffice. Star Office seems to have disappeared off the face of the planet with OpenOffice still in production (frankly, OpenOffice still needs alot of work before I would 100% switch to it... for starters - develop it in something OTHER than Java ;)), yet StarOffice which was a commercial product is being replaced by an Open Source productivity suite?

There's no point me reposting this recent action here with attempting to join OpenSolaris with the Linux community, but if you do read it - does anyone else believe with me that Sun Microsystems may be grasping at more straws trying to work something out to keep them out of the red?

I can honestly see within the next 5 to 10 years SUN Microsystems completely gone - a memory if you will given there seems to be no innovation from the company. As I said before - Sun seems to be about making it's projects Open... OpenSolaris, OpenOffice, OpenJava... they all use the GPL License now :)

It's just a theory - be interested to see other peoples thoughts on the matter. 

[0 Comment(s)]


Why projects fail? (13/06/2007 02:52:54 AM)
Why do projects fail?

I know this is an old topic now, but I came across it during revision and I must admit - how bloody true it is in the real world.

What the user wanted:

what_wanted_120

What the budget allowed for:

what_budget_120 

What the timescale allowed for:

what_pf_120

What the technician designed for:

rocket_jet_120

What the user finally got:

wheelbarrow7676_120 

[1 Comment(s)]


Why oh why? (12/06/2007 08:32:41 AM)

It has intrigued me as to why by default the two leading productivity packages, OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office, set their paper size to Letter when clearly all printers by default are set to A4. I mean seriously - who goes and buys a realm of 500 sheets of Letter sized paper (letter sized paper has a slightly shorter length)? It is pretty poor that neither software productivity packages or printers can agree on one default paper size.

My guess is that software developers should make A4 by default ;) I mean - how many letters have you written versus other documents requiring A4 size. Also, when you write a letter, did you buy special letter sized paper to print it out?

[1 Comment(s)]


Using methods within methods and String manipulation (09/06/2007 12:40:06 AM)

For those of you who are studying Java or Object Orientation Programming at University, here is something that may be useful to you. Basically this question came up in sample exam, and I was appauled to see the answer completely incorrect in terms of the lack of depth within the answer and the approach that when compiled, produced the wrong results. Here is the question for those who don't know, and the proper solution for it.

Question: Write a method called soundex to convert a string to a soundex code using the following criterion

  • All characters must be in UPPER CASE
  • Leave the first character in
  • Replace double letters with single
  • Omit the following characters: A, E, I, O, U, W, H, Y
  • and only produce a maximum of 4 characters

This question will no doubt be in the exam (or similar atleast) and even for those not doing the course, it is worth a read to see that it is possible to use mutator methods within methods. Here is my version of the proper, fully commented solutions to the question.

To complete this question, you must be familiar with the following methods;
String.charAt(integer); returns a char for the position requested.
String.toUpperCase(); returns all characters to upper case.
String.indexOf(character); returns an int as per the position in the string (-1 if doesn’t exist).

The code for the solution is below:

public String soundex(String aWord);
{
    //Check if there is a value within aWord
    if(aWord == "" || aWord == NULL)
    {
        //Return an empty string
        return "";
    }

    //Create a message variable to return, and a variable containing chars to eliminate
    String message;
    String toElim = “AEIOUWHY”;

    //Complete condition 1 to convert to lower/upper case
    aWord = aWord.toUpperCase();

    //Complete condition 2 to leave the first letter the same
    message = aWord.charAt(0);

    //Step through each individual character
    for(int i=1; i<aWord.length() && aWord.length() > 1; i++)
    {
        //Complete condition 3 to see if the 2 characters are identical
        if(aWord.charAt(i) == aWord.charAt(i-1))
        {
            //break out of the if...else condition (we don’t want identical letters)
            continue;

        //Complete condition 4 to see if the character appears in toElim
        } else if(toElim.indexOf(aWord.charAt(i)) > -1) {

            //break out of the if...else condition (we don’t want eliminated characters)
            continue;

        } else {

            //Add the letter to the string to return
            message += aWord.charAt(i);

            //Complete condition 5 in checking the length is 4
            if(message.length() == 4)
            {
                //If it does, then return the message
                return message;
            }
        }
    }
    
    //Once the loop has exhausted, return what has currently been set
    return message;

}

You should already be familiar with the commands expressed above, but what you may not be familiar is using methods that return a variable or value within methods.

Let’s assume the following:

String word = “TEST”;

We have the following commands and outputs:

word.charAt(2); //This would return the character ‘S’ as it is in position 2 in the string word.
word.charAt(3); //This would return the character ‘T’ as it is in position 3 in the string word.
word.indexOf(‘E’); //This would return the integer 1 as it is the position of the character ‘E’
word.indexOf(‘F’); //This would return -1 as the letter F does not appear in the string.

You should be familiar with this using integers and characters. One thing you should have learned was the fact that you can also use variables in place of the characters and integers, and thus the following could work:

int pos = 2;
word.charAt(pos); //This would return the character ‘S’ as pos = an integer of 2
char ch = ‘E’;
word.indexOf(ch); //This would return the integer 1 as ch = the character of ‘E’

As you know how to do these, there should be little to worry about dynamic variables such as those in a for loop:

for(int i=0; i<word.length(); i++) //This iterates through the individual letters
{
    word.charAt(i); //This will return what the value is at i.
}

So, you know you can get integer variables of datatype int and char to work in indexOf and charAt respectively, but can we do it with methods that return a value (those being accessor methods)? The answer is yes! So, if we have a look at Question 4.1, we created an alphabet of characters to eliminate. Using the combination of indexOf (which is useful for finding out if a character does exist) and charAt (which is useful for getting a character at a given position (or index) in a string.

Lets step back a bit – we said that indexOf can take the value of a character, and the method charAt returns a character. Therefore, is it possible that finding the index of a character within the alphabet will yield the response we wish to obtain? Again, the answer is yes! charAt returns a ‘char’ which is perfectly acceptable to use within String.indexOf(char). This is where something like the following comes in:

toElim.indexOf(aWord.charAt(2)); //In this case would be the equivalent to toElim(indexOf(‘S’));

Using the word TEST, this will mean that aWord.charAt(2) is the same as ‘S’. Therefore, the indexOf(‘S’) becomes -1 as toElim does not contain the letter S. aWord.charAt(1) on the other hand is the same as ‘E’ which is in the toElim string. indexOf(‘E’) returns the integer 1 which states it is in the first position in the string. By manipulating this theory, we can create a conditional statement to complete criterion 4.

if(toElim.indexOf(aWord.charAt(1)) > -1)
{
    continue;
}

The rest of the code is pretty self explanatory (in terms of position = position – 1 for checking the character before the current character), and checking if there have been 4 characters already.

[0 Comment(s)]


Thin-Clients now in Laptops (07/06/2007 07:55:45 AM)

Hi all,

Thought I would actually post something decent today (apart from the bit of a knock together in Fireworks). I've been working a fair amount this week (had 3 days at work) and almost ready to splash out and get a car - about 11 months after my accident last year. Anyway, something I came across today was the theory of Thin-Clients in Laptop form.

One of the great things about the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system is the Terminal Services module (yes, it does exist in older server versions) and some of the organisations I have set up networks for have also enjoyed this 'freedom' of being able to use on what ever computer they happen to be on, their same desktop set up as they left it as. With many stolen laptops, this theory of thin clients can potentially mean that although a laptop may be stolen, it won't have any important data on it.

I must admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the whole theory given it sounds to me like it's nothing more than a standard laptop without optical drives or hard drives. Whilst the battery life will be phenominal, there is really no point to having a battery life as you kind of need to be seated somewhere to use it :S

I'm sure you guys can come up with some clever points as to the benefits of having a thin client laptops, but right now - I need some sleep :P I've been up the last 3 mornings at 4:30AM and well - sleeping at 11:00PM just isn't doing much for me ;)

Orb!ter 

[1 Comment(s)]


No more V/Nacho's!!! (05/06/2007 04:13:11 AM)
0551314400_350
Caption: No more V/Nacho's

No more V/Nacho's on atleast one more service thankyou to the truck driver who caused this today at 1:40. Just what V/Line needed - more trains down.

On a more serious note, I am forever seated in the BRN car (which is what's pictured above for those who don't know) and well - shit, looks like theres been some damage. I wonder if the train driver yet again steered into the truck?

Edit: On a side note, may I grab your attention to an earlier post I made some 4 months ago about my prediction that 6 months from the launch of Vista (from November when Business was released), Dual Core systems and RAM will be cheap. It seems that these predictions have come true with MSY offering 2048MB of RAM for under $100 and Dual Core processors (Pentium-D) from $115. By the time you build a new system up AND get a legit copy of Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium OEM for $170, then yeah - for under $1,000 - you will end up with a system more than adequate to power Windows Vista Home Premium - hehe I still think it's a waste :P

[0 Comment(s)]


Programming Concepts Part 2 (02/06/2007 09:22:49 AM)

If you have missed part 1, you can view that by clicking here!

So, this post is a direct follow on from the program that is a Phone Book and hopefully educating some of the viewers some design concepts in creating small portions of code. Back in the previous post, we had implemented a menu, and a Person object. Continuing on from Step 4 which precisely defines what happens during the method, we can now interperate this now into Java syntax. To enter a person to the database, we assumed the following steps:

  1. Enter a users name
  2. Enter a users phone number
  3. Enter a users e-mail address
  4. Store the name
  5. Store the phone number
  6. Store the e-mail address

Lets convert this into Java code step by step:

//We firstly want to display some text for the user for the fields we wish to enter
System.out.println("Enter a Persons Name:");
//Now ask for the data using the keyboard we defined
String un = this.kb.nextLine();
//Ask for the users phone number
System.out.println("Enter a Persons Phone Number:");
//Again, get the data from the user
String ph = this.kb.nextLine();
//Ask for the users e-mail address
System.out.println("Enter a Persons Address");
//Get the input again from the keyboard
String ad = this.kb.nextLine();
//Now, store all the values - there's a number of ways we can approach it
//As we have a constructor class, we may aswell use it:
Person newPerson = new Person(un, ph, ad);

Above is the entire method for adding a user. In the case of adding an array, we simply require a counter (we are not assuming ArrayList here), so basically it works as such:

arrayName[position] = newPerson;
position++;

This method above would (assuming arrayName was already set up for the Person object; Person arrayName[];) simply store into the array of Person objects the new person created. The position incrementing simply says that the next time you add a person, you would store it in a new slot.

I'll post the final method tomorrow which will involve the use of a structured for loop, but right now there is something more important that I feel needs to be expressed:

There is NOTHING stopping you using multiple namespaces! Alot of people seem to be confused and think that it's only possible to use one namespace which is false. You CAN use multiple namespaces. For instance, providing we have say a Person that has a Lesson object and Lesson has a Time object, then there is nothing wrong with using:

Person.Lesson.Time.returnTime();

Or, you may even have methods associated with it to return the Lesson Object, and the Time Object (especially where arrays are used):

Person.getLesson().getTime().returnTime();

This is exactly the same (that is if getLesson returns a Lesson and getTime returns a Time) as the one above it - it does not matter how many you have ;) Just don't get confused.

Anyway, more to come at a later date!

[1 Comment(s)]


Piece of Garbage! (31/05/2007 04:20:38 AM)

Right... Just as I have refreshed a Dell using the System Recovery CD set, this is really pissing me off with the amount of crap that is included with it!

Non-Standard Drivers:

Why on earth couldn't I just use the ATI Catalyst Drivers package I have on my server to update the driver? I was told the package was incompatible by ATI, yet it's a Radeon X1150 and I would have liked to see my updated package work. Instead, I had to download the same package, but from the Dell webpage containing some stupid Dell wrapper just to run.

The Yahoo! Toolbar

Ok, what the hell is up with Dell installing the Yahoo! Toolbar by default? I don't want or use Yahoo, and even if I did want to use a search engine, I know the god-damned URL for the website! For the record, I'm talking about the proper toolbar, not the simple search box in Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox.

Trial Software

Why oh why does a Dell machine include a trial for all of this stupid and pathetic software? Why do I have trials for word processing applications (ok, so Works isn't a trial - but it may aswell be!) and quick books? It is disgusting!

McAfee Security Suite!!!!!!

Ok, so this should be under Trial Software, but WTF! It's a bitch to remove cleanly and even if I did use it, it won't let me scan after the 30 day trial, theoretically making sure there is no security!

So, what are the alternatives that won't cost manufacturers?

Non-Standard Drivers: Very easy to fix - STOP putting stupid features on hardware!
Yahoo! Toolbar: Simply forget it - set Yahoo to the default search engine in Internet Explorer 7
Trial/Crippled Software: Open Office and AVG Anti Virus can easily replace Works and McAfee

Thoughts anyone? hehe... yes I know that these 'companies' pay Dell to include demo's on the PC's... something like $1-$2 each, but it mounts up.

Part 2 of the programming concepts post will be up next - I promise Tongue out

[0 Comment(s)]


Programming Concepts (30/05/2007 11:45:41 AM)

 Hi all,

I'm sure you are well and truly sick of reading about useless (useful?) crap about the wonderful world of Technology, but the way I look at it is if I can help someone out, even the slightest, then it's been worth posting a new blog up. Todays topic (yes, I'm talking about the same day I wrote this on (12:44AM in the morning) is about programming concepts as once again, exam times are coming up and too many students will fail this exam, not because they haven't studied their specific programming language in great detail (ie know the commands, know the importance of programming structures whether it be an Object Oriented approach or a Structured (line by line) approach.) but because they simply do not know how to use logic to create a program.

One of the many things I am appauled to see still happening is there is no emphasis on teaching logical programming. That is, teaching someone how to write a program rather than teaching them syntax. Take any other spoken language such as Japanese, French or even Arabic. You see, it's quite easy to memorise the alphabet, words and even string a few words together to form some sort of coherent speech, but to actually think off the top of your head how to put those words, especially when not taught how to talk pretty much renders your memorisation of words useless. For example, a typical greeting would be "Hello, my name is . Nice to meet you". There is a reason we string these words in this order, and that is because it is considered a logical way of doing so. You wouldn't say "Nice to hello you, my name is meet " because it means something totally different, or even cause so much confusion that no one knows where to begin. The same applies to computing and programming languages.

A Simple Structure:

Lets assume we have a program to store a list of your contacts phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Quite an easy example if you know what you are doing, and can be implemented in all languages. As the people who read this blog have some knowledge of Java, I suppose I had better write this concept using Object Orientation Smile

If I was to hand this example to my current group of tutee's, I am sure they wouldn't know where to begin simply because they have not learnt any concepts in how to think out the program, so here are some basic steps in solving this problem.

Step 1. Collect your data

One thing that most people seem to forget about doing is working out what data is needed for the program to work. Typically in this phonebook example, we have 3 things we need. We need a persons name, the persons email address and the persons phone number. Nothing more, nothing less. We however want say 100 people stored maximum.

Step 2. What do we need to do with this data

Now that we have the data we want, we have to work out what we are going to do with the data. Obviously we want to be able to store these 3 attributes (name, email, phone), and at some stage we would like to manipulate these attributes aswell such as changing the name, email or phone and even retrieving a persons name, email or phone. To do this, we have 6 things we want to do.

Step 3. How are you going to manipulate the data

In this example, we will want to have a user to enter some information, and we also want to get this information aswell.

Step 4. What are the steps to achieve this manipulation

Now that we have all of the information we require, we can start investigating the program. As you can see in step 3, there is only 2 lines there and for those who know any programming language, there isn't a method that randomly springs out of a box to do these things exactly, so we have to work out how we are going to do each of these tasks.

"have a user enter some information..."

So, thinking about this logically in a precise nature, this is the order one would expect to enter data in:

  1. Enter a users name
  2. Enter a users phone number
  3. Enter a users e-mail address
  4. Store the name
  5. Store the phone number
  6. Store the e-mail address

"get the information..."

Again, thinking logically in how to get the information, we need to do the following:

  1. Enter a name
  2. Search for the name
    1. If the name is in the phone book then get the phone number and email address
    2. If the name is not in the phone book, then tell me its not there.

Now that we have some methods written up in some way, we need to use all information gained and put it into a program.

Step 5. Apply this information

Ideally, you will have written your methods suitable to the programming language you know. In this case, Java will be used and as it has an emphasis on Object Orientation, I'll implement it using Objects.

The Java Program:

As we seen from Step 1, we needed 3 pieces of data. To store data, Java includes data types and variables. Therefore, we need 3 data types that will store text and numbers beginning with 0 into this book. Anyone who knows any programming language will realise String achieves this, therefore we can place the following information down:

String name;
String phone_number;
String email_address;

You will notice aswell, these are all properties of a persons phone number, and as they all deal with people, then we can create a class to store these in.

public class Person {
    private String name;
    private String phone_number;
    private String email_address;
}

Above now is an object that contains 3 properties that are hidden away from the application. Anyone who has learnt Java syntax should realise this.

Step 2 contained what we wanted to do with the data, that being we want to store it and get it. We use accessors and mutators in Java to do this. Accessors return something and Mutators set something. Again, if you know Java syntax, this next step isn't tricky.

public class Person {
    private String name;
    private String phone_number;
    private String email_address;

    public Person(String new_name, String new_phone, String new_email)
    {
        this.name = new_name;
        this.phone_number = new_phone;
        this.email_address = new_email;
    }
}

This above code now creates an instance of the object using the constructor method when the person is made. In other words, very important for this program. Now, we need to implement the methods from Step 2 which were we need to get the data and set the data.

public class Person {
    private String name;
    private String phone_number;
    private String email_address;

    public Person(String new_name, String new_phone, String new_email)
    {
        this.name = new_name;
        this.phone_number = new_phone;
        this.email_address = new_email;
    }

    public void setName(String newName)
    {
        this.name = newName;
    }

    public void setPhone(String newPhone)
    {
        this.phone_number = newPhone;
    }

    public void setEmail(String newEmail)
    {
        this.email_address = newEmail;
    }

    public String getName()
    {
        return this.name;
    }

    public String getPhone()
    {
        return this.phone_number;
    }

    public String getEmail()
    {
        return this.email_address;
    }
}

Now all appropriate methods are implemented, we need a driver class, that is - something to run the program. We design this class by thinking about the overall scope of the application. For starters, we need to store 100 peoples details, and we need to take care of the methods in Step 4. This is how it would be structured, and should be easy if you know the Java syntax.

import java.util.Scanner;

public class AddressBook {
    private Person person[];
    Scanner kb = new Scanner(System.in);
   
private boolean isRunning = true;

    public AddressBook()
    {
        person = new Person[100];
    }

    public static void main(String args[])
    {
        AddressBook ab = new AddressBook();
        while(ab.isRunning)
        {
            System.out.println("Menu:");
            System.out.println("");
            System.out.println("1. Add Details");
            System.out.println("2. Search Details");
            System.out.println("3. Exit");
            char choice = kb.findInLine(".").charAt(0);
            switch(choice)
            {
                case '1':
                    ab.addDetails();
                    break;
                case '2':
                    ab.searchDetails();
                    break;
                case '3':
                    System.exit(0);
                    break;
            }
        }
    }
}

There's the basic outline for the menu, and the rest of the methods will be implemented in the next news post. Right now, I have things to do... like sleep Yell

Thanks,
Orb!ter

[5 Comment(s)]


User Interfaces (26/05/2007 04:28:16 AM)

loadup_400Hi all,

Today, I will start with my usual rant about something in life. Today's topic is User Interfaces and I don't know exactly what's brought this discussion up, but probably something to do with me being pissed off yet again with the IT industry and poor designed interface - and finding videos on the topic ;)

It has amased me over the years with 'interesting' designs, and how some professionals automatically reject what would be considered good designs. For starters, lets have a look back in history with DOS. DOS was considered a good interface, could do everything with that one would ever need to do and there was no need to upgrade. When Doug Englebart first came up with the theory of GUI and Xerox came up with their own (then Apple stole his theory to produce the Macintosh GUI), the people in the DOS world were completely convinced that GUI's had no real purpose in the real work environment.

The mouse for example was a device considered stupid, and would never sell - however it does increase productivity, and does work as an easy device to use. I mean, how many people these days could live without a mouse? Dating a bit further, lets have a look at user interfaces in todays environment. Most of you have seen my CMS, if you havent - a video is on my CraDanKa! CMS Version 2 page. The system is apparently quite easy to use by more people than just me. Why is that? Because there are very limited features. It does just a basic website, with a few slight additions. I must admit - I could make this system much more easier, but in the mean time. It's much easier. Let's compare and contrast:

admin_screen_400

My system to create a new page is shown on the left hand side. You can see that there is a simple text entry box using the Open Source TinyMCE editor, and a title for that web page. What ends up being entered here is then shown as a webpage, or simply add it to the webpage. There is a button for uploading and attaching images (the link button also has this function to browse files and upload files to the web server), and well - it functions just about like any other word processor. Clicking submit adds the page to the website.

I believe it's easy enough to follow, even if you have had one to many to drink prior to sitting down attempting to create the website you really should have done prior to opening that can. There are no "confusing" menu's to choose from, just the buttons most people will ever need to use.

Now, lets take a look at doing exactly the same thing in Joomla! which is supposed to be one of the very easy systems to create your website with.

admin_screen2_400As you can see, this screen looks prettier than my one above, but damn... that screen goes FOREVER just to create a simple static webpage. It's not even called Page, or even webpage, or even 'thingamajig to put on the website'. It's called Content Item which well, er... that could be anything. This thing is supposed to be a Content Management System, and you are creating a new Content Undecided Well, er... ok then. It's nice to have the buttons up the top though - something I will implement one day into my Content Management System, but the 2 entry boxes, the tabs with options that are just completely strange. For starters, who uses most of these features?

There is a show in Front Page button, but how many pages do you want there? I for one only want one page, so why is this an 'important' option? The administration level for the content by default should simply be the person/group who created it. Why is there an option there? The Author is probably logged in already! Why is the an option to Alias the author! The created date is rarely changed aswell, yet it is STILL shown there. Oh, lets not get started on page statistics that obviously are NOT SET YET given it's a NEW PAGE! Even look at the editing windows. Notice how the actual page's content is the one in the bottom box? The one called Main Text? Who's bright idea was it to place a main text box called Main Text at the bottom? Both fields are also OPTIONAL! I suppose it's like Microsoft Word and people creating Blank Documents. I don't know too many people who want to create blank documents, but rather documents that contain something in them Tongue out I know my University Lecturers and Tutors don't want to receive "Blank Documents".

So... is Joomla! the only thing I can think of bitching about today? NOPE! One of my personal favourites (and was reiterated by a guy I was watching a little over 2 weeks ago) is the shutdown screens. Here is a typical Microsoft Windows 2000/NT/XP/2003 (XP only with eye candy turned off) shutdown screen:

And here is a typical one for a GUI based Linux Distribution using KDE:

I can think of atleast 2 things wrong with Microsoft's implementation over this Linux based one. First of all, who needs help clicking a button. If someone can't click a button, then HOW THE HELL ARE THEY GOING TO CLICK THE HELP BUTTON? Secondly, given the ample amounts of space in the window, then why on earth do they put the options "Shut Down, Log Off etc..." in the combobox when clearly there is enough space to put buttons? Thirdly (ok, so I have 3), why is this interface so poorly designed that it requires context sensitive text explaining that Shutdown means Turn Off when clearly, the gurus who designed KDE do not require this 'important' piece of text turn off a PC! I mean look for a moment. These screen sizes are not altered, yet the KDE one uses far less pixels to produce the same screen, yet much more user friendly? (With all jokes aside, I have always wondered about the motive to create a start button to turn off a computer. Ok, I know the Start button was always a "Click here to begin using your computer" theory, but a PC user is not new everytime they turn their PC on).

iexploreWhilst  I am on the 'Microsoft Stupidity' band wagon, I may aswell show you another one of those quirks that have existed for 7 (SEVEN) different versions. Have a look at the icon. Notice something about it? Maybe the E rather than another letter to represent the Internet? Who has ever associated the internet with the letter e? I have seen some crazy ones such as the Netscape Navigator icon using the letter N, but I suppose atleast Netscape starts with the letter N. I have always wondered, why though the letter I or an application called Internet has never been used in any operating system apart from linux and KDE? Some versions of Linux call the application Internet which points to a browser? I mean for starters, what significant 'internet meaning' does the word Netscape Navigator have? the Net maybe, but what's the rest of the crap? I don't know what Microsoft has been thinking for all these years, but rather than the gel look, they could have replaced the e with Earth or the letter I.

lang_400Webpages have always amased me and locations. For instance, most websites and computer software now assumes the whole world has computers. For example, lets take a look at Regional and Language Options in Microsoft Windows. Atleast the default language is English (for those who purchase english copies of the operating system). Also, atleast the default country is the United States, but one thing that has amased me is the way the list is structured. Ok, consistancy is a great thing, but is it truely a good thing when if we look at the top of the list in a combo box, the first language is Afrikanns followed by Albanian and many different "versions" of Arabic. ENGLISH DOESN'T APPEAR ON THE FIRST LIST! It's nice to think the whole world is interconnected, but I don't think the amount of users in the United States, Japan, Australia etc... is signficiantly less than those in Africa!

Ok, so Microsoft is learning from their mistakes, especially with Microsoft Office 2007, but is it too late now to change? For the past 10 years, users have been exposed to some attrocious designs and well - people know how to use Office 2003. I for one do not like Office 2007 in general because I find the interface lacks professinality, and it's crippled in my department for just load up something and type.

For School Work on the other hand, the new versions of the Microsoft Office Applications are actually easier to use. Things like citations, reviews and commenting is much easier to carry out, and it is significantly easier to manage the document in its entirety. As far as using the piece of software as a dynamic application (ie page numbers, headings, overall font changes etc...), it is brilliant - I can set up easier in more logical places page numbers that change dependant on the location (excellent for contents page), I can create cover sheets and there is no more times that looking at a menu produces a completely bizarre option when I click new. I mean... in Office 2003 (pictured below), if you click File - New, you are presented with a funky tool down the right hand side of the screen. Funnily enough, this responds to quite a few different options, but take note where the Create a New Document link is actually located! IT'S NOT LOCATED UP THE TOP LIKE A SANE PERSON WOULD LOOK FOR, IT'S LOCATED RIGHT DOWN THE BOTTOM AFTER OPEN, AND HELP LINKS! Atleast this is changed now, so that when you click the New button, you are given the option to create a type of document. I'd still like to see them come up with a creative name for Blank Document. Maybe a Blank Template would be a better word than Document.

Oh well, if anyone actually read through this and is a programmer - take some of these poor examples of good user interface development, and actually make easy interfaces! Remember, less is more - so just think how much more is Wink

 

[7 Comment(s)]


Optimus Maximus Keyboard (17/05/2007 09:10:24 PM)

Hi all,

Just letting you know that the Optimus Maximus keyboard is only 2 days from pre-orders. however I can think of about 1850 reasons why I will not be buying this keyboard.

Ciao

[3 Comment(s)]


Um... er... Cratemen anyone? (16/05/2007 06:22:22 AM)

[0 Comment(s)]


Computers Versus Trains (14/05/2007 09:20:33 AM)

Although this is borrowed by a friend last year, I thought I would proliferate the point again in comparing PC's to Trains.

You should all know by now that there are 2 classes of processors (prior to Core 2 Duo). That was the Pentium-D, Celeron-D, Pentium-M and Celeron-M. Essentially, the D is like the Diesel Service operated by V/Line. Basically, they run faster, they run much further, they get into places others can't, they don't require a huge number of trips, they run express where others dont and are more expensive to purchase. They have a tendancy to sometimes run on time (more-so than others), but when they are late, you really know about it. The M on the other hand is like Metlink. They run slower, they don't travel as far, they work for most people, they have to run more cycles to keep up with demand and they are always delayed, cancelled or just rerouted down the wrong tracks.

Anyone who doesn't agree should be shot Wink

Orb!ter 

[1 Comment(s)]


GreenTubeLAN 5 Review (12/05/2007 09:13:33 AM)
gtl_logo

Ok, so it's been a while since I have made a proper post given how busy I have been. University, Assignments, LAN Parties, and work just seem to mount up quite alot. Whilst I have a few moments, I suppose I had better make a 'review' on GreenTubeLAN.

The Bad:

  • Very very very poor turnout. To only have 15 from the 30 or so who registered actually make an appearance is beyond poor. Generally we don't run with less than 20, but this is the second we have had below this figure. We just simply cannot run with these conditions with the amount of time that goes into preparation.
  • The network seemed to be bottlenecked even with just 15. I've put it down to the DNS server trying to get a hold of the OptusNet Name Servers for each query so yeah - will be improved for next LAN.
  • The gaming consisted of Counter Strike Source and... um... yeah - that's about it. A little bit of variety, but yeah - Counter Strike Source - and I'm not a fan of FPS.
  • Other peoples input. I appreciate peoples input with how to run a LAN Party, but to be told out and out by more than one person that the way Matthew, Nick, Mike and I run the event is on the most part terrible is getting old.
  • Following on from the previous point, we do NOT need any servers. I am sick of people saying they have a server that is a top of the line server, and that we should use it because it's better than what I have. FFS! A Server contains a bunch of services. It is not necessary to have a huge amount of power for a handful of people connecting.
  • Coming through Rokeby Saturday Morning, a stanley knife was on the road. Basically a Tyre popped making sure that I couldn't make the train I needed to catch *sigh*
  • Lack of tournaments and organisation - Mainly due to the poor turnout. Maybe I would have been more inclined to dictate to others what's running if we could all agree on a damn game to play.
  • Lack of prizes. I must apologise to everyone about the lack of any prizes apart from those cheeseburger vouchers. Basically there are no funds left over to give prizes, so yeah.
  • People simply not registering. Seriously - if you want to come, REGISTER. Don't tell me Monday you didn't know about it!
  • Dale not showing up until about 45 minutes later arriving at Dandenong Station with about $2000 worth of equipment.
  • NO V/NACHOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Good:

  • Company for a change on the Train.
  • The fact I played more games at this LAN party than I ever played at any other one (mainly Theme Hospital contrary to popular beliefs about CSS being the ONLY game played).
  • More Train Simulator than ever before
  • It was relaxed, no complaints (mind you - I would rather someone tell me they want to play something - I apologise to the one that did where we couldn't get the interest in)
  • The Voucher/Honesty System actually worked. I know it's corny - but then again, so is V/Lines equivalent system ;) It did actually help out the can distribution.
  • I absolutely aniliated Matthew (DasBok) in Counter Strike Source despite his best efforts to knife me.
  • The Gigabit network sponsored by Phoenix LAN Group for the second time - very much appreciated guys.
  • I didn't end up waking up Monday morning with a chronic headache.

GreenTubeLAN's Warragul LAN Party

Anyone who would like a LAN party in Warragul really need to register their interest on the website. No, you aren't registering for the event but rather for the interest so we may have an indication of who would come to a LAN Party in Warragul.

[3 Comment(s)]


LAN This Weekend (03/05/2007 09:16:58 PM)
Ok ok... apart from work, I've been very quiet - LAN THIS WEEKEND OMG!!!

[0 Comment(s)]


What really happens in e-mail! (29/04/2007 02:08:12 AM)

img_0166_400Hi all,

I thought I would post today about something I found out when I was trying to muck about with my server farm. I had just finished setting up the RETIRED server for the LAN party (basically contains the lighter game servers for when a major one is taking up the resources on BITSERVER). Anyway, I thought I would somehow make a service on a new IP address for the SA-MP Official Server list, so I investigated using Ethereal what packets was being sent and recieved to see if I could come up with something to put the 2 SA-MP servers in a list.

Anyway, I found it truly funny when I had outlook opened in the background of my laptop and noticed the whole E-Mail request, so I thought I would scare you guys by posting how e-mail works:

Server Sends: +OK Hello There. <13098........@localhost.localdomain
Laptop Sends: AUTH
Server Sends: -ERR Invalid command.
Laptop Sends: USER Craig.Mattson@GreenTubeLAN.yi.org
Server Sends: +OK Password required.
Laptop Sends: PASS mypasswordhere this was unencrypted in plain text!!!
Server Sends: +OK logged in.
Laptop Sends: STAT
Server Sends: +OK 0 0 this is basically no new emails
Laptop Sends: QUIT
Server Sends: +OK Bye-bye.

Now, I don't know what scares me more - the fact that e-mails are sent in a packet more distinguishable than POST and GET requests on webpages OR the fact that my laptop and the AussieSpace server were having quite an intelligent conversation together... IN ENGLISH!!!

Anyway, that's my rant for the day - I have also uploaded a picture of my current 'Server Farm' comprising of:

IBM Netvista M41: (Pentium IV-1.8GHz, 512MB of RAM, 160GB HDD, 100Mbit Ethernet)
Green Box: (Celeron 600MHz, 256MB of RAM, 10GB HDD, 100Mbit Ethernet, 802.11b Wifi, 100Mbit USB)
Dell Optiplex GX1: (Pentium II-400MHz, 128MB of RAM, 4.3GB HDD, 100Mbit Ethernet)

As some of you know, the IBM and Dell run Windaz and the Green Box runs Linux. All in all, not a bad network so far Surprised

Ciao 

[0 Comment(s)]


CraDanKa! CMS Version 2.1 (12/04/2007 09:49:10 PM)
I finally decided I would upload something to do with CraDanKa! CMS Version 2.1 I have made to my CMS as per request from a few potential clients. On that page, you will find the video, and some reasons why to choose it over other systems.

[0 Comment(s)]


TV Sucks (10/04/2007 11:39:09 AM)
chasers_400Television has really done it this year. One of the most important aspects of everyones life is getting more and more screwed every minute of every day. I mean, does anyone actually have any idea on what is going on behind the scenes with ABC, Channel 7 (Prime), Channel 9 (Win) and Channel 10 (Southern Cross TEN)? Anyone noticing that they are getting away with unbelievable amounts of torture and tourment? Well, lets take a trip back about 6 months ago.

The Glass House (ABC) was a top rating show on the ABC, but thanks to some weird theory about the ABC not holding onto Glass House even to this day is beyond me. I certainly miss the show on a Wednesday night, was quite relaxing to see them digging up dirt on Australia and the world, mind you it's not all bad - The Chaser's War on Everything screens at 9:00PM and is making up for the dirt digging that The Glass House used to dish out. So much for political correctness hey :)

Outrageous Fortune (Channel 9/WIN) was a reasonable rating TV show that Eddie put on the list for being Australian content which really isn't true (apart from Grant Bowler who hosted The Mole for 3 seasons). It was screening during the non-ratings period on a Monday and Wednesday night and well, it's a show I quite enjoyed watching - so much so that I ordered the DVD's just so I can continue to watch it thanks to Channel 9/WIN removing it simply because it wasn't going to be counted as their Australian content or whatever it is. What do we have now during this time slot? Well, on a Wednesday night - you have Extreme Makeover, and on Monday? Footy Classified - as if there wasn't enough on channel 9 already *cough* The Footy Show *cough* for the football category. None-the-less, it's most likely never to return.

Kath and Kim (ABC/Channel 7/PRIME) is well, not much to say here but now is on Channel 7, so lets kick back and enjoy the 7:00PM time slot, followed by an 8:30PM timeslot, then why not throw in an 11:00PM time slot and a 10:30AM one? Why not? It seems to be the going thing for Channel 7 at the moment, they can never seem to keep a TV show in one time slot for more than 2 weeks in a row.

ofGreat Comedy Classics (Channel 7/PRIME) is a collection of old BBC shows such as Some Mothers Do Have Them, Are you being served, George and Mildred, On the Buses, The Benny Hill Show amongst others. Anyway, this weekend, it starts at 7:30PM. Last weekend, it started at 8:30PM. Last month, there was one instance it started at 10:30PM. I mean, do Channel 7 have this 'thing' about not keeping the right time? Or do they like pulling times out of a hat. It gets frusterating to sit down ready to watch a show only to see some other crap like highlights of the hilights football show hilighting what the news shown earlier of the game on 3 hours beforehand. Quite frankly, AFL is good and everything, but I don't need to live and breathe every minute of a singular game for the next 3 weeks :@

Lost (Channel 7/PRIME) well... see a pattern? Lost is (well it seems to be anyway) the first show to be moved or postponed in the event of a special being shown. For example, last week there was a special footy match on. Interestingly enough, none other than Lost was postponed to show this match. Last year, Steve Irwin died, so none other than Channel 7 postpones Lost to showcase a 30 minute recap of what 60 Minutes had done on the Sunday which was a recap of every god-damned news channel explaining how the stingray pierced him. I think all Australians got the point after the first day... Well, hopefully nothing this week will postpone Lost again ;)

CSI (Channel 9/WIN) is obviously more than just one TV series. As a matter of fact, there's many variations which you would know about... unless you live under a rock on Sunday nights in particular... CSI, CSI Miami, True CSI... kinda gets boring after a while of watching fictional (and not fictional) TV Shows, especially when during the week there are many other Crime related TV shows on... I'm sure Channel 9 could fit a bit more variety such as maybe... Outrageous Fortune on a Sunday Night?

The Chasers War on Everything (ABC/ABC2) is a great show - but 3 times a week... the same episode... then you can download it... maybe they are running out of shows such as The Glass House maybe? It's shown on Wednesday nights, Friday nights and Sunday nights (ABC2) letalone downloading the episode from their website. It would be nice if instead of repeating it twice in one week, they may actually think about introducing a new TV show? Like hell I suppose which is disappointing... Maybe they will give it the flick when The IT Crowd Season 2 is shown later this year... We'll see on that one I suppose

lost_400As you can see, TV is screwed! Although I haven't mentioned Channel 10, most of you guys already know I'm pissed off with their constant 10 minutes late garbage, and well - it'd be nice if they didn't repeat Thank God You're Here, but I suppose at 6:30pm on a Sunday night, there ain't much else on hey ;) I could ofcourse watch some crap Channel 7 came up with (used to like Red) and 20 to 1 that's on Tuesday aswell... Oh well, so TV just isn't as exiting as last year (when I used to look forward to Wednesday nights beginning with TGYH, Spicks and Specks which I havent seen an episode this year, some random BBC show, The Glass House and then something on channel 7). I suppose it gives me an excuse to do Uni work though :(

Anyhoo - GreenTubeLAN is only in a few days, so get off your ask and register ;)

Ciao

[5 Comment(s)]


New MP3 Theme released (09/04/2007 04:49:23 AM)

Hi all,

Had a bit of fun today with FL Studio 6 again, and I put together a new theme for GreenTubeLAN 5. It's somewhat based on Grand Theft Auto Vice City's theme, but yeah - different to suit the logo. Feel free to download it/use it/delete it if you really want to from here. It's also on the Music page somewhere Wink

Ciao

[0 Comment(s)]


Another week gone by... (07/04/2007 08:46:56 AM)

Yeah, it's me again and it seems appropriate to post something about what has happened this week. First of all, I came across a distribution of linux called Sabayon Linux which well, is simply a linux distribution with EVERYTHING you could possibly want built in. Lets see what has worked so far.

  • Video Cards
    • As Sabayon Linux comes with all propietry drivers installed, all my ATI and NVidia cards were detected instantly, and all appropriate 3D Accelaration was enabled whether it be through NVidia, AIGLX or simply XGL. Ofcourse, this also allowed the built-in windows manager, Beryl, to function properly on ALL my computer systems.
  • MP3, DIVX, MPEG, AVI Support
    • That's right, all multimedia formats I use regularly have been included in this distribution. Even DVD Support made it in this version of Linux making it well... perfect as a desktop operating system if someone was to use it for a multimedia system atleast. Once more, even Midi works fine in Timidity and I can even add/remove different sound fonts to get the appropriate sound.
  • NTFS Read support
    • Yes, most distros read NTFS partitions, but Sabayon not only reads, but it writes. On top of that, but the NTFS drive works just as it would under Windows, that being thumbnails are loaded whilst browsing the drive. Certainly a great feature for any linux distro!
  • Bluetooth/Wireless/Infrared/Network
    • Everything was built in for my T40 atleast. That being my Cisco Aironet wireless card was detected and working instantly, my $10 USB Bluetooth dongle was detected and working automatically as I was able to install Java applications (via OBEX) and transfer files to a Motorola RAZR V3. Interesting anyway that this same adapter under Windows is either struggling during file transfer (no matter the PC I put it on with the RAZR V3) or just plainly not working at all. The adapter isn't dodgey either as it works more-often-than-not with Nokia 6230's. Infrared works fine, even without ifconfig irda0 down/up Wink
  • KDE is Default
    • Torvalds said it himself , KDE is the window manager for linux - not crappy Gnome, and anyone wishing to take this up with me can go to hell given the creator of linux specifically says AVOID GNOME Surprised I suppose, what would he know - it's not like he invented Linux Tongue out Anyway, KDE default is great. All my applications are there in the spots one would expect it to be. The Konqueror File Manager is great, infact it must be exceptionally great for vista to pinch the 'replace address bar with buttons for directories' theory. I use both WDM's on a regular basis, but KDE just has the 'right' feel, mind you it doesn't mean I don't get my hands dirty in a Terminal window or PuTTY on windows ;) Sabayon does however come with Gnome for those Torvalds-theory hating users, just as there is other WDM's available not quite as standard as KDE or Gnome.

So, what's to hate about this version of Linux? Well it's Debian based, without being Debian which ticks me off somewhat. Infact, it's Gentoo based which is almost like an independant system which is loosely based on Debian and well, that means anything I have done Debian or Red Hat specific just isn't the same under Sabayon. It makes it increasingly difficult to find packages for that otherwise I would just use either YUM or APT-GET for. It relies on compiling stuff straight from source using EMERGE and well, it takes forever to do anything with which kind of annoys me. Mind you, there haven't been packages I have had to install yet given it's all there... provided for me, and the positives outweigh this slight inconvienence.

The other thing is the fact that I am used to directory structures such as /etc/network/interfaces which is obviously different amongst many players, but what do you do Tongue out Honestly, I will probably end up installing just straight Debian as a permanent desktop system and setting up read/write access simply because Debian's package repository is in my opinion, one that is extensively tested and will pretty much work when tested. I suppose time will tell Undecided Oh and I'm in the market looking for a cap plan with great phone shortly, I'll let you know how I go - but a 6288 is looking good on a $29 cap plan Surprised

Anyway, Happy Easter, Passover, Gonnohrea, Birthday or whatever you are celebrating this weekend,

Ciao

[3 Comment(s)]


This weeks happenings... (31/03/2007 11:08:44 PM)

Well, it's been a while now since I have posted, and although I haven't entirely been busy, there's a few things that have happened.

shot2sm_400Grand Theft Auto IV
Interestingly enough, the trailer for GTA IV was released this week and all I can say is wow... look at the detail in this one. Again, the game appears to be set in Liberty City and looks like the player will be part of the Russian mafia this time which will be an interesting scenario. In short, can't wait until October 2007! The video was recorded using their new RAGE engine and all we know, is it was recorded on a console.

Multi Theft Auto
Man these guys are taking ages. All we really want is a synchronised GTA Multiplayer game, and they go right ahead and insert 'wow' features. Surely enough, it will be more advanced than their compeditors at SA-MP, but what for? Just a few gravitational fixes, some vehicle mods and custom number plates? This game just isn't GTA anymore Wink I just hope MTASA (DM) will be synchronised enough so I can run around with a gun and shoot people.

How easy is university?
First assessment for the year happened Friday whereby all we did was a 1 hour test in unix... kinda finished it in 5 minutes. Very easy test, everyone walked out except for Yousenix who er... forgot the ../ in one question hehe...

GreenTubeLAN 5: CNAP for Short
Dates been confirmed guys! Sign up here for it! Not much I can say about it, its all on the GreenTubeLAN website. Um... we have a new logo Laughing

Work
Still working, but not for the next 2 weeks. Instead, I will be doing another 2 webpages for a few dollars. With this, some work at DMI and Whiskey Creek paid up, I should have a car by the 3rd week of April (hopefully). Definitely have one by GreenTubeLAN 5 anyway.

So... I suppose I will now take my leave.

Ciao 

[4 Comment(s)]


Today put to sleep a myth about overcrowding (27/03/2007 05:30:34 AM)

Hi all,

image001Been a few days since I have posted here, but there really hasn't been anything to post about, unless you really want to hear about Trains being delayed, me standing up for a period of 2 hours to Warragul from Caulfield. On top of that, standing up 4 trips in a row. Anyway, I have installed Ubuntu Linux again, and found a way around the shell scripts (thank you Pranesh for your help) issue with it not liking ()'s. Cedega along with my VPN Client now fully work under Ubuntu. I even have GTA San Andreas, Counter Strike Source and Microsoft Train Simulator running at acceptable speeds under Linux.

The next step is Macromedia Dreamweaver, Flash and Fireworks. If these can install properly over Cedega, then well... what else can I say? Windows has no need on my system - besides, Beryl actually has useful features (even though some are 'borrowed' from Apple) and with a Glass theme looks more 'WooooW' than Vista itself. All of this, running on my ATI Radeon 7500 is working brilliantly. If for whatever I need a quick infrastructure network, I can simply enter the following commands:

ifconfig eth1 down
iwconfig eth1 mode Master
iwconfig eth1 essid NETWORKNAME
ifconfig eth1 10.1.1.1 up
/etc/init.d/dhcp3 start

After doing this, I have just set up my laptop as a Wireless Access Point (ie acts as a true router would rather than Windows and it's dodgey Ad-Hoc mode) and its done. What's even better is I have turned that into a shell script residing on my desktop. I simply run the shell script and dependent on whether I 'ap' or 'no', I can revert back to a search of current wireless devices.

ubuntulogo_400I also have Webmin set up on my Ubuntu desktop meaning I can monitor all of my processes from anywhere in the house, or even whilst I am on the machine directly, I can even use it to configure my web services for webdev. The 3D Cube is a lifesaver, especially when confined to my LCD only. Using Multiple 'Screens' means I can have a blank desktop, one with firefox, one with aMSN and one with OpenOffice all loaded up at the same time, and the push of a button, I can show them all up at once. I can then press F8 and all my windows show up on one screen zoomed out so I can see what's happening in ALL windows at once.

It's features like this I can't understand why Microsoft doesn't put in Vista. The whole OS seems to be about 'woooow'... even their advertisements state clearly 'Wow'. Yet, you show beryl in action (even on my relic ATI Radeon 7500 32MB 1xAGP), and it tends to get more of a 'Wow' than others :P

Sure, Linux has it's faults like the lack of native DVD playing support or MP3 support, but all these are fixed by downloading codecs, and/or running PowerDVD or WinDVD in Cedega :P I suppose for what it lacks in software, it makes up for in processing power. I have customised my desktop edition of Ubuntu so much that I know EXACTLY what is on the system. it barely uses over 100MB of RAM (in a 1500MB RAM system) and yeah - not bad for a desktop system with more 'wow' than Vista ;)

I have work on Thursday which should be good - means more money for my car I will get one day ;) Also - if you are coming to GreenTubeLAN 5: CNAP for Short , you probably should look at working out what CNAP stands for. You have approximately 1 month to do so, and a prize will be available on the night for the correct answer :)

Anyway, time for me to do some assignment work and excuse the picture above ;) But it's like the first picture for the Ubuntu logo on Google Surprised

[1 Comment(s)]


Bus Driver Game Released (24/03/2007 03:38:21 AM)

bdgAs you mostly know, I love simulators. One that hasn't been done yet (well, prior to yesterday) was a Bus simulator. It's now released, and costs a staggering $29.95 US. I'm downloading a trial now, and if it's lame enough, it may end up a prize for GreenTubeLAN Tongue out

Anyway, http://www.busdrivergame.com/ is the websites address if you really want to check it out. Um... if you want to download, get it off the FileFront website.

[0 Comment(s)]


You knew it couldn't last long (22/03/2007 07:49:51 PM)

I'm sitting here in Introduction to Security, and can you believe that there are things known as Personal Identification Numbers that are associated with Automatic Teller Machine cards? I mean, wow - this is some form of security that we must learn. Been somewhat bored today, so I thought I would draw an image:

blah_400

Not much is on the agenda at the moment, just waiting to get paid for a few things to actually be able to purchase a car within the next few weeks. Until then, I'm kind of just working, waiting and working. Better go, I may miss an important part about setting read only on some files actually prevents them being written to :O

Later on today, I will be mucking about with linux too learning how to authenticate users :O /etc/passwd :O 

Ciao

[2 Comment(s)]


OMG IT'S NOT A LINUX POST Part 2 (22/03/2007 05:57:03 AM)

Hi all,

Got back from my first day of work at 7:00PM this afternoon, and well, what a long day. At least they are paying me for it :D and quite a good dollar compared to the rest of the jobs I had applied for (and never heard back) so all is good. Now, what is it with Melbournians and Stage 4 water restrictions?!?!?!!? I mean FFS! We have had water restrictions stage 3 here for ages, and farmers in Thorpdale have had stage 4 for ages. For some reason, I think the farmers here need a bit more of a break than the people in Melbourne. Boo hoo, you can't water your gardens. We have been dealing with this for ages.

Anyway, that's my bitch for today,

Ciao 

[0 Comment(s)]


OMG IT'S NOT A LINUX POST (21/03/2007 01:57:55 AM)

Hehehe... Well, I thought I would mention today that I have finished a website for a client. It finally is usable and readable, and I now have an excuse to use RSS on their website. Tomorrow I have work, so I won't be around until 8:00PM tomorrow, so have fun without me :D

[0 Comment(s)]


Unix - The tool of the devil. (20/03/2007 03:33:19 AM)

I bet you guys are getting p!ssed off with all these posts about Linux and how it (as a server) tramps all over Microsoft Windows Server 2003. Well, here's another one to add to your emerging frustration with my Blog. Yesterday in Network Administration, I was appalled at the lack of logic that some people demonstrate. Since when is it so difficult to press the 'Next' button? Basically yesterdays task was to learn how to install a Linux distribution, namely Fedora Core on their PC's in front of them. The problems they had? Well, they didn't seem to realise pressing next actually did something, yet it's common in Windows to press 'next' to achieve something.

linuxFor the record, Fedora Core even from it's infant stages (version 1) had a GUI installer, which has always been quite easy to use, providing that you understand that to install the Operating System, you have to at some stage or another press the next button. Not a difficult task unless your keyboard and mouse have strangely not been detected by the kernel. For my group, I installed my other HDD and formatted it, letting them install openSuSE on it. They did that quite quickly (in fact beating the others by about 30 minutes). Whilst they were plugging the network in, I asked the tutors did they have a DHCP server set up, and they hadn't yet, so I said - ok I'd put up a basic one now in Linux. After hunting through repositories, I finally installed the dhcp3-server package, and had one written out.

To be honest, setting up a DHCP server under Linux is pretty darn easy providing you know the commands to initialise (which when you remember the commands, you then obtain an understanding of DHCP) as opposed to setting up on Windows whereby you have to use a wizard to do so creating weird-o scopes with no CLI configuration. To show you how simple it is to set up a simple DHCP server to work on one subnet, I have included it below.

default-lease-time 600;
max-lease-time 7200;

subnet 10.1.1.0 netmask 255.255.255.0
{
    range 10.1.1.10 10.1.1.100;
    range 10.1.1.150 10.1.1.200;
    option subnet-mask 255.255.255.0;
    option broadcast-address 10.1.1.255;
    option routers 10.1.1.1; # I was sneaky here and hehe... controlled packets
    option domain-name-servers 10.1.1.1; # Got bored and had Bind9 aswell
    option domain-name "fit.lan";
}

So, I'm sure you are thinking now - that's difficult to memorise all of that. Quite the contrary actually, if you understand how DHCP works. Basically we have defined a default lease time for the IP address, the Maximum time to do so (before renewing), The range that we want (I have set up between 10-100, 150-200 to prove I could theoretically have servers on 2-9, 101-149, 200-254). The Subnet mask is necessary to determine the length of the IP Address, the broadcast address is the address to broadcast the DHCP address on, the Router (or default gateway on windows) is obviously there to route packets through a firewall (or to another WAN address or something) and Domain Name Servers. You don't need a DNS server, but who wants to remember a bunch of IP Addresses :P Unfortunately, I kinda got a bit frazzled myself when I couldn't get the DNS to operate for a while, and it just hit me straight in the face. Never bothered to check the IP of the current adapter now, did I? Basically it was an easy fix from the CLI. Basically what I entered below fixed it. I didn't necessarily need the first line, or the up on the second line. But this is how you change an IP address straight away. Much quicker than clicking Start, right clicking Network Places, clicking Properties, locating your LAC adapter and right clicking and going to properties, then locating TCP/IP and then clicking an option button... blah blah blah... Under Unix, it's done instantly using:

ifconfig eth0 0.0.0.0 down
ifconfig eth0 10.1.1.1 up

Well, I know there are going to be people out there who are used to Windows who will just say that it's easier to do this under windows because there is no CLI to worry about, and that helpful wizards are included. Of course it's easier for someone who doesn't know DHCP, but how many of these people have successfully set one up from first try letalone know exactly what their server is doing?

computer_problemsAs I have said countless times before, you know nothing about computing until you use Linux, and unfortunately there is a whole group of Windows users out there would debate the fact. But you ask them exactly what certain services do, and they have absolutely no idea. If they have absolutely no idea, how can they truly optimise their networks or PC's? <To see if anyone actually reads my blog, I have finally secured a job - $17 per hour, $19 and $26 per hour.> Efficiency is great too with Unix. VIM has become my favourite editor, more so than notepad after learning how to use it properly, as the features to find and replace everything takes no time at all. As I do change script variables regularly, I now have the knowledge to simply have VIM browse through my website directories, and by entering a command, I can replace EVERY INSTANCE OF A WORD, STRING or VARIABLE with whatever I want with no prompts. I can also define what sort of a pattern it must fulfil, like if there can be characters after it, or if it requires a number before... Directory listings is a good example. It is 33% more efficient to use ls rather than dir to locate your directories.

Whilst this is a Unix promotion post, I am not saying Windows is bad. Not everyone wants to learn or use CLI's. Hell, a lot of people hate working with Windows as is, and changing their OS on them will destroy them even more, simply because a process done one way on a machine is different from another. Windows XP isnt such a bad operating system either. Sure, I have more BSOD's in Windows a day than I've had on Linux since the start of this year.

Anyway, catch you around peoples 

[3 Comment(s)]


New RSS Feed System (19/03/2007 12:56:05 AM)
Hi all, please note that I have uploaded a new RSS system. You can access this one using: http://cradanka.yi.org/feed-blog.php

[0 Comment(s)]


Linux Router (18/03/2007 03:29:52 AM)

180307_1810_400Well, I finally finished my Linux Router Project today, however it was yesterday I was reading on Digg about a guy who posted something to the effect of saying he set up a Linux Router in Ubuntu and the common response was 'this is nothing new' and 'think of the electricity wasted in powering the machine'. Well, although I tend to agree with DHCP chewing up too much electricity if that's all that's installed on a machine is not a viable option over a router, I don't know of many routers that can achieve what I have done right here.

Basically my router consists of: Intel Celeron 600MHz, 128MB RAM, 4.3GB HDD, CD-ROM, PCI Ethernet (Directly to Switch), PCI Wireless Card (802.11b in Master Mode) and a USB Ethernet (Directly to Router/Modem). It also has the following features: DHCP, DNS, WINS, SAMBA, Apache2, PHP5, MySQL 5, Webmin 1.330, Squid, SSH, FTP, Firewall/IPTables and SSL. This isn't alot for a machine of it's magnitude, especially when the website merely contains a small intranet site for hosting files, and displaying information. The Webmin component provides a web interface controlling all of these features of the server whilst SSH controls the OS itself. The system boots up in a respectable 60 seconds from power on (which can be made quicker by disabling RAM checking and IDE checking) and during this time bridges the PCI Ethernet and Wireless card, and obtains an IP Address via DHCP from the WAN Interface.

180307_1811_400Ideally, the system has become much more than a router. It provides a local intranet, website blocking (both keyword based and url based), bandwidth limiting per user (quota or speed), and updating to increase functionality is a case of running apt-get install at times. Overall, it is a speedy system for what its designed to do for a total cost of: a machine given to me because it's old and a $29 Asus 10/100 8 port Switch. The server has become a small data warehouse too containing databases for 3-4 applications and services on other computers whilst containing facilities to back up these computers (CRON).  Not bad for a machine using only 50MB of RAM (obviously more RAM is used when more and more people are looking at the website).

So, what am I using it for? Well, technically it's been specifically built for GreenTubeLAN, however given the nature of the Content Management System included and the servers name being called Intranet on a domain greentube.lan, it's fairly easy to modify or implement for a variety of other events that require a collection of PC's to both translate Windows and Unix hostnames with each other (something that most SOHO routers have issues with).

Anyway, over the next few weeks, I hopefully will be trialing a new commenting process, however it requires a user to 'activate' their comment by having an activation e-mail sent with each one they post. The other option is that darn squiggly text crap... I'll see what I plan on doing anyway :P

Ciao

Oh and I am off to a training session for a new job :o

[0 Comment(s)]


Linux V Linux. (10/03/2007 05:03:38 AM)

I have said often enough that the Linux community can be complete and utter <insert bad names here>, especially when it comes to comparing the *nix based Operating Systems to Windows. The fanboyism can be downright annoying for both those who support and condemn any operating system, and it's something I strongly oppose and depicts a bad image of any operating system.

The funny thing lately I have been seeing are arguments that have changed in what they are attacking. More and more, there are discussions about Linux being better than Linux??? For example, over at Digg there have been some completely stupid and moronic discussions with fanbois of openSuSE, Ubuntu and Fedora Core. The discussion is about one Operating System being better than the other. The thing is, neither are better than one another. They are all different, they all have specific purposes and they all have varying levels of software support. As a matter of fact, I use all 3 (and then some)...

SuSE (SLED, openSuSE 10)
linuxThis seems to be a great desktop, easy to use interface (given they altered Gnome) and have XGL (the 3D cube) built-in ready to work out of the box. It comes with YaST (which is something you either Love or Hate) that allows for a robust install. Security appears to be tight in terms of commands such as ifconfig, iwconfig and many others are hidden from normal users. Ultimately, I use it on my Laptop because of the impressive performance I get with XGL loaded.

Ubuntu (Server and Desktop 6.10)
Probably the easiest of all 3 to set up. You put a CD in, load the OS up and click 'install' to which everything is installed to the HDD. Given it is based on Debian, aptitude is included (apt-get install <package> automatically installs applications from repositories.) which makes it easy to update applications remotely. Configuration of the server component appears to be easy as p!ss - to the point where I had a wireless router set up with DNS, WINS, LAMP and DHCP up and running in about 60 minutes. The major problem I found was the use of shell scripts, but for a server or someone installing packages designed for Ubuntu, it's a nice little OS to begin with. Certainly makes a great light-weight server for the next LAN party :P

Fedora Core (Version 6)
If there was ever a distribution suitable for ANYTHING, Fedora Core is the way to go. It has a fantastic package base for both a desktop and server environment, and is backed by Red Hat who offer certifications for their operating systems. The problem I found was the amount of configuring over the alternative OS's which can be good and bad at the same time. It's good given you can customise to the finest of details, however probably not suitable for a newcomer to Linux. The interface looks pretty ordinary, but certainly gets the job done. I use this primarily for proper web server because of the support, the easiness of configuring without requiring every package and the fact it's updated every 6 months with a new version does give me peace of mind.

Basically I'm trying to say that there is no right or wrong answer. As a matter of fact, for a Desktop environment for most users, Windows would still get my recommendation. Why? Well people just don't want to go through the trouble of learning a new operating system, and Windows is the one people have come to know and love hate. I just find it funny that the Linux community is getting bored of the Windows attacking that they have to resort to attacking their own.

[0 Comment(s)]


Ze Frank (07/03/2007 04:28:41 AM)
Yesterday, I came across this guy on the website TED dropping random jokes about Information Technology and the process before development. Thought I would share the video with you. Anyway, I managed today to install Beryl on my laptop (32MB ATI Radeon 7500) to which I have a much more user friendly and feature full Linux desktop environment using both XGL and the Vista-ish Theme. For those who don't know what XGL or Beryl is all about, then click here to watch a video on YouTube that demonstrates some of the features of it. You really have to use it to believe how much easier and productive Beryl on Linux is over Vista's new Aero interface.

[0 Comment(s)]


Linux. Is easier than Windows? (03/03/2007 06:11:32 PM)

linuxThere are many myths in the IT world, especially with those that don't know IT as well as they may think they do. One of the big myths in IT is how easy Linux is to use over Windows. But, is it a myth? In reality, the people who say Microsoft Windows is the easier operating system have generally used Microsoft Windows XP for 10+ years, or originally started using it at the dawn of the Windows age (1985 onwards). Now, if this time was invested into Linux/Unix based operating systems, surely one would consider Linux/Unix to be the easier operating system, but which one is correct?

Well, I have had many discussions last week with friends including showing them some of the features of Linux, in which some of them commented on how much Linux looked like Windows (for the record, I had Knoppix loaded up at the time). In my test environment, I used a wireless network card, a cabled Ethernet card, a digital camera, scanner and an nVidia video card and within minutes, I had all these devices working and fully configured for deployment. Lets start with Wireless technology. Granted, some vendors do manufacture windows-only wireless cards because it's supposedly cheaper to do so. Why would they hire a team of Linux experts when the market share is limited? Well even if one doesn't have a Linux-compatible wireless card, then they can always use the ndiswrapper which basically uses the Microsoft Windows based drivers and allows you to control your network that way. The card I used was a 3Com Prism 2.5 based card, and was picked up by linux straight away. So what do we do from here? I want to make an access point (something that just can't be done under Microsoft Windows), so to do that, I edit a file called /etc/network/interfaces and put in there information about the network card.

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
address 10.1.1.1
network 10.1.1.0
netmask 255.255.255.0
broadcast 10.1.1.255
wireless_essid TestNetwork
wireless_channel 6
wireless_power off
wireless_mode Master

So what has that done? Basically it has assigned an IP Address of 10.1.1.1 to the card, and using the master mode, it has turned it into an access point. I'm sure many of you Windows users are reading that now thinking that's easier than windows and are probably p!ssing yourselves laughing over it. It is infact  substantially quicker to type that in rather than clicking, right clicking, waiting, installing wireless drivers, turning on the adapter, then wait for a GUI to come up to fill in 'address, netmask' then you have to make sure that you can search for a wireless network. Long story short, what's here in the configuration file is only slightly more information than the steps you would take in windows, with the exception this works straight from a shell environment than from the windows GUI.

I suppose the bottom line is, you won't appreciate computing, let alone have the knowledge on how computers work until you do learn how to use Linux or any Unix operating system for that matter. Once you learn how a computer works, then you will find Linux a pretty darn easy Operating System to use, in fact easier than Windows for the most part. For instance, lets take a home user's uses. They use their computer to watch DVD's, play Music, burn CD's, burn Music, Word Processing, Internet Browsing, Printing, Instant Messaging, Payroll and Taxes, E-Mail and Solitare (yes, I'm sure that's why Windows 3.0 sold as many copies as it did :P). Linux includes most, if not all of that now. Watching DVD's requires a DVD Codec and/or player to do so legally, and does cost. Just as it does for Microsoft Windows. It just so happens that many DVD-ROM or enabled PC's already come with PowerDVD or WinDVD installed. As a matter of fact, Linspire has a commercial version of a DVD player available, Nero both have Linux versions of their application suites that include a DVD Player and XINE can take some questionable codecs to also play DVD's. Alternatively, one could simply use Wine to run their existing DVD Player. The rest of it is built into most of the popular Linux operating systems (yes, even my collection of printers all detect automatically thanks to a better version of CUPS).

penguinThere is an age old issue about how hard or difficult it is to set up a Linux Operating System, and I still think it is unreasonable to get any newcomer or someone who isn't into computers to install an Operating System. Essentially it is the role of most Windows installers to fully configure a Windows machine, so why not Linux? A user shouldn't have to worry about installing an operating system on their computer, especially when no matter how simple the install is, it is easy to *cough* up your entire system (I know myself after the amount of clients who attempted to install stuffed everything up and lost important data because they tried 20 odd times). The point is, just as on Windows where one needs to know how to install and configure it, the same must be done for Linux. For those who say Vista has a fantastic GUI, how about checking out Beryl or XGL and tell me which one is truly better, especially when one enables the Aero theme on Linux.

Remote administration is easier under Linux as well. Providing you know how the shell environment works (in which it didn't take windows users 24 hours to learn how to use DOS fully, if they learned it at all), and you have the capability to read a text file, you can diagnose the error by searching for the error logs (for Debian this is inside /var/log/) and fix it that way. If the user wants an application updated, under Debian you simply run apt-get install <package name> (or use Yum on Red Hat systems). The user doesn't have to stop working either. They can simply be working in OpenOffice.org whilst the update is executed without any notice to them. How? By using SSH or Telnet of course.

Ultimately I am not going to convince anyone that Linux is easier than Windows, that's something that one will have to sit down and use for a substantial period of time before coming to the realisation that Linux is in fact easier, especially if one has a working knowledge of how a computer works. So why is Windows so easy and why I would still recommend Windows over Linux? Because Windows is a supported Operating System. It has software on the shelves for it, and the internet is primarily aimed at Internet Users. There is much better gaming support, however this is slowly changing as games become multi-platform. Oh, and gaming is still easier on console - you pop the disc or cartridge in and it works. On a PC, you have to *shudder* install *shudder* it. Ultimately, people know how to use Windows, and don't give a sh!t about how their PC works. I'm sure if I put Linux in front of this group, most probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference except Surprised wow a new cool theme. But why change something for users that know how to use Windows? They don't want to learn a new operating system, or how to use a new application. They simply want to get on a machine and hope it works.

Anyway, I have 3 systems now to format and install Linux on Tongue out 

Ciao! 

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Evil Prevails... (02/03/2007 01:28:41 AM)

It's a fantastic thing when scum can get around the law, yet you are the one that cops the full hand of it. You know - the kind where the 'law breaker' gets treated better than the 'victim'? Well it appears as if a certain forum that I belonged to prior to today appears to have allowed a particular rule breaker to well, take over the forum and is quite allowable to break rules. Long story short, be f***ed if I am going to put up with the shit.

Anyway, on a brighter topic, a big announcement in the GTA community is one where a trailer seems more exiting than the prospects of a game being completed Surprised There have been a few rumours at least so far about the upcoming installment of GTA. I am actually wondering if the trailer is an April Fools joke (you know, given last years GTA Chicago one) or it is the real thing. I'll do some searching tomorrow on whether Rockstar did make an official announcement or something later on. The second major rumour is the possible use of the Euphoria engine, and look at the pretty logo over at rockstar's website.

Well, I have a CMS Version 3 calling me, so better do some work on it.

Catch! 

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Off to Caulfield... (01/03/2007 05:17:03 AM)

buildinghWell, It's been a week since my last post, so about time I make a post (even if it's lame). I'm still looking for a job, and I still don't have enough for a car, so technically I haven't done anything Tongue out Anyway, this week was my first week back at University (mind you, I only had one week off after completing a couple of units over summer to which I got yet another HD and my lowest mark so far, a C.) I turned 19 last week so yeah - nothing much has happened.

Anyway, Caulfield certainly feels like a real university where it won't be possible for everyone to know your name, nor will you get to know the lecturers and tutors well enough Wink however it is much closer to me using Public Transport, so I'm not complaining. It was taking me up and beyond 3.5 hours per trip to get to Frankston, and well things are much easier in a more manageable 1.5 to 2 hours per trip at maximum. It'll be interesting to see how this year pans out. The course itself is starting to teach some of the more important aspects of Information Technology (all in which I have been doing for years) so hopefully I can pull out some more D's and HD's.

Not much other news is available I'm afraid, however I am playing SimCity 2000 again for some reason Yell and when I'm not doing that, I'm working on a new project to make me $$$. I'll let you know more about that at a later date.

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Hehe... Connex got hax0rised :) (23/02/2007 05:10:06 AM)

Funny thing actually, before getting off the internet I got an SMS from connex saying: "ALLAHU AKBR FROM CONNEX! our inspectorS Love Killing people - If you see one coming, run. Want to bomb a train? they will gladly help! See you in hell! (+61429911196)"

hehe... comments anyone?

[UPDATE] Epidemic Over, stand down. I got another SMS from Connex confirming the hoax. Someones head will roll tomorrow :) The SMS was 'A hoax message was sent tonight to some users. Connex apologises and is investigating with the police. (+61429911196)'.

[UPDATE 2] Just as I thought, the newspapers are all over it now :) 

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A Stupid theory in Technology (23/02/2007 02:27:33 AM)
After the frusteration in resolving linux host names to windows (and believe me, the internet is NOT helpful), I'm tempted to give up on it entirely and go back to Windows Server 2003. So, what version do I choose? Well preferably one suitable for the task. How about Windows Server 2003 Web edition? One would think that a Web distribution of Windows Server 2003 would support websites right? Well, all well and good until one looks at using Microsoft SQL Server!!!?!?!?! Well, it appears as if our friends at Microsoft have crippled the web edition to not allow Microsoft SQL Server to run. This begs the question, is Windows Server 2003 Web edition really fit to be called one when they cripple what SQL servers you can run? *sigh* Back to linux :(

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Game Shows (20/02/2007 03:47:18 AM)

Well, whilst Temptation is on it makes me think often, and today enough to make a blog post about it, about how poorly designed and thought out game shows really are. For instance, lets take a look at the common game shows at the moment.

Temptation
This game show is on 7:00PM on a weeknight on Channel 9. For a person to walk away with close to $1,000,000 in prizes, the player must be there for 8 nights. This is 4 hours worth of answering a tough range of questions and it's not the type of game show that if you leave early, you get a nice cash prize or a great prize of some description. For example, most of the time the prizes consist of Grand Pianos, Whitegoods such as massive dish washers and internet fridges. The stupid thing about this show, is the most money one could theoretically win on the night is maybe $12000 and that's after a prize, a shot at the vault and some extra cash after buying and haggling for a prize. Overall, a tough set of questions but with a low prize turnaround given the extreme difficulty when compared to other shows.

Wheel of Fortune
This game show gives out a few dollars, a few prizes, and has 3 puzzles. A low turnaround in prizes, easy puzzles makes for a nice little show to go on if you are really after a holiday to every part of the world that no one obviously wants to visit :P

Family Feud
Not a difficult show either, low prize turnaround with absolutely no real thinking involved. Players may get money or they may not. It adds a degree of difficulty and alot of luck on this show, but ultimately you win a few dollars, not uncommon to get $10,000 to split with family anyway for 30 minutes worth of work.

Deal or no Deal
If there was ever a game show you want to win $10,000 on, this is the one to do it with! You answer 3 questions to do with what's in the media in the last month, and then you guess what suitcase has a nice dollar amount in. Well, I thought this was the easiest show to win money on until some others came up.

The Rich List
This TV show is one of the most simplest to answer questions on, and you have the chance to earn BIG money. You answer the question by providing as many answers as possible for things like 'states in the United States of America' and in doing so, you can get up to $250,000. How's that for less than 15 minutes worth of work.

100 v 1
This competing with The Rich List has a similar style to Deal or No Deal crossed with Millionaire. Basically you answer questions like 'What part of the body allows you to walk? A. Legs B. Hair C. Computer Joysticks'. Again, not uncommon using the lifelines to get over $100,000 in cash for answering easy questions.

Quizmania
This show is one of those uplate ones that contain hosts dosed up to the eyeballs on drugs (I'm sure of it) where you call in and get say $100 for saying 'ball'.

So, why is it that the harder the questions get, the less money you earn? I know Millionaire got you some decent money if you could get into the hotseat and answer some tough questions, but most walked out under $32,000 and less time was spent in doing so. Strange hey :)

[3 Comment(s)]


Moving on from Frankston... (14/02/2007 07:14:08 AM)

buildg_400Hi all, well after finally finishing my last exam, I am hoping that I have done reasonably well in which I am hoping for about a High Credit/Distinction in Java 2 and Distinction/High Distinction in Web Systems II. Why? well honestly I have been so god-damned busy with everything else happening (nor is it easy to concentrate doing on-campus units off-campus). So, overall if I achieve those marks then I suppose I have done not too shabby (especially when I know the practical sides to it almost back to front).

So, what does this mean? Well today was my last time I would ever need to be in Frankston again. No more going to the Peninsula campus, and definitely no more 3 hour bus trips each way *sigh*. So, although I leave quite a picturesque campus behind, I am moving on up to a closer (by train atleast) campus at Caulfield to continue my IT studies there. The stupid thing about it all, is a train trip is roughly 1 hour to the campus but I'm not complaining, especially when I have more time to do things at uni now.

Anyway, GreenTubeLAN is coming up this weekend, so I am now preparing for that by recreating the servers from previous LAN. With a bit of luck, I will have a Linux router set up aswell (oh what fun that's going to be if I find out the wireless card needs an NDIS wrapper).

Ciao! 

[1 Comment(s)]


Virus Alert Released (10/02/2007 10:57:17 PM)
gmlogoAfter spending hours working on this rather than studying for exams on Tuesday and Wednesday, I have finally released both an MP3 and MIDI version of Weird Al's Virus Alert. Check it out by clicking here!

[4 Comment(s)]


"Weird Al" Yankovic - Virus Alert Update (10/02/2007 01:46:31 AM)

weirdal_solIn my last blog post , I said I was working on both studying for exams and a sequenced version of "Weird Al" Yankovic's Virus Alert. Well, considering I am such a nice person and all, I thought I would release a 30 second preview (in MP3) weighing in at a massive 390KB in MP3 form. This has been exported using FL Studio 6, so you will find that the audio is of a much better quality than those terrible GM sound cards.

Apart from that, after studying today the entire Javascript section of my Web Systems 2 unit, I now have the knowledge to enhance my website some more (namely validation on data entry), so CMS Version 3 will be on it's way possibly May/June this year. When that's released and 'important' clients are updated, CMS Version 2 will be released open source.

After exams, GreenTubeLAN is coming up and after GreenTubeLAN, I will have a massive project in updating the Horses 'R' Us website to the SMF platform. There are just so many features in SMF that IPB 1.3 Final doesn't have (let alone being more secure and compatible with my web platform.) and given it's free, I can't argue with price. I remember first trying this platform when it was version 1.07 or something, and found it to be total bullcr@p, but I can't have checked it too hard now given it's very easy to edit CSS files, and the community in general seems reasonable, so yeah - that's happening after GreenTubeLAN.

Well, better start revising for this Java exam *shudder* this one's going to be tough :(

Ciao! 

[0 Comment(s)]


Midis and Music Added (09/02/2007 02:16:46 AM)

Hi all,

rabbitrescue_120Been a bit bored today with all of this studying for 2 exams I have next week for University, so I decided I would post a blog update. My site is slowly coming together now since I uploaded one of my assignments for university called Rabbit Rescue. So what is it you say? It's a corny story line of a game that is meant to be a 2D platformer (like the old NES and SNES versions of Mario Bros) where you have to shoot robotic bananas to save rabbits by touching them. In the final level, you kill an evil monkey boss to save your mum. Sounds strange hey Tongue out

vintagekeyskeyboardlg_400Well, I had the game working in under 2 days, so I was pretty impressed with how far I got with it. This is probably the most complete game I have ever designed, followed closely by a game called My Mansion I created in Quick BASIC back in 1999. Anyway, that's available in my computer software page if you are at all interested. You will need the Java Runtime Environment (J2SE) of atleast version 1.5 to play it. The source code is also included, and given the nature of an assignment, it's fully documented so that you can create your own variants if you wish to do so.

Apart from that, but I have also included a new section on my website called Midis and Music. One of my hobbies as I have mentioned before is playing the piano. I also enjoy composing and sequencing music, both original and replicas of existing pieces. So, certainly feel free to check that out as well. Currently, I'm working on converting Weird Al's Virus Alert from his new album into a midi, so expect something here shortly for that.

Anyway, better get back to the salt mine. Ciao! 

[1 Comment(s)]


Video Game Addiction (05/02/2007 08:47:36 PM)

wwcAddiction is defined as the repeated use of a substance, carrying out a physical behaviour or psychological disorder. There are many forms of it ranging from Smoking, Drinking through to drug use. There's one thing however that is only starting to get a mention about now, and this is the possibility of Video Game Addiction.

So what is video game addiction? Well, I suppose someone who appears to be addicted to a game would be classified as a Video Game Addict. To be classified as an addict, one would need to repeatedly play a given game, where it would be detrimental to the persons health. This is certainly evident from my own research and people who I know personally who appear to be addicts of a particular game. The game, World of Warcraft, involves what most good RPG's have. They have a role for you to play, they lead a life, they become powerful and it's seen as an alternative life. The game does this well, but there are increasingly more and more people who are becoming addicted to the game.

Do I blame World of Warcraft? I personally don't think blaming the game or the manufacturer as the problem, just as the brewer of a beer cannot be held responsible for your use of the product if you choose to get drunk. What is to blame is the failure to self-limit access to the game. People do immerse themselves into this game, where there are people who want to become powerful. To do this, more time has to be spent playing the game. The direct repercussion of this is that loss of sleep, loss of eating and loss of health start to happen.

I know of atleast 2 people I know who have at one stage or another been addicted to the game. Both had this problem where they were spending up to 12 hours a day playing a given game. Is it healthy? No. Why do they play this game for 12 hours? Because they don't set a boundary, and if you can live an alternative life where you became powerful, rich and were able to dictate an entire life, would you jump to that opportunity?

The interesting thing is, it is considered unsociable to do so by a majority of families who believe their son or daughter is addicted to the game. What they fail to realise is that by playing the game online, they are playing with other people who they can socialise with. It's just done infront of a computer rather than conventional methods of meeting a person 'in real life'.

Well, that's my thought for the day... had to post something Tongue out

[2 Comment(s)]


GreenTubeLAN 4: The G Stands For Games (03/02/2007 01:50:12 AM)

header_400Hi all, this is just a friendly message to say GreenTubeLAN 4: The G stands for Games will be held in 2 weekends from today, being the 17th to 18th of February, 2007. As always, venue is open for participants at 12:00PM Saturday, and finishes 8:00AM Sunday.

Please note that registrations will be made slightly different this time. They will be done on the site, and stored in a database to make it easier to accept payments. Feel free to register here!

=================
GreenTubeLAN 4: The G stands for Games
Cost: $15 per head, no free entry. Entry is to be paid prior to entering the venue
Includes: A share in $50 worth of chips, access to bottles of drink in plastic cups
Capacity: 40 Participants
Venue: Frankston North
Special Items:
Additional Information: Basically we are trying to gather enough funds from this LAN so that we can find a venue capable of seating 100 participants. This is why the price is $15, and only includes a share in $50 worth of chips.
Network Infrastructure: *gasp* Most likely 100Mbit dissipated over multiple hubs. Make sure you have games installed for this very reason (unless someone can come up with a gigabit hub for a backbone).
Prizes: 1st Place in AoE 2 Tournament, 1st & 2nd Place in UT2k4 Tournament, 1st Place in V8 Challenge Tournament. Prizes pool is valued at $40.
=================

Yeah, shut up - I'm advertising on my own blog Money mouth

[4 Comment(s)]


Web Development Assignment Finished (01/02/2007 10:44:48 PM)

I wish I could say I'm free, but I'm not yet. Now I have to start and finish over the next 2 days a Java assignment. After frantically dealing with images, documentation, oracle databases and writing lengthy queries, I was able to successfully upload a website after tidying up over the last few days.

250pxinterior_of_siemens_train_aftPublic Transport:
Once again, the topic of trains is in the news with yet another Siemens Train overshooting the Seaford platform. This has yet again caused more controversy over Connex's ability to operate the entire Melbourne network. What people fail to realise is that Connex is not the one who ordered these stupid, not-well-designed-for-peak-traffic trains, this was M>Train back in 2002. I also find it quite humerous that to fix the problem we are currently having, Ted Balieu has suggested that all Siemens Trains be removed from the metropolitan network. To do so, Connex would have to operate on an altered Saturday timetable which includes more 'peak service' trains. What I thoroughly enjoy laughing at is the idea that reducing the trains to a Saturday performance would help passengers out by letting them know atleast their trains will run. It's a funny solution simply because this would cause more of an overload than already present Laughing and I can't see why they can't split off-peak services to 3 cars or something like that. They are rarely full in Zones 2 and 3, but I suppose that's what Connex is paid for and not me. What p!sses me off is I guarantee that V/Line services will be even more packed than ever before making sure that I cannot get on my own train (that runs hourly) from Dandenong which has happened before *shakes hands and thanks those with met cards, pay much less than me and can get a train every 15 minutes*.

TV:
Channel 9 back in 2005 used to be my favourite TV channel. This is far from the case now. They have just canceled Outrageous Fortune!!! To compensate, they put on even more crappy quiz shows (like there isn't enough of them already). Channel 10 is getting worse for putting advertisements that take up a good 1/4 of a screen for about 20 seconds DURING A MOVIE!!! Channel 7 is really giving me the sh!ts by gaining most of my TV viewing and god help us all if Channel ABC continues this trend of running shows 10 minutes overtime!

Well, that's todays complaints. Stay tuned until tomorrow where I complain about whatever could possibly happen tonight. 

[0 Comment(s)]


Windows Vista (31/01/2007 08:56:34 PM)

vistalogoSo most of you think I hate Microsoft Windows Vista adamantly. Well, I myself hate the new Microsoft operating system, especially after beta testing it since the days it was known as Longhorn. It doesn't mean I won't use it, and it doesn't mean it is the biggest pile of garbage. The thing is, of course with the launch, I have had people wanting to upgrade to the latest operating system already! So, I thought I would post my proper views on the Operating System.

Why should I upgrade to Microsoft Windows Vista?
If you like transparent windows and a somewhat flasher operating system with less viruses than Windows XP, then by all means upgrade. Is it worth the $282AU for the Home Premium upgrade (the home premium proper upgrade, not OEM nor Academic Edition) just to get a few new cool features? Well, that's up to you to decide.

What version should I get?
Home Premium is the lowest system you would want to get to notice any major improvements. Home Basic does not come with the Aero theme, not a good choice for laptops (whatever the reason may be), no Windows Media Centre, no Backup, no HDD Encryption (even Business doesn't have this), no games and no HD capabilities. Basically it's going to be minimum $282 to upgrade, then you need to make sure system is capable.

computerWhat is a reasonable computer?
For most of my clients, a simple RAM and Video Card upgrade should be all that's necessary. 1024MB of RAM is roughly $150, and a Video Card can be had for about $60. All up, $210 should upgrade your current system enough. Ideally, you will want a processor above 1.5GHz, a HDD with atleast 40GB of HDD Capacity, 1024MB of RAM (if you plan on running the Aero theme), and a 128MB ATI Radeon/NVidia Geforce video card.

When should I upgrade?
I would suggest holding off for at least 6 months given if you want help with any issues, next to no-one will have a thorough understanding of the Operating System. Of course, I will myself over the next 6 months thoroughly testing the OS on a spare machine I have lying around to work out what bugs are there, and what error messages mean what. By then, Dual Core machines with 1GB of RAM will be quite affordable, and Vista OEM editions can be found cheaper when we buy a new system Wink

Apparently Vista allows me to listen to music, photos and stuff. I couldn't do it on Windows XP!
If you honestly believe that Microsoft Windows XP was incapable of displaying your photos and listening to your music (which is what Microsoft Windows Vista is claiming), then you certainly will be unable to operate Vista's Media Center given you still need to copy photos off your camera, and copy music from CD's. My point is, Vista is only enhancing the way you interact with photos (ie using Media Center on your PC or a Media Center Extender like the XBOX 360). If you can't click Start - My Pictures, or Start - My Music, then Vista is going to be just as difficult to sort through Tongue out

Are you saying Microsoft Windows Vista is pretty much garbage?
As with the release of any new operating system, there is no reason to splash out on it. There are features that will be Vista-Only, for example the DirectX 10 Library (for gamers) that will require an upgrade to Windows Vista. This is why I suggest 6 months to 12 months before people will start realising they need to upgrade. For the time being, Windows XP is not passed its used-by date and can probably idealistically be used for another 2 years before support really starts to drop for it.

Are you going to use Windows Vista?
I have no choice but to. Given my career choice, I would be severely disadvantaging myself to not use Vista. I'll be using my newly acquired Ultimate Edition on my IBM NetVista 1.8GHz with 128MB Video Card and 768MB of RAM when I have the time and inclination to do so. Vista is going to be the future, no doubt, as software developers won't be switching to another platform just yet. I am personally holding out for the Longhorn Server to be released given the better RAM management and stability that makes Windows Server 2003 a great desktop operating system. Strange how it works hey Wink

linuxIs Macintosh better than Vista, Linux better than Vista?
Depending on the application, there are strong points to all 3 operating systems. Dependant on your needs, a Macintosh might in fact be a better solution. For myself, an Apple Macintosh is not an ideal Operating System. It is severely limiting (despite being a derivative of BSD), however in it's limitations is where Security becomes a great positive. For those browsing the internet, listening to music, making DVD's with no emphasis on game play (mind you, with Boot Camp you can install Windows to a mac but then you defeat the purpose of owning a Mac Tongue out) then a Mac is ideal.

Linux is in a world of it's own. The community in general (sorry to those in the community) is disgusting, and in my opinion very unhelpful. You will generally find a few who are happy to bend over backwards to help you, but overall it's pretty terrible. It's run mostly by teenage kids who don't know the first thing about it which is a shame (judging by many forums I have visited). The community is very much 'ha ha you are too n00bish' which in English translates to you are too stupid. Despite this, the operating system if you know what you are doing is quite a good operating system. It's flexible, and you can fine tune it to the finest of details. Would I recommend it to a client? Only SLED 10.1 without YaST, Terminal and any super user access Laughing so, short answer No.

I don't feel I need to reiterate the Microsoft Windows strong points, as you are most likely used to them now anyway. Windows is here to stay, and will be around for a long time. We will certainly see Mac and Linux come up with some decent competition (especially for those who can't afford $500 to upgrade Surprised who will stick with XP anyway).

Final Thoughts on Vista?
Of course, everyone has their own opinion on Microsoft Windows Vista. Personally, I can't see (from a technical aspect) how an Operating System should be allowed to use up 400-500MB of RAM on idle by default. I know it's terrible with Windows XP sitting on 500MB of RAM with stuff open (especially on my 512MB of RAM in my laptop). However, computers that will be released over the next few years will come standard with 1024MB of RAM and 128MB Video Cards, so this won't be an issue. What annoys me the most is how Mac, and Linux have been able to implement fantastic GUI's (for looks) and still use VESA drivers to draw them (VESA in english is pretty much just a standard driver that utilises no special features in Video Cards). It is not an excuse to say that Windows is not Linux nor is it Mac. The simple fact is, there is a drawing algorithm out there embedded into Operating Systems that do not require 128MB Video Cards.

To finish, I suppose time will tell on how successful the operating system is. The only time we will know if the operating is really a success is in 4-5 years if Microsoft is still making operating systems Wink

Ciao! 

[6 Comment(s)]


OMG I HAVE RSI (30/01/2007 09:38:21 PM)

validrss Whilst the title of this may be true, the actual fact is I have just uploaded a trial of this RSS thingo that everyone seems to complain about these days *sigh*. Well, I suppose if you really want, you can subscribe to it (or whatever you do with it). I'll continue just visiting my main websites Tongue out Enjoy. Now quit your complaining about my blog being the only one on the face of the planet to not have RSS.

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Public Transport (30/01/2007 02:31:26 AM)

250pxhitxtrapfssFor those who know me know that I complain about public transport often. Generally Connex, but lately I have been a bit peeved with V/Line and their antics as well. For those who don't know, V/Line is a regional train and coach operator where as Connex is the Melbourne Suburban train operator. Lately, there has been some controversy over their train fleet and as a result Connex has had to remove some of their trains and replace them with Hitachis (the old stainless silver trains).

Well, today I went to Springvale to pick up a few computer components and was expecting an all day trip. Today for some reason was different. Everything today ran on time! I got to Warragul train station, and the train was there at 8:52, 2 MINUTES EARLY. I got to Dandenong at 9:42, 2 MINUTES EARLY. I caught my bus to Springvale at 9:46, and got there at about 10:06. I brought my components and went outside to wait a whole of 2 MINUTES to catch a bus to Springvale station. When I got to Springvale, a Pakenham bound train (Siemens by the way) arrived 2 MINUTES after I got there. I got to Pakenham on time to walk elsewhere to get some other components. I got back, where the V/Line train was 2 MINUTES early. I got back to Warragul at 12:50. Today was just one of those days where everything ran according to plan. Everything was on time, there was no waiting for trains etc... It seems that Connex's removal of a few services has infact increased the punctuality of trains! Strange one hey!

pentiumdQuite funny actually, as we arrived at Pakenham station (on my way to Dandenong), a Hitachi was on the other platform, and absolutely no one got on the Hitachi train! They all piled in the 2-unit V/Locity making it fairly crowded, but yeah - pretty much a scr3w you to Connex Wink I also heard today on my way back (at Pakenham station) a kid say 'look at the yucky train, its old and dirty'. The ironic thing is, Air Conditioning in trains tend to malfunction often (well, from what I've been on anyway) and you can't open windows. This is on top of the rock hard seats in the newer trains. I can't see what the problem is (unless the back 3 carriages are providing plenty of electrical smoke to cover the entire Dandenong station) especially when the trains have more comfortable seating, and WINDOWS to open! I can tell you now, I'd rather be on a train moving with a bit of a breeze and get home rather than stand on a platform for the next 30 minutes praying for a new train.

On another note, I have just set up a Pentium-D 925 computer system that is running at a nice cool 35*C in the ThermalTake Soprano case using the stock thermal paste and stock fan. More news to come on that when I finally get a hold of Windows XP 64 Bit Edition. 

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Helstra *sigh* Again! (28/01/2007 09:00:44 PM)

computer_problemsEver wondered why Helstra (a combination of Telstra and Hell) is not in my good books? Well, telemarketers are forever calling me to get me to switch my home phone back to them. Usually involves offering me $70 worth of calls just for switching back! Fantastic hey Laughing Well, that's all well and good if they can do me a land line deal of $19.95 per month and give me a one-off $70. There's only one issue though and that's their internet. Helstra doesn't seem to think that other ISP's are capable of offering cheaper broadband. For instance, take my internet deal. I get 1,536kbit/256kbit ADSL1+ broadband with 21GB download for $49.95 per month and pay $29.95 per month for line rental. That's $89.90 per month if my math is correct. Helstra on the other hand can only offer liberty which is 10GB and say that's massive for $69.95 per month. What intrigues me more is that for $99.95, I get 25GB with them, then charged extra for going over download. Not good if you have a big month.

Anyway, interestingly enough today I had a call from a client explaining that his internet didn't work. So, I take a trip down to investigate and as fate would have it, I couldn't fix the issue because the issue wasn't client side. The next step was to call Bigpond. After calling their technical support line directly, I was greeted with a friendly message "Hello and welcome to Bigpond. We are currently experiencing an overload on help desk calls. Please try again later. Beep Beep Beep". So, I ring up the other Bigpond, non-free line and I press a few buttons like Press 1 for ADSL, Press 2 for Business DSL, Press 1 for Business DSL standalone... Anyway, about 1 hour later I finally got to speak to an Indian who believe the weather was fantastic in Flinders Street. After explaining my issue that the modem won't connect using the interface to the internet as it's bring up a Line is Busy error, he tried telling me that that's an issue with Windows XP Service Pack 2!!! This got me furious to which I politely said that Windows XP has been updated for months, and how could you not support Windows XP SP2? He said it is a limited connection issue.

15509790When he said this I felt like smashing him, especially when I know for a fact that he knows absolutely nothing. I said no, I'm connected and using the Modem Interface page at 10.0.0.138 right now. He said 'I understand, but it's a Windows XP issue'. After about 10 minutes of arguing and me giving in *sigh*, I listen to his solution of clearing the Cookies, Delete Files, Clear History etc... and guess what! It didn't work! For some reason, it is also standard procedure to turn the modem off for 5 minutes so the internet will work, almost as successful as Microsoft Window's troubleshooter. Anyway, long story short - he eventually tested the phone lines, and came up with my original diagnosis of there is a problem between the modem and the exchange. I would have loved to grab him by the collar and say NO FCUKING SHIT!!! So what happens now? He is sending a tech support guy out to have a look at the lines and to stuff up the computer network in the next 2 days.

I find it even more ironic that I myself can't get a job in Level 1 help desk, yet time and time again I have to deal with morons who just don't understand anything about computers! I'm never rude on the phone line with people, however it can be god-damned annoying to hear outsourced voices speaking broken English claiming to be from Australia. I understand they have a computer infront of them and they are only doing what they are being told to say which is why I don't go as far as asking to speak to a supervisor, or tell them where to go. I'm sure others give them enough sh!t already. Anyway, wonder if this blog post will effect the prospects of gaining a level 1 help desk job in the future Undecided

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Open Source Versus Commercial Software (28/01/2007 04:26:03 AM)

penguinOne of the things commercial software prides itself on is stability and support. I find this quite intriguing especially when Open Source preaches the same thing, but which one does in fact come out on top? Well, there are many theories to this.

Open Source generally is more secure because it's updated and patched daily by 'hackers'. Makes sense when the code is open source to be patched up by millions of people rather than a team of 4 to 5 people. The only problem is, there is a possibility of sloppy code writers and as a result we get unstable applications. Commercial software is generally more 'stable' in terms of it will do what I want easily given a lot of money is poured into making a user interface. Look at Mac, Windows, Office versus Linux, OpenOffice and the Linux Terminal Tongue out Ok ok, so Linux is easier for some people and Mac can be unbelievably difficult for Windows users, it's all personal preference.

The reason I am posting is because today is not the first time a particular software platform has crashed on me. In my entire web development career, I have used WIMP, WAMP, and LAMP combinations (W=Windows, I=IIS, A=Apache, M=MySQL, P=PHP). Now, on LAMP and WAMP solutions, I barely have any issues, as a matter of fact, I have never crashed a LAMP solution. Windows can be a bit dicey to set up, but works.

For a university assignment however, we have to use a WIOP solution (Windows, IIS, Oracle and PHP) and already I have managed to crash the entire Oracle and PHP component of the web server by executing one too many queries. I have managed to crash COMMERCIAL SOFTWARE that organisations rely on, that being Windows Server 2003 and Oracle 10g. What I find more ironic, is I have not just crashed oracle once, I have crashed it time and time again. So, go figure. I suppose I merely sit back and relax now whilst my tutor goes and fixes my little crash.

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Todays Stories in Tech (26/01/2007 06:33:37 AM)

hp_touchsmart_pc_bOn my last some-what half-arsed attempt to run a blog generally involved computer news. Here's my thoughts in tech today.

iPhone not good for $600 according to HP
Apparently HP is claiming that there are issues with the $600 Apple manufactured iPhone. They claim that if a user drops their $600 phone whilst jogging, they lose their only form of communication. To combat the issue, HP are recommending consumers buy a $2,499 for a PC that is not portable, and will certainly cause more of a crater on earth than the Apple iPhone if dropped Laughing or so ZDNet is trying to convince with their article.

IBM Selling yet again their divisions
What is IBM doing these days? Well, IBM is becoming a consultancy company and to do so, they are selling off their product lines. We have already seen IBM sell off their Desktop and Notebook line to Lenovo, and now they are selling off their Printer line (I didn't even think IBM made printers Undecided) now to Ricoh so, I suppose we will see some form of improvements er... maybe.

iTunes is illegal according to Norway
Who'd have thought that a legal concept of buying music supposedly from a legitimate company has now been considered illegal under Norwegian law. This one has got me beat, but the reasoning apparently is that DRM means that you need an iPod to play the music which is somehow illegal. Just like buying a CD means you can only play it on a CD player, and a Record on a Record player Laughing

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Happy Australia Day (26/01/2007 06:11:21 AM)

Well, I probably should start with Happy Australia Day, so there it is. Anyway, one of my hobbies is playing the piano/keyboard, and over the past year, I started playing Video Game music for the fun of it, things like Faxanadu , Mario , Zelda and Wizards and Warriors just to name a few. For the next few days, I'll be fairly scarce on the internet given I have a couple of big assignments due next Friday. Certainly full of news aren't I Wink Oh and GreenTubeLAN 4 is back on the agenda.

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Welcome to my Blog (25/01/2007 12:56:42 AM)

971f_12_400Well, here I am. First blog. First post. First sentence. First Paragraph. Um, er... I suppose I should start by posting some garbage about myself, you know - like most people on the internet do. I should start off by saying I am some sort of male model, athletic, fit, party person, top band musician and earning $200,000 per year and er... have a 2007 Ford XR8 but that would be stupid Surprised look I just did! Well, actually if you call 'male model' building and showcasing some nice computers, athletic as in hacking (it's considered some form of sport Tongue out), fit as in fit to sit in a chair all day in front of a computer or TV, party person as in someone who co-ordinates LAN parties once in a blue moon, top band musician as in playing video game music on a dilapidated keyboard in a one man band who doesn't even play publicly (apart from YouTube), earning $200,000 as in earning $200,000 in Theme Hospital, or GTA or The Sims and a 2007 XR8 as in I am looking at getting a 1987-1988 Ford Fairlane ZL because of a little accident I had last year, then yes I fit that description very well Wink.

Nothing remotely interesting happened today, so I can't even give you some wrap up about anything insignificant. Um... I had an argument with a guy on messenger about how crap Windows Vista will be, I uploaded this website and finally CentreCom stocks the Pentium D 925 processor. So, yeah - very interesting day. Hopefully I have something more interesting tomorrow Laughing

This is Orb!ter, Signing Off!

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