Archive for the 'Bandwidth Unlimited Pty Ltd' Category


Confessions of a mercenary programmer

Just a quick note, in the aftermath of the vote to decide where Anthony Towns, Debian Project Leader did something good for Debian, bad for Debian or indifferent to Debian with the Dunc-Tank.

I, Paul Hampson, hereby confess that I too earnt money for doing Debian work, specifically packaging FreeRADIUS and getting it sponsored into the archive in time for Sarge to ship.

Mind you, I didn’t earn much money, since Bandwidth Unlimited (for it was they) went bust without paying me much, but they did pay me. And you might argue that I’d been looking for a package to help out with in Debian for nearly three years at that point, and I would have worked on it for free, and that when I was being paid serious money to administer an ISP, I didn’t do much FreeRADIUS work at all.

To which I’d say that I’d never have picked FreeRADIUS were I not running an ISP, and I would not have been running an ISP had I not planned to become rich and buy the world’s largest chocolate bar from the experience. And I didn’t get a lot of my job functions done when I was running an ISP, so lower-priority things (like FreeRADIUS, cleaning my desk, a full night’s sleep) were often pushed aside.

I have to say that until I recently became a professional, regularly paid, programmer, I was highly envious of people who get paid to work on Open Source stuff, let alone Debian stuff. Now I’m just envious, although that’ll prolly upgrade back to highly envious after 2007 (or as I like to think of it now,

This whole thing puts me in mind of my experience at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. I was one of the IT volunteers, and we basically picked up the less-interesting jobs the IBM-paid staffers gave us. At the time I felt a bit put out that I was there volunteering, and these guys were being paid to be there doing nothing that I couldn’t have handled. Obviously that was decidedly unfair, and from my days of “I’m as good as or better than anyone else at computers” phase. But the unfairness of my attitude isn’t actually the issue, the issue was that I really wanted to be paid to do that sort of thing, and didn’t see why others should get paid but me not be.

Now of course I want two things: To get paid, and to do the things I love. I’ve finally reached the point where I can combine them, and I no longer begrudge those who, through luck, skill or otherwise, get paid more to do the same things, or get access to cooler toys to do them on. I’m envious, obviously. How do you not envy someone who gets to bring up Linux on a 128-way Power5 machine on the quiet? But that doesn’t make me unhappy, it just makes me want to strive more, and work harder. One day I’ll be the one submitting a paper to on some stupendously cool thing I’ve done. ^_^

Anyway, my short-medium term goal is to leverage the experience of the current MicroForté work, plus finishing my Japanese studies, to go work for a games company in Japan, combining my two favorite pipe-dreams into one, and making it reachable in a little as two years. Maybe I’ll be lucky and MicroForté will open a Japanese office or something, or I’ll luck out and end up working on a Japanese MMORPG with a Linux client and a measurable dose of serious cool. Or somehow end up programming at Nintendo…. Oh, sparkley eyes! *_*

And a by-the-by, it’s two and a half months in, and I’m still totally thrilled to be working at a video games company. I mean, seriously, I’m like all, wow. I thought it was cool when I was working at TransACT, and my testing procedure involved firing up a video stream, and watching it on a TV. I had a TV on my desk, for work purposes, and that was the high-point of my career. Now I don’t have a TV on my desk, but when I’m hacking on combat-handling code, part of my procedure involves firing up a game server, and playing.

I’m learning to take my time with things a bit more. I’m now much less worried that I won’t speak six asian languages, play the piano, have my name someone in the Linux kernel that doesn’t share a sentence with “blame”, have invented an entirely new way of interacting with computers, master four different styles of martial art, earn my first dan in three different Japanese weapon styles, hold two masters degrees in disparate subject areas, earn infamy in the Debian community or even the admiration of my peers by 30. Or 40. I’ll be pushing it to get there by 50. But the advantage of youth is that you get it when you’re young, and only lose it if you let it go.

I guess on reflection, my goal has become to be a polymath ronin… For those familiar with anime, I think I want to be Kintaro Oe when I grow up…

Side-note: I’m now the secretary of the ANU Anime Society. Two days before the AGM, I wrote in an email to the then-executive committee that secretary was the one position I’d never take. Time makes fools of us all. ^_^ Congratulations to Cathy Ring on stepping up to the presidency, and to the other executives, old and new, for stepping up to what I expect (knowing Cathy) to be a hard-driven and successful year coming.

Oh, and someone asked this week about getting the GTO Live Action box set. So here’s my AmazonJP links…



The best laid plans

Wow. I sneeze, a few months pass, and life turns upside down…

安座間美優 2006年度 カレンダー

Firstly, obviously no The Other Day’s Mews posted. I’ve got backlogs ahoihoi (although I’m missing about a month from October 3rd through November 11th) which I might have to start cherry-picking just to get them up.

Still, I got my 2006 Mew Calendar from AmazonJP. It was too expensive to ship by itself (shipping was significantly more than the calendar. >_<) but then I decided to buy myself an LPIC I book, and found a friend who wanted some stuff, so it came out quite cheaply. (Pictures and links at bottom of post)

I need the LPIC I book because I’m going to 2006 in New Zealand later this month, and will be sitting two LPI level 1 exams there. I’m really looking forward to it, I had soo much fun last year. And I’ve never been overseas before (over strait, technically), so I’ve now got my first ever passport.

The passport was surprisingly quick to get. I had most of the paperwork already, and put the application in on the 23rd of December, and when I got back from Queensland, it came by registered mail on the 6th of January. And my mother was worried that I’d be hard-pressed to get it before I left for New Zealand if I put it in in December. There’s an online tracking system, but I never got to try it, because I was in Queensland, as I mentioned.

I was in Queensland from the 30th of December until the 5th of January. I went up with my mum, step-father and sister for my youngest uncle’s wedding. It was a nice wedding (outdoors, on a jetty-type thing the name of which escapes me) at a golf resort near the Gold Coast. And I use “near” loosely. For Queenslanders, it’s near. For a Canberran like me, it was half-way to Sydney. It was also very hot, and very humid. I basically did two things in Queensland apart from the wedding, play video games and sweat. I also saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (good!) and Fun With Dick and Jane (also good!). Many of our family members (now numbering 33 in Lyall the clan) had t-shirts and such made up with “I got Lyalled at the Wedding of the Century” and “Lyallfest 05/06″ on them. They were very cool, and slightly silly. Which seems appropriate somehow. It was an idea that came up after a little too much booze at the Lyall Christmas Party.

Christmas was fun, visited cousin’s new place on Christmas Eve, spent night at Mum’s place, visited Dad and grandparents in the morning, backto Mum’s for lunch. Roast, of course. ^_^ A nice relaxing time after the hectic chaos of the preceeding two months, and my new job.

Yup, I’ve gained another new job. I also got rid of two, so I’m actually not doing too badly for a change. At the end of October, Bandwidth Unlimited folded, much to my shock, despair and disappointment. CBIT (note the new category!) bought the customers and equipment, and while I was there getting all the systems transferred over, they offered me the job of Internet Operations Manager for CBIT Internet. From then until now (and onwards into the future) I’ve been working flat-out with my old BU job, Richard’s BU job, and all the jobs we both weren’t doing. (Which possibly explains why BU folded…) If that sounds too much, it is. Luckily, CBIT’s already been doing Internet (reselling BU since May) so a lot of the sales and management infrastructure is in place, so it’s not like I’m doing it myself. And it’s a chance for me to reshape all the things that were wrong with BU because I didn’t have the time to fix them. The main worry I have with CBIT is what happens if I get into the JET program and leave in July

I applied for JET in December, haven’t yet heard if I got an interview. I did spend a hectic morning photocopying and getting signed various documents. The ANU Union’s JP was away that day, so it was more hectic than I expected. Happily, the ANU Student Admin had a JP on the front desk who could sign things during quiet periods. So I’ve applied, and have references from Steve Thiele of TransACT and Ikeda-sensei of the ANU Japan Centre. I think I’m in with a good chance, but then again I always think that. ^_^

My Debian NM application was finally processed to the policy and procedures stage (which is to say, I got a AM assigned to me) in the first week of November. This of course was the week I started at CBIT, so I had to place it on hold while I got things organised there. It’s still on hold. I was hoping to have it done before linuxconf, but such is life. I’d still like to submit my next _stage_ by linuxconf, but part of the task is rereading policy. That’s a thick thick document, and I’m still working on my LPI ExamCram book. If I get the stuff in, I think I’m in with a good chance there too, although the FreeRADIUS package has been suffering a bit of neglect. Luckily, it hasn’t needed a lot of attention, although 1.1.0 is going to be released this week so I’ll need to get that uploaded.

I think that’s all I’ve done in the last couple of months. It seemed more at the time. Anyway, I’m back on IRC at nights after nearly two months absense, and I’m now hanging around the Whirlpool Forums particularly TransACT (professionally) and Linux/BSD (lifestyle). ^_^

For Christmas, I scored Red Dward VI, Red Dwarf VII, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy movie.. AmazonJP doesn’t list the latter two yet.

Red Dwarf: Series 6 (2pc)
Lpic I Exam Cram 2 (Exam Cram 2)


Track… forward?

Things I’m tracking, hoping for good things:

Open source, GPL implementation of Macromedia Flash 7. The developer has a blog, last updated in July.
Revision Control Software from Canonical, who put Ubuntu together. Successor to Bazaar, which is the successor to arch. Also has a cool set of plugins growing around it, such as bzrk which lets you visualise your branches and then drill down into them, as well a the essential bzrtools.
a couple of bazaar-ng web interfaces
bzrweb (Not yet upgraded to bzr 0.1.1 -_-, you could otherwise see it on my bzr site) and a port of the Mercurial web interface, hgweb which I’ve not tried since it looks like the repository contains bzr as well, and I’m not clear if that’s because modifications to bzr were needed, or what. Also a complete lack of installation documentation, and the TODOs need to be done.
Vega Strike
3d space-flight simulator, along the lines of Wing Commander. Admittedly, I’ve only run this once on a 3d-enabled machine, and I managed to ram a mining station at full speed as I forgot that you need to accelerate against your line of velocity to slow down. But it looks promising. It already looks good.
Asterisk (‘*’)
Open-source PABX software. It does SIP, H.323, IAX2 (their own protocol) as well as interfacing to line-interface cards. I’ve actually got this set up on Keitarou, running SIP, but have no one to call me. I’m supposed to get this ready for voice-conferencing for comittee meetings… I’m also looking forward to further database integration so I can hook this up at BU and sell cheap VoIP calls. ^_^
Anyone who’s dealt with me in an ISP sense (especially if you’re a supplier ^_^) will know I keep asking about IPv6. Because, dammit, it’s the future, it’s coming, and the sooner we’re ready, the sooner we’ll be transitioned. From home, all my machines can connect to Yurika over the ‘net via IPv6 with no speed issues (both here and Yurika are using 6to4 which, if more NAT routers supported along with Neighbour Discovery, would allow basically zero-conf setup of an IPv6-capable host such as Windows XP, MacOS X and of course Linux and BSD flavours.

Oh, the horror!

One last thing. Mad props to John Stanhope for posting and defending his decision to post the federal government’s latest effort in the war on freedom. It’s about time the federal government was reminded that they don’t get to keep laws secret from the people. They’re not a large corporation answerable only to their shareholders with only the board allowed to know everything that’s going on, they’re the elected representatives of the people of Australia, and when they get caught trying to sneak bad bad things past the Australian people hoping no one notices, they deserve all the suffering they get. Mind you, I haven’t read the draft legislation yet. But whoever the government sent to Lateline to try and dissolve the PR fallout did a pretty poor job. He seemed to be in denial that anyone else had seen the draft yet, evading questions like a minister caught deporting Australians for speaking a second language in question time. I can’t listen to question time any more, it’s just too frustrating listening to people arguing rhetoric pointlessly and making enormous leaps of bad logic. But I digress.


A little planet is a dangerous thing

I had a quick wander through Planet Debian and it took to on to such interesting things as progress shots on a graphical Debian-Installer (Not actually from Planet Debian, but I can’t work out where I saw that now), some very funny Sinfest mods (If you’re a Debian person..), an absolute dream-sounding job (Yes, those two’re the same blog. She’s got some good stuff there. Including a capcha that apparently expects you to type ϖ…), A commentary against the patch-management systems that have started be become quite common in Debian, and to which I converted FreeRADIUS as my first post-Sarge task, personally implanted RFID chips, and musical breast implants.

The weirdest thing about that last one is the idea that fifteen years from now, we’ll still be playing mp3s. Hell, an observable percentage of people I know are either .ogg or .flac already. I myself stopped downloading mp3s because I’ve had two hard disks fail from what I suspect was the weight of my mp3 collections. And my laptop only had the most essential 100 Mb or so of mp3s (Cowboy Bebop, Andrew Denton’s Musical Challenge and a couple of random bits like the Blues Brothers’ Everybody Needs Somebody and Abbot and Costello’s Who’s On First. And ガガガSP’s 卒業 single, but I don’t listen to that very often. In fact, I don’t listen to any of these mp3s much anymore. My desktop machine’s no longer in front of a west-facing window, and I’m not towing my laptop to work in the upstairs basement at TransACT anymore.

I’ve also ripped my new Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy soundtrack to flac, because either mplayer or copy protection (it doesn’t say CD Audio on the cover! Aha! Treachery uncloaked!) means it skips every second in my DVD drive. I don’t have a CD-audio cable, so analog isn’t an option, but happily cdparanoia was happy to extract it perfectly to the hard disk. Analog mode works fine in my laptop, but I avoid doing that because I’m sure that the laptop’s DVD drive is dodgy and just waiting to eat something important.

Oh, and I scored a new TV. Well, technically my dad gave me an old TV of his, but it’s an improvement over my old one because it’s larger, it has OSD, it has a remote, and it has AV inputs. So I plugged my gamecube in, and played Resident Evil Zero for a couple of hours. I only get Resident Evil Zero out when I change TVs, it seems (it was still in the gamecube from when I was getting my TV Tuner working in Linux) but the TV doesn’t do PAL60 so I can’t have another burl at The Ocarina Of Time, although I could try and finish Metroid Prime at long last.

On a more personal note, it’s looking more and more like the work at TransACT’s dried up, and I’m starting to think I should start seriously exploring my Melbourne options. I’ve got the JET information evening on Wednesday night, so I’ll have an idea of how many people I’m going up against.

I prolly should talk more about the Melbourne plan here. As it happens, I dropped out of everything else to focus on BU and TransACT, and now that work looks like it’s going to dry up. I can do my BU work as easily from interstate as I do now (technically, I do the work from my flat in Queanbeyan, so I’m already interstate) and frankly I’d like to try living somewhere with trains and other such public transport and try getting a job I actually like (TransACT’s nice, but I need a change). So I figure either Melbourne or Sydney fits so far. I’ve friends in both cities, as well as family in Melbourne, so it’ll come down to the job opportunities. Melbourne’s main advantages are Cybersource whom a friend of mine mentioned are likely to be looking for people, as well as a project a friend of mine is looking into which I’d love to get involved in. When I thought I’d have TransACT work until the end of the year, I was thinking I’d go to Melbourne in February (after 2006) and find a five month job until JET blasts off in July. Now I’m thinking maybe I should be looking to go in December/January… The problem with this plan is that I’ve got a possibly opportunity coming up in Canberra in online shops, and I’d have to break lease on my current flat. And I don’t have any savings to afford to be in Melbourne without a job. And it’s already mid-October. So I’d better get on with it.

On the “actually getting things done” front, I finally submitted a FreeRADIUS 1.0.5-2 which should clear the logjam 1.0.5-1 became when libltdl3-dev started conflicting with libtool1.4 without warning. I’m disappointed in this back-door method of forcing libtool1.4 out, where either a Replaces in libltdl3-dev or a diversion in libtool1.4 would have allowed the libltdl3-dev/libtool transfer of ltdl.m4 without boning me unneccessarily. As it is, the solution became to drag in the relevant parts of the libtool1.4 package to update the in-tree versions of the files. This is bad, but I can’t NMU libtool1.4, and the patch I was given to upgrade FreeRADIUS to libtool 1.5 was unneccesarily intrusive to my mind, and I couldn’t distill the libtool parts from the ‘change how we build the package’ parts.

I’ve also been actively hunting bugs in packages I’m using, leading to patches to libpam-mount (So I can mount my home directory from Keitarou on Mutsumi from XDM and safe from segfaults due to configuration), lftp (so it doesn’t abort when a download finishes ^_^ Upstream didn’t use my patch, but it _was_ a minimal — but not optimal — solution which neatly explicated the problem, I think) and xmame (so I can use xmame with programs with CHD files). In the process, I also submitted bugs to pam and liblircclient0 which are simple non-crashers that valgrind picked up. I’m so glad I started using valgrind, it’s the absolute bee’s knees for finding any kind of memory misuse bug which might otherwise lead to a segfault much later. I also used it on libnifi which majorly improved my memory management and stopped a whole bunch of segfaults. ^_^ I also took the opportunity tonight to point out to the php4 team that libcurl3-dev had disappeared during its autobuild time, much as libltdl3-dev broke FreeRADIUS during its autobuild time. It happened a week ago, so I expect they knew about it, but I was surprised to see absolutely no bug about it.


Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana

Hmm, time for my daily update… O_O

OK. What happened in the last three months?

I’ve left ActewAGL now. The projects have been handed over more or less, and therefore hopefully no longer my problem. I hope that doesn’t mean they become no one’s problem, but I guess I’ll not know. Now my only remaining work is for BU.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks doing some work at cbit, getting the web interface for the SOAP stuff I talked about below (months ago ^_^) going. They’d started one, but the guy doing the work has now been deployed somewhere else And when I say some work, I mean that took me about a week, and so far this week (it’s been short, public holiday on Monday) I’ve just slacked off in the office, waiting for the web interface to break. Lots of time on IRC and email and it’s been a good chance to do some reading. I’ve been reading up on integrating Linux into a Win2K AD Domain, preparing for my return to TransACT, subcontracting via BU.

I did a couple of months at TransACT, and am currently waiting on approval to do more time there. Working on an interesting project, and a less-than-interesting project. Happily, TransACT’s standardised on Debian GNU/Linux as their Linux platform. I like to think I helped that by spreading as many Redhat scare stories as possible in my time there. ^_^ I was originally doing two-and-a-half days a week due to university commitments, but am now available full time…

I enrolled, started, and pulled out again from the ANU. I’ve finally bitten the bullet, and decided I’m not going to get through my final Japanese studies without spending some time there. I’ve applied for an eighteen-month deferment so I can do JET from August 2006, and be back roughly in time for semester two, 2007. I’m disappointed, I made a good run of it for the first four or five weeks, and that segues neatly into my next topic:

I had a four-week bout of depression. I basically only left the house every couple of days to buy more food, and when ActewAGL called me up to come in and do the handover. This was two weeks of uni, and then the two weeks of the lecture break, so a lot of lost work-time. Turns out that I’d neatly finished the TransACT pre-approved work, although I didn’t discover this until three weeks in. I’m seeing the ANU Counselling Centre, which has been helping, as well as making what changes I can myself, including divesting responsibilities. I knew I had too many responsibilities, and it was highlighted by how good I felt when I went to Melbourne and put everything else on hold for the weekend I was there, during these four weeks.

I went to Melbourne for a weekend, to visit friends — Anna and Naoko. Phil and Emma were unfortunately out of town at Phil’s mother’s wedding (Congrats to her) — as well as visit my sister and see her in the MedRevue. It was really really really funny. I laughed so hard. ^_^
I had a good time in Melbourne, it was nice to be out and about without any particular responsibilities. I saw Sin City — Yes, I went to Melbourne and went to the cinema, by myself — ate all kinds of bad for me but very tasty foods, and took mobile phone photos of the places I ate. I need to post them somewhere. I really think that weekend without commitments was a really helpful guide as to how I could break out of the depression cycle I’d gotten into. The only downsides of the weekend were the bus ride from the train station at Cootamunda to Canberra (I enjoyed the train ride from Melbourne to Cootamundra, mind you, prolly more than I enjoy even flying) and the fact that I was out of town for the convention.

Despite my best efforts to avoid responsibility in the conventions, after my poor performance as Events Co-ordinator for, I became Sponsorship and Vendors Co-ordinator for, although I was going to be out of town on the day. I did a pretty pitiful job of that, and probably will go down as the only Sponsorship Co-ordinator who ever managed to get nothing out of Madman for an anime convention. The convention itself went quite well, by all reports, and I’m currently Events Co-ordinator (“in charge”) of, in November (No one noticed this discrepancy for about a month. I originally coined the moniker because we were not sure if we were going to be November or December, kept it because it has a nice seasonal sound to it, and overlooked the fact that November is actually in Spring.) This convention’s been a lot better organised, in large part because we’ve given ourselves a month longer to prepare, and because we’ve picked up a couple of enthusiastic people to look after promotions, volunteers and the website, which were noticably absent from until the week before it was actually happening. Hmm. Now I think about it, the first day I skipped any classes at the start of my depression was the day I met with the just-mentioned enthusiastic people to bring them up to speed on what they’d let themselves in for… Prolly a co-incidence. The meeting was after my skipped class after all. These same people look like stepping up to doing stuff on the ANUAS exec at this year’s AGM, too.

The ANUAS has of course been running along like the large locomotive of anime viewing that it is. I’ve managed to not derail it with a stance of “do as little as possible” which really should have been my presidential election platform. One new thing I’ve introduced is “Saturday Afternoon Drama”, where we hold a marathon screening of a live-action series, one series a month. So far we (and by we I mean I) did Great Teach Onizuka in September (with the movie and OV on October 1st due to a scheduling error on my part) and will be running Gokusen over October 8th and 22nd. I do wish I’d thought of this six months ago, but I was actually inspired during and by the preperation process. The ANUAS AGM was supposed to be tomorrow, but I have been browbeaten into moving it back to the 21st, largely because I completely forgot to check with anyone before calling it. In fact, that’s pretty much the entire root cause of the move. Once the ANUAS AGM is out of the way, I suspect my only official ANUAS executive position will be Video Ad Creator.

I’ve spent a little bit of time knock up video ads, two for and one for the GTO live action screenings. All done on Linux, with command line tools and The Gimp, except the picture-editing for the first “Recruit” video which was done using irfanview. The hardest part was getting them Internet-distributable, which meant finding either Creative-Commons non-NC or Gnu GFDL licensed-content (and you can’t mix these two!), although I fudged the music on the first version of the second ad, because it just seemed to fit the pictures so scarily well. Kinda like the whole “Dark Side Of The Moon is a co-incidental soundtrack to The Wizard Of Oz” thing. The GTO one on the other hand was done just out of Google images one night, so I haven’t put it up on the web for download. My current project involves teaching myself Blender3D, so I can produce a cooler ad. I’ve always wanted to get into 3D programming, and I finally completed the first step (putting Debian onto a 3d-enabled machine of decent speed).

I’m now running Debian when I can on my desktop box. The only things I use windows for now are Quickbooks (I’ve gotta get Quickbooks going in wine, I just haven’t bothered yet) and video games. I’ve got the machine using libpam-mount (with a couple of patches which I submitted to the Debian BTS) to mount directories from Keitarou. I migrated my email from Outlook onto my fileserver with IMAP, and now use mutt-ng for all my email, which is a big improvement. This also means I revoked my old @Pobox.Com PGP key and added the email address to my newer GPG key. I can sync my phone against Evolution, although I never fire up Evolution, and I can print using CUPs happily to my HP LaserJet 1200. The only other thing I can’t do on my desktop machine from Linux is wireless multiboot my Nintendo DS, and I’m working on that.

I decided it was time to spend some money, and I was intrigued by a talk at linux.conf.05 about GameBoy Advance programming, and had heard about recent developments letting people launch homebrew software wirelessly on the new Nintendo DS. So I gave in, and bought one. I played Mario64DS for a bit, and bought Another Code while in Melbourne, all the while getting involved in the DS Homebrew community. I played with my Prism54 wireless cards to get wireless multiboot going, and could get the DS to see my machine, but not boot from it. Eventually I got a hold of the rt2500-based card neccessary to use the only existing publically available wireless multiboot software (includes a custom driver for Windows) and found I could get further in the process, but not by much. I had some spare credit at Lik-Sang, so I got a GBA Movie Player v2, and with a bit of futzing about (which I’ll document here later) I can now load a homebrew rom onto the CF card I borrowed from Shane and the DS will run it. ^_^ So time to start actually programming again. I’ve still gotta get some more work done on the WMB process, but I’m waiting on driver developments in the Linux rt2x00 driver project, since right now they can’t transmit packets, at least in monitor mode, but progress is ongoing. I’ve been documenting the WMB stuff in my wiki.

One of the things that made this blog go quiet was the addition of a wiki to my site. Semi-static stuff (like the SOAP stuff below) is now going in the wiki, and I plan to migrate all the stuff from into the wiki. It’s just such a good platform for publishing stuff categorised, without having to code the HTML. I’m now over HTML coding the same way I’m over compiling my OS from scratch — I did this in 1998, before I’d discovered Gentoo or Debian and got as far as upgrading to the latest libc, gcc and whatever else was in the base Slackware ’96 install, when I discovered Debian, found a use for having a linux machine, and wiped it out in an afternoon in 2000.

Now that I’m back updating the blog, I’m going to have to see if I can make time to update all the old old old The Other Day’s Mew entries. (Mew’s got a new calendar coming, which I need someone to batch into an AmazonJP order for me at some point…) I was actually loading the Japanese text into my blog, but not publishing it because I was having trouble with the translations. This obviously is not a winning strategy. ^_^ Now I think about it, the other challenge to The Other Day’s Mew was I was updating from ActewAGL, where I didn’t have a dictionary handy, nor Japanese input support to use an online dictionary, and then they changed their firewall to block sites with ‘blog’ in the domain.

Which brings me full circle in this long rambling story. ^_^

安座間美優 2006年度 カレンダー


In the old days, soap was what went into your mouth when bad words came out…

instead, SOAP (or at least SOAP::Lite, which is a Perl implementation of it) seems to have gone in and caused bad words to come out.

This all started because I wanted a programmatic web interface for BU’s database, rather than either knocking up PHP pages with mySQL commands, or giving people other than myself mySQL access (or exploring the horrors of SQL stored procedures!!). Having encountered both SOAP and XML-RPC during my travels at TransACT (they use SOAP for some things internally, but XML-RPC for the ISP policy-control interface. I think they’ve got distinct groups of programmers with similar ideas, but no way of talking to each other… This would explain a lot about the projects I end up doing — or more to the point not doing — for TransACT. ^_^) I decided I’d go with some kind of RPC interface where I could knock the back-end up in Perl, and the front end could be PHP or whatever the reseller wanted. I have some vision of a customer control applet regular customers could use at home, but I think that’s asking a little too much.

Anyway, after due and careful consideration of my database structure, it seemed obvious that an object encapsulation would be a good idea. So SOAP won out over XML-RPC. As far as interface goes, SOAP::Lite implements XML-RPC too. So this wasn’t a consideration. Sure enough, I’m hacking away, rereading my recent Perl-based object-oriented adventures in module creation (the aforementioned policy thingy) and rather quickly manage to produce a getCustomer() function in the BU module which returns a BU::Customer object. I happily assume that since SOAP is supposed to pass objects around, I’ll be able to call the functions of this new and wonderful object, and have the code on the server-side execute.

This of course does not happen. (Why “of course”? If it did happen, this post would be titled ‘The wonder and glory of SOAP’ or something. And have been done about 36 hours earlier. >_<)

Instead, I get an object back with no routines. “Ah!” I hear you cry. “A perl method call is simply a call to the function in the module for which the class was blessed, with the object itself as the first parameter!” (Others amongst you may cry “That’s not really object-oriented, it’s object-like!”. It’s a fair point, but somewhat irrelevant. I use perl because I think programmers don’t use enough punctuation, not because of any particular programming language construction leanings. I own the Eiffel book, but never read it. ^_^)

Now that that crying has died down, I did indeed try that. However, the SOAP::Lite instance I was using had ‘/BU’ at the end of its URI (which is now called a namespace, apparently) so it tried to call the non-existant function in the BU module. So I instantiated a new SOAP::Lite instance, looking at ‘/BU/Customer’. That didn’t work either, at which I point I realised this was excessive mucking about for what I wanted, and spent a day or two writing a procedural version instead.

I ended up with something like the following:

package BU;
# "field => value" is repeatable infinitely. Unknown fields will be silently
# dropped, if there's not enough to go on, we will abort before any database
# changes are made.
# Only admins may specify a different customer ID to their own
sub GetCustomer(optional CustomerID);
# Only admins may specify a different customer ID to their own
sub EditCustomer(optional CustomerID, field => value, field => value);
# Only admins may use this at all
sub NewCustomer(field => value, field => value);
# Only admins may specify a different customer ID to their own
sub GetAccountList(optional CustomerID);
# Only admins may specificy an account not owned by them.
sub GetAccount(AccountID);
# Only admins may specificy an account not owned by them.
sub EditCustomer(AccountID, field => value, field => value);
# Only admins may specify a different customer ID to their own
sub NewAccount(field => value, field => value);
# Only admins may specificy an account not owned by them.
sub GetLoginList(AccountID);
# Only admins may specificy a login not owned by them.
sub GetLogin(LoginID);
# Only admins may specificy a login not owned by them.
sub EditLogin(LoginID, field => value, field => value);
# Only admins may specificy an account not owned by them.
sub NewLogin(field => value, field => value);

on the plus side, it’s done.

Now I have to go learn perldoc, but that’s probably not as hard as I suspect it is. ^_^

Edit: I’m not sure what’s wrong with my linebreaks, but they’re being ignored. Also, the <code> element produces its own block, so I can’t use it inline. I may remove them from the paragraphs in future, in case that fixes the line breaks.

Edit 2: Looks like a wordpress upgrade or my screwing around with modules means I no longer get automatic <p> tags in my text. So I have to add them by hand. And <code> puts <pre/> around its contents, so I have replaced it with <em> inline. >_< Also, the layout here gets boned by the <pre/> and so my right-hand menu gets pushed down to the bottom.

Edit 3: Geshi’s breaking blank lines as </p><p> which would be OK if the code was in a <p/> rather than a <div/>…


Weekend, where art thou?

Wow, what a wild weekend, and yet I did so little.

Slept in Saturday, played with the IPSec stuff more. I got that working nicely, except the wireless card with my laptop seems to have awful signal levels. And the Windows 2000 machine crashes the IPSec IKE daemon (pluto) when it connects. I’ve posted that to upstream with lots of logs and things, and spent large chunks of last night trying a CVS version to see if it helped.

Back to the chronology. Saturday night was at a friends’ place for DVDs and booze. We were joined by a widow-for-a-night from a poker game run by another friend of mine. Those guys also had booze.

And back in the chronology, we had an meeting on Saturday afternoon. It looks like the Sunday event’s going to happen, and we finally have a date, and should be promoting the heck out of it any time now. ^_^

Skip forward again to Sunday, and I… played with IPSec stuff more. I also had a burl and discovered that Master Of Orion 3 works quite well with Wine, except for the sound.

I also switched World Of Warcraft over to Gamecard billing, but I’ve paid for a month from March 4th to April 4th, so I guess I have to have a burl at some point… Otherwise I’ve played a week out of two months paid for. >_<

Also managed to miss both Learning Languages on Monday, and Japanese Lexicon (right now. -_-;;;)

And I’ve got an assignment due Friday and an assignment due Monday. >_< >_<


A lesson in love comes from a surprising quater

I was awoken this morning by my mobile at the ungodly hour of 7:50am. It seems the changes I made last night caused BU to cease to work. Which is weird since I made the change at 1am, and the traffic graphs indicate it was all working fine until 6am. Maybe a daily cron-job decided to rearrange things for me? Either way, it took under a half-hour to fix, another two hours of mucking about with the network to see where we stood on the issue, at which point I decided that rather than go to work and have a late lunch, I’d have an early lunch and spend a long afternoon at work before cruising on to ANUAS.

I don’t remember what happened at this point, but I think it involved more mucking about with BU stuff and similar. Or I might have played with the L2TP stuff.

Either way, I agreed to be available at about 4pm, so I figured at this point I’d kick back, watch The Jerry Springer Show, and chat to people on IRC and IM. I was also playing with the L2TP stuff during this, but it was largely kernel compiling so it was “type command, wait an hour” type work. Being on IRC reminded me of my occasional project to create a PGSM Music Video. In order to do this, I obviously need to have seen the whole series. Hence I decided to finall watch my PGSM Special Act DVD.

(The lesson learnt is inside the spoiler tag. I’m sorry, but it’s the final scene of the whole show. I’m also gonna talk about the story of Hitch. Yes, I saw Hitch last night. It’s good. ^_^)

Wow. Absolutely no Beryl (which shot my plan for Beryl + Jaedite set to Elephant Love Medley onto the backburner) and in fact a surprisingly small amount of senshi action. Largely due to their inability to transform for the entire sequence. I really must rewatch Final Act, and possibly Act.48 as well, and/or get around to watching the latter part of the series with subtitles, rather than waiting for the MGC to get up to it at the end of the year.

I was very pleased to see that Motoki got Mew Makoto in the end, after what I think was four years of persistence in the face of almost complete indifference. I guess the lesson learnt was that persistence and patience pays, both in a general sense, and specifically in my designs upon the person of one Azama Mew. I watched Hitch last night, which taught me that someone, somewhere, will find your personal foilbles endearing. I’m combining these thoughts into the idea that if I keep hoping, worshipping and stalking Mew, she’ll find my personal foibles adorable. ^_^

Oh, and for some reason the image of a pregnant Sawai Miyuu made me laugh. It just seems so implausible. I think I have trouble picturing any thin Japanese woman pregnant. (That’s thin by my standards. It includes almost every Japanese woman I’ve met. Maybe small is a better word than thin?)

It was nice to see that Ami had moved on to a nice American university, populated by a German doctor who tries to steal her credit, an Australian doctor who sees her running desperately down the corridor and points out that the operating theatre is in fact in the other direction, like he (or in fact anyone) sees running Japanese women in hospital corridors all the time, and another person who doesn’t speak, and may or may not have been American.

I suspect Japanese television shows populate their gaijin quotas by randomly pulling gaijin off the street, dressing them up, and slowing their English until it’s identifiable without being understandable. Certainly Ami’s response to the Australian (“But Japan is this way”) took two watchings to understand, and I probably wouldn’t have worked it out except for it being the obvious comedic response, and the helpful Japanese subtitle. The only American accent you get to hear in PGSM is Mamoru’s English friend. Yes, that’s right. The one non-American gaijin in the show, and he has an American accent. ^_^

It also looked to me like the American diet had affected Ami, she no longer looked like she blow away in a strong wind. Given how Hama Chisaki’s diary entries during PGSM filming usually centered around the enormous amounts and varieties of foods she’d eaten, I dread to think what she’d eaten to actually look like she’d gained weight. Or maybe puberty finally caught her up?)

Makoto was stunning as always. Just in case I didn’t make that clear above. I also liked her in reading glasses. And the green dress with choker. I thought the top with the one button was a bit weird looking, but I can forgive it for two reasons: anything which gives one-button access to a naked Mew is a good thing; and even with the button done up, any kind of movement showed off alternatively a bra strap, and a wonderful expanse of upper right torso and shoulder.

I also cracked up when the Shitenou showed up at the wedding, and no one seemed to bat an eyelid. Maybe only Mamoru could see them (like in the manga), or maybe everyone just happened to be facing the wrong way (like in most of PGSM. ^_^)

And possibly a lot of trouble could have been avoided all around if someone had pointed Mio at an English->Japanese dictionary with the definition of “Dark” in it. A brightly lit throne room and clowns certainly don’t appear there, Beryl’s dark brooding-room, the grey and black-decorated piano room, and the Nazguul (I don’t think they were ever distinguished from the other youma, but I’ve taken the liberty to do so. You know which ones I mean. Act.31 onwards. ^_^) certainly fit the idea of “Dark Kingdom”. Mio’s was more like “Completely-psycho-whacked-out-princess kingdom”. Kinda Queen Nephelia’s kingdom, at least what little we saw of it at the beginning of Sailor Stars.

Of course, this still doesn’t explain who Mio is. Maybe it was explained in the series somewhere, and I missed it (very possible), but I figure she’s the reincarnation of Beryl (as Usagi and the other are reincarnations of Queen Serenity et. al) which only slightly complicates matters as Beryl’s not actually died yet. (Or maybe she did at the end of Final Act? I don’t see how though, Jaedite survived. I like to think Jaedite’s working hard in his off time (which covers the missing four years, and most of Special Act) and has set up some kind of love nest in an inexpensive studio apartment, while Beryl tries to find some kind of job suitable for her outstanding talents. Then again, I like to think Nephrite’s running Crown Karaoke while Motoki’s spending all day wandering around Makoto’s florist, waiting for Ami to return from America. On the other hand, this would preclude Jaedite working at Crown, since the only way Jaedite and Nephrite could work together is with a strong personality to manage them. And while Motoki is many things (engaged to Makoto, for a start) a strong personality he is not. I’m glad Nephrite didn’t kill him during the TV series. (Although then Mew Makoto would have been free still. But that’s TV, not reality.) Still, I hope Jaedite has found a nice steady job, and Beryl recognises a good thing when it throws itself at her. Certainly, he seemed in a good mood in Special Act, so I like to think they found happiness together. (And that she kept that purple dress. I could find happiness with someone who can wear that well. ^_^) What can I say, I’m an incurable romantic at heart. Since I see nothing romantic happening for Kunzite or Zoicite. Kunzite and Minako could certainly have formed a good friendship, having suffered as first warrior under a leader (or two in Kunzite’s case) who let love cloud their judgement. If it went further than that, it would be a… torrid affair to say the least. And I’m sad to say that I think Kunzite’s gay, and has it for Endymion. And he is never going to be more than a third wheel there. Maybe he can appear on Queer Eye for the Senshi or something. Oh crap, I just inspired myself to writea fanfic. (Not Queer Eye. The rest of this paranthetical diversion.)) It would explain the weird connection thing they had which caused everyone to believe (or at least everyone on IRC I was talking to) that Mio was some kind of clone of Beryl, or a construction Beryl was using. I think my theory’s better.

If you want to make sense of that last paragraph, highlight everything between matching parenthesis and ignore it. Then read the bit in parenthesis. Repeat this process until things make sense. Congratulations, you’ve just had a glance into the thought process of a TBBle. In fact, the TBBle. ^_^

And no, Usagi doesn’t get pregnant, but I think she manages to mention babies in one of the very early scenes. it was certainly nice to see that four years and engagement managed to completely not change Usagi at all.

Rei was way underutilised in Special Act. I suspect Keiko’s modelling career may have been at a particularly high point at that time, while Mew seems to be in the lull between modelling and idoldom at the same time. I hope Mew makes the transition well, and I also hope Keiko does. Her minimal work in Special Act against showed hints of acting talent which were mocked by detractors (“I… Am…. Rei…”) back at the beginning of PGSM, but which will hopefully stand her in good stead in an acting career in J-Dramas; while I expect Mew may have more of a career as an actor and idol lined up, with her strong singing/dancing skills and demonstrated acting skills (by all reports Mew is very different from Makoto in personality, which is not surprising due to something I term tall-girl syndrome, which due to Japanese social training means tall Japanese girls (the ones I tend to refer to as stunning ^_^) become somewhat quiet/introverted during schooling in order to achieve certain aspects of femininity (Makoto’s solution was not to be quiet, but to be good at cooking, sewing and other feminine arts. Sakai-san from Azumanga Daioh went the path of introversion and a strong obsession with the small and cute. Both she and Makoto had “florist” on their list of career choices.) I can’t say if this is a good thing or not. But it’s an interesting phenomenon to observce both in popular culture and personal interactions.) Anyway, I look forward to seeing more of Kitagawa Keiko acting in the near future, and more of Azama Mew in my arms in the near future. (Hey, if I’m in a relationship, and have a celebrity clause, she’d be it. ^_^)

For reference, the current AMV plan is the Shitenou set to “Knights Of The Round Table” from Monty Python and The Holy Grail. It has the huge advantage of being only a minute long. ^_^

Anyway, Special Act was a surprising DVD, in that there was no omake, and the menu only appears at the end, which has the choice of Whole Movie, or one of six chapters.

As far as the story goes, I enjoyed it as far as I understood it.

Then I got ahold of the guy I needed to talk to to get the rest of the BU changeover done, and we worked through and identified the last of the remaining issues, and he went off to work on them.

At this point I was getting hungry for lunch (being about 6pm) when Shane walks in and says “If you want barbecue for dinner, you’d better go get some stuff, Julia and Bek are coming around in five minutes.” Needless to say, (but I’m going to) I did. Sometime over an hour later, Sean, Julia and Rabekah arrived. We barbecued, watched some of the Canturbury VS St. George NRL game, and Shane went to bed and the others retired to Sean’s house (across the road) once more leaving me on my lonesome. >_&lt. This I think may point the sorry state of my social affairs when I’m disappointed when people stop watching a rugby league game and leave. I consoled myself with the best of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, and a repeat of The Glass House from Wednesday (Still funny the second time around), and by harassing Julia over MSN when I could. I also at chocolate cookies. ^_^;;;

Those of you playing along at home may have observed that the above overlapped the ANUAS screening. Which is correct. Kaz had the membership stuff, so my presence wasn’t neccessary, and I was debating whether to drop in at the end when Shane arrived and triggered the above.

I tried a Cruise Juicy tonight, and it was OK, but too juicy for my taste ie. too much like overstrong cordial. They’re also only one standard drink per, which makes them weaker than a standard cruiser.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to plug Television Without Pity as an amusing website of episode recaps for various TV series. The only one they’re tracking that I’m watching (largely because the number of TV series I’m watching is down to Battlestar Galactica, The Glass House (these two class on Wednesday night), Little Britain, and Rosemary and Thyme) is Battlestar Galactica. And I’m enjoying it. ^_^

Here’s PGSM Special Act. I got this with the 7-DVD box, which now holds PGSM Vol.1 through Vol.7. The second box comes with PGSM Act.Zero, shipping end of March. (Also below. ^_^)

美少女戦士セーラームーン Special Act.美少女戦士セーラームーン Act.ZERO

Yay Mew!


Beware semantics lecturers, they know what you mean

It seems my misgivings were somewhat misplaced as far as Prof. Anna’s artice on “Happy”. Once the Semantics class got to that point of the lecture, our lecturer immediately observed that there is a clear difference between “Happy” and “Happy with X”, which was a point I thought was completely ignored in the article. (See yesterday’s Linguistics post.)

The ensuing discussion, and the 45-minute conversation with my lecturer (it would have gone much harder if a dear friend of mine hadn’t already made me consider the nature of happiness and my relationship to it) highlighted that semantics is _hard_, and emotions is a hard facet of semantics. A psychologist is sadly not much help with this, as their approach to emotion generally involves trying to remove the language component and get at the thoughts, which semantics as we’re studying it teaches that language and emotion are terribly intertwined. And this was highlighted in the ensuing discussion of facial expressions, and the difference between Anglo and Chinese expressions thereof. (Interestingly, the issue isn’t a difference of meaning, but a difference in description. A Chinese person will describe someone’s facial expression by the parts that make it up, while an Anglo person will describe it by the emotion it represents. I also got to show the lecturer horizontal smilies eg. ^_^)

Anyway, the definition of “happiness” my classmates came up with (or rather, “happy” as it relates to “happiness” rather than as it relates to “satisfaction”) was something like: (Look, NSM in a blog! -_-)

Something good happened
Because of this, I feel something good
I don’t want anything more/else

OK, it’s not NSM, but the idea’s clear.

On the other hand, my own interpretation of “happiness” is something like

I want some things
I have (achieved) some of these things
I am trying to (have/achieve) others of these things
I am able to (have/achieve) all of these things
Becaue of this, I feel something good.

It was an interesting discussion with my lecturer. A point I made was that I manage my own happiness by maintaining the list of things I want seperately from the things I’d like. When I realised that Computer Science (B.SEng) wasn’t making me happy, I evaluated my wants, discovered that a second language, and academia, had crept up my list, and was unhappy until I changed into my current degree, and discovered linguistics. ^_^

Happiness isn’t something you aim for, it’s the journey you take to get there.

(Emotional enough? You know who you are. ^_^)

Oh, and I’ve started a wiki for information storage. (As opposed to this. If I do any _good_ explications in NSM for example, that’ll go there.) The only thing there is the start of the documentation of my wireless setup, but I’m sure it’ll grow. The WinNY stuff will appear there, as will… I dunno, whatever else shows up. Translations maybe.


My how things change

Today in Learning Languages, we watched a video demonstrating the “Communicative” method of teaching English. It was focussed on making the students talk in English, under a particular situation, in order to acquire a particular function and structure in the relevant social context. It is characterised by having the students freely produce English, and with an almost complete lack of correction (barring recasting of mistakes). The theory behind it is that language can be acquired by practice at a level slightly above the learner’s current level, based on the ideas of “Communicative Competence”

This was a marked difference from last week’s, where we saw the “Audio Lingual Method” which is focussed on demonstrating and memorising a pattern. This method involved the class memorising and performing a set of lines, with a little bit of work with substitutions into the pattern. Any mistakes are immediately and directly corrected. This method is based on the Behavioralist idea that language is simply a set of habits which must be learnt.

Due to the hetrogenous nature of the class, the native language of the speakers is not given much of a chance to interact with the learning process, which is a shame as both methods provide different approachs to the inclusion of native language in second language learning and acquisition.

Coincidentally, on Monday afternoon driving home from the same class, I overheard a discussion in federal parliament (House of Representatives) on language, and from the hansard transcript, I got the following quote: (Pages 46-51 of the PDF, 30-35 nominally, this quote was page 51/35)

The argument is clearly that the best acquisition of English occurs when you teach as long as you possibly can in the first language. The literature is complete — it is irrefutable — in that the longer you teach in their first language, the better the acquisition of English is going to be.

(The debate was ajourned until today, but today’s hansard isn’t up yet.)

This is interesting, as it goes against all the theories of language learning we’ve considered so far. Admittedly, we’re only up to the 1970’s, so maybe we’re building up to that point? I’ll have to remember to ask Louise about it next week.

On the other hand, there’s Semantics. I finallly did one of the readings, which was a piece by Professor Anna about “happiness” and “happy” in cross-cultural context. As I usually seem to find in Prof. Anna’s articles, it was mainly a criticism of preceeding work (I’ve no problem with that per se.) along with what I feel was a fairly flimsy justification for an argument that “happy” in English is untranslatable to other languages, and is somehow disconnected from “happiness”. The evidence comes from the fact that English, unlike other European languages, allows constructs such as “Are you happy with the decorations” which has little or no effect on one’s situation of “happiness”. This however highlights one of the issues I seem to come across a lot in semantics, which is the conflation of a word with a concept. In this case, “happy” w/out object and “happy” with a (possibly assumed) object (happy with/about OBJ) are different, and have different cultural scripts. The intransitive “happy” does to my mind tie directly to happiness. “Are you happy?” can hardly be said to have nothing to do with happiness, although the answering of it is often broken down into a categorised consideration of the various aspects of one’s life, which then brings in the transitive “happy”. The transitive “happy” can be seen as closer to “satisfied”, and as Prof. Anna observes, does not have the “I cannot want anything more” effect that “happiness” does. Even so, I’m not convinced that happiness in English has this facet, either.

So in short, the article’s main thrust (Proving English-speakers are happier by asking people if they are happy is flawed beyond doubt) is reasonably argued, but the NSM-ised details for me fall very short of convincing.

I’ll put this to my Semantics lecturer tomorrow. It should be an interesting lecture.

I’m finally starting to read the Semantics textbook, hopefully that will hang together better than some of the bits I’ve read so far. (Well, everything else was done in Cross-Cultural Communications a few years ago, so my memory is somewhat coloured by the negative feelings I associate with that class. >_<)

(I also got the IPSec stuff working with OpenSwan and RSA keys, but not x.509. I moved to isakmpd, but haven’t gotten that working with x.509 either. I haven’t tried it with RSA yet though. I might go back to OpenSwan, I found that easier to work with.)

I was gonna talk about tonight’s MGC screening, but it’s 2am and I need sleep. ^_^


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