Irrepressibility in the face of popularity, pixies and other illnesses

I’m home sick today, so of course it seemed like a good idea to update my blog…

After adding that new banner to the sidebar it occurred to me that I should active the neat Sidebar Widgets feature… Of course, this required me to either give up my non-standard sidebars, or widgetise them…

Firstly I modified the Top 10 posts plugin (original version) to have a widget mode for the sidebar, and also to do everything in a plugins_loaded hook, since it may load before the widget support plugin itself.

I then knocked up a quick widget, based on the Google Search widget that comes with the plugin, which produces random chunks of censored material from These widget things are quite easy. ^_^

I also quickly knocked up a Weatherpixie widget for the Weatherpixie, although I didn’t go as far as to offer a drop-down for the troopers or countries. This way people still go visit the pixie-chooser page, where the author’s Google Ads are. I don’t feel bad this way, given I emailed the author a few months ago about this, and didn’t get any reply.

I did all my uploading/editing in lftp, but I intend to set up an FTP mount of some kind on my machine, now that I’m trying to avoid sshing into the webhosting box. I’m also looking into chroot’d sshd or sftp, but the quick answer so far is “hard”.

I started doing this post in the Performancing Toolbar for firefox, but after two paragraphs I decided I much preferred the normal WordPress interface. I’ll be uninstalling Performancing pretty soon.

I’ll stick and updates or other WordPress stuff in until such time as I can be assed putting them into version control, and fixing the bzr browser on


CeBIT: Keynotes

Keynotes today from Telstra Enterprise and Government, Disney Internet Group and three parts of the Music-on-your-mobile supply chain (Optus, Sony BMG and Motorola). Telstra E&G’s moving their backend to a single converged IP backend, and also positioning themselves as Solution Providers. Which is of course annoying, because that’s where I’m trying to take CBIT…

Disney’s presentation in particular got me thinking about where I want to be. Their Toontown and upcoming Pirates Of The Carribena MMORPGs, along with all the cool stuff they’re doing on Japanese mobiles are very very cool. And of course, I want to be part of something very very cool. I’m sure my chance will come, but I still sometimes wish I wasn’t spending half my week slaving over a hot server, and the other half… I dunno… Doing stuff that comes up. I do still want to go into games programming, but at the same time, what I hear about the industry scares me off often. And I’m starting to get older than I’m comfortable being for my position in life. *sigh*

I came back to Sean and Julia’s place (where I’m staying in Sydney) and Julia immediately echoed my sentiments about how I should be out there doing cool stuff. I explained to her that I’m both comitted to CBIT now, and also that hopefully CBIT will develop nice and quickly into a platform from which I can do the cool stuff. But even as I type that, I’m not sure it’s the best answer. I guess my real fear (and it always has been) is the fear of squandered potential.

Chief amongst those worries is that people I trust to speak directly to me (including Julia and my Dad) are telling me that I should be doing more than I am… Then I start worrying that I’m letting my sense of loyalty and hatred of disappointing people keep me at CBIT when I am currently doing a job for which I am, although skilled, not brilliant. I’m also somewhat less than shining at the other things I have to concern myself with at CBIT (finding new clients, bookkeeping for the ISP part, etc).

Maybe I should focus on getting other staff trained up into my jobs, so I can move on? Admittedly, that’s already supposed to be part of my focus. I guess I’ll see how that part goes first, and see where I am from there. Maybe one of my projects will come good at the right moment, and I can retire to the bahamas. ^_^

On the other hand, if CBIT goes where I hope it does, then I’ll be jet-setting around the world providing my highly-demanded services to clients for fabulous amounts of money by the time I’m 30. Kind of what I hoped would happen with Bubblesworth, were I not so incompetent a businessman…

And on top of that, I wish I was doing something cool in Open Source. I was looking at a Linux-based NAS today (along with various pieces of long-haul wireless equipment, including 802.16 WiMAX, proprietry and meshing) and thinking “Why am I a consumer of this? Why aren’t I producing these?” I guess it’s not really Open Source, but unless Canonical hires me, the only people I know of paying for Open Source development on a non-bounty basis is CyberSource, and they’re a Red Hat shop. -_-

CeBIT: Prologue

Yup, that’s right. I’m in beautiful Sydney for CeBIT. The joys of trains mean that not only am I out of the office for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but also Monday and most of Friday.

At this rate, all my holiday leave will be spent on trade shows and suchlike. The first three months at CBIT, I spent a week at LCA2006. This quarter, a week out for CeBIT. (Well, actually, that’s the Feb-Mar-April quater’s week). So now I’m looking for a tradeshow or other event that’s both local, cheap and in the next three months… Then again, Clare’s MedRevue is coming up, so I’ll need to save a day or two for that.

Anyway, CeBIT. Having just spent an evening on dial-up Internet planning my schedule, here’s how it looks:


10:15 – 10:55
Hall 6: Telstra
11:05 – 11:50
Hall 6: Disney
12:00 – 12:50
Hall 6: Music
13:00 – 13:45
Hall 6: LG – Mobility/Convergence
2 pm
Stand P1, Hall 4: Digital Broadcasting
3 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: The realities of Fibre to the Home
4 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: Digital Media and Convergence
5 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: Utilities and Broadband Power Line


Stand J1, Front of Hall 3: Future parc launch
Stand P1, Hall 4: IT Services
12 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: Next Generation Networks, IP and VoIP
Stand P1, Hall 4: Open Source 1
Stand P1, Hall 4: Venture Capital
3 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: Fixed wireless broadband developments
4 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: $3 billion for Regional Telecoms
5 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: Mobile voice still the killer application


10:30 – 10:45
Stand J1, Front of Hall 3: Ontologies and topic maps for smart information use
Hall 3: CompTIA
13:00 – 13:15
Stand J1, Front of Hall 3: Disaster prediction, response and recovery
13:30 – 13:45
Stand J1, Front of Hall 3: Health data integration
Hall 3: CompTIA
Stand P1, Hall 4: Open Source 2
12 pm
Stand D50 – Hall 2: The battle between 3G HSDPA and WiMAX
4.00pm to 5.00pm
Stand J50, Rear of Hall 3: The BlackBerry Advantage for Small & Medium Businesses

In summary: All of the keynotes, all of the open-source stuff I can manage, and what time’s left for Internet and Blackberry stuff. I think I’ll have a short period to wander around the stands too, visit the Linux Australia guys.

I’m also meeting a vendor down here, with luck, so I’m feeling all well-travelled-businessmany today. ^_^

The disadvantage of being in Sydney is I’m on dialup, and also a few hundred kilometres away, so logging in to the office Terminal Server for email is a painfully slow experience.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll find an Internet cafe in the city where I can plug my laptop in and get some work done. ^_^

Sin, Certs and Wans; or Sun Tzu VS Bikinis

I pre-ordered Sin Episode 1: Emergence on the weekend. It was cheap (AU$23 or so) and included a Steam version of the original Sin. This is partly my fault, I was hoping for a steamy version of Original Sin… (Sorry if you were hoping for a different original sin joke. ^_^)

I actually own Sin, but I don’t know where the CD is. The original box is still on my shelf. So I’m taking the opportunity to actually finish the game, since the new one is set four years later. And it’s still as I remember, one of the best-fun first-person shooters I’ve played… Dragged me right away from Half-Life and its expansion packs. (Although I’m finished Half-Life and Blue Shift now, and I think I’m close to the end of Opposing Force)

A recent topic on Slashdot about The changing value of certifications. Beyond the somewhat inaccurate summarising of the arcticle on Slashdot (certifications still attract a pay premium, they don’t actively hurt your career) I think a rather important oversight was made in much of the discussion (ie. that bit which survived my threshhold) — and maybe this was covered in the original research, I didn’t bother trying to track down the report mentioned in the article — that for some jobs a certification doesn’t attract a premium, because it’s a neccessity.

Certainly the terms of employment at CBIT require that I hold a certification of some kind within six months of joining. It originally specified MCSE, but they happily let me substitute my LPIC-1. I since discovered that my Windows NT4 MCSE is still valid, so I’m putting the MCSE upgrade on hold to get my CCNA done.

Then a lot of the posters proceeded to confuse certification with qualifications. Having both, I’m amazed that this happens. On the other hand, the people generating this confusion were usually on the “I didn’t need stuffy boring university or a do-in-my-sleep MCSD, I just walked in and told them how I’ve been running Windows since I was six and they hired me” side of the debate.

I’m going to get condescending here. I’ll let you know when it’s over. I really think these attitudes go hand in hand, and are usually closely followed by “Why won’t <large company> hire me as their CTO? I know as much as all these highly qualified lawyers and managers. They’ll fail now, and it’ll be all their fault for not hiring me,” and then later followed by “I’ve been working this same $30k/year first-level support role for ten years now, because management are too short sighted to realise that I was just too smart to waste three years on a degree.”Done with the condescending bit.

And sure, I myself have been guilty of this. I still am, frequently. I think most of us in IT do it to some extent. This is also how we end up with the armchair lawyers, armchair managers, armchair accountants and armchair linguists that pervade our community. (I pick those because I’ve done them all myself. Ranter, berate theyself. ^_^) It might be a symptom of the type of person who succeeds in IT (self-confident, multi-skilled and widely read/educated) as compared to those who fail (obstinant, unfocussed and arrogant).

So why certify? I do it partly because I love training and learning, and having something to show for it — Ignore that I waited five years to graduate my B.Sc — and partly because it makes financial sense. I like to read when I go to bed… It settles me down and clears my mind. However, a $20 novel will only last two or three days. My CCNA INTRO book has taken me over a month to get about half-way into… I think because it’s so dry, I can’t read more than a few minutes. Either way, good value for $50.

Flicking through Planet Linux Australia as I do when I forget how much time it sucks up… Between the sordid tales of a Power5 lying with a SunFire — Oh I wish I had a project to throw at them… Where’s my multi-threaded Sudoko solver? — I came across this gem of an idea for a Canberra-wide wireless mesh network. This is something I’d heartily endorse, and help with where I could… I’ll have to dig out my old Gungahlin-wireless-mesh plans…

A quick aside: Another Rich Web with PHP talk from Rasmus Lerdorf. The content aside, the template is sweet. The template aside, the content is fascinating.

Another quick aside: Digital cameras have their own digital signature. I’m not sure if this is even vaugely practical for any use, but here’s the original article‘s PDF. Someone in the discussion pointed me at a US Government scheme to convince colour laser printer manufacturers to encode printer identification data onto each page. It’s a scary world we live in.

Last aside… Two more links: One to make you cry: Even if the author is being facetious, someone somewhere belives this; and one to make you laugh: Every workplace should have a plan on its books for how to deal with Viking Raids.

But what of the bikinis, I hear you ask… Or would, were I narrating this out loud instead of in my head… And you cared about bikinis more than you care about Sun Tzu… OK. This is an IRC story. You’ve been warned.

On one of the IRC channels I hang out on, discussion turned to bikinis, and one of the channel regulars (Io) mentioned that she doesn’t wear bikinis.

Pseudo-aside: This is Io. I knocked up this image that same evening, as it happens. MSPaint’s so much easier to use than The Gimp… I did the whole image in the time it took me to give up the other day on finding a “Draw a square” button in The Gimp.

Anyway, it seemed sensible at this poit to consult with my new TzuBBot. TzuBBot being my Art-Of-War-based-advice-bot. Here’s the results.

03:00 < TBBle> TzuBBot: Any advice on the best way to get Io out of Brazil and into a bikini?
03:00 < TzuBBot> THE NINE SITUATIONS: 55. Hence he does not strive to ally himself with all and sundry, nor does he foster the power of other states. He carries out his own secret designs, keeping his antagonists in awe. Thus he is able to capture their cities and overthrow their kingdoms.
03:01 < TBBle> TzuBBot: Any advice on the best way to get Io out of a bikini and into my lap?
03:01 < TzuBBot> THE ARMY ON THE MARCH: 45. If a general shows confidence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual.

The TzuBBot gives useful advice so often, it’s scary…

Final note: My goodneess, but the move from Yurika to Dino has made this website soooo much snappier!