A week in Magic Kindergarten

Dear Princess Celestia,

CC: Anyone else reading my blog.

So I’m a week into my course now, more than one seventh of the way to magic Vietnamese fluency. Or something like that. Between work, classes, minimal homework, and an annoying head-cold, I’ve been pretty much flat out, which is lucky as I don’t have any other plans or commitments. (Or none I can’t procrastinate away, rather)

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The Time Traveller’s Afternoon

Is blogging about lacking Internet access like treating methodone withdrawl using heroin?

I’m writing this offline, as circumstances conspired with my lack of organisation to leave me needing an Internet connection to find out how to activate my 3G, and the WiFi signal to my room is insufficiently powerful.

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AmazonJP digs smart chicks like me

For reasons which I suspect are more due to the purchase of のだめカンタービレ 特典 のだめの鍵盤ポーチ付き than DS陰山メソッド 電脳反復 正しい漢字かきとりくん and 漢字そのまま DS楽引辞典, Amazon has emailed me to recommend this:

Now, my Japanese is not exactly spectacular, and rikaichan proved unhelpful as well, but this appears to be to be a 3-month exercise cartridge for women to increase their 女ヂカラ. As the joke goes, you fuck just one goat…

(Japanese is my best non-native language, too. My knowledge of Modern Standard Chinese currently extends only to 你有好乳房 “You have excellent breasts” and 你的妹妹有十六歲嗎 “Is your sister 16?”, although if pressed occasional other words, interspersed with Japanese and the occasional mumble will emerge. ^_^)

Now of course I need to go assert my masculinity by buying something like this:
(The infamous witch touching game)

Granted, I’d have bought this game whether Amazon was trying to make me buy girly things or not and I realise that my other purchases (Kakitorikun, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon DVDs, for example) may have given Amazon the impression that I was a female Japanese primary-school student, but seriously, who gives a credit card to an eight-year-old girl named Paul?

Of course, my last AmazonJP shipment went to a female friend who was in Japan, maybe they assume I’ve been pretending to be a foreigner all this time to avoid sales tax? (Which is the opposite of online games, where I usually claim to be from very very south Okinawa, on the grounds that they don’t actually ask what country you’re from, just which prefecture of Japan…. This isn’t a problem, both because I am roughly south of Okinawa, and because Japanese MMOs lost their appeal to me once I realised that the Japanese seem to produce nothing but grinding MMOs.)

On that topic, I was disappointed to see that the Romance Of The Three Kingdoms MMO, at least from the two gameplay videos posted on YouTube, looks like another grinder. A translation of a beta test announcement however suggests that some level of facitonality will enter into it. Shame, really. ROTK would have been an excellent setting for the MMO I’ve been dreaming of creating. And sadly, the link to Dynasty Warriors Wave on the Wii is still not actually a link, at the Koei site. They showed this at the Tokyo Games show in 2005. And after the wonder experience The Godfather turned out to be, I was so looking forward to uniting China under the kingdom of Wu with nought but a pair of chakrams, a Wiimote, and the sweat of my brow (and other body parts). I guess I’ll just have to grab Dynasty Warriors DS: Fighter’s Battle when it ships somewhere in English.

I just now finished watching Dexter, (Warning, Wikipedia article contains unmarked spoilers) which I enjoyed quite a lot. I have to say though, I’d have been frustrated to be watching it week by week. And the second half of the season involved me yelling at him a lot for being an idiot.

Oh, and I joined Mensa the other day. I’ve spent all week telling people I’m a card-carrying genius, which is a bit of an exaggeration, as I don’t know if I get a card (I’ve been too busy to check my post office box.)

Just to reinforce my genius status, I tonight completed all the character writing and drills for the grade 1 of Kakitorikun. That’s 80 kanji, and technically I’ve got an academic transcript that says I know several hundred, but… yeah. That’s not as impressive when I write it down, it turns out my level of Japanese approaches that of an particularly uncommunicative six-year-old. But I have gotten a stamp for every day this month so far. ^_^

I get proud about completely the wrong things, sometimes.

In somewhat more age-appropriate educational news, I’m finally getting back to uni this coming semester, taking Morphology part-time. Work’s pretty good about flexible hours and stuff, so this will hopefully only consume time from my life, rather than life from my veins, as per my previous attempts at part-time study. It helps that this time I’m not travelling interstate to work and further again to study. However, I think I’m going to have to withdraw from the ANUAS comittee, as I’m going to be even more pressed for time than I am now.

If anyone from the ANUAS exec is reading this, sorry. I’ll prolly make an official announcement this week, although given the way things are going, that’s about as reliable as everything else I’ve promised I’d do for the exec.

At least this won’t crimp my social life. My social life couldn’t be crimped by an angry hairdresser with an AK-47 crimping iron, since it’s basically completely absent.

If only I could find an amazonian smart Japanese chick who digs me… Although frankly, I’m flexible on nearly all those details.

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!

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 chibi.au.august05 convention.

Despite my best efforts to avoid responsibility in the anime.au conventions, after my poor performance as Events Co-ordinator for anime.au.05, I became Sponsorship and Vendors Co-ordinator for chibi.au.august05, 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 chibi.au.summer05, 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 chibi.au.august05 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 chibi.au.august05 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 chibi.au.august05 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 http://www.tbble.net 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

Gah, got busy again

Quick updates: Shane got a dog, and I’m seeing Machine Gun Fellatio tomorrow night. (Now tonight)

PGSM Act.ZERO arrived. Pretty box, haven’t watched it yet.

Dropped my uni units, and gave ActewAGL notice I had to be out by July.

And in unrelated news, the government of Robert Mugabe has demonstrated that they are holding fair and transparent elections by using clear perspex ballot boxes. ^_^

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 Anime.au 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. >_< >_<