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Lucky Miles [Aug. 3rd, 2007|10:50 pm]

5600 km Fence - Too many Rabbits
Originally uploaded by Garry'.
I saw Lucky Miles at the Canberra Dendy tonight. I really enjoyed it. It was a great film about Australia but staring largely a group of foreigners. Australia's vast outback is summed up by the inability of the new arrivals to realise it's true size.

It's portrayal of the group boat people is quite thought provoking, although it chooses not to touch on the conditions refugees are subjected too once in confinement in Australia.

The film has some really funny moments and was good fun watch. I give it 4 stars.
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The Perils of TV - Part 2 [Jun. 20th, 2007|11:19 pm]

Originally uploaded by Aeioux.
Ok, another month has passed and the TVs are up and running.

This job turned out to be much much more work than I was expecting. Safely and securely mounting the TVs, building somewhere to hold the computer, putting in power outlets and routing signal cabling involved a cast of millions... Ok, ok, dozens?.. would you believe several?

I ended up putting together a web/javascript/mysql based slideshow to run the two TVs from a dedicated computer. This means I can give people access to the web configuration page and therefore skillfully sidesteping the task of putting new content on the screens.

There are still a couple of bugs to be worked out. Annoyingly the computer tends to occasionally pop up boxes claiming that updates are ready to be installed. I have also been told that the TVs are not reliably going into power save mode over night... I really don't want to have to hang around after hours to test that one. Will this be a never ending job?

I am very happy that the end result looks very professional (even if I do say so myself) and the ability for notices to be easily added to the slideshow is very useful. It is a shame that now we have everything figured out we will probably never have to do another installation.
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Canberra Glassworks [Jun. 18th, 2007|10:54 pm]
I visited the new Canberra glassworks on the weekend. It is situated inside the old Kingston powerhouse buildings. They have done a impressive job of refitting and modernising the huge industrial interior.

There is some really amazing glass art in their gallery, which is unfortunately only within the grasp of the very rich (or very committed).

There is a cafe where you can get something to eat, and you can watch glass working from a public viewing area. Well worth a visit.

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The Perils of TV - Part 1 [May. 3rd, 2007|08:44 pm]

one less tv
Originally uploaded by Kevin Steele.
TVs, TVs, don't get me started about TVs.

In the past weeks I have spent many more hours than I would like to admit working with TVs. Our spec was to set up one or two TVs in the foyer that would be used to display notices and promotional material. It has turned into a bit of ordeal and been one issue after another.

First off was the job of choosing a TV for the job. We where after a wall mountable 46-52" LCD TV that could be used to play a slideshow. Initially it looked like the easy solution would be to get a TV with an inbuilt card reader that can play a slideshow from saved jpeg files. After several afternoons spent testing multiple TVs. It became evident that the quality of the output from the inbuilt card readers was not up to the job, with images coming out full of artifacts and text painful to read. So we decided to go with a dedicated PC that would drive the TVs through a DVI/HDMI connection.

So off we set with laptop in hand to test the quality of TVs when showing images from a laptop. It would appear that the all digital connection you get using DVI/HDMI has some inherent drawbacks...

An aside might be in order at this point to explain how TV signals traditionally work. Simplifying things greatly in an analog TV a signal of a specific resolution is scanned across the screen losing about 15% of it off the sides so that any messy edges to the signal do not show up on screen. This is called overscan it varies from TV to TV and has over the years gotten smaller as screens have gotten more rectangular and sources of higher quality.

With modern digital TVs there are a few different high definition standards with a vertical resolution of either 720 or 1080 pixels. We where interested in the new crop of full 1080p capable TVs. They have an LCD panel which is 1920x1080 pixels which exactly matches the resolution of the highest HDTV standard signal. Sounds promising? Well it turns out that TVs still overscan their signals. So we run in a perfectly crisp 1920x1080 signal and the TV scales it up by 10% or so, throws away the edges and shows the remaining bit on the screen. This results in horrible scaling artifacts making computer text painful to look at. Some TVs have a 1to1 pixel mapping mode that is meant to disable overscanning and show the signal as it was intended. Unfortunately it apears on the TV we tested this on it for some reason was still scaling the image up by a few pixels. Just enough to make text painful.

So cutting a very long story down a little. We moved to VGA which due to it's analogue (blurry) nature had less issues with being scaled to fit the screen. We selected the only TV that supported full resolution on the VGA input. Unfortunately we where overridden by the big wigs at work who insisted choosing the more expensive brandname was more important than it's suitability for our application. So we ended up with a 1080p TV driving it with 1360x768 signal that is then upscaled. Hardly optimal.

To Be Continued...
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John Howard Vs Boy George [Mar. 2nd, 2007|11:23 pm]

Boy George @ Bush Hall 09/06/06
Originally uploaded by neil365.
Boy George is in Australia for this weekend's Sydney Mardi Gras. He has attacked John Howard in a recent interview for his role in banning same sex marriages and civil unions claiming "It's depressing when you have politicians like this."

This gets me thinking about the Federal government's repeated crushing of the Australian Capital Territory's same sex union bill. The bill would give gay couples the ability to have civil union ceremonies and receive equal rights to opposite sex couples in the eyes of the law.

The federal government claims, that allowing same sex couples to be given equal rights would "be likely to undermine the institution of marriage,".

The supporters of the ACT's civil union act are very keen to point out that they do not support same sex "marriage" only a "civil union" (which has since been toned down to "civil partnership"). This sounds ridiculous to me, why the hell can't gay people get married? Are they saying they support them in a legal sense but not in the moral sense?

Saying "Yes you are a couple and should be treated as such in the eyes of the law but keep you stinking gay hands off our Marriage it's ours and it is special, and you can't have it" sounds like religious rules dictating the civil laws of our country.
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Clean Up [Feb. 28th, 2007|07:58 pm]

Clean Up
Originally uploaded by marblegravy.
Wow, I didn't realise at the time I was blogging the storm last night quite how big it was. The city centre only a couple of kilometres from here was hit by huge amounts of large hail, smashing windows, blocking drains, tearing leaves from trees and flooding buildings.

I got to work today to find the university had closed due to the storm damage. In fact it is remaining closed for the rest of the week with staff encouraged to work from home. My building escaped any serious damage so I will probably have to work.

A second much smaller storm went through town this afternoon, which will have added more water damage to damaged buildings. Our weather seems to be becoming much more erratic, I wonder if this is global warming at work?
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Stormy Weather [Feb. 27th, 2007|11:15 pm]

Originally uploaded by bonsaikiptb.
There have been so many thunder storms here lately. It must be making people who sell modems very rich.

Interestingly we have gone from drought where it rained every couple of months to the last couple of weeks where it has rained at least every second day. Either all the rain has been missing the catchment or there are serious issues with Canberra's water supply's sustainability because the water level in the dams has not increased. Logically you would think with the greatly reduced amount of watering going on that a few heavy showers would make a noticeable difference to the levels, but no..

In other news I went to the pub with my dad yesterday. Strangely the old English pub we normally frequent seems to no longer have any English beers on tap. I guess they are trying to attract a different market to the Irish pub next door.

Today I have been listening to Regina Spektor. I am a bit undecided as to whether I like the entirety of "Begin To Hope", but several of the songs are really beautiful. Much as I hate to admit it at times I can be a real sucker for beautiful love songs.
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Shopping [Feb. 24th, 2007|07:25 pm]

Luggage carts 5476
Originally uploaded by Yukon White Light.
I went shopping today and bought a couple of tee shirts, a macadamia and caramel gelatisimo ice cream and a Samsonite ultralite 6 bag for traveling with.

Myer had 35% off Samsonite luggage and I picked up a (supposedly) cabin legal bag complete with wheels and padded laptop section. Unfortunately it is right on the maximum size limit for cabin luggage on Australian domestic flights. Also the laptop pocket seems to only be designed to hold 12" laptops in landscape orientation, I will have to make an extension velcro strap to securely hold my 15" laptop in place.

I am hoping to be able to carry it as cabin luggage so that I don't have to wait around for my luggage to be delivered to the luggage carousel.
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Botanic Gardens [Feb. 22nd, 2007|03:17 pm]

Kangaroo Paw
Originally uploaded by martyspants.
I had lunch yesterday at the Australian National Botanic Gardens with my friend G and her daughter A (who was very well behaved). Sitting outside at the cafe is very pleasant. I had Thai chicken cakes with a dipping sauce and salad, and G had an open steak sandwich.

I didn't get a chance to wander around the gardens at all, but intend to come back some time with my camera and take some more photos. The gardens are very photogenic, and full of wildlife.

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Postcards [Feb. 15th, 2007|10:56 pm]

Originally uploaded by martyspants.
Hand written correspondence carries a totally different feel to it than email or instant messaging. It is more solid, and way more personal than an email. They can become a snapshot of life that can later be looked back on fondly or possibly used in a voodoo ceremony.

To the right is a photo of my growing collection of postcards from my wonderful friend C. Thank you C, I love them almost as much as I love you.

My favorite card is probably the card from the Brisbane Gallery that changes as you change your viewing angle, followed closely by the avocado mascot from tropical fruit world.
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