Archive for the 'Personal' Category


January 4th, 2011

The first, and most important thing to know about 2011 is that it’s a prime number.

Why is this important? Because it suggests that it will be a year unique in it’s own right, not just derivative of other years.

I hope so at least. In a lot of ways 2010 did not go very well at all. I don’t want to dwell on the past, just want to make the most of a new year.

I have only one resolution for the year: control. Be in control, don’t cede control to circumstances, or even the desire to sleep :).

Hopefully that’ll mean more blogging here as well, starting with the return of the Trekathon, and probably some nerdy stuff about writing iPhone apps.

52/30/5 Week 30

July 26th, 2009

For the first time in many months, I am actually up to date and posting the photos within the week they’re for. Week 30 took me to the Carillion in Lake Burley Griffin.

View Larger Map

The Carillion was a gift from the UK Government in 1970. Living only 2km or so from it was incredibly annoying, as the bells are played very frequently.

Carillion I

Carillion II

Carillion III

A view of the lake from the Carillion:

Lake Burley Griffin

And a willow tree suffering from winter:

Naked Willow

The full set is on Flickr. And more to come next week.

One month of podcasts

July 13th, 2009

To get an idea of how much time I take listening to podcasts each month, I kept track of all my podcasts for the month of April.

(Yes, I’ve been sitting on this post for a while).

In order of time:

  • Lyrics undercover: 28 mins, 4 episodes.

  • A Life Well Wasted: 53 mins, 1 episode.

  • Canberra Calling (Crikey): 54 mins, 3 episodes.

  • The Biography Show: 1 hour, 1 episode

  • Penny Arcade: 1 hour 16 mins, 2 episodes.

  • D&D Podcast: 1 hour 22 mins, 2 episodes.

  • Out of the Game: 1 hour 32 mins, 1 episode.

  • Retronauts: 1 hour 51 mins, 1 episode.

  • The Gruen Transfer: 2 hours 19 mins, 5 episodes.

  • Good Grief (1up): 2 hours 47 mins, 3 episodes.

  • Escape Pod: 3 hours, 9 episodes.

  • Car Talk: 3 hours 34 mins, 4 episodes.

  • gdgt weekly: 4 hours 8 mins, 5 episodes.

  • Geekbox: 5 hours 17 mins, 4 episodes.

  • Coverville: 6 hours 27 mins, 9 episodes.

  • Joystiq: 7 hours 18 mins, 4 episodes.

  • Listen Up (1up): 9 hours 16 mins, 4 episodes.

  • Rebel FM/Game Club: 9 hours 41 mins, 6 episodes.

Total time of podcasts: 63 hours 9 mins.

Two special cases, which I normally only listen to about 5 minutes of each (for the headlines):

  • WSJ Wekend Edition: 2 hours 56 mins, 4 episodes.

  • Morning Read from the WSJ: 16 hours 47 mins, 22 episodes.

And finally, even after that there was a little time left over for listening to audiobooks, which I listened to about 2 hours 45 mins of in the month.

Yeah, i listen to a lot of podcasts. Between the gym and commuting I get about 2 hours a day of time which I have my iPhone playing something.

List: Podcasts I listen to

January 3rd, 2009

To celebrate the fact that I’m up to date on all my podcasts. In alphabetical order, from iTunes:

  • 1UP FM. Weekly review of new game releases and previews.

  • 1UP Yours. Weekly discussion of new games and other video game industry things.

  • Apple Keynotes. Yes, I’m a fanboy. So sue me.

  • Battlestar Galactica. The audio quality is normally terrible, but Ronald D Moore’s episode commentary does make up for it.

  • Coverville. One of the best music podcasts out there, dedicated (duh) to cover songs.

  • Crikey. Production needs some work, but still some interesting political commentary from some of the people behind the newsletter.

  • Downloadable Content. The Penny Arcade podcast. Hardly ever updated (they’ve done two since June 2008), but a must listen when they do – a horrifying glimpse inside the minds behind the webcomic.

  • Escape Pod. A Science Fiction short story podcast. Short SF is a perfect fit for audio, although I seem to end up skipping about half the stories these days for one reason or another.

  • gdgt weekly. Gadget nerd podcast. Lots of discussion of new cell phones and such.

  • Irregular Podcast. Pretty much impossible to describe. Weird and insane.

  • Joystiq. Computer and console games discussion.

  • Lan party. PC games discussion.

  • Lyrics Undercover. From the makers of coverville, a 5 min dissection of some song. The only paid subscription podcast I have.

  • Napoleon 101. A detailed (~45) episode history of Napoleon’s life. Now finished with the main run, and doing some special topics. If you’re interested, start at the start.

  • Retronauts: History of computer games, going into a different title each week.

  • The Talk Show. Mac and Apple discussion.

  • The Biography Show. From the maker’s of Napoleon 101, each episode looks at the life of some historical figure.

  • Wall Street Journal. Technically pay, as this is a freebie with my subscription. The front page and selected stories from the WSJ. A good way to start the day.

Time Management

February 10th, 2008

I haven’t had a very clean period on the blog since the start of the year – sorry everything’s been erratic. Initially I was going to plead ‘not enough time’, but that’s not really true.

It’s really about time management. And a lack of proper capital use.

In particular, it’s about a very silly bit of my IT setup at home.

As those who’ve met me know, I’m a little ‘over extended’ in the gadget front. In particular, I tend to watch TV/movies streamed from my computer. Or, to be more specific, streamed from the external hard drive attached to my laptop.

Those following along can probably already see the problem – the best bit of down time each evening, the opportunity to write a blog post or two (or just catch up on other blogs) is while I’m watching TV, but my laptop is tethered to my office setup and is unavailable…

Silly, really.

Anyway, I make no promises about blogging more often. But I’ve now switched the setup over to stream TV and movies from my other computer, and so now I’ve got a laptop to use while I’m watching TV.

(I also could buy myself a nice new laptop I suppose).

Welcome to 2008

January 1st, 2008

Happy 2008 everyone.

I hope everyone reading this had a fantastic finish to 2007, and is all set for a great year ahead.

2007 was an odd year for me – a lot of disruption (albeit very positive) in the things that I work on professionally kept me busy. My only real hope for this year is to try and be a bit more in control of things that are going on.

So here I am for another tilt at the blogging thing. I fully expect that this will last only a month or so until my buffer dries up, but we’ll see how I go.

I plan to post a lot more reviews of the books, movies, TV shows and computer games that I see. I’ll be starting with three of the films I saw over Christmas, which could be summarised as the great, the bad and the brilliant. Plus there will be the normal assortment of random links I find on the Internet.

So let’s get going with the year, already.

On jogging

July 24th, 2007

For the past few weeks I have been trying something that I’ve never done before in my life – jogging every day.1

All through High School I was always the least enthusiastic about the annual cross country, greatly preferring sports that required a bit less in the way of actual physical exertion. And ever since university I’ve always tended to default towards cycling as my form of exercise.

This even worked pretty well for the first bit of my working life, especially when I lived around a 20-25 minute cycle away from work. The cycle to and from work kept me fit and healthy, and didn’t take too much of my life.

But then I moved closer to work, which meant that I spent more time changing and showering than actually cycling, which kind of defated the point, and then I moved far enough away that cycling to work was no longer an option anyway.

Which was, needless to say, not that great for my health and fitness levels.

So I found that I needed some form of exercise that I could do in relatively small bursts, was efficient in terms of the amount of fitness and calorie burning the 30 minutes or so I could afford each day could provide, and didn’t require a lot of overhead in terms of preparing equipment.

This lead, fairly inexorably to the depressing realisation that the long-loathed jogging might have to be the way forward.2

As with all the things I do, I was aided in my quest by high tech gadgets: in this case, the Nike+iPod kit that gives you information on running speed and distance. So I can tell you that after 12 goes out, I’ve run a total of 26km, my quickest kilometer was 5:30, and I’m rapidly closing in on the fabled 10-minute mile…

All pretty mundane, but underneath all the gadgets, and the not inconsiderable discomfort as long forgotten muscles are called back into action, I’ve realised something – I don’t actually hate jogging as much as I thought. And perhaps, one day, once the puffing and stabbing pains in the calf have gone away, I could actually enjoy this.

Although for now, I’m still focused on getting that 10 minute mile.

  1. Of course, I did miss about a week due to the recent cold snap… 

  2. No apologies for the pun. 


June 17th, 2007

Helen and I travelled to Melbourne last weekend for a quick holiday weekend. A few highlights…

Firstly, I really enjoy the architecture in Melbourne. I never quite managed to get a photo of the RMIT campus near our hotel, but I was

quite taken with this skyscraper:

Melbourne Skyscraper

First day we mainly spent going to see Melbourne Zoo. Overall I think I prefer Taronga: better location, better designed zoo, and better

range of animals (especially Penguins!). But two exhibits really stood out. Firstly, there’s a relatively new section for apes which is very nicely designed. The paths are all rough formed, feeling a lot more like jungle paths. Plus they had a really nice looking gorilla.

Gorilla Melbourne Zoo

The other big new thing is the elephant exhibit. I’ve only seen the Taronga version without elephants installed, but I’d have to say that

if I was an Elephant I’d want to be in Melbourne! A lot more room to move, better designed enclosure.

Elephant Melbourne Zoo

One final favourite is the Butterfly house. First, it’s great to just walk through a mist of butterflies. And also, it’s heated to

30 degrees during the day, nice and warm!

Butterflies Melbourne Zoo

Helen’s highlight, as always, is the platypus. Here she is with the platypus statue outside the enclosure.

Helen and Platypus

The rest of the first day we went to see Spiderman 3 at the Imax at the Melbourne Museum. I’ve been to see a couple of Imax films before,

but both films designed for Imax. It was interesting to see a film that wasn’t really designed for it on the really really really big

screen. The film itself: meh!

Saturday we had breakfast at the Queen Victoria Markets (also next to the hotel), and then wandered around shops for several hours. In the

evening we went to see Miss Saigon, the main reason for the trip. Great show, which I’d only heard on CD before. Overall the acting and

singing was good, not great (although a couple of individual performers were great). The staging was really creative, doing a lot with

what is quite a cramped stage.

Sunday we went down to the National Gallery of Victoria, which neither of us have been to see in years.

Foyer National Gallery Victoria

I think the NGV has a very interesting modern art collection, as well as some very nice classical pieces. It’s certainly a collection that gives the National Gallery of Australia a run for its money. One of the works that I quite enjoyed from the modern section:

Art National Gallery Victoria

Then we dropped by Federation Square. Had a quick look through the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, but it was very disappointing (between exhibits at the moment). There was the new annex for the National Gallery of Victoria, but we just couldn’t be bothered by that point – sore feet, too much art…

Federation Square Melbourne

So we dropped by the shops a little more, and then went to see Pirates of the Carribean 3 (also a ‘meh’). Then back to the hotel,

one more night of sleep and then back to Canberra.

Evil Skyscraper

I love Melbourne, it’s a beautiful city. It’s pretty much the only place other than Canberra I could ever see myself living for an extended period.

Where can I find about 5 hours free time per day

May 15th, 2007

It’s pretty embarrassing exactly how long it takes me to collapsed on my periodic insistence that

I’ll begin to post to this weblog properly…

So, sorry everyone (if there is indeed anyone left)! The excuses are many and varied, mainly due to a recent increase in the quantity

and tempo of work. I’m going to not offer any further promises about actually updating this site


But all this just bought home to me how difficult it is to fit everything into your day…

To start with, I like about 9 hours sleep a day. That’s probably a little more than I need, but it makes

me a happier person so I go with it. I suspect that if I got my fitness a little higher I would be able

to make do with a little less. Then there’s work (10 hours a day on average, including lunch), commuting (about an hour, counting walks to/from the

car park), dressing/showering/etc (maybe half an hour?) and dinner (about 30-45 mins depending on what

I’m cooking). So that’s 21 hours of my day gone. That leaves me just three hours for everything else.

The list of ‘everything else’ includes spending time with my lovely wife, watching TV, getting exercise,

posting to the blog, designing websites, playing with my kitten, cleaning the house, and reading books.

Just as a start. I’m normally lucky if I can get more than a couple of those done on any given night.

Weekends aren’t a lot better either…

So what I really need is another 4-5 hours a day. That should just about give me time to fit everything in.

The only block of time which that can really come from is the sleep. So this brings me to the question:

if someone could design a safe, legal, side effect free pill that would allow you to have only 4 hours

sleep a night, would you take it? And how much would you pay for it?

I think I would. And I think I’d pay a fair bit. And I might even actually update this thing more than

once a month…

Getting organised

March 13th, 2007

I have, just recently, become something of a devotee (albeit one with a bit of practice needed yet) of David Allen‘s “Getting Things Done”

method. What I like about it is that, unlike most of the Stephen Covey like approaches to organising your life, it can cope with the kind of

‘creative chaos’ that most information workers live in.

(As an aside, I’m not sure I like the ‘information worker’ label – kind of makes it sound like it’s an IT thing, when it really should apply to

a lot of professionals)

I’ve tried doing the ‘to do’ list thing in the past, but normally end up with a complete breakdown within a couple of days. The problem is that the

systems don’t cope with the things that just come along. And I can’t remember a day I’ve had recently where I finished the day without having

at least half a dozen things come up. The Getting Things Done (GTD) approach actually embraces this, and is actually built around an approach

of continuously reviewing the tasks that are coming in.

It’s probably not something that works for everyone, but if you’re interested in looking for a new system with a bit more flexibility than most of the

popular systems, it’s well worth a look. The book (“How To Get Things Done”) can be found fairly easily in Australia, or ordered off Amazon.