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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Schnappi remains at 12 

This week's ARIA charts have been released and Schnappi remains at 12th position on the singles chart.

This is Schnappi's 4th week in the charts, which can be plotted as CSV (Comma separated Values)

Note: While spell checking this post, I received an interesting suggestion for Schnappi

Yes, we now have Casanova Schnappi

Schni schna schnappi schnappi schnappi schnapp!


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An apt description of Visual Basic 

Occasionally Slashdot readers leave interesting comments, usually I don't notice them because I have better things to do, on this occasion I noticed a very good description of various programming languages by "WebCowboy".

Thinking about it, you could have a similar discussion about languages--"C culture" vs. "Perl culture" vs "VB culture". C might be like iron, C++ stainless steel. Java might be aluminum foil. Perl would be binder twine. VB...hmm....styrofoam peanuts...or silly string?

WebCowboy also had some interesting, although poorly spelled and punctuated, comments about mainframes.

I can't say I really know for sure what a "mainframe toy" would be--mainframes don't seem like fun at all. I think "mainframers" may have forgotten what childhood was like, or perhaps hatched from a pod fully grown, who knows. I do not have a lot of exposure to that philospohy/culture. If I HAD to pick a toy that was most mainframe-like I might say Mecanno, because like UN*X they are fery uniform in structure, however you have tediously fiddle with those little screws to put anything together, just like a mainframe--you have your "special screwdrivers" (arcane knowledge) and have to follow tedious processes to get things done. Or, perhaps it is like building a birdhous with popsicle sticks, where you have to tediously glue the pieces together with Elmers glue, wait for it to dry before putting it out. In either case, the result is very strong/robust but difficult or impossible to change do you don't bother--you just retrofitr what is there until you get an extremely bizarre looking contraption that is ugly but still very sturdy and dependable.


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Samuel's Artwork: Samuel In Dolgnwot 

Time for another episode of Samuel In Dolgnwot.
Today we can see Samuel listening to the radio, in fact, 1053 2CA. He must be listening to a future broadcast as that station didn't exist in 1857!

This would probably have been during a time that Samuel wasn't searching for gold...he can't possibly search 24 hours a day can he?

Tommorow we have another double image special of Samuel In Dolgnwot.

Clicking on the picture will show a larger version, you can also find it on the photo gallery.


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Screenshot of WindizUpdate 

Following on from my recent post about WindizUpdate, I thought I should give you a screenshot of it in action.

Clicking on the picture will show a larger version.


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Samuel's Musician Of The Week 

Well, we've hit the section of the record library with CDs named "Country...", and I have a bit of a backlog of people, so this weeks winner is Red Simpson, and here are the lyrics of my favourite song of his:

Hello I'm a truck
You've heard songs about truck drivers
Many times their story's told
How they pulled out of Pittsburgh
For six days on the road
'Bout that feather river canyon
And a-climbin' that old grapevine
That old roadhouse down in Texas
And the girls they left behind
You've heard their tales of daring
And I think that's just fine
But if you can spare a minute
Well I'd like to tell you mine

There'd be no truck drivers if it wasn't for us trucks
No double clutching gear jammin' coffee drinking nuts
They drive their way to glory and they have all the luck
There'd be no truck drivers if it wasn't for us trucks

Well there he sits in that cafe drinking coffee and telling lies
Prob'ly telling 'em 'bout that that hill we topped ten miles back
Outta tell 'em how he missed a gear and that Volkswagen bus full of hippies
Passed us like I was sittin' up on jacks
Or how we took that curve over on 66
Hadn't been for me hangin' on the shoulder
We'd a both wound up in the ditch

If we're on time he takes the credit
'n if we're late I get the blame
Up those hills with shutters open
My stacks a-runnin' flame
My tach'll runnin' red line
Suckin' diesel from the tanks
I take him south and bring him back
Without a word of thanks
Well now you've heard my story and I guess it's my tough luck
There'd be no truck drivers if it wasn't for us trucks

There'd be no truck drivers if it wasn't for us trucks
No double clutchin' gear jammin' coffee drinking nuts
They drive their way to glory and they have all the luck
There'd be no truck drivers if it wasn't for us trucks

Look at him sipping coffee and flirtin' with that waitress
And where do you think he left me?
That's right, next to cattle truck (mooo)
Why couldn't we have put me over there next to that little pink Mack
Gosh she's got pretty mud flaps
And talk bout stacked, they're both chromed
Well he'll be coming out in a minute and he'll get that bar and he'll go
around and beat on my tires
You know for two pints of diesel
Why I'd have a flat on the inside dual
Ha! Boy that fixed him
I never did like the way he drives anyhow
Thinks he's God's gift to waitresses
He never gives 'em a tip
Well I know what he's gonna do now
Take out that tape cartridge of Buck Owens and play it again
I don't know why he don't get a Merle Haggard tape


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Don't worry, it's only half past sixty-two 

In case you don't already know, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service have told us all that we are out of whack with the sun and need a leap second, so that means we will have an extra second this year, right at the end of the year, which probably means that nobody will know when the new year actually begins, and all those annual "One second past midnight" arguments could turn into "one second past the second midnight".

The US Government want to eliminate leap seconds and just have a leap hour every 300-500 years (WTF?), I think that would be very confusing for most people. It's already hard enough for people to comprehend daylight savings time, let alone an extra hour in the middle.

Leap seconds have caused problems in the past though, one of the most infamous instances was Motorola GPS sytems informing their users that the time was "half past 62 o'clock"...I bet they were confused out of their brains....
"Honey, I thought a leap second was only supposed to go for a second"
"It is"
"But the clock says it's half past 62"
"Does that mean that it's today or tommorow?"
"I think it's the next day, we better go to bed"


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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Windows Update without Internet Explorer 

I have grumbled about Windows Update for a long time because, to use it, you need to run Internet Explorer. And now on top of that you have to go through an extra, time-consuming, Windows Genuine Advantage "Feed me your serial number and I'll tell you if you have a real version of Windows and are able to download updates" procedure, which is very tedious, especially if you want to run Windows Update on a large network.

With that I say hello and hooray to WindizUpdate ( http://windowsupdate.62nds.com ) which doesn't require Internet Explorer. It uses a Firefox/Netscape/Opera/K-Melon plugin, so you can use pretty much any browser you want and still be able to download & install the updates. WindizUpdate was established in January, and the plugin does not appear in any Virus/Adware/Spyware/Other Malware list, and I have it installed on my computer, so it is safe.

Not only does WindizUpdate have the advantage of being used by better browsers than Microsoft's Windows Update, it is also faster. Windows Update takes more than double the time that WindizUpdate takes to work out what updates I need and then suggests a heap of superfluous nonsense is needed.

also doesn't ask you to install XP Service Pack 2, so if you don't want Windows to break further than absolutely necessary, then it doesn't have to.

WindizUpdate also works on Microsoft's "unsupported" operating systems, NT4, 95, etc

And better yet, it isn't an Active X control, Hooray!

I know which Windows Update I'll be using! (And it doesn't come from Microsoft)

WindizUpdate ( http://windowsupdate.62nds.com/ )


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Samuel's Artwork: Samuel In Dolgnwot 

Time for another daily installment of Samuel In Dolgnwot.
Here we see another one of those futuristic truck scenes, in this case we have Samuel watching TV. It would appear that there is an opera or something like that on the TV, as the quote from it is "Laaa"

On this particular day, Samuel is unable to search for gold.

The gold game was really a game of chance in which we the teachers walked around handing out cards at random, most of them were blank, although some doubled gold finds, or said we couldn't search for gold that day, etc.

After this initial round of card giving, we had to decide what to do that day (unless the card had done that for us), the day was split into two halves, and we had three options, we could either search for gold, do our grocery shopping, or visit the assay office (which is where our gold was turned into money). For the most part, people went searching for gold all day, although we did have to do our grocery shopping each week.

After we had decided what to do for the day, a second round of cards were handed out saying how much gold we could find for the whole day, and then the gold exchange rate was chosen out of a hat.

Clicking on the picture will show a larger version, you can also find it on the photo gallery.


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Friday, July 29, 2005

Sparkles drops out of premiership race 

Sparkles Scully has decided not to run for premier after all, as he doesn't think he has enough support. Ieema the Hiyena (who 2% of NSW people have heard of) looks set to become the Premier when Bob Carr officially steps down next week.

I guess this means the leadership won't have any sparkle in it then!


o noes! whatever shall new south wales do without sparkle?
I would say that most New South Wales people will spend the next few weeks trying to work out who this new face on the news each night is.
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Samuel's Artwork: Samuel In Dolgnwot 

Here we have yet another episode of Samuel In Dolgnwot, and possibly the first inconsitency in the series.
As you can see, the truck has changed, the first section is the drivers cabin, the second section is the gold storing trailer, the third section is the gold pickup and sort device and cabin, whilst the last section is the living quarters, with an open roof this time.

As you can see, Samuel is having lunch.

Clicking on the picture will show a larger version, you can also find it on the photo gallery.


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The future premier of New South Wales 

Well, now that Bob "The Builder" Carr has retired, New South Wales needs a new premier.
The two main contenders are Carl "Sparkles" Scully, who announced in a very monotone and monotempo way "I will put sparkle into the leadership", and Morris Ieema (pronounced Yemma, but still often said as Eye-Yeema), he really needs a nickname too, perhaps "Ieema (Eye-Yeema) the Hiyena" would be best.

I suggest that John Laws should be the premier of New South Wales, he is bound to be better than Sparkles or The Hiyena, he could be the first premier to have his own radio show, and he would never have a problem getting the premier on the show for an interview:
Laws: "Good morning premier"
Laws: "Good morning Mr. Laws"

Incidentally, Ieema was aked if he would also put sparkle into the leadership....he laughed.


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Wayne Berry distances himself from Ginninderra High 

Wayne Berry MLA, Labor member and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly has publicly distanced himself from the Ginninderra fiasco, which is a good thing as it means that not all of our local Labor memebers are loonies.

I don't think the loopy lady with a silent G is paying any attention though.


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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ginninderra High School Fiasco 

It appears that the ACT Government are finally proving beyond all reasonable doubt that they are loony.

They have decided that it is a good idea to close Ginninderra High School, not that anyone agrees with them or wants it to happen, and they have decided to close it, end of story. However, they plan on replacing it with a Kindergarten through Year 10 "Super School", and at the same time closing a bunch of other Belconnen area schools so that everyone will get to go there.

So now that you are up to speed with the story, lets have a look at this in more detail.

Firstly, the ACT Government are closing Ginninderra High School, the announcement was a bit late though, it was after the closing date for enrolments, and seeing as it is closing at the end of the year, well, people are just plain stuffed. They chose the school because they thought it would be a good school to choose, and now they have to go around to other schools which are most likely to be further away and find out if there is a vacancy for their child. Why couldn't they gradually phase out the school by not taking any more new students? Certainly it would take time, but it would avoid this ridiculous mess. And the same can be said for existing students, the enrolment period is over, so it is time to visit the other high schools and check for vacancies.

What about consultation, well they did meet with some P&C members from the surrounding area a few months back, not for consultation, just to say "we like this", and their was a confidentiality agreement to go with it. The government denied they had conducted this meeting at first, and then when it became obvious that they had occurred they did a backflip and said "Yes, we had a meeting."

The government claim that Ginninderra high is an ageing dinosaur that needs to be pulled down because it is too large for it's present number of students, could this be because the government don't like to spend money on maintaining schools by any chance? The government invented the situation of low population of Ginninderra High by cutting costs and making the place unattractive to potential students, and now they want to take it out on everyone else.

I do have to wonder how Ginninderra High even comes remotely near being old, based on the building style, it was probably built during the 70's or 80's, which is, compared to other schools in Canberra, fairly young. My primary school (Ainslie Primary) was built in 1927 and still works just fine. (To be more precise, the original building which is now being used as an arts centre was built in 1927 as a temporary home for the school until the "new" building was built, late 20's early 30's).

Of course the plans for the site after they pull down the existing school are even more bizarre. The government want to build a super school catering for students from kindergarten to year 10. Oh what fun and excitement!

Anybody who has been in a playground of a primary school or a high school would know that it isn't exactly bliss. In my experience, primary schools separate the junior kids from the senior kids due to size and maturity differences. High schools are often warzones at break times. So now we combine all of this, put it on a pretty small playing area, and hope for the best.

I'm sure the junior primary school kids will stay in their zone, I doubt that the senior primary school kids will stay in their zone, and I would bet that the high school kids will pose a danger to the junior primary school kids, not all of them, but you are always going to have the handful of difficult students.

Would you want every child aged 5-16 from the Belconnen area in your backyard? I didn't think so. So why do the government want to do the same thing in a slightly larger area? Good question, lets have a look.

One very large super school in an area means all the other schools get to close, meaning the government can sell off the land and make a pretty penny out of it while we sit back and see more high rise apartment blocks appearing where we used to have schools.

The other thing that needs to be taken into account here is the educational standards of a super school. Whilst the super school would have a high concentration of quality teachers, it would also have a very high concentration of students, and you can bet that the government will do all they can to cut costs, eg. Higher class sizes and less funding for new equipment. Shared resources would become an issue, for example, how many computer labs do you put in? How often will you upgrade them? What kind of gym facilities will there be? What about an assembly hall, it would surely be horrible getting every kid aged 5-16 in the Belconnen area into one room, it is hard enough to make it work when you have all the 5-12 year olds from two suburbs.

Then there is the psychological effects this will have.
One of the main working aspects of the transition from primary school to high school, and from high school to college, is the physical change of location. A different location with different rules and a different atmosphere makes it much easier to adapt. How do you suddenly expect 12 & 13 year olds to accept a massive change in how they operate if they are in the same place, with the same staff, and the same atmosphere? It is hardly easy to make them accept that "You are now in year seven and we expect this from you." It is much easier to say "Here at xyz High School things are different to your old primary school." And students will accept the latter much more easily than the former.

Of course, it isn't as if the government are giving us much choice here, they are pulling down Ginninderra High, end of story, but we can stop this new super school and have the money spent on our hospital waiting lists or improving our existing schools.

I really can't see why the government can't do what they have done with just about every other school in Canberra and have a "Renovation Program" which will bring it up to the government's constantly changing standards.

Basically, the government have made an unholy mess, and they are going to try and convince us that is looks good.

The education minister, Ms. Katy Gallagher (the loopy woman with a silent g), is having a baby (I pity him or her), and I can almost guarantee that she will be leaving town when it comes to the time where her child needs to be enrolled in a school. After all, she wouldn't want her child educated in her mess of an education system would she?


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Samuel's Artwork: Samuel In Dolgnwot 

Today we have a special double image special of Samuel In Dolgnwot.
The first image sees Samuel using his somewhat futuristic (for the mid 1800s) gold digging truck.
The first Item on the left is the house cabin where Samuel lives when he is on the goldfields. The next item is the trailer that holds all the gold that is found and the other item picks up soil, analyzes and sorts it, drops the gold in the trailer and places the soil back on the ground.
If you look closely, the teacher has placed another tick in the bottom right orange square, which, just like yesterday, is suprising.

Why is it suprising? Well, lets take a look at part two of today's double image special.
This is the comment that year six teacher, Mrs. Brophy left on the page.
"You need to use some sentences to help make your entries make sense Samuel."
Maybe she just like the colours...
I suppose that in all fairness, the actual aim of the Gold Game was to make us write sustained pieces of writing on a particular topic, and whilst this didn't happen in my case (which is a good thing, we wouldn't have these lovely images if I had followed the task completely) I did still create some intriguing entries none-the-less.

The upshot of all this is that, starting tommorow, the pictures will have captions on them.

Clicking on the pictures will show larger versions, you can also find them on the photo gallery.


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Ray Hadley returns to the Footy Show 

With the extended absence of Paul Vautin due to an injury, Ray Hadley will make a return to Channel Nine's NRL Footy Show with a guest appearance.

It will be good to have somebody who knows what he is talking about on the Footy Show again, but in my opinion, they should scrap the existing Footy Show and replace it with a new version with the people from 2GB's Continuous Call Team. It would be much more entertaining and would actually have meaningful discussions about football for a change.


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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Samuel Salute 

NSW Premier Bob Carr announced his retirement from NSW politics today after a long and industrious career.

Mr. Carr has also announced that he has no plans to continue into federal politics.

I have always seen Bob Carr as being a sensible and level headed man, a man of integrity and morals, a gentleman and a leader, and a man of great intellect. New South Wales will be poorer without this great man as premier, and as much as I would like to think it will run smoothly without him, I very much doubt it. One of his ministers is likely to take over as premier, which will be interesting, and perhaps finally prove that City Rail isn't Mr. Carr's fault.

If Mr. Carr does stay out of Federal politics I think it will be a great loss. I would have liked to see him as Prime Minister one day, unfortunately it appears that will not be the case.

Regardless of what Bob Carr does, he has lead a very full, interesting, rewarding, challenging and hopefully enjoyable career and deserves to be able to choose his own terms of retirement. To survive as long as he has in politics and then to be able to make up your own mind about when to call it a day is an incredible achievement, and one that he definitely deserves.

The Honourable Bob Carr receives a very special award which is rarely presented.

Mr. Carr, you receive "The Samuel Salute".

Congratulations on your many fine achievements, and may your retirement be as fulfilling and rewarding as your incredible career has been.

Mr. Carr, well done.


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Tutorial: Creating Patchwork Art 

Last night I explained how Patchwork Art works, and said I should create a diagram, well, I have. Firstly a warning, this is a very long and colourful post, the blog continues if you scroll past it. This post renders with large gaps in Internet Explorer, use Firefox instead.

Step One: Drawing A Picture In Pen
This is possibly the most important step as it lays out the framework for the picture.

Step Two: Having A Colour Draw
This step places the colours in the order which you will use them. In my case it is a matter of randomising twelve colour pencils.
The order that the example Colour Draw produced is:
Light Green
Light Blue
Dark Green
Dark Blue

Step Three: Drawing Vertical Lines
It is up to you how many lines there are and how you space them, I recommend having at least four vertical and four horizontal lines. It is preferable that they are not evenly spaced and that you have a different number of vertical and horizontal lines. The lines must be drawn in the Colour Draw order.

Step Four: Drawing Horizontal Lines
This continues the Colour Draw order of colours.

Step Five: Filling in the grid squares
Again we continue with the Colour Draw order of colours. Filling the grid squares (even though they aren't square) is done clockwise.

The black has intercepted a line of its own colour and is allowed to cross the line, this is called a spread.

The light blue has also intercepted a line of its own colour, and we have another spread.

Step Six: Colouring The Objects

Now it is time to colour in the objects. With larger objects such as tables you should follow steps Three, Four & Five on the objects, but with smaller objects, or in places where it doesn't seem appropriate, you may choose to draw a single colour or do some kind of pattern. Whatever you do, you must continue to follow the order of colours from the Colour Draw.

Once you have done that you will have a completed piece of Patchwork Art.

As per usual, clicking on the picture will show a larger version. These pictures are not on the Photo Gallery.


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