October 27, 2006

world record set in dunedin

A new world record was set at my old primary school today.

Dunedin can now claim to hold the record for "The longest human tunnel for a dog to run through"

I feel so proud.

October 26, 2006

bird food

A pelican in St James Park, London ate a pigeon in front of a bunch of tourists.
There's something about this that is both hilarious and really creepy at the same time.

Read the article

October 24, 2006

cabinet part xxii

It lives!
And like Frankenstein, it is also a bit patchy, parts are unfinished and it takes up a hell of a lot of room. It also smells funny, but I never met Frankenstein, so I can't vouch for his odour.
I'd planned to put pictures up today, but I took them late last night and forgot to bring the memory card to work. I'll stick them in when I get home.

Putting the rubber t-molding on was harder than I expected. I considered buying a rubber mallet to help, but decided that I'd be able to do it by hand. What should have taken 15 minutes, took over an hour, using a shoe and rolling pin combo.

True to my word, I played The New Zealand story for a couple of hours and discovered that PacMan with an 8-way joystick just isn't going to cut it. I'm either going to have to fix the joystick so it's easily changeable, or get a dedicated 4-way (the preferred option).

As the budget has blown out, I think I'll be making a cheap bezel out of black cardboard to see me through until I can afford a piece of safety glass. It looks pretty rough at the moment, so anything will be an improvement over the gaping hole with paint slopped around it. I'll also have to sort out a temporary fix for the marquee, as that also looks untidy.

Speakers will go in this evening, which will tidy it up a little. The sub is just sitting on the floor at the moment, but that will be getting replaced with a proper amp and volume control at some point soon.

I still haven't sorted out how MAME will actually run either. I need to prevent the monitor from switching resolutions when loading a game, or the poor thing will get worn out really quickly.

So, in short, the whole thing is playable, but quite a way from being "finished". Once I've paid off the current spend, I'll start getting things tidied up.

edit: Here's some pics.

October 23, 2006

yanks crack down on aussie drug of choice

In yet another example of the fucked up bureaucracy in the US, Aussies are being searched for Vegemite on entering the country. Apparently, it falls foul of food laws that allow folate to only be added to breads and cereals.
To be honest, I never eat the shit myself (I'm from the Marmite camp), but to interpret the law to the extent that you can't even bring it into the country for your own use puts it in the same league as cannabis.
I suppose Vegemite could be seen as a gateway food, leading people to try harder foods, like peanut butter, or even that scourge of the American diet: honey!

Read the article here

Verdict: The FDA are dicks

nes online

Remember the old NES with cartridges the size of a video tape? You probably also remember having to blow dust off the pins to get them to load up.
vNES has almost 300 games you can play online, without having to install any emulators before playing. All you need is Java 5, which most people should have by now anyway.

October 22, 2006

cabinet part xxi

Went for a bike ride down by the Yarra to Port Melbourne, then down to Brighton and back today. I thought it would take ages, but we got back in time for me to put this together:

It got too late for me to test it out, but it passed the fume test: Deb couldn't smell the paint, even though it was inside for 8 hours or so. This means I should be able to bring the rest of the beast upstairs tomorrow!
I played the New Zealand Story using the keyboard for an hour or so last night, so I think I'll have to make that the first game I play.


October 21, 2006

cabinet part xx

Laid down the second and final coat of paint today. All I need to do before I can start playing games, is wait for the paint smell to mellow and drag the bugger upstairs. I'm going to treat myself and put the t-molding on once everything is inside, i.e. no more working in the garage! Woop!

I've been playing with the monitor, and I think the brightness will look fine. It's definitely a lot more like the crappy old fish and chip shop machines that I used to play. Mitch actually suggested I call it the Chippie, since that's where most of the machines are these days. It's something to think about, along with the artwork that will eventually cover up the cab's imperfections. I've gone off the silver fern idea, I think I must have been feeling patriotic that day or something. I drew a few New Zealand Story characters a month or two ago, but I think they look a little Japanese. It's a shame, because as vector graphics you can scale them to any size without losing details. I'm sure I can find another use for them.

Also, I just added up all my receipts so far. Everything from tools, sandpaper and paint to computer, speakers and joysticks has cost $2787.49. Around $2000 is materials and the other $700 odd is the tools.
There are definite disadvantages living 2200km from your parents!

October 20, 2006


So, this is the 100th post since I started this blog journal thing. It hasn't been the critically acclaimed success that I expected, but my parents don't know anyone else that would be interested in reading it.

Fair enough.

edit: Mum just kindly pointed out that my blog has neither an attractive title or a correctly spelt web address which may explain the lack of traffic. I guess irony is wasted on some people, but it makes the above picture even more relevant.
Good night, and good luck.

October 19, 2006

cabinet part xix

Quick update: This morning I picked up the monitor that I won on eBay.
I thought I did really well: I printed off evidence of who I was, a map of how to get to the place, biked into the city in the rain, went to the gym, dropped my stuff off at work, caught the train to Victoria Park, walked to the PC place, got the monitor, caught a cab home.
The only problem was when I went to open the door, I realised that my house keys were at work. Bugger.
It's now on a table, outside, sheltered by the barbeque cover. I hope that thing's waterproof!

edit: it didn't rain again today. Rumour has it that it didn't rain for more than 5 minutes anywhere today. I seriously think I had a grey cartoon raincloud over my head, because I was being rained on continuously for at least 30 minutes this morning.
The screen is nice and big, but it's overbright. It basically means that any black pixels look grey because the light is too bright. I'm sure that old arcade monitors look the same, so maybe it'll make it look more authentic or something.

Deb said I'm not allowed the cabinet inside until it stops smelling of paint. The way I see it, I have two options:
1. Leave it outside in the fresh air for a couple of afternoons
2. Make Deb stay at work for a two weeks while the smell dissipates

It's a close race, I'll let you know who wins.

October 15, 2006

more saddle sores

Today Deb and I (and almost 15,000 others) took part in Around the Bay in a Day bike ride. We took the softcock option and only signed up for the 42km ride with some of Deb's workmates.

When we finished we discovered that they'd changed the route and we'd ended up doing 50km. Add to that the 10km ride to the start line and the 10km trip back again, we clocked up a fair bit of distance considering we've only been on the bikes for a few weeks.

The best part for me was being able to ride over the West Gate bridge. We both powered up there, passing loads of people and panting like dogs locked in a hot car. It was bloody hard work, but really satisfying once we reached the top.

We were rewarded with a fast run down the other side, I didn't have any lower gears to change into, so I must have hit top speed. If my gut was a little more aerodynamic I might have been faster, but I'm working on that.
Geez, my eyes are tired. It's been a long day. I might update this if I think of anything interesting, but don't hold your breath.

cabinet part xviii

It's now black.

I had a good think about it and decided to go with a gloss topcoat. After seeing some samples of paint at Mitre 10, I realised the finish wasn't as shiny as I was worried it would be. Also, I went with enamel paint so that I could paint the control panel and have it put up with a bit of wear and tear until I figure out what to cover it with. I think a thin sheet of plexiglass with some artwork under it would be cool, but I'll wait until it's all put together before I design anything.

The black finish is a bit rough at the moment, but I'm sure the second coat will look great. It just needs a little sanding first.

I was a little hungover last Saturday morning and while Deb was in bed, I spent the morning on eBay. It's quite relaxing, but you should never do it with alcohol in your system. Anyway, I found a 21" monitor and put a few bids down. I started at $25, then $50, then $90 (but still couldn't beat the highest maximum bid), so I put down $150. If I'd waited for 5 minutes, I would have found a much better (and slightly bigger) screen. I didn't want to risk winning both auctions, so I sat out the second one. Lucky, because I bloody won the first monitor, but only ended up paying $102, so it won't be a huge waste of money if I upgrade it in the future.

October 12, 2006

cycling into a hair dryer

I'm due to bike home in about 90 minutes and it's pretty damn windy. That wouldn't be so bad if it's weren't almost 36 friggin degrees!

edit: I spent an hour at the air-conditioned gym before going home in the hope it would cool down. It ended up being 36.5° when I met up with Deb for the ride home.

October 10, 2006

toxic waste now available in strawberry!

If you saw jelly at the side of the road, would your first concern be that you would gain super mutant powers like x-ray vision or stretchy arms and possibly glow once the sun went down?

Jelly mistaken for toxic waste

What's wrong with the world when a well known dessert brings fear and panic.

Now banana cake, there's some scary shit.

October 07, 2006

cabinet part xvii

You'd think that living with my dad, the handyman, for 20 odd years I would have picked up a few tips here and there. I hate realising that I had this valuable resource living in the same house as me and I never took the time to learn anything. Actually, I'm sure I've picked up a lot from osmosis, but it wasn't intentional. Until today, I'd never picked up a paint brush. Before July, I'd never worked with a piece of wood bigger than a hand mirror. The only part of this project that I'd ever had experience with is the wiring, and that's the easiest part of the whole thing!
Anyway, after getting long overdue advice from the old man, I've slopped on the undercoat. His suggestion to tint the undercoat grey makes perfect sense. If you're painting black over white it's going to be much harder to cover than black over grey. I've taken the liberty of preparing this handy diagram.

It was a race against the heat though, as the stuff was almost dry before it hit the wood. Nice day to work in, but not really ideal for learning to paint.
No matter, the undercoat's on. I'll have to shoot back to Mitre 10 tomorrow to get some fine grain sandpaper to give it a good finish. Man, I really need to start an account there as I've been down at least dozen times in the last 6 weeks.


Tomorrow, weather and Debbie permitting, the first coat of black paint is going on. It's finally going to start looking complete. How exciting!

October 03, 2006

the end of the day can't come soon enough

So, I'm in the middle of a pretty serious project at work and I really don't want to be involved. Without giving out any potentially sackable information: we're changing banks and I'm part of a group of people that is supposed to make the transition seamless for our business.
Considering the size of the project and the potential impact (on both staff and customers) I'm really not comfortable having to read through lengthy business requirements docs to see if they suit.

The problem is, I'm just a pleb.

I joined the company as an Accounts Officer 2 1/2 years ago. I picked up the skills pretty quickly, as it was pretty linear kind of work. I was quick and accurate at my job and knew how most of our processes worked, so when a team senior role became available I jumped at it. The role made sense, as I was still doing the work, but was able to apply my extra knowledge to help other people. Nobody who knows me could've guessed I would enjoy that part of the role! Anyway, as part of the senior role I taught myself a bit of vba and made some Excel macros to help simplify our processes. After 9 months or so, I was offered a role as a "Continuous Improvement Officer" alongside Travis (another long suffering employee). Dorky friggin title, but basically it meant I could concentrate on building Access databases and other tools to help my department manage their workload. It was great fun building/coding these things then seeing 40 odd people getting a lot of value out of them. I like to think my skills in this area have progressed a hell of a lot in the last 9 months, to the point where I can throw something together in an afternoon what would have taken me a week.

Please note, that none of the learning I've done since 2004 has ever been about the company itself. I'm the last person to ask about who the big players are at IAG, or who is marrying whom, or who got fired for copying and selling DVDs on work time. I'm not interested, and to be on this project just pisses me off. I now have to know who else is involved, who they work for, how we interact with them… I've discovered too late that I don't like the high level stuff. If I didn't actually have to do anything and just had to offer my opinion, I reckon it would be fine. When I'm sent out to discover something like "Business Impacts", with nothing more than an email, I really worry that I'm going to fuck it up. What if I don't look at things in enough detail? What if I miss something obvious that will impact on this multi-million dollar project?

I miss being on the tools and being able to solve problems at the grass roots level. It's too late to back out of it now I suppose, but god I can't wait till it's over.

October 01, 2006

cabinet part xvi

There's finally a light at the end of the tunnel: I laid down the first coat of paint today! I discovered too late that the drop-kick at Bunnings gave me a roller designed for use with gloss paint, not matt, but I'd already put my old clothes on and wasn't going to put it off any longer. It was only the mdf primer, so it doesn't really matter if it's a rough finish. I'll give it a light sanding next weekend and take it from there.

God, It's hard not to get impatient with this thing. I've been working on it (on and off) since the start of April and I still haven't got it to a playable stage! As long as I don't have any major distraction next weekend or the one after I should be able to... ah fuck it. I'm going on a charity bike ride with Deb and some of her work mates on the 15th. I guess I'll just have to pull my finger out next weekend and do one coat of enamel on the Saturday and one on Sunday. If I manage to get those done to an acceptable standard, I should be able to cart the whole thing upstairs during the week.
I also just realised that the last paragraph was a total stream of consciousness. I only seem to do that when I'm tired and my internal monologue is already asleep. If I was to stop typing, would I stop thinking as well? Let's see