Archive for December, 2011

Just luck – Latte Art

December 31st, 2011 No comments

I have to admit I worry little about the aesthetics of my coffee, sure I don’t want them to look crap but my prime objective is that they taste good and that the stretched milk has the right texture. Stretching the milk is now even easier with the V3 steam wand fitted to my Rancilio Silvia; such a worthwhile upgrade, but I digress.

But every now and then I just luck it and the milk pour creates its own great latte art. Sure it never looks like the fancy latte art you get in a coffee shop, but like a good ink blot test one can see something in my “art”. So today I present the Lucky Leaf. Coffee on Comrades.

The Leaf - Lucky Latte Art

Categories: Coffee Tags: ,

Yes, I hate Apple

December 28th, 2011 No comments

OK I’ll admit it I do hate Apple. It’s not really the products, nor the users, it’s the bloody hyperbole that goes with Apple and I reckon man users and the company foster it.

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting back at a meeting and Apple was mentioned and a zealot said, “Yeah well they [Apple] manage to come up with innovations 15 years ahead of others.” Oh give me a bloody break. Yes that is the siren of the hyperbole police you hear. For a start 15 years is such a gross exaggeration. Yes the Apple Mac introduced the GUI when they reverse engineered it from Xerox, yes Apple zealots they didn’t invent it, they just redid it and marketed it. Partly cause Xerox didn’t realise they gold their researchers had developed. When Microsoft introduced Windows, Apple “visionary” (deliberate hyperbole used there) Steve Jobs was apoplectic with rage that Apple were copied. Clearly unfamiliar with the concept of the pot calling the kettle black he called Bill Gates over and questioned him about Gates’ “theft” of the GUI. Gates’ response was simple and clear: “…it’s more like we both had this rich neighbour named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.” Yes Apple Zealots (would they be “Applets” :-D) Apple didn’t invent the GUI so stop whinging about Windows and any other GUIs copying.

Then Apple zealots want to tell you how innovative OSX is and how intuitive it is. Well OSX is good partly because it is built on a Unix back-end which makes it very stable. The interface is very pretty but intuitive? Well if you get a person used to Apple on there thewy love it. But get a Windows user on there, they will say it’s pretty, but they will be lost by certain things. No double click to install will be strange. Or when you click the red cross the program doesn’t Quit. No you have to select File> Quit. Now that’s intuitive… no it isn’t.

Pull out a thumb drive accidentally then try to plug it in again. Poor old OSX struggles there. You have to unmount it properly (that’s a Unix thing), which you do by trashing it, which always feels like deleting it. Strange, not intuitive. I once made this mistake of pulling out a thumb drive on a mate’s Macbook, to fix it I ended up in some disk management utility to correctly unmount the volume. He had no idea what I was doing. To a Linux nerd this was easy but to a new Mac user this would be a nightmare.

Then there is the whole iPhone and Android battle, which for the record Apple will lose. The iPhone is a cool device no doubt, but Apple didn’t invent the smartphone, or the touchscreen smartphone. They simply designed their own. It is good, well especially by the 3G model which could then be used here in Australia cause 3G networking needs multitasking which early versions of the iPhone couldn’t do. Ooh that’s a bit crap isn’t it. Oh it couldn’t do MMS either, also crap. Android just offers other hardware makers a mature and comparable OS to run their smartphones. Apple of course bangs on about copying, but what are other manufacturers to do, sit back and give Apple the whole market? Well that is what Apple would like, but sadly for Apple that won’t happen and Android will continue to push Apple and with a variety of handset makers will end up surpassing anything Apple will do.

I can hear the Apple zealots already talking about how much superior iOS is, like how it has this innovative notifications drop down in version 5… um, well Android has had that since Version 1 back in 2008! Apple isn’t afraid to copy either when it suits them.

It’s time for people to recognise Apple make some nice software and design some nice hardware too, but they certainly aren’t the second bloody coming, and Steve Jobs is certainly no messiah. As this New Yorker article explains, he wasn’t innovative, Jobs was the consummate tweaker. And this in itself is a skill, but he was no innovator. So let’s stop the hyperbole and just acknowledge they do some good stuff.

Categories: Computers Tags: , , ,

Everything’s Amazing & Nobody’s Happy

December 25th, 2011 No comments

I saw this recently at a presentation and I love it. I must admit I may be guilty of whinging about the lag my phone used to have (fixed now with a hacked kernel). But what Louis CK is saying is dead true. In the spirit of Christmas when we get even more stuff I hope you can watch this and ponder happiness. Enjoy.

Categories: Comedy Tags:

Saab’s Demise – GM has blood on its hands

December 24th, 2011 No comments

Sometimes an event occurs that just really bothers you. I mean they happen all the time from the mundane, like the whole Noël debacle, to the truly awful like the massive vote rigging in the Russian elections. But sometimes one event that isn’t earth shaking just really infuriates me and at the moment the demise of Saab has really managed to grind at me like a harsh grit abrasive. As you saw from my previous post I liked Saab, but I truly liked the pre GM Saab, when they truly were Saabs. But now that hatred and anger is squarely aimed at GM. Which clearly is an acronym for gross mismanagement or grotesque morons. This pack of moronic twits took a small niche manufacturer and tried to turn them into a Swedish clone of BMW. They progressively moved Saab mainstream and made them dependent a crap GM designs to achieve this. Their final act was to not guarantee access to GM parts, upon which the cars are now dependent.

When Saab aircraft offloaded the car division to unthinking owners like GM they effectively signed the death warrant of Saab. Immediately GM forced them to adopt GM technology instead of funding Saab to develop their own things. The post GM 900 was built on the Vectra platform and this alone is enough to raise the ire of Saab aficionados. This is the reason why the pre GM 900 is desired while the post GM one isn’t.

They also chose to turn their back on Saabs iconic hatchback designs because in GM’s eyes these weren’t what luxury cars had. BMW and Mercedes back in the 1990’s didn’t make hatchbacks so Saab should have sedans and wagons. What bloody idiots. The most desirable Saab 900s, the Aeros were always 3 door hatches, the nicest 9000 was the hatch. But in GM’s eyes the hatch had to go, forget other individual companies like Citroën that could make luxury hatches like the CX or the XM. So for the 93 and the 95 hatches had to go. Mainstream thinking.

Then there was the curse of badge engineering, this was a term coined by BMC in the 1950s where you designed one car and badged it as an Austin, a Morris, an MG etc. Well GM inflicted this ignominy on Saab too; in the US one could but the Saab 92X which was a rebadged Subaru Imprezza and then there was the truly gauche Saab 97X which was some hideous GM SUV. What the hell was Saab about these designs I ask you? Nothing is the response.

And then the final act of GM bastardry is that after making Saab wholly dependent on them for drive trains, they wouldn’t allow any new company that bought Saab to use any of these components, even in a transitional phase. This effectively gave any new owners incomplete models which had missing key components like engines.

So let me say this publicly and unambiguously: GM, I hate you, once I thought your vehicles were average to crap, but now I know it is worse than that, you as a company are rotten moronic arseholes who managed to ruin a small Swedish outfit that dared to be different. And for that I will never forgive you. Thankfully I no longer own any GM products and I never will again. And I will make it my life mission to point out what absolute dross your products are and ensure everyone knows that you dish up sh*t in just about every market you walk into. You GM are an example of everything bad about automobile companies. And a showcase car like the Chevrolet Volt doesn’t exonerate you from all the other garbage you’ve done.

Categories: Cars Tags: ,

Sad about Saab

December 21st, 2011 No comments

Years ago a Saab was a car I indeed lusted over. The family had owned Volvos (a 142S and a 244GL), but since I had an innate love for all things front-wheel drive , caused by my infatutaion with the Austin 1800, another Swedish car: Saab was my preferred choice. Thje Saab 900 was simply a dream for a boy that loved cars, front wheel drive and also planes. Here was  car made by  a plane company. With its cool wrap-around windscreen and aero inspired ergonomics it seemed like the ultimate car. It echoed the Saab 99 in styling and everything I read in the car magazines said cool things. Dammit they even had the keys at the gear stick, quirky coolness I tell you. The 9000 wasn’t as aero inspired, but it still was desireable.

Sadly though GM became the owner and well… just like most things GM, well Saab went from great to mundane. Oh there were flashes of great but the quirky invidual car company was gone for a more mainstream effort. The BBC mentions a word called snaabery, i.e. Saab snobbery, people who thing the orginal Saab models were great while the post GM Sabbs were a little ho-hum. Well I ham happy to be a “snaab” in that case, cause the 900 and its preceeding models were cars of desire and delight. What GM produced was a slow death march to the sad bankruptcy point we are at now.

For a nice montage of Saab check out this BBC slideshow.

Categories: Cars Tags:

Engineering Poem

December 19th, 2011 No comments

The other day my departing year 12 class provided me with a gift and a card. Residing in the card was this poem one member of the class (Andrew Solomon) composed. The card explained it didn’t rhyme as that was too hard, as many key words have a double meaning in engineering, e.g. upsetting is a forging process. Anyway a gem like this is to good to be left in a card so I’m publishing it here. I hope my class don’t mind. I should admit they misspelled Darth Vader, I have fixed that in the version below, some errors simply to great and must be addressed.


By Andrew Solomon

Confronted by a class of nuts
On your first day last year
Some heads screwed on backwards
Others just cross threaded
You would’ve found abrasive personalities wearing
If it weren’t for your tungsten carbide shell

Some topics we found riveting
But others were a bore
Moulding sure was a drag
But somehow we managed to cope

The trial results were upsetting
But like spring steel we were resilient and forged ahead
You were happy to answer our questions
And anything about the force
would get your normal reaction
And we’d digress from an inclined plane to Darth Vader
But as work became harder we began to fatigue
And felt the same pressure, as if we were hydraulic oil.

In October we emerged from our concentration cells
to face the HSC,
Pitting our skills against the rest of the state
Did we nail it or fail? You’ll just have to see.

This poem meant heaps guys, you were a great class to teach. Thanks so much.

Cheeky Noël Gift

December 18th, 2011 No comments

I have a rather cheeky friend who knows just how to get me going. So the other day I arrived at my desk to find this residing in front of my monitor.

Noel, since it is missing it's diaeresis a rant was assured.

Like waving a red rag in front of a bull she knew this would unleash a mix of laughter interspersed with lengthy rants about how once again the silly season had encouraged diaeresis abuse. What does one do with this ornate decoration that in it’s current state was more suited as a name plate for a guy with the name Noel. Well a few pieces of dowel, red paint and a hot glue gun were the solution.

Now it's Noël!

Now what was an ornament to the poor spelling of the Xmas season, is now a true representation for Noël with the diaeresis in red. Red because red is a cool colour, it is loosely associated with the fat dude that delivers gifts and finally cause it looks like a correction I have added in red pen to an incorrectly spelled word.

I loved the gift for the cheeky intentions, and cause it made me laugh. Now I love it more because it now highlights, in red, the pivotally important diaeresis.

Categories: Grammar Tags: , ,

GNOME Shell is back baby – Happy Days

December 16th, 2011 No comments

There can be no doubt that when I updated to Ubuntu 11.10 there was some consternation by my partner and son.  They did not like the Unity layout at all, but it was workable but they didn’t like it.  Yet no matter how much I tried Unity left me feeling cold, I don’t know why. The integrated menus and top bar is good for screen space but on a 23 inch monitor this is less of an issue than it is on my netbook.  But the maximised windows having buttons on the left is annoying and the operation of the launcher was, I don’t know, underwhelming.

So after installing GNOME Shell I was happier but GNOME Shell demands a lot of the new convert, the typical paradigm of using a desktop is fundamentally altered, and to my partner and son keyboard short cuts weren’t a winner.

GNOME Shell with the Dock Extension on the right

But with GNOME 3’s extension site with a simple click you can install all the extensions you want (except frustratingly the Dock Extension). For them the Frippery bottom bar is the duck’s guts, now they have their window chooser where it should be. I still use the Activities window but to them they can easily select running apps. Happily the house is firmly back in the GNOME Shell camp.

Categories: Linux Tags: , , ,

Ortlieb Office Bag – Road Test

December 14th, 2011 1 comment

Well today the my new Ortlieb Office Bag was tested by commuting to work on my bicycle. It carried all I needed it to carry, which included my Asus netbook, a change of clothes and lunch. It mounted onto the rack well with the QL2 mounting system which is so easy to adjust. When off the bike the bag stands up neatly not constantly falling over like my Carradice bag did.  All in all very happy with the bag. I can see why people rave about Ortlieb.

My new Ortlieb bag mounted on my Jamis Quest

Categories: Cycling Tags: ,

Ortlieb Office Bag

December 13th, 2011 No comments

Credit where credit is due, Wiggle’s shipping pace is bloody fantastic. I ordered an Ortlieb Office bag a week ago and here it is all the way from UK in a week. Now that is indeed impressive, particularly as shipping is included in the price.

The Ortlieb Office bag fulfills a desire I have had for a while to own an Ortlieb bag. Ortlieb bags are cool indeed, they are fully waterproof, this one uses their classic roll top closure. Believe it or not the bag is actually made in Germany, not China or some other cheap manufacturing centre. On arrival the bag is very neatly packaged, which adds to the feeling of a quality product.

Ortlieb Office Bag in packaging

The bag uses Ortlieb’s QL2 mounting system which is very easy to adjust and setup for each rack, no tools were necessary. The bag is not huge but should be large enough for my netbook and a change of clothes for work. You can see a fair amount of space with only my netbook in there.

Ortlieb Office Bag open with netbook inside

The bag is quite a neat looking bag when closed, in fact it looks like many other office bags. My previous bag the Carradice Bike Beureau was larger but nowhere near as neat looking as the Ortlieb.

The Ortlieb closed and looking neat

Now the true test will be when I use it for my commute. The damn rain we have had lately, only a problem because I’m not as waterproof as the bag. I’m told I am made of sugar 😉

Categories: Cycling Tags: , ,