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Red Dwarf and Massage November 2, 2008

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in Uncategorized.
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It’s taken us a while to catch the digital TV wave here.  Partly because we don’t actually have an antenna socket in the apartment we live in, and we only barely get a signal on analogue TV with the assistance of a booster box a co-worker kindly donated to us.

This morning, Melody and myself went and visited the local rotary market, as is our custom every so often, and found little of interest there.  To be honest, it can be very hit and miss, especially when people are asking more and more money for second hand goods.

We had intended to go to Chadstone later that day and have a look around for a massager that would help work out some of the discomfort that Melody deals with on a daily basis.  However, by the time we had been to Safeway to do the grocery shopping, we were a little tired, and it looked like we would not make it to Chadstone.  

I suggested to Melody that we visit Dick Smith Electronics and see if they had any massagers, as a quick google that morning turned up a few results on their site.  It was on our way home, and with little to lose, we decided to give them a chance.  

When we got there, we found they had several types of massagers, and acquired a couple.  One is a heavy duty one that I hope will give melody some relief and relaxation.  The other was smaller, but quite versatile.  All in all a good haul for a whim.

So how does this relate to digital TV? 

Our primary purpose served, Melody suggested we have a peek at digital set top boxes.  I must admit I was skeptical.  Our TV reception is all in all, quite terrible, and I didn’t have a high degree of confidence that we could get enough signal through the indoor antenna to get a clear digital signal.  

A salesperson directed us to the set top boxes, and we saw the cutest little box.  It measures all of about 6cm x 10cm x 2cm.  “Is that it?”, I asked incredulously.  This thing was tiny, and looked like it could not decode its way out of a paper bag.  But the salesperson assured us, that it worked fine, and we bought it.  

 

Our ickle DVB decoder box.

Our ickle DVB decoder box.

 

 

The end result? We have a crystal clear digital picture on ABC and SBS (and their digital variants).  All the other channels are pretty much terrible, but to be honest there isn’t really anything worth watching on Ten, Seven and Nine, anyway. *

To cap it off, ABC2 was showing Red Dwarf one of our favorite British comedies.  Welcome to the digital age indeed. 

* Someone please feel free to correct me here, but I don’t count gritty Melbourne dramas that paint the city as a hotbed of crime worth watching. 

Job satisfaction September 14, 2008

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in Uncategorized.
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Those who know me well know I’m a pretty mellow person generally.  In most situations I’m content to go with the flow, and roll with the punches (metaphorically of course, since I’m certainly no heavyweight boxer – I have trouble opening a jar of pickles).  Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking regarding what exactly makes me happy in my job.  

Naturally, this involves a lot of thought about where I am now, versus where I was at several years ago,  Outside of work, things are wonderful.  I’m married to a delightful woman (my wife Melody), and things generally are happy and fulfilling.  

In the sphere of work, however, I am starting to find things wanting.  I used to do a lot of production support work, and helping other software developers.  I guess you could say my job involved making sure everything from development, to testing, and then finally production goes smoothly.  By and large, although there never quite seemed to be enough hours in the day, I went home from work with a sense that the place was better for having me there.

I’ve come to realize just how important such a payoff is for me personally.  A decent salary is one thing, but if you are not leaving work at the end of the day with that feeling that you accomplished something, eventually you start to feel like there is little point to the job you are doing.  Sadly that seems to be the situation that I find myself in right now. I do work with a wonderful bunch of people, however I’m finding it harder to get that payoff.  

So now is a time of contemplation.  What can I do to make my job more interesting, more fulfilling? I do have a lot of experience that is going to waste right now.  I’ve worn so many hats in the past, that just being a “Software Developer” is feeling too restrictive.  There are other forces at work (no pun intended) that make me feel this way, but I’m certainly not going to go into those in such a public space.  

I suppose it is about finding a balance, and finding a path in my career that gives me back that feeling that what I do, means something.  If I can find that feeling again, then things will be better.  

In the meantime, I am so very thankful for the love and support of my wife, Melody.  She makes everything else worthwhile.

Samsung J700i and Video tinkering September 7, 2008

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Well, I finally upgraded my phone from a black and white Nokia, to something a little more up-to-date.  It’s a Samsung J700i, which is a nice little black slider handset released this year.

Not bad for $99.00.  It’s call quality is good, and is the first phone I can actually hold a meaningful conversation on whilst in the supermarket, or walking down a busy road.  

It has a built in MP3 player, Camera, and also plays back MP4 video clips.  I bought a 2Gb micro SD card for it and have started to put videos on it.

Melody and I have resurrected a project we were working on to build a generic converter for video files to various mobile formats, including the AMV format used by many so called “ChinaPods”.  I reworked the code a little yesterday, so that the software works with “profiles” for each type of device, and one simply specifies what the target platform is.

So far (with our custom build of ffmpeg), it is generating videos for my Samsung phone, and for the Chinapod (erroneously labelled an MP4 payer), which Melody bought in Canada.

I might start a development blog for the project, but there are too many projects and not enough time!

Z80 based systems still kicking July 29, 2008

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It’s nice to know the Z80 is still alive and kicking in one form or another. 

Melody bought a chinese ipod knockoff, and it is powered by a 32Mhz Z80 based CPU.  Scarily enough the thing plays video too, although admittedly a custom format called AMV, which only had windows software available for conversion. Since we are currently using a mac, we downloaded a special version of ffmpeg, which supports AMV, however it crashed unless we disabled altivec support (we are using a G3), and then actually failed to link because a subroutine was not compiled unless altivec was enabled.  

After some coaxing, I managed to get it to compile, and we can now convert videos to the device quite happily.  I’ll need to get around to creating a patch for ffmpeg so this problem is fixed permanently.

Oh, well.

The journey that was July 29, 2008

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In what now counts as our longest commute in history, we finally arrived in Langford at about midnight on the 15th. 

Before we even got off the ground, our flight was delayed by almost four hours leaving Melbourne Airport, as it was late leaving LAX previously, and that delay carried through. This meant that we had already lost our connecting flight and we were told that arrangements would be made at the other end. Qantas gave us a meal voucher so that we could get some breakfast and apologized for the delay.

After about four hours in the air, one of the passengers took ill, and we were advised that we were to make an emergency landing in Fiji in the middle of the night, about one hours flight in the previous direction. We landed at the airport in Nadi, and Fijian paramedics boarded the plane to assist with the stricken passenger. While this was happening, we were refueling, as the plane had expended extra fuel during its detour. 

After what seemed like an age, the plane was refueled, but we were unable to depart due to security rules as they had been unable to easily locate the passengers luggage, and ended up having to unload all the luggage to more easily search for the missing bags. Eventually we were in the air again, but another 3 to 4 hours behind schedule.

We flew faster to try and make up time to LAX, but we didn’t arrive until about ten minutes to two in the afternoon, a full six and a half hours after our scheduled arrival time. Because of the lateness of our arrival, there wasn’t a proper arrival gate available and we ended up berthed at one of the departure gates. We were escorted out across the tarmac (and under the wing of our 747-400) by armed TSA officers and onto a series of buses which deposited us at the regular arrivals area. 

Thankfully immigration processed us quickly (special priority was being given to our flight) and then we had to collect our baggage, and queue up to find out what our new connecting flights were. As far as we knew we had missed the last flight to Vancouver, but thankfully it turned out there was a 4:44 flight we had been rebooked onto. 

Next we had to go through American customs, which would not normally happen, but since our connecting flights were lost, we would have to check our luggage into the new flight manually. Customs cleared our bags, and we proceeded to the Domestic terminal to check into our new flight. We got the dreaded “SSSS” on our tickets and were subjected to additional security screenings. This was fine, but took forever for me, as they pulled everything out of my carry on luggage and swabbed it for traces of banned substances. Eventually we made it to the departure lounge with about half an hour before our flight left.

The flight to Vancouver was fairly uneventful, although at one point we flew over the top of Mount Baker, which looked absolutely amazing. We came in for landing hot at Vancouver, which was a little unnerving. Apparently airlines are doing this to save fuel, but it made us very nervous. 

We raced through the airport towards Immigration and Customs as if we were on “The Amazing Race”, as we had a very limited window in which to catch the bus to the Ferry. Unfortunately due to a hold up waiting for our baggage, we missed the bus (the last for the evening), and instead ran to the Taxi rank, where we hailed a cab and got him to get us to the Ferry terminal in time for the last Ferry. The driver obliged, and made record time, getting us to the terminal a full half hour before departure.

On the ferry, like the victims of airline food that we were, we ordered lavish helpings of food from the cafeteria. At about 10:30pm, we made it to Swartz bay, and Melody’s father and brother were waiting for us in the arrival lounge. Another hours journey, and we were back at our Canadian home.

Thankfully, gidget (our cat) forgave us quickly for being away.

It’s been a few difficult nights sleep for us as we fight jet lag, but things are returning to normal. Early next week we plan to go camping for a while, and I will get to see the Rocky mountains. 

After some trepidation, it is good to be back…

Preparing for Canada July 13, 2008

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in Uncategorized.
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It’s been a while since I last posted, and a lot has happened since.

Melody was granted her temporary residency visa (which means she is legally able to stay here), and we are preparing to head to Canada for a month in a couple of days, for a holiday and to visit Melody’s family.  During that time we hope to go camping in Bannf, and this little black duck will see a mountain the way that nature intended it – big!

We are looking forward to a lot of simple things while we are there.  For one thing, we plan to eat a lot of Salmon.  A whole salmon big enough to feed four people as  a roast dinner costs around five dollars there, which is amazing when you see it costing around thirty to forty dollars a kilogram here.  We also plan to have ice-cream (in my case it is Rice cream hehe), as there aren’t many deserts in Australia that are sweetened by fruit sugar or Splenda.  Everything here is sweetened with dreaded sweetener number 951.  In addition to that we will wash down our ice-cream coated Salmon roast with ludicrous amounts of decaffinated drip coffee, something conspicuously absent in Australia.  A coffee in Canada costs about two dollars and change for something that fills a medium sized slurpee cup.

Our journey will take us via LA International Airport, which we are not so pleased about, but it will be the last time that we will have to pass through there, as we will be returning via New Zealand, as Air New Zealand does a flight from Vancouver to Auckland to Melbourne, which means we don’t have to pass though the United States at all.   The last time we flew to Canada, I got the short straw with an “SSSS” on my ticket stub, which meant that I was subjected to tighter security checks than a person would normally encounter.  I’m not fond of getting patted down by a TSA officer, and would prefer not to repeat the ordeal.

But I do feel a measure of excitement at the prospect of visiting Canada again.  Its just the prospect of forty hours of transit that makes me feel a little aprehensive.

Visual Editing now works in Safari – Test April 5, 2008

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This post was created using the visual editor in Safari.

It now seems to respecting paragraphs, and other formatting. It now seems to respecting paragraphs, and other formatting. It now seems to respecting paragraphs, and other formatting. It now seems to respecting paragraphs, and other formatting. It now seems to respecting paragraphs, and other formatting. It now seems to respecting paragraphs, and other formatting. It now seems to respecting paragraphs, and other formatting. 

As you were… 

April.

29. April 5, 2008

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in Uncategorized.
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Yesterday I turned 29.

It is the second birthday that I have spent with my love, Melody, and as usual she spoiled me rotten with all manner of wonderful, tasty, treats; she cooked me both lunch and dinner. Lunchtimes are a special part of the day for me, as I get to go home from work and see her; however, this birthday lunchtime was doubly so. Melody had prepared a veritable multitude of food. A wonderful tomato noodle soup, delicious gluten free sausage rolls, and delightful pineapple custard cupcakes.

My love also cooked me a dinner. We could have had the option of eating out, but all I really wanted for my birthday was a home-cooked chilli pot. A meal shared between us, as we do every-night. Melody made tacquitos and salsa, to go with the chilli. It was a positively decadent affair, and we filled our bellies, talked, and just enjoyed each others company.

After dinner, we snuggled close on the couch, which unfolds into a bed, and we watched a couple of movies before we drifted off to sleep in each others arms. That was the most wonderful birthday present, elegant in its simplicity. I feel truly blessed in the sense that all I want is what I have. I do, however, wish there were more of the waking hours that I could spend at home. To be there and comfort Melody when she has a rough day; to always be available to her. It is one of my dreams that I can be present more in future.

The greatest gift I have in my life, is the love that Melody feels for me, and that I feel for her. It is genuine, and sincere, and not based on so many superficial factors. Sadly sometimes I look around and observe other couples, and it seems they don’t necessarily feel the same way we do. I wish that more people felt that way.

All I want is to make her happy.

April.

A new home… March 10, 2008

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I have journals all over the place, and it’s about time that I consolidated everything into the one place.

So, here it is.

Over the coming months I will be migrating my livejournal, and other blogs over to this one, as I like the way that WordPress works, and that I can create separate pages of interest to my main blogging.

This suits me fine as I have poetry and other artwork, and it would be fantastic to have it all in the one location.

So here we go…

Rest assured that I will continue my LiveJournal as well, and will cross post most WordPress items to it.

Happy Anniversary and Valentines Day! February 14, 2008

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in Uncategorized.
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Happy Anniversary (for the 3rd), and Happy Valentines Day to my amazing wife, Melody!

Yours forever,

April.