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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. 


Life, Love and Disk Cloning… June 10, 2007

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in Uncategorized.
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Melody is sick at the moment with a bad stomach flu (think of the toilet as your best friend in the whole wide world), which she got from her parents. I’ve got the early stages of it too. To be honest my symptoms are about a day behind Melody’s which means I’ve got a whole world of fun to look forward to tomorrow. Hopefully I won’t get it as bad, as I want to be able to take care of her properly.

I’ve just spent some time trying to clone a hard drive from an old disk that is suffering heat death to another identical disk in FreeBSD. Using ‘dd’ for this seemed to be the ultimate solution as it will create a block for block copy of the disk.

dd if=/dev/da0 of=/dev/da1

So I checked on it an hour later and found that the transfer rate (which is only reported once the program terminates) was saying it was copying at 127kb per second.

*bangs head on desk*

Then I realized the block size was too small. So I added bs=64k to the command and let it run for about 30 seconds. Suddenly the transfer rate jumped to 13mb per second. At this rate it should be finished by the time I post this.

And that’s a good thing because I feel like I’m going to pass out soon…


Road Tripping May 21, 2007

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in Uncategorized.
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Yesterday Melody and I went on a road trip up Vancouver Island with her brother and his dog. We were planning to go camping for the Victoria Day long weekend, however it turned out to be pretty wet. We headed up over the Malahat, through Duncan, Chemainus (home of some lovely murals), and finally to Cathedral Grove…

The Malahat

In an odd sense of symmetry when we stopped at the Malahat lookout to see the wonderful view, we were actually in the cloud and couldn’t see anything. This happened to us in Melbourne when we went to Arthur’s seat, except that time the reason was bushfire smoke and not fog.


This place was marvellous and for our friends in Melbourne, it reminded us a lot of Belgrave. The town has a quaint historic feel to it, and a lot of the buildings play host to wonderful murals.

There is an interesting story I remember Melody telling me about this town… Originally it was your typical coastal industrial town where people made their living fishing, mining and logging. Gradually over time the industries which supported the town began to die off. Rather than letting the town wither away and die, the townspeople decided to cover the walls of the towns buildings and shops with wonderful murals. These murals attracted tourists from all around and the town survived.

It has a touristy feel to the place, but the artwork is wonderful. I just read on-line that the town celebrates 25 years since the murals were painted this month.


We stopped in Nanaimo after Chemainus as we were feeling a little parched and wanted to get some coffee. We spotted a Timmy’s (Tim Horton’s) and popped in for some take away coffee. Nanaimo is smaller than Victoria, but is still quite large. If I was pressed to make a size comparison with somewhere in Australia, I’d say it most resembles Bendigo.

Cathedral Grove

This place was wonderful and had the tallest trees I have ever seen in my entire life. It is filled with very old Douglas Fir trees that literallly reach for the heavens. Everything was covered in moss and it was very lush and green.

It was awe inspiring seeing this place. I love the lush greenery that one sees here in British Columbia, and seeing this wonderful forest made me feel calm and relaxed.

You can get a sense of scale from the base of the tree we are standing in front of. It is enormous!

Out of the Dog House

We planned to stop off in Duncan and go to the Dog House family restaurant on the way home and get some food there, which is apparently quite tasty, however the was a two hour wait for tables in there for anyone who didn’t have a reservation. Instead we ended up going to Romeos (a Canadian Pizza / Pasta and burger chain) and having dinner there. Melody had a plate of nachos and I had myself a burger. The burger had bacon an pineapple in it and reminded me a lot of an Australian burger. Hehe the burger also had mayo in it which I understand is a Canadian staple as far as burgers go. Still, it was very tasty.

Goldstream Park

On the way home, we went and stopped off at Goldstream Provincial park and took the path down to the base of Niagra falls. (Not the Niagra Falls… but another one… It was quite beautiful in its own right and reminded me of Mackenzie Falls in the Grampians national park.

All in all It was a wonderful day. We got to see a lot that this island has to offer. I’m going to miss it when the job in Vancouver starts. Still, there is plenty of British Columbia to explore on the mainland as well which I’m sure is positively wonderful.

I felt so incredibly lucky to be here with my wonderful wife and experience this. I slept peacefully last night, and we are a little tired today, but it was so wonderfully worth it. Tomorrow Melody is working, filling in for someone at her old computer shop. I’m going to miss her. Moments like the one I just wrote about make me realise how lucky I am to have her.