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31 July 2010

Lost your chicken?

Lost your chicken?

Posted by Nutloaf

Unlocking the iPhone

Two days ago I changed from Virgin to Telstra. I thought it might be easy, but secretly suspected it wouldn't be. And it wasn't. The Virgin "loyalty" man basically threatened to release my number if I didn't stay with Virgin. I rang them to ask about unlocking the phone which in theory you can do if you pay the remaining cost of the phone. I paid the remaining cost of the phone. Then I got a new Telstra SIM card. The Telstra man suggested I put it in the phone and if it boots up happily then that means that the phone is already unlocked and I don't have to do anything. He said to call him after 24 hours. After 24 hours it wasn't working. I couldn't easily call him because I didn't have a working phone. And I already suspected that Telstra wasn't the problem.

I emailed Virgin and didn't get a reply. I eventually called them, and after about 10 minutes of waiting they kind of accused me of stealing it because they couldn't find any evidence of the phone in their system. They said that I was using a Nokia 1110 (my phone from 2 years ago) and paying $74.95/month for that. They weren't able to explain why I was paying the amount of the $70 iPhone plan plus $4.95/month iPhone repayments. For 2 years. Or how I was able to clock up several hundred megabytes of data usage on my old Nokia 1110 each month. They said that if I couldn't produce the proof of purchase, there was nothing I could do. They said I could go into a Virgin shop and they might charge me to unlock it.

The shop wouldn't unlock it either. However, they would sell me a Virgin prepaid SIM card which would work on the locked phone. And I could use that SIM card to buy a prepaid mobile data voucher which let me download ultrasn0w to unlock the phone. Partly, based on the nice Virgin fellow's advice.

The funny thing about it all is that Telstra would have given me a free iPhone 3GS on my current plan. I didn't want it because it didn't really need a new phone. As it turned out I almost did. Thanks to lovely iPhone hackers there's a tiny, tiny amount of tantalum that can stay in the ground.

30 July 2010

Once Again to Alice

I have left again. It 23 months since I last jumped on a train to Alice Springs. This time is a little different. I just spend 30 minutes pulling apart my bike to fit it into a box. I'm not totally convinced it will get there in one piece, but we will see. The other difference is that this train is going to Brisbane. I don't think I've ever caught a train to Brisbane.

I can't write very much because there are no powerpoints on this train. Except in the toilets.

28 July 2010

Good Spirits

Them: I took my doll's pram out for a push today.
Me: Was anything in the pram? Did you have a doll?
Them: And my boyfriend.
Me: Golly. That would be a tight squeeze.
Them: Yep. Cindy Anne, my D-O-G was in there too.
Me: Wow. So you have a doll, your boyfriend and your dog in the pram and took them all out for a walk?
Them: Yep. It's a good pram. No problems with it. It's in good spirits. No spider webs. No insects. No spiders. No ants nests.
Me: No ants?
Them: No. No ants. The pram still goes. I like it.
Me: It sounds like an amazing pram. Sounds very sturdy and reliable.
Them: It still has it's hood. No tearing. No signs of forced entry. No cutting. It doesn't have any flies. No mosquitoes or flies in it.
Me: A hood? To keep out the rain and sun?
Them: Yep. It still has it's H-O-O-D. I took them all out for a walk in it. We went to the city with it. And then I came back home with it.
Me: It was strong enough? It didn't break?
Them: No. It's such a good pram. Why would you want any other? I don't want another pram.
Me: Why would you? You'd be crazy to swap a pram like that?
Them: Yep. I saw the policeman at the station. I didn't make any F-U-S-S. I just shook his hand. He said the pram was OK. And he said my boyfriend was OK too.
Me: He didn't hassle you at all?
Them: Nope. He was calm.

Sickness and Cheer

On the weekend, I got a cold. I have been sleeping a lot. Trying to go to bed early or at least not heaps late. However, last night presented a real dilemma. I needed to drink 4L of red wine by Friday because I wanted the cask to carry water on my Alice trip. It was ambitious but I figured that if I don't have the will to drink that wine what hope would I ever have of making it to Alice. So I was pretty happy when last night at about 10pm, or three glasses through, a bunch of friends showed up. We squeezed about 12 people into our tiny kitchen and had a little party. The party went til about 2am. A lot of the wine got drunk. Nobody got much sleep (sorry if that includes you lovely neighbours). But most goodly, this dear sweet house probably had the biggest party it's had in 20 years. And that makes me happy.

Today I will go and get the neighbours some nice Apology Yuppie Jam.

27 July 2010

Netgear Stora with Apple Time Machine

It seems that some versions of Mac OSX have some broken sparsebundle handling over AFP (Apple Filing Protocol). Time Machine uses sparsebundle's for backups. The consequence is that using Time Machine with a network-connected external hard disk (like the Netgear Stora) fails. I've spent a lot of time on various forums, reading Apple support articles and reading Netgear support articles. None of the suggestions helped, with the eventual exception of some vague advice to create the sparsebundle file manually. That advice, in fact, worked.

I did something a little like this.

  1. Open Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
  2. On your local hard drive, create a new disk image with a large Volume Size (200GB in my case), Volume Format 'Mac OS Exended (Journaled)', Partitions 'Apple Partition Map', Image Format 'sparse bundle disk image'
  3. Find out the name of the sparsebundle the Time Machine wants using the Time Machine Buddy widget. Start a backup and watch the log when it fails.
  4. Move the sparsebundle on your local hard drive to your network drive. If Time Machine is saying it can't create '/Volumes/sharepoint/MachineName_0023ef94d1fc.sparsebundle' then move the file there.
  5. Try starting the Time Machine backup again. You may need to mount the sparsebundle image first.

My log before this process...

Starting standard backup
Mounted network destination using URL: afp://user@
Backup destination mounted at path: /Volumes/share
Creating disk image /Volumes/share/MachineName_0023df97d1fc.sparsebundle
Error 45 creating backup disk image
Failed to create disk image 
Backup failed with error: 20
Ejected Time Machine network volume.

My log after it...

Mounted network destination using URL: afp://user@Stora._afpovertcp._tcp.local/share
Backup destination mounted at path: /Volumes/share
Disk image /Volumes/share/MachineName_0023df97d1fc.sparsebundle mounted at: /Volumes/200GB

Backing up to: /Volumes/200GB/Backups.backupdb
Event store UUIDs don't match for volume: Macintosh HD
Backup content size: 81.5 GB excluded items size: 9.7 MB for volume Macintosh HD
No pre-backup thinning needed: 97.80 GB requested (including padding), 197.78 GB available

Can't account for difference between IP URL in failed backup and Stora.afpovertcp.local URL in successful backup.

21 July 2010

98% waste cartoon

98% waste cartoon

Posted by Nutloaf

This is why the forestry industry isn't worried that the law says they can only burn wood waste in wood fired power stations.

16 July 2010

Doubtful Refrigeration

Doubtful Refrigeration

Posted by Nutloaf

15 July 2010

Thorn Raven Tour

Thorn Raven Tour

I got my new Raven Tour from Thorn UK, and I've been riding it for a few weeks now. It is really pretty great. Still working out if it is $5000 great, but I suppose I won't really know that for sure for another 30 years. It's not really a fancy bike in any sense, except for possibly being black. Black is fancy. And the Rohloff hub is fancy. But everything just feels like any other bike. Except more solid. It doesn't make funny noises or rattles. It doesn't creak or complain when you go over bumps. It feels totally happy with a 65kg friend sitting on the rack (even though I know that is not good respect for the engineering).

So far I like the hub gears. I like the wheels, although I'm nostalgic for the traction on my last set of hybrids. I really like the racks. It has a really sweet tyre pump. The seat is comfortable. Not sure about the Deore V-brakes. I'm missing my old disk brakes on my cheap Progear. The frame is really very solid. So solid. I can't stress just how solid it is. I like the black. Although the paint is pretty crappy and is already peeling off a bit. It got a bit clunked around in the shipping box and arrived a bit paint chipped.

It is heavy. But not that heavy. Full steel frame and heavy-duty steel pannier racks on the front and back. I'm guessing without a load it would come in around 18kg. It's probably not as well suited as I'd hoped for just riding around town. It feels like it's just waiting to have a bunch of bags loaded onto it so it can ride off somewhere far away. It's still a pleasure to ride though.

I can't say I would recommend doing the same thing again. Not unless you're super keen for a Thorn. For another $700 (now $1200 more) I could have got a Velosmith Jota custom built with a Rohloff. That probably wouldn't have been quite as tough, but it'd probably be a nicer bike. I don't feel like the parts on this bike are anything amazing, but I'll have to wait and see. And I wouldn't have to do all this stressing about postage and customs and what I'm going to do about warranty if something ever goes wrong. And it would also have been supporting the Australian bike-building industry instead of the Taiwanese one and I think the Australian one definitely needs the support more.

This bike was meant to be my attempt to spend an extra $2000 and avoid having to get to know everything about bikes. I wanted something that would last forever, and I wanted it to be like buying a long-term car instead of a bike. I think the experiment was not that successful. The world of bikes and bike repairs is just so soaked in the culture of geekery that it's hard to navigate without knowing exactly what every little thing is. I went into a couple of bike shops to get a kick stand. I got bad advice at both places and ended up with a $35 kick stand that is bending and probably doing all sorts of horrors to the chain stay.

But perhaps it wasn't a total failure either. I worked for a while to save money. I got a bike. It's a good one. It probably will last forever.


Glowworm Bicycles Site

After many, many months of experimentation and development the Glowworm Bicycles site has finally come together. It's been operational for quite a while, but with a bunch of bugs and quirks. It's all done in Drupal and we're using Ubercart for the store. The basically functionality was actually very fast. My impression of Ubercart is very good so far.

It wasn't a free website, but it's a pretty big one. And now I think I am fairly happy with it.

7 July 2010

Blood, Wine and Spirit

Blood, Wine and Spirit

Posted by Nutloaf

Computers & Things

Computers & Things

Posted by Nutloaf

6 July 2010

Servers out the ears

After frustrations with Slicehost (crashing a lot and weird stuff happening) and discovering that the VirtualBlades VPS I got in March is hosted on a refurbished Atari and decided to move stuff somewhere better.

Now we are all on a happy New Zealand server with RimuHosting. From Australia latency is around 30ms (instead of 220ms from Slicehost) and the server is well speedy. Fingers crossed.

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