I don’t know what it is, but the interval between these random posts seems to be getting more and more irregular. Part of the reason must be because of how insanely busy I’m becoming … it’s likely that blog posts may take a bit of a hit as I try and get everything done!
I would have never guessed it that one day, I would be invited by my favourite “shop” to present a webinar. It’s been under wraps for a little bit due to the need to organize it – but here are the details:
- Title: Getting Started with Raspberry Pi & Accessories
- Time: 1pm AEST (Sydney Time) on 1st April 2014 (for approximately 35 minutes)
- Attendance: Online via Webex – register here.
I’ve been told that the attendance has been set to open, and after the webinar takes place, it will be recorded and made available for watching at your convenience. If you’ve ever wondered about the Raspberry Pi – let me walk you through exactly what it is, and what you can do with it, and how you can make the most of it. Hope to see you there!
Last week was UNSW orientation week, a traditional event held the week before the semester officially starts to “introduce” the new students to their environs. It’s also normally a fairly busy event with many stalls and nearly obligatory giveaways (to keep the interest of students, of course). As it turns out, most years have seen a reduction in interesting giveaways, either because the companies know it doesn’t work, or because they need to reduce the money spent on “marketing”. Nonetheless, this year, there was a few stand-outs.
Google was definitely one. I haven’t seen Google advertising at an O-week before, but this time, they were out in force with their Chromebooks, Nexus 7 and Nexus 5’s. They were running Androidify on a few devices and showing off cloud-print, which was rather neat until the printer stopped working. But best of all, they gave away a wood covered notebook with a matching pen. It just feels like quality, save for the Made in China sticker on the back. They also have a special offer of a $40 Google Play voucher if you purchase a Chromebook or Nexus 7 from JB Hi-Fi with the coupon.
I think this is a good move by Google, although, it might be too late, given most students already have several smart devices by the time they end up in uni. But it is good to see them try and persuade the public by offering something for their attention and time, and using an application which lets them get their hands on a device, have a feel for themselves and (maybe) be suitably impressed with the weight, size, feel and quality of the screen.
There was a Microsoft stand this year, but it was positively paltry in comparison with the focus being on a spin-the-wheel-and-win-something game rather than products. In prior years, Microsoft did showcase some products, but interest was strictly limited to “… and now you are eligible to enter the competition.”
There was no Apple showing to my knowledge, not even by their resellers (e.g. Next Byte, Comp Now). I suppose this underscores their confidence that no Apple needs to be sold, they literally sell themselves!
I also managed to visit the Transport Sydney stand and had a chat to one of the officers about the things that are happening to the network re: Opal cards. There isn’t much to say but things are progressing, and only once everything is in place will concession Opal cards be available. For my efforts, I was rewarded with a Transport Sydney Trains 2Gb USB2.0 key – now that’s definitely worth collecting, as an enthusiast.
In case you wondered how this promotional USB key performed, well … I did test it too!
This gives us a bit of a baseline as to how the cheapest promotional devices operate. If your device is slower than this, you should be ashamed!
I spotted this tent with a familiar logo … they’re not around anymore, but apparently these guys have their tent!
Aside from that, there’s really not much to report from O-Week. It’s the same as it has been every year. It was good to bump into and meet several former students of mine and have quite a long chat with some of them.
It’s been ages since I’ve caught a train, owing to the ankle keeping me at home. But since I’ve started, things have definitely changed somewhat. For one thing, the new timetable seems to have altered the number of fast trains Granville gets – it’s a bit of a slower ride into the city now. The other thing that I noticed right away was that the maps have all been changed over, and the lines are using the new T* number coding, even on the line status indicators at the city.
The new brand logo has been applied as well to their service vehicles, although the stripes are the Railcorp stripes colour.
Even their tickets have changed slightly (compare with my collection) – instead of Railcorp, Sydney Trains appears in the ABN line at the top. I noticed some of the Railcorp ones have the Return ticket valid up to 4am after day of issue added to it too, but I haven’t scanned one into my collection.
The Opal card rollout has progressed further than I had realized, and users of the Opal system must number a significant number, as standing at Central station gates, you will hear the beep once every ten seconds or so. I’ve seen someone tap-out, but interestingly, when they lifted the card from the reader (after they were given an OK), the screen reverted to “Try Again” for some reason. Maybe it re-sensed the card as it was being lifted.
But I also saw their “solution” to non-barrier stations – they install standalone poles with a pair of Opal readers for you to tap on or tap off. There can be several poles per platform – this was taken from the train as it stopped at Homebush.
I was out one night, walking near Capitol when I saw the Light Rail displays activated for a test – this is the first time I’ve seen the displays used for anything whatsoever.
Finally, I managed to pick this up off the ground in a Sydney Buses bus. It’s the first example of a Shift Report I’ve managed to obtain, with the other Status Report being obtained numerous times before.
It seems that the ROLFF version has incremented yet again – now it’s S9.0q (fornerly S9.0L and S8.0p). This may be in preparation for Opal card introduction.
Lets just say that the ankle has gotten somewhat better as it’s no longer too painful to walk, although it is still stiff and rather difficult to walk properly. In the peak times, going to uni, it’s a bit of a push and shove, especially up and down the stairs. It seems that everyone is walking by quickly … and while I try my best, I just can’t walk as quickly as they do. It feels as if I’m left behind. This wasn’t the case before.
After a few days of attending uni, I had to take a day off, because the ankle was positively tired. Walking up hills and stairs were just not possible and I fear the possibility of causing any additional damage.
I guess I’ll still have to take it slowly, but I am now returning back to my PhD, and as a result, it’s likely that blog posts will slow down. It is a personal rule of mine that (almost) no work related to my PhD makes it onto the blog, mainly for publication and intellectual property rules.
VHS Cassette Library
After a lot of work, I’ve finally managed to compile my blank VHS cassette library to cover all of the blank cassettes we have in our present possession. Unfortunately, many of them were already thrown out before I embarked on this project, and so they never had a chance to be preserved for the future.
Feel free to take a gander around. Unfortunately, as I’m a bit busy, the VHS clip library won’t be seeing any updates for a little while. Of course, if you have any different types of cassettes to contribute, and you’re willing to get them to me, I’ll be happy to add them in.
Kit Kat Green Tea Flavour
My brother and his girlfriend made a trip to Japan for a short holiday – one of the things they bought back for me was this Green Tea flavoured Kit Kat. I know that around the world, they’ve had promotional Kit Kats with special flavours, but I’ve never managed to get my hands on any of them …
Inside? Well, I suppose everything in Japan is probably a bit smaller, because the size of the bars is really diminutive by Western standards.
The taste? Well, it tastes like a Kit-Kat made with white chocolate with barely a hint of green tea mixed in. A little disappointing I suppose, but then again, I didn’t know what to expect anyway …
Other (short) Tidbits
- Apple SSL Bug – all Apple device users are advised to upgrade their iOS and OSX to the latest version to avoid issues with certificate verification. I’ve done this upgrade with no issues.
- Samsung Galaxy S5 Phone Launch – it’s more of an incremental improvement rather than a revolution. New sensors are always welcome, but it really didn’t live up to the hype. I suppose it’s a case where the excitement of the launch was ruined by unrealistically high expectations set by rumours. I don’t think anyone with an S4 really would have any real temptation to upgrade. Mind you, the Sony Xperia Z2 made more of a splash, so … sorry Samsung. I think the failure to capture the public’s attention might also be down to saturation of the phone market – IDC is warning of this exact fact. I wonder what Apple will bring to the table to change their fortunes.
- imo Messenger ceasing support for third party networks – back when MSN was still a useful instant messaging network, I used to use imo on all my mobile devices to get on MSN (amongst others, e.g. Facebook, and Skype). Skype was then removed from the list of supported networks – and now, the plan is to remove all third party networks. I’m sorry, but imo is no longer useful for me – I’m certain that the majority of users would have stopped using it already. Limiting it to imo only would only hasten the decline – in the meantime, Whatsapp is probably still growing.
- Whatsapp bought by Facebook – big news, $19b worth of news. I think it might be an admission that Facebook itself is not that interesting anymore to its userbase, and to maintain the “good” figures of user growth and engagement for their shareholders, they’re instead “paying” for users to join Facebook’s “umbrella of services”. I suppose the more people FB has contact with, the more data they can get – phone numbers, chats, connections (metadata). I think it’s almost certain that Facebook will do something bad in the future … since the acquisition, Whatsapp crashed for a bit.
- MSY in Kingsford – I haven’t visited it (yet) but I noticed a while back that MSY had opened a new branch in Kingsford, almost conveniently close to UNSW. I don’t know how big or how well stocked it is, but if you’re from UNSW and you live nearby, getting computer components is now just a bit easier.
That’s all for now – time for me to get some more work done!