I've decided to retire this blog — I don't really see myself updating it any time soon, and haven't for over two years anyway. I intend to leave the content on-line for the forseeable future, but have converted it to a static site. As a result, dynamic things like search and comments aren't really going to work.

You can find me on Twitter or on Google+ if you like. Alternatively, I'm usually on IRC as LawnGnome on Freenode.

Thanks for reading!

Archive for November, 2007

Pac Wars

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

For anyone who saw our lightning talk at OSDC and wants to view Pac Wars in their own home cinema, you can view it on YouTube, courtesy of shenki.

PEAR DB 1.7.14RC1 Released

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

I’ve pushed out a beta release of PEAR DB versioned 1.7.14RC1 with a few fixes for issues reported since 1.7.13. Nothing in there is hugely urgent or high-risk, but I’ve made it a beta rather than a stable release due to the fact that I’m still a few thousand kilometres from my testing setup, which means that I’ve only been able to test against the databases I have to hand on my laptop — MySQL, PostgreSQL and SQLite.

All being well, I’m looking to get 1.7.14 final out around Monday (along with an Informix fix that I can’t work on without my Informix testing VM). Please feel free to test this release and report any issues.

Rubber OSDC

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Is it just me, or does the koala as printed on the OSDC bag bear a striking resemblance to the dog from the Rubber Johnny video clip? (OK, it’s probably just the eyes, really.)

The spiffy OSDC bag. The Rubber Johnny dog.

Open Source Bookmaking

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Odds that a Brisbane native will actually cross a street without a green pedestrian light: 20/1.

Odds that I’ll do a lightning talk: 5/1.

Odds that I’ll do a lightning talk that isn’t a rant about something: 100/1.

Odds that someone (or, in Julien’s case, some TV) will end up in the Royal pool: 3/2.

Odds that the registration process for OSDC will go smoothly: bets closed, because it did.

Officially, I’m now at OSDC. There are people sitting on couches sucking down wireless and killing their battery life. It’s good to be back in the conference groove.

Late Night Wanderings

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Just wandered out of my hotel to grab a snack and a drink (strangely, minibar prices remain unattractive to me), and I was surprised at how many people were still on the streets of Brisbane at a bit after 10 pm on a Monday. Coming from Perth, the land of it’s 5:01 pm — quick, everybody out of the city so the tumbleweeds can roll!, it’s a little disconcerting.

I drove up to Rockhampton on Friday and then spent a long weekend there and Hervey Bay. Going to Rockhampton and Great Keppel Island (for a daytrip) means that I’ve now entered the tropics within Australia, which is another remarkably minor geographical milestone that I can cross off. GKI is nice, but incredibly expensive (even moreso than Queenstown, which isn’t something I ever expected to say). In spite of being subtropical, Hervey Bay actually felt more like the stereotypical tropical paradise — the laid-back beach lifestyle just didn’t seem as forced. Plus, way less expensive.

Tomorrow it’s time to get my hacking boots on, because OSDC is here. I’m looking forward to it; it’s my first OSDC and my first conference since LCA in January. Feel free to say hello if you see me wandering the halls — I don’t bite.

Well, there was that one time, but I maintain he deserved it. Also, I was five years old. I’d like to think that I’ve grown since then, if only physically.

(Finally, since Derick just prodded me about it on IRC, no, I haven’t forgotten about Dubnium. I’m hoping to be pretty close to a 0.2 release — that’s the release that might actually be usable — in about a fortnight.)

The Rock Gives You: The People’s Car Park

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

The Rock Customer Car Park

Just don’t ask about the People’s Tow-Away Zone.

Messages from a Cinema Foyer

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Being a film student is something I enjoy. Being a film student 3000 km from home and going to a soirée where you don’t know a soul is not something I enjoy. I’m not good in these situations at the best of times — just ask anyone who’s attended an LCA networking session with me — but waiting through a 45 minute preshow love-in is my own personal form of purgatory. I just hope the documentaries are worth it.

I tapped the above into my mobile phone while waiting for the Brisbane International Film Festival screening of two jtv docs productions: Aussie Battlers, a film about the world of Australian MC battling, and Searching 4 Sandeep, which is better described on its jtv page that what I would do.

Fortunately, they were worth it. I’d already heard good things about Searching 4 Sandeep from the Sydney Film Festival, and it really is a touching, engaging love story. Aussie Battlers, on its world premiere (well, that’s what I heard somewhere today) did many things right, but one thing that I’m particularly keen on — after seeing a lot of student documentaries this year — is that it was genuinely funny. The contrasts between the battlers’ on-stage personas and their softly-spoken off-stage interviews were remarkable, and often led to some clever and revealing cuts. There are some shots used during the final battle in the Australian national competition which reveal a lot about the contenders — one in particular — and are juxtaposed beautifully with what’s being said, both in interview and in the flow.

Apparently both documentaries are going to appear on the ABC at some point. I’d recommend them both; they’re both very different films, but they’re really well constructed.

“Hey, You Know Where the ‘Hooters’ Is?”

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

(I wrote this post this morning while eating breakfast and waiting for my hire car to be readied, but haven’t had Internet access until now. I’ve been in Brisbane since Tuesday evening, for the record.)

First things first: yes, I really was asked the question in the title last night while walking back from the Muse gig at the Riverstage. Apparently when I’m with my mate Ian, his sister and her partner, I look like the sort of guy who (a) is a local and (b) would frequent Hooters. Maybe a career playing the sleazy guy in porn awaits.

Before the Muse concert last night, I spent the afternoon hanging with Ian and checking out Brisbane City and Southbank. The last time I was here was in 1993, and although my memories of that trip are more focused on the Gold Coast portion, I remember enough of Brisbane to know that things have really gone ahead since then, particularly in Southbank. The progress is a lot more pronounced than Perth’s over the last fourteen years, too, and it reinforces just how much we’ve wasted our mining fortune and our foreshore to date.

Muse were awesome! As I mentioned last week, I thought they were a little off their best in Perth, but they were astonishingly good here in Brisbane — I’d say it’s the best set I’ve seen them do. Bonus points for the esoteric set list: Fury, Microcuts and Ruled by Secrecy in rapid succession confused some of the teenyboppers.

Other bits and bobs:

  • The very first conversation I heard when I got here was while perusing the menu at an Italian restaurant in Fortitude Valley: two young women were discussing Oxford Street. In Leederville. In Perth. At that point, I wondered why I’d just spent four and a bit hours on a plane.
  • Be careful when organising hire cars through Webjet. Although I was careful to select Brisbane CBD as both my pick-up and drop-off point, they managed to book me a car on the Gold Coast. I got lucky — the Hertz in Brisbane was flat out, but the helpful woman behind the counter was able to rustle up a car that I gather wasn’t even on their computer.

Gutsy + MacBook Pro

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

I’ve had to contend with a few little annoyances since installing Ubuntu 7.10 on my new MacBook Pro, so here’s a short list of things that might help if you find yourself with the same issues I’ve had.

Problem: The CapsLock and NumLock LEDs don’t light up. To make matters worse, the NumLock key occasionally locks on, particularly after sleep, and the keyboard becomes essentially useless.

Solution: Uninstall mouseemu. It seems to be the source of this evil.

Problem: Without mouseemu, there’s no way to use middle and right click from the keyboard.

As long as you don’t need the mouse outside of X and don’t really care whether NumLock actually results in numbers rather than mouse movements, you can solve this with xmodmap and mouse keys support. In short:

  1. Turn on mouse keys. Within Gnome, that’s under SystemPreferencesUniversal AccessKeyboard Accessibility; select Enable Keyboard Accessibility Features, then go to the Mouse Keys tab and Enable Mouse Keys.
  2. Create a file called .xmodmaprc in your home directory with the following contents:
    keycode 95 = Pointer_Button2
    keycode 96 = Pointer_Button3

    These keycodes correspond to F11 and F12 for me — you can change them to whatever you’d prefer for the middle and right click functions. xev will give you the keycodes for the keys you want.

  3. Ensure that the modmap is loaded when you log in. In Gnome, this can be done through the SystemPreferencesSessions dialog box. Click Add to add an additional startup program, then ensure that the command is xmodmap /home/USER/.xmodmaprc, replacing USER with your username. Give it any name and hit OK, then close the session preferences.
  4. Log out and log back in. The first time you log in, you should get a dialog box from xmodmap to confirm that you want to load the .xmodmaprc file — confirm that you do and that you don’t want to be asked each time, and from then on you should have the goodness of three mouse buttons again.

Problem: The keyboard backlight doesn’t work or I can’t change the display backlight brightness.

  1. There’s a kernel module that needs to be loaded for some of these features to work. The easiest way to do it is to edit /etc/modules and appending the line applesmc. This will ensure it’s loaded on subsequent boots.
  2. Load the applesmc module at the command line using sudo modprobe applesmc.
  3. Install pommed (available in the universe repository, so ensure that’s enabled). These things will start working. If you’d prefer to use the function key to change volume or brightness, you can do this by editing /etc/pommed.conf and changing fnmode to 2.

Most of this is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things — it was really the issue of NumLock freezing the keyboard (particularly on waking from sleep, although I’ve had it happen a couple of times in general use as well) that led me to start looking into this. I have a Rev. D MacBook Pro, so it may be that many of these things aren’t issues on the older hardware; I don’t recommend blindly doing any of this unless you know you have a problem.

public class Exam extends HttpServlet {

Monday, November 12th, 2007
        public void init() {

        private void findRoom() {
                try {
                catch (VomitException e) {

        private void buyWater() {
                try {
                catch (MachineSwallowedCoinWithoutReasonAgainException e) {

        public void doGet(HttpServletRequest req, HttpServletResponse resp) {

        public void doPost(HttpServletRequest req, HttpServletResponse resp) {

        public void doDelete(HttpServletRequest req, HttpServletResponse resp) {
                $var = ... oh, shit;

I enjoyed the exam about as much as the rest of the unit (that is, not at all), but I’m pretty sure I did enough to pass. I must remember to read sample exams more closely, though — I was completely broadsided by the 15 mark question on Java GUI construction in a unit supposedly about building Java-powered Web sites. Obviously applets are back in vogue.

Now for the nervous wait for results in about six weeks.