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.

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Archive for the 'WTF University' Category

Undesirable content

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Tried to access my home server from university (the same university that blocks access to everything except HTTP(S) via a proxy — not even outbound port 22, requires all wireless connections to go over an unsecured network then uses a PPTP VPN over that, rather than the more obvious 802.1x authentication, and other bits of IT bizarreness) and got this wonderful screen (URL and user name blanked out to protected the guilty):

ContentKeeper Fail

I’m not quite sure what’s malicious about a Mythweb interface, but hey, who am I to argue with the sensible people in university ITS.

Adam, You Twittering Idiot

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

I decided yesterday to actually do something with the Twitter account I set up a few weeks back, and have joined the self-absorbed cool kids and PR machines in posting the odd message through it. (Tweet, whatever. I still have enough issues with the existence of words like blog.) I had it hooked up to Facebook for about a day, but really, I think it’s a different type of writing to a status update, at least for me — a status update’s a bit more friend-oriented, whereas I see Twitter as being a way to just randomly blurt out whatever’s flitting through my head for anyone who’s bored enough to care. Ergo, no more linkage.

On an unrelated note, I had another meeting with my supervisor this afternoon about my India documentary, which is now due in just eight short days. (Theoretically I have nine, but if I get the project done in eight I get to spend a four day weekend in Albany with friends not worrying about it.) As has become the pattern for those meetings, I spent a couple of hours beforehand frantically working in an attempt to ignore the knots in my stomach, danced around the explanation of the incomplete work that I was supposed to have completed, Keith did his best to not look too disappointed with me, and we agreed on yet another course of action moving forward.

The silver lining is that I’ve learned plenty of things this semester. Unfortunately, the key lessons seem to have been things I shouldn’t ever attempt again, namely corporate videos and solo projects. I guess I at least know my capabilities (or lack thereof) a bit more now.

I’ve Got A Fever, And The Only Prescription Is More Cowb^WAST

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

I’m having one of those rarest of things today — a day off from work. Even more unexpectedly, I have about a half-hour of downtime, due to Dan running late with the raw footage I have to edit for our major film assignment this semester (now featuring zombies!). I have, of course, chosen to spend it in the most productive manner possible: drinking coffee (yes, I was shocked too) and following the early results in the US Presidential election, courtesy of CNN and, more credibly, AST’s* electoral vote tracker doohickey.

I find myself strangely fascinated by this election. I mean, Barackstar is pretty obviously going to win, unless the pollsters are having an even worse year than politicians without any common sense, but after the dull 2004 campaign (not to mention the WA state election that excitement forgot a couple of months back — at least until the votes started getting counted), it’s just nice to have an interesting contest.

For the rest of my day, editing, stop-motion filming, and cooking a chicken tikka masala await.

Man, I just hope this election’s called early so that I actually get most of that done.

* This AST, not this AST. Don’t get them confused. It’s embarrassing trying to parse some source code and realising you’ve just got Tanenbaum on a plane instead of loading the syntax tree library.†
† Yep, I think end of semester madness has set in again.

3192 Days

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

There’s some fuller blog posts (and software releases) coming in the next few days (Shanghai’s awesome, but it’s been a pretty hectic fortnight here, hence my dropping almost completely off the grid), but I just had to share this screenshot, having been increasingly uncertain whether I’d passed my Internet and Java Programming exam after all:

Wait, what’s this word “COMPLETED”, anyway?

For the record, I ended up with three distinctions and a high distinction for the semester, so I’m pretty happy with how things worked out. As for finally being done, I’m deliriously happy.

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.


Sunday, November 11th, 2007

General catch-up post, since I haven’t blogged in a while:

  • Not dead. Just been busy.
  • Now done with uni, bar one exam and my computer science project, which is complete apart from a couple of bugfixes and some documentation which are due in Monday week. I’m looking forward to having some actual time to do things outside of uni. Who knows, I might even get Dubnium 0.2 out at some point.
  • Went and saw Muse tonight, who were good, but not quite great in the way they have been the other times I’ve seen them. In fairness, I think some of that was due to the crowd, who (at least in my area) weren’t quite into it the way I expected. Against that, they played Citizen Erased and Fury (the latter for the first time in almost three years, apparently), so I’d forgive them almost anything for that. Looking forward to seeing them in Brisbane in a couple of weeks.
  • Got my new MacBook Pro yesterday. It’s very speedy compared to the venerable G4 iBook it’s replacing (indeed, I’m pretty much certain it’s quicker than my dual core Athlon 64 desktop, too), but there’s a couple of things that irk me, most notably the fact that the Linux Atheros wireless chipset driver may actually be flakier than the Broadcom chipset in the iBook, and I never expected to say that. I suspect I’ll need to sit down with ndiswrapper at some point and look at getting that set up. On the bright side, suspend actually seems to be working, bar Atheros-related flakiness.

Hopefully it won’t be another three weeks before my next blog post. No promises, though.

Perthifornication: The Edge of Coherent Thought

Monday, September 10th, 2007

I wonder how many of the series being pitched in my university’s Television Scriptwriting unit this semester are edgy, sexy shows about the life of a struggling writer in a big city? Three episodes in, Californication does seem like writer porn of the highest order. It’s the life every young writer dreams of — babes, smooth talking, throwing up on paintings that deserve it, more babes…

Well, the guys, anyway.

(OK, some of the girls, too.)

In unrelated news, post-production for science fiction shorts less fun than previously expected. Damned bluescreens.

Leaves and Twigs and Beans, Oh My!

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

I’ve mentioned my final Computer Science project a couple of times now on the blog without actually describing what it is. Now seems like a good time to do so, having just spent a solid afternoon and evening on it. The summary (which remains one of only two pieces of actual paperwork written for the project thus far — thank $DEITY this isn’t a group project with meeting minutes and the like) reads as follows:

To develop a networked simulation of a garden system that allows users to maintain the garden by interacting with individual plants, which are simulated using the principles of L-systems.

Put more simply, the idea is to build a client/server system that provides something like a SimGarden over the Internet. Fortunately, much of the theoretical work needed for this has long been done, and most of it is in The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants, so that has largely left me to worry about the parts of the project that don’t involve quantifying plant physiology and behaviour, like rendering L-systems in a manner that can render a simple plant (without leaves) at more than 0.4 frames per second on my iBook.

I’m still working on that little problem, but the fact it’s rendering at all is progress — it means the 3D turtle is working (yes, it’s just like Logo, except in Python and with an extra dimension to confuse people), the L-system parser can at least deal with simple L-systems, and all in all, I’m feeling rather content with life, given that five weeks ago I didn’t even have a project (the project I had planned fell through due to the supervisor leaving the university) and four weeks ago I had no idea what OpenGL code even looked like. Of course, said contentedness is likely to evaporate any moment now, given the amount of work that’s still ahead.

I sign off tonight in the traditional fashion: screenshots.

Hello world! This is actually a highly serious test of the 3D turtle code. Honest. Is it a bird? A plane? No, it’s a really ugly plant at 0.4 FPS.

Hi, My Name is ‘); DROP TABLE GuestBook; –

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

One of the units I’m doing this semester is Internet and Java Programming, albeit not by choice — it’s a required unit for the Computer Science major here. Whether that actually makes sense is a debate for another blog post, but today’s lecture and workshop featured some gems. In particular, I wanted to share these three slides:

Slide the first Slide the second Slide the third

Now, I’m no Java expert, but that looks like a big fat SQL injection vulnerability to me. If so, it’s good to know we’re teaching our graduates of the (near) future secure coding practices. For the record, the sole mention of prepared queries in the course appears to have been a throwaway line in last week’s JDBC lecture which didn’t mention why you might want to use them. Oh, and the textbook uses very similar examples too, and fails to mention any potential problems even in the chapter on security.

It’s days like this I wonder why I tossed in a good job to finish my degree this year. 0.59 semesters to go.

(Slides © 2007 Edith Cowan University; fair dealing usage asserted under the criticism and review provisions of Australian copyright law.)

Some Sort of Giant Mechanical Atomic-Powered Grading Machine

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Bit of a catch-all post today, as I need to head off shortly for tonight’s installment of the fun game called Let’s Shoot a Student Film!*

  • Had a heart attack moment in Feature Film Scriptwriting this morning, as the first thing our lecturer/tutor said to me was so, Adam, where’s your assignment — which seems fairly normal for me nowadays, except that he was referring to the synopsis I’d handed in yesterday. I’m still not sure what happened to it, but he was happy enough to take a copy I printed out there and then, didn’t ping me for a (thoroughly deserved) late penalty, and promptly marked it in about fifteen minutes during the tutorial, complete with a page or so of notes. To top it all off, I even got a good mark. All’s well that ends well, I guess, but I really need to get better at estimating how long scriptwriting-related tasks will take — I seem to be prone to underestimating or overestimating severely.
  • Nineteen people have downloaded the source code for the WordPress Gopher interface code I posted yesterday. That’s… mildly disturbing.
  • I think the staff at the university’s café are actually starting to get concerned about the amount of coffee I’m going through this semester, judging by the look I got today when I went for a quick cup during a break in class. They may have a point.

* Fun not guaranteed. Please check the label before ingesting. Do not catch foot on extension cords for Gulliver lights.†
† Not that I would know anything about that last one. Ahem.