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!

Tethering iPhone 3.0 to Ubuntu 9.04

June 17th, 2009

So, I found myself with a copy of iPhone OS 3.0 a little ahead of the general release and felt the urge to get tethering working properly. (People who jailbreak have previously had the option of a few third-party products, the best known and easiest to use being PdaNet, also known as that software that wrought havoc upon the LCA 2009 wireless.) It turns out to be pretty seamless on OS X (and apparently also on Windows), but of course, that doesn’t do an awful lot for me as an Ubuntu user.

iPhone Internet TetheringThe iPhone provides two options for tethering: USB and Bluetooth. The USB option looks promising, but is a bit beyond my knowledge of the USB subsystem: lsusb provides information on a configuration called PTP + Apple Mobile Device + Apple USB Ethernet with a couple of interfaces labelled Vendor Specific Class; someone with crazy USB hacking skills will probably get that turned into a network device in due course, I suspect.

That leaves Bluetooth. The iPhone uses Bluetooth Personal Area Networking The good news for lazy people like me is that NetworkManager support is in the works, but until then, it’s still not too painful, as people have been tethering to mobile devices using PAN for a while.

The tutorials I found generally covered other distributions or older versions of Ubuntu, so here’s the process for Jaunty. First the one-time configuration:

  1. Install the bluez-compat package.
  2. Edit /etc/default/bluetooth to add the following lines:

  3. Restart the Bluetooth service: /etc/init.d/bluetooth restart
  4. Add the BNEP network adapter to the /etc/network/interfaces file by appending the following line: iface bnep0 inet dhcp
  5. Get the Bluetooth address of your phone by running hcitool scan and jotting down the address next to your phone’s name.

Now the bits and pieces that need to be done each time:

  1. Pair your computer with your iPhone. If you’re using GNOME, the standard Bluetooth applet can handle that; presumably that’s true of the other flavours of Ubuntu as well.
  2. To connect, run these commands in your favourite shell, replacing 00:aa:bb:cc:dd:ee with the Bluetooth address you jotted down earlier:
    sudo pand --connect 00:aa:bb:cc:dd:ee -n
    sudo ifup bnep0
  3. At that point, life should be good and you should be connected. To disconnect later:
    sudo ifdown bnep0
    sudo pand -K

This seems to work rather well. The speed test results were noticeably better than they had been previously using the various ad-hoc network + jailbreak based solutions that I tried with iPhone 2.x; here at the office in sunny Osborne Park, I got about 850 kilobits down and 350 kilobits up (and a ping around 250 ms) on the notoriously crummy Optus 3G network, which is enough to actually be genuinely useful.

Thanks to InfoSec812 and wilbur.harvey (no relation!) for writing rather good tutorial posts on the Ubuntu Forums, which this howto is based on.

Adam, You Twittering Idiot

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.

It’s Not Too Late To Ship It! Ship It Good!

May 13th, 2009

Dear Lazyweb,

Does your hive mind1 know why ThinkGeek want US$30 to ship one solitary T-shirt to my inconveniently located postbox here in Perth, yet Threadless manage to ship two T-shirts here for US$9? There’s rather a lot of stuff I’d like to get from ThinkGeek, but the shipping costs are a bit too prohibitive even for me.

Having said that, since I already have close to fifty T-shirts, it may be a good thing that I can’t justify buying any more at the moment.

1 Hmmm. I wonder if I can just ask Wolfram Alpha when it gets launched, since it’s supposed to answer questions with the power of the Internet, a new kind of science, and most importantly the power of Grayskull.

Codral Day & Night: Now With Extra Crack!

May 5th, 2009

I don’t know what the hell Codral put in their new formula night tablets (although at least without psuedoephedrine I don’t spend the entire day shaking quietly in a corner, so that’s a win), but man I’ve had some awesome dreams over the last couple of nights.

I shan’t bore people with the whole lot, but my favourite image so far has been dreaming that I was still working at iiNet, going to my old desk (now sadly taken over by call centre people), and peering over the partition into the marketing area to see nobody there but a massive dragon sitting at one of the marketing co-ordinator’s desks reading Facebook and singeing the office plants every time he laughed at someone’s post. Come to think of it, I don’t even know how the hell the talons worked with the keyboard and mouse.

On the bright side, I now have a hell of a lot of stuff to work into short film scripts. I guess being sick isn’t all bad after all.

Crazy’s Back (and it wants your sister)

April 29th, 2009

You what I like when I’m waiting for Windows updates to download? Bonkers conspiracy theories! Nice to see that swine flu is just the latest in the long line of things that can be attributed to the New World Order, Freemasons, the usual. The Amero Freeway bit’s a nice touch.

In related news, my friend Jas has decided that he’s still going to Mexico in three weeks, as the airline tickets were non-refundable anyway. I’m already writing the Darwin Award nomination just in case.

Summing Up Three Months in One Post

April 24th, 2009

The story so far…

Our hero quit his job and was deassimilated from the Borg, travelled to India via Sri Lanka, and was last heard from on a bus from Delhi to Noida.

And now, the unexciting conclusion…

That was, as the dates indicate, about two and a half months ago. Indeed, I returned from India, as expected, in late February and have since taken up my new job (which, oddly enough, has put me back at my old desk) and have been feverishly working on the two productions that I’m expected to edit the India footage into (with, it has to be said, remarkably little success, as the rather depressing supervisor meeting I had on Wednesday reinforced).

Why the break in transmission? I’m not sure, really. I did write a few more journal entries while I was in India, but found that I ran out of energy at a certain point and really just wished I could learn how to sleep on buses, and then with the editing workload back here, combined with picking up the new job baton (a whole 48 hours after I landed back in Perth!), I just don’t seem to have had the creative energy for it.

India, for the record, was good fun. There’s been a little bit of unpleasantness since returning (nothing related to me, but it still casts a slight pall over the experience), but it was an incredibly worthwhile trip, all told. In the end, I think Bangalore was probably my favourite of the four cities we stayed in, but they were all interesting and (often surprisingly) different in their own rights. The filming went OK, but as I’ve said to a few people since returning, it really was no more than OK, and probably reminded me of why I was hesitant to get heavily involved in production units in the first place — I just don’t quite seem to have a natural feel for what needs to be shot and how the way a lot of other people do, and when you’re shooting ephemeral events in a documentary style, you have to have that feel.

I also have a huge queue of photos to upload, too, starting with some from last November (sorry Dean!) and then the photos from India. All… find . -name *.jpg | wc -l… 413 of them. (Yikes, particularly since I know I discarded at least twice as many while I was there, too.) I’ve been meaning to get started on that particular job since I got back, but the thought of sitting down and writing titles and descriptions for each of them has just sapped my energy each time I’ve opened my laptop to get going.

Tonight I’m off to the 4×4 Film Festival at uni, which is the twice-yearly competition between second and third year production students to see who can make the best four minute film. (Third years get handicapped by needing to edit in-camera, which having done it last year, is actually a pretty significant handicap for a lot of genres.) This semester’s theme is horror, which should be entertaining, and for once, I might be scared by more than the usual shoddy student acting.

In that spirit, I’ll sign off with this dodgy YouTube version of a horror film I worked on last year for uni. (We were apparently just a year ahead of the curve. That’s what I’m telling people who ask about the grade I received for it.) It’s seven and a bit minutes of… something. I’m not really sure what.

Sure, Why Not?

April 23rd, 2009

Seen on the Facebook home page….

I love that guy!

Ronnie and I have been friends for a long time, of course, but I’d just never been able to find him on Facebook. Thanks, anonymous PHP coders!

(Yeah, I know what they’re really getting at, but if you’re going to repurpose the people you might know field to handle fan pages and the like, it might be time to rethink the name.)

Balance of Terror

February 11th, 2009

Date: Wednesday, February 4, 2009 at 8:45 am IST
Place: Delhi-Noida Road, India

Once again, we’re on the bus. Happily, I’ve been able to get some fresh viewing material, and am presently watching the Star Trek episode Balance of Terror. (Hence the title.) Today, we’re headed for JIIT in Noida, another satellite city of Delhi. The plan is apparently to do a small group activity with the students there this morning, then visit three companies out there this afternoon before returning to Delhi in the evening.

The group activity should be interesting: we’re going to do a game design exercise, which should give us some insights into how their students are taught relative to our students. From my point of view, it should provide some opportunities to start doing some on the ground work in terms of potentially interviewing both our students and theirs, which will be useful practice both in manipulating the microphone and covering a number of groups at once; both areas in which I haven’t done a lot of work in the past.

Yesterday afternoon we went to Aricent in Gurgaon, a company who provide hardware and software to telecommunications OEMs. They were quite proud of their efforts in the human resources field; although progressive by at least the stereotype of Indian companies (only about a 42-45 hour week, somewhat flexible time), it was to a large extent the usual large corporate spin on them being a bit family, having a shared culture, et cetera.

From a filming point of view, yesterday was a bit of a bust, but that was somewhat expected. I grabbed some establishing footage outside of Aricent and then later at India Gate, but since I didn’t have any release forms on me, I decided against taking footage of Aricent employees or within Aricent itself. I’m also intending to start some end-of-day interviews this evening when we get back to Delhi: tonight should be Chris, from whom I hope to get some insight into the purpose of the trip from the university’s point of view.

On a different note, apparently PESIT in Bangalore have challenged us to a 20-20 game when we get down there. There’s already some banter going around the bus about who’s going to bat where and, more importantly, what colour box Sameera wants!

Obviously, we’re giving him a pink one.

The Road to Gurgaon

February 11th, 2009

Date: February 3, 2009 at 2:27 pm IST
Place: Delhi-Gurgaon Road, Haryana, India

The original plan for the trip that said that most people would arrive yesterday has unfortunately gone completely out the window. A delay in the departure of the Emirates flight leaving Perth for Dubai that almost two-thirds of the group were on meant that instead of arriving last night at about 8 o’clock, more than half of the student group didn’t arrive until 9:30 this morning, after a night and (very early) morning embarkation from Dubai. Unsurprisingly, most of the bus is now asleep, and Leisa is wandering down the aisle taking incriminating photos of people who are dead to the world.

We’re pressing on with the programme regardless, so presently the bus is trooping very, very slowly down to Gurgaon for the first scheduled event: a tour of a company called Aricent. This is good, as it gives me a chance to test out some of the equipment I have in a more “real” setting, although I’m not putting any great pressure on myself to get decent footage until the Agra trip the day after tomorrow.

Not an awful lot else to report at the moment. Our SIM cards are being organised while we head down to Gurgaon, so I should have a phone available again later this evening, and I now have a roommate in the form of Hamish. We’re going to room together for our stay in Delhi and see how we’re going after that — it seems like we have a bit in common, so that’s a good start.

Now I just need to figure out how to stop my dead cat to stop shedding!

Flying into Delhi

February 11th, 2009

Date: February 2, 2009 at 7:21 pm IST
Place: Arrivals Hall, Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, India

As we descended into Delhi this evening, the sun was setting. Sure, it was already down on the ground, but at our altitude it lit up the cabin of the plane in a light first the harsh yellow of the direct sun, where I could see my own shadow so sharply that I could have counted my eyelashes, then the warmer, more muted oranges and reds and pinks as the light bounced off seats and bulkheads to softly fill the plane in a beautiful glow.

It was a peaceful ending to what had been a slightly stressful day. This afternoon, I arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport to find one of those depressingly familiar Asian airline experiences playing itself out: sorry, sir, but your flight has been cancelled. Not enough people, I presume. Fortunately, I got there early enough to get a seat on the earlier flight to Delhi, the only real downside being the extra hour and a half I had to kill before being picked up.

Earlier in the day I’d set out on one of my characteristic missions to get lost in a city I don’t know very well, this time in Colombo. I succeeded a bit too well, as it turned out! After I’d been gone a while I realised that I’d left my Lonely Planet — and hence my maps — in my other backpack, which was safely back at the guest house. Ended up navigating my way back to Galle Road via the sun, then realised I was several kilometres south of the guest house and my taxi for the airport was arriving soon. Time to grab a tuk-tuk!

Colombo itself is a bit of a pastiche of places I’ve been: Singapore’s Little India with the socioeconomic state of Ulaanbaatar and road rules of Beijing, if you will.

Maybe third world cities are just starting to jade me. I hope not.

I do want to return to Sri Lanka at some point, but Colombo bores me in a way few cities other than Tallinn and Canberra have. Still, boring isn’t bad for getting over jetlag, and in Colombo House I at least had good digs. Next time I’m going to Galle and Kandy, though!

Well, that’s part of the hour and a half killed.