Friday, July 28, 2006

Letter From DIMIA

We received a letter from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs yesterday. Shawn was granted his Partner Visa (temporary). Very exciting and so quick! We only gave all requested information to them a couple of weeks ago. This visa goes for two years and then he gets the permanent partner visa. We were battening down the hatches in preparation for interviews, requests for more information, general interrogation and discomfort. Whilst I don't exclude these things from future enquiries, it's good to know we got to this stage without them. So happy.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

While Asleep

Last night, while sleeping, I was very active. Shawn woke me up with hugs because I was having nightmares, or so he thought. I was actually having annoying-mares. The first one: I was going over something that happened at work. I had to make a fix to some game backgrounds ( a lot of my work is fixing other peoples work), but each background was slightly different in areas where it was supposed to be identical, so I had to fix that too. Waking up while making a deep, slightly Marge Simpson sounding, disgruntled "Mmmmm." is an odd sensation.

Coding Again

I've been enjoying coding for Anguish again. I have one small project (one room and one object) in the approval queue and I'm working on a larger project at the moment: 11 npc (Non-Player Characters) files, 40 object files and 40 room files. Most of it is finished, except for the hard stuff. There is quite a lot of hard stuff, so I haven't been too inspired to work on it, thinking that what's left is going to be a struggle. This is, probably, mostly true, but I've found that after a long break from coding, I can see how to code some things instantly. I have no idea how this works. It may be that coming back to it with fresh eyes, I see it old problems in a new light, or that I've had time to soak up certain concepts and add new code knowledge to my brain in the meantime. Probably all of the above.

Although not a visual pursuit, I think it's good for me to be getting into creative projects outside of work.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Backyard Visit

This beautiful red cyclamen grows between the pavers and a brick wall in our backyard. If I have to have weeds, this one rates pretty highly with me. If only it'd grow in place of all the other weeds in our courtyard.

I let Kimba join me since, sadly, she's only allowed in the backyard when accompanied. If we let her out by herself, she tends to get set upon by some cats that live two doors down. This has at least twice resulted in visits to the vet. Physically, she isn't the tough young thing she used to be, but she still won't be run out of her own backyard (and fair enough). There are pros and cons about Kimba staying indoors most of the time. One pro is that the vet told me she probably shouldn't sit outside in the sun any more due to being all white and having some sun damage on her nose (which thankfully went away after a winter indoors). Pro #2: other cats can't attack her while she's inside. Pro #3: no unnecessary vet bills! Con: she loves it out there and doesn't get all the same catty stimuli inside. As the weather starts to improve we'll spend more time out there with her.

I haven't been out into the backyard for weeks. Too cold at this time of year to spend any great deal of time out there, but I noticed the cyclamen flowering and had to get a better look. I took a look around at how all the plants were going while I was there. The Parsley was going nuts, as was the Lemon Thyme so I used both in a massive Shepherds Pie I made last night. Looking forward to the weather getting warmer and doing some general gardening, as well as repotting some bonsai and giving them some love and much needed attention.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Free E-mail Account Security

A comment prompted this one. I think my response is too big to put in a comment. This is my understanding of the subject.

Do free email account providers collect your personal information? Yes. When you sign up they ask for your real name, postcode and country. Actually, they ask for more than that, but that's the only personal info you have to give (at least with yahoo. I'd assume they are all pretty generic).

Do they sell your personal information. No.

Do they collect information about what sites you navigate to on the net. Yes. They set cookies and check what they cookies has collected later on. Can you prevent this? Yes. Go into your prowsers security preferences and delete any cookies you don't want.

Are there any cookies you would want? Yes. These email providers set cookies to provide a timeout for you email account so that if you forget to log off no one can wander up and go through your email.

Do they collect information about what ads you click on from your email page. Yes. Then they know what products and services you are interested in and will show you ads for similar services next time. They will also make this information available to their marketing department so they can more effectively sell advertising space. So they would say something like "Oh yeah, there's a huge market for pink, knitted dog coats. We've had 327,486 click-throughs on that in the last week!"

Do they capture your IP? Yep, but then anyone can do that. _I_ can do that. Most sites want to have a vague idea of where their traffic is coming from.

Do they read your email. I highly doubt it. This would contravene privacy laws in any developed country, but like our phone conversations, these can be acquired by a subpoena.

Do they capture keywords from email subject fields. Yes. This is good and bad. Good because they use this tool to keep spam out of my in box. Bad because it's something they are allowed to read and most people think all communications are private. Solution: Just don't put anything personal in your subject lines. If you don't want your subject lines used for market research, don't stick product names in there.

My Conclusion: It depends on how gung-ho you want to be about it. I figure that I get massive amounts of storage, an email service I can use anywhere in the world, they don't get as much browser info from me as they would probably like and I don't pay for it. Outside of the net you expose information about yourself all the time. I signed up for a booklover card with a bookstore. I noticed that they spelled my name incorrectly and weirdly. Amazingly I started receiving junk snail mail with the same weird spelling. When people in the street ask you to answer a few questions for research. Do you acquiesce? Lastly, your name, address and phone number are in the phonebook.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Four Things List...

A friend asked me to fill in the four things list, might as well add it to the blog as well.

Things you may not have known about me ...

(A) Four jobs I have had in my life... (other than graphic design stuff. Everyone knows that already):
1. Kitchenhand
2. Data entry clerk
3. Artist
4. Volunteer sales person for a charity

(B) Four movies I would watch over and over
1. Blade Runner
2. Labyrinth (14 times baby)
3. Lord of the Rings
4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

(C) Four places I have lived
1. Newcastle (2 different places)
2. Melbourne (3 different places)
3. Sydney (6 different places... i think)
4. Sydney... again (see above)

(D) TV shows I love to watch:
1. Gardening Australia
2. Dr. Who
3. My name is Earl
4. Farscape (missed it on tv. watching it on dvd now)

(E) Four places I have been on vacation:
1. Death Valley, USA
2. Kyoto, Japan
3. London, England
4. Wagga Wagga, Australia (school holidays at my Aunt's farm)

(F) Websites visited daily:

(G) Four of my favourite foods:
1. Chocolate
2. Nutella with strawberries
3. Chicken and basil risotto
4. Hickory smoked lemon chicken

(H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Somewhere warm, nice beach, warm water.
2. Blue Mountains, in front of fireplace, looking out onto Megalong Valley.
3. Beach cottage, again in front of fire, uninterrupted view of the rain over the ocean.
4. In a house that I own.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Visa procession

First came the Fiance Visa, then the Bridging visa, next will be the Spouse visa, followed by the Permanent Resident Visa. We've been piecing together lots of bits of paper to send to immigration. So we're all about photocopying, tracking down a Justice of the Peace who is not out of the office, getting statutory declarations from family, getting things signed, printed and continuing the serial that is Relationship History Statement. Next is passport sized photos. It's all very tedious and expensive. At least after the Spouse visa we get a break for two years until the permanent resident visa comes up.

A friend is moving...

away from Sydney. I get it. It's hard to maintain lifestyle in Sydney because it's so expensive to live here, but it doesn't make it any easier to see them go.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Left work in time...

to see a burnt orange horizon.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Settings Changes

I've made some changes to the settings for my blog. You no longer need to be a registered user to comment, but you do need to do a word verification (simply type the word they display into a text field). This prevents me from getting bot generated spam in my comments.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Suit, Superman and Sleep

Yesterday was kind of busy. After work, I went and picked up Shawn to go shopping for a suit for him. He's lost so much weight (35 lbs!!!) that his old suit just doesn't fit properly and looks a little off. We decided he could get away with wearing it, but that should get another one. When he tried it on the visual difference really struck me. He looks so good in the new suit. Whilst the finances would rather we didn't buy it (it was on sale though!), he needs it for interviews now that all the travel and wedding stuff is over. He's actually in at a temp agency right now and has an interview on Friday as well. You can do it, baby.

So, after the suit shopping we stopped for a coffee. That is to say that we both stopped so I could have coffee. Shawn just fights off the sleeping sickness (jetlag) au naturalle and doesn't want me pushing me filthy, filthy habit on him. We then wandered down to the cinema on George Street to see Superman Returns. This is not something I would go and see of my own volition, but Shawn is a comic fanboy and I'm happy to do things that make him go: "Eeeee!" like a small child with a sugar rush.

After fighting off the very strong desire to sleep towards the end of the movie, we went home. I slept deeply. Instead of waking up at 5am or earlier, I woke to my alarm and could've kept sleeping. I'm hoping that staying up so much later last night will mean an end to the jetlag.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Katamari Damacy

What's that you say? It's a PS2 game that has reinvigorated my interest in video games. Shawn bought it while we were in the US. It is the strangest game I've ever played. Strange, fun, original and addictive. Let me give you an idea. The King of the Cosmos got drunk one night and broke all the stars in the sky. How irresponsible. He's not a very good parent and as such he's making you, the prince, his son, do all the work at fixing the problem so the night sky can be all shiny again. How do you do this? The King gives you a small sticky ball (a katamari) and you have to roll it around on earth and collect lots of objects, making each Katamari big enough to make a star out of, to replace all the stars that were broken. You start off by collecting small things such as push pins and stamps, then work your way up through sushi, shoes, cats, people, to cars, houses, larger buildings, etc. Don't expect the King to be very supportive either. At the end of your efforts he may respond by telling you to get out or by saying how disappointing your katamari is.

The other thing about this game is the music. The theme song by itself is extremely infectious and it often finds it's way into my head during unrelated activities, but aside from that, you'll find that with each katamari you'll get one of several different songs. It might be cute Casio-like techno, or swing, or jazz. It's also worth mentioning that when the King speaks, the sound that comes out is vinyl record scratching. I love this game. I try not to play it too often though. I need my eyes for other things.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

I still have jet lag...

but at least Shawn has it with me. We woke up early, but continued to laze around in bed for a while. I made myself some coffee, returned to bed with it and Shawn read a few chapters of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to me. I would've had this book finished a long time ago, but my eyes don't like having to stare at a computer screen all day, then have to focus on printed text. They give me an ultimatum: read and get eye pain and headaches, or don't. This is very annoying given that I love to read.

After that, we walked to our local growers market, ate bacon and egg rolls for breakfast while we watched kids getting pony rides, then returned home with dessert of a chocolate crepe to share.

The rest of the day has been filled with watching old Angel and Farscape episodes. Good day.