February 28, 2003

Ice bridge shenanigans

This is brilliant.
Take one bridge, cover with one large sheet of ice. Add traffic, sit back and enjoy the show.

Enjoy the video

Now, if only people would learn how to drive in ice and snow. Hint: Stay in first gear and pretent the brake pedal doesnt exist. I learnt this the hard way, driving a rental into a ditch in a blizzard whilst coming down a mountain in New Zealand. Thankfully it only got a small scratch, solved thanks to a bottle of Liquid Paper.

Posted by Ben at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

the perfect sunset

As many photographers know, capturing that perfect sunset can take a heck of a lot of patience. You find your spot well before sunset, and then just wait until the colour is right. and hopefully, you get the perfect effect.

But alas, nature is so random that more often than not, you will just end up with a plain picture of the setting sun rather than a truly glorious sunset. After a while you may think that you may never get a good photo, and the desire or interest starts to dwindle off. I almot suffered from this, until I saw some nice sunsets out of my window at home. I decided that I would head to somewhere that has the right setting to capture the sunset.

So come last weekend...the weather was unusually sunny, and there I was in The Hague. The beach (Scheveningen) was busy and the weather was glorious. Jutting out from the beach out to sea is a pier about 200 metres long, that houses shops, a restaurant and a casino(!!). I figured that'd be a good place to get the sunset. And as I watched from there, the sun shimmered brilliantly over the water, and a small peninsula provided just enough extra interest. So, I started snapping away. I think I hit on just the right balance of natures randomness, as I finally got what I consider to be this good sunset picture. No, it's not right on sunset, but it is close enought to be one. There is a bigger version here.

I am now happy. :)

Posted by Ben at 02:42 AM | Comments (2)

February 27, 2003

Stranger in the house!

A member of parliament was evicted from the floor whilst breastfeeding her baby during session. According to this story in the Sydney Morning Herald, the baby was a "stranger of the house" and thus not allowed by the rules.

Then someone from a breastfeeding association says that babies should have the right to breastfeed anywhere, anytime. Is it also acceptable for a grown person to eat in a parliamentary session?

Posted by Ben at 03:15 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2003

My Personal Transportation Device

Sometime early in 2001, I became the proud owner of my own Personal Transportation Device, aka a moped. This little thing is one of my most prized possessions in Holland. Not because it has any monetary value, but because it's just so convenient for getting around.

Most people in Holland get around either with bikes or cars. I should probably do the true Dutch thing and take a bike. But its a right pain for hauling around a weeks groceries. I have two bikes anyway, but unfortunately I parked them in different places in Amsterdam and havent gotten around to fetching them. Last year I saw one still locked in the same spot I left it almost 3 years ago! Must be a record for Amsterdam.

I dont want to have a car here. The traffic is atrocious, the parking impossible, and petrol prices are through the roof. There is also that little matter of a legal driving license. As I have lived here for more than 6 months, my Aussie drivers license is no longer valid for driving in Holland. Funnily enough, I can drive in any other country in the world, just not the one where I live! I would need to get a local licence and retake a test to do so, at some not-so-insignificant cost. No thanks, I dont need a car that much.

So..enter the moped.

It is a highly useful form of transportation around here, and for me far more preferable to a car for various reasons which I will outline.

Traffic wise, they are generally not affected by jams, etc. They can be ridden around cars, on bicycle lanes, and pretty much anywhere you can fit them. Nothing better than whizzing past cars which have stopped, full of fuming drivers who would be better off crawling. To the uninitiated it sounds like a death trap. However, Holland being Holland, every has a bicycle, and so drivers know that two-wheeled machines are on the road. So you're not likely to get hit by a car unless the goon behind the wheel is a total moron.

For parking, they are even easier. they can be left just about anywhere that they're not in thw way (or in the way if you're feeling like a dick). Outside a shop, on a sidewalk (dont block people!), on the grass, in my basement. Wherever it will fit. And it doesnt cost anything to park it.

It costs almost nothing to feed. 5 litres of fuel (pre-mixed 2-stroke, available at your nearest service station) costs about $8 and it zooms me to and from the station for about 3 weeks.

Reliability on these machines is amazing. With occasional maintenance, they're energizer bunnies. They keep going, and going, and going.

Why go for anything else??

So I have decided to call my moped Amy, to give it some kind of personality. Why did I choose a female name, you say?? Well put it this way -- if I ever mention that "I took Boris out last night, and while I was riding him a rubber seal broke and he's now dripping", I really dont want that to be quoted out of context! Also, she has a strange habit of leaking something -- about once per month.

Posted by Ben at 02:53 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2003

Neat Stuff I want

These I want:

Posted by Ben at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

Ogg Vorbis "mp3" players!

Yes! I might soon be able to upgrade the firmware on my Nex II player so that it supports Ogg Vorbis!

At least according to Slashdot.

And perhaps once this happens, the Xiph guys will work on getting bitrate peeling to work properly. Then I can store oggs as 160kbps on my home box and transfer them to my player at 96kbps directly.

Posted by Ben at 12:58 AM | Comments (0)

Enjoying nature..

On Saturday I went to Amsterdam and wandered around the Museumplein with Alan. There has been unseasonable weather in Holland lately (a week of straight sun!), so I was armed with my relatively new camera, intending on giving it a good workout.

No sooner had I arrived, I spotted these two kids enjoying a smoke of that infamous green stuff. As ths is in Amsterdam, it's quite a "normal" thing to fact no one else around seemed to notice. but as an outsider, I still have a slight feeling of amazement to see people (especially kids this young) puffing away on a doobie.

My views on marijuana lean towards the "tolerance" side, after noticing the relatively minimal harm on society it does here in my 3 years - perhaps I might explain them further in another entry. But letting kids have it is going too far - it is illegal in Holland anyway.

Posted by Ben at 12:18 AM | Comments (1)

February 24, 2003

Check 1..2..Check, Check..

This thing on? Good...seems we have contact.

Here it is..I have been thinking about putting up a site with which to post stuff that interests me. Too many times have I thought or observed something, whether it's in geek-space or meat space, and wanted to just think a little more about it and gather my thoughts.

Not being a pen and paper person, I've generally had to hold the thought or try to put it somewhere online, but in entirely unsuitable formats. Usually I just forget it and dont consider it more. But I often want to.

Occasionally I dump stuff in a text file, or otherwise just contemplate life on the thinking throne. I have not been satisfied with that though, and needed a place to actually dump my mind, where I can reach it most of the time.

Some of my other output is alread online, but that consists entirely of sometimes-old code. But cose thoughts are different from real-life thoughts.

And lo and behold, I decided on this little page, site, whatever. Most of my life is controlled by web scripts written in Perl, or more recently PHP. This page is a natural extension to that. I have no intended audience for this, it is purely intended for myself so I have something to look back at. but by some off chance someone else finds this interesting, then they can take a look. And maybe even comment on something.

I'm probably going to spend a bit of time fiddling with the stylesheets here, as I'm a bit of a perfectionist with my code and pages. Unlike many geeks, I actually take the time to tweat the looks of my pages and often spend more time doing that than on the code.

Anyway, that will wrap it up or my first log entry (what stardate is it anyway). A lot of things will appear over the next few days (the last 27 years has given me many thoughts!), but should then reduce in frequency to every couple of days. So dont go thinking I'm getting bored!


Posted by Ben at 10:44 PM | Comments (0)