Cottesloe

As per my previous post, I'm in Perth, or more specifically Cottesloe, having departed San Francisco on Feb 25th, arrived here Feb 27th, and recovered from jetlag a few days after that.

This is nicolerego</lj>'s first trip to Australia; in fact, her first trip requiring a passport (until very recently, visits by citizens of the USA to Canada and Mexico did not require anything more than a state-issued ID such as a drivers' license; even today, these are possible with a "passport card" rather than a full passport).

So far:

Feb 25th-27th: 24 hours of travel (crossing the dateline, hence the date span).  Ran into my manager's manager at the airport.  Otherwise uneventful and a little painful due to my recovering ankle.
Feb 27th: Arrived.  Quick visit to Kings Park, seeing the Boab Tree and the War Memorial.  Local pizza.  Booked in to visit the consulate while I'm here to get a H-1B visa stamp.  Sleep very early.
Feb 28th: Walked to Cottesloe Beach, had a swim.  Walked back via the Cottesloe Civic Centre.  Swam in the pool at my parents' place. This is what summer in Cottesloe is all about.  Fish (Gummy Shark) and chips.  Sleep early, still jetlagged.
Mar 1st: Visit to Harbor Town.  Went on the ferry to South Perth.  Sleep a little later, but still not a normal time.
Mar 2nd: Visit to Perth Zoo.  Kan Tong for dinner (yes, this does not exist in the USA, and there is no approximation).
Mar 3rd: Walked to Cottesloe Beach.  Sculptures are being set up on the beach.  A couple of topless girls at the beach - have the rules changed for this beach, or are they ignored now?  Swam out along the groyne then across to the giant bubble, twice.  Had lunch at the Cottesloe Beach Hotel.

The beaches of NorCal and Florida don't even come close to comparing to Cottesloe Beach.  Florida's might, if it wasn't for the "sea lice".

Tomorrow is my birthday.  I'm not sure exactly what's going on yet, but I'm sure we'll find something to do.

We are still intending to visit at this stage: UCC (this Friday night), Albany, Monkey Mia, Cohunu Koala Park, Adventure World, Rottnest.

My computer is an alcoholic

Well, actually it just likes to bathe in alcohol.

After a bottle of 95% alcohol (Polish Spirytus), it is back in action.  Hopefully Midnite doesn't throw up in it again before we work out a deterrent to stop her spending so much time sitting on top of it.

Return to Australia

nicolerego and I are heading to Perth on Wednesday (February 25th) and will be there until March 22nd.  It will be the first time I've left the USA since arriving here on January 13th, 2007 (unless you count hopping through Texas airport on the way back from Florida - Texas is virtually another country).  That's over two years in the one country - the longest continuous time I've been in one country since 1997.

Anyone who feels like catching up while we're in Perth, let me know (comment here, or send me an email).  It'll be Nicole's first time traveling anywhere she needs a passport to visit (US citizens could visit Mexico and Canada with their drivers' license until recently).  I'm sure we'll come to UCC and have some pizza, it looks like I'll catch up with the AARNet guys (and some of the others from PARNet from when I was in Perth) while we're there, since I've been talking to them a fair bit recently about IPv6 and Google, and we'll probably head out of the city a bit (up to Monkey Mia?) and of course spend some time down at Cottesloe beach.  And visiting Cohunu Koala Park so Nicole can hug a koala bear.

My old Nokia 9300 Communicator came off worse for wear after it was sitting on top of a friend's tesla coil (a picture of this will come later - my main workstation is temporarily out of service after Midnite was sick while sitting on top of it, where she sits to get the warmth from the fans, and it shut itself down and has refused to start up since) so I don't have everyone's numbers - I have a few, but again, emails would be appreciated :)

And just to make things interesting, on Tuesday, I slipped (embarrassingly, I missed a step no higher than a kerb) and ended up with a rather severe sprain of my left ankle.  Right after doing it, I thought I was going to be OK, and walked back to my building with no problems (pain, but not unbearable pain), but by the end of the day I could tell I had a problem, and I took around 10 minutes to walk from my desk to the shuttle stop (usually a 1-2 minute walk).  After a quick trip to a nearby urgent care facility and a few x-rays (determining no broken bones), I ended up with an air-gel ankle brace and a pair of crutches, both of which I'm still using, and the advice that I probably wouldn't be able to carry a suitcase by the time I'm flying out.  I don't know what Qantas' policy on crutches on flights is, but there's a good chance I'll find out soon.

iPhone - no call blacklist, no call blocker in app store?

nicolerego</lj> bought me an iPhone 3G (black, 16G) as an early birthday present, since we'll be in Australia for my birthday, and she wanted to buy the present before we went.

Which, of course, means I now have a developer G1 (aka Google phone), a Windows Mobile device (AT&T 8525), a Nokia 9300 (Communicator) and an iPhone - all I'm missing is a Palm, really :-)

So far, I'm very happy with the iPhone, and am likely to use it as my primary phone; I've transferred almost everything across from my AT&T 8525 and all the music from my iPod, however I still need to scan my CD covers to update some of the album art which iTunes couldn't find.  It was even simple to set up multiple email accounts!

Simple reasons why I'm not using each of the other devices:
  • G1: Does not support AT&T 3G frequencies, and the other networks which it does support 3G on do not have good coverage of country California.  Besides, I'm comfortable with AT&T, and don't have any significant desire to switch.
  • AT&T 8525: This has been my main phone since I've been here.  I find the interface somewhat painful, although it does at least support cut and paste, which is one of the well-known iPhone deficiencies.  The web browser was nowhere near as nice as on the iPhone.
  • Nokia 9300: This was my main phone for my last couple of years in Australia.  The interface was far nicer than the AT&T 8525, and the keyboard was better.  However, web browsing was even worse than on the AT&T 8525.  Besides, I've shattered the small LCD on this, so I have to do most things on the large LCD, with the phone open.
Initial issues?  I wasn't able to complete some forms in Safari on it, but that's not a big issue.  I can't seem to find how to tell it that it should check for new e-mail messages in a specific set of folders, again, not a killer issue.  However, there is one big omission.  There's no call blocker/blacklist, and not even a 'silent' ringtone.  I can upload a silent ringtone to it easily, but I also don't want the callers in question to cause my phone to vibrate if it's in silent mode; that's harder.

I searched for a while, and all I could find was MCleaner and iBlacklist; both of these require you to jailbreak your iPhone.  Do Apple have something against blocking unwanted calls?  Or is it just that nobody has written a call blocker to Apple's satisfaction?  Does anyone out there know?

Scanner

Recently, I purchased a Canon Pixma MX310 multifunction device. The motivation for this was for Nicole to be able to send some faxes for her work, however I of course had to find a well-reviewed device, and as most fax machines were pretty poorly reviewed, that led to the choice of the multifunction device.

The device proved useful for a lot more than faxing. For example, when it came time to print some place cards for our engagement party, my trusty old (well, not yet two years old, so perhaps not so old) laser printer left toner marks attempting to print on the place cards. The inkjet printer worked perfectly.

Further, this means I now have a scanner. As a result, I have scanned the four recent non-digital pictures that I have:

UAW - Wow!

It has been reported quite a bit in the media that a concession which UAW are discussing with respect to attempting to secure an auto industry bailout is cutting back the jobs bank.

The jobs bank pays laid off employees in the order of 85% - 95% of their regular pay until they are re-hired. This is part of the reason that US auto companies tend to do deep discounting rather than cutting production if they can't sell - because cutting production doesn't impact labor costs.

However what I didn't realize was that the jobs bank is the second level of this protection. For the first 48 weeks after being laid off, UAW members receive a combination of unemployment benefits from the Government and supplemental unemployment benefits from the company. After that, they start to be paid from the jobs bank.

No wonder the companies aren't competitive with the non-union auto companies. Even if they did everything else right, the labor situation is just crazy.

Qantas, big sale

2-for-1 return flights US to Australia (and other routes). Sale ends in 36 hours.

I'm heading back Feb 25-Mar 22 next year.