Monthly Archives: June 2007

Red light.

I can’t see why The Age is getting so uppity in this story about thousands of people being on the brink of losing their licence, due to speed and red-light cameras:

“MORE than 45,000 Victorian drivers are on the brink of losing their licences — and the proliferation of speed cameras is being blamed.”

Personally, I find that first paragraph somewhat inaccurate. It should say:

“MORE than 45,000 Victorian drivers are on the brink of losing their licences due to their impatience and poor driving skills.”

Melbourne’s two newspapers waste an awful lot of newsprint complaining that speed cameras in Victoria are there for no other reason than to raise revenue. While I can’t really see how this is a problem (don’t want to pay? Don’t speed), it intrigues me that a paper can then find issue with people losing their licences over such offences.

Sounds like the perfect solution to me, I’ll be glad to see them off the road. I drive very rarely, but it still scares the heck out of me that whenever I do, someone in the oncoming traffic shoots through red lights as I’m trying to make a right-hand turn.

And as for this line:

The Sunday Age can reveal that thousands of drivers are only just hanging on to their licences, sparking fears that jobs and family mobility are in jeopardy.

My heart bleeds. Maybe they’ll just have to use public transport, like the rest of us.

Dvico Fusion Dual Digital 4 HDTV Card

So much for a long-weekend (to replace Queen’s Birthday, when I was on-call) without going near a computer. On Saturday, I picked up a Dvico Fusion Dual Digital 4 HDTV card, destined for the PVR that I’ve been intending to build for a while now.

I’ve been holding off buying one of these cards until there was Linux support for them, and that finally appeared in the last couple of months (including modifications to the firmware to make it work properly in Australia). There’s a good tutorial on getting it going here, and I had the card working in my computer within an hour or so.

I was quite surprised that I was able to pick up both the ABC and SBS with just a shoddy rabbit-ears antenna; even the ABC HDTV broadcast worked reasonably. Normally any sort of radio reception in my house, without an external antenna, is pretty horrible, due to the number of RF-noise-generating devices I have (and analog TV is just terrible, even with the antenna).

The next step is to find an extremely quiet case and power-supply to build the PVR with. If anyone has any recommendations of these that can be purchased in Australia (preferably inner Melbourne, but mail-order is ok too), I’d welcome any comments. Wouldn’t mind trying to make the system as low-power as possible, too…

Once I’ve got that built, I’ll start looking for DVB-S cards that work under Linux, to hook up to my satellite dish.

Latest Debian unstable update breaks X

Anyone tracking Debian unstable should be aware of this bug in xserver-xorg-input-kbd. Essentially, the old ‘keyboard’ driver has been replaced by ‘kbd’ but the package doesn’t alter your xorg.conf file when you install it.

You’ll probably be totally unaware of this until you reboot your computer, as I did, and find that X is not working … most likely, at the least convenient moment.

The solution is quite simple. Replace:

Driver “keyboard”


Driver “kbd”

…in your xorg.conf file.

The Mad Monk wants a return of corporal punishment

Just when you think the federal government is incapable of dragging Australia any further back in time, one of the luddite ministers whips out the time machine and cranks it back to 1940.

This time, it’s Catholic supremo Tony Abbott, who continually attempts to guilt trip us over not giving a toss about religion – and then demonstrates once again that he probably didn’t take in much from reading that New Testament thingo which is apparently fairly central to it all.

Good ol’ Tone wants a return of corporal punishment in schools:

“I mean, we’ve taken corporal punishment out of the schools because we think that’s brutal and yet our playgrounds seem to be becoming more brutal than ever,” the minister told the Nine Network.

Yep, you read it right. We’re sick of kids beating each other up. Let’s stop them from doing it … by giving them a good, hard thumping. Yeah, that’ll teach ’em what’s acceptable in society.

It’s quite intriguing that the conservatives in government would be pushing this line, right now. They’ve spent the last couple of years arguing that public education in Australia has a skewed curriculum, and they’re very suspicious of what teachers here might be telling their children – and yet, this guy is openly canvassing handing the same people a licence to hit the kids?

Surely, even if they’re in favour of disciplining their own children in this way, they wouldn’t want someone else to be doing it?

Elsewhere, Suz at Lavartus Prodeo asks if Abbott is trying to get the Education Minister’s job. Oh, I can see it now … compulsory religion classes.

Political leaders … in Mii format.

This is what comes of having spent a long-weekend on-call, and hence being housebound:

Should anyone want a copy of them (presumably to take them on in a boxing match, I guess), just send me your Wii number in an email…

Amsterdam on a budget

I’ve just completed an article on visiting Amsterdam on a budget, which might be handy for anyone who’s heading to Europe for the summer…

Dear NSW Catholic MPs.

Please keep in mind that you were not put into office by George Pell.

Oh, and ex-communication should be worn as a badge of honour.