Bricked my router

Last night while upgrading the Firmware in my (otherwise excellent) Billion 7404VGP-M ADSL modem/router/wireless thingy, I managed to brick it. It lost connectivity at 20% through the upgrade (though the entire file had transferred to the modem) so I left it for forty minutes or so, then rebooted it. Nothing. Reset to defaults does nothing. Gah!

My gripe is that the recovery utility they supply for such situations runs only on Windows and requires a serial port. I have neither.

Why can't they just provide a technical description of what it'll do? I suspect it'll do some trick to verify the modem is alive, then upload by xmodem the new firmware. Or something.

Anyway, I'll go around to a mate's place to do this, probably. Fortunately I work for an ISP so I can probably borrow a modem/router until I get this one fixed.

Car sharing

Mary laments the limitations of car share companies. Holly is in GoGet, so I thought I'd share our experiences.

First up, "car share" is a misnomer. I'd consider that to be when you let people jump in the car with you for a journey. I'd class this service more as a car micro-hire.

It works like this. You pay a monthly subscription ($15 in our case) and can then hire cars for $6.60/hour plus $0.35/km (higher monthly subscription means lower hourly rates). Petrol is included.

When you want a car, you either log onto the web site and book a nearby car, or you phone up. The phone system is surprisingly useful, and there's normally someone around if you get in trouble and need to speak to a human.

Contention on the cars would be the most common question, and to be honest we've rarely had a problem. Sometimes if you try at the last minute, you might need to walk a bit further or find another form of transport. But if you plan ahead, it's no biggie. We booked a car last week for the four days around Xmas, in a nearby location to our place. Long weekends can be a bit tricky, though you just have to book a week or two in advance. It's really in their interest to ensure there's enough cars. There's also some useful utility vehicles available: a ute and a Tarago in Erskineville are particularly handy and cost no more.

The day rates, it should be noted, include 150km of travel (including petrol!) and if you do the kinds of trips we use it for, driving somewhere, staying there a few days with only a few short drives, then returning, you'll find the 150km included in each day more than covers all the kilometres used in the trip. We find it's good value, and unlike car rental companies, there's no hidden charges and you don't have to be alert for all their sneaky damage, insurance and excess reduction scams.

Now we live in the inner city, which is where most of the cars reside, so it's particularly good for us. The best thing you can do, Mary, is find a few more people out in Hornsby and convince them to promise they'll sign up if GoGet put a pod out that way. They've been pretty rapid with their expansion, and they're not averse to trialling a new area.

The problems with licenses are also a problem for us. I'm on my learner's permit, and basically it seems we're going to have to buy a car if I want to get enough practise in on my provisional license. That's a shame. GoGet are pretty responsive to requests for changes, so perhaps we could propose something like a higher insurance charge for provisional license holders?

As well as the cost savings, these schemes are great because of the convenience. Sure, we have to walk a couple of blocks to the car, but we don't have to book in services, rego, insurance, repairs and all that. For me, that's the best thing about it -- my life is busy enough without having to deal with all that!

Blogroll is not a recommendation

Russell makes the assumption that linking to someone's blog is some kind of unconditional recommendation. Far from it! If you look at the standard version of my blog you'll see I've just added the text "Blogs I read", to clarify this. I don't recommend any of these for anyone's reading but my own. In fact, some of this stuff I very strenuously disagree with, but I find it interesting to hear ideas that are well argued, passionately held but that I disagree with. It's an intellectually challenging thing to do.

However, where a blogroll is interesting is similar to the way I browse a person's book and CD shelves when I visit their homes. You can learn a lot about people by what they read, listen to, watch and otherwise consume. It's interesting and gives you more of an understanding of the person.

Similarly, I quite enjoy the various Planets I read because I get to read more about people. I read about their cats, their struggles with the landlord, their healthy problems, all kinds of stuff. While the Planets themselves represent a particular interest, the people posting to them are human beings too, and have more in their life than just the interest. This is a good thing.

Of course, the shadowy cabal who run Planet Linux Australia clearly don't agree with this thinking, by silently dropping all of my blog except the geek category.

Moved into the house

We moved into our new house last Thursday and spent Friday and Sunday nesting. The move was pretty painless, with the removalists getting it all done in one truck load taking about two hours all up. We hired a cleaner for the old house, so we did some outdoor cleaning while he worked. I'd strongly recommend this option to anyone moving!

The house we're moving into was pretty filthy. We kinda wish we'd got the cleaner in there, and even did some painting before moving in. As it is, we spent a lot of time washing walls and will probably paint at some point.

It's a pretty amazing feeling being a home owner. Knowing we can make any changes we like is very liberating. Though for now there's a lot to do!

Oh yeah, the new place is super quiet, after living next to the airport and before that in a very noisy city. Holly got a bit freaked out on Thursday night when we went to bed and there were some noises around the house (possibly a possum?), which we never would have noticed in the other place.

Some new photos

Finally got around to uploading the backlog of photos I've had.

Sydney FC vs LA Galaxy

Sydney FC playing Beckham's LA Galaxy. A team so bad they made Sydney look good!

Critical Mass crossing the Harbour Bridge at the end
of November 2007

Critical Mass crossing the Harbour Bridge in November.

Abigail's seventh birthday
My niece Abigail's seventh birthday, playing putt-putt golf.

Homebake 2007

From yesterday, at an outdoor music festival in The Domain. Pretty cool having a music festival in the middle of the city.

Howie's Firefox extension suggestion

Howie suggested FireBug as a must-have extension. While I agree it is amazing for debugging web pages, the reason I've had it uninstalled is what I'd call a bug. When you have it switched off for all pages, it still causes a very noticable lag when you open a new, blank tab. I'm not the only one either.

If this could be fixed, I'd probably keep it installed. As it is, I install it when I'm doing hardcore dev stuff, but keep it disabled most of the time.

In other Howie news, if you've seen Control, Howie lives just around the corner from where Ian and Deborah Curtis live in the film. How he justifies living in Sunny Macclesfield after living in Sydney or so long, I don't understand, but each to their own. If you haven't seen Control, go and see it. Best movie of the year.