The Beer Box

Last night I finished my woodworking course at Sydney Community College (old Leichardt High School). My project was to make a box that will keep my beer fermenter cool, as our house gets to very high temperatures on sunny days.

It's a big box on quite tall legs, which a sliding out removable front panel and lift-out top. The design allows me to bottle the beer without moving the fermenter, which keeps the yeast from getting in the bottle.

I'm planning to line the inside with expanding spray foam. Cooling will be provided by a Peltier effect thermo-electric cooler controlled by this kit. Since I'm already cooling, I figure I can experiment with proper lager fermenting temperatures over the winter too!

Photos shortly.

What's appropriate on the Planets?

My blog is syndicated on quite a few Planets:

During my recent exchange with Erik de Castro Lopo about Fred Nile and racism, I got a few emails from people asking us to "take it off the Planets". Janet probably put it best, and her comments were typical:

Might be worth thinking about having the full on religious debates on a
different blog than the linux planet, its a pretty sad thread to read
through for a group building collaboration and community.

Now I'm all for civility, and despise the scumbags who've got Kathy Sierra fearing for her life. If you read through the exchange with Erik, I think you'll find it was completely civil. In this world, we're allowed to disagree. In fact, it's incredibly important to collaboration and community. So I really don't see any problem with our discussion. Spirited, but polite, discussion and disagreement is a sign of a healthy community.

The next issue is the content. We were talking politics, and specifically state politics. I suspect this might be of little interest to readers of Planet GLLUG, Planet Linode and much of Planet Linux Australia's readers. But the thing about Planets is they're not discriminating. They take the feed and shove it up online.

I think this is actually a strength. It would be entirely possible to limit the feed Planets take to specific topics, for example by taking the geek category from my blog. It would make the Planets more efficient, perhaps, and certainly more focussed, but I think would also take away a lot of their joy.

I really enjoy learning more about the people I deal with on technical issues, experiencing them as full human beings rather than just geeks. I love hearing their opinions on random subjects, learning of their hobbies, their family life. It's great to see pictures of their lovers, dogs, kids, weddings, parties, friends and travels. It's what makes Planets great.

So I will continue to talk about whatever the hell I like on my blog. It's my blog and I'll crap on about beer and politics if I want to. If you don't like that, you might want to skip the Planets and subscribe directly to peoples' individual blogs, or at least those that focus narrowly on geekery. I think you'll miss out on something wonderful if you do, though.

Smug is...

When some warns you about the latest Windows virus and opening a particular type of email and you don't run that buggy heap of crap.

Apparently there's some new virus out for Windows/Outlook. If you run Windows, at the very least stop using Outlook. A good alternative is Thunderbird. An even better option is to use Gmail so you can read your email anywhere.

A Winter after two Summers

Last night I actually got a little chilly at the pub. We haven't had a Winter since we left the UK in April last year. Two Summers in a row was pretty luxurious, but we're actually looking forward to a bit of a cold spell. Cold weather cooking will be a lot of fun after all these barbecues and salads.

That said, my memory of Winters in Sydney is that you get much colder because there's no heating. Everyone lives in this airy, floorboarded houses that don't close up and don't have central heating. We'll be spending the four bitterest weeks huddled under doonas with a crappy electric heater costing us a fortune.

But I can look forward to casseroles, stews and soups. I made the first casserole recently on a chilly Sunday and it turned out brilliantly.

How useful!

A job ad from led me to their site, where you have to register to apply for a job. It helpfully tells you this:

I can guarantee you, my password isn't made up of asterisks.

Further hunting around I find this one which helpfully tells you:
The Web PM has a large accountability relating to project management and ensuring all stakeholders engage into the development and maintenance process correctly to ensure quality deliveries.

I think what they mean is that you must speak project manager bullshit and applications in plain English will not be considered. Damn!

Justifiable homicide?

Does having an annoying, very loud ring tone on a phone that rings every five minutes in an open-plan office qualify the owner for removal from the gene pool? Is that qualification increased when he's also on his desk phone while letting it ring for thirty seconds? Repeatedly?

I'll just get my baseball bat.

Real estate agent making threats

I had a couple of phone calls from the real estate agent who got us into this house yesterday. He made vague threats about my web page, which details our troubles with them.

Fortunately the defamation law in NSW has changed in the last couple of years to be less corporation/rich/powerful-friendly. You no longer have to prove "truth and public interest" as a defence, merely "truth". As all I've done is report the truth, and give my own opinion, I don't see any problem.

We're lucky that the lease is actually between us and the landlord directly, so we don't have to deal with this company any more. The landlord himself is a lovely bloke and lives just up the road.

Fred Nile: racist (part three)

I thought I could have a reasoned debate with Erik, but his latest post's first argument quotes me out of context and ignores the entire point. Thus, not much point continuing as it will just descend into a "you are", "no you are" slanging match. A shame, as there are important issues here.

In other, related, news, it emerges that Fred Nile has refused to preference Egyptian and Lebanese Christian candidates due to their middle eastern backgrounds, names and skin. This is despite his party preferencing Liberals elsewhere.

He's said he wants to help middle eastern Christians emigrate, but then can't pick them from their Muslim counterparts. Small wonder middle eastern migrants, particularly Muslims, feel under siege.