Suddenly it's Summer

Holly and
Beth enjoy a gaytime

All of a sudden we've gone from bundling up with a blanket in the lounge room to full-blown Summer. 29 degrees over the weekend and 32 forecast for tomorrow!

Just in time for a visit from Beth, who arrived on Sunday. We took her to Bronte for a swim, though the beach was eerily flat--flattest I've ever seen it. Here's Holly and Beth enjoying a Gaytime. After a quick swim, with a still quite chilly water temperature, we walked across to Bondi and back.

Last night we had a bunch of people around for a BBQ too, and the weather couldn't have been more appropriate. Steaming hot, but cooling down in the early evening. Lots of fun and just for Beth we threw some "shrimps" on the barbie. (For the record, they're called prawns in Australia.)

Bring on the lifetime of crippling debt

Today Holly and I exchanged contracts on a house in Marrickville. Yes, this is the neighbouring house to the one we bid on a couple of weeks back.

For those of you in the UK who seem to be able to have a house deal go on for 18 months only for it to fall through on the last day, in countries with a marginally sensible land title system, "exchange of contracts" means that both parties are now committed to the sale. At a date defined in the contract, the final amount will be paid to the vendor and the ownership of the property will be transferred to the buyer. The buyer also ends up owning the land, which I know will seem odd to Londoners -- nope, there will be no toffs whose great-grandfathers sucked a royal nob involved.

Settlement is set for the end of November, which suits both the vendor and our circumstances.

Crippling debt, here we come!

We bought a house! (nearly)

Holly and I last night negotiated the details of our purchase of a lovely house in Marrickville. It's next door to the place we bid on last Saturday.

The process here is quite unusual. At the end of the auction on Saturday, the owner of the house on the other side of the shared wall, in other words the mirror image of the house we'd bid on, tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I'd like to look at another house "the same only in better condition". So we went in and had a look, chatted to the owner and discussed it. Turns out the owner hates estate agent scum as much as I do, wanted the process to be honest and painless, was keen on a long settlement which also suits us, and was in possession of a house that's in quite a bit better condition than next door!

So we've negotiated the price and conditions. Contract late this week or early next week. Settlement in December. Lovely!

Now Holly and I have lots of time to plan improvements and dream.

Auction: sheer terror

Holly and I went to a house auction this morning and placed some bids. It has to count as one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

In the end, the house went over our price limit and the two guys who were bidding against us got the place. No hard feelings about it, as we felt they paid over what it was worth. That said, it's an incredibly stressful situation, purpose-designed to make you nervous and unsure of yourself.

Fortunately something amazing happened just after the auction. I can't give any details just yet, but will shortly.

Great weekend in Wamby

Laura and
Holly on Guitar Hero

Had a great birthday weekend up the coast in Wamberal. Laura, Lillith, Emma and Holly came to stay in the beach house, Jacinta, Mat and Eamonn dropped by, and Ben and Kaz joined us for birthday dinner Saturday night. We had a great time, even if the football result was very dispiriting.

I got Guitar Hero from Holly, and it's such a fun party game! Ben brought his guitar along so we could do lead/rhythm or lead/bass cooperatively. Loads of fun!

Thanks folks for a lovely weekend.

What happens when you piss people off

While tweaking my site, looking through Google's stats for keywords hitting my resume, I noticed a couple of people searching for "Acumen Envision". It sent me down memory lane a bit.

Back in 2001, when I was working for the train wreck that was Digital Science, one of the gigs I got was a one-day training course delivered to a bunch of the techs at Independent Newspapers. The brief was incredibly vague: they wanted an introduction to Linux, using a book as the guide. So I picked up the book and, with only a day's notice, built a rough outline of a walkthrough and got ready to deliver it. With such short notice, I arrived damn early at the site to make sure everything was going to be there. I asked about installing Linux, one of the few things mentioned in brief, on all the machines in the training room and was told no problem.

Needless to say, it was a very challenging day but I think I did pretty well. I took the group through installing and configuring Linux, explaining all the things I thought would be important to the audience of developers and sysadmins, comparing and contrasting with Solaris which they knew well. At the end of the day, the client was very happy with me and less happy with the training company, Acumen Envision. He could tell (and I also told him) that they were a bit of a shoestring, fly-by-night company.

At the end of the day, my employer Digital Science never managed to get paid for the work I did. They claimed it had cost them thousands of pounds to re-image the training machines, which I'd been explicitely told I could install over. Fortunately it wasn't my (direct) problem, and it was only a couple of days' work so not worth going after too hard.

So I thought I'd Google the company name and see what came up. Wow. Looks like these guys did the same non-payment trick to other people. They, and the head honch Rennie Garcia, really pissed this guy off. So much so, he had the company wound up and even set up another site with material from other people who'd been ripped off, this time in Spain. It even looks like he's been arrested. Hurrah!

MTB training

Yesterday I went up to Gosford with Majella (Marion's sister) for a mountain bike ride with Ben (Holly's brother) and his mate Warren. We're all in the same team for the Scott 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championship so we figured some training would be in order. Had a rather good ride around Kincumber Mountain, though we're all pretty out of shape -- especially me. We'll need a few more rides like this, and probably some distance rides too, before the race in October.

I borrowed one of Graeme's bikes, as I don't currently own a mountain bike. Considering it's his "spare banger" it's a bloody nice bike! Holly and I have agreed I can buy a bike, but I'm gonna end up in the budget end of the range -- if I'm still riding a lot in a year, I'll think about getting something quite a bit better.

After the ride, we went back to Ben's place for a BBQ. Of course it started raining, and we ran out of gas, soon after starting it all up. Regardless it was a great lunch, and we were all pretty hungry after the ride. Thanks Ben!

Then came a real highlight: we played a few rounds of Guitar Hero. I've never played it before but man it's so much fun! Might have to see if there's a cheap PS2 on eBay...

More reason why I don't have comments on my blog

61.238.244.86 - - [30/May/2007:06:55:35 +0100] "POST /blog/index.cgi/me/Comment_less_Blogs.html HTTP/1.1" 200 7516 "-" "-"

This is someone randomly trying to post spam to a post I wrote ages ago about why I don't have comments on my blog. Yet more reason, you ask me. You'll fight a losing battle with the spammers, especially if you use off-the-shelf software with >5 other users. Even with something you write yourself, like my my crappy script you need something non-standard to keep the spammers away.

Matt's bucks night

Matt in shopping trolley

We went out for Matt's bucks night on Saturday night, and a good time had by all. We started in the Australian Youth Hotel in Glebe, then headed to the dogs at Wentworth Park. After the races we had a quick one at the AYH again, then wandered up City Road and King Street.

By 3am the only place that would let a large group of drunken blokes in ended up being The Imperial. I'm not much of a fan of empires, but I've always had a soft spot for this place. Where else can you stagger into at 3am to watch the World's Worst Drag Show (no really they were that bad!) and keep drinking until 5am?

All in all, a great night out. Amazingly, Matt got up at 09:30am to go and play football!

I took some photos

Those of you who are overseas and interstate but know Matt and Maz, get your telegrams into me for the wedding.