Friday, 9 November 2012

Australian government backs down from internet filter

I have not written in this blog for a long time, as I have been busy recently, but something in the news has broken my "silence".

The good senator Conroy is now also the level-headed senator Conroy. In a win for anti-censorship, the Australian Government has backed down from implementing a nationwide internet filter. Instead they have asked for individual internet companies to block the most degenerate of all child pornography websites.

While this is a better idea than a nationwide filter, I do not know what it will target. I do not know of any public websites that deal with child pornography. It is not like you can search for the topic on the internet and find websites, where you can then purchase images or movies. Still, I welcome this move.

I have been following, and writing, about this topic for a long time. As a parent, I welcome that fact that the government is allowing me to take responsibility of raising my child in a way where he will have limitless access to knowledge, and with my assistance, also know what is right and wrong.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Toddler Adidas Shelltoes

With someone special on his way, KittyKat and I decided we needed to purchase some sneakers for the little man. KittyKat saw these on special and knew that I would be getting them. There is not much I can write about the Adidas Superstar II for toddlers, as I cannot actually try them on, but they look just as sturdy as the Shelltoes I have.

Adidas Superstar2 ToddlerAdidas Superstar2 ToddlerAdidas Superstar2 ToddlerAdidas Superstar2 ToddlerAdidas Superstar2 ToddlerAdidas Superstar2 ToddlerAdidas Superstar2 ToddlerAdidas Superstar2 ToddlerAdidas Superstar2 ToddlerAdidas Superstar2 ToddlerAdidas Superstar2 Toddler

The main difference is the laces with the adult version and the toddler version - with the toddler version not having any laces but velcro straps instead.

After little man arrives, I'll report on what they appear to do, but keep in mind, this is more of an exercise in marketing than in comfort for any toddler. Most toddlers may get about 2 months usage out of these type of shoes (especially in this shoe size) before they are not longer usable. I have already made comments on this in the Adidas Toy Story Woody shoes article I have written, and my stance is still the same.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The revised SplinterWin deck on Android

I've recently been working on my Infinite Copies Modern deck for Magic: The Gathering (MTG), and this is the latest iteration of it:

SplinterWin (Modern) [blue/red]
I have been working on this deck with my new Android phone and it the MTG toolbox application. The application itself is quiet interesting, but appears to be prone to crashing during mid operation. SpecialK has the same application on his iPhone, and it does not appear to have the same crashing problems. The application's features include a card viewer, a location finder, a news reader - all of this is to do with MTG, of course. Additionally, I am able to analyse the decks I create (seeing percentage breakdowns of different cards in the deck), build different decks at the same time, share the decks (via email or sms), and even draw sample hands.

Another fault (other than the random crashing) I have seen in the application is that during the simulated drawing of sample hands, there is a significant doubling up of cards in sequence. I do not think the randomiser works well. I have not seen behaviour like this in real life draws.

I am still keen to know of alternative applications, as well as decks in the modern format that are competitive against this deck, which can win by turn 4 around 35% of the time, and by turn 5 around 60% of the time. It would win easier if Preordain and Ponder were not banned in the format - but there are reasons for that, and it has been discussed in:
Other Modern format deck ideas have been discussed in:

Monday, 30 April 2012

This blog's split copy

Google sent me out an email to my regular email account stating that I had an "unregistered" blog. This was a surprise to me, and I treated it suspiciously. The reason is that I use this blog for most of my postings. I investigated further.

I may have set this one up initially, but I thought I had deleted it. Everything I saw about it pointed to something I would have done.

Long story short, I now have available. And as you can read from the first page, I do not know what I will do with it yet. I may turn it into my own personal rant / twitter / pic of the day blog.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Avacyn breaks out of the Helvault

I can now confirm what was in the Helvault (as you may be able to see from my previous post). It is Avacyn breaking out of the promotional material:
And I can also confirm that along with the promotional material, there was spindown life counters with the Avacyn Restored symbol on it, over-sized cards of Avacyn, other angels, and Griselbrand, and additionally, some Angel / Demon two sided token cards. All images of these products were spoiled a day or two before the release. I was fortunate enough to obtain the life counter and 4 of the the token cards. I did not try to get the over-sized cards - which I believe would be suited for Commander / EDH.

I am not overly impressed with this set in a sealed format, but neither am I disappointed with it. It has a feel that for this Magic: The Gathering (MTG) set, it is only somewhat connected to the rest of the block via its flavour and the undying mechanic. It did have a feel that it was made for the Commander / EDH format. I do not think this is a bad concept, but playing it in a sealed format meant I did not have much to do until turn 4 or 5. If my opponent could swarm out better smaller creatures than me, then he was able to subdue me. In my sealed pool, I did not have much that was large or any cards with the miracle mechanic - so I did not experience those mechanics. I did not feel that this set was strong enough to stand on its own. I believe that Innistrad, and even Dark Ascension were far better stand alone sets.

My final record was 1 win and 3 losses. This is a step down from the Dark Ascension pre-release where I won one more match, but better than the Innistrad pre-release where I did not win any matches.

Still, it was a great atmosphere at Games Laboratory. The staff there did a great job of organising and running the event.

Saying that, I have yet to play in a draft format with this set.

Does anyone want to comment on their experiences with the set so far?

Friday, 27 April 2012

What is inside the Helvault?

Games Laboratory has a Helvault for the Avacyn Restored set of Magic: The Gathering (MTG) pre-release tonight.

Anyone want to guess what is inside? I will confirm it tonight! Wish me luck!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

No more N900 - now onto Android

This week I sadly said goodbye to the Nokia N900. The N900 came out in 2009, and offered so much promise as to what a truly free open sourced phone could offer, but Nokia managed it to failure.

I got my N900 after I was introduced to it by Ax - back in 2010. He showed me his N900 with all the great features:
  • Keyboard slider design
  • 5 Megapixel camera
  • Linux (Maemo) as its Operating System
  • No tedious technique to "root" the device
  • Command line available
The device was a symbol of freedom. I was able to do what I wanted to it, and I did not have to go through Nokia to do it. Unfortunately, Nokia decided to continue development of the operating system, and moved onto MeeGo. MeeGo being Linux itself was also a good step, but it did not back port it to the N900. Nokia made it for the N9. Then Nokia made a horrific decision - they entered a partnership with Microsoft. Their phones went from being Symbian based, to running Linux, to in the future running Microsoft's mobile version - Windows Phone. I was not impressed. They should have gone to Android.

Regardless of their decisions, I stuck with the Nokia N900. I even purchased a second unit when my initial unit's micro USB port started to malfunction. KittyKat also had a N900, but made the jump to an Android phone (the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10) after she accidentally dropped the phone, and then ran over it. Little did she know she was paving the way for myself.

My second unit's micro USB port started to malfunction again, and I knew this was leading to an untimely end for the unit. It must have been a weak point of the phone, as I found out recently that Ax's N900 went down the same path. Ax is now using an Android phone as well.

What makes Android interesting is the fact it is also a Linux based phone. Unfortunately it does not have the initial freedom in-built to it like the N900 does, as the system is more locked down, but it does have the potential to be "root'ed". Therefore, it is goodbye to the N900 and hello to the Sony Ericsson Xperia pro. Fortunately, it has a slider keyboard, that is similar to the N900, the form is somewhat less clunky than the N900, and it has a 8.1 Megapixel camera.

In the first few days of using this new device has been interesting. I am still getting use to the new keyboard, and the new layout of the desktops, but otherwise it has made a good replacement.
Sony Ericcson Xperia pro Android desktop
I have already noticed there has been more applications written for the Android system than the Maemo system. This is evident in the Google Play site - the Android's market site. Another observation I have made is that Android multi-tasking is not as good as I have witnessed on the N900 - with the Android phone only really being able to background 6 applications. Other than that I am pleased with my new device, and if I do anything exceptional with it, I will write about it on this site.

Monday, 16 April 2012

I drove on the new GDE

I will usually speak about how bad Canberra can be. In this post, I want to mention something that Canberra finally have fixed. And in fixing it, they have slightly improved the region.

Previously on this blog (here and here), I have mentioned that the Gungahlin Drive Extension (GDE) caused more problems that it fixed. After 7 years, it is finally complete. Well done to all involved!!

Pity it took so long, was done incorrectly the first time, and injured people with a collapse of a section of it in 2010, and cost over $200 million. Seeing how it is around 9 kilometers long, it works out to over $10 million per kilometer. Not the best allocation of funds, but seeing how Canberra was designed for the car, and public transport is an after thought, this may be seen as a huge cost savings in the future.

While driving around Canberra in the weekend just past was improved, and there seems to be a better connection between the north part of the city and the rest of it, it is still a very sparse and sterile city. I hope the region improves more, but I doubt it.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Lower casing variables in DOS

Occasionally, I will need to use MS-DOS in my role at work. MS-DOS is one of the scripting languages to use while using Microsoft Windows operating system.

One of the problems with MS-DOS is that it is case-insensitive. MS-DOS does not distinguish the difference between upper case or lower case when using it. While this may not cause problems most circumstances while using Windows, it may potentially cause problems when interacting with other systems or programs.

I have used the following snippet of code to convert the %computername% variable, which was set as upper case to lower case. The result will be stored as %mycomputername%

dir /b/l %computername%>lower.tmp
set /p mycomputername=<lower.tmp
del lower.tmp
del %computername%

This snippet works by creating an empty file based on the variable that is in upper case. Then a directory listing is made, with the appropriate flags to list the output in lower case, and the output of this is stored in a file called lower.tmp. Then the contents of that file is read into the new variable. Finally the two temporary files are deleted.

I would have thought it would have been easier than that.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Teams are winning - including me (sometimes)

For the first time in a few months, both the teams I am following are winning!

The Boston Celtics recently beat the Chicago Bulls, and the Melbourne Victory beat the Central Coast Mariners. The former teams play in the NBA, and the later teams play in the A-League. What makes both teams interesting to watch at the moment is they are both quality teams on paper, but are not really producing winning results (until recently). And while the Celtics are currently above a 50% win-loss ratio, the Victory are struggling to have wins on the board, having more matches end in draws than anything else.


Other than that, I have been playing in the Magic: The Gathering (MTG) prerelease tournament for Dark Ascension and in the MTG League at Games Laboratory. While I am not ruling the game, I am starting to win a few matches here and there. It feel better than just loosing every single game, but then again, I do not put as much effort into this game as I would like.

With the introduction of the new set for Dark Ascension, I have already seen some new ideas for my to add to my infinite copies of tokens deck which is powered by the Splinter Twin / Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combo. While it does not affect the main deck very much, the new mechanics from the latest set will definitely change what I believe should go into my sideboard. Cards that I believe will need to be considered in my sideboard are:
The exact quantities of the ones mentioned here is something I need to work on, as well as possibly including some duplicate of the spells in my main deck into my sideboard - up to the maximum of 4 of any card.

This leads me to the psychology of how people feel things based on how much control we have over the aspects in front of us. When it comes to cheering about a sporting team, no matter how much I cheer or oppose a team, it does not affect their final outcome. It comes down to those sports people and how they play, as to what results are achieved. It also comes down to their opponents and how well their opponents play as well. In summary to this situation, I am not too upset when a team I support looses, just somewhat annoyed.

When it comes down to a card game that I have some (perceived) "control" over, it does get a little bit beyond annoying if I had a possible win, and did not make the correct decisions, or choose the right elements at hand to bring forth a winning result. If I play against a deck that my opponent has tuned, play tested a lot, and I loose to it - I do not feel very bad. I noticed in the MTG League that most of my opponents have at least one, if not two, mythic rare cards. While some of those cards are awful to use, some (in the correct circumstances) are game changers. Loosing to those decks do not upset me. Winning to those decks is always a pleasant surprise, as I do not have any mythic rare cards in any of my MTG League decks. The only time I am upset is if through a mistake of my own, I loose to a deck that is underpowered or is on the same level as mine. Luckily, it has not happened much.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Upper and lower case in vim

I use vim for most of my text editing, especially with it comes to configuration and text files on UNIX / Linux machines, and there are times where I need to convert the entire file to uppercase or to lowercase. I find these two commands useful (when in command mode of vim):


converts all uppercase characters to lowercase,


converts all lowercase characters to uppercase.

You could always toggle case characters using "~" as well.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Dark Ascension midnight pre-release survivor

I have survived another Magic: The Gathering (MTG) pre-release, and this one was with a better record than my last attempt at a pre-release (with Innistrad), where I did not win a single match. In the pre-release for Dark Ascension, I came out with a record of 2 wins and 2 losses.

This time around, FrankieG, SpecialK, and Jarvo joined me. Everyone, except Jarvo, had a great time. Jarvo did not like the competitive nature of the event - but then again, this game and this type of way of playing it is not for everyone. He will be now sticking to either casual playing, or not playing at all. I hope he keeps playing. Strangely enough, FrankieG, SpecialK, and Jarvo all had 1 win each - and it was their first event of this nature. I would have thought any win would have been a good outcome for the event.

The format of the Dark Ascension pre-release was a sealed format. People competing in the event get 3 booster packs of Innistrad, and 3 booster packs of Dark Ascension. I believe the intention of this is to make it a more even game, as Dark Ascension's pool is small, but I did not find this to be a problem.

My strategy for the evening was creating two decks. I had a red / green deck based on werewolves and getting them to transform, and a blue / white deck that had many creatures that had flying. Both decks also has a splash of black for creature removal - something which is important in this type of format. My strategy was to start with the werewolves deck (which appeared initially to be the stronger deck), and switch to the flying creatures deck if I was beaten in the first game of a match up by a significant amount. Both matches I lost were to red / black decks, and it was not by much.

Once again, the event was hosted by the team at Games Laboratory in their new store in the Galleria Centre, corner of Bourke Street and Elizabeth Street, in Melbourne. I can truly say I enjoyed myself, and I look forward to the upcoming products and the next releases of this game.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Websites on strike

As mentioned in a previous post I made on this blog, SOPA is being considered by the US government. Apparently it is being "shelved" for the moment. This has not stopped websites like or Wikipedia (English version) from depicting a SOPA'ed web site: on strike on strike
While both "strikes" from web sites can be bypassed with browser settings, they do show what the websites could look like if SOPA was enacted.

SOPA is censorship. It will allow companies that feel threatened from loss of profits to accuse international web sites of piracy, and be able to block them. Seeing how the government of the USA has in the past had a mentality of "shoot first, questions later" (eg. weapons of mass destruction in Iraq never eventuating), it would be feasible to consider that web sites and businesses will be shut down pending further investigations.

For more information, have a look at the latimes article for a more comprehensive list of sites that are trying to fight this new form of censorship. If you are in the USA, do something about it - sign up on the petition with Google.

And for Australia -

Everyone - do something (useful (now))!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Summernats in Canberra for another 25 years

Summernats is something that needs to be experienced at least once in your life if you are into cars / being a rev head. It is a festival centered around cars - mainly Australian and American V8 cars. It is one of the best known car festivals in Australia, and it generates interest and revenue in Canberra - a dull city for most parts of the year. It also brings in a somewhat drunken exhibitionist type of person to the city, but this is a small disadvantage of the festival.

The Canberra Times recently published an article about how Summernats could be hosted in Canberra for another 25 years. It is also interesting to read some of the shallow and narrow mindedness of some of the commenters, who claim to live around Canberra when Summernats is on. They have said they do not want Summernats in Canberra - "Too much bad behaviour. Not good for the environment. Bad, noisy, bad..."

As mentioned, Summernats, for all its bad points, actually gives Canberra something to look forward to for the year. I will admit there are some other festivals as well, like Floriade, but nothing is to the same scale as Summernats. If Canberrians do not like Summernats, then I suggest they move away from Canberra. Try Karumba - population < 1000, on the beach, but then again they would find something to complain about that. Stop making Canberra duller!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Air Jordan 11s - but not the Concords

The Air Jordan XIs Concords recently were released to a world wide frenzy amongst sneaker collectors. This article is not about them. This article is about the Air Jordan XI Retro Low shoe.
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The main similarity with this shoe and its original incarnation is the sole of the shoe. The tread design is the same, and it appears that components that make up the sole are the same. There is a big shank of carbon fiber, but instead of the clear or icy sole, it is a smokey sole. This, I believe, is an improvement over the original soles. After wearing the shoe, I have noticed no yellowing of the sole, whereas the Air Jordan XI Concords and Space Jams that I own are already showing yellowing - out of the box.

The upper of the shoe does not have any patent leather, and this is where I think this shoe has an improvement over the original. Instead of the shiny leather, it has ventilation panels, and on hot days, it is greatly welcomed. The shoe stays breezy and my feet do not feel overheated. In comparison, my feet sweat and overheat in the Pewter Foamposites - but that is expected, as it has no ventilation to allow for the memory foam that makes up in inner lining of the shoe to mold to the shape of the wearer's foot.

I find these shoes comfortable to wear, but they have deteriorated quickly. I am hoping this is only confined to the pair I have. The left shoe appears to have bad glue or not enough of it, as it appears that sole has broken away from the midsole in the middle of the shoe. The edges of the sole are fine. What this translates to is that the shoe now squeaks when I walk. I am not impressed with the "Quality Basketball Products Inspired by the Greatest Player Ever" that have been recently made. I would have expected that from a fake / knock-off shoe, but these were purchased from the Nike Factory Outlet in Smith Street, Collingwood, so I doubt that would be fakes.

If I am willing to overlook the fact that my left foot squeaks when I walk, and I do, I do find these shoes versatile and comfortable, but I would not choose to play sports in them. I believe that is the general consensus on the internet.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

First win in the MTG League at Games Laboratory

In what seemed to be a basic to medium tier level match up, I have finally won my first match in the Magic: The Gathering (MTG) League at the Games Laboratory. The reason I say it is a basic to medium tier level match up was due to the opponent I was playing was using the store's deck.

To be honest, the store's deck was not extremely well made. It was playing the same colour as I was using - a green and black deck, but it did not really have any combat tricks. All it was trying to do was essentially a brute force attack with creatures, with hardly any removal. There was some enchantments that slowed down my attacks, but the real tipping point was that, out of nowhere, a creature with the infect mechanic would be cast to attack me. One infect creature out of the entire deck that did not have infect - not a very well thought out deck, and it appeared to be just cobbled together by just opening some boosters. The only late game interesting card was Sorin's Vengence, but by the time it was played, I had already established my main creatures I wanted to attack with. There was also good use of the Dismember card.

I think the store deck is meant more for a confidence boost for players that are just figuring out the game and the format - much like me. I wouldn't mind playing it with my other deck, which is white and blue. Hopefully I will have a chance to win with that too. I did say to one of the other guys I do play in the League that I have learnt more from playing him than I have from playing any of my regular friends that do play - due to the fact that he is always trying to win as quickly as possible. I have beaten him in only one game (possibly out of the 5 times we have played). Hopefully luck will be on my side and I will be able to win some more games.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The counterpart to the "Exception" deck in MTG

Some time ago I wrote about the "Exception" deck in Magic: The Gathering (MTG) - being the War of Attrition event deck. I forgot to mention that event decks come in pairs, and this article is about the counterpart to it - the Rot From Within event deck. The decklist for the Rot From Within deck is available on-line.
Rot from Within event deckRot from Within event deckRot from Within event deckRot from Within event deck

I have not had much experience playing with this deck, as I do not really enjoy playing mono-green decks. I have always equated with green items like creatures with trample, creatures that produce mana, and tutors that fetch lands (to produce more mana). I do not mind having green in my decks, but not as the sole colour in them.

From memory, this deck is enjoyable to play due to the fact it does not damage the opponent or their creatures in normal ways, but deals its damage in the form of infect - dealing damage in poison counters to opponents or in -1/-1 counters to opponent's creatures. If any player has more than 10 poison counters, then they loose the game - regardless of life total. -1/-1 counters on creatures can accumulate on creatures between turns, and while you may not be able to dispose of a creature this turn, you may be able to damage or destroy a weakened version of it next turn. This deck lacks the main mechanic to accelerate the demise of an opponent - proliferate. With proliferate (it does appears on some of the cards in the deck) you can add additional counters onto cards you choose to - including poison counters on your opponents, -1/-1 counters on your opponent's creatures, +1/+1 counters on your creatures, loyalty counters on your planeswalkers, and, in general, counters you choose.

While powerful, I do not enjoy using those mechanics. Therefore, I have used this deck the least. My only suggestion to improve this deck is to incorporate black into it, and hence more creatures that also have the infect mechanic. Head to head against its counterpart deck, War of Attrition, I would put the War of Attrition deck in front, due to the fact it is a much faster deck, and has a lot of responses for this deck. They are roughly balanced in the end.

When it comes to enjoyment, I would prefer using the Innistrad event decks. I would put the Hold the Line deck ahead of all others in terms of speed and efficiency for a win, and the Deathfed deck being more fun to play. I hope my fellow card floppers see my views as valid in my comparisons on event decks.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Back into the grind for 2012

As 2012 starts up, I'm back at work, along with all my work colleagues and the interesting challenges still face me. Even though it is a new year, it still has not changed much to the type of work I am doing - which makes you think that the whole new year celebration, while fun, does not actually alter too much in the day to day lives of people.

In Australia, we do not end the financial (fiscal) year with end of the calendar year, but with the middle of the year. There is no "clean slate" feeling of coming into the new year. The only thing I do have to be concerned about is car registration, and the expectation of another mouth to feed soon. More news when that happens.

I hope you all have a happy, safe, and prosperous 2012. And hopefully my teams will start winning.