Thursday, December 20, 2012

I'm on a roll with this poetry thing

Been wanting to leave but nowhere to go
Then out of the blue a knock knock, hello
"We want you to come, just for a fixed time"
Internal transfer (still on the same dime)

Firstly for three months, but likely for more
Then permanent role could be on the score
If I want to stay they'll fight to keep me
Train me in more things - good growth I forsee

A great chance to learn and pick up new skills
Develop career, maybe pay new bills
Despite added costs and time in commute
Future looked brighter, my choice resolute

Now I have a where but what do you know
The powers that be have dealt me a blow
Supposedly pro- my desire to grow
When put to the test it's "actually, no".

It's unfortunate, the timing they say
For there's more work due, that's coming our way
None can replace me, so short a timeframe
"No succession plans" - the truth of this claim

Don't get me started on what else was said
Ifs buts and maybes, they make me see red
Like stats which can be used any which way
The true reasons hide behind shades of grey

Sick of the BS, double speak and such
Political moves, ass covering much
Bureaucracy stinks, though hard to avoid
Playing this sick game - not something I've toyed

Maybe I speak from heat of the moment
Making emotions that much more potent
Excuse my desire to vent just a bit
Past disappoinment almost a repeat

Last year I was set - career change to make'
'puter forensics - a new job I'd take
A verbal offer accepted in Feb
Like a changing tide, forever did ebb

Never sent they the offer in writing
My contact person nary a sighting
For almost a year this drama dragged on
'til finally 'twas, as good as withdrawn

It's unfortunate, the timing the say
Budget changes giv'n as reason that day
This came much later, so doesn't allay
Your delay between February and May

If only I'd gotten offer in writing
Different place today I would be sitting
This year the story, though not quite the same
When all's said and done, equal the end game

Now that I can't move it's back to square one
Learn again to say "Lord your will be done"
What little desire I had for my role
Has disappeared down a deep and dark hole

How to keep going, keep fighting the fight
All that's before me is bleakness in sight
In need of guidance on where next to go
For now it seems I'll keep the status quo.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Another poem

No disclaimers this time, just some explanatory notes.

A week ago I was sharing with some others how I was feeling like I had nothing to look forward to next year - this is not suicidal talk, but in the context of having a number of things in 2012 either being done and dusted (events, overseas trips / short term missions), or potential things (job changes) return void. I was feeling particularly disheartened about my ongoing attempts to change jobs. The very next day I began some dialogue with another department at work which was interested in picking me up off a "mobility register", for a temporary transfer into a role there. The official offer came through today, but my current area has now refused to release me, so I can't go.

I was starting to get excited, though keeping in mind the need to not count my chickens before they hatched. Hence the inspiration for this poem:
I had no chickens nor eggs to boot
Was given an egg, though now 'tis moot
For the eggshell got broken
Thus my countenance sunken
One again I'm left holding balut!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Another mass shooting

A poem I wrote after reflecting on some stuff I read on recent events.

It's rough, very first draft (not that I'm intending to work on it any further), born of rather rusty poetry brain space, probably clumsy in parts and all sorts of other negative remarks one could make about its quality (or lack thereof)... which reflects perhaps, the 10 or so minutes of effort in coming up with it.

Another mass shooting in the US of A
The world awakes to a mournful day
Innocent lives lost, most people would say
Young children now lost to frolick and play 
A similar act in China took place
But much less damage that effort inflicted
Reigniting the debate which some would argue
Strict gun control is what is needed 
‘Tis of course folly to treat the symptoms
Without addressing the cause of the problems
Less guns should mean less of such an event
But can it entirely a repeat prevent? 
The root of these problems, the Bible tells us
Begins with Adam and Eve his missus
When they turned from God and followed the devil
Their walk with God was longer level 
Our sinful hearts is what causes us to hurt
Ourselves, each other, loved ones and strangers
The only solution God provided for us
Christ Jesus who saves us from the utmost of dangers 
One day he’ll return and right all our wrongs
In fact it begun when he hung on the cross
So we wait patiently for his coming again
All knees will bow and declare him as boss

Friday, August 24, 2012

email watchdog

i recently blogged about how safe is your password, and mentioned the website. in the past, you could have placed yourself on their mailing list to be notified each time they find out about new compromises in general. the evolution of this passive monitoring to a new active monitoring service is called email watchdog, which
keeps an eye out for your email address and password, and will immediately notify you if they are compromised in any future breaches that [they] identify.
you can sign up to watch up to 10 email addresses for free.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

migrating your whatsapp message history

i've had to change/use a different phone a few times since becoming rather dependent on whatsapp, "a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS." in the past, i've considered it "too hard" to move the message history with a new installation. this time round, in preparing to send my currently primary phone in for repairs, i tried to figure it out on my own. it didn't work... the correct solution is actually pretty easy but dependent on a specific order of steps. nobody will keep using the same phone forever, so this will come in handy sooner or later.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

household hazardous waste disposal

when it comes to household hazardous waste, there's some handy information on brisbane city council's website about what sorts of things you can and can't dispose of via the normal rubbish bin collection. according to this page, it's important to know how to dispose of such waste properly, because:
  1. disposing of them improperly (eg. via the rubbish bin) creates a hazard for waste collectors, sorters, and the environment.
  2. not disposing of them at all (ie. keeping them in your home) creates a hazard for yourself or others who may come into contact with them.
some tips i was able to make use of recently in relation to this topic:
  • small amounts of paint can be disposed by pouring the paint over newspaper and left to dry, then the newspaper thrown into the bin (as per pics below)
  • the now empty paint tin (with minimal residual paint) can be recycled / thrown in the recycling bin
  • CFLs and flourescent tubes can be thrown into the rubbish bin if wrapped in newspaper or put in the original box (or the box your replacement bulb/tube came in).
Initial pouring of paintPaint spread out to dry

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tax, super and you resource

"Tax, Super + You"  is a new and recently launched resource from the ATO designed to help high school students understand Australia's tax and superannuation systems.
As individuals, we all have our aspirations – a desire to make money, to achieve success in life and maybe raise a family. But no matter how successful we are as individuals, we all rely upon others because we are part of a community.
The basic goods and services that we all need – schools, roads, hospitals and social services – are available because we have all contributed to the tax system to provide government with the funds they need to deliver these services on our behalf. 
Regardless of what you want to do in life, you need to understand the tax system. You do not have to be a tax lawyer or an accountant but you need to understand your obligations – paying your tax is a serious matter, regardless of what area of employment you end up in.
-- the Assistant Treasurer the Honourable David Bradbury MP, during the program launch at MacGregor State High School
I was never taught financial literacy during my school years. Whilst still far from perfect, I think my financial literacy is generally passable these days, thanks to more than a decade in the workforce, doing my own tax returns, engaging the services of a financial advisor, making some pretty big mistakes (some of which I was able to recover from), and time spent dealing with the tax and superannuation systems in the course of my employment.

I can't recommend more highly the the benefit of starting this aspect of education earlier. If you think your knowledge in these areas is lacking but you're past your high school days, fear not as you can still access the material by registering here as a member of the public, and you can also take a preview and sample one of the lessons without registering.

One of the first things you are presented with is this perhaps sobering statement:
You have a legal responsibility to know what taxes you are liable to pay. You can't claim, 'I didn't know I had to pay tax on it'. The Australian income tax system relies on taxpayers self-assessing, which means you are responsible for working out how much you need to declare and can claim on your tax return.
Check it out.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

food truck dining

food trucks - not the kind like these that bring/sell breakfast/morning tea/lunch fare to workplaces (sometimes known as smoko vans), but the more gourmet versions helmed by the likes of ex-restaurant level chefs, typically selling a fairly limited menu of items. there's one in brisbane that i know of, the bun mobile, but i've not yet tried it. there are a few more options in melbourne and sydney, and when this type of dining option becomes more mainstream, (who have recently added brisbane/the bun mobile to its coverage) will probably be the best place to track them all down and find out, well where they're at!

Image source: FaceBook's photos of The Bun Mobile
btw the bun mobile's offerings are essentially what's known in singapore as a kong bak bao (扣肉包 or chinese braised pork burger), but with a twist on the fillings available. well if you have to copy an idea, might as well copy a good one, cos a good kong bak bao is quite the mouthful of deliciousness ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

how safe is your email password?

another day, another piece of news about the leaking of email account passwords. this time it's a yahoo server that's been hacked, but the leak includes addresses from gmail and hotmail among other domains.

the security company involved have created a tool where you can check to see if your address was involved in the leak -

for a more general check to see if your password is known to have been compromised, go to some would argue that you should change your password every so often anyway, and this is certainly the requirement in many workplaces. however others argue that such policies either offer no benefits, or actually reduces security - see for example this discussion on an IT security professionals website.

at the very least, use a strong password, and consider using a password manager to help you manage all the various strong passwords you have around the place. i use UPM - universal password manager, and have found it suitable for my needs.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Union Shopper - what you, I and they all need to know

NB minor edit/updated 20160329 

it's been a while since i mentioned union shopper. (it's also been a while since i blogged, but that's another story.) i've used it recently to help friends buy a fridge and an oven, with some pretty nice savings each time, eg $113 saved last week on an oven that retails for around $600+ (i'm not supposed to quote the actual prices i get from union shopper, hence i'm not giving the exact figures).

anyway, to save me the trouble of repeating this in future, if i'm doing you the favour of trying to save you some money through the union shopper electrical buying service, i'll direct you to this post so that you'll know what i need to know from you, in order to submit an enquiry:
Product type?



(eg white, black, s/steel) / other options (eg for fridge, left/right/double hinge, freezer top/bottom mount, etc)

Other product type specific details? (eg for oven, runs on: electric / gas; type: single / double / portable)

Is item urgent (ie check for available stock)? When do you need it by?

Best price?

Is best price for pickup or delivery? 
From store (name & suburb)?

Choose preferred payment method: American Express / Bank Card / Cash / Cheque / Diners Club / Direct Deposit / EFTPOS / Mastercard / Money Order / Visa

Delivery address? (full, including suburb, state and postcode)

Contact person name and number?

Are you committed to purchase the item if Union Shopper finds a lower price?
a few more things to note before you proceed:
  • this is not a price enquiry service, but a shopping service designed to try to help you save money on something you've already decided to buy. so you need to be committed to purchasing the item assuming union shopper can source a lower price.
  • they'll respond within 4 business hours with an outcome (ie. either a cheaper price, or that they can't beat your best price).
  • assuming they can get a cheaper price, i confirm with union shopper that i want to place an order, they'll pass the order details to the supplier who gave the lowest price. i will not know who the supplier is until they contact me.
  • the supplier contacts me to arrange payment and delivery if required - at this point i'll request they contact you directly, and if possible note your name and address somewhere on the invoice (this might be just a comment). if for any reason this is not possible, i may need to pay for the item first, in which case you will need to reimburse me promptly.
  • this service does not cater for extended warranties (ie. pricing is for product only, plus delivery if required), nor installation (ie. delivery is just that). there is no scope for me to include these details at the enquiry stage; the winning supplier may offer one or both, however i cannot be certain until the supplier contacts me (which only happens after i confirm with union shopper that i want to place your order).
happy shopping :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

a crook back

i've been waking up each morning this past week with a sore upper back - tense/tight muscles, spasmic sensations, sometimes just not being able to get comfortable whatever position i get myself in. the symptoms improve within a few hours, and i'm pretty much fine by the afternoon/evening, only to repeat the cycle the next day. there's also been possibly increased tiredness and some echoes of headaches.

all of which lead me to think for a while that maybe i've suffered some kind of whiplash like injury, but the only likely cause i can think of were the various bumpy rides during my recent SES deployment to roma/mitchell, which are more of an up and down movement than the typical back and forth of whiplash. moreover, my neck was about as good (or as bad) as it normally is. so, whilst i've discounted whiplash, i did come across a UQ site about the treatment for such injuries which i found of interest - the whiplash evidence based information resource. contrary to (some?) popular belief, the best treatment plans seems to be to basically get on with it - act as usual and keep exercising, in conjunction with seeking multi modes of treatment.

and given that i've not been able to find much info about "bumpy road" type injuries (although this was quite disturbing!) that's basically what i've tried to do... go to work, play my weekend games of social tennis, housework etc as usual, and seeking some additional treatment from my dad (a registered reflexologist and practitioner of various other alternative therapies). he says that part of my spine (upper back) is out of alignment, and this was likely to have been caused by the bumpy rides with the repeated bouncing/shock transferred from the seat/bum up the back...

i'm really hoping that this is a temporary thing and that it'll heal by itself in due course (a few weeks?). i'm trying to sleep more on my side so that i'm not putting as much pressure on my back (when lying down) for hours on end. it might be helping a bit...

now if only the vehicles we travelled in had suspension systems like these...!

Monday, February 20, 2012

alternative DNS server options

as with probably 99.5%* of the online population, i have for years used the default DNS servers that get assigned to me by my ISP as part of the DHCP process. i knew that other DNS servers existed, but never thought about using any alternatives. in recent months, i've found out about two such options, both free:
  1. OpenDNS, which claims to be "the leading provider of Internet security and DNS services", featuring
    • Industry leading malware and botnet protection 
    • Award winning Web filtering 
    • Faster, reliable, more secure DNS 
    • Ultra-reliable, globally distributed cloud network 
    • Simple, Smart, Easy
  2. Google public DNS, which claims to give performance and security benefits
i haven't tried google's public DNS, but have been using the familyshield product from opendns, which comes preconfigured to block adult websites, on top of other standard opendns features. it's quite easy to setup, and seems to be working fairly well thus far, though i can't say i've really noticed much difference (performance wise) compared to my ISP default. well it is meant to be a set and forget thing, so here's hoping i don't need to remember it much.

* yes i totally made that up, but that doesn't mean it's wrong :p

Saturday, February 11, 2012

how does orange suit me?

i finally got my SES uniform a few weeks ago, which means i now need to wear it to training every week. putting a high visibility vest over my (civilian) clothes was a much easier option, but at least i can look the part alongside the rest of the orange-clad membes, and not stick out as the non-uniformed new recruit.

it's still not all smooth sailing though - i'm missing a few items in the kit, and have no idea if/when these will come through. weirder yet was that my boots only came with one shoelace...

with no time to visit the shops to buy new laces, i stole the laces from an old and falling-apart pair of sneakers. but these were at most 60-70% of the length of the boot lace, so it was off to google for some inspiration on different lacing methods, and boy are there lots of ways of lacing a shoe!

i settled on the army lacing method, mostly because this method uses less lace length and is used for combat boots. it was pretty much just right for the old laces on the new boots.

so, i'm all geared up (more or less) and ready to be deployed.

and i just so happen to be going on my first deployment tomorrow! 5 days in st george (about 500km west of brisbane), helping with post flood efforts (the town has just been flooded for the third time in less than 2 years). i'm told the conditions will be rough, which is outside of the experiences of this urban creature... but this is what i signed up for, so it's time to finish packing, get a good night's sleep, and set out early in the morning.

- - - - -
related posts: joining the SES

Sunday, January 15, 2012

getting more out of my NAS

funnily enough, not long after my last post on using a NAS for download automation and thinking it would just be interesting knowledge without a paid usenet account, i came across a free usenet service! so, with a bit of fiddling around, i installed sabnzbd+ and sick beard, and started using this to keep up with a few tv shows out of the states.

it was working pretty well, except for the post processing part which never worked. essentially this meant that the downloaded files remained in the sabnzbd area rather than getting moved (and renamed) to more organised folders under sick beard. it wasn't a major issue, since i could just look in the former location instead of the latter.

however, today i somewhat chanced upon the cause of the post processing problems and got it working - it was pretty simple: a config file needed to be updated with the actual login details for the NAS. i also recently enabled the twonky media server on the NAS, and installed BubbleUPnP on my phone to access the files using UPnP, which i'm told should be a better/more stable solution than the SMB mounts i was previously using for this purpose.

good times. except that the usenet service seems to have gone down about the same time i was getting all these wins with improving my home network setup! oh well... maybe i'll just have to wait for homeland to play out on australian tv, as i'm presently missing more than half the season!

joining the SES

about a year ago some major flooding hit my home city. there had been flooding to other parts of queensland prior to brisbane being affected, including some pretty serious flash flooding in toowoomba just a few hours drive away. whilst i personally did not see any damage to my property or livelihood, i had friends whose homes were flooded, and got to see first hand some of the devastation when i helped with some of the cleanup.

(it wasn't a day for photography, but i did take a few on my phone, including this "favourite", if such a term can be appropriate. pictured is a friend whose home had water about a foot past the second storey floor.)

probably like many others in the community who responded with aid in the days and weeks following the flood, i was left feeling mostly helpless - wanting to do something, but not really knowing where to start, what to do, or how to best give of my time and energy and convert the willingness into something worthwhile. this is part of the reason i decided to sign up as a volunteer with the SES (state emergency service).

that was in mid january last year, and probably the worst time to join. it wasn't until september that i eventually got into a recruit intake group and began my induction. some three months later, i'm about to finish my probation period and become a community member, which means i can officially take part in activations and call outs. it hasn't all been quite what i expected so far, but i plan on sticking with it for the time being and continue getting trained and better prepared to be able to help and respond to times of emergency. it's also a good opportunity for me to work at forming friendships (maybe) with people outside of my normal circles. and one day, i hope to turn out in my orange uniform and be a part of a well coordinated effort to help someone in need.

Monday, January 09, 2012

first wedding for the year

i have a few weddings to attend over the next few months, but another one came up last weekend on fairly short notice. i didn't even know this person was getting married, but since they took the trouble of inviting me and i wasn't already busy, i went along to the ceremony.

she's a friend of a friend from my uni days, so at best an acquaintance with whom i've had minimal contact over the years. having said that, we have had some deep-ish facebook/email conversations about church/faith related topics, and wifey and i had her over for dinner once.

anyways, i went along expecting to only really know the bride, however found that i knew/recognised a fair few other people:

  • the celebrant (not that i really know him, and not that it's a total surprise given he's a pastor of the church where the ceremony was held)
  • my elder sister's high school classmate/s
  • my younger sister's uni coursemate and husband
  • people from CCCB Coopers Plains
  • people from a previous church i attended
  • someone i know from my YF days
  • someone i know from my uni course
  • the photographer (a mutual friend who covered our wedding some 4 years ago)
i even found the groom familiar, though i have no idea where i might have seen him before.