10 Jul 2006

pysilc released

i've been sitting on this code for a long time now, and it's been living in developer.berlios.de for a while too without a release. so this weekend, i got around to adding some python docstrings, packaging it up and sending it on its way in a tarball. i've named the release 0.4 because it just feels like it is a good number. i think this is the most complete python bindings you can get for the SILC toolkit client.

i've been using this for 3-4 months on both linux and openbsd without problems as a backend for supybot, so it's pretty stable in my opinion.

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09 Jul 2006

another world cup decided on penalties

there it is. the second world cup decided on penalities. italy and france were quite evenly match, and the bbc pundits seemed to make a big deal about him being sent off and how ashamed he should be. think about rooney being sent off for stamping on someone's balls compared to being head butted on the chest. these double standard pundits.

anyway, they really should think about changing the world cup finals' final to do what tennis does if the game goes to the fifth set. you do not play a tie break and whoever can win by two games. so in football, you can continue playing until someone wins by a goal, and every 5 minutes, you take a player off (or put an extra player on) until someone scores.

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05 Jul 2006

france exacts revenge on the portugese divers

i think in the diving league, portugal has just overtaken italy as the diving nation of the world. i would like to recommend ronaldo and pauleta to the portugese olympic diving team. even though it was such an ugly game of defence, i was still glad to see the french win with a single penalty (somehow similar to the way australia was knocked out, except this time the ref got it right.)

we're lucky we only have one diving team in the world cup final, otherwise, we might as well play at the berlin olympic pool rather than the olympic stadium.



as for the other team of divers, i have to say that they played slightly better than germany in an exciting attacking game. italy were clearly the better team in extra time and deserved to go through with two amazing goals, one from the villian of the australian match, grosso, and the other from the star of previous world cups, del piero.

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02 Jul 2006

pre-world cup favourites all out!

the pre-tournament favourites (brazil, argentina, england) have all been knocked out of the world cup leaving 4 european countries, germany, france, italy and portugal. we only have 4 more games left to sort these guys out. my hope will by a germany and france final with france taking out the world cup. however, it looks like germany will be the favourite out of the four.

here's my take on some of the big games this world cup in reverse chronological:

quarterfinal: england v portugal

well, of course it sucks to lose, especially to a team like portugal and with 10 men for most of the match. but england couldn't convert their chances with lampard being the main culprit. as much as i hate the english press and pundits, i have to agree that the coach's strategy was poor. 4-5-1 is an italian formation of boring football, and england didn't have the probing wingers to support wayne rooney up front.
in fact, after rooney was sent off, the team actually played better with crouch doing an amazing job of holding the long ball and waiting for support from gerrard, lampard and lennon. all the criticism of sven goran ericcson's bad substitution were throw out of the window as lennon and crouch were one of the most positive substitutions of the whole tournament by the manager (although both were forced substitutions.)

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amazingly, they played better than against ecuador and sweden without needing acrobatic touchline clearances to keep themselves in the game. and blaming ronaldo for the sending off? well, i think it is rooney's temperment that got him sent off, not ronaldo. the fact that england played better after he got sent off showed how much rooney and beckham were holding back the team.

quarterfinal: brazil v france

in some ways, this would be the ideal final rematch between the two teams. once again, i think the difference were zidane versus ronaldo. ronaldo couldn't conjour up the form he had in the previous game, ronaldinho was not getting any of the ball which seemed more to do with his own teammate's ego more than the french defence. he was basically reduced to a human wall for doing one-twos and rarely tried to run at the defenders.

zidane on the other hand was showing ronaldinho how to play the game with his inch perfect passes and amazing dribbling ability. they deserved to win along with performances from viera, henry and ribbery. i hope they can keep up the form. it is a pity that none of the brazillian flair has been shown at this world cup.

last16: portugal v netherlands

a pretty ridiculous match from the ref: 16 yellow cards and 4 sending offs. nearly one for every man on the pitch. netherlands had so much of the ball but couldn't find an opening. they had van persie and robben who was able to run at the defence, but when it came to the crosses into the area and finish, they had nothing. i don't know much about duyt, but i thought van nistelrooy would of been a better man to put up there in the face of the portuguese.

that said, england can thank this ref for cancelling deco from the portugese team for their quarter final match up.

last16: australia v italy

this game was very simple. the ref won the game for italy. the australians were robbed. it is as simple as that. grosso is a diver, he saw a body and tripped over it. of course, as all good divers do, they'd never admit to diving, but it was so damn obvious.

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i suspect that the spanish ref in charge of this game should also be investigated in the italian football corruption scandal. he denied an obvious hand ball on the other end just a couple of minutes before but then turns around and gives a penalty on the australian end. i wonder if you can actually go read the fifa ref reports and see what he says about that incident.

group stage: australia v croatia

i didn't actually get to see this game live because the germans like to see brazil thrash japan. but after seeing the highlights on BBC's website, i have to say that the ref really screwed up in this game. he should be thanking his lucky stars that australia actually got an equaliser, even though it turns out that kewell was offside.

how can he give three yellow cards to the same person, and also why did none of the people who realised the mistake tell him? what is the use of the 4th and 5th official if they can't tell the main ref he's made a huge mistake?

fun world cup stats

its all well and good knowing that ronaldo is the all time goal scorer for world cups, but who has had the most fake injuries, most ref bullying and not singing the national anthem? check those stats out at information builders. of course, i don't need to tell you that the team that is diving the most is italy.

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28 Jun 2006

driving in germany

i wanted to go outside of the cities, so we left the last three days in Germany to chance. that is, all i had planned was hiring a car from nuremburg and then drive around bavaria and go wherever we felt like, find accommodation when we get to where ever we fancied.

driving on the right

the challenging thing for me is that i've only driven in australia. i did drive a couple of hours in the states for no other reason except that my dad was feeling "lucky" and let me go behind the wheel in my uncle's car. that was a pretty scary experience battling out on the roads of new jersey against SUVs. for those who don't know, you drive on the left in australia, and in europe, they drive on the right side of the road.

the biggest trouble i had with driving on the other side was that i kept on looking at the wrong place for my rear view mirrors. i think it took me nearly a whole 24 hours to get used to looking for the rear view mirror in the right place. i ended up just using the side mirrors as my rear view mirror. same thing goes for your seat belt's position and looking backwards when reversing!
but we were quite lucky with our rental car. i had booked an automatic car (because i didn't want to have to battle with stick shift on with the wrong hand given that i'm already battling with keeping the car on the right side of the road), but they ran out of automatics except for this massive volvo XC70. i'm not sure whether it is the automatic or the fact it's a huge car, but it is really sluggish off the line. however, it was really comfortable, and had GPS navigation which probably saved me hours of getting lost and frustration with maps.
the guy at the counter tried to sell me some sort of insurance excess waiver cover saying that if i had to claim, i needed to pay €700 excess, whereas if i took the excess cover, i would only need to pay €22/day. i found that a bit insulting that he'd thought i'd crash the car, so i didn't take it. i'm happy to report that i didn't cause any accidents in germany, except running up the curb while driving under a railway bridge on the last day, but didn't cause any damage. in fact i even navigated the treacherous streets of munich to return the car, which i believe you get a medal for.

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autobahn rocks

if there was only one thing i love about Germany, it is the autobahn. these are those motorways that have no speed limit. actually, in some parts they do, but only for very short sections where maybe they go through a city and want to keep the noise down or some road works is happening. when i first got on, i drove at a pretty conservative 120kph on the slow lanes, by the end of the three days, i was driving 180kph on the medium lanes and occasionally on the fast lane. still i would be overtaken by audis and porsches going at probably 220-240kph.

driving on the autobahn is like commiting a crime you can get away with -- kind of like pirating movies! in fact, once you've driven on the autobahn, i don't think i can go back to driving on motorways with speed limits. on those autobahns, the speed limit is when you start to feel you are losing control of the car, which was quite slow for me because i hadn't driven for such a long time.

other driving observations

i had to cross over into Austria on our last day to take a scenic shortcut from Füssen to Linderhof. i thought the borders would have security or what not, but in fact you barely even notice it except for a sign saying that if you drive on the motorways in Austria you need some sort of pass.

also when going back into Germany, you immediately notice the appearence of lines on the same road where on the Austrian section, they were too lazy to put any lines on!

the most difficult thing to master while driving in Germany for me was driving in carparks. on the roads it is alright because you know which lanes you're supposed to go in because there are either cars parked on the road or you are already driving so its easy to visualise. however, in a carpark you easily get confused.

and more than once i activated my wipers rather than my indicator, which is embarrassing and dangerous all at the same time.

final thing about driving though, petrol is very expensive in Germany. i was paying €1.35/litre of regular unleaded. it is probably the equivalent in $AUD in australia. filling up the volvo cost me nearly €72 for 50 litres.

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28 Jun 2006

videos from munich

here are some videos that i've uploaded on to youtube on the day of the match between brazil v australia.

lots of singing and partying while waiting for the subway:



the view from the top of the platform at the allianz arena stop:



the brazillian fans were in the far corner and the aussies were in the near corner. all the other seats were pretty neutral. given the fact that you could easily buy brazillian shirts and not aussie shirts, there were quite alot of brazillian fans. as you'd expect :)

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28 Jun 2006

augsburg and nuremburg

apart from munich, we spent some time in augsburg and nuremburg. patricia visited the Brecht's house, which is a famous playwright from Germany.

Brechthaus 7

apart from that, there wasn't much touristy stuff to do. we happen to be in augsburg at the same time as some sort of music festival called max06, which is supposed to be short for maximillian. however, i think it was only just getting started so there wasn't really much to check out.

Statue

augsburg is famous for some water fountains, which actually is quite good, except if you've been to italy, you'll think less of them! this one here has water spouting out of many women's breasts. i don't know whether i'm impressed or amused.

Strawberry Hut

guess what this store sells?

we then took a luxurious train to nuremburg which was very comfortable and advanced. trains there are way better than what runs between cambridge and london. although i'm told that virgin trains in uk are nearly as good.

Plastic Chair Sculpture 1

nuremburg also had it's fair share of fountains, but for some reason, they started hiding them with a sculpture of plastic chairs!

Soccer Ball Art 1

i started taking notice of more mundane things like hoping that this football will become the official match ball of 2010 world cup!

River House

there was a beautiful river that flowed through the town though.

The Linux Shop

nuremburg loves it's linux so much they need a special shop to sell it.

Goal Post Art 2

scattered around nuremburg were these billboards of goals in different parts of the globe. quite nicely done and not as verbose as the sponsored painted monstrous lions all over munich.

Virus Internet Cafe

near where we stayed was a inappropriately named internet cafe. however, in füssen, i found the corresponding internet cafe:

Anti Virus Internet Cafe

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21 Jun 2006

munich impressions

apart from watching the world cup match, my impression of munich is quite good. it's not as old as other european cities, and it has a nice metropolitan feel to it. there are modern buildings, a well complex underground system, nice shops and all. only problem is that it is stinking hot here, and so we hide out during early afternoon from the heat.

some highlights

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some geniuses combined a coffee shop with a women's underwear store!
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dried fruits'r'us! you plant, we dry.


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an advert for the modern art museum that i thought was very funny.

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cherries are being sold everywhere
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skylight in the modern art musuem of munich.

travelling fact of the day

you watch alot of cnn because it is the only channel you understand.

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21 Jun 2006

watching brazil out-play australia live

we arrived in munich via salzburg at around 12:30. and we weren't the only ones who were traveling via salzburg. a large contingent of aussie fans were on the platform waiting for the train to munich.

once we were in munich, it was obvious that brazillian fans were outnumbering the aussie fans. the reason is not because there were more brazillians here, but the fact that you cannot buy a single aussie socceroos strip or even replica t-shirt anywhere in munich. we spent two hours trawling through sports shops in central munich and couldn't find anything. even flag shops were totally out of australian flags! but brazillian shirts were in abundance everywhere. i understand that nike makes the australian strip, so maybe they need to get their act together!

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we headed for the allianz arena about 2.5 hours before kick off, and even heading out so early, there were crazy scenes in the underground platform and in the train as packed trains couldn't head out to the stadium fast enough.

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the stadium was flanked by a pretty ordinary gravel track that was used to funnel fans to different parts of the stadium. on the way from the station to the stadium, people were offering to buy tickets off people. i heard offers of around 900 euros for two tickets. i'm not sure what tickets they were, but my tickets were 90 euros for two, so that's a 10 times mark up. not sure how successful these people were at getting people to part with their tickets after such a harrowing train trip to the stadium.

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along the way, there was the security check, which was actually not really a security check, but a sponsor protection scheme. they confiscated any drink or food that is a direct competitor to the sponsors, such as water bottles, beer, non-mcdonalds food, etc. they even tried to confiscate some women's perfume bottle before a passionate plea allowed it through.

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after passing the security check, there started shops designed to drain money out of your wallets with overpriced drinks and beer. even though budweiser is the beer sponsor, turns out that the german bitwelder beer was also a sponsor, but also 50c more expensive than budweiser.

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there were massive balls with marker pens designed to be signed by fans. the ball i saw was mainly covered with australian signatures, but then again, this was the australian end of the stadium. since i got my tickets from the internet draw, i wasn't sitting with the australian fans.

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in fact, most of the people around me were either neutral or brazilian supporters. there was a really annoying women right behind me who looked to be in her 40s, and screams on top of her lungs every time the brazilian got the ball. she seemed to be shouting something about "passing the ball to the ronaldo." by the second half, she had nearly lost her voice. i think the people in our section were all very annoyed with her.

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well, the sad news is australians couldn't put up a fight to the brazilians, which bought them all back down to reality. the plus side is that the australian supporters were amazing. the game looks actually quite slow in real life compared to how it is filmed on tv. i don't know whether it was because the position where i was sitting. watching the game live was really fun and interesting, although the lack of commentary or even any music was quite weird. if the crowd was not into the game, it would be pretty boring. watching what the players do when they're not involved with the play was also quite interesting, for instance how the players move off the ball is really interesting, an aspect that is never really revealed in tv coverage. this is probably my only opportunity to watch the world cup live in the next decade or so!

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15 Jun 2006

album art widget 2.7 released

a minor feature update on the album art widget. it will now warn you if you attempt to add album art to more than 20 tracks at a time.

Albumart-Confirm

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