Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Great Circle Mapper

EarthPeter showed me this useful little tool (Great Circle Mapper) for working out the great circle distance between places around the world.

Among other things, it's useful for estimating how many frequent flyer points you'll get on a round-the-world plane trip.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Prompt reply from Egress developer

iPAQSo, as I mentioned in my previous post, I contacted the developer of Egress to ask if they could investigate the issue of RSS feeds from Blogger Beta blogs not playing nicely with Egress.

I'm very happy to report that I received a prompt response thanking me for the notification, and saying that they'd found the issue and will implement a fix in the next version of Egress! I'm very happy to hear this!!

My iPAQ is heavily customised and has a great number of third party applications. So sometimes I do come across bugs or have requests. Whenever I email the developers these issues, I always receive prompt and helpful responses. It's really great to see them paying such attention to their users.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Blogger Beta RSS feeds don't play nicely with Egress or Sharp Reader

iPAQSomething that is really bothering me with Blogger Beta blogs is that RSS feeds from them don't seem to play nicely with Egress. I'm guessing that it's something to do with the changes between Blogger and Blogger Beta because I've been using the same version of Egress for the past few months. Also, Peter is seeing the same problems with Blogger Beta blogs through his RSS aggregator (Sharp Reader)

What happens is that every time I sync (in Egress) the RSS feed from a Blogger Beta blog, all of the entries (or a large number) come down as being published today, even though when I look at the actual blog website I can see the entry being dated weeks ago. Also, the blog entries are synchronising completely out-of-order.

The most annoying thing that's happening is that once I read an entry and it's marked unread, I find that if I re-sync that blog later in the day, all/most of the old 'read' entries become 'unread'. This means that I no longer know when there's actual new content to look at because anything marked as 'unread' might be new content, or it might just be the entry I read a couple of hours ago which has been re-synced back to 'unread'.

I've contacted the developers of Egress to ask if there's any way they can help. I don't know if they can, but I figured it's worth asking. I hope that that something can be worked out because it's really bugging me!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Moved to Blogger Beta

I moved this blog to Blogger Beta last weekend. It's been relatively painless so far. I also decided to refresh the look and feel. I've been thinking about this for a while because I've had the same template for quite a long time.

I'm still working on the template. A lot of the links from my old template are still missing from here. It will take a little while before it's 'finished' (are these things ever really finished?), but it's in a fit enough state for public consumption.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Inactive blogs

How long do you wait before declaring a blog to be dead (or perhaps just dormant?) and removing it from your blog links list? I reckon 6 months without a new post is justifiable for removing the link. Well, actually, I don't completely remove the link, I just comment it out in the code so it's very quick and easy to re-activate it if the blogger starts posting again.

Some of the blogs to which I link haven't had any new posts for 6 months or more, so I'm turning these off for now. However, I'm still watching out for updates through the RSS aggregator on my iPAQ, so I'll reinstate the links if these blogs become active again!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Girls can blindfold solve too

It's mostly just boys who get into blindfold cube solving, or cube solving in general, but some girls can do it too. Here's a video of Shelley Chang blindfold solving. I haven't yet tried this form of cubing, but I will... one day...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

New best 3x3x3 average of 100: 29.45s

Spinning Rubik's CubeI got a new best average of 100 last weekend. Here are the details.

Average of 100: 29.45s
Best time: 19.33s (lucky!)
Worst time: 37.27s
Best average of 10 during the 100: 26.14s

Sunday, November 26, 2006

New best 3x3x3 average: 26.14 seconds

Spinning Rubik's CubeJust got a new best average for the 3x3x3. Here are the details.

Average: 26.14 seconds
Fastest: 19.59 seconds (lucky!)
Slowest: 29.19 seconds
Individual times: 25.41s, 26.49s, 25.77s, 25.62s, 26.71s, 25.85s, 23.15s, (29.19s), 26.94s, (19.59s), 28.35s, 27.15s.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

UK Rubiks Open 2006

Spinning Rubik's CubeLast weekend Peter and I competed at the UK Rubik's Open. Peter got a new Australian speedsolving record for best average on the Rubik's Magic (3.75 seconds), and I got 6 Australian speedsolving records:

  • 3x3x3 (single): 20.37 seconds (oooo, so close to sub-20!!)
  • 3x3x3 (average): 26.71 seconds
  • 4x4x4 (single): 2 mins 21.51 seconds
  • 5x5x5 (single): 5 mins 25.42 seconds
  • Master Magic (single): 5.81 seconds
  • Master Magic (average): 6.13 seconds

Lars Vandenbergh won the UK Open 2006 with an average in the final of 15.74 seconds. Dan Harris came second with an average of 15.87 seconds, and Ron van Bruchem was third 16.81 seconds. Full competition results are available here.

I've updated my personal speedcubing records page with my exciting new competition results. :)



Saturday, November 04, 2006

Red Eye

I'm a big fan of the Red Eye energy drink. Not because of what's in it (guarana, caffeine, vitamins, ginseng, etc) but because I think it is delicious! There are many different flavours and my favourites are the black label and the red label. I can't remember what these two varieties are actually called. One is 'classic' I think, but I don't remember the other.

I've never seen Red Eye outside of Australia. This is a bit sad because it is sweet, fruity and delicious. The other day I was in Marks and Spencer and I saw something which sounded a little similar: 'Sparkling Berry Energising Drink with ginseng, guarana and B vitamins'. Hmmm. The name is not quite as catchy, but the description sounded pretty good, so I gave it a go.

It tasted a little like Red Eye, but not much. However, it was also quite yum, so I think I will buy it again.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

When good cubes go bad

Spinning Rubik's CubeCheck out this funny cube movie about what happens when good cubes go bad!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New best 3x3x3 average of 100: 29.50s

Spinning Rubik's CubeI got a new best average of 100 last weekend. Here are the details.

Average of 100: 29.50s
Best time: 22.12s
Worst time: 36.47s
Best average of 10 during the 100: 26.58s

Monday, October 23, 2006

New best 3x3x3 average (one handed): 1 min 49.41 seconds

Spinning Rubik's CubeYesterday I got a new best average for 3x3x3 one handed speedsolving. Here are the details.

Average: 1 min 49.41 seconds
Fastest: 1 min 26.06 seconds
Slowest: 2 mins 9.30 seconds
Individual times: 1:54.92, (1:26.06), 1:53.39, 1:42.71, (2:09.30), 1:40.86, 2:03.63, 1:38.21, 1:39.06, 1:35.20, 1:56.90, 2:09.17

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Personal speedcubing records

Spinning Rubik's CubeI've created a personal records page for my speedcubing. It includes both official and unofficial personal records.

I created this page because I often forget my best times on puzzles that I don't play with much. This is pretty much every puzzle except for the 3x3x3. By 'forget' I mean that I don't remember the exact time. I usually remember approximately what the time was though.

For official times this wasn't too bad because I could always remember in which competition I'd set the record, so I could easily look it up in the speedcubing.com official records. However, it was more problematic for unofficial records because I didn't always submit them to speedcubing.com.

The page also lists all the official competitions in which I've competed:

Saturday, October 21, 2006

German National Championship 2006

Congratulations to Stefan Pochmann on winning the German National Championship today with an average of 16.54 seconds in the final. Full results available on speedcubing.com.

Friday, October 20, 2006

New best 3x3x3 average: 26.15 seconds

I got a new best average today. I submitted the details to speedcubing.com, but then forgot to take a copy myself to write about here. Anyway, the average was 26.15 seconds. I'l post the details later when they are updated on speedcubing.com.

spinning Rubik's Cube

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dutch Rubiks Open Championship 2006

Last weekend I competed in the Dutch Rubiks Open Championship. As always, I had a fantastic time meeting up with all my cubing friends, both new and old. I'm also very happy with how I performed!

Prior to competition, I usually set myself some personal goals. My goals are always about improving my own previous competition records, not about beating other competitors. Here were my goals for this competition:

Event: 3x3x3 speedsolve
Spinning Rubik's CubeGoal: Beat my previous competition average of 34.77s (from Dutch Open 2005). Was hoping, but not expecting, to beat my previous competition single solve record of 27.96s (from Worlds 2005).
Outcome: Got an average of 28.19s, and a new best competition single solve of 25.59s.

Event: 4x4x4 speedsolve
Goal: Beat my previous competition single solve of 3 mins 28.02s (from Worlds 2003). I was going to be disappointed with anything over 3 mins, but ideally was aiming for something in the range 2 mins 40s to 2 mins 50s.
Outcome: Solved in 2 mins 57.96s.

Event: 5x5x5 speedsolve
Goal: Solve in under 6 mins. I had never competed in this event before, so I didn't have a previous competition time to beat.
Outcome: Solved in 5 mins 40.16s.

Event: 3x3x3 one handed speedsolve
Goal: Beat my previous competition single solve of 1 min 52.24s.
Outcome: Got single solve of 1 min 34.86s, and an average of 2 mins 1.64s.

Event: 2x2x2 speedsolve
Goal: Beat my previous competition single solve of 34.16s (from Worlds 2005).
Outcome: Got a single solve of 13.72s, and an average of 18.78s.

Event: Clock
Goal: Beat my previous competition average of 34.96s (from Dutch Open 2005). Was hoping, but not expecting, to beat my previous competition single solve record of 22.68s (from Worlds 2005).
Outcome: Didn't beat my best single solve time, but did beat my previous competition average with 28.29s.

spinning Rubik's Cube

Friday, October 13, 2006

New best 4x4x4 average: 2 mins 42.68 seconds

After a little more 4x4x4 practice I got a slightly better average of 2 mins 42.68 seconds. My 4x4x4 times are still pretty inconsistent though. There are regularly times around two and a half minutes, but there are also regularly times over 3 mins.

Monday, October 09, 2006

New best 4x4x4 average: 2 mins 43.40 seconds

So I kept going with the 4x4x4 practice session from my previous post and improved my average ever so slightly. Unfortunately, I forgot to write down all the details before I closed the timer, so I only have the average time: 2 mins 43.40 seconds.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

New best 4x4x4 average: 2 mins 44.67 seconds

4x4x4 cubeI've been gradually working my way through the re-stickering. It's pretty boring, so I've been interspersing the re-stickering with cubing.

I've just done a 4x4x4 average. I'm not sure what my previous best 4x4x4 average was, but it can't have been very interesting because I didn't post it to speedcubing.com.

Here are the details of the average I just completed.

Average: 2 mins 44.67 seconds
Fastest: 2 mins 25.80 seconds
Slowest: 3 mins 3.38 seconds
Individual times: 2 mins 47.41s, 2 mins 35.56s, 3 mins 2.96s, 2 mins 40.87s, 3 mins 1.82s, 2 mins 30.10s, 2 mins 29.45s, (3 mins 3.38s), 2 mins 48.48s, (2 mins 25.80s), 2 mins 38.76s, 2 mins 51.28s

Re-stickering is not fun

The stickers on several of my competition cubes are looking pretty ratty, so I figured I'd better re-sticker them (with Cubesmith stickers of course!) before the competition next weekend.

I'm currently part-way through re-stickering my 5x5x5. I love having nice new shiny stickers, but I really hate actually doing the re-stickering. It's so laborious, especially for the 5x5x5. Blurgh! I'm not sure if I'll make it around the whole cube, so I'm starting with the rattiest looking sides.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

4x4x4 centres are fun

4x4x4 cubeI'm really enjoying the 4x4x4 at moment. There are three reasons for this. One reason is that I'm improving, so that makes me happy.

The second reason is that Dan showed me a more efficient way to pair up the edges. Ages ago when I first started solving the 4x4x4, I was doing edge pairs one-at-a-time. This is so obviously the most inefficient way to do the edges!!

The third, and most fun, reason is Stefan's method for the 4x4x4 centres. I used to find the 4x4x4 centres rather boring, but now they are the most FUN part of the 4x4x4!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New best time on the 4x4x4: 140.52s

Among other events, I've registered to compete in the 4x4x4 at both the Dutch Open and the UK Open. I've only ever competed in this puzzle once before and that was quite a while ago (Worlds 2003).

I figured I'd better get practicing. My aim is to beat my previous competition record, which is 3 mins 28.02 seconds. I think this is achieveable. For me, a major concern with the 4x4x4 are the edge parity cases. Actually, I'm pretty comfortable with the permutation case, but the orientation one always makes me nervous. :/

Anyway, I was doing some 4x4x4 practice last night and got a new best time: 140.52 seconds. If I can get that time in competition then I'll be really happy. Actually, I think I'll be very happy with anything that's sub-3 mins.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Upcoming Rubiks competitions

Yesterday I registered for the Dutch Rubik's Open and the UK Rubik's Open. These are both official WCA competitions, so they are opportunities to set new official records. Cool. I'd better start practising because it's been quite a while since I've competed in an official competition! Last one was the Rubik's World Championships in November last year!

spinning Rubik's Cube

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

European Rubik's Championships 2006

Congratulations to Joël van Noort for winning the European Rubik's Championships 2006!

Congratulations to all the other winners and participants as well. I look forward to seeing the photos. Full competition results are available from speedcubing.com.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Strongbad podcast

I downloaded my first video podcast a couple of weekends ago. I have had my video iPod for a few months now, but haven't been making the most of it. During the same expedition which had led to the incase case incident, I discovered that Homestarrunner is now doing podcasts! As Strongbad would say, this is totally awesome.

The podcast includes selected episodes of Strongbad's email, and Teen Girl Squad.



Tuesday, September 19, 2006

ebooks vs paper books

I went into a real bookstore a couple of weekends ago. By 'real' I mean a physical bookstore that sells books made of paper, as opposed to an ebook website. I saw two books I was interested in reading. They happened to be on special and I considered buying them. But then I paused, I just don't know if I can bring myself to purchase physical books anymore.

I find physical books so incredibly inconvenient compared to ebooks. I have many friends who are avid readers and are appalled by these comments. I totally agree with them that there's something really nice about having the physical book sitting on the bookshelf. It looks great, it really does, much nicer than an ebook.

However, I travel quite a bit and I've moved 7 times in less than 5 years, including living in 3 different countries. When moving around this much, physical books are a huge hassle. So no matter how much I feel like buying a physical book, I always stop myself and remind myself that I should go and see if it is available as an ebook.

Back to the beginning of my story... the two paper books I was interested in... I looked them up in my preferred online ebook store, Fictionwise. One was available, the other was not. I've purchased the one which was available, and am going to continue thinking about the other. Perhaps if I wait a while it will appear on Fictionwise?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Super thin models banned from Madrid fashion show

Models whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is less than 18 will not be allowed to take part in the upcoming Madrid Fashion Week.

Depending on which source you look at, the minimum 'healthy' BMI is considered to be 18.5-20. This means that to participate in the fashion show, the models can be slim, but not not super skinny.

According to the news article, Medics will be on hand to check the models weight and 30% of the models who participated in the event last year would now be banned under the new rule.

The ban has been set by Madrid's regional government who say that the fashion industry has a responsibility to portray healthy body images. Of course the modelling agencies are complaining. Apparently they think it's unfair and discriminatory against super skinny people.

And if that isn't enough to make you think 'what the??', then behold the following unbelievable quote from one of the top modelling agencies:

"I think its outrageous, I understand they want to set this tone of healthy beautiful women, but what about discrimination against the model and what about the freedom of the designer...".
What the?? Freedom of the designer?? Oh, silly me, obviously the 'freedom of the designer' is considerably more important than all the health issues associated with young girls developing eating disorders, distorted body images, and low self esteem from trying to copy the waif-thin catwalk models.

Well done, Madrid. Let's hope we see more places following your example.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

New iPod case

My iPodI bought a 60GB video iPod a few months ago and have been on the look out for a nice case. For gadget cases (iPAQs and iPods), I really like Sena Cases. I have a Sena Case for my hx4700 series iPAQ and Peter has one for his older generation 40GB non-video iPod.

incase case for iPodI was going to buy a Sena Case for my new iPod, but discovered that they all come with a flip cover for this model. While I definitely do want the flip cover for an iPAQ, I definitely don't want it for an iPod, so I decided against getting the Sena Case. :(

I am sad about this for two reasons. One is because the Sena Cases are so well made, and I want a quality case for my prized gadgets. The other reason is because I ended up getting another case which is definitely inferior in quality.

I'm really disappointed with this incase brand iPod case I bought. Here's why:

  • The leather on the incase case is really stiff and cheap looking. Sena cases are made of strong, but soft, leather which gives them a really nice look.
  • The incase cutouts don't line up properly with the click-wheel or the screen. On the Sena cases, they line up perfectly.
  • The incase cutouts have a thick layer of plastic over them which make it difficult to use the click-wheel. The Sena Case click-wheell cutout is just a cutout, so you have the same access to the click-wheel as if when the iPod is not wearing the case. However, the cut-out for the screen still has a clear plastic covering to protect it.
  • Once you put the iPod into the incase case, it's very difficult to get it back out again. I had to get Peter to do it for me the first few times because I actually couldn't get it out! The Sena Cases on the other hand are a firm fit, but it's also not a big deal to extract the device if you want to.
I'm really hoping that the leather of the incase case will soften up over time so that I don't up end completely hating it. At this point I'm wishing that I had just bought the Sena Case instead, even though it does have the flip cover.

Mine and Peter's iPodsHere are two of the three members of our iPod family. Mine is on the left
and Peter's is on the right. There's also a baby iPod (a.k.a. iPod Shuffle),
but he's off playing somewhere and didn't want to be part of the family portrait.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Most expensive sandwich

At the very trendy department store, Selfridges, you can have the privilege of ordering the most expensive sandwich. At a mere £85*, why not have two?

(*That's ~$211 Australian dollars, ~$160 US dollars, ~126 Euro.)

If this is a little too much for you, then you can choose from their more affordable range of sandwiches which cost between £3 and £4.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Oh no! The Crocodile Hunter is gone! :(

Was very shocked and sad to open up the news websites this morning and discover that Steve Irwin has died. :( I see that this news has made the headlines all over the world. I hadn't realised he was so well known in so many countries.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Happy Birthday to me (for last week!)

It was my birthday last week. I turned the big three-oh. Peter and I went on a nice boat trip down the Thames to Kew Gardens, and then had dinner at a yummy gastropub in Kew. Mmmm!

When Peter asked me what I'd like for my birthday, I always said "Kitties!", so he adopted these guys. They are shy and haven't yet told us their names. Let us know if you have any suggestions about what to call them.

Three new adopted kittiesBelow are other presents from Peter (the stackmat, speedstack cups, and flowers that is - the cubes were added for visual effect). I finally have my own stackmat!! My speedcubing buddies will appreciate how exciting this is, but for those who aren't speedcubers, you probably need a brief explanation. The stackmat is the official timing device for WCA competitions (WCA is the World Cube Association). This means I can now practice my start/stop technique for my next cube competition. Cool.

My new stackmat!My speedcubing buddies will also have noticed the speedstack cups on the stackmat. These were part of the stackmat pack. My best time on the Cycle Stack so far is 24.15 seconds. I reckon I could get down to sub-20s with some practice though (haven't practiced much at all).

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Settings that bug me when re-building my iPAQ

When re-building my iPAQ from scratch and re-installing everything, there are some settings in a couple of applications which really annoy. Sometimes it's because the setting is annoying, and sometimes it's because I can't remember how to change it (these are the ones that drive me really nuts)!

I decided that I should write these things down so that I can look them up next time I re-build! Also, I figured that the information might be helpful to others as well.

Removing that annoying Battery Pack Pro power bar that appears in the top bar of the Today screen and interferes with Wisbar Advance

  1. Go to the Battery Bar Today screen settings (Start menu --> Settings --> Personal --> Today --> Items tab --> Battery Bar --> select Battery Bar and click the Options button)
  2. Go to the Power tab.
  3. De-select 'Show Battery Meter'. Do the same for the Memory meter if it is bothering you as well. Upon installing Battery Pack Pro, I find that it's only the Battery Meter which automatically displays itself, so you probably won't need to turn the Memory meter off.
  4. Click the OK button until you get back to the Today screen.
Removing the annoying 'OK' button that appears in the top bar of the Today screen and interferes with Wisbar Advance

The only reason I install Battery Pack Pro is for the Program Bar. I'm not interested in the rest of the features and it drive me nuts when I can't get them to go away!
  1. The key here is to install the 'Power Adjust' option (even if you don't want it) as well as the option which includes the Program Bar.
  2. Go to the Battery Pack Pro settings (Start menu --> Programs --> Battery Pack Pro)
  3. Go to the Power Adjust section, de-select 'Power Task button & menu' and click the Update button. You will get a message that you need to soft reset for the changes to take effect.
  4. Soft reset.
Changing the number of cities displayed on the Today screen with CityTime
  1. Go to the CityTime Today settings (Start menu --> Settings --> Personal --> Today --> Items tab --> select CityTime and click the Options button). Note that the CityTime Today settings are different to the regular CityTime settings that you access from within CityTime. I sometimes forget this, which leads me to go nuts looking for the particular option in the regular CityTime settings and not finding it!
  2. Select the number of cities you wish to display.
  3. Click OK until you get back to the Today screen.
Changing the Wisbar Advance clock to display the Australian date format
  1. Go to the Wisbar Advance settings (Start menu --> Programs --> WisbarAdvance folder --> Wisbar Advance settings).
  2. Expand the 'My theme' list and select Clock Settings.
  3. Change the date format from 'M/d/yy' to 'd/M/yy'.
  4. Click the OK button until you get back to the Today screen.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Blogger Forum

I've just discovered this Blogger advice forum. Looks pretty good.

Blogger

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Fresh Air Online

For those of you who also wish England would get it's act together and ban smoking from restaurants, cafes, etc., check out Fresh Air Online. This site has a database of non-smoking venues for people who'd really prefer not to inhale carcinogens while having a meal.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

London does have a summer

I'm happy to discover that London does in fact have a summer. I was here most of last year and there was no summer! Summer is a season, therefore an occasional warm day scattered here and there does not count, and two consecutive days of 27 degrees is certainly not a "heatwave".

Recently, there have been many weeks of temperatures in the high 20s and even up to 30 degrees! (in Celcius that is). Compared to Australia, this is not a hot summer as it regularly gets to the high 30s and up to 40 degrees in Canberra every summer. However, I'm quite satisfied with temperatures in the range 25-32 degrees.

Meanwhile, my English friends are all melting. This summer has been unusually warm for London and they are not used to it. I think their ideal temperature is 20 degrees or cooler! Brrr!! I, on the other hand, have totally not acclimatised to the English weather and complain about it consistently. Except for the last few weeks that is. :)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Rubik's cube in cartoon form

Rubik, The Amazing Cube was a Saturday morning cartoon show that premiered back in 1983. Apparently it was pretty lame as far as cartoons go. I'd love to see it though. I wonder if it's available on DVD?

Scrambled cube

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Disassembling a 5x5x5

Check out this site for amazing pictures of dissassembled 5x5x5 cube. Includes photos and instructions about disassembling and re-assembling, as well as some great arty cube photography. Very Cool.

Rubik's Professor Cube
Photo of partly disassembled 5x5x5 cube by ZWNJ.
Used here under the Creative Commons license.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Travels with Tigger

I found this great site ages ago - Travels with Tigger. This Tigger has been travelling for almost 10 years and has been keeping an online photo blog of his awesome adventures. I showed this site to Mr and Mrs Cookie and they thought it was totally cool.

Mr and Mrs Cookie have had a great time travelling to different cities around the world and have taken a lot of photos. They are just waiting for Peter and I to get our act together and build them a website. For now though, they are happy to make appearances on our blogs.

Mr and Mrs Cookie on the beach at Brighton, United Kingdom
Mr and Mrs Cookie on the beach at Brighton

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Scrabble World Championships 2005

This article is now quite old. I had meant to post it ages ago. Oops.

There are two reasons I wanted to post this article about the Scrabble World Championships. One reason is that I love Scrabble. It's a great game and so much fun. Well, if you like word games that is, which I do.

The other reason is because it reminded me of speedcubing. There certainly are some parallels between competitve Scrabble and competitive speedcubing. I'm sure any of the competitive speedcubers reading it will see what I mean!

The two activities have actually proven to go quite well together. My speedcubing buddy, Dan Harris, is the current UK speedcubing champ and and is doing quite well in his recent adventures in competitive Scrabble. Also, ever since we discovered we both like Scrabble, whenever we meet up we always have Scrabble games going in the background in between our speedcubing sessions.

spinning Rubik's Cube

Saturday, July 08, 2006

What do Chupa Chups and Salvador Dali have in common?

Often when I go to tourist attractions I like to check the Wikipedia entry to get some background and further info. I am able to do this on-the-fly wherever I go because I have a local copy of Wikipedia on my iPAQ (iPAQs are awesome and Wikipedia is awesome so it makes sense to combine them!).

Anyway, Peter and I went to a Dali exhibition recently in Bruges. While there, I checked out the Wikipedia entry on Salvador Dali and learnt an interesting bit of Dali trivia. According to Wikipedia, Dali designed the Chupa Chups logo for the Spanish lollipop company!

I found this very interesting for two reasons. One reason is that I didn't know that Chupa Chups were Spanish (I had assumed American), and the other reason is that it's totally cool that a lollipop company had their logo designed by one of the most famous surrealist artists. Although I guess he might not have been quite as famous at the time he did this work.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hever Castle, Kent

Last month Peter, myself and and some friends had a fun day trip to Hever Castle in Kent. Here's a selection of Peter's photos (click on any photo for a larger version).

Hever Castle was originally built in the 13th century and was formerly the Boleyn family home. It has since had many other owners and fell into a state of disrepair until it was bought and restored by American millionaire, William Waldorf Astor.

Hever Castle

Hever Castle

Hever Castle

Hever Castle

Hever Castle

Hever Castle

Monday, July 03, 2006

Fortune cookies

Peter and I had dinner at an Asian restaurant the other night. At the end of the meal we were given fortune cookies. The two 'fortunes' were:

"Marriage is a wonderful invention; but, then again, so is a bicycle repair kit."

"Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up."
The second one is kinda cute, but the first one... huh? Maybe if Mr Cookie had been around he'd be able to decipher for us. I'm sure he's eaten more than his share of fortune cookies.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Miaow from the British Museum

I haven't been posting much here recently, but that's because I've only been writing about kittycats, and therefore have only been active on my kitty cat blog.

Something I did do recently is visit the British Museum with some friends who'd recently arrived from Australia. Here's a picture that Therese took of me checking out the Cat Goddess, Bastet.

Bastet and Jasmine

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Textured Rubik's Cube

Check out this 'touch and feel' textured Rubik's Cube. Instead of six different colours, the cube has six different textures: wood, metal, rubber, plastic, stone and textile.

spinning Rubik's Cube

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Average of 10: new personal best time (26.21s)

I got a new best average! 26.21s :)

Average: 26.21s
Fastest: 18.43s
Slowest: 31.69s
Individual times: 27.69, 25.19, 26.67, 25.12, 27.08, 31.01, (31.69), 23.71, (18.43), 23.97, 25.02, 26.67.

The 18.43s was pretty cool, but it was a PLL skip, so it was a lucky solve. Still chasing that elusive non-lucky sub-20s!!

spinning Rubik's Cube
For scrambles and timing I used Doug Reed's iCube iPAQ cube timer on my iPAQ hx4705.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Other things that have happened in Brighton

When looking up Brighton in Wikipedia the other day after our day trip, I discovered an interesting piece of trivia. The Eurovision Song Contest was held there in 1974. This was the year that ABBA won, and Olivia Newton-John competed for the UK.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Day trip to Brighton

Mr and Mrs Cookie on the beach at Brighton, United KingdomLast Sunday Peter and I visited Brighton. Brighton is a seaside town on the southern coast of England with a population of about 250,000.

It was only 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit) and almost 100% cloud cover, but they were thin wispy clouds so some sunlight was able to make it's way through. This is what counts as "summer" in England. Quite a bit different to summer in the other places I've lived.

Also, the beach was pretty different to what I've seen in Australia. It didn't have sand, just millions of pebbles! You can see what I mean in the picture of Mr and Mrs Cookie relaxing on the beach.

West Pier, Bighton, United KingdomWe walked along the waterfront and checked out the amusement park on the east pier, although didn't go on any rides because I'm not really into that sort of stuff. We also saw the ruins of the west pier which had been partially destroyed by a hurricane, and then the remnants completely destroyed by arsonists. Now it's basically just a burnt out frame of a building. BTW, you can click on any of these images to for a larger version.

We also visited the Royal Pavilion, which had lots of dragons and was pretty cool.

Royal Pavilion, Brighton, United Kingdom
Royal Pavilion, Brighton, United Kingdom
Royal Pavilion, Brighton, United KingdomAfter this we wanted to finish off the day with a traditional Sunday roast. You'd think this would be the easiest thing to find in England, but not today, and not here! We traipsed around Brighton for quite a while in search of roast! Fortunately, we did eventually find one, so order was restored. :)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Origin of alt-ctrl-delete

I came across this cool interview with the guy who invented alt-ctrl-delete. Apparently it was originally just meant to be an easter egg and shortcut for the developers at the time, but somehow between the most famous combination of keystrokes ever!

I think the funniest part of the interview is at the end where the developer says,

"It was a 5 min job, I didn't realise I was going to create a cultural icon when I did it. But I have to share the credit. I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous!"

alt-ctrl-del

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Forbidden City, Texas

I was reading about Zeus and Princess Mia's adventure and learnt about a place in Texas called Forbidden Gardens.

Forbidden Gardens covers 40 acres and has 40,000 square feet of scale models of famous Chinese buildings and places, including the Forbidden City , the Temple of Heaven, the Calming of the Heart Lodge, and the canal city of Suzhoua. It also boasts a one-third scale reproduction of Emperor Qin's terra-cotta army!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

New blog: Fluffy Feline Friends

Anyone who's been following this blog over the past few months will have noticed that it's been fairly cat-centric, and everything else has been pushed aside. So, I've decided to create a separate 'all kitty' blog: Fluffy Feline Friends.

If you are mainly just interested in kittycats, then I suggest you update your links and bookmarks, as kitty related posts will now be over at Fluffy Feline Friends.

Hi. I'm BK. I like to miaow and purr.
Hi. I'm BK. I love to miaow and purr.
I'm going to be making occasional guest appearances
over at Jasmine's new blog, Fluffy Feline Friends.