Friday, December 28, 2007

A lot of cubes for Christmas

Spinning Rubik's CubeAround Christmas time, I always have a spike in the hits to my beginner cube solution. This year was by far a new record. :) Below is a graph of the hits for the month leading up to Christmas. A lot of people must have received cubes for Christmas!

Cube page stats

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We have a Christmas tree!

This is the first year in a very long time that we've had a Christmas tree. We even have a Christmas stocking over the fireplace. It's not for either of us though. It's for Ashley, our foster kitty.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Devices under the HTC Kaiser 120 codename

Still got my eye on the HTC Kaiser 120. Devices under the HTC Kaiser 120 codename include:


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lego

Everything is better when it's made of Lego.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

That's big puzzle collection!

I have a fair few Rubik's puzzles, but I don't really collect them, unlike this guy...




Saturday, December 08, 2007

More kitty conversations

More kitty conversations (note that you have to sit through a brief commercial to see the kitties). Tehehehe. Go here to see the original.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

FreeRice.com

Play word games, extend your vocabulary, and donate to charity all at the same time!

FreeRice.com

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Scrabble Score Generator


Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 16.
What is your score? Get it here.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

New best 3x3x3 average: 24.41 seconds

Spinning Rubik's CubeGot a new best average today: 24.41 seconds! Yay!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Voice of the Tube

From the SMH website:

"The woman known as "the voice of the Tube" on London's underground has been sacked after criticising the network and making spoof announcements including making fun of US tourists, officials said today." Read the full article here.
The news article said the spoofs were available from Emma Clarke's website, but when I clicked on the link I got the following message:
"Hi - thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately, my site is currently overwhelmed by the sheer number of people wanting to download MP3s of my spoof Tube announcements. Please check back in a day or so.

Thanks, Emma."
I bet her hit counter sky-rocketed when this news came out!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving weekend

It was Thanksgiving weekend here in the US. This is fun because it means a long weekend and a big turkey dinner. It's pretty much like Christmas dinner, but in November.

I've never roasted a turkey before. In fact, I've never even roasted a whole chicken before, so we were pretty happy that it all worked out so deliciously.


Along with the turkey, we had roast potato, garlic mashed potato, sweet potato, garlic, broccoli, onion, tomato, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, carrots and asparagus. And then we had cherry pie for dessert! Mmmmm!

We bought the smallest turkey we could find, but it was still huge. We are going to be eating left-over turkey dinner for weeks!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Learning the US state capitals

My knowledge of the US state capitals is not very good. Being Australian, it's not exactly something we learn at school. Now that I'm over here, I decided I should know this stuff.

So I found these fun online quizzes to help me learn! :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rubik's World Championships 2007

Spinning Rubik's CubePeter and I competed at the Rubik's World Championships in Budapest, Hungary on 5-7 October. As usual, Worlds was awesome. Lots of fun competing, catching up with our cubing buddies, and meeting new cubing friends. Here are some pics...

From left to right: Joel van Noort, Jasmine Lee, Erno RubikFrom left to right: Joel van Noort from The Netherlands, me, Erno Rubik

Rubik's World Championship 2007 medallionRubik's World Championship 2007 medallion

Competition state at the Novotel Budapest CongressCompetition stage at the Novotel Budapest Congress

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New best 3x3x3 average of 100: 27.99s

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

Average of 100: 27.99s
Median:
27.25s
Best time: 21.81s
Worst time: 39.10s
Breakdown of solves: sub-30s solves: 77%; sub-29s solves: 67%; sub-28s solves: 57%; sub-27s solves: 41%; sub-26s solves: 26%; sub-25s solves: 15%; sub-24s solves: 7%; sub-23s solves: 2%; sub-22s solves: 1%; sub-21s: 0%; sub-20s: 0%


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Two million hits

Spinning Rubik's CubeMy beginner cube solution reached two million hits a little while ago! This is exciting because it was only about six months ago that it reached one million hits.

Go cubes!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

New best 3x3x3 average: 24.56 seconds

Spinning Rubik's CubeI was totally on a roll this morning and I beat my best average for the 3x3x3 by over 1.5 seconds! This is a huge margin in speedcubing terms, so I'm very excited.

It's very rare for me to do 12 consecutive sub-30s solves, let alone 12 consecutive sub-28s solves since my real average is around 28 seconds. And of the 10 solves which count in the average, they are all sub-27s!! Here are the details...

Average: 24.56 seconds
Fastest: 22.35 seconds
Slowest: 27.22 seconds
Individual times: 25.43, 25.21, 23.20, 26.49, 24.06, 23.29, (27.22), 25.26, 25.06, 23.45, 24.12, (22.35).

What's the reason for the inspiration? Well, as usual, I've been practicing more since Worlds than I did before Worlds. I always feel very inspired after a big cube competition. Perhaps I should just see this as very early practice for Worlds 2009!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New world record: 9.77 seconds

Spinning Rubik's CubeA new world record for the 3x3x3 single solve was set today by Erik Akkersdijk of The Netherlands. The competition was the Dutch Open 2007, and the record-breaking time was 9.77 seconds!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Review of the HTC TyTN II

Review of the HTC TyTN II at Pocket PC Thoughts. Sounds good. This device is currently at the top of my short list.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I Can Has Rubik's Cubes

Happy kittySpinning Rubik's CubeMy favourite website (I Can Has Cheezburger) has just combined my two obsessions - cats and cubes. Go Cheezburger!!




I can solve your cube

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Let's study at Hogwarts

Which fictional school from the movies would you like to attend? This was the question asked in a recent poll by Pearl & Dean. The winner, with 38% of the vote, was Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Here are the top 10:

  1. Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Harry Potter movies) - 38%
  2. Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters (X-Men movies) - 17%
  3. Boarding school St. Trinian's (some comedy I've never heard of from the 50s and 60s)
  4. Rydell High School (Grease) - 8%
  5. Horace Green Preparatory School (The School of Rock)- 7%
  6. South Park Elementary (South Park The Movie)
  7. Hill Valley High School (Back to the Future movies)
  8. New York City High School For Performing Arts (Fame)
  9. Shermer High School (The Breakfast Club)
  10. Lake Forest High School (Ferris Bueller's Day Off)
I am with the majority on this one. Definitely Hogwarts.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Aussie couple

Last week Peter and I went to a local cafe. The weather was nice so we asked for an outdoor table. There was a bit of a wait, so they put us on the list.

When a table became available, a different waiter looked down at the list, then up at the group of waiting customers, and said "which one of you is the Aussie couple?" I smiled, raised my hand and said "that would be us".

I realised at this point that the first waiter had never actually asked for a name when he put us on the list. This would never have happened in London. London is full of Australians.

Relative to population size, Australia has one of the largest diasporas in the world. About 1 million Australians live overseas (~5% of total population) and almost 1/4 of that group live in the UK!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Meowlingual

Meowlingual - a device by a Japanese company which claims to translate your kitty's meows. Hmmm. Not sure I'm convinced.

Read the news article here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

TomTom GO 910

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we bought a car. Since I love gadgets, this meant we had to get a GPS too. After some research, we settled on the TomTom GO 910.

The GO 910 is not one of the cheaper GPS devices, but it was the right one for us because it had several features we wanted which the cheaper models didn't have, for example:

  • Good range of maps pre-loaded. The GO 910 came with the US, Canada, and Western and Central Europe. Most of the others we saw here just had the US and Canada.
  • Test-to-speech. Many of the GPS devices tell you when to turn left/right, etc., but don't tell you all the street names as well - the GO 910 does.
  • Larger screen. The GO 910 has a slightly larger screen than many other GPS devices.
We've used it a couple of times and we're very happy with it so far. :)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

What does "HTC" stand for?

Spinning Rubik's CubeI kept seeing the acronym "HTC" in the context of smartphones. I didn't actually know what this stood for, so I googled "What does HTC stand for?" and found this explanation on the PDAPhoneHome.com forum.

HTC stands for High Tech Computer Corporation. It is the Taiwanese company which is the OEM manufacturer for these phones.

I then checked Wikipedia and found an article on High Tech Computer Corporation. Cool.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Looking for a PDA phone

I've never had a converged PDA/smartphone before, having always preferred to keep my PDA and phone separate. However, since the manufacturers are pulling out of the high-end PDA market, if I want a new whizzy device, it's going to have to be a converged one.

iPAQ hx4700I love my current PDA, the HP hx4700. What I was really looking for is a device which is basically the same, but with more:

-> processer - more powerful! faster!
-> main memory - more!
-> iPAQ File Store - more!
-> O/S - upgraded! (I'm still using WM2003SE)

Also, I'd want the device to keep all the things I love about the hx4700, including the large screen (pretty rare these days), dual expansion slots, amazing high resolution screen, etc. Unfortunately, such a device does not exist, other than in the hopes and imagination of other hx4700 fans. :/

I'm not too worried about the size and weight of the device. I'm happy for it to be on the heavier side if it means I can have a larger screen and more power/memory. Other thing is that I'm more interested in value-for-money than actual price. I don't mind if it's a little on the pricey side if you get a lot for your money and it's really packed full of features, power, memory, etc.

I really don't know much about converged devices, so I posted on the PocketPCThoughts for advice. Someone suggested I look at the HTC Hermes 100 and the HTC Kaiser, which I will. A friend also suggested the HTC Touch. If anyone has other suggestions, please leave me a comment!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Party animal

From SMH.com.au: Himalayan high for cat who cleaned up at party

"A Double Bay man got more than he bargained for when he took his highly agitated kitten to a veterinary clinic after it had been accidentally locked in a cupboard overnight - only to discover it was high on cocaine and benzodiazepines from a wild weekend dinner party." read more

Coked up kitty
Dearie me. Not good.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mie N Yu

Last week we went to a Georgetown restaurant called Mie N Yu.

It was great. The decor was exciting and beautiful, the cocktails were fruity and delicious, the cheese was stinky and blue (just as I like it!) and the mains were mmmm...!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Crazy cobwebs

From SMH.com.au: Massive cobwebs leave scientists baffled.

"Entomologists are debating the origin and rarity of a sprawling spider web that blankets several trees, shrubs and the ground along a 200-yard stretch of trail in a North Texas park..." read more

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Australian citizenship test

Sample questions from the Australian citizenship test.

I passed. Did you?

In case you're curious, here's some more info about citizenship and the test.

Monday, August 27, 2007

You know technology is part of your life...

Found this online. You know technology is part of your life when...

  1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.

  2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.

  3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.

  4. You e-mail or IM the person who works at the desk next to you.

  5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.

  6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your mobile phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.

  7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.

  8. Leaving the house without your mobile phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

  9. You get up in the morning and go online before getting your coffee.

  10. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )

  11. You're reading this and nodding and laughing.

  12. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.
Here's are some more I'd like to add...
  1. You set up an email address for your cat.

  2. You set up a blog for your cat.

  3. Your cat gets more blog comments in one month than you do in a whole year.
Hmmm... don't know if those last few are about technology being part of your life, or about being too obsessed by cats. Probably both. Hmmm.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

PDAdb.net

Found this useful PDA database: PDAdb.net. Looks very handy. Found it while researching as I'm currently in the market for two new devices: a PDA/smartphone, and a GPS.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Brian Bay? Almond Land? Drunk Island?

Tourism website wotif.com have compiled a list of funny misspellings used in their search tool for some popular Australian destinations. Well, some of these destinations are popular (e.g. Byron, Uluru, Cairns), I'd argue that some are not quite so popular! (e.g. Wagga? Dubbo?)

  1. Brian Bay (Byron Bay)

  2. The Big Red Rock (Uluru)

  3. Cans (Cairns)

  4. Clowndra (Caloundra)

  5. Dumbo (Dubbo)

  6. Wogga Wogga (Wagga Wagga)

  7. Erinsborough and Summer Bay (fictional locations from Neighbours and Home & Away)

  8. Almond Land (Arnhem Land)

  9. Drunk Island (Dunk Island)

  10. Permission Beach (Mission Beach)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Brrm, brrrm, brrrrrrrm!

The most exciting news of the weekend is that we bought a car!

Ford Focus ZX5
It's got some fun stuff that we've never had in our other cars, including a sun roof and seat warmers! Something it doesn't have is an automatic transmission. Peter much prefers manual cars, and I always preferred them in Australia too. However, when we've hired cars over here, they've always been automatics, so I was kinda getting used to automatics. Apparently most people over here buy automatic cars.

Ford Focus ZX5
The prerequisite to all this is that we had to get local driver's licences, or 'licenses' as they would spell it here. In some countries (e.g. the UK) and in some parts of the US, they let Australians swap over their Australian driver's licence for an American one. This is a state-by-state issue, and in Virginia you can't just swap over. So we had to go through the whole process, e.g. road sign test, knowledge test, driving test, etc.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lima restaurant

We went to Lima Restaurant tonight. They were extending their DC restaurant week menu, which we sampled last night.

The Open Table website describes Lima's cuisine as 'Latin American, Fusion/Eclectic'. This sounded promising as I usually like anything that's 'eclectic' and/or 'fusion'. The food was very good, and so was the ambience and the service, but I have to admit that I do prefer Asian Fusion/Eclectic.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Driving on the left or the right

Found this interesting Wikipedia article about driving on the left or right side of the road. According to Wikipedia...

"About 34% of the world by population drive on the left, and 66% on the right. By roadway distances, about 28% drive on the left, and 72% on the right, even though originally most traffic drove on the left worldwide."
I was fairly sure we were in the minority in Australia, driving on the left. I knew they also drove on the left in the UK, New Zealand and South Africa, but I assumed that pretty much everywhere else in the world drove on the right.

Turns out that there are many other parts of the world who drive on the left, including Japan, India, Hong Kong, parts of south east Asia, parts of south eastern Africa, and some Pacific countries. I also learned that some countries have switched their side of the road over time. Interesting.

Crazy truckGo here to see a list of countries who drive on the left, and here to see a list of countries who drive on the right.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Nora is at it again!



Nora's first performance is available here. How awesome is this kitty??

Nora now has a website, and a CD too! And you can go here to read Nora's story.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sleep like a cat

Snoozing kittyHaving trouble getting to sleep at night? Why not take a lesson from the worldwide experts in sleep?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Podstar Runner

Do you love homestarrunner.com? Do you have an iPod? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then you need podstar.homestarrunner.com. As Homestarrunner would say... "awesome".

Homestarrunner

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Top 10s

Found these lists of interesting Top 10s.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Amici Forever, All Angels, Opera Babes

I've totally been getting into Amici Forever. I bought The Opera Band last year, and loved it. I decided I should buy more, so yesterday I bought Defined. Great stuff.

I was in the mood for this sort of music, so I poked around online and found Beyond Imagination by Opera Babes, and another group called All Angels. I went back to the record store today and found the All Angels CD (and bought it), but no Opera Babes.

It's been ages since I bought new music. I think the last time was a year ago when I bought the first Amici CD!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cheezcats are taking over the world

Cheezcats are taking over the world. Yes, it's true. Check out this news article.

Cheezcat

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pollock or birds?

I did very well on the Pollock or Birds? Quiz (100%!), but not so well on the Machine Translation or Faulkner? Quiz.

Conclusion: Must have learnt something in those years of Art and Art History classes, however must have blocked out the experience of having to read Faulkner in English.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Fine Art Quiz

I found a link to the Fine Art Quiz from Big Cat Heads. I got 83% (10/12) correct. You can check out the analysis of the results here. Interesting.

I did much better on the Fine Arts Quiz than on the Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer? Quiz. Only got 6/10 for that one.

Conclusion: I'm more likely to identify a fraudulent piece of artwork than to identify a serial killer!!

Hmmm.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Rubik's Cake

Check out this great Rubik's Cube cake (no, I didn't make it, I found it online!).

Rubik's Cube cake

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Back in Oz again

Back in Oz again. Feels like I only just left.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Cube sculpture

This photo is from a few weeks ago when Peter and I walked to the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The sculpture is called Cluster of Four Cubes. Hmmm. I wonder why it caught my attention?


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Skydome Lounge

Last night we checked out the Skydome Lounge. It's a revolving bar at the top of the Doubletree Hotel. So many of the major DC landmarks are visible from the Skydome including the Washington Monument, the Capitol, Washington National Airport, and the Washington Cathedral way off in the distance.

There's a 360 degree sample available here online, but it really doesn't do justice to the great view. Unfortunately the Skydome wasn't revolving last night, so we'll have to go back again another day.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Agraria, Cabanas

Last night Peter and I walked down to the Georgetown waterfront. First we stopped by Agraria, and then we had dinner at Cabanas.

There are so many great places to eat within walking distance ('walking distance' by Australian standards that is) and I think we should try all of them! I suggested to Peter that we try at least one new place each week.

We're doing pretty well this week having tried 4 new places over the weekend!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Whole Foods, Marks & Spencer, Dean & Deluca

Something I miss about the UK is Marks & Spencer. I love Marks & Spencer. It's one of my favourite stores in the whole world. I have bought so much stuff there - food, wine, clothes, jewellery, shoes, everything!

I am yet to find a store as awesome as M&S in the US, but one store that does rate a mention is Whole Foods. They have a very good cheese section. This is important because I thought I wouldn't be able to get my favourite French cheeses in the US.

Another store which I understand has a very good cheese selection is Dean & Deluca. I have visited this store, but I've not yet sampled their wares. Must remedy this!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Old Town Alexandria

Peter and I went on a big walk today, about 13-14 kilometres (8-9 miles). We walked to Old Town Alexandria.

We walked along a very long bike path, part of which goes from the Rosslyn side of the Key Bridge, and follows the Potomac River to Alexandria and beyond. It's called the Mount Vernon Trail and appears to be very popular. We saw zillions of others out walking, running, and cycling. Here's a map of the whole trail.

In Alexandria we had ice cream at The Scoop, and dinner at the Fish Market. Mmmm.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

View from the balcony

Took some pictures of the view from our balcony.

View from the balcony
View from the balcony
View from the balcony

Sunday, May 06, 2007

New world record!

Spinning Rubik's CubeWe have a new world record for the 3x3x3 single solve: 9.86 seconds by Thibaut Jacquinot of France. The record was set yesterday at the Spanish Open Championships 2007. This is the first sub-10s solve in competition. Congratulations Thibaut!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I Can Has Cheezburger

I have just discovered I Can Has Cheezburger. This is my new favourite website!!

I Can Has Cheezburger?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Kitty White Christmas

This is hilarious. I love it. I've been watching it over and over again.








Sunday, April 22, 2007

A rose by any other name

What's the difference between a child prodigy turned internationally acclaimed virtuoso, and a busker at L'Enfant Metro Station? Apparently nothing on one morning in January. Check out this news article to read the story.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

1950s preview of 2004 home computers

Check out this old news article which someone sent me. Very funny!

Very old computer
Caption: "Scientists from the RAND Corporation have created this model to illustrate how a "home computer" could look like in the year 2004. However the needed technology will not be economically feasible for the average home. Also the scientists readily admit that the computer will require not yet invented technology to actually work, but 50 years from now scientific progress is expected to solve these problems. With teletype interface and the Fortran language, the computer will be easy to use and only..." [rest of the caption is cut off so I don't know what it says]

Update: Apparently this is fake. Still a funny idea though.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

ISO codes for country name and language

Do you ever find yourself needing to know the ISO codes for languages and country names? I do, and I keep forgetting where I found the lists the last time I needed them. So, in addition to bookmarking the pages (which I should have done before anyway), I'm posting them here too.

Friday, April 13, 2007

First sub-20s solve!

Spinning Rubik's CubeGot my first non-lucky sub-20s single solve: 19.53 seconds! Yay!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Record store cats

Remember the email that was circulating the internet a little while ago about kitties and their music? Well here are some more Record Store Cats! These kitties are great.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Lemmings

Peter sent me a link to Lemmings online. I know many people got really obsessed by this game (Peter included), but I never did. I think I was too distracted by Tetris, Minesweeper, Lode Runner and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

50 Best Tech Products of All Time

iPAQ 4705Check out this list from PC World of the 50 Best Tech Products of All Time. Interesting. And here's the reader's choice list of Best Tech products which didn't make the list.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Monday, April 02, 2007

Could this guy learn all LL states?

Spinning Rubik's CubeOver at the speecubing discussion group someone posted a link to the documentary The Boy with the Incredible Brain. Interesting stuff. We'd all love to see what he could do with a Rubik's cube. Maybe he could become the first person in the world to learn all 1211 LL states??

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A little rusty after long break from cubing

Spinning Rubik's CubeI haven't cubed much since my last competition almost 6 months ago (UK Open in November 2006). I did a session this morning and the lack of practice is certainly showing. :(

When I've been solving regularly, my average is 28.xx seconds, but this morning it took me 60 solves before I got a sub-28s rolling average!! Argh! When it eventually came, it was nice a 27.40s average, but geez it took a lot of solves.

Monday, March 19, 2007

First trip to Rome

Found these pictures on my computer. They are from my first visit to Rome last year. Went to Rome again later in the year with Peter, so there are probably some better photos buried on one of our machines somewhere!

Rome - October 2006
Rome - October 2006
Rome - October 2006
Rome - October 2006
Rome - October 2006
Rome - October 2006
Rome - October 2006
Rome - October 2006
Rome - October 2006
Rome - October 2006
Rome - October 2006
Rome - October 2006