Archive for the 'Work' Category

Confessions from the third bedroom

I thought this post by Noel Ranger over on Flying Solo was great – made by wife laugh as well, which is always a good sign!

Working from home: Confessions from the third bedroom

The next time some well-meaning relative asks me how my ‘little’ business is going, when I’m getting an office, or, if I’m still ‘just’ freelancing, I’m going to chop down the family tree. It really gets my goat.

… (more)

I need to make my own confession though – I do have a Herman Miller chair in my “third bedroom” (actually it’s the sunroom*) … but mostly because I think the cost of the chair is still less than the physio bills for trying to fix my neck!

(*sunroom: nice in winter, horrid in summer)

Consolas Begone!

I have been very busy of late with coding changes to my various website – particularly my forums InvestEd

and ZooBeat.

Earlier this week I was horrified to discover that somehow the font had changed for the display of some of the code display in the vBulletin admin area (specifically the template editor). It was now a fuzzy font - it looked like somehow the evil ClearType had been enabled for just that font.

I was dismayed – and could not find any settings that had changed or were different to my other laptop, which had no problems displaying the nice sharp fonts I prefer.

I thought perhaps that something had deleted courier new or some other dastardly deed, but those fonts still seemed to be there and worked okay.

It wasn’t until I found the time today to delve deeper into the code on that page and using a process of elimination to work out what part of the page was causing the font to change for that editor area.

I eventually found the line of code – it was the default stylesheet for the vBulletin admin area – and it specified that monospace fonts should try using consolas, ‘courier new’, courier and then monospace fonts in that order.

I had not heard of this Consolas – but after a quick Google I found that this is a new ClearType font that Microsoft has released - specifically designed for coding environments.

I was wondering where that came from – and thinking back I realised it probably got installed as part of the Compatibility Pack for Office 2007 which I installed earlier this week to allow me to read Office 2007 documents in Office XP. Sure enough, in checking my other laptop, there was no Consolas font installed.

I pondered this problem (for about 2 seconds), before deleting Consolas completely, and instantly my problems disappeared. I could have edited the stylesheet instead – but I really don’t want to see anything displayed using Consolas. Ever.

I find that ClearType makes it very difficult to read fonts on my 20″ 1600×1200 LCD screen – and very fatiguing to my eyes. That’s no problem, I can disable that in Windows. I prefer the razor-sharp fonts that work well on my DVI connected LCD.

I’m disappointed that Windows isn’t smart enough to detect that I have ClearType disabled and therefore substitute a more appropriate font for my display rather than showing a ClearType font. Oh well.

Mystery solved, and all is right with the world once more.

Day 16 – Puerto Varas and Chiloe

Early start this morning – had to be across the plaza to catch our tour bus to the island of Chiloe at 8am.

We booked through a tour company since it was a long way and the buses were a bit infrequent – we weren’t sure we could see everything we wanted to if we did it on our own. It cost about 56,000 pesos all up (around AU$133) – which is a lot, but it was a very long day and included a ferry crossing and several toll roads (but no food was included!).

We did a quick tour of some local hotels picking up extra passengers, and then drove to Puerto Montt – one more passenger to pick up there. Then it was on to Pargua to catch the ferry across to Chiloe. There were quite a few small Ro-Ro ferries (Roll-on Roll-off) doing the run between Chiloe and the mainland – quite a bit of vehicular traffic.

Chiloe is around 200km long and 50km wide and is the third largest island in South America. The Pan-American highway forms the main highway down the centre of the island. This highway run the entire length of the Americas from Alaska to the bottom of Chiloe island (although some claim the highway goes as far as Ushuaia, but that is an alternative routing via Buenos Aires and the east coast of Argentina). According to our guide, there are only three breaks in the highway – in Alaska, the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, and the Canal de Chacao between the mainland and Chiloe island.

We landed at Chacao after around 30 minutes on the ferry – where we saw seals swimming around the ferry and off in the distance some black necked white swans (very unusual looking), then drove through Ancud and down to Dalcahue (about an hour from the ferry) where we visited the Dalcahue Church and the local markets (cheap and nasty, but very popular with the locals – selling regular stuff rather than tourist trinkets).

[table1]

Dalcahue Church, Chiloe

Dalcahue Church, Chiloe

[table2]

Dalcahue, Chiloe - Chile

Dalcahue, Chiloe - Chile

[table3]

Next we stopped for lunch at a little restaurant near Castro – funnily enough the locals on the tour went elsewhere … possibly to a local restaurant which has a set menu, while we got to eat at the “safe” western restaurant. It was quite pricey – but not too bad … I had some steak and some really nice chunky chips while Leanne had an Abalone cake (basically a stew) which she said was quite tasty.

We stopped on the way into town at the stilt houses built by local fishermen on the waterfront (quite large tides around the island), and then continued to some local markets which were full of wonderful knitted clothes and carved wooden items and toys.

[table1]

Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table2]

Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table3]

[table1]

Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table2]

Markets in Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Markets in Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table3]

[table1]

Open air butcher shop, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Open air butcher shop, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table2]

Markets in Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Markets in Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table3]

Markets in Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Markets in Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

The highlight of the day (for me at least) was the Castro Church at the main square in Castro – an amazing wooden structure with high arched ceilings. The colours and structure of the building was amazing. Apparently the original church burned down, and was rebuilt in 1912.

[table1]

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table2]

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table3]

[table1]

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table2]

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table3]

[table1]

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table2]

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table3]

[table1]

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table2]

Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table3]

Then we drove an hour back to Ancud at the northern end of the island where we visited an old Spanish fort from 1770, complete with canons still in place. We stopped in briefly at the Museum of Chiloe and then had a quick look at Catedral S.Carlos de Ancud, built in 1840.

[table1]

Spanish Fort built in 1770, Ancud, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Spanish Fort built in 1770, Ancud, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table2]

Catedral S.Carlos de Ancud, built in 1840, Ancud, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Catedral S.Carlos de Ancud, built in 1840, Ancud, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table3]

Finally we headed back to Chacao and the ferry back to the mainland. Another hour drive to Puerto Montt and then finally back to Puerto Varas – we arrived just on 8pm, a 12 hour day and very tiring.

[table1]

Black Necked Swans, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Black Necked Swans, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table2]

Seals, Canal Chacao, Chile

Seals, Canal Chacao, Chile

[table3]

Imperial Cormorant, Canal Chacao, Chile

Imperial Cormorant, Canal Chacao, Chile

After cleaning up a bit, we headed out for dinner at a cafe nearby, BLT and toasted sandwiches – quite nice actually. While eating, we enjoyed the music from the festival (the main marquee was just outside the cafe).

Chiloe - Map View

Chiloe - Map View

Chiloe - Satellite View

Chiloe - Satellite View

We returned to the hostel and did some packing and eventually sat around the dining table with the other guests. Leanne went to have a shower while I did some work on the computer when the power went out – put an early stop to the festivities out in the plaza! Fortunately pretty much everyone at the hostel had torches – one of the guests found some small candles in the kitchen which we put on the table and sat around in the dim light talking and listening to one of the guests (a Chilean musician here for the festival) playing guitar and singing (in Spanish!) – he was very good.

Blackout in Puerto Varas - Hostel Casa Margouya

Blackout in Puerto Varas - Hostel Casa Margouya

Leanne got good use out of the little head mounted torch we had bought – managed to have a shower (the gas hot water system still worked), but we gave up trying to do much more packing, and I didn’t have enough battery to get the work done I had planned on doing.

Leanne wearing quick drying towel and headlamp for dark showers

Leanne wearing quick drying towel and headlamp for dark showers

We all went out as a group to look at the stars in the dark out on the pier in the lake … unfortunately there were still a lot of cars on the road with headlights on and a few buildings (like the Casino) must have had backup generators – so there was still quite a bit of light around. Still, it was a lot quieter in town than usual – quite nice really.

We all went to bed just after midnight – not much else to do with the power out!

Tweets from today

heading to Chiloe for the day
3rd February, 2008 8:10 AM from txt
out looking at the milky way during a blackout in puerto varas
4th February, 2008 12:05 AM from txt

Sim’ is back online

I just had a Telstra technician (a real Telstra guy - not a contractor) come and fix my phone line.

What seems to have happened is that the technicians who originally came out to fix our neighbour’s problems got confused with the network layout. The cabling that runs up the street is very old (60+ years the Telstra guy reckons), and is basically non-operational.

There is actually a second set of cabling that runs past our house – newer cables that have been working well. Unfortunately, the pit where the cabling comes to our house is hidden … right next to the obvious pit with the old cabling in it. Nobody discovered it until they took a guess after studying the network diagrams more carefully today. They had to dig it up!

Anyway, it seems that when the original contractor was playing with the cabling for next door – he got confused, cut ours, and then tried to reconnect it – but instead connected it to the old cables – not the new ones.

The Telstra guy today worked it out pretty quick once he found the new pit and reconnected our service. He came in, tested our line – and confirmed it was working. The only hiccup was when I tried our phone – still no dial tone. It seems that they have swapped the phone line back to the other line (we have two lines into our house - one of which is no longer in use). I just had to swap to the other phone socket, and it started working. ADSL came up shortly afterwards … not as fast as I’ve been getting – but close enough to not matter (it might improve over time once things have settled down – they are still digging out on the footpath to fix next door’s problems).

Anyway – I’m back online so I can finally get some work done – yay.

Gear shopping

Walked over to Chatswood today for some last minute Christmas lunch shopping (Leanne is doing a couple of roasts and her sister is coming over for lunch).

We also stopped in at a couple of the travel gear stores to look for waterproof jackets and fleeces – and some other tops for Leanne. Leanne also needs a couple of pairs of pants – and we finally managed to find something she was happy with at Kathmandu plus some thermal tops and leggings for her – all at 50% off normal price!

I did manage to get to Gloria Jeans yesterday for a couple of hours – not enough time to get any real work done, but at least I’m keeping on top of the urgent emails and website maintenance.