Starting again, and some other ideas

It’s been awhile since this blog was last really active.

I’m still getting comment spam, but that’s already become a “normal” thing for most bloggers these days.

Have been doing a bit of reflection in regards to the future direction of my blogging. For a brief moment I did consider just leaving this place to die.
But then I thought, maybe I can just focus on other things? Not just tech.

I’m also spending a lot of my time on Twitter lately. Which does get updated much more often than this blog. I’ve setup an account on Swurl to aggregate a few things that I update (twitter/flickr/del.icio.us).

Another thought that came up was to start blogging about food, or in particular, about Vegetarian foods that I eat. Admittedly i’m not much of a cook (but i’m learning bit by bit). The not much of a cook part is what’s holding that idea up, not that it’s going to stop me 🙂

I’ve been inspired by two Melbourne based food blogs i’ve been subscribed to over the past few months, one by Mel Bedgood the other by Cindy & Michael called “where’s the beef?”. My other inspiration to start posting about Vegetarian foods is the questions I often get asked when I tell people that i’m a Vegetarian which is “so what do you eat?” and “so do you get enough Vitamins?”

It’d probably be quite easy to just direct people to the plethora of Vegetarian recipe websites and blogs and other resources, but it’s never quite that easy to define. Different individuals will have different ways of achieving the same means.

What I eat will be vastly different to many other Vegetarian individuals out there. You’d think being an Aussie with a Chinese background most of my food at home is going to be Chinese, right? Well, no.

What I do end up eating at home is a mixture from my parents’ upbringing and mums’ penchant for the local libraries cookbook section.
My mum was actually born in Luang Prabang in Laos, and dad was born in Vietnam (but are Chinese).

An example of something I may have for dinner might be Vietnamese Rice Paper wraps (Banh Cuon) with some salads (sweet potato based vermicelli noodles, cracked sesame seeds, ground pepper) with some honey/lemon and ginger dipping sauce.

Or it could be something else during summer when the Aussie mangoes are ripe and sliced on top of freshly steamed sticky rice. Then a sprinkling of lightly fried sesame seeds which had been cracked slightly in a pestle and mortar on top. There is just something about sticky rice I can’t get enough of, but hey, I grew up eating the stuff! 🙂

As you can see, I think there is great variety of foods available to anyone who is a Vegetarian (or even those who aren’t but like the idea of eating less meat for whatever reason they may have). So i’m hoping I can share a bit of that here.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 – Changes for Devs

The IE Team have just announced the availability of Beta 1 of IE8 for developers. You can read more about that on their blog.

Obviously as a web developer, the mind immediately turns to “so, what’s in it for me?”.

Picked up the following points from an MSDN Doc on what’s new for IE8:

Oh, and IE8 Whitepapers.

And finally, for those who want to try IE8 with no risks, you can download a Virtual PC image with IE8 from here.

Random Links

Okay, I just need to unload a whole bunch of links that have been open in various tabs in IE7.

Improve your wireless network in ten different ways via LifeHacker.com
Managing The Madness: What you need to know about covering the NCAA Tournament via Strobist.
Ace your next phone interview via LifeHacker.com
How to find free eBooks for your cellphone or PDA via LifeHacker.com
Tech support with VNC reverse connections via LifeHacker.com
Speed up your hard drive defrag via LifeHacker.com
Data Encryption Toolkit for Mobile PCs via Bink.nu

And one more link, for those using IE7. It’s an add-in called IE7Pro, which has a few interesting features such as crash recovery and tab history.

Making your blog photos look better

Did you ever wish that your blog photographs looked better?

Now i’m no professional photographer, but some other people are.

I came across a blog late last year called

Strobist to the rescue! Check out David’s how to article on DIY $10 Macro Photo studio.

I created a similar setup last year to play around with, here’s what I came up with.
LightBox Photo Setup

And here’s a few photos taken using this setup:
Toying with the lightbox/wireless flash mmm... Choccies!

There’s also a follow up article on Strobist suggesting some improvements to DIY Macro Studio.

Of course, I had to try this out myself. So I did, and here’s one of my results:
A Nikon branded Compact Flash card

My setup differs a bit, but uses many of those ideas. Rather than using a reflective black tile, I use a black piece of cardboard on the base of my lightbox and found a 2mm thick piece of plastic to place on top of that.

What the plastic does is create a reflective surface, and the black piece of paper underneath the plastic creates my “shiny” reflective black surface. My only issue is that the plastic is bigger than the base of the box, and I found that it gives me a funky reflection on my background as you can see in the top left of the following photo.

Vroom vroom

For the background, I’ve placed a single A4 sheet of blue paper.

You might think it’d be a weird look, a black surface with a blue background, but you’d be wrong. What happens is whatever colour your background is, that will be the colour of your surface. The black shiny surface basically acts a bit like a mirror and will reflect both your subject, as well as the background.

Change the background regularly, surprise yourself and goodluck! 🙂

Code Camp Oz ’07

I wonder who else is going to this year’s Code Camp Oz?

It’ll be on March 31st til April 1st in Wagga Wagga.

If you want to go, and haven’t registered yet, then do so. And find accomodation. I found that a lot of the accomodation places are already booked out, so do hurry!

If you’re going, then I hope to see you there!

If you’re driving, my personal advice is to make sure you take regular stops at Rest Areas/Towns rather than tackling the drive in one go. That way you’re not stuck to your seat for several hours. Plus, it’ll mean you lessen your chance of having an accident of any type.

PS: Bernard said he’d go if I posted about Code Camp 😛

Customising your Windows Mobile Smartphone and Pocket PC

Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC Edition today screen customisations:

Guide to creating Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC themes via Xda-Developers.com.

Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone Edition homescreen customisations:

Homescreen Guide for Beginners via MoDaCo.
Customizing the Microsoft Smartphone 2002 homescreen via MSDN.

Although the second link refers to the Smartphone 2002 version, many things seem to be quite similar.

I think what’s interesting is that you can create custom Smartphone homescreens using just a single background image, and an XML file. That makes things pretty easy to create.

There are apps out there that can help you create themes for either the Smartphone or the Pocket PC.

But I think for the time being, if you only want to dip your toes in the water without wanting to fork out any money, the guides from Xda-Developers and MoDaCo should get you started.

If you’d rather just download themes rather than making your own, then here’s a few sites you can download free ones:

Smartphone:
http://smartphone.kleinweder.ch/downloads/index.php
http://jdskins.com
http://www.kolumbus.fi/anders.ruohio/skinz.html

Pocket PC:
http://www.kolumbus.fi/anders.ruohio/skinz.html
http://www.pocketpcthemes.com

Super Size Who/What?

Tonight Channel 10 (http://www.ten.com.au) in Australia aired the documentary Super Size Me (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Size_Me) .

The documentary raises in my view, one important issue.

Know what you are eating.

Know the effects to your body by eating what you are eating.

Is it really healthy? Do some research into the ingredients in your food. The web, and your doctor are good source of information.

Also, keep in mind how much exercise you are getting on a day to day basis.

Exercise could be anything from walks (walking the dog, walking along the beach), running, jogging or even swimming. Exercise is important to our health, and our health can effect our state of mind. Too much junk food can make you feel drowsy easily.

Eat healthy, live healthy, be healthy.

I don’t think it’s just McDonalds that can be “fatty”, it’s all fast (processed) food. And fast isn’t always a good thing. Be aware of what exactly is in your food.

And even some food in other restuarants can be bad too. Things like MSG (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monosodium_glutamate),which is added to food in a lot of Asian restaurants is pretty bad for you too.

In many ways, some of the issues I’m seeing in Super Size Me remind me of what Jamie Oliver addressed in his TV series titled “School Dinners” (http://www.jamieoliver.com/schooldinners).

I’m aware that some peoples’ reasons for eating fast food is due to not having enough time. Or just feeling too lazy to cook.

And I understand that, we all live quite busy lives these days. We all know that oft used quote “time is money”.

But if time is money, then what if the time available to you was reduced? Eating more than your fair share of fast food can lead to illnesses that reduce the amount of time you have available to you.

If you are spending time in hospital, or at the doctors to get an illness treated, then that means you’ve got less time to make money right? Even if you are just sick, but not sick enough to goto the doctors, you’re still not operating at 100% capacity, are you?

If we aren’t operating at 100% capacity, then we’re really not doing justice to ourself.

It really gives credence to the old saying of “you are what you eat”.

Congrats Hugo!

Wow, Hugo Ortega has been awarded the title of Australia’s first Tablet PC MVP (though, I’d always thought Doc. Neil was the first. But, apparently not!).

Tablet PC Guy

Anyway, congratulations to Hugo!

A much deserved award to a very dedicated Tablet PC advocate.

I still remember about a year ago, Hugo left a comment on a post where I’d lamented about the difficulties of finding a Tablet PC in a retail outlet in Australia.

Also check out Hugo’s YouTube videos.

Oh, and thanks to Ber for the Tablet PC Guy. I got it from him at this years’ MEDC in Melbourne.


Photo taken using my Nikon D70s, and a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens.