Two months ago my monitor began tripping the house safety switch. It smelled like burnt skin and I was not surprised when I opened it to find a Gecko dead touching the 240 volt rails on the power supply board.
When I started smelling the distinctive smell of a dead and rotting gecko from my monitor today I knew another one had died in there. I know the specific smell of a dead gecko because they often die in sliding doors, air conditioners, ceiling fan control boxes or other electronics around here.
This time he died on the high voltage power supply that lights the backlight.
Opening my monitor, a BENQ FP-222W, was difficult the first time so I took photos this time to show the way I got a credit card in to unhook the catches.
I have a BJ F870 available to me, and it worked straight away with OSX Leopard, Snow Leopard removed that driver and didn’t replace it.
Apple had an updated set of canon drivers for download: Canon Printer Drivers for Mac OS X v10.6 2.1 [apple.com] – I am not sure if these will be a part of auto update or not, but it expanded my choice of canon drivers. Unfortunately still no F870.
I do not know if this exact printer exists outside of Japan as I was only able to find it referenced on the BJ driver page for Canon Japan [canon.jp].
I did get my printer working, seemingly normally by selecting the driver manually as a BJ F890 – a driver which came in the extra drivers download.
I wonder how many people were caught out when their printer drivers disappeared.
Chiku Raku is a festival in the small mountain town of Taketa where thousands of Bamboo lanterns are scattered around the old streets and stone staircases of Taketa in Oita Ken.
Chiku Raku translates to “Fun with Bamboo”. While Taketa (lit. Bamboo Field) has long been famous for it’s bamboo covered hillsides and bamboo craft I am told the festival is only about 30 years old and was instituted when it was felt the bamboo groves were getting out of control.
Last Sunday, we went to see Chiku Raku and it was even more fun than I had expected. Arriving in the afternoon we had a look around and saw some of the preparations. We even helped light some candles. Next we walked up the hill to the ruins of Okajyo castle which consists of the stone walls with nothing remaining of the buildings that were once on top. The castle is on the top of a mountain ridge and we enjoyed the amazing views, the perfect condition of the stone walls and the autumn colours of all the trees planted there.
As night fell we we walked back through the town and it’s rivers of candles. Many streets were lined with bamboo lights and special attention had been been paid to the large stone staircases. The biggest staircase leads to a shrine past a set of 12 stone Buddhist monks who (if memory serves) are some 1000 years old.
There was also a festival atmosphere, we had traditional festive foods for dinner, my favourite snack was a smallish rainbow trout salted and then roasted whole on a stick over coals. His bones were actually edible after that – Naoko’s mum ate the entire fish head and all!
I have never really paid much attention to the Olympics, let alone the Paralympics. More specifically I didn’t know a great deal about wheelchair racing or the wheel chair marathon but as it turns out I will be watching what is probably the worlds biggest annual international wheelchair event on Sunday, the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon.
The volunteers who give me a free Japanese lesson once a week were involved in assisting with events around the marathon and so in lieu of my lesson this week I went to have dinner with some of the Japanese volunteers and foreign athletes.
I talked quite a bit to one of the Australian athletes, Brett. He told me a lot about the chairs and how the race works – which is really quite interesting.
The chairs have a lot in common with road bikes as you might imagine. They are generally made from aluminium alloys and composite materials. A common chair might have carbon fibre wheels and an alloy frame. There are two larger wheels at the back, a seat and then a single bar extends forward to the single front wheel. The steering is via a sort of triangular handle above the bar leading to the front wheel. As the athlete can not spend too much time steering rather than pushing the steering is spring loaded – so it self centres. A second steering control allows the steering offset to be adjusted – so that (for example) the camber of the road can be adjusted for without constant steering.
On the side of the wheel there is a circular bar that is pushed to turn the wheel, like an every day wheelchair. At racing speed the athlete will be more flicking this to keep up with the speed of the turning wheel. Thus the size of this is important. It is essentially the gearing of the chair – the smaller the circle the higher the road speed will be when flicked with the same speed. On the other hand if it is larger then hill climbs are easier. These can be changed – but obviously you only get to choose one size for the entire race.
In the style of racing there are also similarities to cycling. At speeds of around 30 kph on the flat (and 50 kph when there is some hill assistance) aerodynamics plays a big part. Racers can gain advantage or respite by sitting in another racers slipstream. Apparently it is an unwritten rule of the sport that one shouldn’t slipstream the entire race and then nab victory right at the end. Also like cycling the crashes can be nasty.
Talking to Brett and others at dinner the people he and the Japanese volunteers knew and talked about are all at the top of this sport – many of them competing in the Bejing Paralympics a month or two ago – but who I have never heard of before. I have learned that it is really an interesting sport and as well as watcing part of the race tomorrow I will probably keep an eye on it in the future!
Brett hopes to win the half marathon on Sunday and then when he comes back next year he would like to enter the full marathon.
I am staying in Japan at the moment and the the mother of the household decided to make some pickled daikon. I believe this is something that is traditionally done in at this time of the year – In autumn to preserve them for winter.
I am a fan of pickling in general – I enjoy gherkins and sour kraut (perhaps thanks to my German blood) and once I got into Korean and Japanese foods I found I also like kimchee and tsukemono. Pickled foods are often a healthy choice and I find it pretty interesting that traditionally a lot of pickling techniques relied on natually occuring lactobactillis (which incidentally makes them probiotic).
Tsukemono is a very broad term – it refers to all types of Japanese pickled vegetables and I enjoy a lot of them – although I have had some pretty nasty ones from time to time.
I quite like tsukemono made from daikon but I have two problems in obtaining them at home.
They are not always readily available outside Japan.
They often have a nasty saccharin tang about them… I thought it unlikely that a pickle would have artificial sweeter in it but after having the ingredients list translated it turns out that a lot of them really do have artificial sweeter in them.
That is why I was so excited to learn that pickling you own daikon is really easy! I do have access to all the ingredients – including the daikon – and I know there will not be anything nasty in there. Unfortunatey there is a lot of sugar in the recipie. When try this myself I might look at reducing that a bit – but I also tell myself that the majority of the sugar will remain in the pickling fluid.
I call for Japanese vinegar in the recipie as I suspect it has a milder flavour than typical western white vinegar. If you have any trouble getting Japanese you should be fine with any rice vinegar or substitute for the best tasting white vinegar you can muster up.
3 Kg Daikon (3 Daikon)
1 Cup Sake
1 Cup Japanese Vinegar
½ Cup Salt
500 Grams Sugar
You will also need a large container or pickling jar.
Peel the daikon, remove the ends and cut the daikon into lengths that will fit into your picking jar or container. Cut these pieces in half length wise.
Add the daikon and all the other ingredients to your pickling jar and shake it up till the dry ingredients are reasonably dissolved.
Leave to pickle at least 24 hours – it may keep improving for up to a week. The water level should rise and the daikon shrink slightly as water is drawn out of them, so if they are not completely covered you might be ok. I do not yet know how long they are good for.
To serve cut the pickled daikon into slices about half a centimetre thick (50 mm). Optionally you can sprinkle crushed sesame seeds over the sliced daikon in their serving dish.
Walking around Oita at this time of year you will keep catching the strong sweet scent of flowering Ginmokusei.
Ginmokusei can be quite surprising because the scent of the flowers is quite powerful and can carry a fairly long distance, maybe more than 20 meters, while the flowers however are tiny maybe only 2 or 3 mm across. This means that you will smell them far more often than you actually see them.
The scent smells to me a lot like a peach pie has been cut open right in front of my face – it is so strong is seems almost artificial.
Ginmokusei is a shrub – perhaps about 2 meters high and here it is planted in city garden beds and is used in home gardens, sometimes as a hedge.
I have an HTC Touch from Vodafone Australia. I recently tested a friends Virgin simcard in it to check that my phone is not carrier locked. While the phone worked fine I immediately started getting error messages from “Network Wizard”:
Network Wizard encounter an unrecoverable error while configuring your device, you may not be able to access all network services.
Contact your technical helpdesk for support.
The bad English is part of the original error message.
At first I was cursing Microsoft but I soon learned the “Network Wizard” is not part of windows mobile but appears to be from HTC – The version on my phone is copyright 2006 Infinitiq Software
I can only guess that on detecting a network change it deletes the current GPRS settings and hunts for new ones – but it is worse than useless because it always fails to find settings – leaving me with no GPRS settings for either network.
I stopped the wizard automatically running at boot thus:
Get Rid of the Networks Startup Wizard
With a registry editor:
HKEY_Local_Machine\init\ and scroll down to Launch96 and change the value from nwstart.exe to the word null.
I recently found that the original owner of this house had conveniently had speaker cables built into this house – from the 3rd floor living room (near my amp and Linux media box) down to the BBQ area under the house on the ground floor. I wasted no time in installing some outdoor speakers, but then I found out how frustration it is to have to go up two flights of stairs to change a song.
After thinking about my options I went for using VNC to control my music via my phone (an HTC Touch) and wifi.
I installed a VNC server on Ubuntu and was able to control BMP – my mp3 player – remotely over the wireless. I still have not solved one problem however. When the phone goes into low power mode it turns off the wireless which drops the VNC login, requiring I login again – a real pain. The best solution is to make the phone’s sleep timeout longer but this does drain the battery much more quickly.
There was a port I wanted to protect with some firewall rules on my mythtv box.
I begain to wonder – as ubuntu often causes me to – what is the RIGHT way to do this? With slackware I would just ass some iptables rules to a script and add it to rc.local – but this seems a bit too primitive for Ubuntu – where there are complex system abstracting every startup task!
Quick research showed that for using an ubuntu as a firewall for other machines that shorewall was the ticket – but I wanted something simpler. I learned ubuntu has ufw for this – but I was still not impressed.
After remembering something a coworker showed me I searched further and I found the and found the slicehost initial setup howto for Gutsy Gibbon. Under iptables they have a perfectly simple system.
Add this to /etc/network/interfaces on the “lo” interface after the line "iface lo inet loopback”
pre-up iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.up.rules
Then populate iptables.up.rules with the ip-tables-save command after creating some rules with iptables -A
iptables-save > /etc/iptables.up.rules
Once you have saved a few rules you might be able to modify this file manually - it is similar to the options of the iptables command but less forgiving. test with iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.up.rules