Sunday, 28 December 2008

Holidays

I'm spending most of my spare time playing Travian. The Sun outside is too strong. Although the temperature is great, it's about 20-24 degrees but sometimes higher, but the UV radiation is strong. So, I'm enjoying sitting in my room and watching the resource distribution among my villages, developing armies, raiding nearby villages, etc.
Obviously, I feel a little bored. :) I'm used to much more dynamic way of living and it's a bit hard to do that here and now, under current circumstances.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Japanese Garden Software

BLUEBLOOD WEBSITE

How wonderful! There is software for creation of Japanese gardens. :) Now I can have my Japanese garden. At least in the virtual world. Then, maybe one day I can have a real one...

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Zoos in Victoria

So far, I have known of three places where one can go and see animals in captivity:

  • Melbourne Zoo, located North of Parkville in Zoological Gardens, just North of the City;
  • Weribee Open Range Zoo, the one I missed to see despite being so close to it. Should contain animals from Africa - elephants, giraffes, rhinos, zebras, gorillas, etc.
  • Healesville Sanctuary, where we went last month. There are lots of birds and small animals, an animal hospital and a sanctuary. Mostly Australian animals.

I was handed out a promotional material from Zoos Victoria (www.zoo.org.au) and it appears that the above three places are the ones advertised.

A friend was also mentioning the volcano remains close to Warrnambool where emus and koalas can be seen in the wild. Penguins can be seen on the Phillip Island and at St.Kilda at night. At Phillip Island, apparently, seals can be observed on a rock further out in the ocean. Other animals can be seen simply by cycling around on bicycle paths, along rivers, and in parks. I saw a couple of ducks in South Yarra with their offspring. Cockatoos, parrots, huge bats and other flying creatures can be observed regularly throughout the city. At least there are lots of them in the area where I live, as it is surrounded by parks.

As for water animals, there is Melbourne Aquarium on the corner of King and Flinders. It has been extended recently.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Dentist, Part 2/2

Well, today I went to the dentist. While I was a bit confused in how the whole things works here, in reality it was extremely simple. And very much like back home except for one small thing.

I went to the ordination a bit earlier. There I sat for a few minutes and then was taken upstairs into the room with all the tools. The doctor looked at the tooth and agreed that it is the best, for now, to do a restorative filling. An interesting thing is that the chair was lowered all the way so that my head was the lowest point of my body. This was quite different position to what I'm used to. Also, they gave me sun glasses so that the light would not bother me. Nice.

The whole thing was done quickly and I was ready to go. The filling should hold for another month until I can do a new crown. For the payment, they first swipe the medical insurance card. That way the insurance pays its portion of the cost immediately. What is left is, then, paid by the patient. Since my medical card expired and I did not have a new one (actually, I was told the old one would be reinstated at the time but it was not), I paid the whole amount with a credit card. The cost for the restoration (filling) was $180.

Later I went to the GMHBA office to make a claim and ask for the new card to be issued. The refund was processed on the spot and I got $60 cash back. The card is to arrive within the next 5-10 days.

All in all, it was really simple. Now I just need to find a bit cheaper place for emergencies like this one was.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Dentist, Part 1

Yesterday, during the beautiful outdoors day, my tooth broke. It had a filling earlier and I think the filling simply cracked.

Today is Monday so I looked for dentists online. There is one with the same name as my doctor in Sarajevo. Decided to go there and check if I can claim their charges with my medical insurance.

Since they were booked, I got an appointment for tomorrow.

Since there is not much left of the tooth, I think a ceramic crown would be the best solution. My Aussie friends tell me that such a treatment can easily amount to thousands of dollars over here. I'll have to see about that tomorrow as I'd prefer to do the whole thing back in Sarajevo during the holidays. I might just do a filling to keep the tooth safe for the next month. And I guess the cost for the filling here and the whole crown treatment in Bosnia would cost about the same. Still need a dentist opinion first.

Fortunately, the tooth does not ache but certainly does look bad.

Finally, a real Australian experience

After a great barbecue on Saturday and some Wii matches, the plan for Sunday was to go to Torque and have a barbecue there, spend a day driving to and at the beach.

Since all the interested got up late, we changed the plan. Got some food and drinks and headed off South along the coast. The scenery was so beautiful that we had to stop a few times to take photos. We drove through Frankston and across Mt.Eliza to a beautiful town of Portsea. There we spotted a great barbecue place and decided to drop an anchor for the day. The place was excellent. The car was parked in the palm shade. A few meters further there were several tables under a roof, providing shade from the strong Sun's rays. Electric barbecues operate on 20 Cents coins. The barbecue place is located at a grass strip with some trees around, providing natural shade. Then there was a walking path and a beach. Water is crystal clear there at Mornington Peninsula. Close by was a wooden pier, stretching some 60-70 meters into the ocean. At the very end of the pier some kind were jumping into the water. And, after a jump when they get up, they could walk on the sea bottom. That's how shallow the water is at such a distance. The scenery was beautiful.

We spent the whole day there. Met some nice Armenians who were having a barbecue next to us. They offered us some great meat, then we bought them some drinks, then they gave us some more meat and on and on it went. :) Great company, great day. This was, finally, some real Australian experience.

Photos to follow soon...

Edit: I figured out we were in Dromana, not Portsea. Mmm, it's so good just wandering around and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Holidays in the Sun

It is fun to approach Christmas and the New Year's with temperatures of 20-30 degrees, sunny days, and very low activity. In Australia, the end of calendar year is not the end of the financial year so it is a perfect time for holidays. No reports to be prepared, no year-end activities, consolidation, or anything like that. Just another day, holidays, mid Summer.
All people mention for holidays is barbecue. Gee, no matter how much I loved it I am beginning to get a bit tired of it. Is there anything apart from meat that can be nicely put on the barbie? I have to admit that meat here tastes much, much different to what I'm used to in Bosnia. Haven't figured out why is that. One thing I did like very much were the cevapi I found in Safeway supermarket. This time I'm going to get some Turkish bread and more cevapi and have some nostalgic experience. :)
And, yes, I might even go to the beach. Just to have a photo of the New Year's on the hot sand.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Balkan Issues on Facebook

Facebook Pulls Group Glorifying Srebrenica :: BalkanInsight.com

Despite the confusing title of the article at the link above, the news is positive and clear. Facebook admins closed the hate group glorifying the massacre at Srebrenica in 1995. The very existence of such a group just portrays how many mentally sick people walk around the Balkans.
On another positive side, I'm so relaxed here in Australia that the feeling is almost passing into boredom. Everything is so neat, in time, people are friendly, everything runs smoothly, the unexpected situations are very rare. One can rest assured that everything will be alright. There is this invisible net of safety around that just grows roots in one's mind. I'm getting closer to the goal. Australian citizenship should provide this safety from the moment I get the citizenship certificate. It is like a life jacket in the sea of madness that exists in the Balkans.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Sleepless Nights

On Friday I bought a 320GB 2.5" hard drive. The forecast for Saturday was rain so I prepared myself to spend the day indoors. I was looking forward to spending a day setting up virtual environments on the pocket drive. What I wanted to achieve is to set up a Sharepoint 2007 machine where I could play with this platform. Another machine would be a developer's workstation. Despite the term "workstation", I'm still thinking about using Windows Server 2008 as an underlying operating system for this role. Yet another one would be a personal workstation. This could be an XP machine that has all my software installed on it so that I can use it anywhere.

All it takes is to have a copy of VMWare Player on the drive, as well. This idea looked pretty interesting so I spent the whole Friday evening playing with the drive and virtual machines. That reminded me of the old days with the sleepless nights, installing or working out the latest technologies. At that time I used physical machines, dual boots, and other ancient techniques. Today, with the virtual environments so advanced, there is hardly a need for another physical machine.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Life Goes On

Today, a friend from Bosnia wrote to me announcing the birth of his first newborn. It is a kind of nice to see how the generation is moving into different waters. This affects my thinking about the future.
Another interesting matter is that, in the same email, he is asking when I'm considering moving back to Europe. The software development skills seem to be in shortage everywhere these days. I hope it stays the same by the time I get to go back. Will have to reconsider all the options in the near future.

SharePoint

After I found out that Microsoft's web site is now hosted on SharePoint 2007 I got more interested in this product. Now I have that enthusiasm about IT flowing out again. On my tech blog I have the link to the download of the MOSS 2007 virtual hard drive file for the trial version of SharePoint. This is currently being downloaded at work so I'm looking forward to get some first-hand experience with it. It seems that SharePoint skills are highly in demand nowadays.
Of course, that includes previous experience with Windows Communication Foundation, ASP.Net, web sites, SQL and other related technologies.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Photos: Around Melbourne

2008-12-06 Melbourne

A few photos from previous days. Just walking around Melbourne - Docklands, Federation Square, Birrarung Marr - Homeless World Cup, and a view from the office on a cloudy day.

Travian Troop Tool

D=DDAY=D - D=DDAY=D - Travian Troops Tool

Besides the main game, there seems to be a huge following in the community with the related Travian web sites and tools. One such tool is the Travian Troop Tool people use for troop count.
In my opinion, Travian should provide some kind of API to extract this kind of information automatically instead of having to retype all the numbers constantly.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Land of Magic

Top 10 | Landscape photos | landscapes with a soul

I've been looking at photos on the above site for some time. It has really brightened my day. The day is wonderful - clear skies, sunshine. The temperature should go to 30 today.
The scenery at the photographs transfer me to a land of magic and really turn the perspective upside down. Everything seems different just by looking at the beauty of scenes worldwide.
Enjoy watching.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Homeless World Cup Matches

Today, after work, I went to watch Homeless World Cup football matches at the Federation Square. Watched 4-5 matches in total. The game is interesting, dynamic. Some players really know how to tackle the ball while others get really confused. Is it because of the crowd or they feel the supremacy of the opposing team, I don't know.

The female match was fun to watch. Girls would literally fall over the ground at occasions. It was a real girlie football which struck me because there are girls playing in other teams and one would never say they are girls by the way they play.

Anyway, it was fun to watch. There are lots of European teams. Sockeroos (Aussies) had a tie today. Girls won while men were beaten by Portugal.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Homeless World Cup is On

Coming back from work, I noticed that the Homeless World Cup has started today. There was just enough time to see two matches tonight - East Timor vs Malawi, and India vs Philippines. The last match was very good. Dynamic play, lots of energy. They really showed why the stadiums are so small. There were some nice moves and lots of opportunities. In a way, it is a pity Philippines lost, since I had a feeling they played a bit better.

Nonetheless, the event is on. The schedule is available online at the organization's web site http://www.homelessworldcup.org/. I'm looking forward to seeing the evening matches on my way back home. There are lots of European countries among participants. Matches will run until 6, 7pm usually so I will probably catch only a few last matches. Which will be just enough, anyway.

Matches last for about 10 minutes, with about one minute in between. Three players plus a goalkeeper. The size of the field is very small. About two decent rooms area. So the game is quite interesting to watch. On Federation Square the match can be watched on the main video screen, just above the stadium.

Now I see how much I miss playing, or just watching, football (sorry, soccer).

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Blago Gluhim - So Far Away

YouTube - Blago Gluhim_So Far Away_Live

I had no idea there were so many recordings from our plays at Sloga in 2004. Wonderful.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Blago Gluhim - Segment

YouTube - Blago Gluhim_Segment

Another video from my musical history. :)
Macedonian melody, rhythm 7/8.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Pansion Atomic, Jahorina

Pansion Atomic: Pońćetak

Winter holiday at Jahorina, this year. This is probably the place where I'll stay with a whole group of people coming together. Looks beautiful.
There's already 50cm of snow on the mountains and the temperature is about -15 at Jahorina. This could be a very nice skiing season.

Blago Gluhima

YouTube - Blago Gluhim_Bluesing Blues_Live

A friend uploaded this video from 1994 when we were playing at a rock concert at Sloga. These events were held during the war in besieged Sarajevo.
Good old times...

I'm the one behind the drums, btw.

Homeless World Cup

On the way I'm cycling to work and back (and I'm obviously cycling through some interesting areas :) there are football grounds being built for the 2008 Homeless World Cup (look it up). There are two grounds at Birrarungn Marr and one at the Federation Square. The fields are almost done now. The trucks with seating are there, as well.
One of the security guards at the court was very eager to tell me what is going on. It was a very nice feeling when he noticed my interest as, I was passing by, and offered to explain the event.
The event goes around the world and, obviously, this year it is to be held in Melbourne. There are more than 40 participating countries. Expected visitors are around 100,000 people. The number of volunteers to support the event is close to 900. The game is very similar to indoor soccer. Teams have 4 players, the fields are small and the goals are a bit wide for the fields but I guess that's the point of the game.
As can be seen on the event's web site, the point of the event is to end homelessness in the world and help reach the ultimate goal of everyone having a place they call home. Hmm, that feels so close to what I'm looking for.

Snow in Melbourne

We're at work on 33rd floor. There are clouds outside, a light rain and SNOWFLAKES are flying around outside our window!
If ever, this is definitely not the time when one would expect to see snowflakes in Melbourne but, then, this is what weather is like over here. Only yesterday it was 28 degrees. :)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Preparations for the Australian Open

This morning, as I was cycling to work next to the tennis grounds, I saw preparations being made for the next Australian Open. The containers are being assembled into a temporary village for news reporters or whatever. The tennis courts are being cleaned, new fences put, ads hung around the courts.
That reminds me of the time I first came here. In January, I was watching the Australian Open on TV and waiting for the flight that was to happen in a few days. Then, I landed right after the competition was over.
Later, in March I think, it will be Formula 1 time again. Mmm... I'm getting used to this. :)

Electorate Obligations while Overseas

Overseas electors

This page lists the obligations of electors in Australia while traveling or living overseas.

Guide to Living and Working Overseas

Living and working overseas - Travel information - Consular services - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Here is a guide for Australians on how to live and work abroad.
The list is pretty general and there are no provisions I should really worry about, except for electoral duty. But there is a long way until that comes into focus.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Policy Deal Reached in Bosnia

BalkanInsight.com - NATO Pushes Bosnia on Policy Deal

Appears that the situation in Bosnia is pretty much the same as ever. Same old rhetoric and issues. So different to life here.
In Australia, even the radio ads for toys now have the words "stock market" in them. :) In Bosnia, the equivalent would probably be the word "nation", but not as in the Western sense of the word. More as if in a tribal sense...

Monday, 24 November 2008

Death by Deodorant

Boy killed by deodorant fumes: coroner - Yahoo!7 News

As the saying goes - "nobody died of bad smell..." :)

Now, seriously, I don't like spray deodorants because I can't breathe after spraying them.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Photos: Healesville Sanctuary

This was another Sunday day trip. We rented cars for the trip. This time we got Toyota Prius, a hybrid. It was interesting even to just get it started. This was my first car that does not have a key and is started with a push of a button. Our initial thoughts were that the car is cool and we were hoping to see what it can do.

We headed off towards the Alpine area, North-East of Melbourne. Went through Lillydale and the area looked familiar from the bike trip several weeks ago. We drove through some wonderful areas. The scenery gets definitely different as one moves into higher altitudes. There were lots and lots of farms and vineries along the way.

As the time went by, we were less and less impressed by the car. The engine seemed to roar as if there is only one gear. The power was small. Battery did not have enough capacity for a decent electric (EV) drive.

The main point of our trip was Healesville Sanctuary, a zoo and an animal hospital. It hosts only Australian animals and is not a typical zoo. It is used as a sanctuary for wounded animals and endangered species. Many animals can bee seen in their natural environment and without bars and fences. There is an animal hospital that is also open for the public too look around. A very modern and eye-catching design with all the rooms, where animals are treated, visible through the glass.
Koalas, emus, kangaroos, lizards, birds of prey, Tasmanian Devil... There are shows at certain times, where demonstrators show the animals and give a brief lecture about them. We briefly saw the one with lizards and koalas but were on time to watch the whole show on birds of prey. That was simply amazing. Birds were flying just above our heads and acting almost as if being remotely controlled. Unbelieveable. We watched an eagle breaking an egg with a stone, a hawk catching nuts thrown into the air. The whole tour was entertaining and enjoyable.

After that we headed off to the vineries in the region. We went around two places, looking at the vineyards, beautiful scenery, and talking to the hosts there. Wine tasting and discussion about wines was impressive.

In the afternoon we headed back to the city. I drove the car on the way back and was quite pleased with the performance. After seeing the fuel usage statistics and comparing them to the second car - Ford Falcon, which used a quarter of its fuel tank while we did not spend even 10%, we were impressed. Shifting between the electric motor and the petrol one seems to work really well if the drive is in mostly urban areas with low speed limits. The car interior is spacious and the visibility is extraordinary. There is a lower part of the back window that allows for an excellent rear parking visibility. I'm sure the newer generation is even better and I'm hoping to own one of these vehicles one day.

The finishing touch for the night was an authentic Japanese restaurant where we had dinner in a tatami room. The whole interior looked more traditional than any other place I've seen. Tatami mats, shoji screens between compartments, lamps, table arrangement... There was an ad for a night of traditional Japanese music night in two weeks, that is to be held at the venue.

Beautiful end of the week. The photos are here.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Full Stop

It feels as if all the options I was interested in are either achieved or unattainable at the moment.

Financially, the interest rate is falling. Markets are falling even faster. Australian Dollar is falling compared to Euro. Employment is frozen as countries are entering recession. There is no way to change the financial situation for the better.

After more than half a year, there is still no word from the military. I’m getting accustomed to the possibility that the call might come to late or not at all.

Travel wise, I’ve seen most of the metropolitan area by now. I have also been to the 12 Apostles, down the Great Ocean Road. Tomorrow I will be travelling to the South-Eastern areas, down to the coast. That would, pretty much, be it for Victoria. I still haven’t been to the mountains, further into the Alpine area but somehow I feel there would not be much new to see there, either.

I can’t be bothered playing video games, either online or offline. Sports are getting boring as the temperature rises and I have a lack of time after work with all the shopping and the usual stuff.

So, as it seems, I’m pretty much out of ideas. Wondering whether it is the time for a holiday or some change on a larger scale. We’ll see if the next holiday will do the trick.

The bad thing is that there aren’t real alternatives, either. Europe is also getting into recession so there is a lack of employment there, too. That quite limits my options for those larger-scale decisions.

Seems like a dead season at the moment.

Travian Progress

I’m playing Travian more actively these days. That is occupying my mind at
the moment. Trying to work out different strategies how to survive and
prosper.


Some of the players around have grown so strong that it is impossible for
players at my level to resist. There is simply no way to counter the number of
troops they have gathered.


My neighbours, who were stronger than me until recently, started loosing the
population. I sent one of them a message and he told me he’s getting catapulted.
This means it is better for me not to resist any attack or try to build an army,
otherwise the whole village will be destroyed.


Some players from the alliance I’m in are also being destroyed by other
strong players. Soon it will be game over for most of the middle-level players.
The weak ones are already out, I’d say. All the smaller villages in the region
have been abandoned, concluding by their non-moving size. They are now a simple
farms for the stronger players.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Travian guide to economic powerhouse

How-to guide: Roman economic powerhouse - Travian v2 Wiki (S2-S6)

I have finally found a guide that explains the type of game I'm playing right now. This is my first time playing Travian and I prefer a more peaceful option since I have no idea how things work.
At the moment I am in a position to decide which way I'm going and if I should build another village.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Winter Holidays

I’ll be travelling to Europe during Winter there and I’m trying to arrange accommodation, tickets, and the rest for a full winter holiday. Hopefully there will be enough snow for some fun time and skiing.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Photos: A Ride to St.Kilda

The temperature is back to a more normal range, which is around 20 or less. The day was quite windy but no clouds, sunny and beautiful. In the morning I decided this would be a day without a computer, otherwise I'd never get out. So, after breakfast I decided I wanted to see the Ocean. I haven't been to St. Kilda for a while and I remembered the St.Kilda Festival, my first event in Australia. It seemed so long ago and I wanted to see that area and the beach again.

I went towards the Federation Square. There was a Polish festival and the place was crowded. So I continued down the bike track towards the next bridge. At Flinders Station, I crossed to Southbank and walked towards Crown. There was a lot of people outside, sitting on the banks of the Yarra River or walking around and enjoying the day. From Crown to Port Melbourne there is a very nice bicycle track that crosses only a few roads in which there is very little traffic. There, the first sight of the ocean is tied to Spirit of Tasmania ferry.

I enjoyed slowly cycling down towards St.Kilda. The wind was quite strong. There were many kite surfers along the coast. One woman was hit by a kite in front of me and was knocked to the ground. A group of people gathered quickly and I was chasing the kite onto the road. At St.Kilda I enjoyed watching kite surfers jumping up around 4-5 meters in the air, performing loops, falling into the water... From the Pier I walked through to Albert Lake. Then, on the bicycle tracks again I went to the Formula 1 pit stop and around the lake.

There I got a bit hungry and decided to go back home, shopping and prepare some mashed potatoes and breaded calamari rings for dinner.

Photo album available here.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Life in Oz

Not much is going on around here. The temperature was hitting 35 degrees Celsius in the past several days. Fortunately, last night there was some rain which cooled down the air and the land got its share of water (finally). This was one of those rare real rains that are quite rare to see in Melbourne. Especially during the day. I remember only one so far. While, at the same time, there were a few of those overnight ones.

The current situation in the economy is causing many companies to freeze new recruitment and rethink their strategy. This is a growing trend. Apparently the number of unemployed is to rise so it is hard to justify new employees. Especially when noone knows the extent of the current crisis nor how long it would last.

At work, it feels we’re in stone age. I have been reading about some new technologies used in the development world. Model View Controller pattern for ASP.Net, Velocity and other distributed storage solutions, Linq and Entity Framework, and other new technologies are changing the way we, developers, work. The consequences will not be felt for some time for the economic reasons above. But, I feel like during high-school days, reading about all the new stuff out there. Simply amazing.

Still arranging some details for the winter trip in January. Looking forward to seeing snow again.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Photos: Williamstown

On Sunday I've been to Williamstown with a friend. We went to look around the town since he found a room there. Williamstown is a nice little town. Physically, it is very close to the city. Yet it feels isolated as it is separated from Melbourne by the bay, rivers, harbor, oil refinery, and Footscray. Some people call the last one Footscary.
The place is very relaxed. Most of the shops and restaurants were open. Lots of people in the parks and around water. Williamstown harbor hosts small ships that offer tours around the bay and along the rivers. There is a constant line between Williamstown and St.Kilda. I reckon, if there was a ferry between Williamstown and the City CBD, it would be very convenient to live there. Although it is only a few train stations to the city, the ferry line would make it feel even closer.
We went all around the peninsula. The area is very nice. Surrounded by water, it feels a bit isolated and quiet. Not too much traffic. Compared to other towns around Melbourne it has that feeling of being a separate town while others feel just like another suburb merged in a large metropolitan area.
There are different kinds of restaurants. We wanted to have some Japanese food but that restaurant was closed so we went to a noodles place and had a nice Chinese dish.
Sun is already close enough so I got sunburnt.

Photos are available in my albums section.
See 2008-11-09 Williamstown album.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Another Perspective

Derby, trams and penguins - Melbourne, Australia Travel Blog

A friend's daughter has recently been to Melbourne and visited the city and surrounding attractions. Her trip pretty much summarizes what a visitor would expect to see in only a couple of days.
It is interesting to read from a visitor's perspective. That is how I used to see Melbourne but now it is different. I already feel a part of this city. I see some other things than before, I'm interested in another places, know some hidden but excellent authentic restaurants, enjoy visiting places that are not on tourist maps, etc.
But, still, I haven't been to Phillip Island to see the penguins. Actually, one of the reasons is that there is the motorcycle track there and I could not go to Phillip Island without visiting it. That means overnight stay, renting a car... A bit more organization and a full weekend. A perfect scenario for a long weekend, which I happen not to have. So I'm a bit lazy. Love to relax on weekends, sleep a bit longer. At least that's what I think. Today I woke up at 7am, which is definitely not sleeping longer.
Catching up with a friend. Going to Williamstown, where he found a room to live, just to look around. I've been through Williamstown a couple of times and this will be a nice opportunity to explore that area a bit more. Just need to bring my camera along. I know some friends will be delighted by Williamstown photos. :)

Movie Night

Last night I went to a cinema to watch Burn After Reading. It was organized by Collingwood Homework Club as a fundraiser event. The movie was quite funny and', in a way, presents hopelessness of the current situation in the USA and the world in general.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Web Traffic – Number of Bets

Today is Melbourne Cup Day. It' is a public holiday in Victoria and the most important day of the year at the place where I currently work.

Today, at the horse races, we have had 18,000 bets per hour on our web site. That is 3,000 bets per minute or 50 bets per second during the day.

This might not be a lot when compared to other betting companies but is a lot of web traffic nonetheless. The most I have seen so far.

When the going gets tough...

... the tough get going.

That's a right saying for the current moment. It seems that all the recruitment is on hold for now. Recession is the excuse.
Well, according to the stock charts, there is a way out and it's on the way. It seems the markets are off bottom. The recession in the real world, on the other hand, would take another year or so.
Just in time to head back home. :D

Sunday, 2 November 2008

When to go jogging?

What is the best time of day to go jogging? | Answerbag.com
According to the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago, “ The best time of day to exercise is the one that's easiest and most convenient for you. If you're undecided, consider how your body's energy level fluctuates throughout the day.
· Morning. You can complete your workout first thing and have a sense of accomplishment to carry you through the day.
· Lunch time. Your body's natural rhythm slows down in the afternoon. Exercising in the middle of the day can help prevent that energy lull.
· Evening. In the late afternoon and early evening your lungs are more open, and your muscle strength and flexibility peak. But if your daily workload is taxing you may feel too drained to exercise.”

All You Need to Know Before Jogging

What You Should Ask before You Start Running - For Dummies

The link above contains very useful advice for everyone who wants to go jogging. Running every day IS NOT recommended, contrary to what most beginners believe.

Always use the "talk test" when you run in order to get optimum results and avoid problems with too much or too little running.

The time to jog varies between 20 and 60 minutes. Start with 20 and aim for 45 later on.
Work out 3 to 4 days a week. Body needs 48 hours to adapt to the new workload.

Besides the topics explained in the text, it is interesting to see the differences between cycling and jogging. While cycling is more fun and easier for the legs, jogging apparently provides better results as more muscles work out and is better for the aerobic capacity.

Also, check out these tips on stretching.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Krishna Left

Today the colleagues from work got together for a lunch at an Indian restaurant. The food was excellent. It was the tastiest thing I have tried since my arrival to Melbourne. I tried all the different meals that were available, including ice cream and a mango lhassi.
The reason for the lunch was that one more colleague left the company.

Crisis and the Employment

One of the IT companies I have a contact with told me that they have frozen the recruitment for open positions because of the current economic situation. The things are moving fast over here.
On Monday I will know more details and see whether they will fill in any positions at all or if all the recruitment is currently frozen.

Photos: Great Ocean Road & 12 Apostles

2008-10-26 Great Ocean Road

Photos from the trip via Great Ocean Road to 12 Apostles.

Photos: Lillydale - Eltham Ride

2008-10-05 Lillydale

Here are the photos from the ride between Lillydale and Eltham, on 2008-10-05.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Average Australian Salary = 83K

Salary Information - Latest Pay Rates by Industry at MyCareer

According to MyCareer salary centre, the current average Australian salary amounts to A$83,500. This is quite a high amount.

According to some sources, average Bosnian monthly salary is around BAM 960, which is roughly the same amount in Australian Dollars today. This would be rougly 11,000 per annum.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Great Ocean Road

On Sunday, 26th of October, with a group of friends from work I went on the Great Ocean Road trip all the way to 12 Apostles and Port Campbell. It was a whole day drive. The scenery was amazing. Noone of us expected to see so many green fields and forests.
Apollo Bay was magnificent. The 12 Apostles are impressive. Photos are to be placed online soon.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Troubles in Bosnia (Did They Ever Cease?)

BalkanInsight.com - Ex-Envoys Urge Action on ‘Troubled’ Bosnia

Spending a few months in such a healthy environment like Australia led my thoughts towards going back closer to home, family, friends, etc. But, every now and then, when I get in touch with people from the region or read some news, I get anxious again about the whole situation there.
The text like the one linked at the top, brings back memories from the past and that funny feeling in the stomach. As I was aware long time ago, after the Dayton Agreement, the things have not been settled in the Balkans and won't be for a long time. That will remain the trouble spot for a decent future from now. Things keep revolving around the same issues over and over again and no real progress can be made when such basic elements are not settled.
While living there I felt constantly under pressure because of such issues one could not get around. Now I feel I should think more about what the weather will be tomorrow during the Great Ocean Road drive and when the water will get warm enough to go swimming in the Ocean. Should I bring the sun lotion or not? And so on. These kind of thoughts are much healthier.
Makes me wonder whether will I really consider going back there.

Also, on the Finance blog, I've posted a few links to the analysis of the economic situation in Serbia. Many facts I did not realize. The progress in the country I felt was healthy now appears less so and, in fact, in a very troubled state.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

New Camera

I've just completed my new photo set. The other day I was simply looking for a camera that has a viewfinder. It appears that later cameras simply do not have that feature. I used to use this with my older Fuji camera to save the battery charge when on vacation or away from an electrical outlet.
Then I found, in forums, that Canon A580 has this feature. This camera was recommended first so I looked for some reviews. The reviews were alright. Canon was a well known name in the world of photo cameras. At the same time I looked for a comparison on prices for A580 in Australia. Found a shop in Victoria that had the best prices. Looked at their web site to find that there was a newer version - A590. And, also, A1000. Then I read the reviews to compare these two. The only notable difference was the physical size. Everything else was alright even with the older model. But, the depth difference of 1cm makes a difference when carrying the camera. Well, so I thought and decided to go for A1000.
Made an order online. The store has a warehouse in Abbotsford and the camera would be available for pick up after the payment was received. So I went to the bank web site and sent the payment according to the invoice received. I could trace my order online.
I guess it took one day for the payment to reach the shop and the next to be processed. The second day I got an email stating that the camera would be available for pick up later that day (today, actually). I went to the warehouse (this was quicker than to wait for postal delivery) and picked up the camera. I must admit it's great. I played with it in the park on my way home. One thing I did not like was that as soon as focus is activated, the LCD turns back on. That's not what I want. Viewfinder becomes more or less useless in this case. Took a few photos and a short movie after which the space on provided 32MB SD card ran out. So I decided to run to K-Mart, which was close by, and use the $10 gift card I received yesterday.
So I headed there to get the rechargeable batteries and a camera case I saw earlier. I got Varta pack of batteries with 2500mAh capacity and a nice bag that I can use for the PocketPC as well. Then I found some SD cards on sale for $11.19 and I could not resist to get one.
The batteries are being charged. The good thing is that a pair of alkaline batteries and a 32MB SD card are provided along with the camera. This gives you a feel for the camera and also, in my case, some time to use the camera while the rechargeable batteries are being charged for the first time.
The PDA can read this 2GB SD card so I might get another one, just for Pocket PC.
So, the new photo taking season starts... :)

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Moving Web Sites

I’m in the middle of moving my web site(s) to another location. It is an interesting exercise because there is a lot of things to be done, links to maintain, pages and style sheets to upload… Every time I do this it gets easier for the next time. The sites get simpler and simpler. Some sort of structure appears on its own. My only worry is that the new provider will introduce some measures that will make me have to move the sites again.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Price Comparison for Electronics

staticICE :: Australia's comprehensive computer hardware and gadget price comparison search engine

This is one of the best search engines for product price comparison in Australia. Mostly electronics and IT - computer stuff in here.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Wave

There are days when everything seems wrong. Savings are going down, nothing interesting is going on, no contacts with new people, can't think of places to go, thinking of job does not leave a good feeling...
Such things happen and the best thing to do is to do nothing. These times come and go. Usually its best not to do anything otherwise that gets "spoiled" in a way.
I'm glad I had enough rest during the weekend. Spend some time at home, just relaxing. Now I know what it takes to feel good again. No plans, no action, no goals, just nothing. Life can be so easy and simple. And, yes, that's how it should be.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Motorcycle Riding Schools

I've got my Bosnian driving license back again. A few months ago I have transferred the car license into the Australian one. Now I'm looking to transfer the motorcycle license, too.
Here is the list of motorcycle riding schools I am looking into:

Ride-Tek - One of the schools from the VicRoads list. They were kind enough to explain how to transfer an overseas license. Located in Dandenong.

Stay Upright - Came to their testing site accidentally while riding a bicycle. Located in Hoppers Crossing.

Friday, 17 October 2008

12 Apostles

We, at work, are planning a road trip one of the next Sundays. The idea is to get to 12 apostles and see as much as possible. Since the travel time is quite high in case we go through Great Ocean Road AND the Port Campbell, the decision reached is to go only to Port Campbell and see the 12 apostles. That way we'd have enough time for lunch, dinner, looking around, taking pictures, etc. Then, some other time, we could focus on the Great Ocean Road itself.
Mmm, I like the idea already. This will be a nice trip. First time completely out of the metropolitan area.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Australia Post : POSTbillpay - Home Page

Australia Post offers a way to pay bills online. There are lots of billers in the scheme. All that is required is Post billpay code (biller), reference number (bill), payment amount, and credit card details – number and expiry date.

Australia Post : POSTbillpay - Home Page

Health Insurance

I just found out that the bill, increasing the income threshold for Medicare Levy Surcharge, has not been passed yet. The agreement has just been achieved and the bill is to be voted on. As a result of negotiation, the new thresholds will be $70,000 for individuals and $140,000 for families.

A good, not-for-profit, health insurance provider is GMHBA. They have recently introduced a minimum package – Bronze Hospital Young Singles Start Package. This is an addition to what is now Silver Hospital Young Singles Start Package. It used to be only Young Singles Start Package. :)

Other useful links, related to GMHBA health insurance, are the list of participating hospitals and member services page.

Comparison of extras on different plans for Victorian residents.

Just for reference, here is a list of approximate costs for dental services in Melbourne – Melbourne Dentist Fee Schedule (Vic).

Sunday, 12 October 2008

30 Degrees

Today we went to Werribee. As soon as we arrived, Roger and I found a cash shop open near the station so we went to have a look. There I decided I'm getting a camera. I should probably have it next week.
Then we rode through Werribee to the West. There is a nice path next to a creek. That one continues on the Federation Trail. We were at the very beginning of the Fed Trail but we then went further West. We cycled on the highway (yes, here you CAN cycle on the highway) and ended up climbing across the fences and pushing our bikes across the agriculture fields.
On the way back to Werribee, cause we decided to go back in order to reach the park south of the town, we came across the B-24 Liberator site. This is the only B-24 Liberator in the world. There is a hangar where volunteers are assembling the airplane from original and engineered parts. The place looks totally out of this world. There should be quite a few photos from that visit.
The project is very interesting. Lots of people donate parts, engine, or work on restauration of the original parts and are assembling the aircraft. The whole thing started sometimes in 1988 when the remains of a Liberator were found somewhere in the jungle. The completion of the restauration work is expected in 2010. The airplane is an amazing sight. The look inside it leaves a pretty claustrophobic feeling. I could not believe how small the space was and the seats were tiny in today's standards.

After that we rode on the Federation Trail. Took some nice photos of the Australian outback. The grassy plains, gum trees... That's what I'll remember of Australia later. Certainly won't miss the city and the jam that much.
The wind was quite strong so we decided to back on a train and use the time more productively. I'm going to try to read the remaining 300 pages of the .Net book today. :D

Saturday, 11 October 2008

News from the Front

Not much new development. I mean, things are appearing but it takes time to finalize them.

At work, we don't have to work Saturdays any more. We don't have to work *every* Saturday, that is. Now we are going to have a roster where we work 4 days the first week and then 6 days the alternate. That's OK. In fact, I'll see how it goes but it sounds OK.

Still haven't reserved the ticket. Will look to do that on Monday. There are some interviews coming but those should not interfere with the flight plan.

Today is the end of this working week. The plan for Sunday, tomorrow, is to go to Werribee. There appears to be a nice park with a castle. Roger will bring the camera so there should be some nice photos from the ride. It's not that far so we could cycle back towards the city along the coast.

Got a refund from Metlink. In return for 5 x daily ticket, they gave me back two 5 x weekend daily tickets. :) Now that I have both days off on every other weekend, these will get used faster. I could use them to go to Frankston or Sandrigham on weekends. Those places are quite far from the city and beaches are wonderful.

The market fell more than looks real in the graph. People start mentioning horror stories about loans, obligations, ruined investments, etc. Well, I never thought debt was a good thing and I'm glad I do not have any obligations in that regard.

I'm reading some reference book on software development. It has sections on software engineering with .Net, SQL Server, UML, XML, and design. It's a good reference book and a refresher for all the technologies above.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Changing Geopolitics

Business Spectator - Geopolitics turned on its head

Ha, the current financial crisis will have adverse effects on the world's geopolitical scene. I didn't expect this to happen so suddenly.
In effect, this may mean that I came to Australia only to witness the fall of western civilisation (I dramatize, of course). But, really, soon I might be looking for a working visa to some other country, I never suspected of going to. :))
Or I might just go home and live happily ever after.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Lillydale - Eltham

On Sunday I cycled through beautiful areas from Lillydale to Eltham. The terrain is hilly. Lots of trees, pastures, farmlands and large houses. Definitely to be repeated in the summer.
Kudos to iGo as it has excellent maps. Even dirt roads are there and path finding works excellent.
I need to draw this route on Bikely when I find the time.

Other than that, I'm looking for plane tickets for January/February.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Home Decoration

Home... how good that sounds.
I've started to look for nice software to help in home decoration. I thought there must be, by now, some good and free software that does the basic thing almost everyone needs.
The post with links and my opinions is at http://alensiljak.blogspot.com/2008/10/free-home-design-software.html
So far, I like the best Sweet Home 3D. It is open source, runs via Java Web Start so is available almost everywhere, and can import 3DS and OBJ models. The last part means that you can find lots of models for 3D Studio or other modeling programs on the Internet and use them in your design. The software itself comes with enough elements to get you started. It contains some very nice features.
There are two windows - one displays the plan, where you draw stuff, and the other is a 3D view of the model. The 3D view can be either Aerial or Inside view.
There are just enough features to do whatever I wanted to do. The overall feeling while using it for about 15 minutes was great. I don't even feel the need to check out other programs out there.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

New Low for ASX S&P 200

The new low of 4400 has been hit over night. the index is back up to 4600 at 11am, one hour after trading started.
The news seems to be panicky and it is interesting to read the comments.


Sunday, 28 September 2008

Belgrave

Went to Belgrave today. The day was beautiful. 20 Degrees temperature. The train ride takes an hour from the city. Puffing Billy station is right next to the Met station. The rail actually continues, which is really amazing to see.
The real ride starts at 11:30 and is worth visiting. Only that ride goes all the way. The other rides go only half way and miss all of the wooden bridges that are located at the second half of the rail.
The full ride takes 2 hours each way. I expect to go for this ride one of the next weekends.

I visited Dandenong Ranges National Park and walked through some tracks there. The scenery reminded me of home and the mountains I used to walk through. Except I didn't push my bicycle at the same time. :)
The day was great. My legs are shaking and I felt so sleepy that I look forward to enjoying an afternoon nap.

Apart from that, the good news awaits at home. The US bailout plan has been agreed upon and set to President Bush for signature. The markets are to shoot up tomorrow. More on that at the Finance Blog and other news at my regular blog.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Plans for Sunday

Mmm, Sunday is tomorrow and I'm looking at the map. Where could I go this weekend? The interesting areas are green on the map. :) I believe the choice this time will be Belgrave line. The one that goes as far east as the trains go. The final station is at the foot of Mt.Dandenong. Right across the road is the Puffing Billy train station. I'd very much like to get a ride on that train. It was recommended to me long time ago, on one of the first weekends I've had a bicycle in Australia. But, because of the rail works on the line, I couldn't get there that very weekend.
So, the forecast is about 20 degrees during the day and sunny. Sounds perfect for a ride.

Footy finals are on. Actually, just finishing. It seems I'll have to go through a sea of footy fans on my way home. :S

Friday, 26 September 2008

Markets

All I do these days is watch this roller-coaster of the news related to financial markets. The news popping up are in such a contrast that they don't make much sense. Isolating the noise, though, tells me this could be the bottom of the fall and things should be easier from now on. That's in the markets, though. The practical effects in the real world are only starting to show. The slowdown in economic activity is starting to result in the things like recession in New Zealand, house prices predicted to fall in Asian financial centers because the financial institutions will start laying-off people, unemployment on the rise, etc.
Here in Australia these effects can be felt almost immediately. This is not quite the case with Eastern-European markets. Those are getting more tied to other markets but not yet in a significant way. Therefore, the effects of the turmoil in those markets don't have as much effects on the happenings there.

Well, having no news about other things, that's all I can entertain myself with. These must be historical moments. Some say things like this happen once in a lifetime. So, it's interesting to follow through.
Otherwise, I'd be most happy to receive a call from a recruiter but that just doesn't happen. A temporary thing would (will) be approval of my next leave so then I'll have a break again. In which case the length of the recruitment process will not look as bad as it does now. Anyway... Every month spent here takes me closer to my life goals and I'm trying to get used to that feeling.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Midwest, damn it - Travian?!

midwest: Do you write it or not?!

Ha,
what a development. Yesterday I asked Midwest to write a few lines on
his blog and so he did. The interesting part goes a little deeper. I've
had some time after I came from holidays. I decided to slow down a bit
and make more room for relaxation and recreation. So, I was more on the
lookout rather than actively looking for a video game I would play. I
haven't done that for a really long time so now I'm kind of missing it.
The last thing I played was the Elder Scrolls IV - Oblivion and that
was at least a year ago.
So, Midwest goes ahead and writes the post
mentioning Travian. The initial description is just what I was looking
for. With high internet availability it makes more sense to play a
simple game online. So, the dice has rolled.
Here is the description on Wikipedia. I see there are domains in different parts of the world, so here is the Australian one.
OK, let's see what it's like... :)

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Life Habits

I just ran across a research about life habits of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Life Habits

(edit 2011-03-13: It seems the link has been unavailable for a while now. The new Prism Research's site does not contain the link anymore.)

The research was conducted in 2004 by Prism Research. There are a few interesting research results available on the site.
I came across this company's web site after I saw the email of the contact person from Australian Consulate in Sarajevo was at this domain.

Compare that to your lifestyle.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Hurstbridge - Fairfield, Trip 1

Here is my first bikely map. Hurstbridge - Fairfield, Trip 1. The best thing with these maps is that there is the distance calculated for the trip. The distance for this trip is 36.3 km. No wonder I could not go up-hill anymore. :)) Yet, I was so close to the city at that time. I also cycled to Victoria Park station earlier in the day, which leaves only a couple of kilometers that I crossed in a train. That's amazing. I should get one of those road computers and install it on a bike.

Edit.
Correction - adjusting the point from automatic line drawing along the streets to the actual paths I used corrected the distance to 38.8km so far. Scary. If I continue to correct the points it can only grow higher.

Bikely

I have used this site very little in the past but now I got reminded about it and it's much more fun. They are using Google Maps API to draw maps, which is exactly what I did with Google Maps itself. Only, the site expands on the bike path details. Now I can log all my rides.
I'm going to draw yesterday's ride from Hurstbridge. There are some interesting areas on the way.
Another useful thing is that other people are submitting routes and I might avoid situations like yesterday where I had to ride along and on the streets, waiting to cross a bike path somewhere. I'd prefer to stay on the bike paths the whole time, if possible. The scenery is much more interesting and it is way more quiet than on the roads.
So, off to draw my first map. :)

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Zagreb

My brother asked me yesterday if there are any news about Zagreb project. Well, there aren't but the question threw me into thinking again. Big issues are at stake in that case and just thinking about it gives me headache. Things would be quite risky for the next two years. After that my Australian visa would expire and I would either be here again or not. And that would be the final decision. Of course, by then I'd expect to settle down and sort out some other issues. That would be another test and the decision would be prolonged a couple of years into the future.
Oh, sometimes I envy the people who got born in countries like Australia and never even have to think about similar issues...

Hurstbridge

Today I went to see the location of Computershare. It is only about 15 minutes on a bicycle or 5 minutes on a train with 10 minutes walk from the station. I thought it would be more but looking at the satellite images leaves a wrong impression, as usual.
Then I went to Hurstbridge. This was my first experience of an Australian outback. That was the feeling I had when I got there. Countryside, a small town, lots of forests, farms, horses, open roads. Saw a lot of people on motorcycles. I think the road goes into the mountains from here so it must be a beautiful place for rides. I cycled through some wonderful areas. There are wide streets and bicycle paths all the way back to the city and I followed most of them. If (or when) I go the next time it will be much easier to find them.
I was impressed by Eltham and the surroundings. No doubt one of the nicest areas in and around Melbourne. I'm more and more convinced that I could live completely on the Hurstbridge train line. :) Work, home, friends, leisure-time areas, they are all on this line. Guess I'm more of an in-land type than the beach type. Seeing the ocean is good once every couple of months but I start to really miss the rivers, greenery, trees, and hills if I don't see them at least once in two weeks. Even going to the city is quite enough once every couple of weeks or once a month.
I cycled on a great path next to Watsonia barracks. That's my potential unit location. Looks great. Surrounded by trees and close to Yarra river. The scenery is beautiful. If there was no antennas I'd never thought it wasn't a farm or a ranch. :)
This day was a great one. I spend around five hours riding around. The Hurstbridge train station is 36.7 km away from Flinders Street station. That is closer to the city than Frankston yet the feeling in quite different. Hurstbridge seems much more different to urban areas. Maybe it's because of the hilly terrain as opposed to Frankston, which is on the ocean shore.
I think I should go to the western suburbs the next weekend. And, then, to the mountains at the East. That would mean I travelled all the train lines across the Melbourne metropolitan area. Wow, would that be the time to go somewhere else, then?

Friday, 19 September 2008

Avstralia

Not much happening in real life. All the development is in the markets right now. See the finance blog for updates on what I'm currently entertaining myself with.
There might be some news in regards to work but nothing firm as of yet. I'll post as soon as things get a bit clearer. Currently waiting for the response from the Defence and also to get approval for the next leave.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Spring

The Spring is here big-time. After coming back from holidays, the weather got better. There are sunny days and clear skies. These days the temperatures go up to 25. At nights it is about 18. Already feels too hot. I can't wear a jacket when walking or cycling to and from work. It is time to swap trousers for shorts. And that period is to last for months from now. Makes me feel so much happier. Looking forward to being outside much more than in the past few months I've spent in Australia. The Summer vacation (in Europe) got me out of the cold room and now I'm back to similar temperatures here. Great.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Flights from Melbourne to Europe

I'm looking for good, reliable, and affordable carriers for flights from Melbourne to Europe and web sites that find good fares.

Here are some sites I came across, that produce good results:

JetAbroad
BestFlights

and here are some cheap airfare providers

in Asia:
AirAsia
JetStar
Tiger Airways

in Europe:
SkyEurope
RyanAir
EasyJet
German Wings

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Back to Oz

This is just to let everyone know I'm back to the magical land of Oz after a beautifully refreshing holiday. Seen some nice landscapes, met wonderful people, really enjoyed myself that month off and now it's time to get back to the machine.
Now follows the standard back-to-routine transitional period of checking and answering emails, handling stuff that was waiting, etc.
Actually, it appears nothing has changed here in Australia so I can stay relaxed.

Talked to defence recruiters. Will have to wait another month for the SSC results. Hopefully, hopefully. It's been four months since my initiation of this procedure. This is taking too long.

Everything else is pretty much the same. I'm still enjoying the memories from the previous month, sad that I had not more time to see other places and people I wanted to but also looking forward to arrange my next visit.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Holidays

After the initial six months here in Australia the time is finally for a holiday. This is the day. It will take over 24 hours and 19,000 kilometers to reach the destination. Will travel through six countries on my way there. I'm looking forward spending some time not thinking about everyday duties, short-term and long-term goals, and purpose in life. :)
I'm doing the last-minute packing, going to have breakfast and I'm off to the airport. Wohoo!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Sunny Days

The temperature is going up this last two days. It's been quite cold in Melbournian terms. Temperatures around 4 degrees are quite cold here. Especially without heating in homes.
That's why it's quite noticeable when the temperature goes up. I have two more days to go before holidays. They will be spent at work, packing stuff, Friday-night drinks with the crew from work where this coming Friday will be the last day for a few people, and getting to the airport on Saturday morning. Have a few things to finish and arrange and I'm done for this Winter. When I come back it should be quite warmer, Spring coming.
Now I'm looking forward to seeing some familiar faces in August...

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Ljubav preko zice



This describes my current situation. :) It is not easy. But it's sweet.

Photos: East Melbourne

2008-07-22 East Melbourne

A nice walk down East Melbourne. Some interesting architecture. Nice, quiet area. So close to the city yet with a distinct relaxed atmosphere.

Monday, 21 July 2008

What's up in Oz?

Heh, not much is going on these days for me. Well, not in terms of this blog. Obviously my offline activities are reduced to minimum. It rained almost the whole day on and off today. It is quite cold - about 10 degrees.
My online activities, on the other hand, are getting refreshing amount of effort from me for the same reason.
You might check my other blogs - Notes, Finance, or see what's new on my other web sites. I'm into learning Python and setting up a web development environment so that I could play with Google App Engine. I'm quite enthusiastic about it but still don't know what useful to create and I don't want to waste sites (only three available) for some stupid ideas. Maybe I'll go and see what other people are doing with it.
I still want to create a nice game and put it on Facebook.
Funny thing is that I can do all these kind of activities outside Australia, too. :D

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Real Rain

Finally a real rain in Melbourne. These events are so rare that they deserve being recorded in a blog. :)
I reckon it's been only a few times since I came in January that the real rain fell. All the rest was either too soft or lasted short enough. There was only one time that I remember until now that the rain was falling throughout the night.
Of course, the practical result of this situation is that the water reserves in the reservoirs are at record lows. I think the reserves are at 29% capacity at the moment.
This reinforces the idea to build a water pipe from Tasmania to Victoria and to trade water in a way not used before. I reckon that the oil pipes might soon give way to water pipes. Especially if the move from oil to hydrogen gains momentum.
Anyway... It's raining and the water reserves are filling. Oil price is falling so none of the above might be necessary in the near term.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Photos: 2008-07-14 Botanical Gardens

A beautiful, sunny and warm, day. First thing in the morning I get a call to let me know there is a position where I fit perfectly and an interview should follow soon.
It was unusually warm so I spent the day outside, enjoying the Sun. First walked through the Botanical Gardens, admiring the views as always. Then through the park to the Albert Park Lake. Just sitting in the Sun, watching the swans and ducks at the lake...

Album is here.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

EmailCash, Mobux, Reward Points

I added links to a couple of sites that have some useful features. EmailCash, an Australian site, that offers different promotions and has an option to redeem the points into cash once a certain amount is accumulated.

They are affiliated to Mobux, which has the similar concept but is limited to mobile phone stuff. A useful thing is that the mobile phone can be recharged through Mobux, earning bonus points at both Mobux and EmailCash. These can be exchanged for call credit (lower price for the next recharge slip), SMS messages, etc. The recharge number comes in an sms, which is practical to store directly on the phone.

Since PennyTel is going to start to charge for SMS messages on the 1st of August, Mobux SMS could be a better option. They give 300 points for clicking on Flash ads on their site and I believe 1 SMS would cost 10 points.

Links on the online business page and Australian mobile providers on the web site.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Trip Arranged

Just arranged the transport from Budapest airport. Things start to fall into place. As mentioned earlier, Gea agency has a mini van driving on the route every day. The starting time adjusts to the travelers. And the driver waits at the airport for each passenger. That sounds nice.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Melbourne - Budapest

I've already got the plane ticket. Now I need to organize the transport from Budapest.

According to the posts in a forum, there are two agencies - Gea and Fudex that drive vans. These should be faster than bus and train lines.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Bike Paths

I added another ride to my bicycle paths map. Yesterday I went North-West along Maribyrnong river. Already now the map looks impressive. The last-week ride went quite far into Eastern suburbs. Now that I know where tha paths are (well, mostly) I can find my way around easily and enjoy longer rides.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

E-Tax 2008 Is Out

Download 2008 tax return program page

As usual, last financial year tax return program is available from the Australian Taxation Office site. The link to the software is at the bottom of the linked page.

To test your Operating System and browser and continue with the download process you can also click here.

Service Suitability Check

Talked to my case manager from the ADF Recruitment. The Service Suitability Check may take 6-8 weeks. This is needed to confirm I'm suitable to continue with the process. Now, this may coincide with my annual leave in August, so things will be prolonged more than I expected. The soonest date I could start is now well off in September. This means I might not need to do the physical training preparations after all. :))
Anyway, that's the news about the recruitment process. Not really encouraging. Since it's been mid-June that I faxed the last requested document, it looks that the end of the 6-weeks period happens to be at the end of July. Until it happens earlier than that, I'll continue with the process after the holidays.

Friday, 27 June 2008

East Suburbs Ride

Finally some nice weather. After getting up late this morning, I finally went out after 2pm. This time I didn't mind if I ride back in the evening. The temperature was OK. Around 17 degrees when I left home.
I followed the river to the junction to Eastern suburbs. Then followed the creek South-East. The same route I used when I went to Ashwood. Went exactly the same route all the way to Allamein station. After that I decided to explore. There were bicycle paths almost the whole way so I did not have to use roads for long. I zig-zaged towards North-East. It is so much easier now that I know where I am and what proportions of the terrain are. At one point I felt lost and it was getting dark already. That was the only time I looked at the map. I did not know the names of the suburbs I was going through. But the map just confirmed what I generally thought. Only, I did not expect I would go that far. :))
Went North all the way to Eastern Freeway and then I turned West, towards the city. At some point I crossed the Freeway and joined the cycle path I used long time ago to get towards Heidelberg. It was quite dark at that time. Still, the visibility was great even without the lights. Reflection of the lights from the city, lights from the Freeway, and the moonlight created a perfect setting. At some parts I just walked along the river, pushing the bike beside. It was a nice night. Let my mind wander.
Going through Collingwood, I met a friend! What a coincidence. I love these "supernatural" occurences. :D
I really enjoyed the ride. Rough estimate on Google Earth shows 30+ kilometers. That means, if I was to follow the path I used, it would be quite close to 40. It took only a fraction of time compared to previous rides. Must be a good exercise, improving my stamina. I prefer cycling and going through different areas than jogging, anyway. Looking forward to do the same thing tomorrow, only in some other part of the metropolitan area.
No photos today, sorry. :( There were a few great places to take photos but my camera - actually batteries - have failed me. Got a new pair of rechargeables so tomorrow should be an opportunity for a proper photo tour.

No photos, but here is the link to a map. This will make some good memories later. I sure will miss Melbourne.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

InstantCash

:))
I'm looking into "instant cash" options for "making money online". The "industry" has advanced in the past few years. There must be loads of scam but I'd expect to see at least a few regular options, as well. I've applied for a few survey sites and some ad-watching options and I wonder how long will I be able to keep doing that. Probably I'll have enough by the beginning of the next week. :)

The day is getting longer. It is not that cold anymore. Or, maybe, this is because I have recovered from cold and I feel much better. And the rain is gone, btw, so at least there is a good feeling watching out the window and seeing blue sky and the Sun during the day.

I hope the market hit the bottom and should be moving upwards slowly. This should create some hope for the future.

My holidays are nearing closer and that makes me really happy. :D

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Online Activity

Phew, since it's been cold and gets dark early, I've been quite proactive online. Maintaining a few blogs and web sites is quite interesting for the moment. I've redesigned the web sites to use templates so it's very easy to maintain them and add new content even when I have no time to spend on design. Now I can simply create a new page from a template and start typing.

I also completed an application that takes care of photo upload to Flickr, creating links, thumbnails, and all the rest. So now album creation takes a few clicks only. I don't have to do anything to images except copy them to my hard disk and use the program to upload them, then paste the link into the album page, that's created from an album template.

Also, I've created a few active pages. Used Google App Engine to finally create a contact form. Now I have a link on my web site(s) that open a form where visitors can contact me - send me an email, without revealing my email address on the site to avoid the spam bots.
And, I'm using a redirector at http://alen.appspot.com to open my start page. This was impossible so far on googlepages, since Google Pages always open their templated page, which is not what I want.
I also found a .Net hosting that supports latest .Net framework (3.5). Now I can create some more active content. The foundation is laid for application development as I'm looking to create some useful Facebook application.

So, finally I've had a few, rather small, achievements which make me a bit happy. After disastruous situation at the markets, this is something that I'm occupied with until the holiday time. :)

Friday, 20 June 2008

Weekend Coming

This has been a 6-day working week and I'm looking forward to a weekend. The weather forecast is not the best. There will be a few showers. The weather has been bad in the last several days. I am getting a bit bored. Probably exploited all the options I found available. Now I first need to find something else to do and then do it.
I'm missing the nature quite a bit. Remembering the trips across different areas of Bosnia, riding through fields and across mountains.
When thinking about the holidays, I'm sure they will pass quickly and I will not have opportunity to do the things I like. That's the kind of holiday I hate. So, now I promise to myself to do only the things I like during the trip home. :D
On the other hand, everything is probably alright. I should just let the time go by. Everything will take care of itself (or will it? :). Blah, that has never been my motto. I believe we create our own present and future and we do it in every moment. That's why I don't want to waste time.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Fog

I'm working in the clouds again. Rainy and foggy outside. The look out the window looks like a computer generated image where everything is surrounded with a fog and appears out of nowhere.
Did some trading today again. I'm posting those news onto my finance blog now.
There is always something to learn, though. :)

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Filming

The water is off in the house. There is an emergency repair down the street. Coming back from work I saw the guys digging a hole in the road. Up the street, near our house, there was something that resembled a yacht as I approached. Coming closer, I saw it was a sort of a trailer, similar to a large camping caravan. There was a water truck in front of it. Ha, I thought, they must've brought in the water truck for the area. That would've been obvious. In front of that one there was a fire truck. All of them surrounded by orange cones. Something was funny. A bit further up the street, there were the strong ambient lights, vehicles, and people around. Hm, it looked like a preparation for filming.
A bit later we find the water truck is not for the area but just in case, for the filming crew. Also, there is Nicholas Cage sitting in the caravan right across the road. Apart from the coolness factor how likely is this to happen back home? If I was a bit more passionate I could go and ask for an autograph or something but I'm not overly excited. I'm quite happy about the Australian market index rising up again today. That brings me closer to my goals and, hopefully, the time when I'll be as excited about having Nicholas Cage across the street filming a new release as the girls next door.
Oh, apparently, this is his third movie filmed in Melbourne. That's Australia. (the last is a phrase from a show "That's America")

Monday, 16 June 2008

Web Development

I'm not posting much stuff on this blog but that means nothing is happening. On the contrary... Since the weather has been bad for the past several days I've been staying home and playing with web development. I have developed some new web sites, set up framework, CSS, templates, hosting. Then I looked at Facebook application development and, finally, Google App Engine application hosting.
I caught a cold so I stayed home today, playing with facebook and google apis.

The first apps do not do much for the moment but I am happy to see how simple it is to set them up. Now that the technicalities are out of the way, I can focus on content and start filling up the skeleton that is online.

My first Google App Engine application is here - http://alen.appspot.com/
and my first Facebook application is here - http://apps.facebook.com/alensfinance/

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Another Quiet Sunday

It's been gray and rainy. Feels as if I'm somewhere else. Though, the rain is not as bad as actually is someplace else. Yesterday I was complaining that it's been raining on and off on Friday and Saturday, providing an excuse to go out in the cold.
The reply I got back was that in Sarajevo, it's been raining for ten days now. :S So, I better keep quiet. I'm sure to be missing this weather wherever I travel.
The daily temperature is around 12-14 and its quite cold at night. Think I caught a cold yesterday and today its manifesting. I have to wear a sweater now. :)

New Blogs, Sites

I've started a couple of new things - a new blog, web site, adding ads to my web pages. Never realized that the amounts that can be earned from advertising are higher than a couple of dollars. :)
Now, if this works, I'd be able to get a proper hosting and do some active content. Currently I'm limited to passive html content with some CSS and JavaScript, and blog posts. That's not too exciting but, still, there is lots of information that is useful and can be posted in these formats.
That's how I spent the weekend. It's cold and it was raining on and off. Think I caught a cold. :S

Friday, 13 June 2008

Trading & Tax

IGMarkets have the whole section on taxation of CFD trades in their Terms & Conditions document. Hm, can't find the link to it now. It's in PDF and explains that CFD trades can be treated as business and that both gains and losses affect the tax sheet.

Reserves

Just a quick update. Called them yesterday to check what is going on. As I'm on the relistment list, a feedback is expected from somebody. I guess there's a background check being done and, when the results come in, the recruiter - oops, case manager now - will contact me to arrange the assessment interview and the rest.
All I can do is continue with the physical fitness exercise to prepare for the test.

Microsoft Event

The partnership event yesterday was interesting. There was an introductory note from Gartner about how workplace is about to change in the future. Hopefully the thing about working from anywhere will become true and it would happen before I'm 80 so that it can be enjoyed for a while.
Later sessions on SQL and Visual Studio were informative but it was more interesting just to be there rather than see something new and amazing. I've seen a few interesting details related to these products but the presenters mostly focused on some new features. It was not the marketing hype but they showed some valuable features that are new to these products. I was thinking how long would it take for companies to migrate to these products. We are still using VB 6.0 and .Net 1.1. :S What use is talking about SQL 2008 and Silverlight?! I'd prefer to spend some time and unify the platform within the company rather than to have all these disparate technologies floating around.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

MS Event

There's a Premier Technical Briefing Session event today. I'm to attend the "Operational Benefits of SQL 2008" and "Visual Studio 2008, ASP.Net & Service Oriented Development".
The introductory speech is funny - "IT Resourcing in a Tight Labour Market". Seems to be tight on both sides of the coin. Employers are complaining on the lack of skilled labor and the workers are complaining on the lack of job availability.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Tax-related Issues for Trading

Non-commercial losses: overview - fact sheet

This page explains the tax implications on trading/investing. It is treated as a business under certain circumstances.

Is Passport Worth the Effort?

That's my question at the moment.
My thoughts go on and on. Comforting myself that a year is not a long time. It's already been four months. Hopefully, by next May I'll be a free man. :D

I'm starting to form a vision... Want to drive an electric car. A hybrid is OK for the start. Plan to travel a lot, so a fuel efficiency is a must. Oil prices are to double within a year, possibly. Also, I want to ride a motorcycle.
Right now, I just need some time to think it over and work out how to do it. The longer I'm here, the more realistic the vision gets.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Xing and LinkedIn

These two are cool networks. I've found some people I lost touch with years back. It's always good to see that they are doing well and pushing forward in their field of expertise.
The options for a Europe-based work are increasing, though slowly. But, at least, that gives me some peace of mind of being able to support myself once I take the next step (again).

Euro 2008

Amid all the projects we are (not) doing, there is Euro 2008 coming up. Actually, it's already here and we found about it two days before the start. Now, we need a few guys in the night shifts to cover for potential problems. This ruins our plans and project management and, for the n-th time again, proves the old adage - do whatever you're told as long as you're being paid for it. Too bad one can not work for a company that does not have to report to anyone and constantly be happy and amazed by the new technologies.
Should I even mention that I'm more and more inclined to go somewhere closer to my family and friends and (since I'll be working for a long, long time in the future) use that little spare time left to spend with them.
Guess I'm still, kind-of, hoping to find a bag full of dollar bills and live free and happy ever after. :P
This goes along with Lola's dreams being shattered, as well. This is kind of hide and seek game with balancing between earning a living and missing the time we could spend together.
Hope these will be the days that I'll one day (reading this blog) remember and laugh at, and not the ones that will make me mention the "good old days". :))

Bloody Markets

While the outlook appeared good at the end of the last week, all hopes were crushed on Friday afternoon. And, over the weekend (and yesterday, Monday, was a public holiday in Australia) there was no good news so the market opened much lower, with financials taking a hit. Well, it appears that the answers always come when you need them, not when you want them. Had I read more and experimented less maybe I'd not have decided to expect a financial institution doing good, no matter what its chart looked like. The whole sector is in phase 1 and oscilating up and down, with the consequences of the credit crunch reappearing every now and then.
Anyway, another lesson learned.
Its funny to read the forecasts at the same time as watching the market. People usually predict the doom and gloom while it's happening. And, when the market is going up they are all predicting a good growth for the rest of the year. I wonder where the *(&)(&^*&%$$% does the prediction part fit in there. Prediction is something that is supposed to happen in the future, not what's happening right now.
Still, it's a good and educational experience. And, something to occupy myself with while waiting for the recruiter call.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Xing - Another business network

XING - Start

Seems good. Similar to LinkedIn, except that this one is a bit more based on EU. Good target for my future contacts. :D

Friday, 6 June 2008

Fog in Melbourne

These days it's been foggy. Couldn't see the top halves of the tall buildings in the city. And, at work, it felt like being in a cloud. The streets were barely visible through the fog.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Nothing New in the West

Yesterday was the equivalent of the last day in November. Usually a time when a snow can be expected back home. I was wearing a t-shirt and riding a bike the whole day. Finally went to Kenington. I've been researching that area a few months ago when we were negotiating to rent an apartment there. The whole Kensington area looks surreal. Just like a movie studio, small houses, cute. The area by the river is great, the wetlands... Not too far from the city and has nice bicycle tracks.
I'm still attending seminars on trading, reading books, trying out software and looking for charts and data feeds online. It's quite an interesting activity. I've met a lot of people who are into it over their head and lots of those just joining in. Amazing, considering the statistics say that around 95% of traders are barely balancing at 0 or worse, and only 5% profiting in trading. Makes one wonder why everyone expects to be within those 5%. :)

Just another day in paradise, as they say. I'm actually missing the mountains, pine trees, and the snow. But also looking forward to move away from this cold. It's cold in the morning but nothing like living in the mountains.

Economists say that Australia is to prosper in the next decade on the resources boom. Well, I'm looking to prosper on the micro level. I'm missing the motorbike rides, going to the Adriatic coast, camping, riding through empty roads in the remote areas, eating at the dining places alongside the road. Looking forward to the time when I will be able to travel through Europe and do 2-week trips, visiting various places I wanted to see.
People keep telling me it's time to settle down and I haven't even started yet. :S I will settle down when I make my first million. And, how likely is that to happen? :)

Monday, 26 May 2008

100% per Day

Wow, quite a return when expressed percentage-wise. This is the profit from my first two trades. It could have been better had I actually paid more attention to pointers and exited a few minutes earlier. Or entered a few minutes earlier.
But, considering this is only my second CFD trade overall, the results are OK. :)

To explain why the returns can be expressed this high... CFD trades involve trading on margin and some market providers offer 1:100 margin ratio. So a proper strategy produces dramatic results. Of course, positive as well as negative. :D
It takes time to find suitable candidates to trade but that's whole another story. I need some time to analyze what happened today and enjoy the results.

My First Successful Trade

I'm back to trading. Trying to get a feel for shares and indexes as these are much slower and less volatile than forex. I'm researching some top shares and watching the indicators.
Today I placed one planned trade and one that was not planned but an opportunity showed up and I went in. These are minimal amounts I'm talking about but the feeling must be very similar to what other traders experience trading millions.
It is true that education is the key. The other thing is information. Limiting my scope to only the ASX 20 list and the index should give me enough items to trade with initially.
Changed my account to Standard so that I can place trailing stops. It is much fun getting into it. Looking forward to placing short positions. That will require some more time. I'm currently watching the indicators that show when to enter and exit the long position. At least I hope I got the vocabulary right. :)
Signed in to the Risk Management seminar on Wednesday. It is one of the things to embed deep into the mind.
I reckon I'm still far from normal trading but I'm happy with the way it goes at the moment. Now I'm starting to understand all the things people said earlier in all those seminars and presentations. :)

Sunday, 25 May 2008

May 25th

YouTube - Caffe Tito - 25 Maj 2007

Just off the phone. The 25th of May - the Youth Day - is being celebrated and is alive and well back in ex-Yu. I was quite glad to hear that as it reminds me of some better times and the childhood. Those are the only good times I remember and trying to somehow get back or get to. That is what Australia reminds me of, in a way. But I've quite lost the feeling. I only remember what it looks like. Now, when I see parades here in Melbourne, it looks surreal.

Resources & Asia

Just reading different blogs today. Generally, they all agree that Asia is to grow in the next 10 years and Australia is to continue to ride the wave and export all these resources to booming industries of China and India.
World is changing. Some more dramatic cases show people moving close to China (Singapore) and learning Mandarin.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Docklands

I've really enjoyed cycling today. First, I got a nice wind/rain jacket at Kathmandu. Then I went towards Kensington. Wanted to see the area I analyzed in detail while we were looking for apartment last September. Passed through Parkland and then South, near the Observation Wheel into Docklands. Observation Wheel works are nearing completion. It will be amazing to go for a ride when it's finished.
The new Docklands has an appeal that dragged me to go through it. It looks just like a picture, someone's drawing. There is a small ice-skating ring under a tent. :) The whole area is wonderful. Too bad I did not bring a camera.
Though, I'm not sure I'd want to live there. It's too fancy and no green (park) areas around. I'm starting to miss the proximity to nature and mountains of Sarajevo. In 15 minutes of driving or riding I could be in the woods where people rarely go to. Ancient pines and fresh air, and silence.
I love these bicycle tracks. They are well designed so they don't intersect with roads and are a pleasure to ride on. Very nice experience today. It was sunny, 16 degrees, quite pleasant. Finally some relaxation.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Investment in Times of Uncertainty

Tonight Dr. Burton Malkiel held a seminar in Grand Hyatt about investing in certain times. It was organized by Vanguard Investments Australia. Dr. Malkiel presented standard arguments in support of index funds but also some additional ones I was not aware of before. This time I really paid attention to cost averaging and portfolio rebalance and it does make a lot of sense in addition to relying on index funds. All in all it was an interesting session. His new book is out - From Wall Street to Great Wall. It must be interesting, since he mentioned China a couple of times during the talk.
I assume it is interesting watching energy (oil) and minerals stocks over the coming years, not just months or weeks.