Wednesday, 23 December 2009

39 Again

The temperature hit 39 degrees Celsius again today. I noticed I’m quite attracted to go jogging at those high temperature days. Simply want to see how the body acts when exposed to physical activities in such circumstances. Well, I had a bit of a headache and using the oxygen was a bit more difficult than usual. Breathing could probably simply be caused by metabolism as opposed to heat but I’m sure the headache wasn’t. It wasn’t so much physically hard to run as much it was psychologically. I just had no motivation to run and I simply walked part of the way. Also felt a bit sleepy. However, I enjoyed the run. And, once again, noticed that 39 in Melbourne is not as bad as it sounds. When there’s some breeze or shade, it feels quite nice. I even like the waves of hot air at times. Body does not sweat as much as there’s almost no humidity. When I think of Indonesia, it is a very significant contrast. There, even at 25 degrees, the body sweats almost immediately as soon as you leave air-conditioned space. Humidity is mostly above 70%, sometimes close to 100%, and you can really feel it. The air, actually moisture particles in the air, are burningly hot. Whereas here, any air flow will cool you down, even if you jog or walk.

Solutions Architect

On Monday I accepted a position of Solutions Architect. Now I’m getting into a position whose description ideally describes the items I always wanted to do. Most of those things I actually did ever since I started to write programs. It’s just somehow that the architecture part, organization, project management, analysis and design, and similar things were always pushed aside when working in real-life projects. Most people I know did not pay too much attention to these things. So I’m glad that, at this age, software architecture is getting more and more popular and accepted as a discipline.

This is still a relatively new role, with yet not-fully-defined scope and tasks. In that regard, there is an open, unexplored, space in front of me and I feel excited. This is probably where I always wanted to be – no direct management of many people, yet close coordination with lots of parties at different levels (from managerial to very technical); no specific technology limitations, everything is open for consideration and I’m actually encouraged to do research and development with any possible technology out there, keep pace with the technology developments, research and adopt best industry practices, and so on. I could go on and on. But, enough said. Let’s see how it actually goes in practice, starting mid-January.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

39 Degrees Today

Well, after a morning in which I had to take my warm cover at 5 o’clock because it was getting too cold in bed, the temperature jumped 20 degrees higher during the day. It hit the forecast 39 degrees at 4PM and is slowly going down. Now is time to go out from work and see how it feels at 37 or so. Today, during the lunch break it was not that bad as the air was quite dry so it was pleasant to find some shade or when there was some breeze it was actually cool (a subjective feeling).
Cool change is expected during the night.


Saturday, 28 November 2009


Last week I travelled to Indonesia. It was a one-week trip. Initially, I thought it would be more than enough for an escape but it turned out to be very short time to see and experience even a small number of things there.
I spent some time in Jakarta, a weekend on Bali, and took a one-day trip to Yogyakarta. I’ve visited some beautiful places in Jakarta. Pacific Place shopping center that could easily be in the middle of New York or somewhere like that. I think this is where the bombings were about a month or two ago. I’ve experienced Jakarta traffic – to get to the airport it can take anywhere from half an hour to two hours. Experienced both!
Bali is a story on its own. Visited places that are way off the tourist tracks. Been to villages high in the mountains among the rice fields. Got lost riding around the island. Generally, if there is a heaven on Earth, this could easily be it. Haven’t seen some of the most recommended places to visit. So I left something for another visit sometimes, which is good. :)
Yogyakarta was a hidden gem, an unexpected positive surprise. I have seen some old temples, beautiful people, bargained on the street, and walked through this beautiful town. Borobudur, a Buddhist temple from 8th century is a wonder in itself.
Overall, a beautiful new experience, tropical climate, interesting people, great food… with some thoughtful and sensible conversations brought back some meaning and sense into my life.

Photos are here.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

STI & STD Tests in Melbourne

Melbourne Sexual Health Centre is Victoria’s largest clinic for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Sexually Transmissible Infections (STI). Their services are free and confidential.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Melbourne International Airport – Flight Schedule

Here is the link to the Flight Schedule page for the Melbourne International Airport – link. Useful for last-minute check of the flight schedule and any changes. Touch wood, that has not happened yet in my travels.


Here’s a tourist site for Yogja and, more precisely, Borobudur – link. It has some amazing photographs of the place. Definitely something worth seeing while in Indonesia.

World Standards – Electricity

Looking for the information about electrical plugs in Indonesia, I came across an awesome page that describes electrical standards throughout the world. Voltage, frequency, plugs and sockets are all shown here together with world maps that display the distribution of each standard. Excellent resource to check before any international travel.

As it turns out, Indonesia has the same plugs (C and F) that are used in continental Europe so I can use my existing plug adapters for Australian plugs.

Electricity around the world

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Iceland - Renewable Energy

Years back, in 2004 I think, I studied an Environmental Science course as a part of my curriculum. It counted as both science and social science credit. My main paper in this class was about Iceland's 30-year plan on becoming a renewable energy country, transferring it's whole use of energy to renewable sources.
How weird it is today, in the company I work for, that I actually met a guy who sat in the committee that recommended this plan to the Government for approval. Things like this don't happen too often. Or maybe they do? The theme of moving the whole economy to use renewable sources was a grand one. I used the Iceland story to illustrate the point, citing conclusions and achievements made during that project in it's early stages, in various discussions on the topic.
Now the things became more realistic, talking to a person who was closely involved in the process. Just like with many other things, once discovered they become much more real and loose a sense of magic and romance to them. However, I appreciate the experience earned in the process. Guess that's life.

Friday, 16 October 2009


For the merging with another company, we received a small gift by the new owners. iPod Nano 8GB with a video camera and microphone. This is a small token of appreciation but, nevertheless, leaves a nice feeling. Especially considering we never got anything from the previous company owners. Not even a simple thanks for all the efforts and Saturdays and Sundays spent at work.
Now I'm adding Balasevic songs onto the player so I can listen to them when I'm outside. All these people looked funny to me when I saw everyone carrying the earphones while walking or running. Now I'm joining them, I guess.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Citizenship Update

Today I called to book the citizenship test as I heard that there are long waiting queues for these. So I wanted to book earlier. However, in Melbourne, the schedule was full until the 9th of November. The further schedule has not been released yet as there are changes going forward on 19th of October.
The changes include no mandatory questions in the citizenship test, questions written in plain English, a new preparation book, and a passmark raised from 60% to 75% correct answers.
The test will now be taken AFTER the citizenship application has been submitted and as a part of that process. It is not required to do a test before the application. I did the online sample test and had 19 out of 20 questions correct. (wohoo)

Another positive fact is that holidays abroad are not taken into considerations (are not considered as being absent from Australia for residence requirements purposes) if they are shorter than 3 months. This effectively cuts my expected residence time down for 2 months. Instead of March 2010, I should now be eligible for citizenship in January.
The counter has just gone to 150 yesterday and now, taking into consideration the above provision, it goes instantly to 92! Only three months left. Now I'm positively surprised and puzzled to a point as this was unexpected.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Irish Vote Could Cause the Move in EU

Irish vote last Friday was overwhelmingly positive, supporting the Lisbon treaty. This would move the EU in the direction of federalization. It is expected that the foreign-ministry for the whole of EU would be formed now. This would greatly help the Balkans and especially Bosnia and Herzegovina where the EU administration is as chaotic as the local Bosnian one.
This vote would also disperse Germany and France's reasons for vetoing the further EU enlargement. Hopefully things move from the dead end now...

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

T-Shirt Time

Tomorrow is the 1st of October. I think it is fair to say that it is the start of the T-Shirt time. Today was already warm enough that a wind jacket was not needed over a t-shirt, even in the wind. Right now it is 22:30 and the temperature is 19 degrees Celsius. If September was the Spring, is October the Summer already? :)

Monday, 28 September 2009

Mobile Phone Shops in Melbourne

Here are a few links to mobile phone shops that I use to compare prices of the latest phones in Australia. When I find an interesting PDA/smartphone at gsmarena, these are the shops where I can see the actual price on the market.
It is amazing that these usually have better prices (and warranty) than ebay sellers!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

openSuse LiveCD

I spent some more time playing with openSUSE LiveCD on my Toshiba A-215 laptop. This time, I copied my WEP key onto a USB flash drive so I can find it later. However, things went very, very smoothly this time. I bet having some time and enough sleep really help in that regard.
It was relatively simple to configure wireless connection. I added the WEP key (without dashes) into wi-fi configuration and networking was up! From then on I had access to a large repository of help, available online.
This time, also, it was really easy to mount the NTFS partition. I guess the only difference was using "ntfs-3g" instead of "ntfs" in the mount parameters. I was able to mount the Windows partition immediately and all my files were available. Of course, the USB stick (actually an SD card reader attached to USB port) was recognised on boot, too. There, in the list of devices, was also the built-in multi-card reader.
Then I tried to play some music and movies. After a little bit of playing around I found everything worked well. Installed amarok-xine package to be able to play mp3 files. I guess something similar is required to be able to play movies, as LiveCD does not contain stuff like proprietary codecs, etc.
Well, as of right now, everything runs as one would expect. I also played with some more software in a virtual machine yesterday. Everything seems pretty smooth. Firefox crashed a couple of times but the virtual machine had 300MB of RAM assigned only.
Yesterday I also imported fonts from my Windows box and used Tahoma as the default font. All very straightforward. On my laptop, the default font seems quite OK so I don't really need any Windows fonts.
Pidgin is available as a rpm package. Latest version can be found on the build project ( Adding a new repository is simple and it provides the latest version of Pidgin.
I really can't think of much other software I might need. I'd like to try Skype with video calls, VMWare Workstation/Server or some other VM software. Also, games, Quicken, and MS Office using Wine. This is just to see if Wine is as useful now as I read the other day.
Also, Mono is awesome. It runs KeePass 2.08 perfectly. There is no autotype feature, however, but it functions well otherwise. I do not have to downgrade my password file to old version to use KeePassX or other software. There are a couple of solutions available with Linux, like KWallet, but at the moment I really like KeePass and the functionality it provides. I might rely more on browser password keeping later but at least the passwords are taken care of, too.

I guess the only real thing left now is make a backup of my files and Vista system and perform the installation of openSUSE. I'd like to have ext4 as my default filesystem but that might not really matter at this moment.
I'll spend some more time thinking of and listing software I'm using and see if there are equivalents in Linux. Some software, not available for Linux, will run happily with Wine (which I have to confirm first) and the rest can be run in a virtual machine. So, I guess it is now the time when even Windows development tasks can be performed under Linux. :) Awesome...

Dvorak keyboard layout - supported by default. I'd like to have an easy way to switch to Qwerty for cut/copy/paste functionality. There is a way, I just need to read a bit about it.
Webcam - Kopete displays the Chicony USB 2.0 webcam. Apparently, gqcam displays the video stream from the camera. The camera is found in USB devices but none of the programs I tried could use it from /dev/input/input10.
Mouse works well, including the Back-Forward buttons (4 and 5) on my IntelliMouse Optical.
Hibernation - There is an option to hibernate the system but it did not work with LiveCD. Which is understandable as it runs from a CD and creates a RAMdisk (most probably), so no hibernation is possible to either of these media.
PocketPC Sync - Need to look into it more.
Dropbox has a client for Linux. LogMeIn also work under Linux.

Friday, 25 September 2009

OpenSUSE LiveCD on my Toshiba A215

Good news! I just ran OpenSUSE LiveCD on my laptop last night. Everything worked out-of-the-box, as they say. Sound, wireless card - all the usual suspects. Awesome. I wasted some time trying to remember how to mount the NTFS partition to read the WEP key for my wifi connection but did not manage to.
I've got some tips from the internet so it's something to play with tonight...

The idea is to have specialized virtual machines for specific tasks, like software development. Yesterday I found that most games run well under Wine on Linux. Definitely something to look into. I wonder about the performance of those. Most other software I use also reportedly runs well with Wine under Linux. Well, if these are true, I might install Linux on my laptop. Most of the regular stuff I'm using has a Linux version anyway (Firefox, Pidgin, Dropbox...).

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Our actions lead our emotions

In one of the books I read - which has not much in common with this topic - the author mentions one of the things he learned early from his father: our actions lead our emotions. The emotions follow our actions, not the other way around. It is an important thing to remember. I'd even add that going the other way around, letting our actions to be caused by our emotions, leads to disaster in the long run.
Well, at least that's how it looks today. Tomorrow is another day...

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Moving on with the (same) job

The job saga is coming to a happy ending, it seems. The current company has been sold and is not a public company any more. The new owners offered us to stay and continue in a "business as usual" manner.
That is a positive change since two years of turmoil and uncertainty. From next month we'll probably be into moving offices and merging with the other company, getting to know more about the system and what it is going to turn into in the future.
Off to some interesting times in the next few months.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

SME Support in Syria

I almost feel like crying. I just rejected an offer to apply for a project in Syria. The role was in IT and looked like something I would really love doing in the future. But, right now, I have to endure about another year at what I'm doing to build a solid foundation for the future.
Hopefully there will be opportunities worldwide in the future, too. Australian citizenship will certainly help a lot to feel like a citizen of the world. While, right now, I need to ask for a visa just to visit a friend in Indonesia...

Things change from day to day

It is amazing how a perception of things changes from day to day. One day everything seems to go bad, having long-term negative effects. Yet, the next day, those same things look completely different.
Our company has been sold and, for a few days, we were expecting to see what is going to happen. In those few days, the people tended to fear the worse and, as usual during mergers and acquisitions, expect to be laid off. The economy has not picked up yet, so it is not the best time to loose employment status.
Yet, today we receive the letter from the new owners, saying nothing is going to change for the foreseeable future. That provides some security, at least. The market jumped up overnight, showing that the economy is going to be OK.
The temperature is slowly rising and is into 20's. Days are longer and everything seems to be just fine, today...

Sunday, 13 September 2009

30 Degrees

Yesterday, 2009-09-12, we've had 30 degrees Celsius in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. I could not believe the indicator on my desktop. It was hot in the office but when I left, in the evening, it was even worse outside! The air in the city was full of dust. During the day there was a strong wind, shaking the glass walls of Rialto towers. Considering it is still Winter, having 30 degrees is really, really odd.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Why Women have Sex?

Interesting research by two University of Texas professors - Cinty Meston and David Buss - reveals the reasons women give for having sex.

Secret's out: why women really have sex | Health & Lifestyle |

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Munchausen Management

A great article about the Munchausen Management Syndrome. Does it apply in your organization?
If your organization hasn’t diagnosed Munchausen Management Syndrome but you suspect that is the diagnosis, here some of the characteristics of the condition:
  • Crisis mode is the only mode.
  • Nothing gets done until it is a crisis.
  • You can see the crisis coming and can predict who will “save the day”.
  • Crisis prevention is not a priority.
  • Crisis management means doing nothing until the problem puts a project, a deal, or the business at significant risk – then managing to save the day through “heroic” efforts – basically doing what should have been done when it should have been done.
  • Promotions, rewards and recognition go to the “heroes” who save the day (and create the situations).
  • There is a pattern to the behavior: crisis, heroics, reward, crisis, heroics, reward.
  • It doesn’t matter who can get hurt or the long term ramifications to the organization – just as long as there is an opportunity for the individual(s) to “save the day”.
Munchausen Management : published at - business ; technology news

This seems to happen in many companies and the sad part is that most of them are not even aware of the condition and/or the long-term ramifications for the organization.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Photos: Royal Botanical Gardens

Photo album from a walk to Royal Botanical Gardens. My favorite spot in Melbourne.

2009-08-27 Royal Botanical Gardens

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Beyondblue is a site dedicated to address the issues related to depression. Good advice, useful information, links. 
beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related substance misuse disorders in Australia.
beyondblue is a bipartisan initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments with a key goal of raising community awareness about depression and reducing stigma associated with the illness. 

Web Site

Friday, 14 August 2009

Spring is here

The Spring is definitely here. Yesterday, after a few days of drizzle and for/clouds, the temperature was quite high. It made me think that soon the t-shirts will be required as it is getting too warm. And the Sun was strong enough to give a hint of what's ahead in the warm season.
I have to say I'm hardly waiting to get rid of the heater - that saves life during winter, as the house has a poor insulation. Well, *have* is a compliment, really. The house has no insulation whatsoever is more likely description.
Today the forecast is 20 degrees. This is more like it. Goodbye Winter!

Oh, yes, and the days are getting longer. It is still a daylight and the orange colors of the Sun are visible after I'm done with work. Feels much better.

Friday, 7 August 2009

MaxMagnus Comics!

Wohoo! I finally found the MaxMagnus comics series. It's an old series I enjoyed very much but was never able to complete the whole series. I was unable to find any traces of it in years. This is great!
Maxmagnus - Skenirani stripovi - Stripzona

Thursday, 6 August 2009

AusPost Postage Rates

At the link below you can find the AusPost postage calculator for domestic and international letters and parcels.
Australia Post, Calculate postage rates

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Good Fortune

Fortune goes round, I guess, and what goes up must come down. And vice versa. It is interesting to witness how things change, whether you do something about it or not. I have been quite passive in the past year or so and so many things have happened, one would not believe it. While, during the past years, I've been quite proactive and, at the end, I had a feeling that no matter I do there are only so many things I can actually influence.
Anyway, things are moving for the better at the moment and I have a wonderful year in front of me without any perceived worries along the way. Let's see what more life has to bring.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Creating a Will in Australia

I'm looking how to create a will. It seems to be relatively simple process for simple cases like mine. In brief

A Valid Will is one that is able to be put
into effect and will be accepted by a court of law. To be Valid The
Willmaker/Testator must be mentally competent and,your Will must be

1. In writing,

2. Signed at the bottom by the testator (you) and

3. Witnessed by at least two people. The testator and the witnesses must all be present when the will is signed.
At the link below, you can create a will online:
Create Free Online Will - AAMI Insurance Australia
Superannuation, while may be subject to the will, may not necessarily be so. Usually, a superannuation fund will have a form you need to submit to make a death benefit nomination. The details for VicSuper are here.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Disclosure Policy

This policy is valid from 2009-07-19.

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Auto-Gas punionice u BiH

Stranice udruzenja za promociju upotrebe alternativnih goriva u Bosni i Hercegovini sadrze mapu punionica auto gasa na podrucju drzave (link).

Friday, 17 July 2009


Yesterday I sent some birthday wishes to a friend and she asked me to come visit her sometimes. She currently lives and works in Jakarta, Indonesia. For a day, daydreaming about a trip to Indonesia was something I nurtured in between the hectic tasks I performed at work. And, today, the news about bombing is all over the news.
Still, thinking about it, that’s not a reason that would stop me from going have I decided to do so.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

No to Bottled Water?

An initiative is starting up in Australia to ban bottled water.
The voluntary ban has been triggered by concerns about the carbon
footprint associated with bottling and transporting the water.
This is a reasonable thing as selling water is absurd. On the other hand, the numbers in bottled water demand are enormous and show that there is a high demand out there.

NSW town of Bundanoon votes to ban bottled water | Green Awards 2009 |

Sunday, 28 June 2009


Tonight I was in IMAX theater for the first time. The screen is really impressive. They say this is the 3rd largest screen in the world. It is 6-stories high. No matter where one sits, the screen takes up the whole viewable area. The picture is relatively sharp and definitely better than the regular cinema. The movie I watched is Transformers 2. Two hours of action. The image was a bit blurry when there is too much motion on the screen.
A very good thing is when the whole screen moves and rotates, there is a feeling of sickness. At certain points I felt like flying and thought, if the scene continues, I'd be close to throwing up.
All in all a nice experience. I'd like to see a 3D movie in this theater.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Freelance Web 2.0 Development

I have found myself an extremely interesting task to do in my spare time. I am doing a demo site with jQuery and latest functionality available for web development. The demo functionality involves creation of a card/poster that contains graphics (image) and text. It has to be user-editable on the client side. Full functionality includes ability to rotate the picture, zoom in and out, pan. Text can be edited and formatted with the formatting toolbar. Boxes that contain the image and text can be moved and resized on the canvas (card), within its dimensions.

Once the design is finished, the contents are stored on the server and later can be retrieved. The finished card can be converted to an image. This allows resizing into a thumbnail. The card can be rendered into PDF, as well, in the desired size.

This is extremely interesting to solve as the current web technologies are mature enough for such a functionality. Amazingly enough, there is not much server-side functionality. All these functions could be simulated on the server but the beauty is that they can now be created on the client side. Of course, storing and retrieving data, and converting to image or PDF is still done on the server side. It is a challenge to tie all these pieces together into a functional whole. I have spent some time in the previous week researching the functionality, focusing only on jQuery and its plugins. It seems that all of the above listed functionality is there and I just need to put it all together. The hardest challenge of all is to find the time to all this. But the satisfaction is guaranteed. I feel the enthusiasm of my early development days. :)

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Yamaha Motorcycle Comparison

I start to really miss the motorcycle rides so I am looking at what motorcycle should I target in the future. Yamaha Motors web site has a great feature for model comparison. As I am currently looking into either TDM 900 or XJ 6, the comparison for these two Yamaha models can be seen at the following link:

Monday, 8 June 2009

My First eBay Experience

The bike is sold! This is my first eBay experience both as a buyer and as a seller. The bicycle I bought on eBay after mine was stolen was too small for me. So I decided to see how the whole eBay thing worked and listed it for an auction at the same price I paid for it. The price appeared to be too high as noone bid on it for a couple of weeks. Today a buyer came, liked the bike (it is aluminium mountain bike with double suspension – very, very soft to ride), and took it. So, this unexpected expense is now partially covered, I have another bicycle to ride (I bought another one on eBay and the size is good this time) and I do not have a bicycle sitting in the garage - the things are back to normal. Plus I have had my first experience both as a buyer and as a seller on eBay. In total, on this occasion, I purchased two bicycles and a set of lights and then sold the first bike.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Australia – Racist?

For some reason, this morning, a thought was hovering around in my mind about the statement given by a former Telstra director Sol Trujillo. Apparently he recently called Australia backwards and racist and the statement echoed around in the local news for some time. It was only a short time after he departed, leaving the position of the CEO at Australian largest telecommunications provider.

However, the reason this was hovering in my mind was that there is clearly something wrong with his statement. It just didn’t ring true. I was trying to find a reason why he might have said that and justify his position but I simply could not find any arguments. Australia is the most multicultural and multinational country I have seen. There are myriads of different names and races on the Melbourne streets that I feel weird when I go to Europe to visit my friends and family. Europe, in comparison, would be more likely to fit to the above description, if at all. Of all the people I know here, way less than half are Australians. Yet, they all are. Depending on your definition of being Australian.

In this train of thought I can’t help but to mention the recent protest rally and meeting organized by Indian students here in Melbourne. They also claimed something similar to what Mr. Trujillo said. I see no justification to that. The opposite is quite obvious just by looking at the scenes from the meeting. If thousands of Indians gather in the heart of Melbourne and block the traffic, doing something similar what hundreds of Indian taxi drivers did recently, than it is really hard to call this country racist. Walking around the city, one can hardly find a non-Indian taxi driver or a 7-11 shop keeper. The sheer number of different nations makes it very likely that all of them equally likely to suffer from crime and violence. From the statements at the protest meeting I guess ‘racist’ would mean discrimination of “whites” against “colored”? As I wrote earlier, there are myriads of different races and faces in the city that, if Australia is racist, it is hard to say racist by whom or against whom.

If racist means having too many different races around then, by all means, Australia is a very racist country.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Day D

Today, finally, the big announcement is expected at work. We have been waiting to hear this for more than a year now. The company has been for sale for quite some time. We expected to hear the official announcement a few days ago but nothing happened. The last news was on 2009-05-14, when Paddy Powell bought 20% of the company shares.

Today the company shares entered a trading halt on the stock exchange. The announcement is expected at 4PM. Working for a gaming company makes these situations all the more interesting. What will happen? What are the odds? Will we have a job tomorrow? What would the new owner do? What are the options?
Makes me thing in a whole new way than before.

On the other hand, I have achieved my desired asset allocation. I’ve invested my savings here in Australia and I think I can finally say that I have reached my most important target so far – financial independence. At least I can believe now that I should be able to afford a roof over my head and food. The important minimum. From now on it’s all a game. :)

Saturday, 30 May 2009

How to make a free international call - Rebtel

A service that allows international calls at very low rates or even free, if you happen to live in a country where Rebtel operates. Disregarding the free calls, the rates are quite good. The principle is obviously connecting regular/mobile phones and VoIP and allows calling from phone to phone through the Internet.

How to make a free international call - Rebtel

Monday, 25 May 2009

Beginning of Winter

It is the end of May. In Australia it is an equivalent to European end of November. This is the time when, in Bosnia, the cold season started. We used to expect snow any day now. Temperatures would come close to 0 in the morning and evening.

While here, in Australia, I’m currently in a T-shirt and having an open window in the room. The temperature at 11am is 18 degrees Celsius. A couple of days ago the day temperature would go to 24 degrees. There has been no real rain for months and I have been using my bicycle every day. Paradise. And this is Melbourne – one of the colder parts of Australia and known by having an unpredictable climate. Phew.

This is something I would surely miss anywhere outside Australia…

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Bike is Gone

My dear Shogun bike is history. It was stolen on Wednesday, after I left it in front of the garage for longer than I should have.
Now I’m looking for used bikes on eBay. Yesterday I won one and went to pick it up tonight. The problem is that it is too small for me. But, since I already completed the transaction, now I have to sell it or swap it for a larger one.

International Calls - Lebara Mobile

Another mobile providers. Attractive prices to international landlines but expensive rates for international mobiles.

International Calls - Lebara Mobile

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Feels Like Home

I have just come back from a walk at the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. After enjoying the beauty of walking while the soft grass under the feet softens the steps, listening to the chirping of the birds, enjoying the views of the lake and old tall trees, I decided to go to areas of the Gardens I have not seen so far. A walk through Australian Rainforest area was beautiful. But that environment is already familiar and feels domestic. Then, all of a sudden, I found myself feeling a deja vu.That was such a weird feeling. I was staring at an European-style park and felt I was somewhere else, much closer to where I grew up. All the trees were from Europe and the area was full of fallen brown leaves, giving away that it is the late Autumn. The trees in other areas were as green as ever and the traces of Autumn were only clearly visible here, in the European park. The view I enjoyed so much. It could have been anywhere in Europe and the feeling was quite different to other areas of the Gardens. It also brought so many memories of the parks I have visited elsewhere I’ve been travelling.

I was walking through fallen leaves, listening to the sound as I pushed them around as I was making step after step. This felt closest to home I have ever felt in Melbourne.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Artists on Tour

As I used to play drums in local bands in Sarajevo, I got to know lots of musicians during my (and their) teenage years. Now, a few of them have continued down that path and are playing as professionals. Some of them are very successful, I’d say, having in mind where they played – the environment they live in, etc. Lately, two of my very good friends told me they are coming to Australia to play concerts! Muris is now playing with Mostar Sevdah Reunion and Dino is playing with Merlin. Merlin will have a concert in Melbourne next Saturday, 2009-05-23, and Mostar Sevdah Reunion should also play here soon.
This is so unreal. I will get to see some friends here. It feels like mixing the two worlds that were separate until now. :)

Friday, 8 May 2009

Drinking Problem

I think I’ve got a drinking problem – I don’t drink. Seems that the popular culture here in Australia is that Friday and Saturday nights are devoted to drinking at the pubs. In the past, I never got to having such a habit for different reasons. Plus, adding the cost of alcoholic drinks here, it makes very little sense drinking. So, if not fitting into social norms is a problem, I’ve got one. :)

Monday, 4 May 2009


At you can try your knowledge of geographical position of cities in the world. This is the game I used to play with friends while I was a kid. We played only the capital cities, though. At Geosense, you can try your knowledge on the world map, US, Europe. There is advanced map, where the names of the cities are not displayed immediately but the letters in the name occur as the time goes on. The game is a great way to increase and practise your knowledge of geography! You can play alone or against other players.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Cars and Motorcycles

After all this time spent in Melbourne, I’m starting to miss cars and motorcycles. To be more precise, I’m missing driving and riding. I’m missing travelling and seeing different areas, landscapes, and environments. So I’m starting to look at what would be models to satisfy my needs in the future. I’m also developing this idea of how it would be nice to have something to rely on rather than having to abandon everything when I have to move. In the future I’d prefer to be based in one continent so that it would be relatively easy to move all the little things we need around. It is a bit difficult now because whatever I need, I think of the future and the moment I have to get rid of it. I borrowed an electric heater and a lamp. That way I can give it back. Otherwise I’d have to throw it away. Usually, when you have something to give away, nobody needs it. :)

So, as far as cars and motorcycles go, I spent some time looking at car models. The range I’m looking at is, with Toyota for example, between Corolla and Yaris. Well, the new Yaris is the old Corolla, in fact. The new Corolla is just a bit big. Fiat has Bravo, which is in the same range. Other manufacturers have something in the same range, as well. The price range for these models is around 20-30 thousand Dollars. To narrow it down, it is up to $25,000. That’s not too bad. The motorcycle remains unknown. The search is open and I’m to look into it in the future. With these prices, I’d expect even better deal with used cars. So I’m looking forward to that period when I’ll have to make a decision. For now, I need to set some savings goals and start working towards those goals. And, before that, it would be useful to narrow down the model search and the price range.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

3 Degrees

This morning it is 3 degrees Celsius. That was the lowest temperature I have experienced in Melbourne last year. Can only hope that it would be the same this year.
On the other hand, it does not feel that cold. Either I am getting used to these quick changes or I’m paying more attention to clothing this year. :)

Since the Winter is only just starting it is futile to hope it will pass soon. In European terms, this would be the last day of October.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

iGENEA: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Genetic analysis for Bosnia. It appears that Illyrian traces are the most present in Bosnian genetic pool.

Indigenous Peoples in Bosnia-Herzegovina Illyrian 40 % Teuton 20 % Celtic 15 % Slav 15 % Hunnians 6 % Thracians 4 %

See the link below (in German):

iGENEA: DNA Genealogy, Ancestry, Surname

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Online Fantasy and Strategy Games (Free)

I decided to try out some of the new online games and post the results. The focus is on the free games. So far I can recommend the following:

  • Rubies of Eventide (link) - similar to World of Warcraft. Downloadable client 320MB.
And all of the UMGE titles (link):
  • Evony (link) - browser-based game. Done in Flash and very much resembles The Age of Empires. The first proper browser-based game I'm aware of. Shows what these games are supposed to look like.
  • Surge of Valor (link) - downloadable MMORPG client.
  • Leuric (link) - browser-based Flash game with Vikings and Atlantians.
Other games:
  • Warrior Epic (link), downloadable client
  • Glory of Fellowland (link), browser based
  • King War (link)
  • Travian - browser based
  • Adventure Quest (link)
  • 1483 online (link)
  • Holy War (link)
  • Tagoria (link)
  • Cabal Online (link)
  • Silkroad
  • Ikariam, and others (link)
  • Quake Live (link)
Lists of games:

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

EU Visa Regime for Serbia Could End in 2009

Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Vuk Jeremic, after a meeting with EU officials Javier Solana and Oli Rehn, said that the EU visa regime for Serbian citizens could end up this year. This would be a welcome progress in the Balkans region.

In addition, some money from EU pre-accession funds could be directed to aid Serbia soon.

Source: Balkan Insight article

Sunday, 19 April 2009

326 Days

There are 326 days left until my citizenship requirements are met. Today I have looked at the citizenship web site and calculated my requirements date. It appears that on March 12, 2010, I will have the two years of residence, actually two years of physical presence on the Australian soil, which will make me eligible for Australian citizenship. The only other requirement I need to do before then is to apply for the citizenship test. It is free to apply and I reckon I should do this a couple of months before the date is due, just to leave enough room for eventual processing or whatever may appear.

These circumstances made me think of how time flies. It has now been more than a year since my arrival to the new land, new country and lifestyle. Well, it appears to have coincided with the start of the Great Recession so the experiences could have been better. The situation in the IT, and elsewhere, is not that great at the moment and makes me wonder about different things and priorities in life. It certainly is better than back in Bosnia, and probably Europe, but that's not all. A few days ago I have passed my goal mark - the numbers assumed to represent financial independence. Of course, the numbers are way off as the economic landscape has changed significantly but it is still a mark. Only a year ago those numbers and goals were completely different. Just for illustration, the Australian Dollar collapsed about 30% off its peaks in 2007 when I was transferring some savings to Australia. Now it is recovering slowly but is still way off those heights. That simple fact means I am progressing towards my goal way slower than I originally anticipated. On the other hand, maybe things here move more quickly than back home and so any change makes more difference. Whichever is the case, I feel a bit without direction at the moment. I simply can not visualize the next 18 months or set any further goals or plans. Not to mention longer time frames. I can not see that I see myself in any country or continent, any position or any company anywhere in the world.

Lately I started thinking about going solo. Something like consultancy or being a contractor. The negative side is that there is no reliable income stream and this kind of activity is not very common in the Balkans. Plus the recession has already brought the decrease in economic activity and reduction in employment so I am not sure on how that is going to work out with contractual work. Simply too many questions. I guess I should simply enjoy the day and go out. Right now. :)

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Government Stimulus Payment

Today I received a notice from the Australian Tax Office that the stimulus payment has been made into my bank account. Although I knew about the Government’s economic stimulus, I did not know if and how much would I get. So, in a way, I almost forgot about it. Therefore the more surprise and excitement today after I read the notice.

Amazingly enough, this was so unexpected – and other things so thoroughly planned – that I did not know what to do with this extra cash. I see it as a small push forward towards achieving my goals faster.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Coding Weekend

While for some this weekend has been a long one, including and additional two days of Easter holidays, for me it was quite a busy one. After working on Friday and Saturday, I was onto fast-track development in Java, using Eclipse, Google Web Toolkit, and Google Apps framework. I converted my web sites/applications from Python to Java. On the outside, not much can is visible at the first sight. But, the whole underlying technology is changed. Now, having a proper IDE for development and the language that is easier to develop in (for me), plus having tons of libraries available out there and years of development included into it, I’m quite happy to have a framework set up that allows me to improve the web sites with active content relatively easily.

Plugins for Eclipse allow creation of Google Apps web project and deployment to the server. Today I also included Google Web Toolkit. It is a piece I used to ignore but now it seems a perfect fit for an effective UI, utilizing AJAX and very easy development. It uses Java to develop client-side behaviour. Java gets compiled into JavaScript optimized libraries. The UI is very similar to what Google uses in their applications. I find it excellent for what I’m looking to do.

My new project, that includes all these technologies is VanguardPrices. It will have the following features:

  • display the list of funds at Vanguard Australia,
  • accept user input for the date and fund,
  • retrieve the price from the web,
  • store the price into storage,
  • accept the date parameters for chart display,
  • retrieve series of prices from storage for the given period,
  • display prices in a chart.

I’m currently still working on proof of concept for all of the above. Once that is done I will move to assembling these different parts together. Most of these are proven in the past couple of days and I’m looking forward to assembling the pieces together in the near future. The progress so far has been excellent. Hey, Google just announced Java support a few days ago and I’ve only started on Friday! A few times I even wished to change to Java development professionally. :)

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Conspiracy Theories 2

This topic has enough food for thought that it's no wonder why these stories live on and on. Now that it got my interest, finding out that there is so much material, I decided to do a little research. I'll first gather some material and try to pull out some conclusions over time...

See "Truth About Bosnia" part in this article published in Nexus magazine.

A few quotes about Warren Zimmerman and former Yugoslavia, from History Commons, here.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Conspiracy Theories

Yesterday I watched Obama Deception movie (movie page, movie link). It spurred a discussion among the colleagues about all-the-well-known conspiracy theories involving the same groups and organizations – Bilderberg group, Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, etc. These kind of stories remind me of Marty Mystere comic novels and are very entertaining and inspirational.

There are many interesting facts in the movie. One, interesting to me but not mentioned in the movie, was that Mr. Obama was a guest of Council on Foreign Relations within the first month after he was elected the President of the United States.

Another interesting fact is that Lord Carrington is the chairman of the Bilderberg group. He is a former Secretary-General of NATO and an author of one of the first peace plans for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, even before the actual war started.

Another well-known “Bosnian” is Paddy Ashdown (biography at OHR site) - “Paddy Ashdown failed to declare [to the House of Commons] his 1989 attendance [of the Bilderberg conference]”. (article) He was a High Representative of the EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina for several years. He was the only one who actually removed politicians from power but many claim that his actions in his last years as the High Representative were contradictory.

The Council on Foreign Relations is a bit more public than the other two groups and it is quite enlightening to see the list of corporate members. These are all “too big to fail” companies. :)

A few interesting books on these and other topics, resembling the X-Files themes, were written by Semir Osmanagic. The books are available here. He is the organizing the archaeological site researching pyramids in Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Here are some interesting links… follows the Bilderberg group. Wikipedia contains articles on all three groups: Bilderberg, Trilateral Commission, and Council on Foreign Relations. There are various other articles on these topics available on the web, like The world’s most powerful secret society.
There is an interview on BBC with Viscount Etienne Davignon, chairman of the Bilderberg group.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Autumns in Australia

This is probably the most beautiful time of year in Australia. Autumns are warm and there is not much rain. Sometimes it rains at night just enough to freshen the plants and keep the parks green. The temperatures these days range between 20 and 30 degrees. This is probably the most pleasant temperature range for humans. The air is pretty dry and even a light breeze will make you feel cooler.

This time of the year reminds me of my arrival here. It has been just more than a year now. And, it’s been a full year since I’ve been at my current job and at my current address. I can’t say much has happened since but it’s been a pleasurable experience.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Svjetlana Cenic Interview at Sarajevo-X

INTERVJU ZA SARAJEVO-X.COM: Svetlana Cenić: "Ovdje će biti revolucije" -

A great summary of the political situation in Bosnia given by Svjetlana Cenic. Not much has changed for the better in recent times and she even foresees some kind of revolution or a similar social upheaval.
I think that would show that people have some initiative after all and so it is not likely to happen. Unfortunately.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Bankwest Smart eSaver - High Interest Savings Account

Cash rates of 5.00% are still available! BankWest is advertising Smart eSaver savings account with 5% annual interest rate. The advertised rate is bonus rate. Standard rate they offer is 3.25%, which is also the official Reserve Bank of Australia cash rate (see official cash rate here). The bonus rate is applied for each month in which withdrawals have not been made. Despite this limitation, it is still a great choice for cash savings.

Bankwest Smart eSaver - High Interest Savings Account

Friday, 27 March 2009

Winter is (almost) here

Winter is getting closer. The temperatures are 12 degrees in the morning now. I'm trying to imagine what it will be like in one, two, or three months time. Hope warm clothes will do the trick and make it more bearable. I should also look for a heater this weekend. Need something to keep me warm in the morning when getting up from bed. That is usually the coldest part of the day - somewhere right after 6AM.
I think I'll do the same as now, except not cycling (too cold) but walking to work. I'll use some warm clothes to get there and then change into my work clothes at work.
No vacation this year. :( No escape from cold into the mid-Summer in Europe. This time I'm going to go through the full Australian winter. Without heating in the house, that is.

F-18 (again)

After work I decided to ride via nice bike path to Port Melbourne and see the ocean. The day was nice and sunny. Apart from constant buzzing of formula engines coming from Albert Park and mid way to the ocean there was another sound - F-18 in low flight! It was an Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) show for the Formula 1 spectators. I stopped at a nice spot so I could watch the aircraft flying around, doing a performance. The sound of a jet flying at a veeeery low altitude was amazing.

It reminded me that the Avalon Air Show was only two weeks ago and the memories were still fresh. I have to say that seeing a military aircraft reminds me of the city I grew up in, where military jets were taking off and flying around every day.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Roaring Thunder

This morning, leaving home to get to work I heard the roaring thunder coming from Albert Park direction. It reminded me - Formula 1 is on this weekend.
Again, going out at noon, the roar could have been heard across the city. It is a bit sad I can't hear it at work.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Words of Wisdom from FT

‘Financial Times’ Slates Greek, Slovene Tactics ::

I was glad to read the summary of an article, published by the Financial Times (FT). The article is about the current members of EU using their membership as a lever to pressure the neighbors that are not (yet) members of the Union. Finally someone turns focus on these unethical practises. The reason such a bullying behavior is tolerated is the legislation of the EU. These countries - Slovenia and Greece - have been using such a system to take advantage over their neighbors Croatia and Macedonia. Never minding that there were provocations on the other side, these issues can not be the reason to block the accession of the mentioned countries to the EU.
The conclusion FT makes is that the price for stalling the progress of the accession for the Balkan countries could cost Europe more if the affected countries receive a wrong message. As stated,
“The Balkans and Turkey are politically fragile economically vulnerable but strategically important parts of Europe."

Sunday, 22 March 2009


Today I realized just how much I miss the trees and mountains. Recently, as I was thinking what I'm missing the most the most and the views of mountains and forests would appear. When I was looking around Melbourne, trying to see which area I would like to live in, often the ones with lots of trees would give me a good feeling. At the time I did not realize but today it occurred to me that it's the trees, nothing else. Some water - a stream or a river - and trees, quietness, that's all I need to enjoy an area. This realization makes it simple to find such a place. Anywhere in the world.

Jung Topology Test

Just received a link to this test from a friend. It is really interesting and detailed. After you fill it, you'll receive the following:

  • Your type formula according to Carl Jung and Isabel Myers-Briggs typology along with the strengths of the preferences
  • The description of your personality type
  • The list of occupations and educational institutions where you can get relevant degree or training, most suitable for your personality type - Jung Career Indicator™

What I was amazed by are the career results. The first occupation in the list was the Computer Programmer. How accurate! I believe this is the only profession I would enjoy doing. Well, management is probably the next one I would like. Try the test at the link below...

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The Otway Fly Tree Top Walk - Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

Yesterday, at a farewell party of my friends who were so kind to host me after my arrival to Australia, I heard about this beautiful site. Otway Fly Tree Top is a walk among the trees at a height of 25 meters. There is also a tower 40 meters high. The walk is across a metal structure similar to old hanging bridges.

It must be worth a visit. The ticket for the walk is $19.50. It is a nice destination for one of the following weekends. The location is about 30km North of Apollo Bay. Another opportunity to drive along the Great Ocean Road.

The Otway Fly Tree Top Walk - Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

Friends say that, if one walks fast, the whole walk can be completed in about 40 minutes. That is excellent. Provided one walks slowly and looks around, taking photos, the walk should be much longer. Looks like a nice whole-day holiday trip.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Go Games

Go is an addictive game. It is also the most intellectual game in the world. There are some excellent free clients available for the PC.


GnuGo is the computer engine that plays Go and is used by most of the Go interfaces as the computer player.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Immigration cut only temporary: Evans - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Australian Government is lowering this year's immigration target by 14% to protect local workers. Job market has been affected by the current economic slowdown. After the growth returns the quotas will probably return to their current levels.

Immigration cut only temporary: Evans - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Avalon Air Show

Australian International Avalon Air Show is the name of the exhibition and the flying programme held at Avalon airport close to Melbourne. The airport is soon to become a second international airport for Melbourne.

I spent the whole Sunday at the show. The weather was crazy. Apart from snow, I'm sure we've seen it all - Sun, wind, rain, showers, clouds. It was hot and it was cold. Excellent. The exhibition was very good. A tent with different companies offering products and services for the air industry. Did not spend a lot of time in the tents (except when it was raining :) because the air show was on the whole day.

Fighters F-16, F-18 and F/A-18, F-15, bombers B-2, F-111, 2nd World War airplanes, one Yugoslavian Air Force airplane (Galeb G2), civilian airplanes, transport military airplanes, helicopters, recreational airplanes and gliders. Everything was on display. What a pity that P-51 Mustang broke down during take off and we didn't get to see its flying characteristics. It was an amazing sight just to see it preparing for the take-off on the runway.

The breaks during the program were filled with an entertainment show including acrobatic airplanes and jet engine-powered truck.

Photos available here: 2009-03-15 Avalon Air Show

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Where am I?

There have only been a few posts on this blog lately. That does not mean I'm not doing anything. It just means I'm busy working on issues related to my other two blogs and web sites. :) No leisure activities as of yet. I have worked with Yahoo Pipes and Yahoo Query Language to create a few data feeds for my Finance site. I have reworked the menus and added lots of thematic content pages. I'm also constantly adding to my IT blog and web pages.
However, there is a comedy show I'm about to visit on Saturday and an air show on Sunday. An opportunity to shoot a few photos and update my photo albums. :)

Saturday, 7 March 2009

F 800 GS


I'm thinking more and more about this motorcycle. Still not sure whether ST (tourer) or GS (enduro) would be a better choice. Guess I'll have time to think it over the next year.
Oh, that reminds me I need to book a course and test for australian motorcycle license before the Winter starts. Well, speaking of Winter, not that it is any different these days.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Bonus Payments Coming Up

Tax Office to start making tax bonus payments from April

Australian Tax Office is starting to send bonus payments to taxpayers starting early April. Payments of $900 will be sent to taxpayers who submitted their 2007-2008 tax return. This is a part of financial stimulus pushed by the Government.
Now, since there is only short time left to update financial details, the bank account update process is done by phone. The deadline for information update is mid-March, which is the end of next week. Address can be updated online, through a form. Link to that form is available at the link above.

Now, I tried to update my bank account details through the phone system. ATO will use whichever way was submitted with the tax return. So I wanted to switch from one bank to another and happily called 1300 686 636 after I found out it was an automated system. Thought everything is going to be done quickly since it's only numeric data I need to update. Hence, no worries - it is a great idea to have it updated over the phone.
But NO! The phone system is a voice recognition one. Oh, my God. Shivers went down my spine. But, alright, I thought, it must be good since they are going live with it. And so it started... Blah blah blah, I was saying my details for check-up and then one of the digits was recognized wrongly. At validation I said "No" but the system went on as if everything was alright. So I hung up and called again. This time I decided to keep the mouth shut and use the phone digits to type in the number. I found about this option only after the system could not understand what I said previously. Cool. Finally some stupid-old mechanical system that actually works.
Now, everything went well while it was only numerical details I needed to check. But, whoa, the system asked for my name. !#!#%@#%@#$% My last name is not even pronounceable in English. So the fun started. I never even got to my last name. The system could not recognize even my first name - which is Alen. It spelled Glen, Hellen, and these other names on and on. After a while the system got tired of me and put me through to a live person. Finally, everything was done within two minutes. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

2009 BMW F800GS

For the first time I found about the new BMW series 800 this January (2009). My delight was endless seeing that BMW now covered that middle ground between their F650GS and F1200GS.

The 800 series is offered in S (racing), ST (tourer), and GS (enduro) versions.

The best of all is that today I saw an S version parked on the sidewalk. I had a chance to look around and enjoy. The unexpected sight was the belt transmission instead of the chain even on the S version. Looking on the net, GS is offered with a chain so I assumed the S and ST would be, too. If ST (tourer) has a belt it would make a choice really difficult between GS and ST. Luckily, I have some time to think about it. :)

2009 BMW F800GS

The Storm in Melbourne

We've just been let go from work earlier because of the storm. A few minutes later I receive an SMS from a friend stating that Victorian police is urging people to leave the city early as an extreme wind storm is predicted for 6pm.
I've just been shopping and cycling through the city. The wind has been blowing the whole day. I can see that by the amount of dust blown into my room from 2 inches of open window. The temperature is 29 degrees Celsius and it is 5 minutes to 6. Unless they are accurate to the minute, I don't think a strong wind storm is likely shortly but one never knows. The air in and around the city is full of dust so it might be an interesting experience should the wind gain some strength.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Pools in Melbourne

Since the pool that is closest to where I live is not open on weekends I decided to check other nearby pools and list them here because I often run into the same situation - looking for a pool that's open when I need it.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Reserves: AirForce

Today I received a call from another case officer who seems to be taken over my case. I was offered to proceed with the AirForce option because the results for the other two still have not arrived. This is better than nothing so I decided to go ahead with the process.
The only drawback is that I have just returned from a holiday where I was sick for three weeks and I need some time to get back in shape in order to pass the assessment test. Nonetheless, things are moving, albeit slowly.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Prepaid Wireless Broadband in Australia

The only advancement in networking recently comes only from wireless broadband providers. Apart from plans getting more affordable and improvements in network coverage, there are also new products. Just like prepaid mobile phone SIM cards, there are now prepaid wireless broadband services available.
USB modems are purchased either separately or as a part of the initial package. Very similar to current GSM prepaid packages. After that, recharge vouchers can be purchased to allow for service continuation. These are time limited and include a certain amount of network traffic with them. Exactly as GSM recharge vouchers do.

Here are links to some of the providers:

Friday, 30 January 2009

European Trip

I'll be spending the next couple of weeks in Europe. After leaving Singapore as the last trace of Asian culture, my experience was a bit of a cultural shock. Kindness seems to vanish, everyone is so busy, serious, in a rush, nervous... Quite contrary to what I'm used to in Australia so far.
According to the news, Australia is having a very hot season, together with the bush fires. On the other hand, here we're expecting some snow with a hope of having a decent skiing season. So far the temperatures are above zero and the winter often resembles the one in Australia. :)

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Record Heat in Melbourne

See ABC's news story about once-in-a-century heat wave in Melbourne - here. Seems I left for Europe just in time.
Three days in a row with temperatures close to 40 is something that makes one feel as if being in an oven. It is often worse to be inside of a house than outside. Unless it is air-conditioned, in which case it can be felt on the electricity bill, too.

As for the Europe - I traveled in a short-sleeved shirt. It is not that cold. The temperatures are above zero and I'm hoping to see some snow in the cities towards the end of the week.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

My First +40

I was riding a bicycle today at lunch break. This was just around 13:00 and I went back just before 14:00. I experienced hot winds at +40 degrees Celsius. It is an interesting experience, similar to cold windchill factor. Just as, in cold weather, the wind makes it colder, here was the opposite. The wind made me feel as if someone threw a hot towel onto my face and arms. Now I can only imagine what it's like in the tropical climate. I just love Melbourne air because it is quite dry. If it wasn't it would be quite unbearable.
Today's temperature graph looks quite interesting...


Friday, 16 January 2009

JustMobile, Details

JustMobile is the mobile phone service provider I chose as my main (and only) service provider in Australia.
The fact that I can talk to people worldwide, including back home in Europe, for the price of the local call beats all other deals for me. The only difference to an ordinary call being that sometimes it may take a couple of seconds longer to connect.

Terms and Conditions for the prepaid plans (39 and Cap). For details on credit expiry, rates, and prices check Appendix 2. It lists all the details about the plan.

To recharge online, go either to JustMobile recharge page, or use a provider like Mobux. Recharge vouchers are available in mostly any store selling the prepaid vouchers. I found them anywhere I happened to ask.
Providers like Mobux may offer a certain discount for earned points and also can add points to other referral programs, like RewardsCentral.

No Resolution to Gas Deal as of Yet

The Russia-Ukraine gas row still has not been resolved, it appears. The past several days were confusing, at best, in regards on what is happening to the gas supplies to Europe and Balkans in particular.
Economist provides some background information on the underlying situation. Also, a communication with some of my Russian friends enlightens the bareness of the whole gas situation between Russia and Ukraine. The whole gas network was built long ago when the circumstances were quite different. It was not meant to work under current circumstances and hence the confusion as to who owns whom. The gas network is a bit more tricky to provide quantification of the resources flowing through and is, obviously, easy to manipulate by either side.
For now it is still unclear as to what happens in the Balkan countries. Some central heating systems operate on heating oil. There is also some gas flowing in the pipelines. Serbia has arranged some gas to be supplied from Hungary and Germany. It was meant as an emergency measure at first but now it seems the supply was extended until January 20. Some of that gas is shared with Bosnia, thanks to President Tadic - a Serbian president who was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

The results of this issue are scary, at best. All the countries in the region have issued warnings that electrical power grids are under stress and the special attention is required to keep them up and running. Heating, despite having some gas, is not adequate and the temperatures being constantly below 0 do not help at all. At the same time, the air pollution is sky-rocketing because of use of alternative, cheaper and dirtier, sources.

I will be traveling to the region next week. If the situation does not change I'll have an opportunity to share some of the suffering with people there. :) All I can do is try to accumulate some of the heat we've recently had in Melbourne, with temperatures going up to 38 degrees Celsius. What a world.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Australian Open, 2

Today on a lunch break I passed by the Rod Laver arena and the nearby tennis courts. Full again. This time it's the girls playing. The weather is great. This morning it was only 16 degrees. Down from 37 just two days ago. Hopefully they won't have the summer heat similar to last years' one.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Australian Open 2009

Yesterday the first players arrived to Melbourne, it was in the news. Today they play some warm-up matches. I saw about 12 tennis courts and they were all full. They were playing well. I don't know who is who but those I saw were playing excellent (according to my standards :).

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Melbourne Weather

Now, this is real Melbourne weather... Pay attention:

From 13 to 37 in a day!

The Best Job in the World

Tourism Queensland offer $150,000 island job to swim, snorkel

That's Australia mate...

$150,000 offered to an Island Caretaker for 6 months adventure at luxurious Hamilton Island, at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Swim around, feed the fish, take photos, write a blog, interview people, clean a pool, get some tan... This is the job description. The downside is - the standards skyrocket. Where to go for holidays later or what to accept as the new job after the one like this?!

More details about this initiative - here.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

No Heating in the Balkans

First I read some hints about heating in the Facebook profiles of my friends. Then I heard the news about Russia reducing gas delivery to South-East Europe. And then it stopped altogether.
The temperature in the Balkans is down to -12 and the lack of natural gas causes lack of heating. Hospitals, schools, industry, homes... No central heating and, in some areas, no warm water. The situation is scary, no matter how short it would last. It reminds me of wartime issues with electricity, gas, water...
It is sad to realize what a place the Balkans area has become in the eyes of the world. At the same time, I understand this is a show for Russia to bring a point across to EU but it is sad that people over there have to suffer (again and again).

Thursday, 1 January 2009

New Year's Fireworks

The New Year's fireworks in Melbourne was the best I have seen so far. Fifteen minutes of constant flashing in the sky on all sides. Fireworks sites were set up from the Botanical Gardens, through Melbourne Park, Yarra River, Eureka Tower, towers in the Northern bank of Yarra, and Telstra dome. The scene was amazing.
I have a few photos but the fireworks mode was just a night mode, in fact, and the photos are blurry.