Wednesday, December 27, 2006

First Christmas in the UK

Boys are boys , the little and big boys play together.

It was cold, not hot for a change, still no snow yet, except the 'fake-snow-in-a-can' sprayed into the windows.

The first christmas in the UK was not bad at all, we had to suddenly rush out and buy a camp table for the extra guests, and loaned some chairs from the folk who live 2 doors down. The boys had tonnes of pressies, so nothing missing there.

Garry standing guard over the debris field after the dinner.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Assault on my inteligence

Intelligence? The 'may contain nuts' label is more insidious than initially thought.

When asked for a passkey or unlock code to GRAW, it wants it all in upper-case....? it is all uppercase, and if my keyboard has not got capslock, go get stuffed. I wish everyone would treat us all fairly, and stop nannying us. Go easy, but at least treat lowercaser as upper in a key that cannot have lower-case letters anyway?


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

modbus simulator

Time to talk a little about my hobby, the modbus slave simulator is a pretty little beast intended to simulate a good few modbus slaves, why you may ask, well sometimes (actually all the time if you have not got tonnes of wire and a budget) to build a test-rig for your modbus mastering application with lots of slaves attached to it.

I write this little app in about 3 week-ends and origionally it never spoke modbus at all, but a little know TI protocol. I re-worked the innards to support multiple protocols, and TCP/IP connections (I still want to support UDP someday) a few times over so that Ihave a kind of framework to allow new protocols to be added, but my greatest time spent has been on the GUI. Strange working on a GUI, but my latest work (started a week-end ago is actually on the GUI, and it is very time-consuming. Comms is much easier than GUI. MOD_RSSIM is free (link on left).

Monday, November 27, 2006

All night Starcraft

Well not all night, that is the big downside to having children, they wake you up at 6am any given day, so playing till 2am left me with 4 hours sleep, and no way to catch up on lost time, since my 2 critters do not take naps in the afternoon.
Xmas is coming, and I have to admit, Greg is still the golden boy, Rhys is the energy; the destruction rate has come down a little in terms of how much it costs to replace the things they break, but this time the budget is under pressure.

We finally got to look at what it is costing to survive and well some things need cutting down, we are on to the cheapest coffee, and the internet shopping list is being sorted by cheapest-brand from now on. I suspect eating more fish is good, but it is still not a cheap foodstuff. Trying fish at the moment, since fish-oil is good for the joints. Embarrassingly my knees hurt after a long drive, and since I drive an hour to work each way, I suspect it can only help to keep myself going. I want toget a bike on the 'ride-to-work' govt. scheme. I cant ride, but I will be able to once we move closer to Cambridge. But a bike is a great way of getting down to the shop in the afternoon, since i hate a drive, but walking a mile in the dark is not my idea of fun, how do people do it?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

UK Winters are gray

Well not so far they aren't. I get a mix of white flourescent lighting in ample doses in the workplace, mixed with re-breathed air of dubious germ-load by end of day, and then the prospect of black. Yep black night at 5pm on the road home.

White or Black, but the gray is there, it's a bit well hidden from sight. I think it gets called nanny culture here. It's the kind of thing that suggests I could get the NHS to buy my headache tabs (free), just because I could get grumpy otherwise. Well that's what could happen to heroin addicts who have turned to crime (about 25K per year to feed your habit), because some police officials suspect it may help to give out free drugs to help wean the criminally active addicts. Which is known to be around 80% of the criminal offences, to pay for their habit. All because this would make us safer.

I imagine I will have to suffer headaches in silence from now on, just in case this fool idea actually gets some headway.
The times

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Free web access

Well almost, and in defference of free e-mail services, you may think, wow, all these free things are actually quite usefull. and you might feel justified to complain when the 'free' stuff you get (et-al flashing advertising) stops working.

But spare a thought for thos left in South Africa, they not only have to pay for broadband, but the speed is poor too. Chatting to my Buddy DJ at work is like talking through a long steel pipe, and having some idiot with a 2-way radio relaying the conversation. you get cut up, dropped and all. Gotta get a web-cam; that way I can flood the connection fully, and really tax it, because skype calls use very little bandwidth after all.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A dark day in IS

Hotmail dies slowly

Myself this is possibly marking the beginning of the end for hot/coldmail? faithfully trimming my mailbox to stay inside the idiotic 10Mb limit every single morning has left me a little tired, and even though msn have handled spam so well, I have to say grab me on gmail from now onwards.
After slower access over the last 3 or so days, it has now been offline for about 6 hours running. Dying dying? watch this space.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Snot slide

I think the real reason I enjoy the boys in-between the tantrum phases and all, is the cute things they get up to, say and how they just innocently mess it all up at times. The slot-slide, for those who have not got boys of their own is the bit below your nose that is shaped like a slide on the way down. I am going to go along the lines of why we have ears on either side of our heads... to hold glasses of course, but that kind of thinking cannot explain the discovery and probably not genteel purpose of the snot-slide.

Xmas comming, still not settled on what to get the boys, we have long been of the opinion that they have far too many toys, and need discipline and structure more than they need toys. Rhys needs to be larning to play nicely, play educational games on the computer, and art. When he is in the mood, he creates quite good stuff with felt-pen and paper etc, but generally he is not that way inclined at the moment. I am still not happy with Nedbank SA; I have not got full access to my acct to be able to transfer moneys about and pay people. This really sux, because I have a debt collector after me, but nedbank will not let me pay them. Because I am not able to present myself at a branch to issue an instruction. This fraud thing is getting a bit thick. I am almost going militant with people who screw with security and get up to disconnest dealings without realizing who they really are hurting. take for example the snow culture amongst the pop-stars. Every few lines of coke kills a innocent person on the other side of the globe in the making of the drug. Very f*** clever peter. I know if all drugs were legal, there would be no drug crime, hey this is utopia we are living in, or is it utipia?

Go figure.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


It is not easy getting into things in the UK, I must say you keep wondering about how things really do work, traffic for instance, you see a sign, 70 (miles/hour) and wonder why are these guys zipping past? Then latter on everyone is creeping along at 40 in a 50 zone? what gives, it's enough to get you really on edge.

And now it is damn cold, I hear there is a spray you can use to get rid of the ice on 'yer car windscreen.
I got a scraper, and that works ok, but it does not work without at least some effort. It RSA I could just get it off with a quick swipe, the stuff this last week was a bit tougher than that, and the side windows also got a touch. Next week is warmer at least, so no complaints yet. I have gotten me a really nice jacket, and we went down to St Albans to see the fireworks last night. I think Rhys and Gregory enjoyed it although it was a bit scarry for Greg after a while. They had a really good show, about half an a hour long.

So far so good, My father has a skype phone in RSA, he lives in Cape Town, so I suppose it's time I got one, I have been looking around, but 24 quid is a bit much. You must excuse my typing, this is an english US not UK keyboard. Something on my shopping list, I know, but it damn well works perfectly for everything else, so why scrap a perfectly good keyboard? I have to look out for something else too, the seal around the kitchen door has been muched away by someone with a big knife or a saw, they did quite a number on the door, and it is a bit of a puzzle, but the gap lets in cold air by the tonne now that it is so cold, at least I will have some chance next week to fix. I am in London most of the week on course.

That's the funny thing about training, I am doing the introductory courses still, but I am there 2 months already, the training is just not soon enough to keep up, and they are all booked up. OOOOOO, did not have a nice day on wednesday, the fellow who is in the desk just opposite me had a heart-attack, I've only known Michal for a few weeks, he is a little older than me, and started at Symbian 2 weeks after I did. We are just getting to be friends, in a comeraderie kind of way, becase we are both new at the job, but now he will be off work for a month or so. Michael stays just other side of the bay from Henk and Crista (left RSA about 4 years back) in Brixham, and is renting in the north of Cambridgeshire. it just makes you think about life in deeper context when you have a scare like that.

Anyways, gotta get some e-shopping done for that skype-phone. I can't believe my father beat me to it in the techno-race.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Life is a fragile thing

Well you just get the reminder, in your face when the bloke you are just getting to know just freezes in the chair across from you. Suddenly you have some rushing about and a CPR exercise, all very real this time; in front of you. And the whole time you wonder what happened? A heart attack is not a funny thing at all, probably stress one might say, I'm stressed, but not that badly. I'm pushing myself, but not that much. I suppose I could get mroe excercise, get a bike!

But I am just thinking what is happening to Michael, how is the family coping, was this unexpected? I was happily carrying on with my day, not a thought for the possibility that tomorrow will somehow be totally different. Well it is just a little different, and it is worrisome. I am in no position to do much about it either, living really far away and all. I am thinking that if I stayed much closer I could do more to help out after the fact in some ways. It's all selfish perhaps, but staying closer to the workplace has it's advantages above being able to leave for the office a bit latter in the morning.

As I am a new guy on the team at work, I am trying to get involved in the after-hours activities of the team, a bit difficult if you have got a hours drive ahead of you afterwards. It's worth the effort, but still a factor.

Ha time is a fleeting, and it's time for the monthly banking duties, pay pay pay. I am still stressed about energy/heating bills for winter. We use more gas in the central-heating boilder-system in winter, and the cost per unit also climes over winter, so how do I estimate the effect. Xmas shopping sits bang in the middle of it all, how do folk in the UK cope? I am worried about what the electricity will do, since we have to use the tumble-dryer more now that stuff does not try out.

I am a bit peeved at the comparison and change around the world. Climate change and all, and Pik is dead :-(

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Honeymoon is over

Been at work for 2 weeks now, dead tired, but now the excitement is wearing off as I start to understand what is happening. The UK workplace is very different, in RSA, if you do not like the workplace, you can happily move along; (but in reality you can't). It appears employers are far more keen to find other creative ways to make your stay better, without spending tons of money that is. And the culture is much more conducive to getting things done. I am still fresh in the wings, and baning my head because it will be about Xmas time before I can really write some code that means anything at all. Embedded OS limitations at Symbian almost create a total new religeon. I think one can ignore or miss the zeal with which some things are held close, especially when the culture is so highly social. Myself I am not a social animal, but the engineering challenges that go with creating a worldwide winner product are definitely there. We want it all, now, and for free - has never been more real than in the phone market.

Well I am not a commentator, but some good things are comming, and untill then I will have to contend with long cummutes! Be warned, traveling 4 hours a day can kill you. I am not sure ow some folk can handle much more than that, but some do. I am not brain-dead, and so I cant really cope with my free-time getting muched up waiting for trains and busses to get from A to B. Next week will be better, mostly because I shall be able to drive to work.

Ah VideoSeven, monitor, I am going to be getting a 19" LCD screen after all, it was a bit of a mission, but I must say, the guys doing support at RTS really do a great job. The screens are really good, and I can find no-one who has complained, bit of a pity that the local distributor has so few phone lines, and the offshore contract (RTS) by comparison always answer on the first ring. It just goes to show, after-sales-service does make for happy customers.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Start work today

That's a question, not an instruction. Today I start work, I imagine much of the day will be spent waiting, photo for ID passcard, & company organigram. Package details (which are not what I am here for) pension, shares, and so on. I will have lots of people expect that I will remember their names in the morning tomorrow.

Going to take my time getting in, colelct maps for the bus route and see about a weekly ticket as I go along. Got to make the bit between the train and the office as simple possible, because I have to catch to busses up to the office.

Did not sleep much last night, tired and nervous (not apprehensive!).

Oh, our furniture arrives from RSA this afternoon/evening; happy days!


Saturday, September 02, 2006


This post is for anyone who got the wrong impression of void being nasty. It's a programming paradigm from the C language. Computing languages all allow data storage, more advanced (low-level) languages get very specific about storage in terms of the size and interpretation of the storage. Typical storage is for something like an integer, integers are good, but can only hold whole numbers, float for instance can hold fractions, and so on.

Suffice to say there are many storage types all for different tasks, it is even possible to create storage structures or containers, which can act as holders for a few storage locations all in one. That brings me to void, it is a really really powerfull storage, because it can store anything depending on how you use it. It is possible for a void to store a integer, a float or even a structured container, very usefull if you ask me.
The depending bit is important here. As storage locations go, void is like a great big piece of white paper of unlimited size, without some control that can cause problems, very nasty problems. Loosing track of data in a computing system is never a good thing, pretty much equivalent to the 'where did my file go?' question. That is the nasty part :-)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Custard sorted

Got the bird's custard sorted, now we have a spare used bottle of instant custard powder. The conventional birds powder was a bit harder to find, but works perfectly. I'd still like to try one from home though just to compare.

Link to Welwyn Garden City 'recycling'. group, is another usefull place to visit on the web.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Decent custard

Is there any decent custard to be found in the UK. I am wont to say, that England is not a land of choice, back home, there is Moirs custard powder. And even I can make it up, all it takes is approximate measuring with a spoon, and 2 short mugs of milk, and off you go on the stove. The fact that the only brand on some shelves in the UK is Birds (no offence) is probably due to age. And something is wrong whan all you do is add boiling water! what next, girlfriend in a tin?
Admittedly the fastest custard is the pour out of a box variety, which comes in a few flavours and only 2 brands in RSA and is the best for parties where time is a factor, since good custard does take time. It actually depends on how your guests like pud; straight after the main feast, or served once everyone has migrated into the lounge and comfy with something liquid in the hand already.

But tonight we will try making Birds with real milk, because personally the way the english like their custard, it may as well be luke-warm sludge. Custard must skin on top (my fave bits) and leave you feeling warm inside (vanilla). Enough rant, if I get it right, the correct instructions will follow.

So mom, when you come visit from RSA, bring the Moirs!

I thought I needed tonnes of space to live in before I came over, only to discover, we have 2 largely unused and empty rooms after staying in our Garden City semo for almost a month now. We have a really cool landlord, who is hugely oppologetic about the old mail that still comes to this address, I think it's great, because it means he has to come around and say hi every so often and see if the place has caved in or not while collecting mail. Happiness is.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Interview Tactic

  1. Be nervous, it actually keeps you sharp.
  2. Knowing that you are nervous make you more nervous, this makes all sorts of drugs flow through your veins, these drugs which are totally natural, making you even more sharp.
  3. OK so you get stoked, now just control it and answer the questions dammit!
  4. Long answers will screw you....

Actually I've not gotten the answers that count for everyone, consequently I never bought a book on how to find work in the UK, consequently I had to leanr all the tricks from scratch, consequently I battled. Battled big-time. But if you miss the mark, you just persevere, luck will smile on you sometime.
WOW I got an offer. Strangley the one job I though would be the most dificult to get in was started and over bar the shouting (me elated) in 5 odd hours. I had 3 other positions so close to clinched I was wondering how to choose, and then the embedded role I had been eyeing since I laded just happenend.

Well no this is one stoked dude, I just can't wait to get my Symbian T-shirt now.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Different is good

finally started drizzling, nice and miserable out today, I can do this... Well complaining about the sunshine and you get drizzle just to test your wits:-) I still have no clue why the huge busses roam around half empty all day, and why contractors cannot effectively use small busses?
There are lots of older retired folk out and about in the day here. Lots of people seem to know each other, not surpizing, this is not a huge town at all. nice and quaint really, the downside is that the shops close between 5 and 6:30 in the afternoon, and by 7pm the city center is deserted.

Having fun fixing little things around the house, I must say things are a little easier, but you still get lots of poorly finnished work regardless. Can't wait till all our junk arrives from RSA.

Got Greg's attention here, Rhys is too busy watching the tiny telly.

Rhys loves playing inside all sorts of things, this time it's the washbasket that is going to retire early from wear-and-tear.

Some of the cute little pixie homes growing in the hallway when we opened up after 6 months.

Our little pixie sleeping in the large wheelie suitcase at Ross and Carron's place

Monday, August 07, 2006

Really bigger (distance to an exit)

Bigger and smaller all at the same time. London has a big 'Orbital', first impression is that it works pretty much the same as the 'concrete-highway' in Johannesburg. Big diference is the Orbital is about 20 times longer.
One road marking that still grabs me is the distance to the next exit. I reset the odometer, and then about halfway (since resetting) there I get signs saying that something like what I want is 15m to go. So I think, huh, it's supposed to be another 4 miles to go, and then suddenly the exit is there, wham! I think my odometer is marked in km not miles sometimes but it measures the distance between small towns just fine.
I could write a book on small nuances of change/difference, but each tiny question I have is something comming from my own experiences. We all experience the universe from different viewpoints, wheter we like it or not. Some folk choose to adopt the viewpoint of another from as far possible, ... but different is good.
Take gas for instance, without someone showing you how the boiler settings work, and then you setting to work it out for yourself, you can never internalize. You could ignore the problem (I have partially) and freeze to death in the winter, or go find a manual (hands up all those who save manuals LOL).

I will figure the central heating settings out when the gasman arrives, for now it is disabled, safer. Smoke detectors everywhere, in fact if you like your toast with a layer of black, or your bacon rinds really crunchy in the morning, be prepared for some small surprises. Weather: I never figured it could actually reach 30 degrees, and it gets too hot to bear for about 6 weeks of the year. (Almost no rain either).

Very friendly people, and I mean very. That's the thing that brought me here in fact. I know the LSD trip 6 years ago was only a 10-day holiday, and it was just a holiday, to kind of give us a real honeymoon together and away from it all holiday. (LSD=look see decide); I loved the people then and I still do, oh and everyone is much more ready to help once you have toddlers, I ever have some folk cary the stroller down a whole flight of stairs including child. There are some rude people, but they are the exception. On the flipside, there are also many folk who quite happily want nothing to do with anyone, and carefully ignore you. I suspect they all go home and once the door closes, they finally relax into their own little comfort zones. And creating a comfort-zone is really a necessity.

It will come. But untill then, I am having a great time in England.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Parking too long, or tipping?

I can understand parking too long; or is it just not enough time/money to go through the MOT?


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

ISBN 0-201-73484-2

This entry is a book review of sorts, well it will be once I have read enough of C++ templates, The Complete Guide Addison Wesley. In a recent online tech-check test this was identified as a weak area in my C++ programming skill. Strangely I've built my own really big template classes, but was never sure of how I had gotten it to do my bidding, probably through pure patience?

I never learnt about templates untill a few years ago, probably because I am self-taught; and since few people write their own templates, prefering to just use STL and ATL without ever understanding how they work in reality, I was never forced into it. My interest arose out of the possibility to use templates to enforce project architecture, something I've been doing using straight C++ object principles, but I wanted something more, Templates! Like any challenge, this one stands like an Everest waiting for my flag a-top of it.

...ok, this book does something totally different, it covers the material twice, but from a totally different angle each time, because the two authors have differing agendas. This technique makes reading cover-to-cover difficult because you find yourself re-reading what you just read, but it does revise the ideas in a way that makes perfect sense. I'm at the stage where I want to see some neat tips I've picked out in practice before I dive into the last section of the book.

This book is an advanced coverage of the topic, anyone not totally happy with pre-processors, tokens, precedence and operator overloading should do some studying. That said it does cover all the beginner aspects of templates very well. For non-experts this book however looses its usefullness after part 1 untill you've progressed in the core C++ language.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Arrived in UK

Flying with little boys is no fun. Age 2 and 4 is probably not the easiest. The tiny babas we saw on the plane were probably all dosed up, and just slept like ouy boys did, well mostly. At least babies can be shut up in the loo for a moment while they howl away? There were 2 little girls a few rows back, good as gold.

It was not too bad, but then again, I never sleep on the plane. rowan tried to, but I think she did not get any real rest, because when we arrived in the morning, we just made it home, and Rowan was bushed. Flying by day is not much better either, although I would have liked to try it. Rhys was very dis-oriented, and fought with Rowan quite a bit whenever he woke up. But both boys were fine in the morning, even Greg who is normallly a grouch when he wakes. Greg even caught some more kip on the taxi home. i must say for all the things that really stink when flying long distance, there are some that make up for it. The emigration queues at Heathrow were quite long, but we managed to skip some of the Queue, and all just in time, because Rhys was really acting up by then. Oh well got to find some work, enough surfing for one day.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006


OK, so I lied, East London does have internet, proves that IS and MWEB actually have far too much money made off the cafes. They do not advertise.

My good buddy Stuart Adkins is stuck, how is this, he is stiting getting bored waiting, so he arranges a 10-day holiday. Just in the middle of the holiday, the train he was waiting for actually does arrive.

almost gone, Adeau.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Going on a little holiday in east London, offline if you like. I am sure they do not have internet there yet :-)

I remember the time when the internet had not come to us in SA, I suppose it was all much simpler then. We did not know what we were missing. Right now I am missing Rhys, Rowan and Gregory. Just a long driver down stands between JHB and East London, so I get going in the morning.


Friday, June 09, 2006

excitement + [lesson part 2]

Moneys should be in the bank this morning. Change of plan.

  1. clean up loose ends for modbus gateway contract. Finalize tickets to Heathrow, clean up medical aid oweing?
  2. Conrad will drive to EL on the week-end.
  3. Draw cheque while in EL, get haircut :-)
  4. Sell car in EL (rust-free) Barry to sell as time allows.
  5. get tickets back to Jhb, and 1 nite only at Town lodge.

The car will still be insured (must fetch needed forms), checked visas, no extra paperwork there,
do our TB X-rays in East London. Wheeeee. Strangely 450K in ZAR does not feel like a lot of money.
Not like I could run off now could I?

Gran said, that when she got to East London, it looked quite drab, the shops in looked like second-hand outlets,
nothing like what she was used to in the Netherlands. Perhaps like jumbled, I think we understand the african
accent that must have pervaded everything?
Max worked for Premier Timbers at the time, and he is the one in our family who knows wood. I think he
managed to convey a bit of that love to his sons and grandsons. Myself I am not that handy, but my brother
has built much of his own home himself, with a lot of emphasis on tiles and timber. As long as I remember, I
remember Grandpa (I called him Oupa at the time) doing things with wood. I did inherit some traits from my
gran as well, I call it the 'stick-in-the-mud' outlook. I prefer very much to be staying at home in my
comfort zone.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

History Lesson

As the day draws closer, it gets harder to remain sure of things, so many little details end up not
getting the attention you wanted to give them, and you wonder if the losses are worth it all. So I draw a little
courage from the story of how my father (Rudy) came over to South Africa from the Netherlands.

The journey for Max and Geisje started in Bussem (near Amsterdam) around 1948. Max was a carpenter, and Geisje
was working as a child-minder and then latter as a sick-aid, all the while with their first son Rudy
(Rudolf Fritz) in tow. There were many people comming to SA from the Neterland at the time, and even after
you got a permit (valid for 1 year) you had to have work already over here, you then had to raise a lot of money
for the passage.
It was much more difficult to travel at that time too, and they were delayed a whole year because they could
not get transport.
The employment situation in Holland was not good around then, and the young couple had eventually sold pretty
much everything for the fare. By this time, the permits they had been issued had expired, and had to be renewed.
Rudy was 3 already when Max sailed to East London directly on the Sterling Catle in 1951.
Sailing time was probably 2-3 weeks, and once Max got started, he had to lend money from his employer for the
fare, so Rudy and Geisje could come over.
The whole move must have been quite a strain; you get ready by getting rid of all un-necessary goods, and just after
you have sold off all of your possesions, you get delayed.
And then you are stuck without a teapot, so you
buy another, knowing you will have to sell it off again at a loss latter.

Gran came through on the emigrants ship 9 months latter. Rudy was seasick every day, (and we thought children
did not get sea sick :-)
Gran said the trip was very
beautifull, (probably boring latter), looking at the huge green waves all around the ship. The bay
of Biscay was rough and when rounding the cape things also got a bit rough, but otherwise a pleasant journey. The young mother
and child landed in Cape Town, they then had to make their way for 2 days by train through the Karoo and on to East London.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Here we come

Money transfers start today, so now the priorities shift up a little. Yipeeeeeeeeee. Now there is really nothing standing in the way of us landing in the UK nExt week-end. Scarry, I suppose if you did this whole trip by sea 45 years ago, you had a bit of time on the boat to considder and make all your plans perhaps? I suspect some things were simpler 2 generations back when my grand-parents came out. But they did not have the internet, and movies, phone-calls and all we have today to re-assure that in fact the shift is not that great (LOL). Africa was wild, but it must have ben frightening. Suppose I should go visit one last time. Matbe they wil never ever see me before they make an exit....

Enough sad
This is a happy day, now just got to sell the car!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Moving along

Said goodbye to Elna and Henry Mackenzie today. At least they looked after and fed me very very well, considdering I am not in a place where I am probably lookign after myself as best possible. only 3 goals right now.
  1. Get house money>
  2. Finnish yellow-box project
  3. Family happy in East London

After all these things, an airplane ticket to the UK is all I need. Wireless at News cafe works well enough, on credit0card right now, so time is money all the way. go go go.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Trying to become a christian

"Going to church so you can become a christian is just as likely as living in a garage is going to turn you into a motor car"
Worse still the oil stains on the seat of your pants will make people think you are a mechanic, and that may help you get into someone else's car. but i'll bet it will not qualify you to fix it.

Why is the internet very lumpy in some places, and then like totally void (LOL) or just thin in the areas that really count. Of course the thickest places in the internet are the most frequented and also the nastiest places to be.

Well still stuck in Johannesburg, for a week or so more at least. But while trying to stay invisible or out of the way (I need no more excitement in my life right now thanks). I am going to move on again tuesday, hopping from one friend to the next for a bed at the moment. Which is OK if you are alone.

My linux project is really sticking a little, battling with the LXRT RTAI part not likking something in the structure of C++ programs, much the same C code crashes if wrapped into objects. So now I am unwinding/unwrapping the objects into flat C, and using structs as a parameter. So far so good, amy finnish monday, not leaving me with much time. I just with there was a place for Linux noobs, because my questions must sound daft to all the gurus out there, perhaps I will try post someplace latter tonight; and then just cross the thumbs for a blasting.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Brighter pic?

Some neat post-processing, see if you can see what the real differences are, from a distance this pic looks friendlier somehow.

well, since you are wondering what changed, and why they look so different, here goes.
The brightness is a bit increased :-) clever trick from my buddy Jan-Rust. I have named Jan number 3 Jan-Rust, it makes things easier for me somehow, with Jan-senior/Jan-junior and all :-)


Wednesday, May 31, 2006

In memorium

Harry has gone to the big house, along with Thomas the cat. We nearly did find a home for Harry, but a bit late. Have to cry again; this has been 2 wet days for me, and I am tired as all hell.

People tell us that animals go to heaven, well to be honest; I am not sure. Nothing in the bible points directly to that kind of thing. One day I will research this topic I suppose. I just know, God is not frivolous, in fact very serious about His love for us, so livestock cannot get in the way.

Either way, Harry is playing catch with a billtong frizbee, and Thomas is living on tuna!

The ugly bits of moving

Today is the last day in the house, after almost 6 years (June 2000) we are pulling out. A task not made any easier byt the memories that come to the fore.
I see the places on the doors, walls and yard where the boys have made their mark, and holding back the tears yesterday was just not possible. The teddy-bear shelf, the plastic motorbike still haunting me from the top of the yard, almost daring me to put it onto the street.
Some child will no doubt be made a little happier with second-hand toys. my boys never had to deal with that; and I feel sorry for those that have to all of the time. but right now, we try look after number one.

The ugliest
Have to put down a cat and dog today, good thing electronic media does not hold salt-water well. Sally is lucky, she will go to the SPCA, and hopefully find a home.
Rowan and the boys are probably having fun in East London with gran. The farm is always fun, and they have a little friend from up road about the same age; Aimee actually lives where my grandparents used to live many years before (on Bramble Hill they called it) then Mom&Barry co-incidentally baught a small-holding.
It's still a 10 minute walk, but close by compared to everything else. lots of work to do today, I just want to get the gritty bits out of the way asap.

Must pick up the visas this afternoon if possible, that will make me feel better. the sooner we are gone, the less my bank-account bleeds out. Living mobile is very expensive; but the boys are holding out well.
Rhys has his moments, which is a good thing. Things like where are all of my teddies, when are we going to aunt Claire's house. I can't wait to get out of here and onto the little island. The happy times will realy only start for me once I go through the boarding gate;


Saturday, May 27, 2006


This is one of a series taken after the beard was removed.

Friday, May 26, 2006

VISAs approved

At least we have a welcome, and it only took about 10 days (2-week). Now comes more work and more waiting. Sitting at the mug and bean in Clearwater Mall, Roodepoort; wireless. I need to find the batteries for my mouse, but for now I have only 3 hours before the battery on the machine dies, because I did not bring an adapter. I intend spending as much time here as needed to take advantage of my online hours, Mweb give us 5 hours wireless a month, pitty I could never utilize that before.

Setting up to pull the last of Rowan's e-mails. The coffee in the upper sitting-room at M&B is a little slower, no matter. I just need a snack to keep me going, and I can spend all day up here, the background noise is good, can audio-stream and the resident boffin is very friendly an knows how to get you connected. Visit .

Posted my CV on the internet. Making business-cards, and so I can promote myself, I decided the simplest way to get a CV to fit onto a buziness card is to say google "Conrad Braam", and hopefully get a hit close to my CV. this means I have to hyperlink a few times from various places. But the end result will be better if I can get other people to point to my spaces.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

To all New Harvest

The number of people we really need to say good bye to at New Harwast are numerous, and most importantly the invisible people or those who think they are. Some are sad, some happy. I say goodbye To Dennis Puttergill (sorry Babs), when he passed, I had seen it comming but could not believe it. He was a gentle power that reminded me with simple words, of what it really takes to serve. Babs, your strength at this time reminded me that crying must have a smile in it someplace.

Jeff with the rugby banter; I was embararrased, then tried to ignore, and finally understand it all. Little knowing that the humour Jeff brought was a key to much of life. I also realize now, that it was all in preperation for living in a football crazy country.

We decided to make the shift in October on our 9th aniversary dinner. I'd just paid for an electric fence, something I had been against, and never wanted to do. I never wanted to believe that crime or fear could sway me, But principals are broken without your knowledge every time. Now it was too late. In January 2006 we first told the family, and then friends, that the plan was already in motion.

I want to say thank you to Rodney Barron, Merle, and even to the daughters who we no longer see too often for their strength. It showed me that I was weak in comparison to most. I battled to listen to Rodney's sermons, but at around the same time my father-in law had a stroke, leaving him with a similar speech problem. It was really my job to hear them speak, and MY OWN loss if I did not make the needed effort from my side to learn how to listen to Rodney.

I met Rowan in the Methodist church on sunday afternoon service. Her car broke down about a week or so latter, and I offered to help out. Maybe I just had too much time on my hands or wanted to be the good samaritain, I do not remember, but we were married just over a year latter. When my boys were born I did not stop teaching sunday school. I enjoyed the challenge the young minds impose, they forced me to find many things hidden in the bible, as adults our reference frame within the word allows us to find stories that explain God's view on every situation. Children will always have questions that parents cannot really be made to answer. A thank you for inspiration goes to all of the teachers I have worked with.

Thanks to all the people who unwittingly have shared their lives with the church, in just being there week after week, I saw you. The people who play church, greet at the door; teaching; preaching; coffee; counting and finance; meals and outreaches; stacking chairs; washing up; musicians all have their place. But they all serve no purpose if the purpose of the body is not to serve. And the purpose of the church is only clear to everyone on monday morning when we all step out into the world again. The fellowship groups that provided us with a top-up are an anchor at times. And it is here that I really had my heart and motives tested by fire. I want to mention everyone, who invisibly played a part, because it is a real hope of mine to return someday succesfull, not in material but in the spiritual journey that New Harvest Christian Fellowship has been a large part of.

I have not yet found work in the UK, and only have good leads to go on right now, but the IT job-market is good there, and I have a lot of encouragement.
I had to learn that NETWORKING, a word I hated and only ever thought of as something people did on golf-courses. God had to show me why it is that I must treat every person with respect and friendliness. I only wish I had earnestly begun treating every person as a possible contact I may need in the future a long time ago already. Just like the way we have had to get rid of so many 'possesions' in the move, it has been a fun learning time.

Rowan has been a solid support for me thought this time, and as we jet off as a family I know I can rely on her judgement to get us there in one piece. As an organiser in this big move she has been invaluable. So when I lastly say, thank you to my Lord whom has made this road clear and sunny every step, from instantly finding us a house-buyer to His opening many doors. God has turned this move into a humbling and learning experience.

Regards, Conrad, Rowan, Rhys and Gregory Braam.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Cops and robbers

Work cut out
Standing in the queue at the 'traffis' department trying to get the car I have been driving for the last 8 years into my name propper. Do these poeple not understand that to simple people (as live in africa) the people do not know the difference between title-holder and owner. I won the car, but the title is to a bank, because the bank does not bother to transfer title to me when the car is paid-up. I have to pay for that again, well I did not do so for 5 whole years. So what! Ask any Zimbabwean, title-holder means nothing. LOL.

Spare a thought for the workers
THis is the second time I have seen this (I hate going to nay officail places) but while I was in the Q, I witnessed abuse more than once by members of the public towards officers of the law behind the counter. This is not cool, I regain most of my cool just before I open my mouth, but the tense people in the traffic dept and police station queues is a bit too much for me. If it where me I would quit!

OK so I do need counselling, but who will pay, definitely not the reciever of revenue, they apparently got my transfer-duty cheque 11 April, but have taken a month to issue a reciept. I think not, the reciever of revenue (I used to call them reverser of revenue) are bloody efficient. And I have no complaint. I just hope we can all get a system working where we know what is happening.

Selling a home is not for pansies!
Linux Rocks
But the man-pages stink. Man-pages are a programmers manual started in 1991 when the system started, but it looks like everyone is scarred to update them for some reason. Full of vauge statements and airy 'if's they abound with things that should not appear in a technical reference, and even border on flaming at times.
RESOLVE:!!!! I hereby resolve to contribute to the linux documentation project in some way. After just 3 weeks I have a working socket implementation wrapper it may not be bulletproof, but I bet I can use what I learned to improve the man-pages. Once I get some holiday time I will have to re-write the relevant bits into english.
It's just plain plagerism copying the man-pages and not actually improving them at all.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Well the sale of the house is pretty much underway now with the banks doing their bit, it means we are still here for about 10 days more at least, but there will be snags. At least I am relaxed about it all at this stage, so if it does take forever, than it is at least God's will.
Still reading the 7 habits of highly effective people, started the 1st real chapter this week, I must say it makes sense to try kick the reactive habit, and be more pro-active, but it is a very long way from where I am right now; I sense that this is going to take lots of time.

Enjoying Linux
I am still totally noob at Linux (SUSE), but it is so awesome to download a O/S patch, and then re-compile and run your own core all for "free". Getting used to so much, and the prime thing is to get the actual paying work done without too much attention to 'learning'. Pity, because the best way to learn (IMHO) is through finding it yourself. OK so I do think that formal higher education is overrated. But it would not be if we had all been taught how to "learn" instead of being taught how to 'cram' when we were in school.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The home stretch

The home stretch, well should we call it home. We are nearly ready to go now, say good-bye to relatives, submit visa application, sell cars, get homes for dogs. And a good few tiny details like who will empty the mailbox? Oh well no-body is perfect. The biggies are the house money and visa, thanks to Jenny for helping with the house side.

We should be in the UK this time next month, God willing. It is hard to really relax fully at this point, but everything has run so smoothly to here, with no major obstacles. The fact that I have found some contract work to keep me busy does put a squeeze on things in terms of time to just relax and chill. But I am happy because I will get 2 things out of the contract work. I was wanting to buy a laptop and take it over with me, (so we can still e-mail once we get there) and now I have a good reason to. Second the contract involves Linux work, which is good experience for my CV. Rowan and the boys are going down to Petermaritzburg after next week, and I should be able to say hi and bye to my mom, my boet, and dad; by flying in the opposite direction. It is very exciting, and I just can't wait for the week to get underway.
Great-Grandma is a bit sick, we were going to have lunch together; must say I do worry about her more and more lately. Aargh, and the lawn needs a good mow, at least that has slowed down a bit.


Friday, April 28, 2006

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Farewell to Adroit Technologies, South Africa.

It turns out that the humans are not the most intelligent life on earth, and when it came time for a hyperspace overpass to be built right through our system, that, well Earth was in the way.

The dolphins had know about this for quite some time, and had tried to warn us, but we would not listen. Plans for the project had been on public display in the basement offices of the construction company's Alpha Centauri offices for the pre-requisite 6 month period, and so the demolition of Earth was all above board. The dolphins are quite friendly to us, enduring captivity, entertaining us and more, just to get close enough to get the point across! It is really a sad pronunciation on the state of man, especially when the planet gets destroyed, leaving only 2 humans alive....
[Paraphrased from the book : Hitchikers guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams(deceased).]

But this story has a happy ending (just like the one above eventually does), but the middle bit is just sad. I am going to miss this place, and the security it gave this little stick in the mud. Just the other day, I was trying to coax my Gran to visit us for a change, when she got stuck, in the mud-so-to-speak, and it was there, that I realized that I must have caught the disease from her. At least she still has her mind, which is more than 'I' can say for Conrad. In a desperate attempt to get my mind straight recently I have uncovered some long-lost treasures, so instead of running 4 miles every day to add 10 years to my life, and I am going to put the time I would have wasted running to better use. I am already playing less computer games, and more with water, dirt, lego, bikes and miscellaneous animals, try it. I am also moving into a work environment that will include more time at home, funny how things turn out.

Hello UK

Sunday, April 23, 2006

When is the time right

Looking back, I can see I should have made a move to the UK shortly after I visited on holiday in 2000. I really loved the poeple, and could forsee that given a layer of dark-gray I would still like the people. And since I am not a outdoor person anyway, the gray can stay out.

But I did not move back then, things are tightening up in terms of visas, and in reality I should have started ages ago with the visa, but work gets in the way when you really do haveto jump though hoops to prove who you are and why they thould let you into the UK. At least the system is fair, so I will get my chance. I know why I did no move 5 years ago, I had just baught a house, who buys a house and then sells it 3 months latter? Ah well, busy busy busy.

Linux. It is not half as daunting as it appears, turns out my exposure to UNIX servers while installing networks a decade back was not wasted. And it all works for the better. I Imagine I am going to get the hang of why Steven Covey says we need to move from dependence, to independence, and then get up to interdependence. Seeing all the mutual benefits possible if you just change your viewpoint to the other party is a bit unnerving. I still need to learn how to LISTEN!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Awesome feeling young again

I listen to Keith Green, Carman, Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W Smith... at the moment, got a new MP3 disc player in my car; crazy because I have to sell the car soon. Still figuring out how the play-list works on it, it just plays tracks in a random order at the moment, a bit annoying, but fun. Maybe if I read the manual (funny the wife was ragging me about that just yesterday?).

On the way home from a design meeting this afternoon, I got just the right random sequence building the mood I was feeling at the time. What to be young! Almost like the kid who suddenly finds, yea, I can do this! And then I can think of nothing else. Well I am talking about contracting work. It means dealing with people a bit more cleverly. Somthing Steven Covey talks about, getting to the interdependence level. Interdependence as a word has a bad rap, the connotation is of dependence, but my word would be co-opperation. but even co-opperation is weak in terms of what he is trying to really say. So the 7 habbits of highly effective people is turning into a monster book, which I am probably not ready for. Mainly because I suk at listening.

Well if you think I suk at listening, post me back your tips on how to become a good listener.

Saturday, April 15, 2006 & why log as zaphod?

I have had endless trouble with someone publishing a bad DNS record for the above IP which should point to The fun part is that when one searches for anyone talking about a faulty site, the link usually points to the site. LOL.

So this topic is also a link, at least untill the IP changes. So why do I log? Is this a diary or is it art? Not art, Zaphod is an engineer. Engineers are creative, but not in a pretty kind of way. (Except when it comes to children.) Anyway, this engineer is trying out his creative side in getting some web-presence going, to establish a searchable name really.

What is Zaphod's real name? I suppose a book-link is in order here, let's google something up quickly. while that works, I will explain about a book-character that really appealed to me because he was funny, witty, and crazy in a benign kind of way (D&D non-lawfull good? like a rouge). Because zaphod has 2 heads and I only 1 (there are millions of people with duplicate personalities, did I mention that the book-character has a personality dissorder?. Well he does, if you want to bug the book, click; To learn how fans of the series describe him, click .

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Programmable duck

Quite surprised when I discovered that not all programmers know what a duck actually is. Well I offer my definition, and some duck-hunting tips.
duck noun : Debugging tool; A peer who can listen and perhaps even read code over your shoulder. The duck simply peers over your shoulder and listens intently nodding at intervals while you explain the places your think the bug is lurking. The duck forces the debugee to travers all of the code, and not just the area where the bug is. Clucking quitely is acceptable, but the duck need not actually say anything. Eventually you spot your own bug.

The best ducks are usually junior programmers or peers who are bored. The duck must never try to find the bug for themselves. The duck should enter the workspace of the debugee and anounce themselves with a quack, anything more may be counter-productive. Ducks may offer suggestions on other bugs they found only after the core bug is sorted-out.

Speaking of hunting tips, anyone have job-hunting tips for work in the UK?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Duplicate post below due to an outage, seems to be somthing to do with a fly flapping its wings down in Port Saint Johns and creating a storm over Honolulu Hawai.

E-mail hell

Once had a stretch at work where none of the mails we were sending got delivered, all blocked because of some spam rules. Well it happened to me when I set up a mail account. Zaphod happily sends off mails trying to find anyone in the UK who is at least interrested in offering a professional 'hacker' from South Africa a job. To no avail, my messages either bounce or go into the bit-bucket.
bit-bucket? Too much of my life has been running into the bit-bucket, it is a plain old waterproof receptacle used to catch overflow punched-tape. Not so usefull these days I suppose, and even though I never used a punched-tape I feel cheated. We think that all the work we do is important, if it were not, why would we do it? And the prize little bits get thrown away like luke-warm swill.

At least I figured out a temporary respite while the folks at spamcop decide on how to not block all the free e-mail account domains out there and risk the kind of blocking trouble that existed with aol accounts a few centuries back. AOL had to exist as a totally seperate empire of users for a while, quite a laugh because of the unwarranted 'villification'. So now I got gmail, but do not bother asking me to give you an invite. I discovered that some folk were using invites to invite themselves, and then selling the extra invites off of each account on e-bay and the likes. I wonder if e-bay has e-sharks?

At least there is no permanent harm done, if we all understand that the fellow behind the hamburger stand is not actually out to give you food-poisoning, it can be the start of a beutifull relationship. After my forray into free mailboxes I am working on free FTP space, if only I could use the same people who do my mail, since I have only just started to actually trust them.

E-mail hell

Once had a stretch at work where none of the mails we were sending got delivered, all blocked because of some spam rules. Well it happened to me when I set up a mail account. Zaphod happily sends off mails trying to find anyone in the UK who is at least interrested in offering a professional 'hacker' from South Africa a job. To no avail, my messages either bounce or go into the bit-bucket.
bit-bucket? Too much of my life has been running into the bit-bucket, it is a plain old waterproof receptacle used to catch overflow punched-tape. Not so usefull these days I suppose, and even though I never used a punched-tape I feel cheated. We think that all the work we do is important, if it were not, why would we do it? And the prize little bits get thrown away like luke-warm swill.

At least I figured out a temporary respite while the folks at spamcop decide on how to not block all the free e-mail account domains out there and risk the kind of blocking trouble that existed with aol accounts a few centuries back. AOL had to exist as a totally seperate empire of users for a while, quite a laugh because of the unwarranted 'villification'. So now I got gmail, but do not bother asking me to give you an invite. I discovered that some folk were using invites to invite themselves, and then selling the extra invites off of each account on e-bay and the likes. I wonder if e-bay has e-sharks?

At least there is no permanent harm done, if we all understand that the fellow behind the hamburger stand is not actually out to give you food-poisoning, it can be the start of a beutifull relationship. After my forray into free mailboxes I am working on free FTP space, if only I could use the same people who do my mail, since I have only just started to actually trust them.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ugly critters change spots

The littlest critter in my picture below has tonsilitis, so we spend almost all night awake. This is not normally a bad thing if it was not accompanied by the anxiety I have surrounded myself with. But it's my own fault really.

You do not know how to say this, when you go on a LSD trip (not drug) it actually stands for Look See Decide. And leave your home country for a while and see how a move from Africa into the hubof thinkgs in England suits you. Maybe it does not, but maybe a leopard from Africa can change his spots and do well in the UK. But we will give it a try, for a while at least. It's not really called emigration either(that takes about a decade), it's really a long holiday. But a year-long holiday with lots of paperwork.
I first went to the UK (without children) in May 2000, and the weather was awesome (I latter learned someone had forgotten to turn on the rain-machines). Initially anyone who leaves home is branded a traitor or weak (we even called them chicken-runners a long time ago). But age has taught me otherwise, so I am going to at least satisfy my curiosity.

Hoe weet die afrikkanse boertjie dit is somer in Engeland?
Die reen is warm!

And this is not how I was taught afrikaans!
Wat beteeken agtermakaar soos in "'n klomp agtermakaar cowboys"?
Brokeback mountain showed me that it actuall means agter behind-makaar each other. Like rear-gunners.

WOW it's a rude world, and the sad thing is if you do not cheat on the slides, you never get a chance to go on the round-abouts latter. I always though it was unfair, but when I was in the army we had a saying as jy dom is moet jy maar kak, roughly translates to "If you are stupid, you are going to have to be strong enough to take the shit". Well I must say going on a long holiday from home involves a lot of leopard-like skills. Amongst them.
1. Get a VISA
2. Get a airplane ticket
3. Get a job
Now the fun part is you actually need item 3 to get number 1, but you also need item 1 to get number 2, which scres you around because item 2 costs less if you get it first; but it's not such a big deal anyway. But in terms of my own security I want number 3 first.

Catch-22 they call it