Friday, December 5, 2008

New Zealand on a whim

So when I started this blog I swore to myself I would be good, post often and not let it get washed to the wayside. Two months on and there has been a distinct lack of blogging. Typical.

Anywho, I now have a chance to do a post on the travel side of things. At the end of last semester I was getting itchy feet, what with having been in the county for several months and not having any plans for the Christmas holidays. Vac work was originally supposed to take up my time, but no one wanted me (or maybe it was because I only applied to one mine and they didn’t want mechatronic engineers.. hmm.. well organized Thomas). Sooo, I had to come up with other plans. A quick browse of and I discovered the only place I could afford to go to was New Zealand. No problem there, its a nice place, and the weather is better than in Australia, so a few indecisive days and $450 later I had myself I ticket.

What to do, that was the next question. I like the idea of flying, for no particular reason. I was always very impressed when I was a kid and we drove past those people running down hills with big kites strapped to them. I get the feeling I’ve explained my reasoning somewhere in another blog, so long story short I am in Queenstown, with no real plans other than I want to get my PG1 paragliding license!

Day 1:
I arrived in Christchurch on the 1st and gave the people I had hired a car from a call (Apollo, got a car for under AU$20/day). The car, a 4ish yr old Toyota Getz, was very abused. It had more scratches and dints than I could fit on the damage report form. At this point, I had a car for 15 days, a flight home and that was it. It was very relaxing. I had picked up a few hostel brochures, so I drove into town to Thomas' on Hereford. For $22 a got myself a bed for the night, very reasonable. It was a clean place, not too much to it, but the staff were friendly, and it was close to the centre of town.

Day 2:
Spent a night there, then bought some groceries and headed south. I didn’t really have any plans, but I figured I wanted to go in the general direction of Queenstown. Had a few issues with my lane turning into a big pile of gravel at the beginning of the 79, just across in the train line, so that was my excitement for the day. Found a friendly panel beater in Geraldine who fixed it up for me for $80 cash after he finished work, so that was nice. Could have claimed it on insurance and the such, but for $80 it really wasn’t worth the hassle. Spent a night camping at Lake Tekapo, on Lake Alexandria Road I think. Nice little spot, $5pppn and very quiet. Little bit of unsealed road at the end of it, but its easy enough to walk if your worried about the car.

Day 3:
Next day made it all the way to Frankton, just outside of Queenstown. Detoured via Arrowtown, with the thought of going to Macetown. Turns out it is a 4 hour walk, or 4by4 access only though, so that plan failed quite abruptly. Ended up continuing on to Frankton Motor Camp for $14/nt. They had awesome showers, a kitchen (with pots and pans which could be borrowed from reception) and a awesome view. Unfortunate that it rained all night and it took me all of 4 hours to get the tent dry enough to pack up, but other than that it was great!

After having packed up my tent (and I cant stress how painful it was waiting for it to.. it seemed to be getting wetter rather than drier most of the time), I drove the quick 6km to Queenstown and found myself a hostel (with the help of Decided on Bumbles Backpackers (28 pppn), which was a good choice. A 5 min walk from the town centre, it has off street parking, a well equipped kitchen and reasonable beds. I even managed to score a non-bunk bed which was very exciting. Explored Queenstown, bought myself a few knickknacks (love the pink store) and booked my PG1 course. All the hostel stuff seemed quite enthusiastic about it, which I was surprised by, I thought lots of people would do that sort of stuff.

Day 5:
Today! WELLL... at 8:45am I called up Elevation Paragliding to check the weather. It was a go, so at 9am, their van pulled up outside the hostel and in I jumped. It was a morning, so unsurprisingly I was completely unprepared, with no food, water or sunscreen. I was warm though.. with my fancy new thermals I bought yesterday. The instructors, Keith, and an English lady(whose name evades me) picked me up. We then picked up a French family with 3 daughters under the age of 5. They all seemed quite well behaved though. Off we went to the training hill, just outside of Queenstown.
At this point, I am running out of internet time, so I am going to steal a bit from an email I sent Amanda:
Had my first paragliding lesson today.. all was perfect (blue sky, 18 degrees, almost no wind) while we set up and the instructor explained everything too me.. then just as he strapped me into the harness, the wind picked up to 35-40km/hr! Which apparently isnt good when you are trying to learn.. The paraglider has a constant speed to 35km/h, so if you take off into the wind you are standing still or going backwards...
Anywho.. we waited a while and we had a lull in the wind, so I took off. At this point the instructor is telling me "okay, we are just going to run down the hill and you will feel the sail take your weight and pull your heels off the ground and then you put it right back down again." All went well, until I actually tried it. A gust came along, and next thing I know he is saying "Just go with it! Your not THAT high, oh crap, pull down, pull down!!" By this stage I am about 2 meters up haha. But I got it down nice and safe and IT FELT AWESOME!!! I FLEWWWW!!!! like a bird! I love birds :) They’re so lucky.. I bet they don’t have to double check all their lines and stuff before they take off though haha.

On that note, I feel I should really get outside and see the real world for a while.. I have a quite exciting Buttered Chicken and rice waiting at home to be cooked... I know your all jealous.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New Site + COMP2304

So I lashed out and paid US$6.99 and bought myself Originally I was going to get cos then my email could be thomas@stur... which would totally have made my day. But it turns out you have to be an australian business to buy it.. bummer. Might get my dad to buy it for us through his business.. im pretty sure his business name is just his name, so that could work. Note to self: do that. For now is a pretty easy address to remember! I'm going to host my blog on it atm, and then if I ever end up making a website for anything Ill just move the blog across to or something like that. Sounds rad? I thought so.

Other news.. ive spent the last few days working on comp2304 assignment 3. The first question is this thing on image manipulation using the Corona library. Took me a while to get my head around it, cos there was a lot of pointers (*) and address of (&) manipultion needed to make sure I didn't end up with memory leaks or the such. Ended up redoing the question a few times when i kept soming up with better ways to implement it. I think the way ive done it now is pretty effecient.. its processing a 800x600 image in actual processing time of 16 milliseconds. To me that seems pretty speedy :)

Oh, ive come accross an interesting phenomenon in photoshop. I have a image with a box on it which is actually 305 x 305 pixels (93025 total). But with the first method listed below, photoshop says the selection is 307 x 307 pixels. The second method, however, is correct.

Counting Pixels In Photoshop (CS3):

- First, for both methods, set measurment units set to pixels (Edit -> Prefferences -> Units).

- Then select whatever it is with the magic wand tool.

Method 1) Look at the 'Info' tab (bring it up by clicking F8 or from under the Windows menu). BUT: it always counts 2 to many pixels in each direction (x and y)!

Method 2): Use the 'Histogram' tab (once again under Windows) and look at the 'Pixels' measurment. It tells you the correct number of pixels!

Mkk.. well I dont even know how many hours later, it is 4am and I have got Assignment 3, Q1 working as far as I can tell! It stuffs up when you use photoshop to make the picture and end up with hundereds of one pixel shapes, but other than that it seems to be working spiffily. My results for the included picture are {153,3088,11947,26268,4824,11621,44300,43847,6783}. Processed in 60-70 milliseconds. That seems pretty reasonable! Anyone want to confirm they are getting the same results? I checked it using photoshop, so im fairly sure it's right

Anyway.. its well past my bed time. Nite.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where it all comes from.

It's a Saturday. I was rudely awakened this morning by a call to arms. Actually it was just bumble reminding me of my drinking commitments this arvo at Merthyr Bowls. And now i think about it, it was after 1pm, so I guess it wasn't even technically morning

It's the first day of mid-semester break for Semester 2, 2008. I have been inspired by the likes of Shane and Jack to get into the world of blogging. I figure it's probably a good idea.. I do seem to spend a lot of time on a computer procrastinating, so why not turn it into a sort of diary entry of my life. Plus then maybe I can turn it into a bit of a travel-log when i next go globe-trotting.

So I guess I should probably start off with something about me. A bit of a background. I've grown up a bit of everywhere. A summary of the major places and times:

Armidale (AU) - Lived here for the first year or two of my life. Honestly not sure how long. My dad was working at UNE. Don't remember it, but there are people who lived there that remember me!

Brisbane (AU) - Still my base. I lived here for preschool (what was it called?) and grade 1 at Wilston-Grange Primary. We lived in Windsor first and then bought a house in Wilston. I loved the first time we went to look at it as a family. It had a huge empty living room of freshly cleaned carpet and it just seemed so pristine and amazing.

Tunbridge Wells (UK) -I don't remember much (if any) of this. It was for a few months during preschool. I think there was something about one of my little friends from then resenting me for leaving.. but its all very vague.

Los BaƱos (Philippines) - For 5.5 years, from the beginning of
Munich (Germany) - 6 months or so. Lived with my aunt and uncle (Hanni and Leo) and had an awesome time. Went to school and repeated a bit of grade 6. The kids there were pretty crazy. I made a few good friends, but stupidly didn't keep in contact. I seem to do that a lot. Loved everything about the independence, the new language and what my aunt and uncle did for work (small run PCB assembly). Probably one of the reasons I am doing electrical related engineering.

Brisbane (AU) - Back here again for grade 7 and highscool (Hillbrook). Was good, as it gave me a base of friends and somewhere to call home, no matter where the travel bug takes me.

Banff (Canada) - Turned up in Vancouver shortly after schoolies (still the best week of my life, what i remember of it). They told me at the bar that I couldn't drink there until i was 19. I asked where the nearest place I could drink was. A couple of days later i was in a van road-tripping to Banff with Grim (Andrew Grimmer), Lucy McHugh and a few other randoms. Had an amazing time. Worked at a subway, ended up being night manager. Wouldn't trade it for anything, amazing experience.

homeless - Homeless-ness. Six months of travel through North America, eastern and western Europe, Russia and the like in 2006. There are lots of pictures. I had a great time. Would love to do it again. Can't understand why anyone would possibly go straight to uni from school, when you are so free and can do something like this. How dull is the world otherwise.

Brisbane (AU) - Back here for university! Started in Semester 1, 2007. Good time so far. Absolutely caneing the grades, and enjoying the challenge.

Well, Ive officially killed off a good part of the day.. so I'm off.