MavEtJu's Distorted View of the World - Australia

Australian timezones to become unique
Top Gear Australia
Internode to support IPv6 tunneling (and more)
Motorcycle lessons
Australian driver license
Cycling: Caringbah to Kurnell
Cycling: Helensburgh to Stanwell Park
Cycling: Waterfall to Helensburgh
Rollerblading in Cronulla, first attempt

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Australian timezones to become unique

Posted on 2009-11-10 21:00:00
Tags: zoneinfo, Australia, DST

System administrators in Australia have had this issue for ages: While the Australia/Sydney timezone is known as EST:

[~] edwin@k7>TZ=Australia/Sydney date
Tue Nov 10 21:29:22 EST 2009
The EST timezone is laying somewhere else:
[~] edwin@k7>TZ=EST date
Tue Nov 10 05:29:44 EST 2009
16 hours difference, that is the US East Coast. Thus, you can't use the timezone EST to specify Australian specific times and expect the rest of the world to get in sync with you. Even worse, there is software out there which is still broken on it.

The issue has been brought up multiple times with the maintainers of the timezone data, but they only collect what is defined, they don't want to make the definitions themselves.

But there is hope! According to The Australian Government website, there are three timezones in Australia:

So real soon, hopefully, the timezone data maintainers will incorperate the changes and our systems will not be confused anymore when we configure our timezones as Australia/Sydney, then we will get AEST and nobody will be confused with us anymore!

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Top Gear Australia

Posted on 2008-10-11 22:00:00
Tags: Mass Media, Australia

SBS in Australia is currently broadcasting its own version of Top Gear, called Top Gear Australia. As an enthusiast cyclist and being with no interests for cars, I have a special bond with the original program.

The original Top Gear is currently presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. A grumpy journalist, a ADHD suffering DJ and a piano-teacher. Before I saw my first episode of Top Gear, I had seen Jeremy Clarkson at Robot Wars, where he used the same presenting style I later saw him with on Top Gear.

What does make Top Gear so good? It's just two reasons:

Yes, I have left out the Stigs weekly run-around-the-track and the celebrity track. The Stig character is funny and great in his role in the challenges but the run-around-the-track is boring and the celebrity part is good for the interview but, as said earlier, the run-around-the-track is boring. And I didn't mention the Cool-Wall neither. You can see, I'm not interested in the cars themselves, only in the pictures made around them and in what these three people do with them.

So, how does Top Gear Australia run? First, if people think it will be the same the original Top Gear, then they must stop dreaming. Three different presenters, three different characters, three different ways of thinking and three different attitudes towards life. It will never be same as the original Top Gear.

So far only two episodes have aired, and since everybody and their dog has given their opinion, often negative because of the reason in the previous paragraph, about it I was going to give mine, hopefully positive, about it.

The presenters are Charlie Cox, Steve Pizzati and Warren Brown. Of the three of them, I only knew Warren Brown from the recreation of the 1907 Peking to Paris race in which they used the same cars or kind of cars as the original contestants and of the appearance of his cartoons now and then on the ABC or SBS.

Charlie Cox tries to be the main guy, but is missing the charisma Jeremy Clarkson has. Steve Pizzati has the hyperactive and please-approve-of-this,-Charlie approach and Warren Brown is the hacker of the three, so far he has come up (oh well, presented) with the car converted into a shark cage and the Smart Funeral car.

The style of the show is the same as the original Top Gear, with reviews plus the Stig, celebrities and challenges. Instead of the Cool-Wall there is the "What Were They Thinking?" section.

So what is the initial verdict? Quite some people I spoke were negative about it, but I blame that mostly on expectation: If they expected one-on-one copies of the characters of Clarkson, Hammond and May, they had woken up with a cold shower. The scenery in the shots so far are okay, hopefully they will show all parts of Australia (desert, rainforest, mountains, coastal roads, wetlands etc). The two car challenges (Sand and Snow in one day and Utes at the gold mining pits) and two hacking challenges (Shark Cage and Smart Funeral car) were surely with the same chaos and quality of the original Top Gear. The run-around-the-track is still boring and I haven't recognized any of the celebrities yet (but I blame that fully on myself and not on the show :-)

I will keep watching this show through the first season and hope that it will give me the same laughs and warm feelings of the original Top Gear!

ObReferences: A lot of the technical data from the Challenges paragraph was retrieved from Wikipedia (

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Internode to support IPv6 tunneling (and more)

Posted on 2008-07-21 09:00:00
Tags: IPv6, Australia, FreeBSD

At About Internode and IPv6, Internode announces that their internal network is supporting IPv6, and that they have IPv6 connectivity to the rest of the IPv6 world.

If you want to use their Tunnel Broker service on FreeBSD (i.e. have an IPv6-over-IPv4 tunnel towards their IPv6 gateway), then use the net/freenet6 port. Make sure you are using version 5.1_x.

The required configuration changes in /usr/local/etc/gw6c.conf are:


Besides being a tunnel broker they also support a native IPv6 connection if you have an ethernet- or fibre link with them.

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Motorcycle lessons

Posted on 2008-07-14 09:00:00
Tags: Traffic, Australia

Last weekend I had my first introduction in the art of motorcycle riding. I didn't end up in the hospital, but I am a little more worried about the teaching of the skills for traveling in a motorized vehicle on the road in Australia. In other words: cars and bikes.

This introduction taught us how to setup a bike (as in from the stand to the ready position), how to figure out what is happening around you, how to start it (vroom!), how to stop it (very tricky for a cyclist like me), how to get it moving (I don't like clutch riding...), how to take corners properly (look where you are going) and how to make sure you don't end up in dangerous or worse situations.

At the end I got my piece of paper showing that I know all the things above and that I know how to execute them properly. Next.. Will I buy a motorcycle? I don't think so yet. Why? There are a couple of reasons:

During the practise lessons we only drove in a nicely controlled environment. We didn't get higher than second gear, we didn't go faster than 20-25 kilometers per hour. I have absolutely no idea how it is riding in the real world where I go at 50 kilometers per hour (on normal busy Sydney roads), let alone 80 kilometers per hour (on the fast busy Sydney roads) where cars, roadrage and stupid people in cars are ever present. We used the indicators only once at the last practise and of course half of us screwed this up.

We only practised for six hours (two days with two times 1.5 hour blocks). Not many people know how long it took before my car-driving teacher allowed me to take the exam, but it was waaaaaaay above the average amount of hours (but less than 54 lessons :-). On the other hand, he never had to interfere with the wheel or the brakes! So to expect me to be comfortable on the seat after six hours is a little bit optimistic.

The other thing is that I am a very bad pupil but have a very good engineering mindset: I learn from my mistakes, and that's how I become good at it. Being told that I do something wrong doesn't hurt me, it helps me. Riding at some high speed and making a mistake is costly, and I won't be able to learn from it.

So... What's next? Not much I think. Michael and Stuart Lemon from Ride it right were great, the experience was great and I loved it. But I'm going to wait and try it again when I live in a city where the traffic isn't as mad as in Sydney. Canberra, I'm waiting for you! In the mean time I enjoy the backseat of Naomis bike :-)

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Australian driver license

Posted on 2008-06-04 21:00:00
Tags: Traffic, Australia

Everybody who knows me that I'm crazy with cars. At cars. "Mad at cars" is the more the right line: I have a love / hate relationship with them. I know that todays society can't exist without them, but also that they are the biggest curse in todays society. Anyway, that's not the story here.

The story is about the availability of driver licenses in Australia: The joke goes that you get them with a box of Weetbix. And todays experience only shows that it is true. And why I feel so scared when I'm on the road.

So I got my dutch driver license in 1996, when I was 25. Wait, that was seven years after I was able to get it. I know. I told you I didn't like cars. I got my first car in 2000, five years after I got my driver license. I told you I didn't like cars. I moved to Australia in 2001, so I got rid of my car after six months.

In Australia you need an international driver license which is valid for six months or get an Australian driver license. So after six months I wasn't allowed to drive a car anymore. In 2006 my dutch driver license expired.

So, where does this story go to? Today, in 2008, seven years after I last driven a car, two years after my driver license expired, I got my Australian driver license. How? Just go to the RTA, show your dutch license, show some ID and fill in a form. Expired license? Not a problem. Not haven driven a car in seven years? Not a problem.

And you wonder why I am so scared on the roads here...

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Cycling: Caringbah to Kurnell

Posted on 2007-12-15 15:02:00
Tags: Cycling, Cycling in Sydney, Australia

Cycling between Caringbah station and Kurnell is 13 kilometers, but you have to cycle back due to lack of train stations in Kurnell (but there is one in Cronulla and Woolooware).

From the train station, go to the Denman avenue because you will not be able to cross the railroad again until somewhere in Cronulla.

At the crossing of Denman Avenue and Gannoa Road, turn left. If you go straight, you unnecessary will go up a hill. Past Sharkies and the school and that's the last you will see from Cronulla.

The Captain Cook drive is a nice long road with only two minor hills but it has, despite that it is a beautiful natural area, one huge drawback: It is full with factories and industrial areas on the right hand side. I don't know who got the idea of putting all that industry here, but it surely is not the right place for it.

In Kurnell at the crossing of the Captain Cook drive and Polo street is a small milkshop which does do a very good milkshake. Take the milkshake into the National Park and enjoy it in the Memorial Park!

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Cycling: Helensburgh to Stanwell Park

Posted on 2007-12-15 15:01:00
Tags: Cycling, Cycling in Sydney, Australia

Cycling between Helensburgh station and Stanwell Park is another nice size trip (10 kilometers) with a stop at Symbio Zoo and Stanwell Heights.

But there is one major warning: From the station till Helensburgh town center it is only hill up. And hill up. And hill up. For about three kilometers. But once you are at the Symbio Zoo you have two hours to recover from it.

From Symbio Zoo to Stanwell Heights is a nice refreshing trip through the foresty areas, and at Stanwell Heights an unique view over Stanwell Park and if you're lucky you will see some whales.

Down from Stanwell Heights to Stanwell Park is a drop of 250 meters over 2500 meters, making it an interesting experience for the brakes on the back of your bike. And at the bottom you can enjoy a swim on the beach.

Be warned, going back to the train station in Stanwell Park is an only-hill-up experience too.

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Cycling: Waterfall to Helensburgh

Posted on 2007-12-15 15:00:00
Tags: Cycling, Cycling in Sydney, Australia

Cycling between Waterfall and Helensburgh is a nice size trip (10 kilometers).

You can go via the Southern Freeway but I would strongly suggest not to do this: You only have three hills, but these are horrible hills which don't give you any satisfaction. When you do it early in the morning you don't have too much hassle of the traffic going between Sydney and Wollogong.

The path you should take is via the Princes Highway, on which there are more hills but they are not that high. And it will give you more shadowed areas.

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Rollerblading in Cronulla, first attempt

Posted on 2006-01-20 21:00:25, modified on 2006-01-20 21:39:12
Tags: Rollerblading, Sports, Australia

Oh boy... and you thought that the Australian roads were unsafe for cyclists...

Short background: All my life (until I moved to Australia that is), I have been a fanatic ice-skater and rollerblader. In the winter on the frozen water, in the spring, summer and autumn on the road and bicycle tracks. And life was good :-)

Then I moved to Australia, where there is no frozen water nor bicycle tracks... In the first years, I used my bicycle to go everywhere (within reason). And got a lot of abuse from it from the car drivers. So much, that when my bike got stolen, I didn't bother to replace it, and walked everywhere. Yes, it took three times as long, but it was a million times less stressful.

Recently I found my backpack with my rollerblades in it. This weekend my wife and baby went to Canberra for a bridge contents (she, not the baby) and I thought "let's rooooooooolllllll.". Oh dear.

In the summer in the Netherlands, it is easily light till say 21:00 - 21:30. In the summer in Australia, it is barely light after 19:30 during the longest day. In the Netherlands, on the roads you have on constant distances street lights. In Australia, you have street lights on corners. Now the problem with rollerblading is that you go fast (unintentionally) and then a little bump in, or rock on, or gravel on, or whatever on the road has to be anticipated. Not seeing them is the same as asking to fall flat on your face.

In the Netherlands, in general, outside suburbs, the cars are not parked on the side of the road but in parking bays which are not part of the piece of the road where car drive. In Australia, roads are two-and-half-times as wide as a car and these cars are parked on the outsides of the cars. With the result that on the left hand side you have parked cars and on your right hand side you have cars driving. And since the favourite car of the Australian citizen seems to be a four-wheel-over-two-meters-high-landrover-tank, you have absolutely no idea what is happening on the at the car ports.

Last but not least, the Netherlands is flat and thus the roads are flat. Rollerblading there means: if you put effort in it, you go faster. If you don't put effort in it, you will go slower and slower until you're standing still. This might take some time, but it will happen. In Australia, even if you find a long stretch of road which looks flat, it's not. It's never flat, it's always sloping. So even if you don't put effort in it, you will go forward. And faster. So if you see something which might take some caution, you will go faster and faster to it, and faster and faster. Even a little stretch of say 30 meters will give you a nice speed when you're at the end (and not able to see what is going on on that road due to the stupidly high four wheel tanks).

So... first attempt to rollerblade again in Australia has turned out to be a huge disappointment. Tomorrow I'll try the road to Kurnell and see if I can figure out the four kilometer track in Miranda...

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