MavEtJu's Distorted View of the World - 2009-06

CityRail Service Interruptions RSS feed updated
Digital Television in Australia
Please don't re-elect Fred Nile, thanks.
Huawei E169 statistics

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CityRail Service Interruptions RSS feed updated

Posted on 2009-06-24 21:00:00
Tags: CityRail, RSS

CityRail has updated their website with the delays on it, their cancelled and delayed trains page has a new look too. Therefore my script needed an update....

They also have their own RSS feed on their delays, but that one doesn't give historical information (again). My version of the RSS feed does still give it.

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Digital Television in Australia

Posted on 2009-06-23 22:00:00
Tags: TV, Happiness, Mass Media

When I moved from thet Netherlands to Australia I lost access to television.

Not because there isn't television here, but more because there is either much television (horizontal programming with reruns of old series) or not enough diversion on television (three commercial channels fighting for your eyeballs with reruns of old series, plus two non-for-profit and one community station).

The worst part is the delivery of the signal: Everybody here still has their own antenna on the roof or, even worse, inside their house. Were you used to receiving a crystal clear scala of stations via a municipal coaxial cable in your house, here you get (if you are lucky) six channels with varying quality. And nobody to complain at when it looks crappy (signal delivery wise). Oh boy, this was going back to the middle ages.

For a couple of years I haven't really worried about it. The only channels I am interested in are ABC (Doctor Who, The Chaser etc) and SBS (Top Gear, Mythbusters, any foreign spoken movie) and most of the time I managed to get a (relative) clear picture for them. The other channels had weeks in which one or more were undecodable for the human eye.

So what has changed? First, extra channels for the ABC and SBS, but only on the digital channels. And to tease us, they are showing Torchwood and the Tour de France on it. Now I'm not really easily blackmailed into something, but a combination of the Tour de France for me and Captain Jack for Naomi, that is something very hard to refuse.

So... We got a set-top-box and had a !@#*)!*#@) hell of a time to get it synced. For a long time we had nothing until I once by chance had a signal good enough to receive some ABC channels. And I was happy, because it also showed that there was an button on the remote control (but only once it had found a channel) which says how good the signal strength and signal quality are. Oh boy, finally something to work with. But it didn't find anything besides the three ABC channels. And now and then when I did a rescan it also lost the ABC channels... Even spending 70 dollars on a new antenna, with an amplifier, didn't work. Very frustrating!

It wasn't until this week that I understood that what I was doing was wrong: While the ABC showed up on channel 21, 22 and 23, that actually were logical channels on carrier channel 12. Once that principle was clear, I suddenly knew where to find other channels and one by one they popped up: SBS, Digital 44 and Channel 9. So far I haven't found Channel 7 or 10, but it will be just a matter of time. Maybe. So that Naomi can watch Jeff Goldblaum on L&O:CI and Dirkie can watch Funniest Home Videos.

So which channels do we have now? ABC (1, 2 and 3), SBS (1, 2, 3 and 4), NITV, D44 (including random news and the Federal parliament), Nine (crappy signal). Good enough for now :-)

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Please don't re-elect Fred Nile, thanks.

Posted on 2009-06-06 13:00:00
Tags: Politics, Rant

Last Thursday a bill got voted down in the New South Wales Upper House. This happens a lot, for various reasons.

The bill, a limitation for not allowing mining to happen within a kilometer from catchment areas, rivers and agricultural areas, was put forward by Lee Rhiannon of the NSW Greens.

As usual, Labour voted against it, the Coalition voted in favour of it and it was up to the votes of Fred Nile (CDP) and two people from the Shooters party. The reason for Fred Nile gave for not supporting the bill was:

"That is why I cannot support this bill. It is not because of the content; it is because the bill will give the Greens greater ability to blow their trumpets and claim a great victory in this State, and give them further political oxygen. During my time in this Parliament I have been working hard to deny political oxygen to the Greens." Fred Nile - 4 May 2009 Parliament of New South Wales, Hansard & Papers, Legislative Council, 4 June 2009

Dude! You're in the NSW Upper House to decide what is best for the people from NSW who elected you, not for playing sad games against people who are sitting in the same room as you are in but who actually are doing what the people who elected them expect from them! You are a sad sad puppy and you will be judged for that.

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Huawei E169 statistics

Posted on 2009-06-04 08:00:00
Tags: FreeBSD, Huawei E169, 3G

As written earlier about, the Huawei E169 3G USB modem works like a charm on FreeBSD 7.2. On my trips with the train in the morning to work and in the afternoon from work I am able to do some work on catching up on email and keeping up with the news websites. Yay for a good technology.

The only thing I hadn't managed so far was to getting information from the device to about the amount of traffic uploaded and downloaded, the signal strength and the connection-type used (3G, 2G etc). I knew that the device had three modem ports, one used for the PPP connection but the other two were a mystery so far, until I heard one day that I should use cat(1) instead of tail(1) on them. And yes, that one gave me data!

There are five interesting pieces of text reported:

^BOOT - of which I have no idea what it is for. The values always seem the same, very boring. It is the only field which comes without a change of the data, the others only come when a piece of the data is changed.

^DSFLOWRPT - the most interesting part: It contains the uptime of the PPP connection (always a 2 second interval if there is a modem connection), the number of bytes received and sent out in the last interval, the number of bytes received and sent since the PPP connection got started and two numbers which I don't know what they are for.

^MODE - which tells me if the modem light is cyan, darblue, green or off.

^RSSI - Receiving signal strength, an indication if you are in a tunnel, in a hilly area or close by a basestation.

^SRVST - Not sure yet... It seems to have to be done with which provider you are linked up with and it seems to be toggling between 0 and 4.

So three days later on the train-trip I had mastered ncurses(3x) and created a nice overview of what the 3G modem thinks about my connection:

This screenshot was taken between Kirrawee station and Sutherland station, while checking the contents of the items in the ABC and BBC RSS feeds.

The stats at the top left are just the data as known at this moment. The -1 of the SRVST means we hadn't received that data yet. The table at the top right is the amount of downloaded data during those minute. And the graph at the bottom indicates the signal strength in the last N * 2 seconds.

If you have a Huawei E169 and interested in knowing what is happening, the FreeBSD port is available as net/e169-stats.

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