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Subaru Goodness
Date: 12/10/2005
Ok so I should eat my words, Subaru have released the 2.0r engine here in Australia. The new Impreza range has replaced the old 2.5 RS model with the Impreza 2.0r, a nice step up in the technology being used. Yay for DOHC and AVCS. Hopefully this engine will also end up in the Liberty (Legacy) range as well. I don't even mind so much that the Australian 2.0r engine only puts out 118kw and the Japanese 2.0r puts out 140kw, because it still runs on 90 octane fuel! Thats heaps of grunt for 2L and 90 octane. Most engines in that catagory are premium only, 95 octane or more.

I'm currently thinking about how to downgrade from my twin turbo Legacy to something a little more affordable, so I've been looking into the whole compact car market. I really like the Jazz but I also really like Subaru AWD... and now I can have both! Well actually I can't because they only sell them in Japan, but hey it's affordable, a mere A$15,500-16,500 buys you a R2 type S[upercharger]. That doesn't include getting it here though :( The R2 looks great, it cheap to run at about 5.5L/100km and comes in a sporty version with a nice interior. Who knows why they don't export it. But I'd certainly seriously entertain getting one if it was available over here.
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Finally. DVD + Car Stereo + MP3
Date: 11/10/2005
Finally someone put a DVD drive into a car stereo so that you can have a decent music library in your car. It's not cheap, but for A$599 there is the Sony MEXR1. There is no OGG playback so I'm not running out to buy one but it's starting to tempt me. Bonus points for looking like it belongs in a car.
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BitHack
Date: 10/10/2005
Back in the day, like I think 1994 I wrote an application in DOS that could extract a bitmap image out of a binary file of an unknown format. It did this by displaying an interactive view of the file on the screen, and you could change the parameters of the image, like width and bit depth in real time. This let you "explore" the binary data in visual form, which often lead to seeing patterns in the data, and those patterns were sometimes bitmaps (or pixmaps/DIBs etc), stored in the file.

Well I needed this sort of functionality the other day so rewrote it for windows. Thus the windows version of BitHack was born. If you want to play with it I suggest practising on a .bmp file. It's an easy way to get some data to play with.
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It's The Little Things
Date: 30/9/2005
Sometimes it's the little things that makes one peice of software so endearing over another. Take for instance when you forward an email with attachments in Scribe it asks you whether you want to forward the attachments as well. Something so simple yet, more than one person has commented on how useful that is. There are lots of other little examples of those sort of things already in Scribe but I'm thinking about adding 2 interesting new features and some feedback would be appreciated.

Firstly, a friend mentioned that people forget their attachments all the time, and well why not check the body of the message to see if it mentions attachments and warn the user if there is no attachment when they try and send the message. Cute idea but I'm not sure how I would implement that. Do I just check for the words 'attached' or 'attachment'? Or some list of phrases? What about internationalisation? Obviously there would need to be an option to turn that off as well.

Secondly, with the rise of phishing on the internet, I am in a position to do something about it, in that many times phishing is initiated by a spam email made to look like it came from some financial establishment. Usually in HTML format the links are the right URL in the text, but the href has been subtly mangled to point at the phisher's site. So the email client could do an automatic check against the text of the link and the href, and match them up. In the case that the text is in the form of an URI obviously. I just check that the hostname part matches within some tolerance, e.g. www.hostname.com = hostname.com, and so on. If they are different e.g. www.hostname.com != www.host-name.com then I can warn the user that something "fishy" is going on. If it saves just one person from losing all their savings it's probably worth it.

There may be other little feature ideas like that that you might know about so don't be shy, post a comment. And even though I might not implement anything or everything, I'm interested none the less.
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ハウルの動く城 (Howl's Moving Castle)
Date: 28/9/2005
After 3 years of waiting I finally got to see ハウルの動く城 (Howl's Moving Castle) last friday night. It was quite different from 千と千尋の神隠し (Spirited Away) and I'd been warned of that, and so my expectations were dampened somewhat before getting to the cinema. Afterwards it's taken a few days to grow on me, but now I'm pretty keen to go and see it again to catch all the little things I missed the first time. I did like how the story took a few unexpected turns and of course the animation and scenery was top notch. Spirited Away is one of my 5 top all time movies... and was very different to it's predecessor; Princess Mononoke, another of my top 5 fravs. Howl seemed to have a lot more in common with Spirited Away so in some sense it reminded me of too much of it, and thus almost competed for the same story space. Still it's a great film, 4/5 stars from me.

I've been keeping an eye on the whole DVD situation and the R2 (Japanese) DVD release date has been annouced: 16/11/2005 (available from Amazon Japan with a nice discount) but what is more interesting to me is an Australian R4 release (in PAL yay!) from MadMan. They did stella work on the Australian release of Spirited Away so I'm fairly sure their PAL release of Howl will be top notch. But the question of when does arise. And after emailing them today, they promptly told me their ETA is around April/May 2006. Which is a while away yet, but I think I can wait.

So if your looking for something to see why not catch Howl at the theatres? It's now showing in Australia.
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Scribe Update
Date: 27/9/2005
Just a quick note, I've cleared my internal list of Scribe issues that I wanted to fix for the next release. So hopefully tonight I'll get a new build out.

The last of them was the spell checker clearing the document when no changes were made, or crashing the client. I'm afraid that C/C++ memory management bit me in the bum again. I wish there was a better language that I could port to, but rewriting all the existing code isn't really an option. Something with garbage collection.

So apart from Bug #4 which I have no leads or method of reproduction I'm pretty happy about this upcoming release. I'm really pushing for stability right now, and once I get v1.88 stable out I'm going to hammer on the rest of the major bugs/mis-features of IMAP and bayesian filtering. Which I'm sure a whole bunch of you will be happy about.
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