Wednesday, 27 July 2011

House happenings

We had a surprise call a few nights ago, from the agent who had been handling our unsuccessful bid for a house just around the corner from our Waitikiri Drive rented house. It's at 30 Alpine View Lane, and the owners had decided to accept our bid after all. A quick look to ensure we really meant it, several rounds of signatures, and we're ready to move in on September 12th.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

There and back

Sydney was nice for the first day, then the weather turned to a wet southerly that is keeping the city in gumboot mode. (Very trendy pattern-print gumboots, of course.) The homeless guys still camp out in their furnished niches on street corners, the business guys race about in Italian suits with no coats or umbrellas, and the traffic becomes even worse.

We did very little on our final day, because we couldn't go anywhere. We landed up riding the free city shuttle bus, up Elizabeth St and back down George St, to do some sight seeing and to stay dry.

Anyway, the Moodle Moot was very valuable, with quite a few helpful ideas, and we had a nice time being out of Christchurch. The trans-Tasman flight is really just a bus ride these days, with no real feeling of travel apart from the grumpy processes of immigration and customs. We might as well have gone to Hokitika, in terms of a Travel Experience.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A big week

The school term has ended, with Heather absolutely shattered. She's been doing her own job and that of her boss for this term, while her boss is off travelling. There was a staff member supposedly trained to fill in for the boss, but he spent his time (a) running down the present system, (b) saying that a new unproved and untested system would be better, and (c) wrecking the server and its client connections by tinkering without backups. I call down the mighty powers of ITIL upon such people! Anyway, she survived the term and got all the reports out, and now she's ready for a holiday - and as luck would have it, we're off to Sydney in the morning.

I'm attending the 2011 Australian Moodle Moot from Monday to Wednesday, and I get a hotel room of course, so Heather just has to pay for a return trip. The trouble is, on university budgets we're encouraged to take the cheapest flights (and as we're paying for one fare we agree), so we're on a 6am Pacific Blue flight. That means being at the airport by 4.30am, which means leaving here at 4am, which means that Paul Nicholls (one of our developers who's also attending) gets picked up at 3.45am then carries on to collect us. That's almost the day before we leave!

We'll arrive in Sydney at 8.30am, through immigration and customs by 9.30, and in town by 10am to drop our bags at the hotel and go off for some sight seeing. We don't have any commitments until we go to the opening drinks and registration at 5pm, then we'll collect Heather and have a meal somewhere. I suspect we'll be asleep by 9pm after such a long day.

We have most of Thursday to look around Sydney, then we arrive back in Christchurch at midnight on Thursday, ready to show up at work on Friday. I doubt I'll do much more than clear my emails, but it will get me ready for the following Monday when I'll really be on the job.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Houses continued

We made an offer after all, and now the vendors have counter-offered; we'll hear the score when the agent calls by at 5.30.

UPDATE, Wednesday morning:
The owners want far more than we can afford. Apparently they are sure that there's an army of red-zoners with full wallets out there. We made a modest increase up to our RV limit, and that's our lot. We'll hear the outcome this morning; we'll be disappointed if we don't get it, but not heartbroken. There are plenty more places, many of them closer to central services than Bottle Lake.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Yes, no, maybe

House hunting means that we've been driving back and forth across town this afternoon going to open homes. We looked at a couple of places on Avonhead, and were surprised to find that there's about a $50,000 premium for that suburb. Houses that had non-sliding Ranchsliders, peeling paint, and scruffy 70s medallion wallpaper were over $400,000 - they'd be pushing it to get $300-350,000 in other suburbs.

So we're back to our main choice - the lovely house just round the corner, but we really can't make an offer until we've talked to the bank - and by then we'll be getting ready to go to Sydney for 5 days, so we'll have trouble organising anything.

I just hope that it's still available in two weeks when we get back - but if not, c'est la vie.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Houses and lawyers

We're talking with a lawyer this afternoon, hoping to establish whether we can start getting serious about looking at houses. We looked at a fairly new town house yesterday, but it had a weird layout and wasn't in a very nice neighbourhood - the house in front was a bit scruffy, garden was untidy, hall was too narrow for two people to pass, etc. I know these things can be changed, but if we're going to buy with our RV we can afford to get something ready to walk in and go. Like this 4 bedroom family home just round the corner from where we are currently renting.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Car costs and future thoughts

A routine service and WOF check for our Camry today. Nothing to worry about, except for a power steering drive belt that's getting cracked, and should be replaced at next service. With oils and fluids, it cost $180, including the WOF.

I guess I'd get it cheaper at the quickie places, but my garage and I know each other, they know our cars, and we like to keep using local businesses in Richmond. We still use the dentist who's over the back fence from the garage, and the local New World supermarket, where our daughter worked after school, at the end of the block. I wonder if this loyalty will survive in the next year or two?


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Look what I found

I'm not sure that this is a good thing: should a user with minimal Linux experience be able to elect themselves as god? One more line of typing and there goes your hard drive.

The other explanation is that the IT guys who set up this machine gave me super dooper access rights, on the assumption that I could look after myself Linux-wise. If that's true, it's a clear case of Chuck Him In The Deep End, I can assure you.

It is great to have a real OS underneath, and the Mac's FreeBSD spinoff is still really close to mainstream Linux. Or at least that's the way it seems to a nervous dabbler.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Back in the world

We lost our home internet connection on Thursday night; it's happened 3 or 4 times recently, and I just thought it was middle of the night work at the local phone exchange. It's always come back after some hours, but this time it didn't. So we've been using my Viewpad 7" tablet as a 3G network access point - 500GB in 3 days, because I foolishly downloaded some course backup files that I'll be using on Monday.

Anyhoo - I called TelstraClear's helpdesk this morning, and got straight through to a very capable Indian-accented guy, who verified that the line's ADSL connection wasn't working. The trouble is that he didn't know which end of the line had the problem. And if I call out a technician and he finds it's our problem, it will cost us a $200 fee. That acted as a pretty good incentive to test my end first.

He gave me the steps for testing the components in the chain, so armed with modem/router and power supply plus a phone cable, I tested each outlet, filter, and cable - still no ADSL light. Then we found our landlady Leanne's router and plugged it in - the ADSL light came on right away - bingo! It was our faulty modem-router, so we'll need a replacement. I've never liked D-Link gear anyway, their 56K modems used to be cranky too.

Off to Dick Smiths, where all the routers are now N-band Wifi and ADSL2/2+ compatible, costing around $170. Then I spotted one at $114, a unit that was intact and working fine, but the packaging had been opened then returned. Fair enough, I don't mind saving $50! So now we have a budget-priced Linksys (Cisco) router, looking like a black ashtray. We also have a new network SSID and password, and we have to re-authenticate phones, laptops (Mac and Linux), Android tablet, etc. How do non-IT people manage all this?

So we're back in the world - but is it the real world, or just cyberspace? Wherever we are, it was a pain being off the air. Let's hope this new unit lasts longer than the 6 months we got from the D-Link.