Content here is by Michael Still mikal@stillhq.com. All opinions are my own.
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Sat, 23 Apr 2016



High Output Management




    ISBN: 9780679762881
    LibraryThing
    A reading group of managers at work has been reading this book, except for the last chapter which we were left to read by ourselves. Overall, the book is interesting and very readable. Its a little dated, being all excited with the invention of email and some unfortunate gender pronouns, but if you can get past those minor things there is a lot of wise advice here. I'm not sure I agree with 100% of it, but I do think the vast majority is of interest. A well written book that I'd recommend to new managers.

    Tags for this post: book andy_gove management intel non_fiction
    Related posts: Being Geek; Looking for web form state management; PDF/A; I Know You Got Soul; The Bad Popes; On Cars


posted at: 01:30 | path: /book/Andy_Gove | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 20 Apr 2016



Bad Pharma




    ISBN: 9780007350742
    LibraryThing
    Another excellent book by Ben Goldacre. In this book he argues that modern medicine is terribly corrupted by the commercial forces that act largely unchecked in the marketplace -- studies which don't make a new drug look good go missing; new drugs are compared only against placebo and not against the current best treatment; doctors are routinely bribed with travel, training and small perks. Overall I'm left feeling like things haven't improved much since this book was published, given that these behaviors still seem common.

    The book does offer concrete actions that we could take to fix things, but I don't see many of these happening any time soon, which is a worrying place to be. Overall, a disturbing but important read.

    Tags for this post: book ben_goldacre medicine science corruption non_fiction
    Related posts: Bad Science; Sixty five roses (Cystic Fibrosis); I Know You Got Soul; The Bad Popes; On Cars; MythBuntu 8.10 just made me sad


posted at: 16:53 | path: /book/Ben_Goldacre | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 11 Apr 2016



Exploring the Jagungal

    Peter Thomas kindly arranged for a variety of ACT Scout leaders to take a tour of the Jagungal portion of Kosciuszko National Park under the guidance of Robert Green. Robert is very experienced with this area, and has recently written a book. Five leaders from the Macarthur Scout Group decided to go along on this tour and take a look at our hiking options in the area.

    The first challenge is getting to the area. The campsite we used for the first day is only accessible to four wheel drive vehicles -- the slope down to the camp site from Nimmo Plain is quite rocky and has some loose sections. That said, the Landcruiser I was in had no trouble making the trip, and the group managed to get two car style four wheel drives into the area without problems as well. The route to Nimmo Plain from the south of Canberra is as follows:




    We explored two areas which are both a short drive from Nimmo Plain. We in fact didn't explore anything at Nimmo Plain itself, but as the intermediate point where the road forks it makes sense to show that bit of route first. From Nimmo Plain, it you turn left you end up where we camped for the first day, which is a lovely NWPS camp site with fire pits, a pit toilet, and trout in the river.

    The route to that camp site is like this:




    From this campsite we did a 14km loop walk, which took in a series of huts and ruins along relatively flat and easy terrain. There are certainly good walking options here for Scouts, especially those which don't particularly like hills. The route for the first day was like this:




    Its a fantastic area, very scenic without being difficult terrain...

                                               

    As you can see from the pictures, life around the camp fire that evening was pretty hard. One note on the weather though -- even at the start of April we're already starting to see very cool overnight weather in this area, with a definite frost on the tents and cars in the morning. I wouldn't want to be hiking in this area much later in the season than this without being prepared for serious cold weather.

       

    The next day we drove back to Nimmo Plain and turned right. You then proceed down a dirt road that is marked as private property, but has a public right of way through to the national park. At the border of the park you can leave the car again and go for another walk. The route to this second entrance to the park is like this:




                         

    This drive on the second morning involved a couple of river crossings, with some representative pictures below. Why does the red Landcruiser get to do the crossing three times? Well that's what happens when you forget to shut the gate...

                                                       

    Following that we did a short 5km return walk to Cesjack's Hut, which again wasn't scenic at all...




                                         

    I took some pictures on the drive home too of course...

                 

    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20160409-jagungal photo kosciuszko scouts bushwalk
    Related posts: Scout activity: orienteering at Mount Stranger

posted at: 00:17 | path: /diary/pictures/20160409-jagungal | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 15 Mar 2016



Downbelow Station

posted at: 22:40 | path: /book/C_J_Cherryh | permanent link to this entry


Killing Floor




    ISBN: 9780553826166
    LibraryThing
    I'd seen the Reacher movie (it was ok, but not amazing), but was trapped in an airport with a book too close to the end for comfort. So I bought the first Jack Reacher novel. I'm impressed to be honest -- its well written, readable, and not trying to be Tom Clancy. Where Clancy would get lost in the blow by blow details of how military hardware works, this story is instead about how the main character feels and where their intuition is up to at that point. Sure, he explains that the shot gun pointed at his is dangerous, but doesn't get too lost in the detail.

    I enjoyed this book, and its a well written mystery tale. I'll read more from this series I am sure.

    Tags for this post: book lee_child jack_reacher murder mystery
    Related posts: Lock In; A Talent for War; Winchester Mystery House


posted at: 22:33 | path: /book/Lee_Child | permanent link to this entry


Monty: His Part in My Victory

posted at: 22:26 | path: /book/Spike_Milligan | permanent link to this entry


Rommel? Gunner Who?

posted at: 22:14 | path: /book/Spike_Milligan | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 14 Feb 2016



Sydney Developer Bugs Smash

    The OpenStack community is arranging a series of bug smash events globally, with one in Sydney. These events are aimed at closing bugs related to enterprise pain points in OpenStack, although as self guided events there isn't anyone in the room ordering you to do a certain thing. There will however be no presentations -- this is a group working session.

    The global event etherpad is at https://etherpad.openstack.org/p/OpenStack-Bug-Smash-Mitaka.

    The Sydney event is being hosted by Rackspace Australia, and has its own signup etherpad at https://etherpad.openstack.org/p/OpenStack-Bug-Smash-Mitaka-Sydney.

    Please note this event is not aimed at end users, deployers or administrators. It is aimed at developers of OpenStack. So, if you're an OpenStack developer please consider coming along!

    RSVP is on the Sydney event etherpad.

    Tags for this post: openstack mitaka

posted at: 14:00 | path: /openstack/mitaka | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 08 Feb 2016



Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall

posted at: 01:30 | path: /book/Spike_Milligan | permanent link to this entry


Halo: The Flood

posted at: 01:22 | path: /book/William_C_Dietz | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 01 Jan 2016



YA-90

      Ok, so now that I've rediscovered walking to trigs while pursuing my hobby of trying to kill Mr Carden, I am enthused to do some more urban walking.

      The only urban trig I haven't been to is YA-90 on Isaacs Ridge. There are also three geocaches along the way I'd like to collect to. I propose we stage a walk from Isaacs as there's plenty of parking and do this one some evening when its cooler.

      Total distance should be about 4km return, with about 150 meters of vertical ascent. It should take about an hour.


    We did this walk on a warm afternoon on new year's day. The walk is pleasant, with plenty of shade for most of the way. In the end we only collected two of the geocaches, as following the ridge line to the third was considered an exercise for another day. A very pleasant walk. A 4.2km walk with 169 meters of ascent.

                 




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20160101 photo canberra bushwalk

posted at: 11:43 | path: /diary/pictures/20160101 | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 29 Dec 2015



A year of being more active

    A little over a year ago I helped host a panel session at the Paris OpenStack summit. The panel was three telco people talking about NFV, but that's not the bit I really remember. The bit that really stuck with me was how fat I looked in photos from the event. An example:



    I weighed just over 110 kilos (240 lbs). I decided something had to change -- I have a new daughter, and I want to be around to see her well into her life. So, I joined a gym and started bush walking. My first walk was documented here as a walk up Tuggeranong hill. That rapidly became an obsession with climbing hills to survey markers, which then started to include finding geocaches.

    I can't give you a full list of the tangents that one photo from Paris has caused, because the list isn't complete yet and may never be. I now run, swim, ride my bike, and generally sweat on things. Its all fun and has had the unexpected side effect that its helped me cope with work stress much more than I expected.

    I've lost about 15 kilos (30 lbs) so far. Weight loss isn't really the main goal now, but its something I continue to track.

    I thought it would be interesting to list all the places I've walked in Canberra this year, but a simple bullet point list is too long. So instead, here's an interactive map.




    There are a lot more walks I want to do around here. Its just a case of finding the time.

    Tags for this post: blog fitness health weight canberra bushwalk
    Related posts: Weekend update; Bigger improvements; Australian Health Insurance; Memorial service details; Recumbent bikes; An update on Catherine's health

posted at: 17:34 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 28 Dec 2015



Mount Tennent

      Ok, so I want to do Mount Tennent from the "wrong" side (Apollo Road up the fire trail). The reason for this is that there is a series of 20 something geocaches along the route that I'd like to tick off as well as walking to Tennent.

      I think the total route should be about 13kms, with about 800m of ascent. I propose we leave at least one car at the Apollo Road car park, and then drive the rest to the start point at the Namadgi visitor centre. We can then do the walk, and send one car back to collect the others while we wait under a tree (or something like that).

      Naismith's rule says this walk should take about 5 hours.


    I've been meaning to do this one for ages, but finally got around to doing the walk with a few friends. We went up Tennent from the Namadgi visitor's center, but walked back down on the far side of Tennent which seems less common. The far side is less scenic, but less steep as well I think. Along the way we collected 23 geocaches along the way, and a lovely walk was had by all.

    Just over 1,000 meters vertically, and around 16km horizontally.

                                   




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20151228 photo canberra bushwalk

posted at: 12:28 | path: /diary/pictures/20151228 | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 23 Dec 2015



Mulligan's flat

    I went for a post lunch geocache walk in Mulligan's flat this afternoon as I wind down towards the Christmas break. A good time was had, and a cool wool shed found. I really like this area, perfect for cub walks!

                                 




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20151223 photo canberra bushwalk

posted at: 12:43 | path: /diary/pictures/20151223 | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 22 Dec 2015



Street Orienteering

    I went street orienteering for the first time with my little brother the other day. It was super fun, and a good way to get a run in as well. We even came first in our division (team b grade)!




    Tags for this post: blog orienteering
    Related posts: Scout activity: orienteering at Mount Stranger

posted at: 15:13 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 03 Dec 2015



Skimpy




    ISBN: 9780733634383
    LibraryThing
    I've had a bit of a thing about biographies recently, having just read the very good The Crossroad by Mark Donaldson. This book is a very different story, but I think still quite interesting. Kellie was a country girl with no real plans and an impulse control problem. While the book follows her formative years as she parties across Australia in a generally northern direction, I think the underlying story about growing up and finding your way in the world is quite interesting.

    Is this great literature while will enlighten the masses? Probably not. Was it a fun read on a flight and mostly about a teenager with no direction finding her place in the world? Yes.

    Tags for this post: book kellie_arrowsmith biography australia
    Related posts: Don't Tell Mum I Work On The Rigs; The Crossroad; Qantas site; We're getting there; More on the new E-3 Visa; Thanks for the kind word Pia


posted at: 22:54 | path: /book/Kellie_Arrowsmith | permanent link to this entry


The Chronicles of Old Guy

    I found this e-book on Amazon while randomly poking around and read it on a recent set of flights. It was of interest because if looked like another bolo tank book, of which I have read many over the years. That said, its not in strictly the same universe as the other bolo books, and seems more like unofficial fan fiction than something which maps into the universe seamlessly.

    The book is competently written and readable. However, it regularly strays into what I would consider fantasy fiction (medieval warfare, vampires, battling Godzilla) in a way I found jarring and annoying. Overall I don't think I'll read the other books in this series.

    Tags for this post: book timothy_j_gawne bolo combat ai
    Related posts: Against the Tide; The Stars Must Wait; Emerald Sea; All The Weyrs of Pern; Consider Phlebas; Bolos 2: The Unconquerable

posted at: 12:18 | path: /book/Timothy_J_Gawne | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 15 Nov 2015



Mount Stranger one last time

    This is the last walk in this series, which was just a pass through now that the rain has stopped to make sure that we hadn't left any markers or trash lying around after the Scout orienteering a week ago. This area has really grown on me -- I think most people stick to the path down by the river, whereas this whole area has nice terrain, plenty of gates through fences and is just fun to explore. I'm so lucky to have this so close to home.




    Tags for this post: blog canberra bushwalk

posted at: 12:20 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 09 Nov 2015



A walk in the Orroral Valley

    Last weekend was a walk in the Orroral Valley with a group of scout leaders. Embarrassingly, I'd never been in this area before, and its lovely -- especially at the moment after all the rain we've had. Easy terrain, and a well marked path for this walk. The only catch is that there's either a car shuffle involved, or you need to do a 12km return walk.

                             




    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20151107 photo canberra bushwalk

posted at: 19:13 | path: /diary/pictures/20151107 | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 08 Nov 2015



Scout activity: orienteering at Mount Stranger

    I've run scout activities before, but its always been relatively trivial things like arranging attendance at a Branch level event such as an astronomy night or an environment camp. They've involved consent forms and budgeting and so forth, but never the end to end creation of a thing from scratch. So, I was quite excited to be presented with an opportunity to take the scouts orienteering in an unfamiliar environment.

    I chose the area of nature reserve between Mount Stranger and the Murrumbidgee River because its nice terrain (no tea tree!), but big enough for us to be able to do some long distance bearing navigation, which is a badge requirement some of the scouts are working on at the moment.

    The first step was to scout out (pun intended) the area, and see what sort of options there are for controls and so forth. I'd walked through this area a bit before, as its close to my house, but I'd never bush bashed from the river to the trig before. The first attempt was a simple marking off of the gates along the bicentennial horse trail -- I knew we'd want to cross this somewhere for the long distance leg. That route looked like this:




    The next recce was a wander along a candidate route with some geocaching thrown in for good luck. The geocaching turned out to be quite useful, because on the actual night with the scouts it meant I had a better handle of what was in the area, so when a couple of girls started losing interest I could say stuff like "Did I forget to mention there's an awesome tree house just over there?".




    With that in mind, I then just started slogging out a route -- the long distance leg turned out to be the hardest part here. I wanted to avoid fence crossings as much as possible, and this whole area is littered with barbed wire fences. I think I redid that leg four times before I found a route that I was happy with, which was ironically the first one I'd tried.




    Job done! Now I only needed to walk this route three more times! The first walk was to lay out the orienteering markers before the scouts attacked the course:




    ...and then actually doing the course with some scouts...




    Comparing the two maps, I don't think they did too bad to be honest. There's definitely potential here for more navigation practise, but I think the key there is that practise makes perfect. There shall be more hiking and orienteering in our future! The final walk was just collecting the markers after the event, which I will skip here.

    I put a fair bit of effort into this course, so I'd like to see it used more than once. To that end, I am going to put the documentation online for others to see and use. If you'd like help running this course, drop me a line at mikal@stillhq.com and I'd be happy to help.



    Tags for this post: scouts orienteering navex
    Related posts: Street Orienteering; Exploring the Jagungal

posted at: 15:40 | path: /scouts | permanent link to this entry