Experiments in our fridge: the night we almost crossed into marital Armageddon

BrianWhat is this?


BrianThis! This… thisthisthis green sludge stuff in the medium sized pot on the bottom shelf of the fridge.

SuzanneOh, that’s just an experiment.

BrianAn experiment? How long have you been conducting this experiment?

SuzanneCouple weeks.

BrianA couple weeks?

SuzanneStop rephrasing my answers as questions. It’s annoying.

BrianWas the experiment to find out if a full pot of … whatever the hell that is… gets more edible the longer you leave it?

SuzanneNo smarty. And if you don’t like it you’re quite welcome to start cooking all the meals yourself.

BrianGuess what kids! No more early meals. You have to wait until about 8pm from now on before dinner is ready. What are you doing now, Suzanne?

SuzanneI’m chucking it in the bin.

BrianBut Suzanne, the experiment can’t be over. Why don’t you leave it a few more weeks. It might magically turn into a Crayfish Sandwich, or perhaps some Key Lime Pie judging by its current colour.

SuzanneI’m chucking it so you can’t take a photo of it for your blog.

BrianCurse you, woman. I needed that as evidence.

SuzanneShut up, and finish washing the dishes. And stay out of the fridge from now on, fatty.

How to bring down a web server through no fault of your own

My account at my hosting company got suspended the other night. It was actually a sickening feeling the first time I saw it. I was logging in to another site to do some updates, and saw my lovingly crafted work replaced with an unfriendly “This account has been suspended” message. I did a bit of checking and found all my sites showing the same message. A blog article from about a year ago was shared on Reddit, and it seems it got a fair bit of exposure. My hosting company sent me this email, showing that %CPU and %Memory were very high for a sustained period:

As you probably aware, here at Just Host we proactively monitor all our servers to ensure that our clients websites are loading as fast as possible at all times. During this routine monitoring we have found that your account is utilizing an excessive amount of system resources, and we have been forced to suspend your site as per our terms and
conditions ’10% CPU/MEM/MySQL Policy’

For your reference, here is a copy of your account usage report:
##########User Domain % CPU % MEM MySQL Processes

|xxxx |vycanismajoris.org             |17.47|32.76|0.7   |
| Top Process | 36.0 | /usr/bin/php /home/vycanis1/public_html/brian.hoover.net.au/blog/index.php |
| Top Process | 17.2 | /usr/bin/php /home/vycanis1/public_html/brian.hoover.net.au/blog/index.php |
| Top Process | 14.5 | /usr/bin/php /home/vycanis1/public_html/brian.hoover.net.au/blog/index.php |
Just Host offer unlimited hosting space and unlimited bandwidth, but as per our terms we will suspend any website which exceeds our 10% CPU/MEM/MySQL policy. We hope that you understand our position in ensuring that we provide the best possible service. In order to continue to provide this high quality service, you will need to upgrade to a dedicated server, which will give you an abundance of additional resources and speed up your website.

As a loyal Just Host customer we have arranged for you to receive a special deal on a dedicated server with SingleHop, (our trusted dedicated partner) who will assist you with everything you need to make your switch a smooth transaction.


My whole account got suspended, not just this blog web site. The account includes twelve other web sites hosted myself and for friends, plus a couple charities. POP and IMAP were okay, it seems, but SMTP authentication was disabled which was strange. I guess they wanted me to get the above email but not necessarily reply to them.

Long story short, they wanted me to move to a $150 a month dedicated server, just for me. Hey, there’s nothing I’d love more. It’d be a great playground to experiment and do things with but I can’t spend that much coin on Interwebz right now. So I pulled that article and streamlined some SSIs and other invisible gizmos just to get this and the rest of my sites up and running again.

Check out the pageviews:

I guess I can’t complain. I’m not paying all that much for hosting and I can understand their need to ensure that all sites and customers on that web server are functioning, but I would rather they take a different approach in their email. “We’re suspending you. Good day, sir. We don’t want to hear from you again” is a bit harsh.

Art is either plagiarism or revolution.

So we played a bit of Junior Pictionary the other night, and a fun time was had by all. Ashton and Jett thought it’d be fun to play kids vs adults, a challenge we were all too willing to accept. I was quite proud of my “wand” attempt:

Ashton managed to guess “chicken” from a drawing by Jett:

It was going alright for Suzanne’s drawings, until this picture. I had to remind her that “Ice Cubes” don’t necessarily sink to the bottom of the glass:

Jett somehow managed to guess “Tattoo” from a plain square box drawn by Ashton, but I think he might have been looking at my picture instead.

The first round was a close one but the adults won it by a slim margin. There were howls of how unfair it was to allow “Stamp Collection” when the clue was clearly “Stamp Collecting”. So in the second round the adults decided to forgo allowing the little indiscretions we’d witnessed from the kids in the first round. No more Mr Nice Guy for us; no more looking at the other team, we’d claim winners instead of allowing “draws” if the call was close, and the guess had to exactly match the clue. This was all much to Ashton’s dismay when she guessed “Sun” from one of Jett’s pictures, but it was disallowed. The clue on the card was very clear that she was supposed to guess “The Sun” and not just “Sun”.

Junior Pictionary is a great game for young ‘uns to develop their imagination and artistic talent, and should be part of every family games collection!


Sound FX


Ever since someone pointed it out to me, I can’t stop hearing Pac Man when I scratch the inside of my ear.

A whiter shade of grey

So for the last few months the City of Perth (or Main Roads Department, I never really paid attention) has been ripping up the grey concrete pavers along St Georges Terrace from Victoria Avenue to Barrack Street and replacing them with… grey concrete pavers. When I first saw this work starting I got a little excited. In the previous months the other end of St Georges Terrace from Barrack Street on up had some impressive road works which included replacing those same grey, dreary everyday concrete pavers with nice, modern slate paving. It’s still grey, but it looks sweet. They redid the curbing and generally tarted the place up.

Part of my soul-crushing walk to work suddenly became somewhat happier, invoking pleasant feelings encouragement to overcome the perils of my toil which lay ahead. Funny how simple paving can do that.

I work at the start of St Georges Terrace near Victoria Ave, so it was with great delight that one morning I saw workmen (and an associated support crew consisting of a woman with a “Caution” lollipop sign) ripping up the pavement down the Victoria Ave end of the Terrace. We were finally going to see this old, chewing gum and vomit stained sidewalk replaced with stones of happiness. I’d feel like Michael Jackson skipping along to the tune of Billie Jean when making my way to work along the Terrace.

Months later, the reality is quite different to the dream.

What I’m left with is the same uninspiring, bleak, dreary trudge along dull grey concrete pavement. The only difference being that it’s a slightly lighter shade of grey:

Old pavement on the left, new pavement on the right

Compare the quality

Not finished though

I can only guess that this was all done in anticipation of CHOGM. The leaders of all the Commonwealth Governments, including the Queen Her-Royal-self, are coming to Perth to catch up, make promises and generally do whatever Heads of Government do when they get together.

No expense is being spared. Everyone in Perth is even invited to a Barbeque to have a hotdog or a chop and salad with the Queen of England and her husband on the weekend of the 26th. And, because they’re reportedly being put up at the Duxton Hotel and at Government House down the end of St Georges Terrace it seems the City of Perth decided to rip up the concrete and replace it with lighter concrete so the World Leaders can enjoy power walking up to Kings Park or perhaps getting in on the free lunches on offer at Council House.

In reality I think all this could have more easily been achieved with a couple two man teams with high-pressure water cleaners. It would have taken significantly less time and cost nowhere near as much and produced much the same result with far less disruption.

Cars 2: The Lemon

I started writing this back in July but never finished it. So “last week” is more like “last quarter”.

I took a day off work last week and took the family out to see Cars 2 in 3-D at the local cinema. Perhaps we’ve had it too good for too long with Pixar. They consistently produced brilliant, imaginative animation with engaging characters. I mean really, you can’t fault Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Wall-E or Up whether you’re judging though children or adult eyes. From the start, Pixar cast the right voice actors, wrote brilliant stories, composed great music and employed brilliant visionary directors.

In comparison, their biggest competitor in Dreamworks has been a bit hit-and-miss. Below is a graph showing rating scores from RottenTomatoes.com for Pixar movies (in pink) and Dreamworks movies (in blue).

First thing you can see is that, for the most part, Pixar rates higher than Dreamworks. And, Pixar always has rated highly from their first movie Toy Story back in 1995, following up with greats including Mosters Inc, The Incredibles and Ratatouille. The only aberration, funnily enough,  seems to be Cars from 2006, making a score of 74% their “bad movie”. Dreamworks seems to be a roller coaster on the ratings ride, with great shows like Chicken Run, Shrek, Shrek 2 and How to Train Your Dragon being interspersed with stinkers like Shark Tale and Shrek the Third.

But what’s this on the end there? It looks like Pixar took a nose dive off a cliff face after taking a long run up and crashed spectacularly. That, my friends, is Cars 2 with a score of 38%, making Cars 2 the first Pixar movie to get a yellow sticker. True, it’s as visually stunning as any other Pixar movie. More-so, given the “locations” and the 3-D treatment. But none of it could disguise the leaky seals and smoke coming from under the hood. Could it be because Cars 2 was was less about Lightning McQueen, a good strong character, and more about Mater, who, let’s face it, is pretty weak? Could it have been marked down for trying to cram in too much action, like car chases, explosions, guns and violence at the expense of a good story? Could it be because of the weak story pandering to the lowest common denominator, and being too obvious as a vehicle to sell more toys?

Personally, I think it’s a mix of all these. After the movie I think the whole family felt disappointed in the movie. Certainly, Jett no longer regards McQueen as as favourite character but expresses his admiration for Finn McMissile. I don’t know what’s in the pipeline at Pixar, but I hope they can redeem themselves with the next movie. I really hope that they don’t try to revive it and make Cars 3. Even if that engine was fully restored, the body was given a new coat of metallic paint and a new genius director was given the keys I don’t think it’d come out a winner. It would probably never been forgiven for past failures and would forever be known as the Sporty Corvair of animated feature movies.

Been having too much fun on Google+

Wow, been a while since I posted anything worthwhile. I’ve been spending too much time on Google+ and have been a bit distracted by it. It finally came out of beta a couple weeks ago, and notwithstanding some idiotic articles about it, Google plus has been pretty fun to use so far. I’ve been involved in a couple Hangouts, been involved in the “Perth Plussers” circle, and found some interesting people “nearby”. I also use it to automatically back up all the photos I take on my phone, and it lets me share them any time later on. I really can’t wait for it to grow and adapt. For those who want games, it’s got ‘em but so far I haven’t received any game invitations so it’s all good.

I’ve got a few unfinished blog entries I can pick up and finish off, so I guess I’ll have to get cracking over the next few days. I usually have a couple finished and ready to go in the pipeline but the cupboard is bare until the 5th of November.

When a problem comes along You Must Whip It

So Ashton learned a valuable lesson last night. Do not mess with Dad when drying the dishes!

Ashton thought she would try and start a bit of a tea towel fight with me rather than actually dry the dishes. If you asked the two other witnesses you’ll get three different stories (Suzanne, being a woman, will change her mind) but I’ll tell you how it really happened.

We traded a couple shots, nothing more than glancing blows. After one too many I decided we needed to focus on the task at hand. I could see Ashton readying for another shot so I decided a warning shot was needed.

Unfortunately for Ashton, she lunged into exactly the wrong spot at the wrong time and instead of a warning shot it became a perfectly timed THWACK across her thigh.

Hours later, when the crying had died down, a great big welt appeared on her leg very similar in appearance to the Great Red Spot on Jupiter.

Luckily its school holidays right now so she can’t show it for class news, but the first thing she did when we visited her grand parents was to proclaim to them what a mean Dad I am for mercilessly whipping her.