Saturday, December 13, 2008

Final Results are Out

Engineering for Sustainable Development: 81 (HD)
Optimum & Adaptive Filtering: 89 (HD)
Final Year Project: 84 (HD)
Electrical Engineering Honours: H1 (first class)

I'm an engineer!

Friday, December 12, 2008

On Our Way to a New Front Yard

Step 1 to our new front yard is now complete! The front yard was completely leveled over 3 days of digging, stump grinding, and hauling off truckloads of dirt (there's no video of the stump grinding because it was way too dusty to film it!). I was really happy with the job, so if anyone needs a similar thing done (in Perth, W.A) then let me know and I'll give you the name of an awesome guy.

The Giant TreeThe guy (Craig) actually said it was the worst front yard he'd ever seen! The previous owner had planted tens of trees all over the front yard, most of them really close to the house and directly over the telephone, power, and gas pipelines. One of these trees was a giant maple type tree (removed a while back) that was very close to the garage, and who's roots are currently destroying our driveway. Craig actually had to call in a stump grinder because he just couldn't remove it with his excavator! To make matters worse (if that's possible), the previous owner had in fact cut down a lot of trees over the years and covered the stumps with dirt, so there were a lot more stumps beneath the giant mount than were originally visible.

So thank god that's over and done with, and we can move on to the next steps of putting up a fence between the front/back yards, laying down reticulation, paving, and doing some landscaping. We have decided to put ONE TREE ONLY (we've certainly learnt the lesson of not planting giant trees) which will probably be a small frangipani, and using small flowers and shrubs for decoration.

An upside to the mess is that the whole process has been an icebreaker with the neighbours who have gone out of there way to come and congratulate us for finally getting our act together and sorting out the front yard disaster! Although it's still far from being resolved...

Step 1 Complete

Friday, November 28, 2008

Summer Vacation? Pft.

During my vacation between the end of uni and the start of full time work (at L-3 Communications Nautronix where I did my final year project) I decided to put myself to use and do some things that needed doing around the house. Turns out that there was a lot that needed to be done, and it wasn't as easy as I thought it would all be!

My first job that I thought would be a quick one to ease me into the handy-man mood was to replace all the broken globes in and around our house. I picked up all the required globes from Bunnings, and replaced most of them with ease. However, I discovered that all of our down lights were not properly covered, and so insulation had built up around the connections and was being singed by the heat! I decided to get into the ceiling and see if I could clean up a bit, but quickly discovered that I didn't fit because of the strong slant of our roof, and so settled for just putting my hand in the light fitting and taking out/pushing back as much insulation as I could from around the hole. Not the most optimal solution, but it'll do for now!

Goodbye Kitchen SinkNext on my list was to replace our awful kitchen sink. Everyone who sees it says how nice it looks, but it's really REALLY inconvenient. And what the hell is that little sink on the right for anyway? We bought a really nice big double sink with flat metal bits on both sides so I finally have somewhere to prepare meat. We're getting that installed tomorrow morning so I can't wait!

Front Yard DisasterAnother big task is the front yard disaster. Anyone who's been over our house knows that our front yard looks like a bomb has hit it. We intend to hire someone to flatten it out to ground level, since all the soil resting on the garage wall has made a lot of moisture leak through and weaken the concrete. We've found someone who will do it for a reasonable price (well... relatively for the size of the task) and so we're looking forward to getting that done so we can design our new front yard.

Colour TestSomething that I'd love to do, but may be a bit ambitious for the time frame, is to paint! Matt and I have been looking at some paint swatches and we've decided on a dark red feature wall for the master bedroom (with the other walls a pale beige). The other 3 bedrooms are going to be that same pale beige, with a slightly darker shade for the far walls. We tested our dark red feature wall idea with a bed sheet that was roughly the same colour, and decided that it looked good!

Some other things on my list include sorting out our shower leakage problem, overhauling our backyard (which is currently in good progress), and buying a new fridge. I've definitely been keeping busy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Last... Exam... EVER

Last Exam EverToday I just had my final exam ever! I officially graduate next year, but as far as units are concerned, I've completely finished. I haven't been posting lately since there hasn't been much to post about; I've mostly just been in thesis writing mode. Hopefully a lot more interesting things will be happening to me now that I actually have time to do stuff!

Peacock in Full BloomI really enjoyed today actually, even the exam part! I guess you can enjoy anything if you know it's the last time you'll ever have to do it. After the exam, we all went down to the tavern to celebrate. I also did the whole tourist thing and went around and took photos of all the places around uni where I spent countless hours working on labs, reports, and my thesis. I also managed to catch the male peacock showing off to the females! He's almost as tall as me when he's all puffed up like that!

So goodbye UWA, I'll miss you!
UWA Clock Tower

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Perth Royal Show 2008

The Perth Royal Show comes around once a year. It's kind of a big fete with all sorts of things to see and do. When I was younger I went every year, but since it's usually around the end of the uni semester (which is a very busy time), I've been missing it the last couple of years.

Makeup Experiment CloseupThis year I went with a couple of my girl friends and spent the day feeling young again. I decided to do some fun makeup, but I didn't wear my traditional "show hat" (which is a jesters hat fully equipped with bells) which was a good thing since the crowd seems to have matured a bit.

Patting PigletsWe saw the baby animal farm where I patted some piglets, the dog and cat shows, and a variety of other animals including one giant animal (in the bottom pic) that I don't know the name of (please do tell if you know what it is). It really was huge; they must have had him sedated because he could have done some damage with even just a tail flick!

I went on a couple of rides (the GeeWizz and the Orbitron) but they're so expensive now days ($10/ride!) that we drew the line at two. I bought heaps of lollies and chocolate, and also some dark red bed sheets which I've been wanting for ages, so that was really awesome. It was really fun to take a break from uni and have a nice relaxing day at the show. Actually I've been taking it easy lately, and will be next weekend too with the Spring in the Valley wine festival, a b'day, and a movie night. I think it's my attitude of "it's final year, I'll just enjoy it instead of stressing"!

Giant Animal

Thursday, September 18, 2008

TV Forecast is in stores NOW!

Matt has just released TV Forecast as an iPhone application at the App Store! Check out Matt's site for details and links to get it.

There's been some awesome reviews already - it's really cool to see people enjoy all the hard work that's gone into it. Keep an eye out for the Countdown view (in horizontal mode) which was my personal contribution to the project ;)

It's going for US$2.99 and AU$3.99 so check it out. And don't be shy, give Matt a review :)

Monday, August 18, 2008


MetameterAfter a cease and desist email from IGN Entertainment, and much to the dismay of his fans, Matt was forced to take the Tomatometer widget down. Luckily, we've ported the functionality to the new and shiny Metameter, which uses Metacritic in place of Rotten Tomatoes. 

So check out Metacritic (available from Matt's website) for some movie rating widget goodness!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Food Tip #2

StrawberriesI recently discovered the joys of dipping food in chocolate when we finally used the fondu set my cousin bought for us in Switzerland. Although, this brought up the dilemma of what foods can in fact be dipped in chocolate (of course anything can be dipped in chocolate, but whether it will be tasty is another story). Some stuff is obvious (e.g. strawberries) but other stuff isn't that clear (e.g. pineapple).

KiwiSo I've come up with a rule: If you can prefix the food in question with the word "milk", and it still sounds appetising, then it will taste good dipped in chocolate. 

This makes the choice a lot easier - how gross does pineapple milk sound!

Food Tip #1

Living out of home sort of forces you to optimise your life. I thought it'd be nice to share my findings as I... well, find them. Here's the first of my tips for food!

A mini liquor bottle makes an awesome container for holding salad dressing. Despite the strange looks you'll get when you pour that "vodka" on your lunch, it's much handier than having soggy lettuce by lunch time. Sure you can buy a dressing bottle and leave that at work, but I much prefer using salt, pepper, oil, and wine/balsamic vinegar than the salad dressings you buy.

Salad for Lunch

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Just because it's Yellow doesn't mean it tastes like Lemon

Birthday MuffinsFor my birthday I decided to make some cupcakes in lieu of a cake, and thought it would be cute to make them colourful. So I split up the icing mixture into 5 separate cups and added some food colouring to make some purple, green, orange, yellow and pink icing.

It's an Icing RainbowThe funny thing is, some people managed to taste flavours that weren't there - the pink ones tasted like strawberry, and the yellow ones like lemon! I didn't get any feedback on the purple flavour, maybe because everyone avoided them because they looked grey in the outdoor light. Possibly they would taste like something grey... maybe dust?

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I was on my way out of Malaga Markets the other week after doing our weekly fruit 'n veg shopping, when I decided to take a look in the pet shop. I thought it might be nice to get a new pet mouse (RIP Penny the mouse), so I made my way to the back of the shop where the small cages are kept.

Amongst the usual rodents such as guinea pigs and rats, there was a cage marked "Fancy Mouse", which housed a very large mountain of newspaper, but no visible mouse (fancy or otherwise). Curious as to what sort of pet a fancy mouse was (and why they were charging $2 extra for him), I asked the shop keep to tell me. She said that she didn't actually know but was also interested to find out, so she started to dig through the newspaper mountain for the tenant of the cage.

After a bit of rustling, she managed to catch what appeared to be a regular mouse, a bit on the old and mangey side, but with no tail. From the strange bump on it's backside I'm guessing that this mouse was born with a tail, but had parted ways with it at some point during it's long life.

What did I learn from this experience? That you can take a damaged, inferior, or dated item, prefix the word "fancy" to it's description, charge a few extra dollars, and sucker people like me in.


I was recently looking for a gold bangle, but quickly decided that they were a bit too expensive, even for the hollow kind. I decided to take a look on eBay and found this store that sells jewelry with bids starting at 99c. That means that if not many people bid on an item you can end up getting it really cheap. 

I ended up bidding on a few items, and won two items; a 4mm bangle, and 3x2mm bangles. They're gold filled (not solid gold, but thicker than gold plating), but they're just as shiny! I managed to get each item for $20, which is a lot better than a price in the hundreds for a solid bangle from a jewelry store. Sure they might not last forever, but I'll probably get sick of them by then anyway!


Monday, May 5, 2008

Gardening Galore

Matt and I have been on a gardening rampage lately since the garden refuse truck thing is coming around this week. We've managed to completely destroy our front yard (in a good way), and even got rid of our giant tree out the front!

The Front Yard ForrestWell OK we payed someone to do it, but it's gone none the less. I have mixed feelings about that tree - the guy told me it was over 20 years old, so it's very sad to see it taken down, but at the same time I'm so relieved we won't have to clean our gutters anymore!

Tree No MoreWe can't wait to start planting stuff, and getting our garden looking like a garden instead of a jungle. It's still a long way off though, since the next step is to get the ground leveled out the front, but we're slllloooowwwlly getting there!

The Giant Tree

My Final Year Project Trial

I thought I'd finally post a little bit about my final year project for those of you who are interested in one of the reasons why I'm always so stressed out :)

I'm currently in my final year at uni, finishing off my engineering degree. Part of this is completing a final year project, which is how UWA (university of Western Australia) decides whether or not you graduate with honours.

My final year project is an industry partnered one, which means that I'm doing it for the uni, but also for L-3 Nautronix. It's still very research based, but has a practical component to it as well.

L-3 Nautronix does a lot of through water communications, and the problem I'm tackling is that of noisy platforms. The idea of the project is to investigate a noise cancellation system to get rid of the noise introduced by a noisy platform at the receiving end of a communication system. When a signal comes in to a Nautronix receiver (which is a big heavy ball thing usually hanging off the end of a boat) a lot of noise is introduced by the platform (such as a noisy boat motor). After some investigation, we chose to use a signal processing approach involving adaptive interference cancellation.

The Jetty UnitIt's actually very easy to describe the gist of whats going on. Imagine putting a microphone at the receiver, and one at the boat motor. One of the microphones would give you a pure boat noise signal, and the other microphone would give you the incoming information signal plus some boat motor noise too. If we subtract one from the other, we're left with the information signal only! Of course it's not that simple due to things like a time varying underwater channel between the motor and receiver etc. but it's very doable, and the adaptive algorithms take care of most of the mess.

The Bull SharkLast Friday I went out on trial to do the physical version of the microphone analogy. I went out with the HAIL team on their trial, and did my recordings after they had finished. It was actually a really fun day! I saw a dolphin, some little flying fish thingies, and I went on a boat which was very exciting.

Me and the Ball HydrophoneI haven't had a chance to look at all the data I've recorded yet due to my weekend being EXTREMELY busy, but I'm confident that I've got a fair bit to work with! I'm interested to see how strong the effects of the channel were, since I have no idea what to expect. I'm a bit worried that the two "microphones" I used were too different (in terms of response), so hopefully that's OK for what I need.

So there's a short summary of what I've been doing, feel free to ask any questions about the subject :)

Friday, May 2, 2008

If LOST Was a Soapie

So what if LOST was a soap opera? Well, it would probably have a title sequence much like this one...

Made by Matt Comi

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Transporting Wastewater at UWA

I'm doing a unit called Engineering for Sustainable Development, which is in fact a mechanical unit, but I had to do it anyway due to timetable issues. It's one of those fluffy units that's not very well defined, and where lectures are guest lecturers from industry, and I haven't quite figured out how to enjoy it yet.

Although, it does have it's moments. One of the major assignments for the unit was a Wastewater Transport Project. There was a company, JAMARG, who was producing a bunch of wastewater (i.e. water from a hose) that needed to be transported through the Fiefdoms (different regions of the campus) by the 9 transport companies A-I (we were Transport Team I - iTransport) to UniTreat, the wastewater treatment plant located on the opposite side of uni.

The lead up to the practical was to write a huge management plan involving a risk assessment, communication plan, forms, procedures, policies, etc. That... was not fun, and turned out to be a huge time sink which is not good in final year. However, the day was pretty awesome!

We were given a wheelbarrow and 4 buckets, and we had to physically transport the 220L of wastewater (per transport company) with a wheelbarrow via our secure transport system. Some teams went all out and bought paint buckets as enclosures. We went for the cheap option - put bags in the buckets and fill those up instead, then tie them up with a knot to prevent spillages. By the way a spillage is penalised by a 10minute wait and some money loss too.

We didn't do too badly - we only had one minor spill, but didn't manage to deliver our full consignment. This was relatively minor compared to UniTreat who managed to have two fatalities; a mother pushing a pram wandered into the wastewater treatment area and became contaminated, and promptly died.

So after all my complaining I managed to have a pretty good time! Going down to the tav with our blue suits on was a nice end to a hard days work hauling hazardous waste.
Wastewater Transport

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Glad Wrap vs. Al Foil

This is something that's been bothering me for a while now, and I was hoping to get some comments that will clear up my kitchen konundrum.

OK so how do you make the decision to use Al foil rather than Glad Wrap and vice versa? Sometimes it's obvious, for example, left over pizza is definitely an Al foil thing, where as left over chicken is definitely a Glad Wrap thing.

But sometimes I'm left confused - how do I cover up the left over sausage sizzle? What about left over steak? Left over pasta? Help!

On another note, check out Matt's post about the worst movie in the world, Dark Hunters, which happens to star Jeff Fahey, a Lost cast member. I strongly suggest that you watch this movie if you ever happen to come across it - it's... HILLARIOUS - I think I've seen it about 10 times now and each time has offered a new facet of ridiculousness. I picked it up from a bargain bin in a Sydney $2 shop as a joke present for Matt's sis. Best $2 spent ever!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Face to Face Expo and Google Visits

I thought I'd post about some stuff that happened last week, since I've been really distracted with final year project proposal due in, tests, assignments... the usual stuff!

Google Tech Talk
The Google guys have been going around to universities spreading the word and doing tech talks. UWA was lucky enough to have Susannah present the Map-Reduce tech talk. I had already heard it at the Anita Borg finalists retreat last year (tech girls - APPLY!), but I picked up a lot more this time around.

The Googlers invited the previous year's finalists out to dinner to catch up on what was going on. Of course the topic of final year project was taboo (for obvious stress reasons) so it was no tech talk at the dinner table. Speaking to the guys got me thinking about applying for an internship over the summer... but I've just moved out so small steps, small steps.

Trust me to choose the Best Parking SpotEngineers Australia Face to Face Expo
The Face to Face expo is held at the Claremont Showgrounds and is really just a hoard of companies with stalls trying to scope out the talent (engineering talent that is). I attended this year not as a student, but as a representative for L-3 Nautronix! It was very fun being on the other side, despite the being soaking wet all day (there was torrential rain all morning - but my shoes were fine phew!).

The L-3 Nautronix StandOur stall was put together in a bit of a rush, so we definitely learned a lot that will make it better next year, for example, we're planning on having a banner that lists the types of engineering disciplines that are relevant so that the civil guys don't bother inquiring.

We had a few really interesting people talk to us, so all in all it was successful! Hopefully there's a lot of applicants this year, since it seems to be hard to find good graduates who aren't planning to move away from Perth.

Uni Stuff
Digital Microelectronics System Design (DMSD) test next week, group assignment due, Digital Communications and Networking (DCN) assignment due, Engineering for Sustainable development management plan and practical due (it's actually quite awesome, I'll post about it later), final year project in continuous high stress mode... I miss the days when comp sci and maths units took the edge of the engineering :(

Keeping my chin up though!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

RIP Penny the Mouse

Penny was a happy mouse and was loved by everyone (except for my grandma, but that doesn't count). She liked to be patted between her ears, and her favourite treat was biscuit crumbs.

Penny was my pet for a year, and she is greatly missed :( Goodbye Penny!

Penny In the Sky

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Long Weekend!

This year Easter was not during the mid semester uni break, so we all got a 4 day long weekend... AHHH :) Although it went to fast, like all holidays, and it was back to work today, and uni again tomorrow grrrr

I'm still recovering from the continuous stream of food over the weekend, and we now have more chocolate than we've ever had in our house.

Matt has an EggWe also have lots of boiled eggs now - we have a tradition where we colour boiled eggs, usually red, and it's sort of a game where you try and break other people's eggs with your egg (don't ask...), so that'll be lunch for a few days yet!

Our New BookcaseMatt and I thought that Saturday would be a nice relaxing day to go IKEA shopping, since of course, no one was likely to go shopping during the Easter break (no sarcasm, we really did think that). But the monstrous new Innaloo was packed as always, making it extra fun to weave through the IKEA maze. We picked up a lovely Expedit bookcase, which we've been wanting for a long time now yay!

In other news... nothing much has been happening other than working hard on my final year project, and being back at uni. The new house is going well, and our new washing machine means that we are now fully independent!

Keep an eye on Matt's website for some upcoming developments! I'm helping Matt work on a fun project that I can't wait to see take off :)

So hope everyone had a happy Easter with minimal chocolate/food overload!
Cocolina has an Egg (but it's not quite right)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine's Day

It's one of those things you can't help but get sucked into despite the shameless marketing ploy that it is. But the way we think about it is that it's the day where we have to make an effort to relax and have a nice dinner, no matter how busy we are.

Valentine's Day BreakfastThis year Matt surprised me with breakfast pancakes with jam and cream, and bought me this gorgeous green vase with a red rose. I had a similar idea, and bought a big square vase (we both like the modern square stuff) and filled it with red things like strawberry tea, Cherry Ripe bars, strawberry lollies, and berry Tim Tams.

Valentine's DayAfter dinner we went to our favourite Chinese restaurant, which is usually very quiet, but was uncharacteristically filled to the brim with Valentine's Day restaurant goers. It was nice and romantic, despite having to scream at each other to hear anything.

We ended the night with strawberry tea on our swing, with the fairy lights on (awww). Hope everyone had a great Valentine's day!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Big Day Out 2008

ScorcherYesterday was the Perth 2008 Big Day Out, and I'm still recovering from the best festival I've ever been to. The weather didn't let up, and it ended up getting to 37 degrees - and boy did everyone feel it. I straightened my hair before I left, and when I got home I had tight curls!

Matt and I were there to see Spoon, Arcade Fire, Bjork, and anything else on top of that was pretty much a bonus. We also ended up seeing Josh Pyke, Battles, Silverchair (well, heard Silverchair), and LCD Sound System (last 10 minutes).

SpoonSpoon was first up, on the Green stage, which was a small, out of the way venue. What we saw was really great, but we had to leave early to get to Arcade Fire in time. We had to leave during Don't Make Me a Target which was a real shame, but I'm just happy I was there for You Got Yr .Cherry Bomb.

Arcade FireArcade Fire was AMAZING, really just awesome. Because the band is so big (10 people I think?) and because they all play so many instruments, the show was really amazing to watch. At one point one of the drummers climbed the scaffolding and started playing up there. My highlights were Intervention, and Keep the Car Running. I didn't realise there were so many Arcade Fire fans, but everyone was singing along to almost all the songs (bar the French lyrics of course).

BjorkBjork stole the show with a crazy performance littered with bizarre costumes, lasers, and confetti. The crowd went nuts for her and you could tell that everyone around was a die hard Bjork fan. The whole set was great, and really, every song was a highlight, but I guess my pet favourite has always been All is Full of Love, which she sang so beautifully that everyone just went silent to listen to it.

So all in all it was the best festival I've ever been to, and the night ended in the best shower I've ever had, and lead into the worst day at work I've ever had. But of course you can't have one with the other.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Still Getting Used to Writing 2008 on Stuff

New Years Eve at My Parents'Well it's 2 weeks into the new year, and it looks like I've kept up my last year's new years resolution (keeping this very blog) quite well! All in all the new year's break has been non eventful, with family stuff taking up most of our spare time.

Mum's Chocolate CakeChristmas, new years, and boxing day were spent with the family (as always), so we ate a month's worth of food in a week (as always).

In work news, I've moved on to my CEED project on site work, so I'm no longer getting paid as a vacation student. This is very depressing as I was just getting used to the steady income of money, which I found to be very pleasant. I'm currently researching the different types of solutions that I may use for my project, which has involved reading many books on adaptive filtering/blind source separation theory, which all tends to look like "Greek alphabet soup" after a while. But I am not discouraged! The sea trial where I'll be recording all my data is coming up, and I'm really looking forward to that.

I've just finished reading "Flatland - A Romance of Many Dimensions" (Edwin A. Abbott) which was a Christmas present from Matt, inspired by my interest in manifolds. It was a really great little book which involved no maths, and really gets you thinking. I had previously tried reading "The Shape of Space" (Jeffrey R. Weeks), but that really requires pen and paper to fully keep up with the content. But I strongly recommend Flatland as a short read for anyone who's interested in thinking about our perception of space.

I'm back at work tomorrow after a week of struggling with the dreaded holiday stomach bug. It looks like the year has already fallen back into the regular pace!
New Years Eve