Waterskiing on the Yarra River

This afternoon Megan and I visited Melbourne’s annual Moomba Festival. Yesterday’s storm made the Yarra river’s banks muddy and slippery, but did not appear to reduce the crowds.

Carnival ride, Moomba Festival, Melbourne
Carnival ride, Moomba Festival, Melbourne
Carnival ride, Moomba Festival, Melbourne
Carnival ride, Moomba Festival, Melbourne

I put together a short film of the waterskiing on the Yarra River. This is my first film experimenting with Garage Band. The result is not what would I like but I learnt a lot.

Watch the High Definition (HD) edition of the film on YouTube.

Photos from the day after Melbourne's hail storm

Twenty-four hours after the hail storm, Melbourne appears mostly unaffected by yesterday’s spectacular weather. The signs of yesterday’s flash flooding in the city centre are minimal.

Flood damage in a Melbourne shop.
Flood damage in a Melbourne shop.

Walking through the central business district this afternoon, I noticed the stairs near Elizabeth Street/Bourke Street still sheltered hail storm ice hidden from the sun.

Leaves caught in railings.
Leaves caught in railings.
Stairs leading down below yesterdays flooded street.
Stairs leading down below yesterdays flooded street.
Ice remains protected from the sun a day later.
Ice remains protected from the sun a day later.
Ice remains protected from the sun a day later.
Ice remains protected from the sun a day later.

Hail storm in Melbourne caught on film

This afternoon an unexpected hail storm hit Melbourne. Megan and I were lucky enough to be inside at the time. I grabbed the camera and we joined others in the building’s lobby to watch the storm build.

Watch the High Definition (HD) edition of the film on YouTube.

The thunder storm that followed lasted for most of the afternoon.

Hail storm, Melbourne, Australia
Hail storm, Melbourne, Australia
Chunk of ice from the hail storm
Chunk of ice from the hail storm
Hail storm, Melbourne, Australia
Hail storm, Melbourne, Australia

Update

The day after I ventured out into the city and took photos showing the remaining piles of hail ice.

This short film has appeared in the Slovakian Pluska.sk, the Australian Herald Sun web sites, and has accumulated a handful of YouTube honours:

  • #25 – Most Discussed (This Week)) – Travel & Events – Australia
  • #84 – Most Discussed (This Month)) – Travel & Events – Australia
  • #11 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Travel & Events – Australia
  • #37 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Travel & Events – New Zealand
  • #69 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Travel & Events
  • #68 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Travel & Events – Mexico
  • #84 – Most Viewed (This Week)) – Travel & Events – Hong Kong
  • #10 – Most Viewed (This Month)) – Travel & Events – Australia
  • #19 – Top Favorited (This Week)) – Travel & Events – Australia
  • #52 – Top Favorited (This Month)) – Travel & Events – Australia
  • #31 – Top Rated (This Month)) – Travel & Events – Australia

Property hunting in Lyon, Web::Scraper, and tbody tags

During the last few weekends, I have needed to brush up on my web site parsing skills. The tools available have moved on nicely since my last dip into this topic.

I am currently keeping an eye on properties in Lyon, France. The process has been tedious and called out for some automation. Megan and I plan to return to France in the future and this little project should ease the burden of finding an apartment or house.

Croix-Paquet, Lyon
Croix-Paquet, Lyon

This morning I discovered the perl module Web::Scraper. It is a port of a Ruby based tool called scrAPI. The approach taken avoids regular expression matching and opts for XPath and DOM tree selector matching; both more resilient methods of addressing specific sections of a web page.

Apartments, Lyon
Apartments, Lyon

I found one stumbling block that took a while to overcome. After a little trial and error, I discovered the FireFox browser returned misleading XPaths for objects embedded in tables.

The XPaths provided by FireBug and XPather, included browser-inserted tbody tags. These tags did not appear in my source web pages. Thus the browser’s XPath did not match the structure used by Web::Scraper, and caused Web::Scraper to miss the desired content.

The solution was easy; strip out the tbody tags and Web::Scraper returns to working as advertised.

With this problem overcome, the project is already looking helpful.

Japanese Summer Dance (Bon Odori)

This afternoon we visited Melbourne’s Docklands to see the Japanese Summer Festival 2010 (メルボルン夏祭り2010開催). I had fun capturing and editing together some of the summer dance performance.

Watch the High Definition (HD) edition on YouTube.

Once again this short film was taken on a Canon SX200IS and edited with iMovie on Mac OS X. I continue to be impressed with the quality of the footage from a point-and-shoot Canon. iMovie’s stabilisation feature has been great for making more of my shaky footage useful.

iMovie on Mac OS X
iMovie on Mac OS X

A better source of SSL certificates

I am no fan of Certificate Authorities (CA) but they seem necessary to work with in order to offer secure services. Certificate Authorities are the organisations that deal with certificates needed for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connections – the connections in your browser that show a padlock.

Early morning view from Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne
Early morning view from Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

Thus, I was delighted to find StartSSL‘s offerings. The prices are good and the service has been great.

I had trouble getting the sign up process working with Safari 4 on Mac OS X, and needed help to rectify the resulting problems. Within an hour or two all was put right and DssW’s Reseller site now has a new SSL certificate.

I experienced problems when setting up the site’s authentication certificate and keys. Keychain appeared to get confused at some stage and I was left locked out of my original account.

If you decide to try StartSSL from Mac OS X, I recommend using FireFox. I found Safari’s tight integration with Keychain to be counter productive. FireFox avoided Keychain’s problems and gave me control over where the keys and certificates ended up.

Ultimately, I want DssW’s keys and certificates stored in separate keychains or files, and not lumped into my personal login keychain.

Try following Glenn Fleishman’s article “How to obtain and install an SSL/TLS certificate, for free” from ars technica for the smoothest experience.

Chinese New Year – 2010 Year of the Tiger

Today saw the Chinese New Year celebrated in Melbourne. Megan and I found ourselves in the crowds watching the performers and doing our best to keep out of the exploding fire cracker debris.

Chinese New Year celebrations in Melbourne
Chinese New Year celebrations in Melbourne

Below is a short film showing one of the performances. Watch the High Definition (HD) edition on YouTube.

Once again the film was shot with our point and shoot Canon and edited in iMovie. This film is longer than any of my previous films. I wanted to keep in as much of the performance as feasible to give an idea of the build up to the fire crackers.

Happy Australia Day

26th January is Australia Day; Australia’s national day. Megan and I spent the day out and about exploring various events around the city. We stumbled upon entertainers and entertainment in most of the city parks we visited.
Many dressed up and were decked with Australian flags and national pride.
All dressed up for Australia Day
All dressed up for Australia Day
Government House, Victoria, was open for part of the day. The queues to get in were long and slow moving. It is a shame this property is not open more often.
Queues waiting outside Government House, Victoria
Queues waiting outside Government House, Victoria

The Australia Day People’s Parade floats ranged from marching bands to exhibits of the surreal.

Australia Day parade float
Australia Day People's Parade float

New Year's Eve 2009/2010 Fireworks Over Melbourne

Megan and I ventured out to Docklands, Melbourne, Australia, for the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

The day’s temperatures reached 37°C and moments before the family session of fireworks started, the predicted storm rolled in. The lightning, rain, and wind put on a show to complement the fireworks.

Storms clouds gathering over Melbourne
Storms clouds gathering over Melbourne

I managed another couple of film experiments over New Year’s Eve. Both films where taken on our little point and shoot Canon. My goal with these edits was to publish as quickly as possible. Both films took less than one hour from importing into iMovie to publishing on YouTube; a fun challenge that turned out well.

Melbourne’s fireworks are divided into two. The first session, at 9:15 pm, is for families.

Watch Melbourne’s family fireworks in High Definition (HD) on YouTube.

The second session, at midnight, is the bigger show.

Watch Melbourne’s midnight fireworks in High Definition (HD) on YouTube.

I hope you had a fun New Year’s Eve, and have a great 2010.

Happy New Year.

Gingerbread Snowflakes

We made gingerbread snowflakes this afternoon. Quick, easy, and fun. Making gingerbread biscuits in the shape of snowflakes is set to become a family Christmas tradition.

Gingerbread Dough
Gingerbread Dough
Snowflake Cookie Cutters
Snowflake Cookie Cutters
Homemade Gingerbread Snowflake Biscuits
Homemade Gingerbread Snowflake Biscuits