Michael Zucchi

 B.E. (Comp. Sys. Eng.)


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Friday, 28 December 2018, 10:42

X-MAS 2018

I wanted a nice quiet hassle-free xmas this year so I had it alone. My nephew (who migrated from the philippines and wont fucking leave) is away for the week so I had the house to myself. The rest of the family don't live in Adelaide anymore and mum can deal with my crazy twin brother on her own.

For the fist time I fired up the coopers bbq I won a few months ago. I used the fire grate I made a few weeks ago and the fire holders from the weber. Another modification I made was to add a socket to the battery powered motor so I ran it from a plugpack instead of a pair of D cells. It's pretty gutless but worked fine.

Fire started. To avoid flareups I was going to put the fire on the sides but it wasn't necessary.

And the pork shoulder on going. I wasn't sure if the fat would get out of hand but it worked very well, very little smoke and only small flareups each rotation with the heat directly under the meat.

I skewered simply the pork with lemongrass stalks and coated it in ample salt which is my go-to basic pork roast.

What's the time? Oh it's beer time!

Actually I normally start beer at 10am on xmas day but i'd been up since 6 (I did the last coat on the speakers, setup the bbq, and made bread) and ran out of other things to do and it just seemed about right.

The bread proofing. I added some semolina and didn't let it rise as much as I normally do - made very excellent dense bread.

About 2 hours later and it's done. Actually it's a bit overdone as it cooked faster than I expected but a shoulder is forgiving of being overcooked and regardless, the cracking was great.

I used a bit more charcoal than I would have in the weber but it was a fun way to cook the meat and i'll definltely do it again.

As I usually do with the weber I try to use up the remaining left-over heat to cook whatever else I have on hand. In this case some frozen skinless (spicy) sausages I made a few days ago. I used too much fat in them and they were a massively disgusting mess to make but they tasted pretty good.

Meanwhile the oven did its work. Just hitting midday at this point.

Last bit of heat. I also did a thick bit of rump.

Fucking hot day (40C) so I had the outdoor a/c going! Inside the house was very cool but it was too nice a day for that.

A `panroama' of the back yard.

I'm rather proud of that lawn, I grew it from a few rhizomes I took from the nature strip out on the road.

So that was xmas 2018. I didn't really drink much - i was too chock-full of food and too tired, but I had a few beers and a few gin and tonics (with cucumber from the garden).

But all-in-all about as low-stress and enjoyable as one could hope for.

Tagged biographical.
Sunday, 04 November 2018, 20:31

Pulling things apart

I pulled an old deskjet printer apart the other day. It wasn't a particularly expensive machine and it broke years ago; it's just been sitting in the corner of my room collecting dust for the day I threw it out or took out the useful bits. I guess what I found most interesting is despite it being a disposable item just how well put together it was.

Basically it looks like it was designed to be repairable. Can't imagine the equivalent today would be.


I also have a more recent machine that still runs, a mains powered electric hover mower. It's one that has the motor on a separate spindle to the blade which is driven by a belt. For a few years it's been 'running' rough due to bung bearings, I had looked at it before but it looked irrepearable. The whole base-plate, clutch and drive pulley assembly can be bought as a FRU but it must be ordered from England. The last time I tried I couldn't get the payment to go through and so i've just been living with a mower on the edge of self-destruction.

Today it was getting so bad I finally had another look at it. And lo! I managed to get the bearings out, although it took about 2+ hours with the tools I have at hand and an awful lot of swearing! Anyway the two bearings should be easy to source and hopefully it'll be back up and running once I put it back together. It would be a pity to get a whole new mower just because a couple of small cheap parts failed, and repairing it would've been prohibitively expensive. Hate wasting stuff.

Apart from all that I took a few days off and have been doing a lot of gardening, preparing vegetable gardens and whatnot. Hopefully a year or so basically fallow will work in my favour, I need some more exotic chillies and home-grown tomatoes can't be beat.

Tagged biographical, philosophy.
Wednesday, 24 October 2018, 12:33

Beer for the Win!

So apparently I won one of these things.

Just in time for summer!

I might have a beer to celebrate! I spent the morning pulling out weeds so I earned it!

Tagged biographical.
Sunday, 02 September 2018, 12:56

Dead Cats Dont Bounce

My cat died sometime in the last few weeks.

He was acting a bit strange and sore for a while. I later found out my nephew had stepped on him - looking at his fucking phone no doubt. But following that he did seem to recover - he wasn't quite himself but he didn't seem to be bothered by anything as such. Then one day he stopped turning up for food and I haven't seen him since. However I started to smell dead-animal from a spot he used to sleep in. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I can't get to where it is - deep under a low deck - so I just have to wait for the flies and bugs to do their work. It's also right next to the loungeroom so it's a bit unpleasant depending on the weather.

Rest In Peace gentle killer.

Life goes on ...

In other news.

Work has been slow for a few months - partly my mood, partly the work, and significantly the countract hasn't been renewed. There's still some money remaining but it's running out. The org is just being funny about contractors, they'd rather deal with multinationals who fleece them and the country than with local businesses.

Not that I really care, barely been doing 2 days/week of work and i'm still earning enough to blow way way too much at the pub. At least those 2 days have been solid lately, customers are super-happy with everything. The weather is slowly improving but still has a ways to go to be beer drinking weather, not that it's stopped me so far. The the weird bloke in a kilt that hangs around a certain pub. Hmmm.

Nephew is pissing me off by just being here (i'm still not sure how annoyed i should be with him over the whole stepping on the cat thing). He was only supposed to be living with me for a couple of months while he prepared the paperwork to go into the army after emigrating from The Philippines but he decided to do an apprentiship instead and he's been here over a year now. Mostly nothing major but it's the little things like having to clean the stove up to use it every time he's used it before, stack the dishwasher properly, remind him to do things, and well just having someone else banging around the house. His old man is visiting this week so hopefully I can find out when he's moving out.

I've been lazy lazy for months but I finally did a few things on the garden and around the house - pruning, mulching, weeding, clearing up piles of wood. Build a short staircase from the deck to the ground (one day to be paving). A few days here and there of warmer weather helped.

My mood has continued to be pretty flat for the most part, and worse than that every now and then. Often but not always sleep related - i'm always tired but sometimes more tired than others. I have to stop reading the news and forums - the world is just so fucked up and so are too many of the people in it. Every time I read about big corps or politicians I just want to go drink (or just sleep).

Odds n Sods

Not playing games much but when I do it's usually No Man's Sky. I think the game design is getting a little unfocused but it's still an ok way to blow a few hours now and then. I really dislike the new sentinal timeout mechanics though.

Looking at building a mini-ITX Ryzen machine but just can't decide on bits and pieces. APU or 2700x+small GPU? I started building a small case by hacking away at a bigger one (approx 200x400x400mm -> 200x200x200mm) but that's still work in progress.

As an ongoing thing i've been poking around a start-up that's looking at doing some machine vision/learning/artistic stuff, but i'm just not certain I can commit to it and I just haven't been coding much outside of work. It has the potential to be a whole heap of fun but it just hasn't grabbed me so far.

Tagged biographical.
Friday, 11 May 2018, 11:20


Some photos of the cat.

He's a bit of a pretty-boy but he's smarter than he looks.

Ostensibly his name is Cooper (as in Cooper's Original Pale Ale).

But I just call him cat.

Tagged biographical.
Wednesday, 04 April 2018, 08:47

time to put some money where my mouth is?

Due to some of the surveillance/tracking stuff in the news of late I went down a bit of a rabbit hole of looking at various 'secure' email and so on to do something about my gmail account and blogger.

I didn't really find anything I liked so instead i got myself a domain and a virtual private server to play with. I had originally intended to set something up on my home network via a static address but I never got around to it. Unfortunately getting a vps in switzerland is cheaper than even doing that - and that's with the virtual hardware and unlimited network bandwidth the latter of which is big buckeroonies in australia.

Well I still haven't done anything with it apart from setup apache with a nothing homepage pointing back to my isp hosted stuff, but it's at www.zedzone.space.

I'm still pretty lazy on the whole idea so it might take a while but i'll move my code and blog and eventually add an email to it. I don't particularly like working at that end these days (despite multiple shots at CMS subsystems) - too much security and complexity to worry about - but i'll see how it goes.

Although logging in here to post this did give me pause for thought on getting a bit less lazy about it. Despite never having offering it before blogger just gave me a page to buy and link a custom domain for a-hackers-craic.

Thanks google for once again mining my email to sell me something I already bought!

Next it'll be combat boots, kilts, and beer ... Adelaide Review article which includes bits about me (not sure why i didn't introduce myself as Zed that time, would've been better!).

Update: 15/4/2018. I finally got off my laze arse and spent a wet afternoon playing with the site - i've copied my internode (ISP) pages to the server, fixed some paths, and installed cvstrac for browsing the source (of some of the projects) via the new virtual host code.zedzone.space.

Still to do is the blog.

Tagged biographical.
Wednesday, 10 January 2018, 13:23

intel bugs, surveys, random shit

Well i've been following the whole "spectre" and "meltdown" saga over the last week or so. Apart from the pretty offensive development of branding (ugh) for a set of mostly unrelated bugs, loads of pro-intel FUD, misdirection and so on, it's been a bit of a fun ride of stupidity.

I haven't seen any patches for my laptop or work computers so far - one because i don't run any av software on microsoft? Ugh, what a fucking mess. I barely use that machine any more anyway, even less so while running that junk.

What's most appalling is that the problem has been sat on for 6 months under "responsible disclosure" while intel continued selling gimped hardware based on bogus benchmarks. And yet the linux and *bsd developers are either only just starting on or working on cleaning up fixes very recently - even intel is still fucking around with microcode updates.

The tech press, apart from The Register (who really broke this story) has been pretty shithouse too. "big nothingburger" for a massive massive security hole that isn't actually fixed by any of these OS kernel patches, merely mitigated. It's a big big serious problem, with big big serious costs, and the handling the disclosure has been an utter disaster - seemingly designed to spread fud about the impacts and costs. Still, if you relied on a single supplier - and particularly a nefarious piece of shit company like Intel - for any serious hardware investment, sucked in I guess? We all have to pay for your stupidity in the end regardless.


I was insomniac[sic] late night and bored so I took the latest stack overflow survey. Apart from some pretty strange questions it's pretty clear why nobody reads my blog - no mention of almost any of the technologies I use day to day. Well at least they had the brains to identify C and C++ as two separate languages I suppose.

Some of the "order these in importance to you" questions I just skipped - I didn't care about the topic at all. A minor problem was a bit of confusion with "framework" "language", etc - where would OpenCL fit if they even included it? No CUDA either for that matter. Plenty of questions about advertising. No I don't use an ad-blocker but I turn off javascript which makes the site oh so much faster and kills most adverts as a bonus.

Sleep has been pretty miserable lately - probably a side-effect of overdoing it a bit, but I think i've gained enough weight again for the sleep apnoea to kick in. One example of overdoing it was the last weekend. Hit the beach Saturday afternoon, dropped in at a mates place - drank a carton of (bloody expensive) piss, went to a party (total strangers apart from him), was up all night whilst everyone else was falling asleep, back to his place to pick my bike up - for a couple more, another dip, and finally dropped by the pub on the way home for a fast (very slow!) one. Barmaid thought i was managing well all things considered but maybe that's because I always look exhausted and feel like shit? Nothing like a 36 hour day to get you tired; and then I was awake after only 4 hours of bloody sleep. For a couple of silly reasons I also got sunburnt to a crisp, oops.

Finally kicking into summer mode!

Tagged biographical, rants.
Tuesday, 02 January 2018, 17:37

Another year down

Well that was 2017 I guess. Better than 2016 for me at least.

Pretty much recovered from NYE and NYEE drinking but I might take it easy for a couple of days. Waiting for the weather to heat up enough to get back to the beach, did some gardening. The replacement BIOS arrived today so I resurrected my PC too - still seems a bit funny so i'll probably get another one soonish but it works again for now.

I found a laser printer dumped on the side of the road so took it apart for something to do. Surprising amount of screws, custom springs, cogs, and lots and lots of tough plastic. Probably nothing I can do with it but the imaging unit is kinda cool - rotating mirror, a couple of lenses and mirrors. I suppose the more surprising thing is how much technology is placed in what is essentially a throwaway, one-use device. The "consumable" isn't the toner in these things, it's the whole machine; and what's worse is the realisation that the economies of scale mean it couldn't be done any other way. The world is so fucked.

When I wrote the following on the new jjmpeg home page:

Version 3+ is a complete rewrite from earlier versions which have effectively dissapeared from the internet after google code closed down.

I didn't realise just how true it was. Without google code and regular blog updates my projects have basically vanished from the internets - and more so from google search than others. I'm not particularly surprised there is no real interest in the projects themselves but effectively vanishing is a bit weird. Unless you're using some proprietary publishing platform you essentially don't exist.

Well i've got a few weeks off at least anyway; i'll take a break from the computer, watch some cricket, and basically just bum around a bit.

Tagged biographical.
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