Apr 27

It’s not all bad, is it? :p

We’ll start from the start, then.

To be perfectly honest, the cover is a little bland. Okay, so more than a little bland. It’s downright ugly and boring, in my opinion. Compared to past year’s covers, it’s pretty boring. Enough about the cover, though, otherwise we’ll be here all night…

No, the cover wasn’t the worst thing about the Magazine – not even close. Nor it is the fact that there is no spine design, just an inky blackness. Rather, it’s the brutal inconsistency that runs like a plague throughout the entire 128 pages.

Consistency is the key factor here, folks. Without it, there is no sense of “yeah, this all reads like the same book”, or, “yeah, this magazine looks and feels the same throughout”. Consistency in any publication is what will make it have a sense of balance, and without it, that balance just isn’t there.

Sure, some factors of the magazine display some semblance of consistency – the gold stripes adorning the top and bottom of each page are fantastic examples of this, as are the page numbers (something that should damned well be consistent anyway).

It’s the non-consistencies that break it – the different font sizes, different fonts themselves, the rounding/non-rounding of photos, the different placements of photos, etc, etc. The list goes on! At some points, it’s like the pages themselves have markedly different designs – from where the pictures are placed, where the text is, and to how the page is “styled” – from page to page, it’s remarkably different – and not in a good way, either.

So, who to blame? I suppose part of the problem (and definitely the cause of each page looking different) is that each page is “done” individually – while there’s a “page template” (using the loosest definition of the word), there is no “style guide”, or at least not one that is strictly adhered to. Someone works on a page without any input from anyone else, and then declares the page “finished” when he/she is satisfied that it looks okay. Then, they proceed to work on another page – without referring back to the previous page for what that looked like, and so on and so forth. It’s no surprise that each page looks different…

I suppose the “doing each page individually” methodology would work if there was just one person working on the magazine as a whole – that way, that person would know how each page was styled, and could stick to a “routine” when doing the pages. But damn, I’d hate to be that one person – talk about a lot of work! :o I suppose it would be okay if all the content was provided for you – all pictures greyed and named, etc.

What also doesn’t help is the fact that the “editing” process mucks around with the page itself – removing photos when all the other photos are of lesser quality doesn’t help.

Ah, whatever. Hopefully all those days are behind me now – time for some fresh faces to step up to the plate.

You’ll notice that I used a lot of quote marks in this post – what I’ve said inside them doesn’t necessarily reflect what their actual meanings are. By this, I mean that the “editing” process isn’t necessarily just fixing typos.

Comments below.

written by Benny Ling \\ tags: , , , , , ,

Feb 15

Thankfully, this isn’t a post about the abomination of a movie, All Quiet On The Western Front. I will gladly tip my hat to it for the title, though, and offer this advice: unless you’re a war-movie/history fanatic, stay away!

Phew. Now that that’s out of the way, we can get into some real business…

Right, so Calvin has, in the past, had some pretty wacky forums. For those of you that don’t know, forums are a place for people to share thoughts and ideas via posts, in things called threads, under headings of topics. (I’m using MacTalk Forums as my primary linkage for this post – they certainly don’t mind the extra attention, and it’s the only active forum I participate in these days… Whirlpool is better known for their alternate name, “Whingepool”, and OverClockers AUstralia have a funny registration system, and I just haven’t bothered. *sigh*)

Firstly, the one that started it all was the one and only, Calvin Spam. Started as somewhat of a joke by some geeky year 8’s at the time, (If you graduated Calvin in 2008, you would have been in year 7), it spread quickly due to the nature of the content that was on there. No porn or anything bad like that, just slightly dubious polls like “Do you prefer legs or breasts? And I’m not talking about chicken.” For some year 7s, it was all too much and the IT crowd from our grade were quickly sucked in…
Calvin Spam was open for all at Calvin to join – no exceptions. In hindsight, this probably wasn’t the best option considering the material that was posted there – but hey, I wasn’t the administrator of that particular forum.
From there, it was all downhill. Calvin Spam used to exist at calvinspam.tk – the island of tukelau is renowned for their free domain name service. Efforts to find this forum by our most experienced Google-users have proved unfruitful – for all we know, it could have been a website hosted at home…
Calvin Spam came and went, however. Due to the aforementioned nature of the content, it was quickly shut down.

Years passed. The same Year 7s when the original Calvin Spam were around were now in year 8, and their 1337 (leet, or elite) skills had greatly increased. It was definitely time for another forum, and thus, BWSonline was born. Originally standing for Blair, Weed and Smarty, it was formed by the then-IT contingent of the class of 2008.
Sporting a custom phpBB theme, in terms of popularity, BWS was quite exclusive – only a small, select group of students even knew it existed, and then, only several students were active participants in the discussions that happened there – everything ranging from the geekiest of geek-speak, to computer recommendations, the multiple *-FESK saga, epic posts by yours truly, huge Mac/PC flame wars, and more.
In terms of longevity, though – BWS lasted for quite a while. It wasn’t until one of the original creators fled the country to go to Indonesia that it well and truly died.
It still exists on the internet to this day – at the original address – bwsonline.awardspace.com. The orignal creators are massively thankful for awardspace for their free hosting, I’m sure. One of these days, I’ll make a copy of bwsonline and stick it on freshbytes – when I get around to it. Procrastination for the win.

BWSonline was the precursor to a couple of things… one of which was calvinspamII. By this time, the class of 2008 was in year 10, and calvinspamII, designed as the second iteration of the great Calvin Spam, was created by yours truly in an attempt to revive the forum fever at Calvin. By this time, BWS was dying a slow death – the number of posts per day were slowly dwindling, as was the number of active users.
By all accounts, calvinspamII was seen as a competitor to the exclusive BWSonline – like the original Calvin Spam, calvinspamII was open to pretty much everyone, although only full privileges were granted to registered members. Guests could only read parts of the forum – and the more controversial sections were sealed from prying eyes.
Also like the original Calvin Spam, calvinspamII was based of the free phpBB forum software, and if memory serves me correctly, was served by whoever was the first result in Google after I searched “free phpbb hosting”… Oh, the shame! One click was all it took to take down the infamous BWSonline, and within weeks, usage soared – in terms of popularity, calvinspamII eclipsed both the original Calvin Spam and BWSonline in a matter of weeks, thanks largely in part to threads with such names as “BLING & KV”, “Pick Up Lines”, and “BAG OUT ALL GINGERS HERE” – as well as the diverse range of other topics – school, subjects, sports, movies, music – calvinspamII had it all.
Thanks once again to the island of toukelau – their free domain name service made calvinspamii.tk far easier to type than calvinspamii.s1.bizhat.com – which now does not exist.
Unfortunately, by the time we reached metric forum fever had died at Calvin again – it was clear that the users had had enough. Even more unfortunately was the fact that I didn’t get a backup of the calvinspamII database for posterity – I would have loved to read that epic “BLING & KV” thread again… :P

Finally, finally, finally, came the Freshbytes Forum. It has been more than quiet over there – due in part to a lack of plugging. I haven’t been telling people about it enough. It’s not entirely my fault, though – I think that general forums have had their day. Unless you have a very specific target audience that are the kind of people that like to discuss their interests online, then you’re so outta luck if you think you’re going to make it big with a forum. Sure, when I was at school calvinspamII worked because in Computing, I would plug calvinspamII away, and people would log on, post some random images of ginger kids, and when Computing was over, they would log off again. No one bothers to go online and actually discuss stuff on calvinspamII when they’re not at school, and yeah – that’s pretty much how it died…

So, where to from here? I’ll leave Freshbytes Forum open over at forums.freshbytes.com.au in case you have a burning desire to discuss something, but you have no idea where to say it? Make a thread over at Freshbytes Forum, and give the link out to everyone you know.

For now, though – the message is loud and clear:

All quiet on the forum front.

written by Benny Ling \\ tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jan 18

What a day. I’m starting to sound like Benny (apologies in advance :) ).

Wednesday, 14th of January. The ‘Acceptance session’ day for the University of Tasmania. Students-running-around-with-parents-day.

Basically, a day where you go and the Uni reps talk to a whole group of people interested in enrolling in Uni for this year. This day was specifically for the previous years’ grade 12’s (like me).  The main lecture theatre wasn’t exactly full, but there were enough people to feel ’surrounded’. Having at least 4 sessions throughout the day accounts of the apparent ‘lack’ of people. The Uni guys talked about the usual stuff, and then split us into groups based on degree areas. For example, the group whom I was a part of was one surrounding the computing department, and this included computing/info systems/game development and most likely others.

This was the spot where things got a little interesting. See, I had organised the day with my friend James to make things easier for the both of us. Now, once we were split into the computing group,James and myself were the only ones in it! SCORE! That, personally, made me more comfortable in the various wanderings around the department buildings. Dells and Macs. Meh.

The second ‘score‘ was the quick visit to the office of the degree coordinators’ office. Various thick textbooks on stuff like XML, but the one that really stood out was the textbook on UNIX! And this was after she mentioned that she teaches Computer Security!

Oh yeah, and for Benny’s sake, she has a mac laptop.

Then was the supposed final part of the session, the so-called E-tour (basically an online guide on how to enrol and do bits and pieces). After initially going into one wrong location, and then being given a location that had previously had the tours earlier (the signs pointed to it), we were finally told the final location of the tour. At this point, James decided to leave, and we were informed that the staff that directed persons to the specific areas (the guys out front) were misinformed about the location of the E-tours in the first place!

At least I (and my father) got a good tour of the Uni. I no longer feel like a ant on approach to a hay bale, if anything a human now on approach to the said hay bale.

During the session, I saw something on the computer in front of me to make me think of this day as weird in every sense of the word. Where , on the Uni site, they would usually have a picture of a student to ’sure-up’ the reality of going to Uni (or something like that), I saw a picture of a person familiar to myself and one of my good friends, Martin P. It was his (this is not confirmed, I am assuming this by previous data sent to me) sister-in-law. WOW, I couldn’t believe my eyes. And thus did the E-tour begin.

Now I thought that after this had finished, we had finished up for the day. How wrong I was. The most important meeting was about to begin.

On my way out from the computer room in which the E-tour was being conducted, who should I see at the entrance but two of the Calvin 2008 leavers, Ellen and Amber. They had a quick chat with me, and then we parted ways.  It took about 10 mins after we parted ways for me to finally realise something that was mentioned in great depth to me before I graduated from Calvin.  “You’ll miss them, You’ll miss the leavers”. The first time I actually realised this, was this day, the UTAS day. Was I really that close to the students in my grade that I’ll actually miss their presence?

That left me in a state of thought that I did not escape from for at least 2 hours afterwards. I still think about it to the present day. I must have been blind that day, ’cause I know I was the day I last saw the leavers.

And that was my day, the UTAS day, Wednesday 14th January ;-) .


written by Chris Jacques \\ tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Jan 12

First post in a while now…might as well consolidate!

From the last few posts Benny did. This may look really ugly to some readers, but it ties up some loose ends and allows me to start from a ‘clean slate’. From here, ‘you’ is referred to as Benny himself.

Having a rough morning“-
As for Benny’s rough morning, well, I have a special post lined up for that (sooner rather than later).

What is Church?“-
Well, the way the Catholic Church is run is different again…but not as ’strict’ in the sense that you mention. It is really hard to explain, you really have to see it to understand, as its kind of a mix of things.

Bitter Disappointment“-
Seriously, I had nothing else to say on the matter of the CS award. Sure, I was disappointed to not get it, but I think you put in more ‘time & effort’ than myself and the rest of the ‘crew’. The writing was on the wall from last year’s awards ceremony (mind you, I blame Dicky for that, but I’m not bitter about it), and you had previously mentioned your internal results which were the best of the entire class, so the writing was well and truly on the wall.
Oh yeah, thanks for the praise too :)
Hmm you are also sounding like my mum. “You’ll never see them again”. Pfft. I’ve seen most of the crew and contacted a few others in the weeks following the end of school. Mind you, many would not have predicted that ;-)

My neutral responses that night (of the awards) were due to one thing (maybe another, the more I think about it). I had something planned for the very next day, which was far more important than a bloody award on a piece of paper. The very next day (at 10:20AM), I went for my driving test. The reaction after getting that was better than any other bloody award from a “dead-and-buried” (public opinion, folks) school! (Mind you, I was in complete denial for at least 3 days after I got my P’s anyway…). I still can’t believe I managed to keep it a secret for a majority of 7 months. I should work for the NSA (but I hate America, so the point is moot).

Anyway, a better guide of the situation was that I saw my letter from UTAS come in the mail, and it got tossed to the side for a few days. I was waiting on *the* letter: my license! It finally came after a week, and I was very happy that day. I opened the UTAS letter a few days afterwards. I think this best explains the situation for the time on and after the awards night.

TCE results 2008“-
Mine weren’t great, and sure there is an element of jealousy about other scores that I heard of (and some of utter disbelief), but I got into what I wanted, and that’s all that I needed to achieve.
I could say to you the classic saying “Have Faith!”, but I myself only even believed it in the lead up to my driving test…

Merry Christmas, All!“-
Apart from the 1TB HDD, and the splash of alcohol, seafood and meat, my day was spent getting sunburnt, installing Linux kernel 2.6.28 (which was released on Christmas day) and playing cricket in the backyard. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it does mark the first time I have used a kernel the day it was released…so go figure.

TCE Results Reflections“-
That’s not arrogance, that’s over-confidence. And that is a ‘mode’ that I kept telling myself to not ‘be in’ during the SWATVAC period. I knew that could be my undoing…and to a degree, it was (for the CS exam, that is). Mind you, we basically all got the same result from CS anyway…

Happy New Year“-
Yet again, on the laptop at the count of midnight Jan 1. 2009. This time, however, it was running on AC, as the battery in my laptop has shot itself to pieces. The Gnome power manager tells me that it is running at 3% of factory capacity all the time, and the HP battery tester tells me to replace it. Bugger. Oh well, it was a Happy New Year. I question whether or not it could beat the last (for me personally).

Alcohol and a bit of HDTV via MythTV. A nice night.

The Legend of Mr Peterson“-
I hate chain mail. But some can make it amusing (like a good buddy of ours, Shaun V). Insert character names into the ‘unknown’ characters, and it makes for interesting reading!

Freshbytes Fresh update“-
And now back to square 1. Officially.

Yes, Benny is/will be away, and I’m filling the chair for a while. I hope to bring some posts about things that are different to what has been uploaded here before. More cricket and more Linux are two such things on the cards. and a special post may be on the way too…

You’ll have to stick around to find out!


written by Chris Jacques \\ tags: , ,

Jan 05

So an email landed in my inbox the other day – that, in and of itself, is not entirely unusual.

However – this particular email contained the body of a “chain email”, those brutal emails you forward to everyone in your inbox. Thankfully, this particular email landed without being forwarded one a million times to millions of different people.

Anyway – in this particular email, there was a story, and it was named The Legend of Mr Peterson.

Note that this is a HIGHLY satirical look at the life of Mr Peterson. I repeat – HIGHLY satirical. Do not continue reading if you are easily offended, or if you are Mr Peterson. :D

Otherwise, take the time to read it. It’s not entirely accurate as I have personally me the man himself, but it’s pretty good. Thumbs up to Martin W who edited it somewhat, but for the record, principal is spelt p-r-i-n-c-i-p-a-l, not p-r-i-n-c-i-p-l-e! ARGH!

Years ago, there was a principal at Calvin Christian High School.

Some say he was a beast of a man, 10 feet tall and that he could lift a truck over his head with ease.
Others say that he was a small man, the equal of Einstein, who stayed enthralled in his books, learning everything there was to know.

But to everyone, he was known as Mr Peterson.

But then, slowly and surely, Mr Peterson left his office less and less.

Students slowly forgot what their principal looked like, and started to associate Mrs Laning with the role of Head of School, when she was, in fact, just the Dean of Students.

Then, one year, Mr Peterson stopped coming out of his office entirely.

All that could be seen was the outline of a body behind the blinds. No-one stayed long enough to see if the outline moved or if it was forever still.

Rumours began that Mrs Laning and Mr Young, had killed the favoured principal, and left his body there, to rot and be still, while they themselves would have absolute power.

Or, that he was there, waiting, in a state of frozen time, for when his school would need him next.

Years went by…

Students forgot his name, and saw Mrs Laning as the head of the school, the most powerful person within it’s boundries.

One night, students from Calvin wandered onto the grounds.
As they walked home from Channel Court they heard footsteps.
Looking around, they saw no-one, so they ignored the sound and continued to walk.

The footsteps grew louder, AND LOUDER!

The students looked around, there was no-one around but them.
They were alone, but there were still footsteps, rapidly approaching, hauntingly close.
One student, a grade 7 boy, screamed and ran home, yelling “GHOST!”.

The middle of the 3, a grade 9 girl, held onto the oldest, a grade 10 boy.

The footsteps came even closer.

Anxiously, they kept walking, beads of sweat appeared on their foreheads.
Their steps became brisker.
They approached the art room, intending to exit the school from the car park behind the tech block.

But as they stepped into the carpark, the foot steps stopped.
The boy looked around, the girl hid her head in his shoulder.

He looked behind them and when he turned his head back, there he was!
Mr Peterson, wearing his glasses, smiling at them.
He opened his mouth and from his lips, a pleasant voice escaped, “Good Evening”.

The girl screamed, and ran.

The boy smiled, confused, then blinked twice, thinking it was a trick of the mind.
He looked up and Mr Peterson wasn’t there!
He looked to his left, he looked to his right but Mr Peterson was no-where in sight.

And then from behind him, the voice came, “Who are you looking for?”

The boy ran home, flying into his room and jumping under the covers of his bed and held tight to his blanket.

The next day, all three students pulled out of Calvin.
They claimed they had seen a ghost, and were to afraid to come back.

No-one knows what is in Mr Peterson’s office.
No-one is brave enough to look.
Only Mrs Laning knows the answer.

They say, that during the warmer months, you can see the ghost of Mr Peterson wandering the grounds.
But he never will shake your hand…


If you believe in the legend of Mr Peterson, pass this on.

And whatever you do, Don’t shake his hand!

Well – what do you think?

I’d credit the original author if I knew who he/she was – Martin W got it from his sister, who got it from some chain email.
If you know the original author, shout out in comments.

Otherwise – I hope you enjoyed this satirical look at the life of the man who runs Calvin.

Once again – this piece is meant as a comedy piece only, and does not, in any way, shape or form, indirectly or directly, implied or inferred, reflect the true nature of Mr Peterson and his work at Calvin Christian School.

Comments below.

written by Benny Ling \\ tags: , , , , , , ,

Dec 21

Bitter Disappointment should have been the title of this post, but since I used it up last week, I”m going for the more-neutral “TCE Results 2008″.

When the results arrived in the mail, I wasn’t planning on open them. I was far too scared to.

Anyway, I did, and the results were horrible! I was really, really not happy with my results.

With a TER of 88.9, I was 1.1 off what I needed. One point one!

After looking over the report, I realised that I had completely stuffed up my exams. Computer Science, in particular, was fairly horrible – I went from an EA (one B internally) to a maximum CA.

Thankfully, Maths Applied was just as expected. No nasty surprises here, and Physics was also better than expected (max CA).

Chemistry was just horrible as well – I managed to score a max SA. Yay! </sarcasm>

So, where to from here?

Well, my options are:

  • Repeat Year 12 (by doing Year 13). Obviously, this would suck the most. I love Calvin and all, (don’t get me wrong, Calvin is awesome) but really – I don’t want to be there for another year, especially if no-one else I know is there. The fact that none of my friends are there would help keep away distractions, however – but it would still suck immensely.
  • Do something else. This option also sucks. I hate engineering with a passion, and even though UTAS offered me a place, I’ll be dammed if I’m going to take it. No way.
  • Wait and see. Now this option I like. I won’t recieve offers from the mainland uni’s until early 2009 anyway, (round two offers for Adelaide and Victoria are the 5th of Feb 09), so I’ll just have to enjoy what time I have left.
  • Do something funky to get into the course I want. I haven’t fully explored this option yet, but apparently I can do a normal degree (science or something) at my Uni of choice for a year, and then transfer into the course I want in 2010. This would mean that I can essentially “waste” a year, and it would provide me with an oppurtunity to have a pseudo gap year, but really – dentistry is a five year course anyway! I don’t want to be like Dean, who managed to turn a three year course into a nine (?) year one!!

So yeah, at the moment I’m playing the waiting game – stuck in a sort of Facebook Limbo.

That’s enough about me, though. I’d love to hear how you went in TCE results 2008, so if you want the rest of the world to know as well, shout out in comments!

Points don’t matter. TER does, and that’s really all I care about!

written by Benny Ling \\ tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,