Capn's Blog

Friday, December 30, 2005

ICQ under Linux means Licq!

Last entry, I wrote that I use Linux:

That means that when it comes to ICQ, I can't use the ICQ program that everyone else uses, because that ICQ program is only for Windows, not Linux.

Instead, I use a program called Licq.

Licq works in two ways. When I'm at home, I can run it in "graphical mode" and it will look very much like the ordinary ICQ program that everyone uses:

Licq in graphical mode

Licq on my home computer has my friend list, and all the histories, etc, that I like to have available.

But what can I do when I'm at work?

For that, I connect from work to my computer at home, and run Licq in "text mode". It's a lot plainer, but it's easy on both work's budget and mine, and because it's not graphical, it's very responsive even when the Internet is slow. Here's how it looks:

Licq in text mode

Hmm, that picture looks a bit muddy, but if you click on it, you'll get a better idea.

There are a few things that don't work so well (or at all) when using Licq in text mode:

  • File transfers (such as photos).
  • If I'm entering a message and make a mistake on the first line but don't see it before I move to the next line, it's not possible to fix the mistake on the first line. I have to cancel that message and start again.
  • It's not possible to receive and send Chinese characters (hanzi, 汉字). When people send me hanzi, it looks like this: ÈÈÃŵÄ
That last one is a real shame, because most of my ICQ friends are in China.

That means my Chinese friends and I are limited to either talking in English, or using pinyin, the romanised form of spoken Chinese. So instead of writing 我去买东西 (I'm going to buy something), we have to write wo qu mai dongxi. And it's not even true pinyin. True pinyin would have accents. For example, mǎi for 买 (buy), and mài for 卖 (sell).

Instead, we have to append numbers, for example, mai3 and mai4. Very unsatisfactory.
And not to mention that while everyone in China can speak Mandarin, not everyone is so crash hot with pinyin, especially in the south.

I want to use hanzi!

Despite all my complaining about Licq, there are two unbeatable things about it: This last point is especially important. Because I'm a software engineer (软件工程师), I can take that source code and modify it. Given enough time and skill, if there's something I don't like, I can change it.

For the last couple of months, I've been working on some changes to Licq so it can do hanzi. I don't get much time to work on it, and I'm still a long way away from my goal, but I still keep trying.

Wish me luck, I need it.

I use Linux

Whereas most people use the Windows operating system on their PC, I have since 1993, used Linux. It is free, and works quite differently to Microsoft Windows.

You can find more information about Linux here:

English:Chinese 中文:
Because I'm a technical kind of guy, I like Linux a lot. It's fun!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Where I used to live

If anyone is interested in seeing the country village and countryside where I spent my teenage years, here's a page with lots of really good (=representative) pictures.


I once saw a sight at the zoo: Two zebras, standing face-to-face, with their necks crossed, making an X shape.
So peaceful.
I don't know why they did it. I think they just liked standing that way, keeping each other company.
For some reason, it always seemed romantic to me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Unscheduled Mitch Outage

Hello everyone, and Merry Christmas. Greetings from my car!

At the moment my sister-in-law is here on vacation and living in the house across the street where we used to live. That's the house where my internet connection is.

Yeah, sadly I still haven't been able to make a choice about what to do about internet access in the new house. The sheer number of ADSL providers is just intimidating. Totally depressing.

Anyway, what I did was run an ethernet cable from the old house out into the garage. So if I'm desperate for internet, I can sit in my parked car with the laptop.

Needless to say, this is a pretty poor arrangement, as far as convenience goes. At least I have the car radio to keep me company.

So if you're wondering where I've been over this Christmas period, well, I've been here all along but just couldn't Get To The Net, so to speak.

I'll be back at work on Wednesday the 28th. Looking forward to catching up with everyone.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Not wasted at all

My parents-in-law are here in Australia at the moment. They live across the road. I suppose it's better than being in the same house, but not the ideal case of them being several continents away.

They come here in the heat of summer, won't go outside even in the cool of the morning, and end up just so bored in their little bubble that they start to grizzle about everything and nothing. From past experience, it's only a matter of time before we get dragged in. Sigh.

Anyway, I went to speak to my mother-in-law last night. I had a family photo to give her that I took yesterday morning. And thanks to studying Chinese this year, it's actually easier for me to speak with her in Chinese than in English.

Yay. Feeling good. Sense of accomplishment. I never thought this year was a waste of time, but it's certainly gratifying to get a reward from it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Where is he?

I've been a bit "missing-in-action" recently. Unfortunately, it's likely to continue. While the problem of getting the internet transferred from the old house to the new continues, I'm not going to be online much at night.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Lord of the Rings

I'm so happy!

We had our company end-of-year "celebrity" joke awards today, and I won the award I've been trying for all year: "Garbage Guts".

At last year's awards, I'd only been in the company for three months, so I didn't win it. I felt so robbed!

Anyway, I've worked hard all this year. Always trying to best myself, eat more and more. At the staff Christmas party last year, my colleague and I slipped out after the main course, grabbed a burger, and came back for dessert. And most recently, I ate 20 cinnamon donuts. In a sitting.

That's on top of my effort last year, which was to eat four fully-stocked 12" Subway subs in an hour.

Today in the award ceremony, I heard our MD reading out the achievements of the winner, and I knew I had it in the bag.

My prize: A box of 40 (yes forty) cinnamon donuts.

(You can see I've made a start on them...)

You may not realise this, but it takes serious effort to be able to do it. If you slack off for too long, your stomach shrinks and you can't do it any more.

I love me, I love me, I love me!!! :-)

I'm so happy! All that hard work payed off!

(Thanks to Serguei for the pics)


Grizzle grizzle. I didn't get enough sleep last night.

Going to bed at 3:30am and getting up at 8 isn't exactly the best idea, but we had a terrific storm at 6 this morning, and the thunder was so loud it woke everyone up.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Why have a blog?

Hmm, for two reasons.

The first is simply laziness on my part. Although I do a lot of talking with people on ICQ, if I put my thoughts in a blog, I can share it with more than one person. Hmm, that begs the question of whether it's worth listening to, but that's another matter.

The second reason is that by writing about how I feel, maybe I can try to recapture some of the creativity I lost when I repressed it in my teenage years. Maybe. Worth a try.

If you would rather my blog be delivered straight to your Inbox, follow these instructions.

Being drunk

People say I'm funny when I'm drunk. I mean it's natural to think you're funny when you're drunk, but people say I'm funnier than that even.

Being drunk is fun. It doesn't lower my inhibitions (since in general I really don't care what people think of me). What it does do is give me a great excuse to be more like the real me, the me I keep hidden. It gives me a chance to say things I wouldn't ordinarily say.

When I feel drunk, I can hide it. Totally. But why should I? That'd be missing out on the fun.

The way I see it, I think "people know I'm drunk, I may as well use the moment to let my hair down." So I trot out the standard devices of comedy - puns, sharp relief and timing.

Last night I had a few drinks at a meeting. And I know the humour thing was working because people were laughing at just the right time.

I like being drunk.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Each day in life is training
Training for myself
Though failure is possible
Living for each moment
Equal to anything
Ready for anything

I am alive
I am this moment
My future is here and now

For if I cannot endure today
When and where will I?

Soen Ozeki
Daisen-in Temple, Kyoto
(From this wonderful esr essay)


I have a dear friend who is in real trouble.

The trouble involves extortion, serious money, bought lawyers, the Mafia and death threats against her and her kids. And she's done nothing wrong. Far from it, her generosity was seen as weakness and has made her a target for rapacious greed.

I'm really troubled by it. Toss-and-turn troubled. The whole matter is just so awful.

I've done a lot of grizzling here about the job and so forth, but relatively speaking, it's so inconsequential. I am alive, have enough of all I need and am in no peril worse than an expanding waistline. I feel like a child who's chucking a tantrum coz I can't have another bowl of icecream. Grow up!!!

So my dear friend, I'm beaming all my best help-you thoughts in your direction. If nothing else, hold your head up high. No-one can take away your dignity.