Shoes are polished, must be a wedding on …

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Enjoying Wine

Over the last 12 months or so, I’ve started enjoying wine. I’ve never been much of a wine drinker before then, it all tasted either like soft drink or various shades of vinegar to me! I could appreciate different types of beer much more.

I don’t know what it was that piqued my interest in wine. I think it was a gradual thing, going for a couple of tastings with Meryl, sharing a bottle or two with her family over dinner. I remember buying a gift in duty free for her mum and realising I had absolutely no idea which was a good wine and which wasn’t! I think I erred on the side of caution and went for a mid-$20s bottle of Penfolds (saved by the memory that Meryl had mentioned that she liked Penfolds). I remember drinking it with her family for dinner and thinking ‘Yep, tastes like wine’.

Thinking back, there are a few memorable tastings:

  • Easter @ Kabminye winery & restaurant in the Barossa – went with Mum, Aunty Lois, Meryl and her family. I remember tasting a lot of different wines, appreciating the difference in style and flavour, then having lunch upstairs in a beautiful, open dining area / gallery with a view of the vineyards. Best kangaroo I’ve ever had! And I remember enjoying the red wine suggested as a pairing on the menu (can’t remember if it was the shiraz or the mataro / carignan / cinsaut / black frontignac blend now). Actually, looking at their wine list now, there’s some very unique entries!
  • Meryl’s Birthday @ Lark Hill in Bungendore – took Meryl for a sparkling wine appreciation course, where Chris showed us how it was made using traditional methods. He was really nice, and it was very informative! Afterwards we did a tasting and then enjoyed lunch in the restaurant, again with a lovely view of the vineyards.
  • Meryl’s parents visit @ Mount Majura in Canberra – we went for a short drive out to do their (very organised I must say) tasting. This is such a beautiful spot, and the wines are fantastic! Unfortunately their famous tempranillo / shiraz / graciano blend was sold out.

I think it’s very interesting, each time I go for a tasting now, I get more out of it. It’s really interesting both trying different takes on familiar grapes, or completely new grapes. I find I prefer reds, especially shiraz (prefer cool to warm climate), but also cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo, and the various blends. I like the spicy, peppery reds best. For whites, riesling is the only varietal that I really enjoy.

The most enjoyable wine I have ever tasted is a Torbreck Lumberjack Shiraz 2002. This is a wine you drink very slowly, enjoying small sips, as the flavour explodes through your whole mouth. It’s a very powerful, intense, smooth wine that keeps getting better and better with every sip. Absolutely wonderful, and such a sad feeling when you finish a bottle!

So where have I been buying wine from?

  • Local cellar doors – this is my preferred method, you get to taste the wine, talk to the producers and have a lovely day out.
  • www.wineoftheday.com.au – can get some great deals on cases, but need to carefully sift through the offerings that come up each day.
  • www.vinomofo.com – only discovered this one recently, I’ve never actually bought anything from here (have enough to last me a while already), but it’s got some really good wines at half price, and they often come in half cases so you don’t have to buy 12 bottles of the same wine.
  • www.theglass.com.au – this is a local Canberra business, and has some great deals on local Canberra wine as well as wine from all over Australia. They have some really nice aged wines as well (including the Lumberjack shiraz, even though it’s not listed on their site).
  • Dan Murphy’s cellar release range – can pick up some nicely aged wines here without having to do the cellaring. I like to find the cellar release clear-out ones, as the bring the new stock in. This is of course, much more expensive than the websites above.

So, I’ve discovered that wine doesn’t have to just taste like sugar or vinegar … it can be yum! Enjoy in moderation Smile

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Mobile Internet Access on my Netbook using my Nokia E63

In this post I’d like to share my experience with tethering my Nokia E63 to my Asus N10J netbook for mobile internet access. For something that would appear seemingly so simple in this day and age, it took a lot off effort to get working seamlessly. This is mainly targeted at those with an E series Nokia trying to achieve the same end (on Windows XP). After finally having achieved a reliable connection, I thought it might help to share.

First off, why not just use a 3G USB or WIFI modem instead of tethering my E63? Well, a) I’m with TPG Mobile, so my plan has 2 Gb data included per month, far more than I ever use for mobile browsing and plenty to use for browsing / checking email with my netbook and b) why pay more for another thing to carry? It’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll already have my phone with me!

Secondly, in terms of reliability, performance and ease of use, wired USB beats wireless Bluetooth by far. I guess this is nothing new, good old 10/100/1000 ethernet beats 802.11a/b/g/n by far in the same ways. So if you don’t have a USB cable for your E series Nokia, grab one now. Unfortunately the E63 only supports USB 1.1, but it’s still way better than Bluetooth. My Asus netbook has built in Bluetooth, but the reliability hassles just aren’t worth the cable-less convenience. And the connection speeds using USB (460 Kbps) are much better than using Bluetooth (115 Kbps).

Thirdly, the less moving parts and the simpler the software installation, the better the reliability. I had a lot of trouble getting things to work reliably using Nokia’s Ovi or PC Suites. This was exacerbated further when combined with the Bluetooth vs USB factor.

So what did I do in the end to get things going smoothly? Here’s the steps:

  1. Set your E63 to ‘Connect PC to web’ USB mode (Menu –> Connectivity –> USB –> USB connection mode).
  2. Connect the USB cable from your E63 to your PC. If you’re lucky this should fire up the Nokia PC Internet Access application. This will also mount your E63 as a USB drive, so if the application doesn’t auto-start, browse to the newly-mounted drive and run it. If it doesn’t work, try unplugging / replugging the USB cable a couple of times, and try a few different USB ports. Mine was a bit finicky, but eventually it should fire up and allow you to install the drivers / application.
  3. Make sure you have a ‘Nokia E63 USB Modem’ device under ‘Modems’ in your Device Manager. This will tell you that the drivers have installed correctly.
  4. Open up the ‘Phones / Modems’ Control Panel section. Select the ‘Nokia E63 USB Modem’ device and add the following initialisation string in the ‘Advanced’ tab: +cgdcont=1,”ip”,”internet” (replace ‘internet’ with the access point name of the internet connection you wish to use on your Nokia, find it in Menu –> Tools –> Settings –> Connection –> Access Points –> select your internet connection –> Access point name). Also set the ‘Maxium Port Speed’ value to its maximum.
  5. Open up the ‘Network Connections’ Control Panel selection. Create a new dial-up connection, using the ‘Nokia E63 USB Modem’ device, dialing the number ‘*99#’, and making sure to leave the user name and password blank. It might be a good idea to put a shortcut to this connection in your quick launch toolbar or on your desktop.
  6. Unplug the USB cable. A reboot at this point is probably a good idea.
  7. While your PC’s rebooting, set your E63 to ‘PC Suite’ USB mode (Menu –> Connectivity –> USB –> USB connection mode).
  8. After you have logged back into Windows, connect the USB cable up, you should have a whole bunch of ‘new hardware found’ messages, with the devices all being installed ok. If not, try unplugging / replugging the USB cable a couple of times, try different ports etc, eventually it should work.
  9. Try to connect using the dial-up network connection you just set up. Hopefully everything will work and it connects ok!
  10. Uninstall the Nokia PC Internet Access application. You only need the drivers that it installs, not the application itself.

As a painful aside, plugging the USB cable into different ports on your PC will set up a different ‘Nokia E63 USB Modem’ device, one for each port, using a different COM port. You will have to select the speed and add the initialisation string to each device. So once you’ve got it connected, it’s worth plugging it into each port that you’re planning to use on your machine and configuring the resulting modem device. Thankfully the network connection you have created will auto-detect the correct modem device to use each time without making you select it.

As another aside, you can connect your E63 via Bluetooth at step 3 and then continue, it should work as well.

So there you have it, a quick guide to tethering your Nokia E63 to your PC and using it for mobile internet access. Of course you can do many variations to this, using the Nokia PC / OVI suites, but for me this is the simplest and most reliable method. I don’t need to sync my E63 calendar or contact lists with my netbook, so I don’t need any of the functionality those suites proved.

Good luck! You’ll need it, this is definitely not bulletproof, industrial strength stuff, that’s for sure.

Edit: actually, here is a much better guide: http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/Mobiles_MobileAsModem_DUN

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Living Wisely, Intentionally, Purposefully

I’m realising, there’s so many things I just don’t know, and don’t think about. I’m sad because it hurts the one I love most. The hardest thing is that I don’t even know where to start learning, or who can teach me. I can’t even think of anyone I trust to teach me.

Most of it is to do with living wisely, intentionally and purposely.

I’ll start with wisdom. I guess I don’t have much of it at all. I know one place I can go, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge’. I know one place I can’t go, ‘Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching’.

The second part is living intentionally and purposefully. I can’t keep going from day to day, moment to moment without goals, and intent. I mean sure, I can give you reasons for why I do everything I do, but they’re often considered afterwards, not before. I’m realising that there are more important, more lasting things I need to aim towards. I need to be a good steward of the time, energy and resources God has gifted me with. I need to plan at the start of each day.

It’s so hard to do, being so tired all the time. But I’m coming to the sad realisation that if I want to do the things in my life well, they need to be few rather than many. I need to be responsible for prioritising, for resting and for putting my energy into what God calls me to do, rather than following my every whim, or everything people ask me to do. I think it’s mostly focusing on the important things and not drifting around, getting sidetracked.

These are all pretty basic things, I’m amazed I have to reflect and teach myself all this. But actually … not so surprising, I guess it’s next to impossible to live wisely in a foolish world on my own.

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Travelling

Up in Brisbane for work again, I realised I’ve been travelling a lot this year. To Singapore three times, to Brisbane three times, to Sydney a few times, to Melbourne once and to Adelaide twice. I don’t think I’ve ever travelled so much before in my life!

This trip’s a bit different. Usually I travel to visit people, and spend time with them, but this one’s for work. I don’t think there’s a lot to do, and I don’t really know anyone here. I think the novelty of exploring a new place has worn off from the first two trips here this year; I’m looking forward to coming home. It is nice to get lots of money for good food and coffee (if you’re in Brisbane, Brother Espresso has the best coffee I’ve tried anywhere) though! And I can watch NBA on TV. I’m wondering whether to stay up and watch Lebron play his old team tonight.

I’m just imagining if Meryl were here though, it would be so nice. And I’d rather be home playing basketball than watching it.

I’m excited though, because there’s a little Mitsubishi Ralliart Colt waiting for me at home. It’s amazing, I’ve never seen one in Canberra before, and just when I was looking for another car (and thinking of going to Sydney or Melbourne to pick up one of these), one came onto the market in perfect condition for a really good price! Exactly the same thing that happened with my Sirion almost 3 years ago. I think it must be God being generous.

But if you get the chance to drive one of these Colts, jump at it! They handle amazingly well, and go pretty hard when they come on boost. And the brakes … serious stopping power! All with a nice practical body and some truly awesome body-hugging seats. I think there’s climate control, 6 stack CD player etc, but I don’t really care about those … I’m just happy it goes, stops and handles great.

The only problem is, because the limits are so much higher than my Sirion, you have to be going faster and cornering harder to be having the same amount of fun. But that’s ok, I hear there’s open track days at Wakefield Park!

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Discipleship

Tomorrow night we’re doing a follow-up study for the recent sermon at church – Church Objectives Part 2 (Growing and Maturing Christians). Which to me basically boils down to ‘How to live, and help each other live as true disciples of Jesus’.

We’re watching a really challenging sermon on the topic, Paul Washer’s, titled ‘Are You A True Disciple?’ (http://illbehonest.com/Are-You-A-True-Disciple-Paul-Washer). I think it’s really good, because it goes right back to the foundation of what it means to believe in Christ, to receive him, and to live as his disciple. If you’ve got a spare hour and a quarter, give it a watch through.

It’s a good reminder that Christ is far above anything we can imagine, so many times more glorious and powerful, that everything was made by him, and for him. He rightfully owns everything and everyone. It’s a good reminder that when we receive Christ, and believe in him, we believe in all of that incredible majesty and power and holiness, in every part of our life. He brings our dead spirit to live, and becomes our everything! It’s a good reminder that we know him and learn how to live from his word, and need to allow it to illuminate every corner of our life. Take a look!

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