Category Archives: Uncategorized

Aldi Gazebo Hub

A month or two ago, the Aldi catalogue advertised a gazebo hub tent as part of their special buys. I was interested but wanted to read some reviews to see if it was worth buying, but the top result in Google leads you to someone’s Facebook post asking if anyone has bought one and how it holds up, with no comments from anyone who has bought the product. I looked up similar products from other brands, and they were selling for $80 to $150. At the time, Aldi was selling the gazebo hub for $70, so I decided to just go for it. If it turned out to be crap, then at least I haven’t lost a huge amount of money.

Gazebo hub box

The description on the box:
– 190T polyester fly with 2000mm PU coating
– 200gsm PE floor
– Heat sealed taped seams
– Insect resistant mesh windows and door
– Large oversized front door
– Power cord entry point to the front and back
– 2x internal storage pockets
– Includes tent pegs and rope
– Size 2.9m(W) x 2m(D) x 2m/1.4m(H)

Gazebo hub box

We got the chance to test out the gazebo hub tent at a camping trip to Lake Brockman. As the name suggests, the gazebo hub needs to be used with a (3x3m) gazebo. You’ll find that it just won’t stand up on its own without being attached to the gazebo. I had previously purchased a 3m gazebo from an Aldi special buy, along with some wall panels and a mesh inner.

I loved that the assembly instructions were sewn to the carry bag, which means you’re less likely to lose it.

Assembly instructions
Assembly instructions

My partner and I found it quick and easy to set up. The most challenging part was keeping the gazebo hub from blowing around in the wind as we started to peg it down, given the size and lightness of the material.

Gazebo hub front
Gazebo hub back

In the past, my partner and I have used a standard dome tent with a mesh inner with a rain fly on top, so if you wanted to open or close the fly, you would need to be outside the tent to do so. With the gazebo hub, the flaps covering the mesh part of the windows and door are on the inside of the tent, so you can open or close it without leaving the inside of the gazebo hub. Great for those times where it starts to rain and you need to close everything up, or letting in the morning sun without leaving the warmth of your sleeping bag.

Gazebo hub windows
Gazebo hub mesh door

We specifically picked one of the Karrak campsites at Lake Brockman for the view of the lake, and the big mesh door allowed us to take in the view without being bothered by bugs. The door has a solid panel on the inside that you can zip up for privacy or protection from the wind.

View from inside

The floor space inside is 2m x 2.9m, and the height is 2m at its tallest near the door, sloping down to 1.4m towards the back. I’m around 165cm tall and found I could stand upright inside pretty comfortably. The gazebo hub claims that it can sleep 5 people, which I guess is true if they were sleeping in a row with their heads/feet by the door. For just my partner and myself, it was heaps of room for us and our stuff.

Inside the gazebo hub

As I mentioned before, the material feels really light. When you are inside, it almost seems like the material is semi-transparent, but from outside of the gazebo hub, you can’t see in. I am a bit concerned that it would tear easily, so I’d be wary of putting anything heavy in the internal storage pockets that are attached to the sides, which I only used for storing my glasses before going to sleep. There is also a small hook inside supported by the tent poles, so I was ok with hanging our little tent light on it.

Gazebo hub

My partner was concerned about creepy crawlies getting inside the gazebo hub through the power cord openings, so he covered them in duct tape, since we almost never go camping at powered sites, and when we do, we don’t use a power cable.

The weather was nice that weekend. There was no rain, and the surrounding trees meant that it never got too windy. We spent the night in the gazebo hub without any issues. I probably wouldn’t take the gazebo hub camping if the weather was expected to be rainy or especially windy. For fair weather camping, I’m happy with it.

Camping at Lake Brockman

Sundae: My First Dog

This is Sundae. I adopted him from Celebrity Pets Rescue exactly one month ago on 12 March 2016.


For as long as I could remember, I have loved dogs, long before I even knew what a budgerigar was. When I was a little kid, not yet old enough to go to kindergarten, my parents bought me a basset hound plushie which I still have today. They also bought me a small dog plushie which used to have whiskers and a bell on its ribbon collar, but as a child I used to pull the whiskers and I lost the bell a very long time ago. I had “Lady and the Tramp” on VHS tape. I really loved that movie. Even after discovering budgies, I still loved dogs as much as ever. I loved watching movies about dogs, I’m a huge fan of “Inspector Rex” (bought it all on DVD), and got teary-eyed after watching “Marley and Me” and “Red Dog“.

My parents didn’t allow me to have a real dog, I guess its because a dog was a luxury my parents could not afford at the time. So it was my dream to get a dog after I graduate from school, get a well-paying job, and my own home. I actually got my own home three years ago, but I didn’t feel like I could afford a dog because most of the time I was living from paycheck to paycheck. Eventually I got better at managing my budget, and then earlier this year I put some serious thought into getting my first dog with a preference for adopting from the RSPCA, rescue organisation or shelter. These organisations are always appealing for people to adopt, so I thought the process would be quick and easy. I was wrong.

In January I had been going back and forth between I-work-full-time-and-money-is-tight and I-really-want-a-dog. Then in early February I saw a Facebook post advertising an event for “National Pet Adoption Day” where various animal rescue organisations visit PetStock stores with a few of the cats and dogs available for adoption. That was the beginning of my serious search for a canine jogging buddy.

I went to the event at the Balcatta PetStock store. I briefly spoke with one of the volunteers and asked them what they would recommend for a first-time dog owner, but was a little disappointed that all they could offer was a brochure and told me to call the mobile contact number for more information. I tried to call the number several times, but was never able to get through to someone, and never received a call back or response to text messages.

The following week I visited the RSPCA in Malaga. There was only one staffer there, and she seemed busy with other people. I did speak with her for a moment, and she advised me to go to the kennels to have a look and see if any of the dogs interested me. She mentioned that the dogs tended to bark a lot because they were not used to being in the kennels. I went to take a look, but because the lone staffer seemed too busy that day, I left without pursuing anything further.

Next I went to visit the Dogs Refuge Home in Shenton Park. I had looked at their website previously and there were a few dogs that I liked. When I arrived around noon, there were a lot of cars parked on the verge. It was a Saturday and the Dogs Refuge Home was full of prospective adopters and volunteers. I wandered around and had a look at the dogs, and filled in a questionnaire about my lifestyle and preferences so they can review whether the dogs I liked would suit. I answered the questionnaire honestly, but because I work full time, they told me that the dogs I listed were unsuitable because they preferred someone who would be at home more. I asked them about another dog, a kelpie cross named Buddy. The volunteer said they would check with the trainer and see if Buddy would suit me. After a long wait, the volunteer came back to me saying that Buddy would be suitable for me, but the bad news is that Buddy was adopted by someone else an hour earlier. The volunteer suggested that I try visiting next week because they get 20 to 30 dogs coming in and out of the refuge each week (I found this statistic surprising). They also suggested visiting the PetRescue website.

I returned to the RSPCA and Dogs Refuge Home several times, and also contacted several other rescue organisations. Most of them said “no” because I work full time I would be leaving the dog alone at home for 10 hours, and/or because I had a small back yard. A month of scouring the PetRescue website, visiting shelters, calling and sending e-mails, I was getting really frustrated at how hard this was and was on the verge of giving up. After another visit to the RSPCA and Dogs Refuge Home ending in disappointment, I posted a rant on Facebook about the difficulties of finding a dog to adopt, and felt like throwing in the towel.

I made a last ditch attempt to find my future fur baby by sending an e-mail to a rescue organisation that I had not yet approached: Celebrity Pets Rescue. In my e-mail I explained my predicament and asked if they had any dogs that would suit my circumstances. I received an encouraging response with pictures of two German Shepherd/Kelpie crosses that were potential matches. They advised me to visit them in Malaga on Saturday.

Come Saturday, I visited the Celebrity Pets Rescue in Malaga. The ladies there discussed some of the dogs they had, and in the end they suggested Sundae and asked if I wanted to meet him. I said yes, so they brought Sundae out to the courtyard. Sundae seemed ecstatic to be out of the kennel and proceeded to wander around and sniff everything. They let me take Sundae for a short walk and spend some time with him. He was such an energetic and friendly dog, I decided he was the one!

Apparently Sundae had been in the kennels since October last year, so roughly 5 or 6 months, which I found surprising because he was such a gorgeous and friendly dog. I filled in the paperwork for adoption, the ladies were really helpful in answering my questions about dog ownership. My house was not ready for a dog, I had no dog food, dog bowls, leads, collars, beds, etc. The ladies at Celebrity Pets Rescue recommended a nearby pet store that supports the rescue organisation, so while I went there to buy a few things, they gave Sundae a wash. When I returned to take Sundae home, he looked even more gorgeous.

A week later, the microchip details were transferred to my name, and Sundae was officially mine :)


Sound Effects in Scanlations

It has been many years since I was actively involved in the scanlation scene, and there is a lot I could say about it, but what I wanted to talk about is sound effects, more specifically the translation of Japanese sound effects to English. When it comes to translating sound effects, different scanlation groups and even the licensed English translation companies have different methods of translating Japanese sound effects:

1. Do nothing
Ignore the sound effect altogether and leave them on the page as they are. Sometimes licenced companies include an index at the back of the book with a list of sound effect translations (which I found inconvenient and pointless).

2. Transliterate
Transcribe the Japanese script into English script. Example: ゴクン would be written as *gokun*, and バタン as *batan*

3. Literal description
Using a word or phrase that describes the meaning of the sound effect. Example: ゴクン would be written as *swallows*, and バタン as *impact*

4. Use an English equivalent or approximation
Use the equivalent or closest approximation to English onomatopoeia. Example: ゴクン would be written as *gulp*, and バタン as *bam*

There are also visual variations: some write the translation in small text next to the original Japanese sound effect, while others put the translation on top of or completely cover up the original Japanese text.

Personally, I think number 4 is “true” and “ideal” translation, while 1 to 3 are just lazy. Visually, I prefer the small text next to the original Japanese because most sound effects are drawn to be part of the illustration. While searching for “Snow White With The Red Hair“, I came across a scanlation for it and what I noticed immediately was they way they had chosen to translate sound effects. The words “commotion”, “puts down”, “suddenly”, “huge mouthfuls” appeared on the page as literal descriptions of what the original Japanese sound effects represent, and the original Japanese sound effects had also been completely removed from the page making it almost indistinguishable from the characters’ dialogue (most groups use **  or a different font to indicate sound effect translations, but this one did not).

Scanlation example

“commotion commotion” Example of the “Snow White With The Red Hair” scanlation.

In my experience as a translator for scanlation groups, many novice translators did not bother with sound effects at all. The groups I worked for did require sound effect translation, and I often found myself translating just the sound effects for projects because the translator who translated the dialogue did not know how to translate the sound effects. When I first started as translator, I was given a .PDF file containing suggested translations and explanations for common Japanese sound effects, this was used by many translators. A quick Google search shows that there are now many online resources such as The Jaded Network.

Many translators used these guides word for word and got stumped when they came across a sound effect that was not listed in the file, but I mainly used it as a guide and drew on my own experiences in reading English comics to choose suitable translations. I was reading English comics long before I read my first manga, and I noticed that there are differences between sound effect usage in manga, and sound effect usage in Western comics.



For example, Japanese artists sometimes use “niko” for smiling characters (perhaps as emphasis that the character is happy?), while Western comics don’t use any sound effect, I’m guessing this is because it’s obvious from the illustration of a character smiling that the character is happy. Another example, when a character is rolling, Western comics use lines in the illustration to represent the rolling movement, while manga does the same but also adds written sound effects like “koro koro”.

Basically, the Japanese tend to use a lot of onomatopoeia for various situations, whereas in Western comics, sound effects are primary used for actions involving sound (hence the term “sound effect”). This makes choosing a translation difficult because there are many Japanese sound effects that don’t have an English equivalent. In cases like this, I have two methods of choosing a translation:

1. Make something up
If the effect involves sound, imagine what it sounds like and then try to put it into letters. For example, “goso” (rummaging through a bag of items), I might use *swsh*.

2. Describe it
Primarily used when the (sound) effect involves no sound, such as the aforementioned “niko” which I would just translate as *smile*. Another common one is *ji…* which represents intense staring, I would write that as *stare…*

I believe translators should strive to translate all written text in manga, this includes all written sound effects. The text is there to convey a message, and it is a translator’s job to convey that message in a language that the target audience understands. A capable translator will give you the meaning of the message, and a good translator will give you the meaning and the feeling of the message.

Hidamari Sketch

An old example of my translation work (I did the translation only, the image editing was done by someone else).

Quest For An Umbrella

I have had many umbrellas in the past. From full-sized umbrellas, to the small travel-sized umbrellas. For many years, I had a preference for the small compact umbrellas because they were more convenient to carry around. Until one year, I don’t remember when as it seems like long ago now, my mum bought a full-sized umbrella that had a plastic covering on it.

The plastic covering covers just about the entire length of the umbrella, and allows you to pull it back to allow you to open up the umbrella. It’s probably easier to see it in action than to describe it with words:

I thought it was the most clever umbrella I’ve ever seen. But eventually I lost it, no idea where it went. I found some for sale at the shops and bought one, but my forgetful self lost that one too. Then a few years ago, my mum bought two of these umbrellas. She gave one to my sister, and one to me.

My sister soon lost hers. I remember that I held on to mine a little longer. Roughly two years ago, the winter after I started my new job, I had carried my umbrella with me in the morning as it was raining. Perhaps it was because it stopped raining in the afternoon, or perhaps I was just tired after a long day at work. Whatever the reason, I forgot to take the umbrella home with me.

The last thing I remember was putting the umbrella under my desk when I went to work that morning. I didn’t realise I had lost it until a day or two after. I searched the office, but it was nowhere to be found.

I searched many shops to find a replacement, but no matter where I looked, no store I visited had the umbrella with the drip-catching plastic covering.

Fast forward to 2014, I had been without an umbrella for a while, I didn’t even buy a cheap compact umbrella to use because I wanted the plastic covered umbrella. But I have given up on finding one in local shops. So I moved my quest to the world wide web.

The first matching Google result was for Wonderbrella, but given the crude amateurish look of their website, I kept looking and found Cloud Nine Umbrellas. Both websites seem to be for US-based businesses.

I decided to choose Cloud Nine Umbrellas because their website looked more professional. I placed an order online for two umbrellas since they had a $15 for two offer (one umbrella was $8). I waited a week for a response to my order but received none so I sent them an e-mail to follow up on my order. They responded promptly but claimed to have sent me an e-mail shortly after I placed my order to ask if I would agree to pay additional postage for international order. I never received any such e-mail. Nevertheless, I replied back to tell them to proceed. But later, they sent an e-mail to say that they were not fulfilling any international orders at this time. I replied back to ask if they had deducted any money from my debit card. Apparently they did, but assured me that it was refunded back.

So I move on to my second option: Wonderbrella. I placed an order online with them, but they soon replied back saying that they were not doing international orders either. Both websites for Cloud Nine Umbrellas and Wonderbrella indicate that international orders are possible. Misleading websites are misleading…

I have come this far and invested much time into finding a plastic covered umbrella. Given that the umbrellas from those websites are most likely manufactured in China, I turned my search to AliExpress.

AliExpress is a Chinese website which allows Chinese manufacturers/businesses to sell direct to customers. I find that the website feels very similar to eBay, except no auctions, just set prices. I couldn’t help but feel a little hesitant, given China’s reputation for dodgy counterfeit goods. But I really wanted that umbrella, so I searched AliExpress for sellers, and picked out one that looked the most reliable to place my order.

Photo from the AliExpress listing

I paid for my order immediately and a week later received notification that my order had been shipped. I also decided to purchase a tablet case for my new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 from AliExpress. But days passed and nothing was delivered, no tablet case, no umbrella. I was starting to worry a bit, and in the meantime the weather had been rainy, and I was without an umbrella.

Eventually the tablet case arrived, yay. But the umbrella was still nowhere to be found. According to AliExpress, delivery may take up to 45 days, so I continued to wait. I little over a month after I placed the order, it finally arrived! It hasn’t rained since I received it, so I am yet to test it against the elements, but so far so good.

My quest has come to an end, and I’ll try my best to make sure I don’t lose this one!

My Little Farmies

When I was still somewhat new to Facebook and Facebook games were all the rage with news feeds inundated with automatically generated messages of gaming invites and achievements. Back then, I only played one Facebook game: Farmville. It reminded me of Harvest Moon, which is a series of farming games. But eventually I got to a point where my farm grew too large and became too time consuming to maintain, so I stopped playing.

That was many years ago now. Around a month ago, I found myself with a lot of free time to kill, so I decided to seek out another farming game to play. I didn’t want to go back to Farmville as that game gets more tedious as you progress, plus I can’t access Facebook on certain computers. Googling “farm browser games” shows that there are many farm-based browser games out there.

In the end, I picked “My Little Farmies” partially because I liked the way the graphics and layout looked, but primarily because it was created by a German developer whom later created the English version. Translating a game from one language to another takes a great deal of effort, so a game needs to be good enough to be worth that effort. Sure, I could’ve gone and read random reviews of different farming browser games to decide which one would be good, but having a company invest time and money into translating a game is a pretty convincing endorsement.

Anyway, I’ve been playing for a little over a month now. Being a “free-to-play” game, the developers need to make money somehow, and like many “free-to-play” games, this one allows you to use real money to purchase in-game currency to buy items that make things in the game easier or more convenient. For example, when clearing rubble from your farm, you can either clear it using “thalers” that you earn by playing the game and wait a certain period of time, or you can use “gold bars” which you generally purchase with real money and have the rubble cleared instantly. Or watering/harvesting crops requires you to click. Alot. When you farm expands, this means lots and lots of clicking. But there is an option in the game to water/harvest everything at one but it costs… you guesssed it… gold bars!

There are also certain crops/animals/items that can only be purchased using gold bars. Also, some later farm/warehouse upgrades cost gold bars, which effectively stifles your progress in the game unless you buy gold bars. Like most browser games I have played, initial game play gives you enough to do to grab your attention. But you will soon find that as you progress, a lot of time is simply spent waiting. Waiting for crops to grow, waiting for buildings to complete, waiting for upgrades to finish. Initially, the wait time is a matter of minutes. Then it becomes hours, then days… I did give in to temptation and purchased some gold bars to speed things up, but then making everything easy became boring. So I took up a new challenge: play through the game without buying gold bars.

Now, I had already purchased gold bars, so to undertake this challenge, I started a new account, a new farm. According to game rules, having more than one account is ok as long as the accounts do not benefit from one another via in-game trade. So the rules I have set for my challenge is:

1. No trading between my roxybudgy (gold bar) account and my sixfoureight (no gold bars) account.
2. No using real money to purchase of gold bars on the sixfoureight account.
3. Gold bars earned in-game can be spent on items that require gold bars.

Although I will try to prevent my sixfoureight account from benefiting directly from the roxybudgy account, there will be an indirect benefit of knowledge. Although my roxybudgy account was created 2 weeks before the sixfoureight, both are now the same level as I have applied what I learned from the roxybudgy account to optimise the progress on the sixfoureight.

So I am now roughly one month into the challenge. My farm is now size 7 and unable to expand further as upgrading to size 8 would cost 160 gold bars. Similarly, my warehouse capacity is stuck at 300 because it would cost 100 gold bars to upgrade it to 350. Therefore I need to carefully decide what crops/animals/buildings to use given my limited space. I have created an Excel spreadsheet comparing data and figures for the various items/aspects of the game and analysed that data to determine which crops/animals/buildings would give me the most amount of thalers/XP. And the result is this:

Screenshot of my sixfoureight My Little Farmies farm.
Screenshot of my sixfoureight My Little Farmies farm.

To generate enough thalers to pay for the buildings and upgrades, I primarily grew grapes as they yielded the highest net profit for my farm level. After upgrading my farm and warehouse as far as I could without using gold bars, I reorganised everything to focus on increasing my XP rather than thalers. That meant fulfilling as many customer requests as possible. On my roxybudgy account, I build every single building, crop and animal available so I could fulfil just about any customer request that came along, but having a lack of warehouse space causes much inconvenience. So for the sixfoureight account, I chose buildings that allowed you to purchased the 1st and 2nd upgrade with thalers, and grew crops that were required by those buildings.

My farm is now level 33. My initial goal was to expand my farm and warehouse as far as I could, which I recently achieved. My next goal is to unlock the cherry trees which can be obtained at level 41. Based on the game forums, it seems that at these levels, it requires a huge amount of XP to level up, but I’ll get there, and I’ll get there without spending a cent!

In addition to my silly little challenge, I have also been learning PHP and MySQL by turning my Excel spreadsheet into a real database. My quest to build my first PHP website and MySQL database can be found here:

No More Free Parking

The other day I noticed a sign outside of Greenwood train station advising that all parking at all train stations will now be paid parking.

Well that sucks… I pay for parking anyway, so it’s not the price that bothers me. It’s losing my convenient parking space near the train station entrance and increased time waiting at the parking ticket machine.

The parking at Greenwood station currently has both paid and free parking. To the south of the station entrance is the paid parking area. On the east right near the entrance is free parking, and the northern parking extension on the other side of Hepburn Avenue is also free parking.

Obviously, the free parking right next to the station entrance is the first to fill up with cars, so if you arrive at the train station after 7am, you are left with either the free-but-distant car park on the other side of Hepburn Avenue which fills up second, or the more-closely-located-to-entrance paid parking which is usually the last to fill up.

I usually arrive at the train station between 7-7:30am. I used to park in the free-but-distant car park, but during the hotter months, the walk from the car park to the station and back again was a very unpleasant experience, and having to do that walk in the rain isn’t nice either. So now I park in the paid parking which usually has plenty of space as other commuters hunt for the last remaining scraps of free parking. But come 8am, all free parking is taken and even the paid parking fills up.

I start work at 8:30am, so I aim to leave the house around 7-7:15am to arrive at Greenwood station so I can get a nice parking spot near the train station entrance, pay for my parking without having to wait in a queue then it’s a short walk to the train platform. If I arrive later than usual, but am lucky enough to still get a parking space, I then have to contend with a long queue at the ticket machine.

When all parking becomes paid, instead of the southern car park being the last to be filled up, it will be amongst the first to be filled up, which means I may be forced to park in the northern car park on the other side of Hepburn Avenue and spend 10-15 minutes in a long queue for parking tickets before making the trek to the train station. The horror!

All parking will become paid parking on 1 July 2014, so I still have some time to savour my lovely parking spot near the train station entrance. Perhaps in future I may need to leave the house even earlier to secure a space near the train station entrance…

Transperth: Paid Parking is on its way
ABC News: Free train station parking abolished by WA Government in 2013 budget

Edit: Apparently queues at the ticket machine will not be a problem as Transperth will introduce “SmartParker” where you link your car details to your SmartRider and tag on at the car park, and parking attendants will use licence plate recognition software to check if parking has been paid for. See more information at Transperth’s website.