A Month – Err, Two Months – In Melbourne

Note: I originally wrote this weeks ago, and it was meant to go up to mark a month of being in Melbourne. Well, it’s been sitting as a draft since the 27th of last month now and now I’ve been here nearly two months. So, I think it’s time to finally get this posted up.

First of all, I realize it’s been quite some time since my last blog post, and I’d like to apologize for that. I don’t have a connection to the internet at my residence (because it’s cheaper without one), and so I only have access to the internet at the library and at work. OK, my iPhone too, but ever try to write a full-fledged blog post on one of those? Have fun. That said, I do have a lot I’d like to talk about. If you’re an anime fan, I think you’ll like what’s coming. For those of you interested in my life here in Melbourne, keep in mind that I do work Monday-Friday. I’ve only had the change to be a tourist about eight days out of the five weeks I’ve been here. I meant to write an update post last weekend, but you’ll find out why in another post why I did not (see how behind I am?)

So, where should I begin? I guess I should begin by saying that yes, I’m still doing fine here. No, I have not seen a kangaroo nor a koala out in the wild yet (I don’t think Melbourne has any outside of the zoo). I have, however seen some penguins. St. Kilda Beach – or more specifically, St. Kilda Breakwater – is home to a couple of Little Penguins. And, as the name suggests, they are quite little. They’re also very heavily protected. You can’t even take a flash photo of them, so I’m afraid you’ll have to use a bit of your imagination below.

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On the topic of the beach, the beach here provides a very nice walk. It’s still quite cold for being Spring (the warmest it’s been since I got here was 86*F), so the beach isn’t too crowded with people. Yet. When it’s not raining and not freezing either, the sunset from the beach is beautiful.

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And once the sun has gone down, the city becomes quite beautiful too. Melbourne must have one hell of a power bill (which I’m sure makes AGL happy) because lights are everywhere in the city at night (much less so in St. Kilda off of the main roads). While the skyline isn’t as awesomely lit up as Philly’s, a walk along the Yarra River makes up for it. The reflections in the water are stunning, thanks to the massive entertainment and shopping promenade along the river.

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The Crown Casino also seems to launch giant fireballs into the sky at night each hour, which is wicked cool and you can hear from many blocks away. I’m not sure what the schedule for it is, as I always seem to catch it as I’m off doing something else. But trust me, the sound and light produced is hard to miss.

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That’s from the end of South Wharf, which I think is roughly five city blocks away from the casino. The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre runs along the length of South Wharf and is nice and brightly lit up at night. I haven’t been in it to say for sure, but it looks like a very nice building from the outside.

I’ve now taken Metro quite a bit and it seems to run faster and more often than the trams, at least between Flinders Street and Southern Cross anyway. The trains aren’t nearly as nice as the trams, but they sure hold a ton more people. I’ve only been on one train so far that was actually crowded, but that was to be expected given that it was an express train to a convention. I’ve also never taken one at rush hour.

Now, while I haven’t actually gone through its campus, I can now say that I’ve been to Melbourne University. I’m very much a fan of the ton of tram routes that serve it as well. As for why I’ve been up that way, you’ll find that out in another post (are you getting how much I have to report on now?) I will say this though, the theater I was at (Cinema Nova) has the best damn chairs I’ve ever sat in at a theater. And if my parents (or mom at least) do come and visit me at some point, I know I’ll be bringing them up that way. Not for the theater, but for the Brunetti across from it. Holy shit the number of cakes that store had. It’s seriously mind-blowing. I recommend bringing a bucket with you to collect your drool as you attempt to pick just one to try.

So what else is there to talk about? I know family keeps asking about my homestay, so I’m happy to report there have been no issues with that. We’ve had another student from China move in since I arrived, which now means all of the bedrooms in the house are full. As for work, I’m not sure what I’m legally allowed to announce, so talking about it (publicly at least) is kinda tricky to do.

I’ll think I’ll start from the top. For those of you who don’t know, I’m here in Melbourne through an international co-op from Drexel University in Philly (that’s Philadelphia, PA, USA). The co-op center at Drexel (called the SCDC for short) partners with a program here in Australia to offer the option of co-oping in Australia. The name of that program/company is Australian Internships. I kid you not. Through Australian Internships, I’m working at Accenture Australia at one of their client’s sites, specifically AGL Energy, which is largest energy company in Australia, or so I’m told. AGL’s in the process of doing a major upgrade to their web services, both public-facing and internal. I’m mainly on the internal side of things, which involves an upgrade to SharePoint 2013. And that’s probably all I can say on that matter. As for how I’m finding it, it’s definitely different from my previous co-ops. My work so far has primarily been in development. With that in mind, I’m now learning Windows Power[s]hell (yes, I wrote that as such intentionally. I think you can figure out my feelings on it.) as well as AngularJS and TypeScript.

The last two weeks (Note: “the last two weeks” means mid-October, when this post was originally drafted up) have been spent primarily on PowerShell scripting, which no, I’m not a fan off. It’s nice to see Microsoft has finally given Windows a more-or-less “proper” terminal, closer to the beautiful thing you’ll find in Linux (or by extension, OSX) than Command Prompt, but still very far off. And I mean very far off. Like anything Microsoft, it loves error messages that make no sense at all until Googled. Functions are also weird. Very weird. You actually don’t need to pass them parameters nor call a Return at the end of one most of the time. You should still pass parameters to functions, but I really don’t think you need to call Return at all. There are also several commands that are aliased to the new ones in Powershell, but they aren’t always mapped to what you’d expect (pro tip: echo is not the same as Write-Host). I am very much a fan that Powershell does allow command aliasing though (have fun trying to use it with my profile loaded up, there’s short handing like crazy).

That project has now been put on hold (where “now” equals as of 12 November). Now I’m learning Perl as part of a project to batch process over 6,000 images. Perl is a much better language that PowerShell. It’s actually written in English. And it works. It’s stupidly easy to learn, yet super powerful. But, since processing 6,000 images takes about ten minutes to do everything we need to do to them, I’m also working on verifying that our planned upgrade path for SharePoint will work.

I think that pretty much covers everything. I have a ton more posts to move out of Draft and to Published, so there should be plenty of new posts soonish. I’m seriously going to try updating more often. But, since there really isn’t much to report on Melbourne all the time, I’ll be writing primarily about something else instead. As for what, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out. Regular updates are also dependent on me getting to the library on a regular basis as well.

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