Visiting Australia (Passport Requirements)

I’m visiting Australia (just for the day) next week, and realised last night that I foolishly have let my passport reach the stage where it expires in just over two months.  I know that many countries require the expiry to be a certain amount of time after arriving (e.g. six months) and wondered if I would have to speedily renew my passport (an extra $75 for the speed, and taking three days plus travel to and from the passports office, which would cut it close).

I googled for information about this for ages, and tried the sensible seeming sites (Australian tourism, New Zealand and Australian government departments that look after passports and immigration, travel websites.  Nothing helped.

Eventually my wife rang the New Zealand Ministry of Internal Affairs (who do the passports), who said that in their opinion (matching mine) the passport is valid until it expires.  They suggested ringing the Australian consolate.  They couldn’t do anything but play recorded messages, but one of those messages suggested a website to look at.

The website, which does have the information is australia.org.nz.  What a stupid choice of URL – how could I possibly be expected to guess that?  And why did google not find this? (They have a PageRank of 0, which explains much, so someone needs to do a better job of promoting the site!).

The answer, anyway, is that (for a New Zealander at least) you only need a valid passport for the duration of the stay (although obviously the length of the visa allocated will be effected).  So I can just renew my passport when I get back, and wait the 10 days, and save $75.

Stability of email addresses

Massey‘s ITS department have been at it again (see also the comments about their security blunder earlier this year – somewhat patched up now).

Ever since email began, it has been customary for an email address to take the form username@domain – for example, I have a username “ta-meyer” with which I log into Ihug, and so I have an email address ta-meyer@ihug.co.nz. Massey (staff) usernames typically come in the form initial(s)surname (e.g. my name is Tony Andrew Meyer, so my username is “tameyer”). As such, you would expect my Massey email address to be tameyer@massey.ac.nz (just as you find my web page by putting Massey’s address, then a tilde (for ‘home’) then my username, to get http://www.massey.ac.nz/~tameyer).

Until some time in the last week, you would have been right. You could also have used t.a.meyer@massey.ac.nz (note the dots), but it didn’t really make as much sense (“t.a.meyer” is no good as a username, anywhere at Massey), and is more difficult for people to remember. Just recently, however, mail to username@massey.ac.nz (e.g. tameyer@massey.ac.nz) has started to bounce with an “unknown user” error.

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Email Quoting

Like many people, I deal with a lot of email every day. Something that makes it much easier to deal with is when people quote properly. Here are some guidelines (originally prepared for 139.177 / 119.177) for effective email quoting.

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Finding libstdc++.so.6

When I tried to build Python 2.4.1 on doublehelix I ran into two problems:

  • configure wouldn’t complete, saying that it couldn’t run compiled C programs.  I looked at the configure script and right before this it had something about not removing this section with autoconf 3.0:
# FIXME: These cross compiler hacks should be removed for Autoconf 3.0
# If not cross compiling, check that we can run a simple program.

So I went ahead and commented out that section and it ran.  I suspect that this was actually caused by the second problem.
  • make ran fine until it tried to use python to build the extension modules (or if I tried to run python manually once it was built).  I got “./python: error while loading shared libraries: libstdc++.so.6: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory”

There’s a lot of stuff online about this problem, and generally the solution is to either modify /etc/ld.so.conf to include a path to the library, or put the path on LD_LIBRARY_PATH.  I don’t have access to /etc/, so the second seemed like the best plan.  A simple ‘find / -name libstdc++.so.6’ found three files with the right name, so I put the first one (/usr/local/lib) into LD_LIBRARY_PATH.

Unfortunately, this didn’t work – nothing seemed to change at all. I tried lots of other things, but nothing worked.

The problem turned out to be that although they all had the same name, the three libstdc++.so.6 files were not the same (I imagine that one is specific to 64 bit compiling).  If I put the one in /lib64/ssa on LD_LIBRARY_PATH, all worked nicely (what normally goes into /lib64/ssa, I do not know).

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Tagline

I should also explain the tagline, I suppose.  Some time back, my Dad asked me about the etymology of “blog”, and said that his best guess was “bullshit, lies, or gossip”.

While not technically correct, it did seem pretty accurate in a lot (not all, of course) of cases.  While hopefully this blog won’t contain bullshit, lies or gossip, I liked the line.

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