It was been a great December and January. We have seen a lot of Tasmania, gone for a few great walks - 5 hour Freycinet loop and few hours up Mt. Wellington. I have made some progress on editing a chapter and lots of progress on making a connection sharing point for multiple USB modems on my BeagleBoard (not that the USB-Ethernet hub can sustain the juice multiple modems draw).
The key ingredient turned out to be the udev rule to automatically insert the modem driver (good old usbserial) when the device was detected on the usb bus:
ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="usb", MODALIAS=="v05c6p0015*", RUN+="/sbin/modprobe usbserial vendor=0x05c6 product=0x0015"
Beyond this the nm-connection-editor tool (from the NetworkManager coterie) was used to add a Vodafone connection with the relevant APN. Now whenever the modem is plugged in ModemManager kicks in and a ppp connection is established without any more fuss.
First couple of days at CSIRO have also gone swimmingly with a lot of help from my peers (Gary mostly). I spent sometime reading manuals and doing design decisions with GeoAPI. Got indoctrinated into the CSIRO way and spent sometime staring at stack traces from SAP. Otherwise I am really enjoying the shiny new Mac with lotsa RAM, time to kick around some shaders in WorldWind.