Fearing the coming technological plague

In which our narrator blabs on and on about technology and how great it is

The HAL Protocol

Presently I'm faced with something of a tech dilemma at the office. Some of our public website relies on the Google Maps v2 API. The Google Maps v2 API is deprecated, and on November 19th (that's today), it'll be switched off. So I was asked to change some stuff over to v3. A while ago, actually, but things got missed and variuous things got in the way and anyway shut up. Besides, this should be simple enough. You'd think. It so happens that my predecessor wrote his own wrapper around the v2 API. Which should be good. That means I only have to edit the...

Adventures in Worstpracticeville

This morning, I wrote ~4500 lines of code in about two minutes. Skeptical? I thought you would be, so here's the curious tale of how I deviated from best practice land and wrote 4500 lines of C# code using Excel formulas. It began with an email from a member of the public to the organisation for which I work. To protect the person's identity, we will call her... Mrs Mittens, and we shall paraphrase what she had to say. Mrs Mittens wrote: "I live in a particular street in Rathernicesuburb" So far so good "When I came to your website, however, and was asked to select my street...

Shirt, tie and jacket: Corporate voodoo

[Here's a post I wrote and never published a while ago. My job has since changed, but you can't escape the voodoo] I'll get this out of the way immediately. I do not like formal "business dress". Shirts, ties and proper trousers shit me to tears. I feel uncomfortable and as a result I am less effective. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one. I also don't trust "suits" as far as I can throw them. I work in IT. I do complicated magic with computer software, for which I'm paid quite a lot of money. I've been doing this for...

Skepticator For Mobile Devices pilot version hits the web

Yes, if you have a mobile device, hit up http://m.skepticator.net/ to view the latest news from the skeptisphere. GWT will be added later, as will search capability. Here we see it running on my slightly battered HTC Touch Pro. It's the basic basic theme as its big brother, with the rounded corner fripperies removed and the left-hand navigation gone, ad it also cuts down on showing the opening paragraphs of stories, just the title, where it's from and when it appeared. It's also the first of my sites to go out on .NET 4.0. At the moment, it's ad-free as I've not yet...

Improvements to Skepticator

When last I posted about Skepticator, it was a raw, fresh-faced little website with a few command-line apps behind it drawing content. It had something like 64 feeds aggregated, and was ticking along slowly with about 1000 posts to look through. But there was no easy way to actually dig for content. It was a very linear experience, and if you wanted just the latest Skeptical commentary, that was fine. But that's not why I started it. So, since I last posted, I've been working away like mad to make Skepticator much, much cooler.  - Warning: Massive techy nerdy geek-out follows. If you're not...

Jesus can't save you from login errors

From the maniacal gloating department comes this: From the front page of the Jesus: All About Life campaign. As they say on the internets: FAIL. Update: from examining the stack trace, we can see the developer of at least part of the site was "Rod". Hi Rod. Are you proud of this one? Information disclosure FTL. Also, it looks like JAAL are cheaping it up on shared hosting on a machine called HSTPRDWEB01, co-located at perthix.net hosting. I almost certainly have more processing power running this blog than the entire JAAL campaign does. JAAL shares its IP address with, among others, RedRooster.com.au,...

Back from the dead again

Hello! I'm back. Well, I didn't ever really go away. My web server did. The motherboard shuffled off the mortal coil for a while, but that only made me more determined. I purchased the old server's evil twin, gutted the original to double the processing power, and reinstalled it at the data center today. It has a few words to say: Cower now, brief mortals, for I am the web server of doom. Feel my quad-processor power! Gasp at my eight Gigabytes of RAM! Quake before the might of my mirrored RAID drive array! Tremble at the sight of my redundant power supplies! Kneel now,...

JANDO

I just got this email, via the blog's feedback mechanism, from someone calling themselves "Jando" (email address withheld). Interesting reading about all points of view is available. I can't help but think that these blogs are a bit too personal (ie riddled with one-liners, insults, comebacks, counter insults etc) from both sides to provide any real mature context for the debate on wether to vax or not to vax. What everyone here needs is a good shot of rationale open debate. I suppose I also wonder why one side is SO pro and one SO anti, maybe the pro's should let...

Top Tips for Sydney Drivers

I drive in one of the world's most stupidly laid-out cities. There's a big fucking harbour right down the middle, and hills, and rivers, and sloppily laid-out suburbs aplenty, coupled with a population that is both affluent and incredibly self-centred. Good driving conditions this does not create. In addition, we have governments and government agencies that, seemingly, have no fucking clue about traffic flow, bottlenecks or decent road maintenance, coupled with a vocal minority of residents who seem to believe that, while traffic flow is broken, we must UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, change anything about the roads in their area. This is awesome. And the...

Wow, a rare technical blog entry

My current mobile phone is the Motorola Q9H, a nice little telephone with a full qwerty keyboard, a slimline back-pocket design and a decent, kinda-reliable feel. It does most things I need, such as Audio-over-bluetooth, mass storage driver, charge from USB, mobile internet and ActiveSync, and has a decent battery life. One thing it couldn't do, though, is tethering. Telstra's standard WinMo build for the Q9h does not include Internet Connection Sharing, and Telstra also don't publish details of how to configure the phone, and I haven't been able to flash it with a new build and still have all the other features I want...

Professors should know better

Professor Clive Hamilton is the latest voice in The Australian's ongoing blog series about CleanFeed. Read this, then read this. I think you'll see my first objection to the professor's article. His hatchet-job employment of the slippery slope argument is a collossal fallacy that fails to address the anti-cleanfeed lobby's actual objections to the proposed filter. He then goes on to employ strawmen as low-rent caricatures of the opposition, and repeats several already-addressed objections on GetUp's use of test data, then throws out some more strawmen. There is a simple, currently available, low-impact solution to Clive's extreme, fallacious example: Kids should not have unfettered access...

And the Best Comment Gold Medal goes to....

The following piece of truly stellar logic from "rational" on Bernadette McMenamin's Australian IT pro-CleanFeed piece Apparently 674 of the URLs currently on the ACMA blacklist contain child pornography material. On July 25, 2008, Google software engineers Jesse Alpert and Nissan Hajaj announced that Google Search had discovered one trillion unique URLs. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Web) So, the government wants to spend tens of millions of dollars to protect us from 0.0000000674% of the internet. [emphasis mine] Bravo, dear sir. Fucking Bravo. You win today's Comment Gold. The rest of the comment, and many other solid gold items, can be viewed at the link above

I'm really crap at blogging, but then so are most people

Blogging takes, y'know, dedication and shit. I don't have any of that right now and I'm probably too old to buy any. Y'know. Which might be one reason I've finally twitterfied, after all this time. As penance for this ridiculous decision, all twitter updates will contain the word "fuck" until I finally get bored with that and move on to something else. Things which are getting my goat today: IE8 Toby IE8 Lacking motivation Low levels of life in-office and around the city due to some mythical...

A momentary geek-out

A chance to geek out and a chance to play around with excerpt view? Yes please. A post in which I show off my Lord Of The Rings Online Characters? Sure! A post not syndicated on the RSS feed? Definitely.

I'm blogging again...

... honest. OK, so that's my official work blog, but hey, at least I'm writing again. I've also reconfigured this blog to show fewer items on the homepage in an effort to obviate timeouts. I've been missing a while. Blame LOTRO. What's new? NonProphets 7.3 is here and one of the best episodes in a while. Grab. I haven't yet, however, made it to the end of the episode. Should manage that tonight. Lastly: FAIL.  

A (SQL) Injection of Humour

As Ever, running behind the curve...

Expanding the list of things I can't live without...

The CD player that came with the car stopped working after a period of intermittent trouble. So I got pissed off and replaced it with this. It's the "Sony® MEX-BT2500 Bluetooth® Enabled CD Receiver". I previously had some reservations about Sony gear - they are after all the originators of both the walkman and the world's first mass-market rootkit - however I spotted this item at SuperCheap Auto and kinda got hooked on the idea. What's cool about it? Well, first of all, it does everything the old Pioneer one did just a little bit better. The audio fidelity is superior, and...

Waaaaaaaaa!

To continue in a theme of "everyone in the world is fuckin' mental": That's my entire purchasing plan for jeans gone down the tube. now I need these

Coinage

Zunesturbation: The act of playing with your personal music player, often to excess Mutual Zunesturbation: doing it with a friend.

I Can't Bat and other stories from the ether

I got a copy of Ricky Ponting International Cricket this week, and managed to have a bit of a crack at it last night. The report? well, bowling would appear to be my strong point - fielding and batting seem to be tough for me. Fielding partly because I'm colourblind and don't really see the 'hotspot' meter against the grass background too well, batting because the timing seems to be an arcane art the details of which currently elude me, despite running through the tutorials twice. I expected a bit of complex control, but certainly didn't expect batting to be...

LittleBigPlanet, or "why I might want a PS3 after all"

I've been distinctly underenthusiastic for the coming PS3 launch, as you might expect from someone with a healthy helping of Sony-unlove, but Spong just highlighted something which is making me think. Maybe I want one First of all, Katamari Damacy. OK, this may be coming to XBox 360, so it's not a selling point for the PS any longer. But check this out instead This is LittleBigPlanet - something rather neat looking from a bunch of pommie guys with an out-of-the-box perspective. The degree of physics-realism is startling. Armadillo Run was a nice intro to realistic physics, but add to that the high-quality...

I am Three Bagger. Fear Me

See you on XBox Live, Wormers.

We're generally bad enough at Sushi Train

How well do you think we'd do with Salmon, soy sauce and wasabi in space? I'm guessing it would turn out badly. Among other things, I'm finally back on XBox Live:  This is a live gamercard, it'll evolve over time. For posterity, my current gamerscore is 65, with a Three-star rep and two games, PGR3 and Lego Star Wars. Yes, I'm a big kid, OK? And if you're wondering why the gamerscore is so low, well, I had to drop my old XBox 360 profile and start a new one to get back onto Live, so I need to get weaving and regain a...

Jessica Hagy absolutely nails my experience with smartphones

My XDA is no more. Turns out the screen is unfeasibly delicate. It's going to cost $350 for a repair. This is the second smartphone/windows mobile device that's plain died on me, the fourth if you include the two whose joysticks crapped out and then were lost/stolen. Perhaps I'm overly rough with them, or perhaps they should be expected to put up with a little actual use, maybe? Sigh.

Become an instant interface convert

My good friend Kirk just sent me this, and while it's passed by my desk before, and it's approaching a year old, I hadn't made time to digest it, let alone blog it, but I'm glad I finally did as the video really crystallises the touch-input game for me. Let me just gear you up for this. Once you watch this video, your perception of computer interfaces will change. Nothing is utterly brand new in the hardware - we have this technology right now. What is different is the non-tangible aspect - the WAY the interface, as Jeff Han says in the video, disappears...

Windows Vista Audio Gotcha

I reinstalled my audio driver the other day and (re)discovered a little gotcha which may catch some people out. Allow me to explain below. My laptop has a Sigmatel C-Major Audio device and runs Windows Vista Business. Out of the box, audio works fine though the speakers. Plug headphones in though, and you may notice no sound coming through, as I did. Why is this? Well, for some reason yet to be discovered, the default state of the driver leaves the headphones option muted in the advanced sound properties dialog. To switch it on, go to control panel, and open the 'sound' applet. In...

The Toyota Prius: Environmental Disaster

I have come to a conclusion, as I often do, which may surprise readers (all three of you). You may be aware of the Toyota Prius, which aside from being the World's Ugliest Car also lays claim to saving-the-world-one-puff-of-CO2-at-a-time super efficiency. Friends, I shall prove to you that this is a myth. My theory is built upon the observation that Prius drivers potter along like they're your bloody granddad. For instance, I personally was stuck in a queue of traffic on a single-lane, no-overtaking, 60kph-limit road for about 4km at 30kph, just a day or two ago. In my car (heavy, diesel-powered 4WD) that meant...

Confused about the term "net neutrality"?

fear no more

The phone is dead, long live the phone

My much-abused smartphone, an i-Mate SP3i, went to its grave recently, the LCD screen having mysteriously gone batshit overnight. I don't recall dropping or crushing it but there you go. It's dead. So, what better time to upgrade? I'm absolutely smartphone-bound, since I've found calendar, task and email integration to be indispensable, and I like to be able to use my phone as a portable media player. Smartphones aren't cheap, so scouring EBay for a replacement within the short-term replacement budget was a frustrating exercise. This close to the Newton's Birthday holiday means that the budget was around the AU$500 mark max. I found...

Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 has arrived

Yes, the awaited update to VS2005, which makes running on Windows Vista a supported Scenario, is here. Download link: Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1

More tech-fetishism: Wacom Graphire Bluetooth

It's good to have friends in Sales & Marketing. Courtesy of the great folks over at Wacom, I'm now the very proud owner of a Graphire Bluetooth Tablet. I also took posession of some videos explaining how Wacom gear works with Windows Vista (more on this anon) which can be viewed here, here, here, here and here. Actually installing the hardware was easy as. Out of the box and onto the desk it goes, in goes the rechargable lithium-polymer battery, on goes the charging cord, and the included bluetooth dongle goes into a handy USB port (or not, if you have it built...

Contrasts in notebook ownership

My cubemate Tristank just got a new notebook delivered. And well may I say notebook - it's not much bigger than the familar spiral-bound paper notebooks we used to carry around once upon a time. It's a Fujitsu Lifebook P1610 and it came with 80Gb of Harddrive and 512Mb RAM, powered by a 1.2GHz processor and wrapped in a cute little tabletPC format, pumping out a 1280x768 image on a 9 inch-wide touch screen In the picture above it nestles comfortably atop my personal dreadnought notebook, an Alienware Area 51m, with 17inch screen (1920x1200), with twin harddrive bays (currently 1x 80Gb), 2Gb...

The forthcoming WA DST Change

Western Australia is about to trial Daylight Savings Time. Literally about to. The change will begin on December 3rd and will be a three-year trial, after which WA will hold a referendum on whether to keep the change in place. So what does this mean for your computer? Well, not too much, hopefully. At Microsoft the team has been hard at work to implement a fix to the WA timezone for Windows, so WA users will not be subject to the confusion this move could potentially cause. Without this fix, automatic time changes won't happen, stored appointments may be an...

The best news ever

SMH reports that the NSW government will offer free wireless broadband in the Sydney CBD and significant centres by 2008. This is such great news. But the countdown begins to when Telstra try to crush this beautiful idea like a bug, since it would be percieved as a threat to their bottom line

Windows Vista Niftiness: Reliability Monitor

One very nice feature of Windows Vista which will ease my life considerably is the new Reliability Monitor, included in the newly revamped Performance and Reliability tools, formerly - informally -  known as Perfmon. Reliability Monitor in effect keeps an eye on your machine and keeps track of its stability over time, as you can see from the graph here: It's a relatively simple interface - there's no voodoo to understand here. The dotted line shows relative stability over time. Every time there's a filaure on the machine (say, an Outlook Crash, a System blue screen or a hardware problem, Reliability monitor takes...

Nice things for Vista: BBC and Live Messenger Gadgets

Over at Cener's Gadget Gallery, you'll find a couple of nice Windows Vista gadgets that I'm fond of. One is a Live messenger connected instant messenger gadget, which is cute. The other is a BBC Radio gadget, allowing you to listen to BBC live streams from your sidebar. I'm also running an equivalent for Australia's ABC Radio, On which I'm currently listening to TripleJ, though I have no recollection of where I got that from. That being the case I've uploaded it here: ABC Radio Gadget for Vista. Hopefully not violating any licence terms or anything, please let me know if I...

Finding all SQL Database tables with no primary key

A colleague just forwarded me this little script for tracking down SQL Server database tables which don't have a primary key assigned. It's cute and useful, so I thought I'd blog it, as much for my own archiving purposes as for anything else Use <databasename> -- where <databasename> is the name of your database Go select o.name from sysobjects o join sysindexes i on o.id=i.id where o.type ='u' -- user table and i.indid=0 -- no index order by o.name Go enjoy

Well bugger me; Journos follow-up earlier story

It seems the bolt that crashed through a Five Dock resident's roof earlier this week came from a Singapore Airlines 747-400. Logically, it was an outbound flight - how unlikely would it be for a loose bolt to make it all the way over from Singapore before dropping off a few miles from the airport? In other news, Climbfit can take a running jump, and my internet connectivity is pissing me off royally, dropping out every few minutes.

More news from the Wild West of the interwebs

further to my previous post, it appears much of my ISP's IP range has been under some sustained pressure/attack from somewhere. Yesterday morning this website, and all others hosted on its server, went south. It appears (for the moment) that something has killed off TCP access to one of my IP addresses, though UDP seems to work. Luckily I have multiple IPs and could shift to a secondary, though some sites hosted on the box may still have issues. On examining the security logs for the period, I have something like 50,000 failed login attempts from an 0wned machine (or machines) somewhere, and...

My last Vista build before RTM (I hope)

I've just installed Build 5754 onto my Alienware Area51m Notebook, and can report that finally, joy of joys, I finally get to play with Glass/Aero, the nifty and much hyped “new UI”, on one of my own machines. Wow, it's taken a while to get a driver and build combination which likes my 256Mb GeForce Go 6800 (on a fairly nifty machine with 2Gb RAM). I was worried for a while I may have lumbered myself with an underspecced machine* What do I have to report? Well, not a lot so far. Everything I've got installed seems to be running OK....

Google Evil After All

Note the file size of this image. Suggestive, eh?

The headline is only slightly misleading

iTWire is reporting that, and I quote, “Vista costs more than a computer in Australia”. Sure. Let's talk about that though, shall we? Windows Vista will be available in a number of flavours, among them Home Basic, Home Premium, Business and Ultimate. In Australia, the just-announced pricing for Ultimate will be $751. Which is pricey, sure. Looking on the Dell.com.au website, I note that desktops come, and I quote again “from $798”. OK, so close. But iTWire is comparing apples with solid gold bricks. A cheap, low-end, I-Wouldn't-Be-Seen-Dead-With-It desktop machine is only slightly more expensive than the “holy crap, this thing does everything”,...

So I'm sitting here...

.. having a couple of VBs and installing Windows Media Center Edition 2005 onto my chunky home server box and I got to thinking; I spent about 25 minutes trying to find my MCE install media, and some other time trying to track down the product key (which was, for some reason, not in the same place). And I thought to myself, wouldn't it be nice if we had the equivalent of RIS (remote installation service) over the net? I may or may not be “ahead of my time” here, but bear with me. I've had a couple of beers and...

Musings on Vista Dogfooding

Here at Castle Microsoft, things are slowly moving from simmer towards the boil on the Vista and Office launches. To this end, I'm running Vista on three machines, and Office 2007 B2 Tech Refresh on two of those. My findings so far, I have to say, have been more positive than negative. Particular highlights? Well, the new UI is fresh without being obtrusive (despite my lack of driver support for enabling Glass/Aero), and ReadyBoost has become my new favourite feature. For those who are unaware, Vista's ReadyBoost feature allows you to use fast removable storage devices as a kind of...

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