11:50 Sat, 10 Nov 2012
Finally, at long long last, the Australia Government has killed off its long-standing proposal to
implement an internet filter for all Australians. Instead, it will go with a much more
sensible and practical policy of banning access to websites listed on the Interpol
The two reasons why this is better is that it is an open and transparent process, and
that it is harder to get accidentally or maliciously included on the list since at least
two countries have to propose a website for inclusion.
Now all we have to do is prevent Australia succumbing to U.S. pressure to implement
ACTA, SOPA and all the others that the one-sided Free Trade Agreement part 2 will impose on
I wrote previously on this in 2010 here,
09:00 Sat, 21 Jul 2012
Another beautiful Tour de France. We are only three days away from the final stage in
Paris and Bradley Wiggins will win.
Last night watching stage 21, I saw Mark Cavendish power from the poursuivants,
catch the tête de course and just drive past still accelerating. The lead group had
nothing to say. It was a simply awesome display of power and assertiveness.
Wiggins will win, of course, having led from stage 7 and Peter Sagan is the tremendous new
addition to the Tour, a superb sprinter who also wins mountain climbs. It will be great
to see Cavendish and Sagan compete in sprints in the next Tours (it didn't happen this
year because Cavendish's team was focussed on supporting Wiggins).
There have been plenty of Aussie supporters along the way as shown by the number of
Australian flags on the route. Plenty of any nationalities' supporters on the mountain
too—they are going to have to do something about that, they are crowding the
riders on the summit—and I'm not too sure what the heck is up with all those
naked men running alongside.
By the way, if you were wondering, like me, where is the Devil Man (Didi Senft) this
year, he recently had surgery and his doctors told him to stay home and be quiet, a
09:42 Fri, 13 Jul 2012
I was checking how a server was returning cache and cookie times and needed something to
view the timestamp in normal, human-readable date time. The timestamp (e.g.
1340325256487) is a unix datetime (i.e. time from the epoch of 01-01-1970 0:00 UTC)
expressed in milliseconds.
You can show the datetime of epoch dates using the
date unix command:
$ date -d @1340325256
Fri Jun 22 08:34:16 WST 2012
However, that won't work here because of the additional milliseconds component that
servers send in their headers and set in the cookies:
$ date -d @1340325256487
date: invalid date `@1340325256487'
We need to strip off the last 3 digits, which means we can't use an alias because we
09:56 Wed, 04 Jul 2012
It looks like the Higgs boson has been confirmed (source: The Age).
The Age is still perpetuating the myth that it is called the God particle because
it gives all other particles their mass. Actually, it came from a frustrated early
researcher who called it the god-damn particle because it was so hard to find. So,
small "g" please if you follow the latest style guides for slang.
Hacker News has comments and a link to another
Update: Here is a great animated cartoon that explains what
the Higgs boson is, how it is important, and how we are looking for it. No science needed!
09:01 Wed, 20 Jun 2012
At long last, Australia gets its R rating (adults only) for computer games. The
Commonwealth has passed the necessary legislation in the last few days, and the States
have agreed to implement their complementary legislation this year. The implementation
date is January 2013.
Previously, our highest rating was M15, which means suitable for over-15 year olds. Any
game that warranted a more restricted rating was refused classification, which meant it
was illegal to sell in Australia. We were the only western country in the world to ban
games to adults.
In practice, many games that were in a gray area were let through with M15. This meant
that kids were getting access to games they probably should not have. As a corollary,
parents were confused because the M15 rating seemed to include a vast range of games
from mild through to strong violence.
The new system, only a decade later than the rest of the world, means that the M15
rating will, in practice, be tightened up and parents will be more sure of the content
of that game. And, of course, adults will be free to buy games with higher degrees of
violence or sex or swearing.
08:48 Wed, 20 Jun 2012
Yesterday, Fairfax (publishers of The Age and The Sydney Morning-Herald)
announced 1,900 job cuts and that online editions would move behind a pay-wall.
Many of the job cuts will come from journalists, but the majority will come from the
production areas such as printing. A sign of the times and unfortunate for those
workers in obsolete technology who will be impacted. (I'm not being cruel; it is
obvious to Blind Freddie that printers as a mass industry will go the way of the
textile workers who were replaced by mechanical looms and gave the word "luddite".)
I read my morning news online, mainly The Age which I enjoy for its in-depth
articles, and, while disappointing, the move to a pay-wall is not unexpected.
So far, I have avoided completely paying for online news. For one, the prices are
ridiculous. Printing is responsible for roughly half the cost of a newspaper, so removing paper and
ink from the equation should bring costs down. Yet the online subscription, at least
for those news sites I looked at, is the same as the printed version. Nup, not going to pay
that, especially with a vast range of alternative free sources.
The industry is obviously going through major change and things are yet to settle
down, so the price will move up and down before settling at some stable point. I
12:40 Wed, 06 Jun 2012
It was a washout here, literally. After a solid week of sunshine and few clouds,
winter decided to hit. I woke this morning to solid gray ⁸/₈ cloud and rain.
Five hours later the weather has not changed, so I did not get to see the transit. Such
is life in astronomy. I did follow along in xephem, so I had the virtual tour instead.
09:31 Sun, 03 Jun 2012
Google has recently introduced a neat feature for F1 fans. If you type "f1 calendar
2012", instead of getting some links that you then have to look at, you immediately get
a display of the recent race results and the dates of the next few races.
I especially like that the times of the races are in your local time. Google has a
reputation of thinking-through a product design, and here it shows.
Well done, and much appreciated from this F1 follower.
11:16 Sat, 02 Jun 2012
I mentioned previously that the last transit of
Venus that any of us will see is in a couple of days on June 6, and I promised I would post the
times to watch around Australia. Here they are.
| City || Start || Middle || Finish |
The Sun will have only just risen in the southern cities and will still be below the horizon in
Perth when the transit starts, so not ideal viewing there. Still, the transit will take
roughly 6½ hours so the rest of it will be good.
10:28 Sat, 26 May 2012
This story combines two of my likes: astronomy and technology.
I wrote previously about the QR code on my main site's home
page. Basically, a QR code is like a bar code expanded into a square. Its advantage is
that is can hold much more information than a bar code and so can be adapted for many
uses other than pricing in the supermarket.
One of those uses is to hold a web page's URL, which is what my QR code does. A smart
phone can take a photo of the QR code and then open up a browser with the web page
A retailer in Seoul is using a sculpture to cast shadows that make up a QR code for its
website. The shadows only generate the correct QR code for the hour after noon, which is the retailer's quiet
time. A passer-by who accesses the website at that time gets offered discounts and