this blog is girtby.net

Posted
18 September 2009 @ 1am

Categories
Meta

2 Comments

Last Post!

On the 18th of September 2004, I unveiled the first post on girtby.net.

And today, exactly 5 years later, I’m posting the last. [Read more →]


Posted
23 August 2009 @ 11pm

Categories
Nerd Factor X

Tags
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3 Comments

Archiving Tweets

If you’ve run Damon Cortesi’s handy curl command to download all (or the last 3200) tweets from your twitter account, you’ll have a directory full of files with names like user_timeline.xml?count=100&page=1. Not only that but they include a large amount of redundant profile stuff in the <user> element. And not only that, but twitter sometimes returns a “Twitter is over capacity” page instead of your tweets.

What we want to do is a) detect any files which don’t contain tweets, b) remove the redundant user profile, and c) combine the results into a single file.

Well, friends, here is a shell script to do exactly that. You’ll need zsh and xsltproc, both of which are standard on MacOS X and most sane Linuxen.

zsh is needed to sort the input files in numeric, as opposed to lexicographic, order. If you know of a way to do this in bash, let me know…

Output is on stdout, so just redirect to your filename of choice:

$ tweetcombine user_timeline.xml\?count=100\&page=* \
    > tweet_archive.xml

[Read more →]


Posted
3 August 2009 @ 11pm

Categories
Meta, Nerd Factor X

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2 Comments

Sleeping Bloggy

It should be apparent to prettymuch anyone who reads this blog that I have lost the impetus to publish regularly. Although I still have many things to say to the internet, it seems to be getting harder and harder to find the time to put these things in a blog form that I’m happy with.

But I’m also not happy with the concept of just abandoning the blog, as so many others seem to do. I like the idea of putting it into hibernation, where it still can be linked to and indexed in search engines, but just not active.

So I’ve been working out how to do that. It’s not as easy as I expected. And, yes, worth blogging about…

[Read more →]


Posted
11 July 2009 @ 10pm

Categories
Cultcha, Provocation

Tags
,

3 Comments

Bye Bye eMusic

Well, it was good while it lasted, but I’ve just downloaded my last album from eMusic.

I was once quite enamoured with this service, so what changed?

Well basically they changed their prices. And by that I mean they increased their prices. And by that I mean their prices went through the roof.

Up until this month you could download 75 tracks/month for US$20. Now, you’ll pay US$31 for those tracks.

Obviously this isn’t the first time that someone has hiked their prices by 50%, but that’s not really the point of this post. Instead it’s the other, extremely deceptive, change that went along with the overt price hike. Your monthly eMusic fee no longer allows you to purchase 75 tracks; instead you’ll get 75 “credits”. They want you think that a credit equates to a single track, but it quite obviously doesn’t. If you’re purchasing by the album (and for many tracks you have to) then the number of credits required almost always exceeds the number of tracks.

For an admittedly extreme example, consider the epic post-rock album Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It has four 20 minute — mind-blowing and highly recommended — tracks. Before the pricing change, this was about 5% of the 75-track monthly quota. Now, downloading this album requires no fewer than 24 credits, which is about a third of quota, and about a 600% increase. None of the tracks can be downloaded individually any more.

So you might think, regardless of the increase, that still works out at just over US$10 for an album, which sounds very fair. But this just begs the question: why don’t they just charge the US$10/album and be done with it?

The subscription plan and the “credits” and all that nonsense is just annoying, and that’s the main reason why I’m leaving. I can pay US$10/album at Amazon and I don’t have to worry about my monthly quota, rollovers, unused credits, the terrible website, the mysteriously “unavailable” albums or individual tracks, and all of the other specific problems with the eMusic service.

I admit I had a good ride. And maybe something had to change at eMusic anyway. The whole premise of charging per track is fraught with problems. The economics of this is predicated on 4 min radio-friendly pop songs, and just doesn’t work out for other types of music.

What I really want is to pay a fixed amount for a fixed duration of music. I’d easily pay US$1 per 10 minutes of music. It seems like absolutely the fairest and simplest way of doing doing things, and the way that eMusic could have changed while still keeping my business.

Failing that I’ll just pay per album. But not at eMusic.


Posted
19 June 2009 @ 10pm

Categories
Nerd Factor X, Provocation

Tags
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2 Comments

At The End Of One’s Tether

Many carriers, most notably AT&T, but also others such as Optus, are getting a lot of bad press for charging their subscribers extra for “tethering” their iPhones to their laptops.

This does seem to be blatant gouging on their part, given that bytes are bytes, and regardless of whether they are destined for a phone or a tethered laptop, the cost is the same. This criticism is warranted in my opinion.

Carriers may claim that tethered laptops inevitably draw more traffic from individual subscribers. But I would suggest that the incremental traffic from a tethered laptop is a lot lower for the iPhone than for other 3G phones. Let’s face it, the iPhone is a pretty capable standalone device, and you’ll rarely need to break out the laptop to get online. Other phones are far inferior at browsing the net directly, and so I’d expect that there is a correspondingly larger proportion of traffic from tethered laptops of subscribers with these phones. This makes the additional pricing seem even more unfair.

But not all of the hate should be directed towards the carriers.

I am yet to see an answer to this question: how do the carriers know which traffic originates from the iPhone itself and which from a tethered laptop? I don’t know the answer definitively but I the iPhone must mark the tethered traffic somehow. I’m guessing that it must pass through the PPP session from the laptop, instead of terminating it in the phone and NATting the traffic.

Regardless, it is Apple that deserves at least some of the blame here for enabling the carriers to detect traffic in the first place. I know of no technical reason why they needed to do this; it sounds like a purely business decision. And one they didn’t need to make; surely the carriers are all Apple’s bitches at this point?

Boo, carriers who charge for tethering. Boo, Apple.


Posted
13 June 2009 @ 10pm

Categories
Nerd Factor X, Provocation

Tags
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4 Comments

Easiest $100 I’ll Ever Make

Recently, before boarding a flight up to Hamilton Island for a $WORK junket conference, I purchased a puzzle book. On the flight, I shared the puzzles amongst colleagues, and fun was had. One particularly tricky puzzle confounded us all, although I recognised it as a variant of the Monty Hall problem. Alarm bells should be going off at this point for those who have debated the subject in the past…

Anyway, one colleague didn’t believe that the answer in the back of the book was correct, and he offered to bet that by running a computer simulation he could prove the book (and me) wrong. I’m not a betting person, but for some reason, possibly euphoria at the prospect of the upcoming partying seminars, I immediately accepted his bet, wagering $100.

What follows is my attempt to win that bet.

[Read more →]


Posted
12 May 2009 @ 10am

Categories
Meta, Personal

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1 Comment

I Fought The Gorm

Garage ShelvesThere’s a kind of internally-generated tension that builds up when you haven’t blogged for a while. It’s not as bad as that other kind of tension which builds up over time, but it’s still there in the back of your mind. And after a while you need to do something, anything, to release the tension.

So this is what I’m reduced to. Blogging about shelves that I put up last weekend. Yes, shelves.

Those skilled in the art of home ownership will recognise instantly these as Ikea Gorm. But look closely, see how they wrap around the down-pipe? Remember I’m not a hardware guy. So I’m quite proud of myself for cutting one of the planks in each shelf and using the off-cut to bind it to it’s neighbour. Bit of a hack, but I defy you carpenters to come up with a better solution.

Another thing to note is that only suckers put together furniture with an allen key. Power drills FTW.


Posted
23 March 2009 @ 8pm

Categories
Linkpimpin', Or Something

Tags
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2 Comments

Headphone Update

So you might remember reading the previous article about headphones. At the time you might have wondered to yourself whether I could get any more crazy-ass obsessed and drop even more ridiculous quantities of cash on these things.

If you have, I’m happy to say yes. Yes, I can.

The two headphones described below are about as much as I can imagine spending on what are basically little speakers that you strap to your head. So this article isn’t so much a review as a freakshow; check out the guy with the weird obsession and the lack of self-restraint!

[Read more →]


Posted
25 February 2009 @ 9pm

Categories
Or Something, Verisimilitude

Tags
,

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Precisely Wrong

Dan reminds me of a story I heard on an ancient Media Watch episode. It’s Stuart Littlemore-era Media Watch, and is sadly not in the otherwise extensive ABC online archives. hence you’ll have to rely on my somewhat hazy recollection. Don’t worry though, I may have forgotten some of the details, but I remember the punchline.

The story was about a satellite that was crashing to earth. It was almost certainly Salyut 7, which came down in 1991. The memory of Skylab, which crashed in Australia in 1977, was still present in people’s minds. As always, the media was anxious for a local angle, and the possibility of a Skylab re-run, with an added dash of panic-mongering, was too tempting for them to resist.

Media Watch tracked the published predictions of the crash site as the re-entry date approached.

A few weeks out, some media outlets reckoned that that the satellite would fall somewhere in the Indian Ocean, Australia, or the Pacific.

A week out, the predictions narrowed to mainland Australia.

Days away, and it looks more like Western Australia. Towns such as Kalgoorlie are becoming extremely worried at this point. Rumours abound of satellite crash insurance being sold to worried locals.

On February 7 1991, Salyut 7 crashed to earth.

In South America.

Littlemore delivered the punchline, declaring the reporting as “a lesson on the difference between precision and accuracy.”


Posted
24 February 2009 @ 10pm

Categories
Meta, Nerd Factor X

Tags
, ,

2 Comments

Staging Wordpress With Bazaar

Version Control Systems, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.

Keen observers will have noted that I have tended to blog each time I try out a new version control system, and this really isn’t an exception. Except that, well I’m not just trying it out, I actually use Bazaar daily at $WORK, so and this is like after-hours practice.

Anyway, I wanted to share this because I’ve found that maintaining a staging and production installation of wordpress, complete with custom modifications and a collection of plugins, is a problem ideally solved by a distributed source control. Plus I really like Bazaar, and wanted to show how easy it can be.

[Read more →]


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