mtr on mavericks via rudix(‘s ports collection)

With thanks to https://code.google.com/p/rudix/wiki/HowToMakeNewPackages and https://trac.macports.org/changeset/112285

hg clone https://rudix.googlecode.com/hg/ rudix
cd rudix/Ports/mtr

You’ll need to update the Makefile:

diff -r 11e7e05f8dd7 Ports/mtr/Makefile
--- a/Ports/mtr/Makefile Fri Jul 20 18:29:04 2012 -0300
+++ b/Ports/mtr/Makefile Thu Feb 13 16:03:51 2014 +1100
@@ -2,7 +2,7 @@

Title= MTR
Name= mtr
-Version= 0.82
+Version= 0.85
Revision= 1
URL= ftp://ftp.bitwizard.nl/mtr/
Source= $(Name)-$(Version).tar.gz

Now you’ll need to provide one small patch to be applied while building:


mkdir patches

Make yourself a patch file that looks like this:

diff -rupN mtr-build.orig/asn.c mtr-build/asn.c
--- asn.c 2014-02-13 15:59:36.000000000 +1100
+++ asn.c 2014-02-13 15:59:46.000000000 +1100
@@ -21,7 +21,7 @@
 #include
 #include <sys/types.h>

-#ifndef __APPLE__
+#ifdef __APPLE__
 #define BIND_8_COMPAT
 #endif
 #include <arpa/nameser.h>

now you can

make build

cd mtr-build/
sudo make install

Money tracking/budgeting apps

A mini-review…

I’ve been using PocketMoney from Catamount Software on and off for a long time. It’s very powerful – but I always found that, unless I had a particularly urgent need for budgeting and tracking my spending, I was never motivated to keep up the effort. Every other program I’ve tried, including the ones I’m about to mention, feels like I’ve traded away some subset of PocketMoney’s power.

Currently I’m using two different apps (yes, that does mean that I’m entering every transaction twice. I’m not sure how long I’m going to keep doing this). One app is fantastic for forecasting your cash flow down to the last cent and second, so that you know exactly how much money you’ll have on hand at any given time.

The other app explicitly refuse to enable that kind of forecasting. Instead, it takes the approach that you should only ever make a budget for the money you already have on hand. If you have long-term goals, you can start to meet those goals by setting aside some of the money you have on hand, but you should never start playing with money you don’t actually have yet.

The first app – the one that does the forecasting is MoneyWiz

It’s fairly simple to use, but has almost all the functionality you’d expect to be able to track transactions on your accounts. Its best feature is the ability to set up recurring (eg, $x salary in to account 1 every fortnight, $y for a recurring doctor’s visit every 3 weeks) and one-off (eg, need to buy a birthday present for mum on june 15) scheduled transactions and then generate a forecast. For instance, I’m in the middle of planning to move house – I used this just last night to check how different levels of rent would affect me, taking into account all the other bills and living expenses I already know about.

The iphone, ipad, and Mac versions of MoneyWiz all support all the features and they all sync together, but you have to pay for each version separately (5.99 each for iphone and ipad, 24.99 for Mac). It’s possible to just get the iPhone version and do everything with that, but I find it handy to use the ipad or desktop version to be able to see more detail, especially when I’m looking at the forecast graphs.

The other one I’m trying out is You Need A Budget, or YNAB for short. It comes in Windows and Mac desktop versions, and has iPhone and Android mobile clients to support the desktop program. The mobile clients are free, but they only support a limited range of functions. You need to have paid for the desktop version to use them, and they’re mostly designed for you to check your budget balances or enter a transaction. YNAB has a free 34 day trial, but after that it costs $60.

YNAB doesn’t do forecasting; instead it focuses on having you figure out how much money you have *right now* and what you need that money to do before your next pay. They don’t explicitly say this, but obviously they believe that once you’re collecting the data about what you *have* been spending money on, you’ll be more able to make decisions that support your goals in the future.

As well as giving you 34 days to try it out, they have a comprehensive series of videos (http://www.youneedabudget.com/support – look for “YNAB 4 Video Tutorials” on the right) and tutorials (http://www.youneedabudget.com/support/category/the-ynab-method) which don’t just cover how to use the program, they aim to teach you how to think about budgeting.

If you’re looking for help budgeting because you just don’t know where the money goes, I recommend giving YNAB a go – after all, it’s free to try for 34 days (and there’s your first savings goal right there – have $60 on hand to pay for it at the end of those 34 days!). Take the time to watch some of their videos and sign up for their 9-day email course – Even if you don’t end up paying for it, the information you’ll get from the progam about your own spending, and from their courses about what to do next, will leave you much better able to make informed decisions about your spending.

If you have some idea of where your money goes but need better visibility into some of the trickier patches, MoneyWiz is probably a better choice. YNAB is aimed at helping you spend the money you have; MoneyWiz is much better at helping you plan what to do with the money you’re going to get later.

Personally, I’ve always been *horrible* with money. It comes in, at some point later it runs out, and then there’s a bit of a panic until the next payday. MoneyWiz has helped me a lot: because I was able to see ahead, I started having the panic weeks before the money ran out – which meant that the money ended up *not* running out. However, that’s turned into a steady stream of just-scraped-through paydays. I don’t end up in the same panic any more, but I do end up only *just* scraping through.

I’ve only been using YNAB for a few days, but the way it presents essentially the same information as MoneyWiz in a slightly different format, combined with their propaganda, have already made a difference in the way I’m thinking about budgeting.

I think I might need to keep using MoneyWiz for a few weeks (maybe even months) more to help me past one last tricky place – but as soon as I have a bit of a buffer (nb: thanks to MoneyWiz’s excellent forecasts, I know to the day when that’s going to be) I won’t need to MoneyWiz’s level of precision, and I’ll probably switch to just using YNAB.

Netcat tarpipe – with bonus progress bars!

This post was written for my own reference, so I can stop recreating the process each of the 2-3 times a year I need to use it

Every now and then, you have a large number of files to transfer across a really fast network, and the usual methods just have too much overhead.

At times like this, Ye Olde Skool Neckbeard Sysadmin reverts to a time-honoured technique known as the Netcat Tar Pipe:


On the receiving end do:
# netcat -l -p 7000 | tar x

And on the sending end do:
# tar cf - * | netcat otherhost 7000

The chiefest drawback of this technique is that you don’t know what’s happening. You know that Some Data is being transferred at A Rate, but that’s about all.

Enter Pipe Viewer, aka pv:


pv – Pipe Viewer – is a terminal-based tool for monitoring the progress of data through a pipeline. It can be inserted into any normal pipeline between two processes to give a visual indication of how quickly data is passing through, how long it has taken, how near to completion it is, and an estimate of how long it will be until completion.

A minor tweak or two will give you fancypants progress indicators, and a file transfer mechanism that’s almost certainly faster than anything else you can do.

First you need to calculate the size of the data you’re sending:


[/share/polleyj] # du -sk
594409480 .

Now we use a simple modification of the command above on the receiving side:


netcat -l -p 7000 | pv -s 594409480k | tar vx

and on the sending side:


tar cf - * | pv -s 594409480k | netcat otherhost 7000

You now get a fancy progress indicator on the sending side:


959MB 0:03:18 [4.64MB/s] [> ] 0% ETA 33:13:22

and with the addition of the ‘v flag on the receiving side, you can see filenames as they’re unpacked as well:

Bodacious/Downloads/._.DS_Store
Bodacious/Downloads/VERY_LARGE_FILE.ISO
352MB 0:02:41 [4.85MB/s] [> ] 0% ETA 73:41:36

So there you go. May as well go make a coffee or 73 while you wait for that data to copy over.

Top tips from #pyconau

Last weekend I was at PyCon-AU in Hobart. Plenty has been said, on twitter and else where about what a great conf it was, so I won’t go into that too much.

I will mention that my biggest complaint is that there were too many talks that I wanted to see, so I missed about 2/3rds of them simply through being unable to be in more than one place at once. Fortunately all the talks that I missed are available on YouTube so I’ll be gradually catching up on them as time permits.

I came away from the conference with, amongst other things, a new grab-bag of tools that I plan to be using shortly. Some of the most valuable are:

I’m already excited about next year. Terrifyingly, I’ve already started planning a couple of talks I’m going to propose.

Wrest Point Casino hotel swimming pool length

I’ve been unable to find this information online, so I thought I’d fix the problem.

The hotel pool at Wrest Point Casino is roughly 10m long. For the convenience of patrons, it has handrails at each end, just underwater. I the pool is not ideal for lap-swimming.

If you’re going to compare Terms of Service, kindly do so based on facts.

ObDisc: I used to work for Google. I still have lots of friends at Google. I have a bias towards trusting Google that’s largely based on knowing people who work there and trusting them personally. I pay money for many Google services – several Apps domains, for instance. I am also a paying customer of both Dropbox and iCloud.

I had thought that the nonsense about Google’s Terms of Service and their impact on Google Drive was dead with Nilay Patel‘s comprehensive summary of Dropbox, Skydrive, Google Drive, and iCloud Terms of Service, but then I saw this tweet and realised that the nonsense is continuing. The article linked (published on Trend Micro’s “Cloud Security” blog) to was written on the same day as Nilay’s piece, so it’s not new – but apparently this nonsense is still being spread.

Trend Micro also have a similar service, called Safe Sync. In the footnotes below, I’ve included (as well as the comparison from Nilay’s article) the equivalent sections from Safe Sync’s own EULA for you to compare.

All of these Terms are fairly standard. Amongst their many similarities, each of them has a “You retain ownership” clause[1], and a “You grant us the right to” clause[2]. [3]

Without exception, every bit of FUD I’ve seen has been predicated around comparing the “You retain ownership” clauses from the other services with Google’s “You grant us the right to” clause. Today’s bit of nonsense does exactly the same thing: it lists the “You retain ownership” clauses from Skydrive and Dropbox against the “You grant us rights” clause from Google. This one goes one step further though: it first argues that the “You retain ownership” clauses in the other Terms are vital for establishing a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy under US law; then makes the explicit claim that Google’s terms destroy any argument that content uploaded to your cloud storage service has a reasonable expectation of privacy – implying (although never actually stating) that Google’s Terms, unlike the others, lack the vital “You retain ownership” clause.

Utter nonsense.

It’s quite possible that not having a “You retain ownership” clause might have consequences on a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy; but as Google’s Terms are equivalent to the others, this would apply equally to the other services. I don’t see how this could arise from a genuinely mistaken reading of Google’s Terms, either: the “You retain ownership” clause is quite literally in the previous sentence to the one quoted in the Trend Micro article – I don’t see how any honest attempt at understanding the Terms could miss the clause. I don’t see how this can be anything other than a deliberate attempt to create FUD.

The Trend Micro ends with a plug for their own product. The penultimate sentence says:

Here’s hoping the EFF shames Google into at least being less evil.

Good news! Ars Technica got in touch with the EFF and asked them to read over Google’s policy.. Was the result the shaming that Trend Micro were hoping would be bestowed on their competitors?

When Ars spoke to the Electronic Frontier Foundation about Google Drive’s terms of service, the EFF found little about them that was more suspicious than in any other similar cloud service.

I’m sure that Google is indeed positively burning with shame.

Edited to add: Just to be clear, I’m not intending to imply that there is no reason to be concerned about putting your private data on any of these services. Any time you decided to use any of these services (or any cloud Webmail service, or an online photo sharing site, or a social network…) you need to carefully balance the utility you get from the service against the very real privacy and security issues associated with the service. However, these decisions need to be based on *facts*: what the relevant Terms and Policies actually say. Spreading FUD about the contents of the policies doesn’t help anyone make a decision about which services to use (or not to use).


[1]

Google Drive
Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.
Dropbox
By using our Services you provide us with information, files, and folders that you submit to Dropbox (together, “your stuff”). You retain full ownership to your stuff. We don’t claim any ownership to any of it.
Skydrive
Except for material that we license to you, we don’t claim ownership of the content you provide on the service. Your content remains your content
iCloud
Except for material we may license to you, Apple does not claim ownership of the materials and/or Content you submit or make available on the Service
SafeSync
You are the owner of your files and are solely responsible
for your conduct and content of your files, as well as any of the content contained in communications with other
users of the Trend Micro Products/Services.
<snip>
Trend Micro does not claim any ownership rights
in your files.

[2]

Google Drive
you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.
Dropbox
We may need your permission to do things you ask us to do with your stuff, for example, hosting your files, or sharing them at your direction. This includes product features visible to you, for example, image thumbnails or document previews. It also includes design choices we make to technically administer our Services, for example, how we redundantly backup data to keep it safe. You give us the permissions we need to do those things solely to provide the Services.
Skydrive
You understand that Microsoft may need, and you hereby grant Microsoft the right, to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, distribute, and display content posted on the service solely to the extent necessary to provide the service.
iCloud
you grant Apple a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Service solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available, without any compensation or obligation to you.
<snip>
You understand that in order to provide the Service and make your Content available thereon, Apple may transmit your Content across various public networks, in various media, and modify or change your Content to comply with technical requirements of connecting networks or devices or computers. You agree that the license herein permits Apple to take any such actions.
SafeSync
In order to make the Trend Micro Products/Services available to you, you agree to grant Trend Micro a limited, nonexclusive, perpetual, fully-paid and royalty-free, sub-licensable and worldwide license: (i) to use, copy, transmit, distribute, store and cache files that you choose to sync; and (ii) to copy, transmit, publish, and distribute to others the files as you designate

[3]All of the service have Privacy Policys which modify the Terms of Service in various ways. It’s interesting comparing these too.

  • Google’s Privacy Policy mostly limits what they can do with the rights you’ve granted them under the ToS. For instance, although the Terms of Service require that you grant Google the right to use your data for “the limited purpose of … promoting … our Services”, the Privacy Policy seems to restrict Google’s ability to actually do this – as far as I can tell, only data you have expressly chosen to make world-visible could ever be used in this way.
  • Dropbox’ Privacy Policy, by contrast, greatly *expands* the rights Dropbox have. For instance, the Terms say that “aside from the rare exceptions we identify in our Privacy Policy, no matter how the Services change, we won’t share your content with … law enforcement, for any purpose unless you direct us to”. On the surface, this seems much more restricted than Google’s equivalent terms – until you find this in the Privacy Policy: We may disclose to parties outside Dropbox files stored in your Dropbox and information about you that we collect when we have a good faith belief that disclosure is reasonably necessary to (a) comply with a law, regulation or compulsory legal request. In short, despite the misleading wording in the Terms, Dropbox can and will share your data with law enforcement just as readily as any other corporation.

Precise Pangolin install hints

My desktop at work is a Dell Precision T5500 – a fairly standard desktop, you’d think. My video card is an NVIDIA Quadro FX 580.

I recently spent most of 3 days trying to upgrade from Lucid to Pangolin. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but here are some things I wish I’d known.

  • I have two monitors, one on each of the DisplayPort outputs. The LiveCD will not use either of them *unless you have a third monitor plugged in to the DVI port*. My monitors happen to be able to handle Picture-by-Picture, so I can actually make one of them track both the DisplayPort and DVI inputs, which comes in handy.
  • Although the installer can use the graphics card just fine, the system it installs by default is broken. At the very first part of the installer (a purple screen with a keyboard and a human – at least, I think that’s what those two fuzzy blobs are meant to be), press any key. You’ll be asked to choose a language, then you’ll get a menu with options like “Try Ubuntu without installing” and “Install Ubuntu”. Press F6, arrow-down to “nomodeset”, and press x to activate it. This makes no difference at all to the installer, but does result in it installing a system that can use your graphics card later.
  • This part of the installer uses the DVI input to your monitor. Take the time to set up Picture-by-Picture so you can track the install as it flips back and forth between DVI and DisplayPort throughout the rest of the process.
  • Now choose “Try Ubuntu without installing”. Despite the misleading name, this gives you a chance to set your system up before running the installer.
  • The installer may now switch from DVI to DisplayPort, but then again, sometimes it won’t. Be glad you set up PbP so you can catch it wherever it appears. If it’s on DisplayPort, you probably didn’t set nomodeset correctly. Don’t waste your time continuing with the installer, even though it seems to be working fine – just restart it.
  • The standard LiveCD does not support LVM, so will not handle the LVM partitions already on your desktop (you do use LVM, right?). You can switch to a terminal by pressing alt+F1, and then:
    • sudo apt-get install lvm2
    • sudo vgchange -ay

    You can then use alt+F7 to get back to the GUI and kick off the installer.

  • The installer doesn’t seem to be able to cope with existing swap partitions – at least, not when you have several swap partitions. It does amusing things like popping up modal dialogs to tell you that creating the swap space failed – and then doesn’t let you dismiss the dialog, so your only option is a hard power-down. Don’t waste your time, just tell the partitioner not to use any swap partitions at all.
  • If you choose to use encrypted homedirs, the process that creates the homedirs assumes you have at least one swap partition. Because you’ve had to choose not to use any swap partitions, this will fail – but it does so in a recoverable way. Just use alt+F1 again, “sudo swapon /dev/sdXY”, (assuming that /dev/sdXY is your swap partition), then switch back to the GUI and click “Try Again” on the installer.
  • When you’re setting up your partitions, you will be asked to choose a device for boot loader installation. Choose your hard drive, not your USB stick. Near the end of the installer, sometimes the installer will try to install grub on the USB stick anyway. This will fail, but you will get the chance to pick another partition to install GRUB to. Pick your actual hard drive again.
  • If you cancel the installer, it will think something went wrong and ask if you want to send a message with details to Ubuntu developers. If you cancel this, the window never dies. If you start the installer again, it will eventually reach a point where it’s blocked waiting for the original window to go away. Switch back to the console and use “kill $(ps auxwww | grep [a]pport)” to terminate the original process.
  • Even though you’ve manually installed lvm2 and are installing onto LVM, ubuntu won’t bother installing LVM into the system it creates. Make sure you follow step 7 of this guide before you reboot. If you forget, you can always boot up the LiveCD again and run through this step.

Edited to add: One more tip: Once you’re done, unplug the DVI cable. If you leave it plugged in, a reboot will see the system using the DVI output and ignoring the two DisplayPort outputs again. If I ever do a reboot and the screens go to sleep, I’m going to try plugging in the DVI cable again. The system really seems to love that DVI output.

Wed and Circuses

Circus the First: Sexuality

I noticed, well over a decade ago, that many gay young men, once they finally accept themselves and their sexuality, over-compensate. They jump straight from self-hatred into embracing extreme gay stereotypes – not because that’s who they are, but because that’s the only way to be gay that they’re aware of. The jump from “I’m okay! I’m gay; gays do X, therefore I must want to do X” has always saddened me.

I think a lot of people would be much happier if they were able to just say “I’m okay! I’m gay” and not think that they have to radically change every aspect of their life. That’s not going to be a common thing until every gay child grows up being aware that they are surrounded by gay people, who are just as diverse as the rest of the people they know.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where teachers, actors, singers, sports people, politicians (to name just a few) all feel they need to stay in the closet in order to have a career; where children are routinely told that gay love is “different” and “inferior” and “we can’t let those dirty gays have our precious marriage”. Until all of that changes, gay kids are going to grow up only having one kind of role model – they’re going to believe that the only way to be authentically gay is to “be here, be queer, get used to it”.

I lucked out and (mostly, I think) avoided this mistake myself – although I certainly went through a period where I was certainly acting the way I thought I ought to behave, and not the way I wanted to behave. A big part of how I got lucky was that I happened to fall in with a crowd of gay men who showed me that I don’t need to change who I am in order to be gay.

I would like every child to have the chance to make the discovery I made *before* they start trying to mutilate their personality until it fits into the only mould they’ve ever been aware of. Until we get a critical mass of public figures being visbly out of the closet, Mardi Gras is one of the best ways to achieve this. It gives a very distorted, one-sided extremist view of what it means to be gay; and that does cause some harm – but it causes much less harm than having children growing up believing they’re the only gay in the village.

Fortunately, I think that this circus is drawing to a close. There are far more out public figures now than there 10 or 20 years ago, when I was struggling. Most of the ways the law treats heterosexual couples different from other couples have been removed. There are still remnants of discrimination that are politically infeasible to remove just yet – but there’s a growing awareness that the political problems stem from a very vocal minority and don’t actually reflect the views of the majority of the population. I’m reasonably confident that children born this decade will be able to mature without going through too much trauma if they realise that their sexuality is something other than 100% hetero.

In short, I believe that Mardi Gras is going to become far less relevant over the next decade or so – and we’re going to see far fewer young gay men making drastic changes to their lifestyle and harming themselves in the process. This won’t be achieved solely because of the noisy extremists who started the gay rights movement in this country 30+ years ago – but it *will* be achieved because their noisy, violent, rude pioneering made it possible for ordinary everyday gay people to make themselves known to the people around them.


Circus the second: Religion

For myself, being able to accept my sexuality meant that I first had to modify some of the religious beliefs I’d grown up with. However, I didn’t happen to fall in with a crowd who showed me that it’s possible to only modify parts of my religious belief. I’d grown up surrounded by one end of the religious spectrum (the end now represented by the ACL, although if it existed at the time I wasn’t aware of it). The only alternative I was aware of – thanks to a lot of very noisy extremists – was right at the other end of the religious spectrum. Consequently, that’s where I went – one huge leap, discarding huge portions of my prior belief system, because that was the only change I believed possible.

I did start to meet people who showed me that there was another I could have taken much later – but by then, it was too late. There’s as little chance of me tweaking my beliefs from my current extreme as their was when I started. In fact, even though I’ve been aware of the first Circus for a long time, I really only became aware of that I’d done essentially the same thing in the second Circus tonight.

I believe that the largest part of why I was unaware of other possibilities is because moderate Christians tend not to speak out publicly against the extremists – at least, not the extremists they regard as being within the fold of Christianity. There are good biblical reasons for this – 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, for instance. Because of passages like this, many Christians seem to feel that the correct way to handle people at the extremes of Christian belief is quietly – within the church, or just maybe, by expressing a very quiet contrary opinion only when directly questioned – but never, ever speaking out loudly against the extreme viewpoints.

I can sympathise with this view. Unfortunately, it means that this circus looks very different from the first circus. The first circus started with loud extremists at both ends of the spectrum – but is going to end because the vast majority of people in the center stood up and made themselves known. The second circus has also attracted loud extremists at both ends – but so far at least, the vast majority in the center refuse to make themselves known.

I’d love to see the second circus draw to an end too. I’d love to see the ACL and their ilk to be understood as the extremist, vocal, minority that I believe they are. I’d love to be able to tell the atheists currently gathering in Melbourne that their conference has no more value than I believe Mardi Gras will have in a few years time – a fun spectacle, perhaps, but not a vitally important way of letting people understand that they aren’t alone. I’d love for children who grew up with a Christian background be able comprehend the enormous diversity of opinion within the Christian churches, and were able to make minor corrections instead of having to ditch Christianity entirely.

However, none of this is going to happen while the only people willing to speak up are the people at the extreme ends of the spectrum. If you’re neither an extreme atheist nor an extreme Christian, it’s *vital* that you be willing to be loud and proud about your beliefs. It’s vital that you step forward and say “The ACL does not entirely represent what it means for me to be Christian” or “Extremists like PZ Myers do not entirely represent what it means for me to be atheist”, just as it was vital for the silent majority of gays to step forward and say “Mardi Gras does not entirely represent what it means for me to be gay”. As long as the moderates refuse to loudly, publicly, visibly repudiate the extremists who claim to speak for all Christians or all Atheists, *those will be the only voices that are heard*.


Wed

As it happens, there’s a fantastic opportunity open *right now* for everyone to have their say. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs is holding a a verbosely-named Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 which is calling for public submissions on the topic of marriage equality generally, and two specific bills in particular. The ACL are encouraging their constituency to make their feelings known; and of course, we gasbagging noisy atheists are doing the same. If you’re a moderate, this is your chance! Don’t let the extremists make it look as though there are only two opinions here! Don’t let the ACL or the noisy atheists get away with pretending they talk for you!

All you need to do is answer 5 multiple choice questions (and, optionally, say a few words (very few – only 250 words will be accepted) in response to two more open-ended questions) in order to make sure that our Parliament is able to understand the full diversity of opinions in the community.

Two of the questions on the survey ask you whether you support each of the bills named in the Inquiry’s title. If you believe that any amendments to remove the “Man and Woman” clause from the Marriage Act would be bad, there’s no need for you to read either of the bills.

Everybody else should read both of the (very short) bills before they complete the survey. The bills do differ – for instance, both aim to preserve the right ministers of religion already have to refuse to solemnise any wedding that falls outside of their religious belief, but both bills approach this in slightly different ways.

Both bills – and some other background information, if you want to learn more – are linked from the Inquiry page. If you’d like to read the full text of the existing Marriage Act, that’s available over at ComLaw


And so, to bed

This was meant to be a quick response, just a tiny bit too long to fit in a single tweet. 3.5 hours later, I’m not sure the words I’m writing make sense any more. It’s time for bed.

State Theater Wurlitzer

Spotted in the State Library’s Flickr feed a few days ago: one magnificent Wurlitzer being installed into the State Theater:

I visited the Museum Speelklock while in the Netherlands last year and was amazed by some of the automated music machines they had on display there – simple cuckoo-clocks, clocks that use a circular bow and intricate fingering mechanisms to play four violins at once, all the way up to some enormous steam organs. I was amazed at how much ingenuity went into building some of these instruments.

I’ve been in the State Theatre a few times, but don’t remember noticing any visible parts of this organ. I wonder if it’s still intact?

Go here! No, don’t go here!

I took a photo yesterday, on my Android phone. Google Plus Instant Upload pushed it up to Picasa for me. This seems to have triggered an email notification.

Not the warning: “Content has been removed for a violation of terms of service”. This concerns me – I don’t think anything I’ve uploaded should violate the terms of service. There doesn’t seem to be any way to discover what content was removed, or from where, or what terms of service it violated – just a “Give Feedback” link.

That link takes me to https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/gmail-labs-help-media-previews – which tells me right at the top that this isn’t where I want to be.

Good job, Google!