Web analytics blog

I decided to create a separate blog specifically dealing with web analytics. I often come up with cool little hacks, or interesting approaches, during the course of my work and they're likely to be of interest to other practitioners.

Most examples of web analytics implementations presented by vendors portray a perfect world where you have everything under your control, changes happen without problems, developers can actually read whole sentences. Here in the real world, things are more complicated...

Recent reading: gambling politics, nose to tail, non-rail public transport and the Chernobyl death toll

I've been using Instapaper to push longer articles to my Kindle for later reading. The tool isn't without some significant limitations but it works well enough for me.  It's great to no longer skip reading longer pieces of text, but instead read them at leisure.

Here's some of the stuff I've been reading recently.

Grog's Gamut digs through his own experience in the gambling industry and the Productivity Commission's report to demonstrate how evil poker machines really are. Key points are that clubs make 40% of their gambling earnings from problem gamblers, not the people having a fun flutter, and the supposed benefits bestowed by clubs don't really exist.

This event in Germany sounds awesome, though I definitely draw the line at raw pork. Have these guys not heard of trichinosis?

The basic idea here is nothing new. Rail is really expensive, slow to build and inflexible. Other methods like buses can be great. The biggest problem with on-road public transport in Australia is that our politicians are loathe to give up road space and dedicate it to public transport, rather than storage of private vehicles. Just try catching a bus down King Street, Newtown on a weekend when cars are allowed park.

George Monbiot idiotically claims only a few dozen people died from Chernobyl, Helen Caldicot claims a million. The truth is somewhere in between, and can't be boiled down into a simple soundbite.

On quacks and bogus "food intolerance" tests

Our doctor's surgery has been good to us, with a thorough GP who seems competent. I'd always been wary of the practice owner though, as she prescribes so-called Traditional Chinese Medicine (which is neither traditional, nor Chinese, nor medicine). The doctor we used to see has left the practice so we've been stuck seeing her.

On my most recent visit, she suggested I get a food intolerance test to see if it might be involved in my high blood pressure. Not knowing much about the subject, I agreed to it. The blood test was on Monday, cost $330 and the results came today. Quick service and not my usual experience with pathology.

One thing made me suspicious: while talking to me about the test, the woman who drew the blood mentioned that all wheat in Australia is genetically modified. This is plain untrue, and makes me think of the usual nutty conspiracy theorists. While wheat, and particularly the way it's turned into bread in modern food processing, is potentially a problem for digestion, there's very little GM wheat floating around.

So having received the results from this test and finding it claims I've shown a "Marked" reaction to Cow's milk and a "Moderate" reaction to some of my favourite and core foods, I decided to look around and find more about this test, and the recommended treatment of avoiding those foods.  Turns out this "Cytotoxic Food Sensitivity" test is pretty bogus.  Essentially they smear your white blood cells on slides coated with dried target foods and see what happens to the cells.

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy calls it "inappropriate testing" and that results with identical samples can't be reliably reproduced. Choice seems to agree.

This morning I took Louis to the same doctor with a nasty, persistent cold. She prescribed a Chinese thing with homeopathic snake bile and menthol in it.  Oh dear.

So, I'm off to another doctor. One who recommends evidence-based diagnostics and therapies. I need to be more hardcore about this in future. Mention chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy or any other snake oil, and I'm outta there.

Taronga Zoo

We took Louis to the zoo for his first visit on the weekend with his grandparents and cousin Abigail. We all had a fantastic time, and Louis now has a few more animals he can recognise and whose noises he can mimic. Awesome!

Sydney is very lucky to have such an amazing zoo in such a perfect location on the harbour.  Being able to travel by ferry to this kind of attraction really is awesome.  Loads of fun.

Blot unveils the new "I'm not racist, but..."

I am very uneasy about laws limiting free speech.

This is the man fighting a court battle about free speech, aiming to protect his right to vilify Aboriginal people who aren't Aboriginal enough by his standards. So of course he doesn't actually say "we should shut this down", but a principled free speech advocate would say "I don't like it but I'll fight for their right to say it".

Principles and Blot. They don't go together.

Fishing, Jinja Safari and Cloud Control gig

Last night Holly and I had a grandmother looking after Louis and tickets to a gig. Date night! Lots of fun was had.

First, dinner at Arisun, the latest stop on our quest for the best Korean Fried Chicken. I have to say, this one is the goods! Crispy, spicy, unctuous. Mmmm.  Brilliant stuff.

Next up, the gig.  It's not often we want to see a band and both supports, but this gig had three bands we wanted to see.  I'd caught Fishing with Ben Askins late one night at the Peats Ridge Festival, randomly wandering into a tent and really digging them.  Holly had done the same with Jinja Safari while I was looking after Louis one night.  Holly got to see Cloud Control while I was looking after Louis, so I was keen to catch them at last.

All three bands were great.  Fishing are particularly awesome, with a wonky kinda live electronic vibe going on. You can check out their single here. I really like their sound and can't wait for some more releases!  Cloud Control were sensational, very polished, and the crowd were rapturous and singing along to every song, which I imagine is a bit novel now they're in London and nobody's ever heard of them.

Pretty exhausting though, given we're used to bed times closer to 21:30...