I Hate Math! (Not After This, You Won't) : Krulwich Wonders… : NPR

Vi Hart calls herself "a recreational mathemusician currently living on Long Island." She talks faster than a machine gun, loves math, and draws like a dream. Her newest video: "Doodling in Math Class: Snakes + Graphs" is eye-popping.

Vi Hart

Source: YouTube

via npr.org

Wow this woman is amazing. Her videos are just incredible, if you can keep up. The surrounding article is also worth a read.

Wikileaks: major news reports miss the major point

Is it just me or are the major news services missing the whole point of the Wikileaks US embassy cables?  Sure it's a bit embarrassing for the Yanks that their data all got into the public domain, but I'm sure all the players know these kinds of unflattering accounts are a regular part of diplomacy.

The really important thing here is that if a disgruntled employee with access to this data was able to very easily gather the whole database and leak it to Wikileaks, how many other sources are there leaking it less publicly?  There's upwards of three million people who have the appropriate security clearance. Do you think some of them might be financially distressed (given the recent GFC) and be open to a little cash incentive to leak it somewhere else?  Or have some other easy method to apply leverage (especially given "Don't ask. Don't tell.") So the question is probably less which intelligence agencies have been regularly receiving this data and more which ones haven't! Of course, their versions wouldn't have had the redactions of personal identifiers and the like that we see in the Wikileaks data.

Pulled pork

This weekend I made pulled pork again. It's such a great treat and uses insanely cheap meat.  I pretty much followed this recipe from Kidspot, with about $15 worth of pork shoulder and a bit of a mixture of BBQ sauces, since I ran out of one and had to crack out the Daddy's brown sauce.

The key ingredient to this recipe is time. It needs the full 10 hours in the slow cooker to soften all those nasty stringy bits of well-used muscle in the shoulder. This can be difficult to arrange if you're planning to eat it the same day, though if you have little kids it can be less difficult to arrange as you're up early.  Mine wasn't ready until 22:00 last night, so we didn't eat it until today.

Chilled, the pulled pork is a bit like lean rillettes. Shredded pork in jelly, juices and a little fat.  Nothing like as salty though.  I was an exchange student in Le Mans, which is famous for pork rillettes as well as a car race, so I have a bit of a soft spot for them.

This morning I had a bit of a treat breakfast.  Toast, a little pulled pork, eggs and some habanero sauce. Delicious!

Tonight we used it for dinner.  Burritos with some pulled pork and a heap of salad, all the greens from the garden. Again, divine.

There's still stacks left. At least enough for another burrito meal and a few smaller packs in the freezer to be used for pizza toppings.

I do love this dish!  Highly recommended.

Fantastic weekend

We've had a fantastic weekend.  Gorgeous weather, good times.  Yesterday we kind of hung around a bit, played, cooked and the like. I cooked up some patience-required pulled pork (more on which later). Louis enjoyed his Mum's lovely spaghetti bolognese.

We also visited the new waterplay park in Marrickville and Louis had a fantastic time splashing about. Marrickville Council are doing some fantastic stuff for kids, and it'll be especially awesome once our new local pool opens in December!

Today we took Louis for his first every bike ride with our new Weeride bike seat.  He absolutely loved the experience!  Tomorrow we'll start taking him to daycare by bike.

Then, Sydney FC won out at Parramatta.  A nice feeling we haven't had much of this year.  Photo shows Holly, Louis, Matt, Jameson and Maz.

An alternative to anti-siphoning: unbundling

The federal government's sport anti-siphoning list is in the media today. Bernard Keane pointed out in yesterday's Crikey that it's a giant, anti-competitive con that hands sports broadcasting rights to the free to air TV cartel at the expense of sporting codes, and it doesn't even result in those sports being shown live on free to air TV!

The anti-siphoning list is a populist federal government fudge that purportedly prevents important and iconic sporting events from disappearing onto pay TV platforms. Things like the Melbourne Cup, the NRL and AFL grand finals, the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. The concept, I suppose, might be a good one if you're a fan of those sports. Though ask a Melbourne Storm fan from Melbourne whether they get good coverage down there on free to air TV. After winning the NRL Grand Final, apparently the Melbourne broadcaster switched to the evening news rather than show the local NRL team receiving the trophy.

Of course what this list means is that pay TV operators (that is, Foxtel and Fox Sports) can't bid for these events. One less cashed up bidder means less money for the sporting codes selling the rights. By way of example, the football (round ball kind) A-League was snapped up quickly with a very generous at the time deal to only be shown on Fox Sports.

There's a fundamental problem with the basis of the anti-siphoning concept. It prevents the pay operators from bidding for the primary rights, but doesn't force the free to air players to actually use the rights, or to run the events uninterrupted. So you end up with Seven switching from the Australian Open (on the list) to Home & Away for ratings reasons.

Now I'm an A-League fan. I go to Sydney FC's home matches so I only want to watch the 16 away matches of the season. The cheapest Foxtel package that'll give me the A-League is $60/month on a 12 month contract, with $100 installation. $820 annually to watch 16 games. $51.25 per game.

Unbundling the sports you want to watch

If the aim of the anti-siphoning list is to ensure people aren't prevented from watching the sports they love, perhaps another approach is required. Foxtel insist you buy their "basic" package at $44 even if all you want is the sports channels ($16/month extra). Now once upon a time I suppose they had some fixed delivery costs in the cable or satellite delivery paths. With Internet delivery now an option, a better approach would be to require that there be an option to watch only the sports they want.  I'd be willing to pay $5-10 per game to watch the sport I love. Right now Fox Sports, Foxtel and the A-League make nothing from me for away matches.  Given they only charge $16/month for the sports channels, the A-League component of that would be even smaller, so the $5-10/game could be quite significant.

So how about this Conroy? Instead of an artificial fudge that actually costs the sporting codes money without delivering good sports viewing to fans, how about forcing the rights holders to offer unbundled access to the sports?

ObDisclosure: I work for Telstra, who no doubt would love to have the option of buying sporting rights on the anti-siphoning list. These views are my own, not those of my employer.

Spam attack

If you seem to have received an email from me about my new Chinese web presence, yes it's spam. Seems to have been some kind of break in on my Google-hosted email.

The emails look like they've gone to everyone who's ever communicated with me. My apologies. I'll try and work out how it happened.

Looks like they got my shermozle at gmail account, though the default from address there is my usual. Bugger.

Hey Telcos, lift your game and stop lying!

Optus have been served a Federal Court injunction preventing them from doing further misleading advertising. Optus is one of the worst in the sneaky behaviour department, with insane amounts of fine print in every piece of marketing they do. Have a look at this quick analysis of their fine print I did a while back, and a quick check shows it's still pretty accurate. Optus aren't, however, alone in this. All telcos have whole departments of people trying to find sneaky ways to legally say one thing when they mean another, to change plans so prospective customers can't compare them with competitors' plans and generally shonky tactics.

Here's a challenge for you, telco marketing people: become the only telco with a "no fine print" rule. Make a big thing of it. Sure, you'll certainly end up with some kind of formal contract, but start with your advertising, marketing and web site. Get a culture where the test becomes "would an ordinary, non-telco employee get the truth from reading this".

I think a telco taking this approach would have a genuine advantage in the marketplace. A significant proportion of the market are sick of lying, sneaky telcos and just want straightforward propositions.

Now I hear you say it's too hard, the ACCC requires us to have all these weasel words and fine print.  I call bullshit.  I've worked on copy writing for telcos, and it's possible to avoid funny symbols pointing to fine print. First up, you have to tell the truth. Difficult, I know, but doable.  Next up you need to find someone in your legal team who can handle being challenged on their calls.  Lawyers are there to give you advice on the legal risk of what you're doing, not lay down what you can and can't say. Push the envelope with them, force them to come up with words you can use that are true and won't get you sued.  It's hard work, but it's actually quite fun!

So how about it Australian telcos?  Is Australia ready for a no-bullshit telco?

ObDisclaimer: I am a contractor for Telstra, though I have barely anything to do with product management or product marketing.  I'm just the dude who collects and crunches the web numbers. My views are my own, not my employers' views.

Why don't we all switch banks?

The Prime Minister is telling angry bank customers to "take their money and their business somewhere else". For your transaction and savings accounts, this is reasonably easy. If you have a mortgage, it's quite difficult.

I attempted to move our transaction accounts to the ING Direct "Orange Everyday" account. It has some very compelling features: no fees from any ATM when you withdraw $200 or more at a time, free EFTPOS cash out for any amount (and they even pay you $0.50 when you get over $200 out this way) and no monthly fees.

The thing that stopped it? Actually it was the Federal Governments anti-money laundering KYC process.  I'd signed up without using Holly's middle name. Her middle name is on her identification. Australia Post would not validate the document unless it also included her middle name.  Erm.

That said, the PM's suggestion has got me thinking I should try again.

Some other things I'll have to sort out:
  • Automatic payments, including my mortgage and to my high-interest savings account (UBank have been the winners there for some time).
  • I handle the money for our fruit and veg co-op, so everyone there will have to update the details they use.
  • I'll have to learn to use a new Internet banking service.

All up, these aren't really show stoppers.  Changing mortgages, however, would be a big deal. We don't need to, as we have an excellent mortgage provider, but for those who do, the government needs to get involved to make switching easier.

For a comparison of low-fee transaction accounts, Choice has a review. I'll give a spoiler for those who don't subscribe to Choice: ING Direct Orange Everyday and NAB Classic Banking are the "Best Buys".