Holy Fuck at the Annandale Hotel

Holy Fuck at the Annandale

Last night Holly, Todd, Pete and I went to see Canadian band Holy Fuck at The Annandale. Quite an incredible gig. For many many years, bands have been trying to do electronic music completely live, and have almost all completely failed. Some ambient bands manage to get away with it, because if you put enough delay on anything it'll sound alright if the tempo is low. This was the first time I've seen fully-live banging techno work. Brilliant!

Pea Pretz!

Pea Pretz

One of the good things about working in the CBD is the Asian food. At the bottom of World Square, where I work, is an Asian supermarket. I'm enjoying finding all the weird and wacky snacks.

Today's discovery was pea flavoured Pretz. Quite a hit with the office they were, too! They're kinda pretzel textured long sticks of salty, pea-flavoured goodness. Yummy!

There were also some other wacky flavours like "roast" and "salad". Even better, it seems there's also Beer Pretz which sounds brilliant!

Copyright violations

It seems there's a lot of people who think that images in Wikipedia can be used however they like. In fact, unless they've been released into the public domain, they have licenses that require some fairly minor, but still important, actions if you want to use them.

Below is an email I've just sent to the owner of Sydney Architecture Images: Newtown Gallery, who seems to have taken all the photos from the Wikipedia article on Newtown, without any attribution, and slapped some ads on it. I'm willing to give the person the benefit of the doubt.

Your Newtown Gallery is breaching the copyright of, it seems, all the images from Wikipedia's Newtown article:

Specifically, and what made me notice, is that you are using my photo:

Images on Wikipedia are not free for you to use without restriction, unless specifically released into the public domain (for example, the Trocadero image you've used). Most of the images on Wikipedia are available under quite liberal licenses, but they do impose some requirements on you.

In the case of my photo, I have licensed it under the GNU Free Documentation License. This license has quite simple requirements, basically that you must attribute the author and license your copy of the work under the same license.

This image that you're using:

is licensed under a Creative Commons license, which has pretty similar requirements.

So in summary, you are free to use these images, but only when you follow the requirements of the license. Please amend your site accordingly.

Private school funding

If people want to send their kids to a school that is a social, single-gender and/or religious ghetto in an attempt for them to meet the "right" people, keep away from the "wrong" people, live out the dreams of their parents or continue some unbroken line of inherited bigotry, they should pay for it themselves.

From this opinion piece. Couldn't agree more.

Put a different way, as my public school teaching uncle said it, you don't get a rebate from the government for not using the public swimming pool when you install one in your backyard.

Truth in company names

Shonki Brothers logo

I remember seeing these signs all over Leicester, and just thought to look it up. Shonki Brothers real estate. How appropriate.

For the non-Australians, the word shonky means shoddy, dubious quality. For example, the Australian Consumers' Association has the annual Shonky Awards.


Wow Lindsay, that was bloody quick! Yesterday I asked about doing a geo mashup of the NSW government's name and shame list of dodgy food joints, and today Lindsay has done one. Impressive!

Now I wanna know how you did it, and how you managed it so fast!

Geo mashups

A site screaming out for a geo-mashup is the NSW Food Authority's Penalty Notices list, which shows the companies that have received penalty notices for poor hygiene and the like. Problem is, the data isn't in a very human-usable form, but would be very amenable to a mashup and map overlay!

I think it's time for Australia to get something like PlanningAlerts.com, which does this for local authority (council) planning lists. So, for example, it could fetch the list of development applications for my local council, and overlay them on a map. More importantly, you could register with the site and have it email you if there's a DA near your house.

The code for PlanningAlerts.com is open, but it's kinda UK-centric. Any ideas where to start doing mashups in Australia?

Fuji Xerox DocuPrint 203A on Ubuntu Linux

Just bought this super cheap (AUD$88) black and white laser and spent a while going around in circles. FInally worked out that it works just fine with the Xerox P8e driver.

So to install, System > Administration > Printing. Click [New] and work out what port you've put it on (LPT or USB, with modern hardware the name will show up), click [Forward]. Now select Xerox and P8e. You're done!

Works a treat! Nice printer at a very competitive price. Even works just fine via my JetDirect which is nice. It's a bit noisy, but it'll be switched off most of the time anyway.

Great food, I won't be back

Le Pain Quotidien, corner of Fitzroy and Bourke Streets, Surry Hills

Holly, Rachel and I popped into this restaurant a week or so ago before heading up to the football stadium for a dismal Sydney FC match. We'd walked past it a few times and peered into the window, and had wanted to try it out for ages.

Le Pain Quotidien means the daily bread, and this place really does make exceptional bread. Chewy, full-flavoured, real bread. It seems to be an international chain expanding all over the place.

The room itself is spectacular. It seems to be a converted warehouse space, with high ceiling and lovely raw wooden floorboards. A very warm, rustic feel which, given our miserable summer and particularly the miserable evening that day, was rather pleasant. It'd be a great space to linger over a few bottles of wine and some grub with friends in mid-winter.

The food centred around bread and things to have with bread. Between the three of us we ordered the Tuscan platter of ham, tapenade, pesto, soft cheese and gerkins, and a beautiful pot of Beef Bourguignon. Perfect food for a lazy and social meal, dipping bits of their amazing bread into the rich stew or slapping antipasti odds and ends on.

I was a bit surprised that for both dishes, and with three people at the table, we only got five meagre pieces of bread. We'd mown through the bread before we were even two-thirds through the bits that go with it, so I ordered some more. And this is what pissed me off: the waiter brought out three more little pieces of bread, and I got charged $4 for the privilege.

Now I recognise that these guys have to make a buck, and their meals are pretty reasonably priced, but charging more than a buck for a slice of bread sticks in my craw. Not providing enough to reasonably eat the meal doesn't help matters.

So while the place is excellent in every other regard, the pricing policy didn't make me happy. If you live nearby, it'd be a great place to buy your bread and sandwiches. Perhaps knowing you'll be charged for bread, you won't be as annoyed as I was and will quite enjoy it.

One thing, done well

I bought a digital photo frame yesterday. On the face of it, this should be a pretty straightforward product. You stick a memory card in it that has photos on it, and it randomly cycles through them. But of course, the manufacturers of China can't stick with something so straightforward. Oh no, in the electronics manufacturing world you have to cram in a whole bunch of features that nobody needs into a simple product. Then crown it with a user interface that would make a 1980s VCR manufacturer blush.

So this thing, instead of just showing photos, also plays back video and sound files (thus requiring a speaker) and, of course, has a clock and calendar function. Because a clock is a mandatory feature for any electronics device. You wouldn't want to spend the next change to or from daylight savings sitting around the house with nothing to do, would you?

So what's my problem with all these extra features I'll never use? I can just ignore them, right? Well the problem is that instead of spending time making sure the thing works well for the one thing people buy it for, they've blown it on this stupid crap. I discover, after quite a bit of troubleshooting, that it doesn't support progressive JPEG files, something that's been supported in browsers since 1995 at least. This is the default format used by Smugmug for their resized photos. So I had to convert all those photos.

Then of course the UI is appalling. You can't seem to get back to the menu from the Settings page. Instead I had to turn it off, then on again to get back to "view photo" mode. There's no randomize feature, it seems, so you can get a random next photo. WTF? Surely this would be a base feature? And the UI crashes randomly, because they spent more time working on video decoding than fixing bugs in the stuff that counts. Grrrrr!

I also don't see why these things are so expensive. I'd expect the price to be where it is if it did something truly cool, like have a wireless connection and it just connects to your photo store and displays photos. But it seems instead an 8 inch 800x600 LCD with some basic electronics (and a bunch of crap you don't need) is $200 or so?