GetUp buys ad space on the AFL Grand Final

Australia has four popular "football" codes, most of which involve more hand than feet, but the most popular nationally is Aussie Rules. It's a very strange game for anyone who hasn't seen it before, but it's massively popular. This Saturday is the Grand Final of the biggest Aussie Rules competition, AFL.

A political group loosely modelled on MoveOn.org in the US has been working hard in Australia for the last year or two to get and keep progressive issues on the political agenda. Their latest project is to air a brilliant spoof of the government's "climate clever" taxpayer-funded propaganda ads.

Importantly, the ad has high production values, is clever and amusing, while still very clearly making the point. It's not affiliated with any political party, which is important for my support and differentiates it from MoveOn. Interestingly, the local TV companies have had no problem accepting and running the ads, so far. In the US, the equivalent sporting event regularly rejects non-mainstream advocacy ads.

GetUp! are still accepting donations for this campaign, to try and get the ads as widely on Australian TV as possible. Get in there and donate!

At the very least, watch the spoof ad. If you've watched Austrlian commercial television at all in the last month, chances are you've seen the ad they're spoofing. It's quite incredible at the moment -- the government is shamelessly using taxpayer money to carpet bomb the electorate with advertising. Every single ad break has a government ad.

Raise the bar

NSW has retarded liquor licensing laws. You can drink all day and all night in venues that don't serve food, but you can't order a glass of wine to drink with your meal in most restaurants. Contrast with cities in civilized parts of the world where you can drink in groovy little bars, all restaurants. It's just nicer! What's more, you can buy booze alongside your groceries, rather than having to go into another shop.

Why is this? Well a quick search shows that between 1998 and 2006, registered clubs and hotels gave $3,141,754 to the ruling junta in NSW, the ALP, and $1,171,062 to the nominal opposition. Money well spent when you consider the enormous profits being made by the liquor retail monopolies!

A campaign is gradually forming to fix this. Raise the Bar invites you to send your MP a drink to let them know you'd also like small, funky bars rather than pokie-infested beer barns.

Lunch at the Googleplex

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Ben invited me over to have lunch with him at the Google Sydney offices today. Nice place to work it would seem: stunning water views, make-your-own pizzas, free food and drink, a day a week to work on anything you like. Wow! Mind you, I had to sign an NDA just to visit!

While I was there, I ran into Gordon. He's enjoying the job there too.

Thanks for the lunch Ben. I'd offer to reciprocate but lunch around Forest Lodge is shite.

Need cheesy, upbeat techno

I've started going to the gym to get me fit enough for this bike race I'm doing in a few weeks. My music is all a bit cerebral. I used to listen almost exclusively to techno, but these days I only really dance to it.

So does anyone have any suggestions for upbeat, cheesy techno to walk/step/ride nowhere to? Ideally mixed so I don't get bored -- this is to be the soundtrack to pain and suffering, so you don't wanna get bored, you want it to take your mind off it.

As it is, I'm trawling for old-skool Goa Trance compilations.

Update: Jeremy Kerr suggests his mate Tigger's mixes but also reminds me that Digitally Imported have a heap of techno streams and I could just record an hour or so to play back while in extreme pain. Great idea, plus my ISP streams them for free. Thanks Jeremy.

Anonymous policing

Surprise surprise, coppers taking their identification badges off during the APEC summit won't be punished. Supposedly they'll have velcro name tags in future. I'll believe that when I see it!

The same complaint, and the same excuse, was made during the inquiry into the Freequency police riot and the badges have been redesigned several times since then. It almost makes you think they don't want to fix the "problem".

What's with the RAR compression on torrents?

Why is it that some torrents of video files come as mutiple RAR archives? I just don't get why they force us through the extra step. For example, I just got the latest episode of The IT Crowd (the second series is heaps better than the rather disappointing first, BTW). The AVI file was 174 megs. The RARed archives totalled 172 megs. Was two megs, a 1% reduction, really worth adding an extra step?

So is there some hidden advantage I'm missing here?

Update: Richard Eldred explains that some distribution methods use free upload sites and the pieces are so it can be easily uploaded, and there are scripts to do the uploading and distribution. He suggests lazy distributors don't bother to torrent the main file.

Michael Kedzierski suggests it's because of USENET. The episodes are probably sourced from news, then put on torrents.

Both explanations make sense actually. Thanks guys.

Puy Lentils

Salad of Green Puy Lentils with diced bacon and Auvergne ham

I've been hunting for decent lentils since returning to Australia. In London I used to buy the lovely Puy Lentils (lentilles vertes du Puy) which are amazing green lentils. The key is that, unlike other varieties of lentil, they don't fall apart when cooked but actually manage to keep their texture. I use them a lot in stews and the like.

Today I discovered my local deli in Marrickville Metro has this type of lentil. They're a little more expensive than most lentils, $5/kg, but well worth it. Yummy!

Currently in the oven is a casserole of Italian sausages, onion, carrot, garlic and green lentils. We're gonna eat well tonight.

How not to respond to negative claims online

Some obscure accounting software company called 2Clix is suing Whirlpool for comments made in its forums. I suspect their problem is that a search for 2Clix gets lots of threads Statement of Claim, I'm even more convinced this company has taken exactly the wrong approach. Reading between the lines they're claiming that the supposedly false statements in the threads were made by a malicious third party, like a competitior or disgruntled ex-employee. If they really want to make this claim, they're going after the wrong person. What they should have done is attempted to find the identity of the posters, filing a subpoena against Whirlpool to get IP addresses and the like. But it sounds like they're either stupid or very badly advised.

How not to respond to negative claims online

Some obscure accounting software company called 2Clix is suing Whirlpool for comments made in its forums. I suspect their problem is that a search for 2Clix gets lots of threads Statement of Claim, I'm even more convinced this company has taken exactly the wrong approach. Reading between the lines they're claiming that the supposedly false statements in the threads were made by a malicious third party, like a competitior or disgruntled ex-employee. If they really want to make this claim, they're going after the wrong person. What they should have done is attempted to find the identity of the posters, filing a subpoena against Whirlpool to get IP addresses and the like. But it sounds like they're either stupid or very badly advised.

Ad blocking is a moral issue now?

There's recently been a bit of talk about Firefox and Adblock Plus, with wild claims about it being immoral to block ads.

For those of you who haven't worked it out, the web doesn't have to be a place filled with popping up, flashing, zinging, annoying advertising getting in the way of the content. By simply installing a more secure, better browser with an ad blocking extension, the web becomes blissfully ad-free. No more trying to read text while a neighbouring advertisement competes for your eye.

Now there's even a campaign to block Firefox itself, adblock or no, which is pretty hilarious. I have to say I haven't found any sites that have redirected me to this, which probably says something about the types of sites that might block Firefox.

The argument they make is that advertising pays for the content, so it's wrong to use the content without the ads. Here's a tip guys: find another way to make money. By this logic, making a cup of tea during the ad breaks on television is also morally wrong.

They also say it's wrong to use the site's bandwidth without looking at the ads. So do they also block search engines and the like, which have no human being to watch the ads?

Want to know why I've blocked ads for many many years? Punch the monkey to find out.