We bought a house! (nearly)

Holly and I last night negotiated the details of our purchase of a lovely house in Marrickville. It's next door to the place we bid on last Saturday.

The process here is quite unusual. At the end of the auction on Saturday, the owner of the house on the other side of the shared wall, in other words the mirror image of the house we'd bid on, tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I'd like to look at another house "the same only in better condition". So we went in and had a look, chatted to the owner and discussed it. Turns out the owner hates estate agent scum as much as I do, wanted the process to be honest and painless, was keen on a long settlement which also suits us, and was in possession of a house that's in quite a bit better condition than next door!

So we've negotiated the price and conditions. Contract late this week or early next week. Settlement in December. Lovely!

Now Holly and I have lots of time to plan improvements and dream.

emusic.com are spam friendly

A long while ago I signed up to try out emusic.com as it seemed like someone doing the right thing with non-DRMed music files. Their business model didn't really suit me, what with it being subscription-based and quite expensive.

As usual, I gave them a sneakemail email address, in case they are spammers. Well it turns out they are, or at least they're happy to give out your email address to any number of dodgy fuckers. Sascha Welter details it. Technically they're only doing what their privacy policy allows. Great way to piss off your customer though guys!

Auction: sheer terror

Holly and I went to a house auction this morning and placed some bids. It has to count as one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

In the end, the house went over our price limit and the two guys who were bidding against us got the place. No hard feelings about it, as we felt they paid over what it was worth. That said, it's an incredibly stressful situation, purpose-designed to make you nervous and unsure of yourself.

Fortunately something amazing happened just after the auction. I can't give any details just yet, but will shortly.

The downside of hub gears

Last night I discovered the downside of hub gears when I went to ride off from work and discovered my rear wheel was flat as a pancake. Getting the wheel out is quite an operation on my commuter bike. It seems to have track dropouts which means you have to remove chaintugs (held in place with tiny nuts mounted in a place that's hard to access with a portable bike tool), remove the nuts and grippy bits holding the wheel on (no quick-release skewers here, you need a spanner), remove the chain, remove the gear cable, remove the brake and finally slide the wheel out.

Then when you're putting it back in, adjusting is quite the operation. I can't work out what the tension needs to be -- it seems to be either too tight or too loose, and the brakes are all wrong.

This sucker's gonna have to go into the monkey tonight. I might ask about these tugnuts to make at least one of the jobs easier, and make adjustments a hell of a lot easier. And they have a bottle opener!

Estate agents lie: SHOCK

Estate agents who willfully underquote houses going to auction will apparently get big fines with a new investigation. It won't be hard for them to find examples. Say, a 2-bedroom house quoted as "over $500,000" in an area which hasn't seen a house sale under $560,000 in the last six months. The real classics are the ones where the reserve price is higher than the price quoted as the guide price.

The Office of Fair Trading is going to have trouble though, as agents can easily point to "market factors" being responsible for their errors. In a soaring or crashing market, this could well be true. What's more, if an individual property captures the hearts of a few people, it could well go for much more than its market worth.

I have a quick and easy solution. The agents have to quote a price to the sellers. Force them to publish that price whenever they advertise the property. Then third parties can keep a league table of the agents: how close their estimates were. That will keep the bastards honest!

Dealing with terruhists

So Haneef is out and heading back home. I suspect he's going to be a rather wealthy man by the time his lawyers are finished, but then again he's now on every blacklist under the sun and probably won't even be allowed to fly inside his own country, let alone outside.

The thing that staggers me about this whole affair is how quickly, shamelessly and cynically the pollies and media jumped all over the poor guy the moment he was arrested. Surely the sensible thing to do, from a basic investigative point of view, would have been to suppress any identifying details about the guy or the case. After all, you don't want to tip off any associates, had he really been a bad guy, that you've got him in custody and he's (potentially) squealing like a stuck pig.

But of course, it's an election year and there's far too much political capital to be had claiming there's a terruhist in our midst.

How long will Andrews last? Probably until the enormous payout, which probably means after the election.

Stop the jihad on badly-behaved RSS

Following up my earlier jihad, after discussing it a bit with Martin of the khymos food nrrd blog, then doing some investigation when it happened again on Rozie's blog it appears that it's Bloglines that is the problem, not the RSS. At least as far as I can tell. The RSS seems innocuous enough, yet Bloglines marks everything after the post that's actually new as "updated" with the same datestamp.

I've written a note to Bloglines themselves reporting it. Hopefully they'll fix it, otherwise I'll have to find another aggregator. That could be painful.

Jihad on badly-behaved RSS feeds

I've had it with RSS feeds that spontaneously reload the entire backlog. It's surprising how common this is, and I'm unsure why it happens as it's never happened on my blog. One that just did this seems to have re-dated all articles to today's date, which isn't really ideal.

The trigger for me was the (several) Google blogs I subscribe to all doing it multiple times this week. Most annoying!

So if this happens with a blog, I'm gonna ruthlessly unsubscribe. I suspect this might have a positive impact on my productivity too.

Brave freecycler

This just came through on freecycle:

Have an extra one of these that came with a phone upgrade last year. Expires in November. Pack opened but unused.

(Please note: Optus prepaid SIM with activation paperwork only. No phone included!!)

Pick up Enmore, can leave in letterbox.

Either this person is very brave or doesn't keep up with the news. Doesn't she realise she could be charged for recklessly giving a SIM card away?