When prototypes attack

Here's a tip for newbies. When someone asks you to knock up a "quick prototype", be very very afraid. Your "quick prototype" could well end up as a production system. And guess who's gonna be supporting it?

I made the mistake of writing some dodgy Javascript to mock up some functionality we wanted to get built. Only ever intended as a demonstration, and completely unmaintainable. It's just come back from the umpteenth iteration through the lawyers and everyone else putting in their two bob, and I feel sick every time I see it.

I should have known this would happen when my boss started referring to it as an "application". ARGH!

Gun control saves lives

Howard has talked about my post on gun laws, and talks about the laws and their effect in the UK. There's been a massive increase in gun crime in the UK in recent years, fuelled partly by smuggling from Eastern Europe and the rise of gangsta culture. Someone was shot in Newington Green this week, just around the corner from Scott and Katie's place.

I thought I'd lay down why I support gun control, and in fact support it being far, far tighter.

People go nuts. In Australia and the UK, they go nuts at pretty much the same rate as America, give or take a bit. When someone goes on a killing spree, the weapons available to them make all the difference in the impact of the spree. You can only get so far with a knife, and hurt so many people.

Now occasionally this means a nutter with foresight will get hold of an illegal gun, and still go on a killing spree. But these types of spree are far, far rarer. They're normally going to go with what's easily available.

Personally I think you need a very good reason to own a gun. Target shooters should be required to join a gun club, and the gun is signed out and back in to lockers run by the club whenever they're used. You can't have such a gun at home.

Hunters, well I'm not quite sure we need them. I'm sure some similar restrictions could be thought up though. No guns in homes.

Farmers are a bit more difficult. We have a lot of pest animals in Australia, and farmers really do need to be able to have guns readily accesible to protect livestock and kill any pests they find. Not sure how you can reduce the risk here, apart from background checks, weapon limits and mandatory gun lockers.

Handguns? There's never any legitimate need outside law enforcement. Again, sporting shooters can join a gun club.

The Chaser recording

We went to see the recording of this week's Chaser. Now it's time for me to ruin all the jokes for you. Just kidding.

Was quite fun, though they kept us waiting around in the lobby for an hour, which isn't polite. Interesting to see how they recorded two different intros in order to comment (or not) on a story that should happen tomorrow but might not happen.

Quite a fun, free night out if you're footloose on a Tuesday night. The "WOE Tickets" link on their site becomes available when there are (free) tickets. Also they seem to announce them on their RSS feed.

Gun laws are good

Back when the Port Arthur Massacre had just happened and the debate raged over gun control, it was common to hear about Texans saying things like "never woulda happened in Texas". They'd say this because, the theory goes, in Texas everyone is packing heat so when some nutjob pulls a gun, he'd only get to pop a few off before someone else took him out.

Reading about yesterdays terrible events I ended up reading about Luby's massacre, which up until yesterday had been America's deadliest (civil) mass shooting. It happened in 1991, four years before the Port Arthur Massacre. It happened in Texas. Of course, their reaction was to allow concealed weapons to be carried, which is quite a contrast to what happened here.

Geek-only on Planet Linux Australia

Hmmm, looks like whoever runs Planet Linux Australia decided to only grab my geek category after my What's appropriate on the Planets? post. That kinda misses the point, but it's their decision really.

The main thing I had to say there was that the thing I like about the Planets is the irrelevant stuff, the non-geeky stuff. It might mean you have to skip over the odd student talking about his assignments, posts about someone's non-geek interests, seriously weird shit and hearing about the birth of children to people you've never met, but that's great. You learn a lot about these people, not just one-dimensional geekdom.

Or does Linux Australia only want one-dimensional geekdom?

Need a new bike

Just got a call from David at Cheeky who's been working on my bike. The spokes on both wheels were very loose, and the wheels were pretty badly out. The first spoke he touched broke off at the nipple, so it's gonna need a complete rebuild.

This brings up the point that the bike is a hand-me-down and there's a few things that need doing. The drive train is well on the way out, and it's gonna need replacing within a few months at best. It's too warn to swap out individual components so it's gonna be new crankset, rear cluster and chain. Expensive. I bet the rims on the wheels probably aren't in great nick either, as this bike has seen some big distances.

So I think I may be better off buying a shiny new bike. Much as I like the idea, I've been quite enjoying the ride this frame provides. The shape means the bike just wants to zip along. Thing is, it's pretty old and heavy, so I really probably should buy a new one.

I've been fantasizing about my ultimate commuting bike for some time now. It would have a hub dynamo driving LED lights front and rear, hub gears and a chain cover. Now's the time to see if such a beastie is viable.

Any such bike will also need to be workable as a touring bike, so it can't weigh a ton, needs to perform well in a range of gear ranges and have strong

This big problem is, with such a specialised bike it'll probably take a bit to work out what to get. In the meantime, what am I gonna ride?

Any suggestions on bikes and components? I'm not one of these bike nerds who can rattle off Shimano's latest catalogue. That's something I've always left to good mechanics.

What are they smoking at Channel Ten?

Was just watching a Simpsons episode from earlier in the week and caught a promo Channel Ten ran for Lost in Translation. The promo started with "One of the funniest movies in recent years". WTF? It's hardly a comedy, and any comedic elements are vastly overshadowed by the other themes of this excellent film. Yeesh. Did they even watch the film?

Free beer!

I'm subscribed to the Malt Shovel Brewery's (of James Squire fame) email newsletter. The latest one had what I thought was a pretty condescending comment for something sent to self-identified beer lovers.

Now don't be scared. Yes it is a dark beer. Okay, you've never been fond of dark beers. But our James Squire Porter isn't that intimidating.

Now I know the average Australian beer drinker would find a dark beer intimidating. But then the average Australian beer drinking would find a case costing more than $40 intimidating. The people these marketroids are talking to have already pointed themselves out as adventurous beer drinkers, so why talk down to them?

Anyway, I emailed them my thoughts and got this reply:

Thanks for your email. Our apologies if you found part of our April Newsletter patronising. We can understand how beer lovers could have taken those comments in that way. Our newsletter is certainly subscribed to by beer lovers, however we also have a number of members who are new to craft beer and might not have been introduced to the full range of flavoursome James Squire beers. Our intention was to encourage them (as well as beer lovers) to enjoy Porter as winter approaches.

We appreciate your feedback and would like to send you a carton of James Squire Porter. Please let us know the address where you would like us to send it (will be a weekday courier delivery).

Free beer! Can't beat that. And we just finished the last of our case of wonderful Hop Thief too.

I'll have to complain more. I'm sure you, gentle reader, would know that's quite difficult for me ;)

Brewing again

Now that the weather has cooled down to reasonable levels, I put a brew on yesterday. Nothing spectacular, a Cooper's Mexican Cerveza kit with a kilo of Cooper's "Brew Enhancer 1". I'm planning to put chillis in some of the bottles when it's all done.

Soon enough I'll have complete temperature control with my beer box, but I'm still working on that.