Green lightning?

Last night there was a huge storm in Sydney. Given how hot it was all weekend, that's not terribly surprising. Was a pretty cool storm, going from about 23:00 until well after midnight, as it kept swirling around. We'd be just dropping off to sleep when another crack of thunder would shake the house.

Anyway, we're sitting out the front watching the cool lightning displahy when both Holly and I spotted a very bright, green glow to the North-West. It was green lightning, but perhaps behind clouds.

Searching online, I've found other references to green lightning, but nothing explaining what causes it. Then again, it seems the causes of ordinary lightning are, amazingly, still open for debate, let along exotic types of lightning.

So anyone know anything about green lightning?

MythTV front-end in the lounge room

We've finally got MythTV up and running properly. I have a fanless Via EPIA system sitting on top of the telly as the front-end running MiniMyth. It's very very nice!

I had trouble getting my existing, serial remote receiver going with MiniMyth. It wasn't made any easier by being so difficult to debug on that platform, and my laptop not having serial connectors. So I ended buying a known working remote with the config files found here.

Still to get working is mounting my music and other video on the front-end using Samba or NFS. Also need to plug in the new DVB card I bought last night, which will involve some shuffling around of cards in the server. And I need to buy a SATA interface card to connect the 600GB of disks that Moz has for me.

So far, with only one tuner and 16GB of disk space, I'm very very happy with it! I just wish Australian TV was better at sticking to their bloody schedules. With more than one tuner, I can set it up to record five minutes either side, but I shouldn't have to.

Looking at Google's badware notifications

Today's Crikey asks if perhaps Google knows something about Quadrant magazine. It seems Google is flagging the site as a crapware site.

Quadrant magazine: This site may harm your

I also noticed this when searching for the Good Vibrations Festival a couple of weeks ago. It looks to me like Quadrant is hitting these filters for pretty much the same reasons. There's a bunch of very suspicious Javascript linked from their home pages. URLs like one hosted on the web servers,,

When you look at the actual Javascript files, it's all URL- and Unicode-encoded crap trying to obfuscate what it's really doing. To me, that looks like a reasonable judgement by Google that they're probably up to no good.

What I suspect is happening is that Quadrant is calling "", probably for some perceived search engine optimising benefit. That's then selling all the people who load their Javascript to various crapware installing companies.

Interestingly, Good Vibrations' site now seems to be clean of all this kind of crap, though they're still in Google's blacklist. Did they perhaps share the same search engine optimising company as Quadrant are using? They were certainly linking to the same variety of shonky Javascript.

Anyone know any background to this stuff?

Update: looks like Google know exactly what they're doing here. I wonder if these sites are compromised or using dodgy SEO techniques?

Ethical dilemma: "defence" industry employers

I've just received a job description for a contract at a software company whose customers include a bunch of organizations in the killing business. Australian, New Zealand and Malaysian Navy, Australian "Defence" Industries, Boeing. I've always been adamant that I won't work in such industries. But where do you draw the line? In my line of work, the biggest employment sector tends to be in the death industries.

I believe this project is working on their evidence-management product. So this would be working in law enforcement type stuff, as opposed to baby killers. But the company definitely works in "defence", though they have nothing directly to do with making guns, bombs and the like.

So where does one draw the line? Quite a difficult one to decide. Your thoughts?

Myth finally running

I finally got MythTV running under Xen last night. It was quite a bit more work to get it running under Debian than Ubuntu which works out-of-the box, but Ubuntu has problems installing using debootstrap.

There's one major problem though: Xen seems to choke on large volumes of I/O going across the PCI bus. The whole machine locks up. So I think I'll end up having to run Myth inside dom0, though at least I can still run the other stuff I want for this server in various domUs.

I'm buying a couple of 300 gig hard drives off Moz, which should give me lots of disk space for recording telly. Just in time too, as the non-ratings period has ended and there's the occasional good show on now.

Last night I also bought one of these digital telly cards. They're the cheapest ones going and, to boot, they can also record analogue simultaneously. They're actually Pinnacle 300i cards and fully supported under Linux. They're clearance items from Dickies so get in quick if you want them. I think I might buy another as that would let me record five channels if you include analogue and my USB stick DVB thingy.

So the job over the weekend (apart from going to Good Vibrations) is to get Myth running in dom0 and get the diskless front end going.

Sex shops sell porn: SHOCK!

Our ever-smart coppers have made a shock revelation in the Sydney's red light district. The sex shops there sell porn!

Australia's film classification system allows for a bunch of different ratings, with R being the highest allowed in the states and X being the most explicit and only legally sold in the territories (ACT and NT). So legally the X films aren't supposed to be sold in NSW but they have been openly on sale for decades.

I used to work in the porn industry back in the early 90s. At the time I'd never been into a Kings Cross sex shop and when I first visited one on business, I was quite shocked to find they stocked X-rated videos and displayed them quite openly. I figured (as we sold them wholesale X porn from Canberra) they were available but under-the-counter or using some other sleight of hand. So I was quite surprised by them being available.

Thing is, the cops can't avoid knowing about this, so there has to be some level of official corruption. Yet you get them coming over all innocent with statements like:
Information from this case led to police conducting undercover operations in the shops to determine the type of material that was being sold.

Despite the stores openly displaying the apparently X-rated material, worth millions of dollars, on their shelves, Ms Hayes said the sale of the material had been going undetected for some time.

Yes I'm sure it would have been hard to work out. It would have been impossible for them to have noted down a couple of titles from the films and search for the title in the OFLC database. I mean, searching for one of the titles we used to sell took all of a minute to confirm it's rated X.

Yet more evidence that the NSW Police are institutionally corrupt. Not that this should be news.

Lordy that's real rain!

Just tried to get to work and was turned back by being soaked, head-to-toe, at about 1/3 of the way to the bus stop. This was with an umbrella. I'd got used to London rain where it's constant but doesn't actually get you particularly wet...

After turning back, I found the street at the end of our street was almost knee deep. Had to wade through it to get home, but I was soaked already by then anyway. Gave up on work today.