tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:/posts Simon Rumble's blog 2024-06-12T07:30:33Z Simon Rumble tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2115910 2024-06-12T07:30:32Z 2024-06-12T07:30:33Z Companies: why are you like this?
25 years ago a bunch of Internet people cracked the shits with the inhuman, one-way corporate speak employed by the companies they interacted with, consulted to and advised. Those rants became The Cluetrain Manifesto. There's a copy sitting on my bookshelf right behind me, probably the fourth copy I've bought because I keep loaning it out to people who need to know and forgetting who had it.

25 years on it's still utterly fucking standard to get a stupid email like this one:

So what you're saying, Electrolux, is that I shouldn't reply to this email. But you're willing to receive emails from me at another email address. Somehow it's too hard to make the From address the one you want to receive replied on. Hell, if there's some dumb technical reason, you could even use a Reply-to header.

You know this makes you sound like an arsehole, right? You had an opportunity to provide care to customers, you know like a "Customer Care" function, and you fluffed it. Golf clap time.
Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2107207 2024-05-02T05:57:35Z 2024-05-02T05:57:35Z sleepmakeswaves and Elephant Gym

Last Saturday night I went to see sleepmakeswaves at the Manning Bar in Sydney Uni with a couple of mates. I have many fond memories of this gig: the epic Freaky Loops gigs, Terrence McKenna and lunchtime gigs during my brief time as a university student, I remember seeing DiG and Trout Fishing in Quebec.

The lineup for the night got moved around so that Taiwanese band Elephant Gym were moved up to slot 2, so I had a chance to catch them. I had minimal expectations but really enjoyed their set. Wikipedia describes them as "math rock" which is, of course, a terrible genre name. I'd characterise them more as jazz rock except instead of improvising onstage they're playing out the result of past improvisations, with exceptional accuracy, tightness and structure. Really good fun.

sleepmakeswaves were, as always, awesome. Dreamy soundscapes with dramatic crescendos. Brilliant.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2104495 2024-04-18T06:29:18Z 2024-04-18T06:29:58Z White Bay Power Station: 700 Feel + Ryan Fennis & Voidhood

I've been entering the ballots for Phoenix Central Park's music programmes for a while now and never managed to get tickets. It's a tiny venue and the gigs are free, but often artists you've never heard of. They've partnered with the Biennale of Sydney to run gigs at the White Bay Power Station. This giant industrial edifice has been closed my entire life in Sydney, so I've spent many years going past and wondering what's inside.

So of course I jumped at the chance!

The music? Yeah, interesting enough. The DJ set played before the acts were really good: a combination of DJ Vadin-style dubbed out hip hop samples and bass-heavy interesting beats. Dunno who they were though. The rest? Yeah okay whatevs.

But going around this giant industrial hulk: amazing! And the art scattered around for the Biennale was pretty cool too. I'm going to have to head back with the family for another look in daylight.

Looking forward to more music at this place though!

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2104492 2024-04-18T06:16:05Z 2024-04-18T06:21:21Z Floodlights: Oz Rock revival?

As a kid of the late 70s, Oz Rock was my childhood soundtrack. In the mainstream in the 1980s it was bogan classics: Cold Chisel, The Angels, Rose Tattoo, Dragon, The Radiators, Australian Crawl, Barnsey. Ugh. It's blokey. It's ocker. It's got all the sexist, racist tropes. You can see why I went all in on electronic music as a teenager.

But early 80s pub rock in Australia also had good stuff that broke through: Goanna, Midnight Oil, Men At Work, Hunters & Collectors. Music with a distinctly Australian sound but without needing to drive a ute, wear a mullet and get blind drunk and beat your wife. It's technically proficient music, varied stylistically with great songs and often with a political edge.

Enter Floodlights, a band from Melbourne with a distinct sound. I don't know if they think of themselves as Oz Rock influenced, or part of some kind of revival, but their sound brings to mind bands like Goanna and early Hunters & Collectors for me. Their live performance—and the audience reaction—makes me feel this band is about to go huge.

I love seeing a band in a small venue just before they go huge. You think to yourself "this is the last time I'll see this band somewhere so small". The lead singer has frontman energy (and good looking too, which never hurts) while the band are tight, the harmonies strong and the harmonica comes out quite a bit.

Support band Sweetie were fun, and having fun, with catchy tunes. Melodrones sounded okay but a bit loose.

This was my first time at The Great Club, a terrible tragedy. It's been open years now and I haven't made it. It's a great small-mid sized venue, walking distance from home and well set up. Now that I've been, I'll be keeping an eye out for more bands playing there.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2099058 2024-03-26T04:20:17Z 2024-03-26T04:22:10Z Battlesnake: metal madness!
Last Saturday night I went with my mate Michael to see Battlesnake. This band have been on my radar to watch with their over-the-top stage theatrics and right-on hard rock. Think Saxon by way of Spinal Tap. This is clearly a band who have watched Spinal Tap a few times. And taken notes.

Loads of fun. Unfortunately they had some problems blowing out the venue's electrics every time they hit their big stage lights, so we got a somewhat diminished show. I'll be along to their show for Vivid in June to see what I was missing!

The show was wild. Seven dudes on a fairly small stage. Great songs with killer riffs, delivered by great musicians who clearly enjoy doing the theatrics. Check out the video here showing some truly Spinal Tap antics with a guitarist wheeled through the crowd on wheels. Hilarious.

They're playing around places, including Europe, so check em out!

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2097063 2024-03-17T09:19:45Z 2024-03-17T09:19:46Z Brekky Boy
My favourite music venue gains it's favour because it's so close. I can be at the Factory Theatre in about 5 minutes. Back when they only had terrible beer we used to duck home in between bands for a decent beer from our own fridge.

So their free events on weekends are particularly compelling. Low effort and worth checking out at the smallest provocation. Today's paid off in spades.

Brekky Boy are three supremely talented jazz musos playing intricate, tightly coordinated tracks very much in the techno or ambient house vein. Brilliant band.
Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2096165 2024-03-13T01:46:02Z 2024-03-13T01:48:01Z Golden Plains 2024

Holly and I have been going to this incredible festival as often as possible since 2018. It's like no other festival: amazing people and vibe, single stage with a really diverse lineup of bands and some kooky traditions.

It's the best festival I've ever been to in Australia. Not the gravitas and lineup heft of Glastonbury but certainly captures a lot of the vibe, better in a lot of ways even. Not easy for us to make it from Sydney, involving finding hosts for our kids, flights, car hire and getting tents and the like all the way there.

This year we had to deal with serious heat. 37 degrees every day and on the Saturday night it was still 30 at 10pm. Seriously hot, so there was a lot of sitting around sipping drinks and hoping it'd cool down a bit.

Strange traditions

One of the funny traditions of Golden Plains is The Boot. To show their appreciation of a show, attendees hold a boot aloft above their heads. Charlotte Adigéry was very confused until some of the crowd explained what was going on. People also dress up in crazy stuff. And weirdest of all, you're allowed bring furniture to the festival, so there ends up being a whole array of couches at the back of the crowd area.

The sunsets from the hill beside the main stage are spectacular. A big crowd forms on the hill as the sun goes down with cheers, claps and hoots of appreciation. They're really stunning sunsets.


Musical highlights this year: Elsy Wamayo played a great afternoon set in the heat that forced me up onto my feet. King Stingray's recorded music hadn't set my heart alight but live they were great fun. And best of the fest was Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul. I've been following Adigéry's music since 2017 so I was super excited she was on the bill and they were amazing. Absolutely owned the crowd. Cymande were also a lot of fun, spotting those samples that you've heard everywhere.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2095079 2024-03-07T21:52:38Z 2024-03-07T21:52:39Z Minami Deutsch at Marrickville Bowlo
I was willing to go see this band just because of the description: Japanese Krautrock. It's like the punchline to a joke at Pitchfork Media's expense.

But they were good. Really good. Tight, clever and with perfectly synchronised speed changes that keep you on your toes.

I think Minami Deutsch is to Krautrock what tempura is to fish and chips. In many ways perfecting the original but not just a clone. It's own thing.
Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2093796 2024-03-01T21:28:45Z 2024-03-01T23:42:30Z Apple Vision Pro demo

I'm currently in Austin, Texas for MeasureCamp so when I read you could book demos (via The Sizzle, of course) I waited until it was 7 days out and booked it in. Easily done on the Apple site, though you do need to sign up for an Apple ID.

My appointment was at a swanky mall in the Austin suburbs so it was a $15 Uber ride out and the same again back to town. Waiting outside I got asked by a Jehovah if I wanted to join a bible study. I suppose if you're camped outside the Apple Temple your chances of finding an easy mark are good.

Once my turn came up, my demo guy introduced himself and of course now I can't remember his name, but he was great. He took my glasses and put them in a machine that measures them and orders the appropriate optical inserts. Apparently there's some prescriptions they can't handle, specifically if your script has a "Prism" value which I think is people with astigmatism. My bifocals were no problem.

Next we had to measure my face using an iPhone app. A bit of a delay because I'm not in the cult and they had to find an iPhone I could use. You then do a process similar to enrolling for the face unlock feature: stare at the dot and slowly move your head left, right, up and down. Repeated again and the order for your seals around your face.

A few moments delay and out comes my demo set, ready for my head, face and eyes. Served on a platter like a fancy meal.

Detailed instructions were given of how to pick it up and put it on your head: you don't want smudges on the shiny plastic I suppose and Apple probably still feels the scar tissue from the "you're holding the phone wrong" antenna attenuation disaster.

Setup and calibration

The first phase of the demo is going through some calibration and learning the gestures. Calibration involves looking at dots and doing the tap gesture, touching your forefingers to your thumb briefly somewhere in the wide field of view of the front-firing cameras. The other two gestures are scroll which is pinching your fingers together, dragging in the appropriate direction and releasing. Zoom is two-handed tap, stretch and release. All pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

Then the magic starts. There's a knob on the top-right of the goggles they call the "crown". Pressing it functions like the home button on an iPhone while turning it dials up or down how much of the outside world you see.


For the next bit I dialed the outside world entirely out for the full immersive experience. The environment is a stunning mountainous outdoor view with water gently moving. The windows of applications are suspended in the air in the environment. I was instructed through expanding and placing windows in that environment.

This experience is pretty amazing. I could see it being super productive: distractions dialed out and you can easily have 3 or more massive, super high res screens arrayed in front of you. Brilliant. Apparently you can bring a Mac's desktop into this environment which would be pretty sweet.

Passive immersive experiences

Next up demos of the immersive experiences. 3D photos and videos as taken by the device itself, then ones taken on iPhones. They're pretty mind blowing quality. While the 3D visuals are as expected, the bit that really blew my mind was the audio. It really comes from the point it should, even as you move your head around.

Some demos of different immersive experiences. A clip from the (execrable I hear) Super Mario film, a bunch of immersive clips of scenes from nature: a women climbing a sheer cliff, people cuddling a baby rhino, baby bears walking into a stream, sharks underwater, a singer half a metre away from you singing straight to you. All amazing.

And that's it, the demo is over and I have to take the headset off. Smart business: they definitely leave you wanting more! Yours for only $3,500 (AUD5,400). Where's a black market kidney buyer when you need one?

Wrapping up

I'm no Apple fanboi: I own a Mac because I got it from my last workplace and while they're amazing hardware, I'm not a huge fan of the OS and GUI. Better than Windows and I can bend it to my workflows with some effort, but there's clunky things I dislike,

But this? This I like. It's really quite impressive. Once they get the price down, I'd consider buying one. I'd probably want to borrow or rent one for a week or so to see what the working environment is like, but I could see it being super productive. And games are gonna be _incredible_. This is a much slicker, better rounded experience than the Oculus from the House of Zuck.


I had some minor quibbles with the device, and things I think need more exploration.

  • Focus for me wasn't perfect. The edges of vision were quite fuzzy. This can probably be tuned in though.
  • It's quite heavy! They pack an incredible amount of tech into this thing so that's not surprising, but I wonder how that goes if you wear it for hours. Ditto any visual things. I'd be curious to see how long people can use it in real world usage.
  • This was a carefully curated demo. The demo guy has an iPad where he can drag you back if you try to explore on your own. I bet there's nasty rough edges, bugs and probably even straight up crashes. This is V1 of the product. Remember how crap the original iPhone was: this is better than that, but there's still going to be bad bits.


It's a brilliant piece of tech. Apple should be rightly proud of it. It's interesting that they're doing these demos: I feel like it'd be quite hard to get across how damn well it works in a video or other method of demonstration. And people have been burnt with similar products in the past: everyone who tried the Google Glasses was surprised to see the screen is just a tiny piece in the corner which isn't clear in the demo videos at all. This isn't like that: full immersion!

But wow it's expensive. I'm keen to see how much it comes down with V2.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2085041 2024-02-05T02:31:56Z 2024-03-26T04:44:16Z Russian Circles
Last night's gig was Russian Circles, a "post-metal" band from the US. I've followed them since the 2000s.

It was a stinking hot night: 28° and something like 90% humidity, so of course I rode my bike in. The Metro Theatre is fortunately very well air conditioned so it was lovely inside. No zero alcohol beers available so I got a glass of tonic instead.

I caught only the last few minutes of one support band, I think they were Meniscus. Seemed quite good. Second support, Tangled Thoughts of Leaving , were a bit too clever for their own good. A cacophonous wall of noisy free jazz.

Russian Circles were great. Heavy, tight and with fantastic tracks. The lighting was particular well executed with the fog combining with lights switching between rear, front and side to great effect. You'd be watching the drummer and the lights switch to behind and suddenly he appears fuzzy, from the fog, then he's clearly illuminated and it's timed with the music. Nice one.

Fun gig. It hadn't cooled down on the way home, still sticky and hot but the roads were mercifully quiet.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2083417 2024-02-01T04:07:11Z 2024-02-01T04:07:11Z Updating ContractOrPermie.com
I've been a contractor rather than permanent employee for a good chunk of my working life. I started working in the mid-1990s when the business world had been clearly demonstrating that they had no loyalty whatsoever to their staff, so I've always felt the same loyalty in return. I've always been quite mercenary about it: I do good work and act responsibly in my employers' interest no matter how they employ me.

For a long time I used a spreadsheet to be able to convert between the daily rate recruiters would quote and the equivalent annual salary, factoring in the days you don't get paid as a contract: annual leave, sick pay and public holidays. Superannuation is also taken out of your day rate, so that's factored in too.

After being asked multiple times for copies of my spreadsheet and wanting to learn a new web framework, back in 2013 I created a little single-page app for the job, Contract or Permie? All zippy responsive design that resizes nicely on phones and everything!

Fast forward many years and I'm always bumping into fellow contractors and discovering they use it. I've let the thing languish a bit over the years. It still uses quite clunky code, was hosted from an S3 bucket without TLS so was insecure and had old, no longer working, Google Analytics tagging hardcoded in it. Some of the assumptions, particularly the mandatory superannuation rate, were outdated too.

I got a patch from Andrew Punch in December last year fixing a couple of these problems and I've just merged them in. Given I've accepted an external contribution, meaning someone else had to wade through my clunky code, I figure I should open source the damn thing and make the code public, so here it us.

While in there, I also tweaked a few things. It's not a secure site with support for HTTP/3 (thanks to Fastly making that super easy).

Future plans: I might rewrite the whole thing in a new, modern framework. Open to suggestions! While I'm in there I'll re-implement tagging using WalkerOS as I've been keen to play with it since meeting Alexander in Copenhagen last year and having a long conversation about it. Maybe even get super modern and do some automated tests, automated deployment?
Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2070093 2024-01-03T10:30:12Z 2024-01-03T10:31:16Z Egoism at the Marrickville Bowlo

Rounding out 2023 we saw Egoism on the 22nd December. The gig was a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis Community Care so there were a few bands. Sound seemed a bit iffy on the night though one of the supports, Jet City Sports Band, were really great and worth checking out.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2047767 2023-11-12T23:17:54Z 2023-11-14T23:39:06Z Pizza Death at The Burdekin
Quite the change of pace from Kristen Hersh the night before: three death metal bands over three hours. Pizza Death have a solid gimmick, fun banter and silly songs. Supports Head In A Jar and Carnal Viscera had better music and still solid bantz. Loads of fun!

It took me a while to get with the mosh vibe but great energy, silly music, lovely crowd. Lots of fun!

Pizza for dinner, of course.
Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2047761 2023-11-12T23:12:38Z 2023-11-12T23:12:38Z Kristen Hersh at The Vanguard

Last Friday night we got to see Kristen Hersh of Throwing Muses perform her solo work at The Vanguard in Newtown. I haven't been to this venue since the 1990s when it was "Top Gun".

Hersh was incredible. Her voice is so distinctive, ranging from gentle singing to a gravelly growl and everything in between. The sounds she gets from her acoustic guitar, the range of textures and tempos: she's a master at work. Absolutely incredible. Also really funny banter in between songs.

Quick dinner before the gig was Pappa's Stew Chilli Cuisine, a Hunanese place. We had a big hotpot that was rich, spicy and amazing. Alongside it we had what could be described as spicy spag bol: fat round noodles with a topping of spicy pork mince, kind of a Biang Biang type of thing.
Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2041549 2023-10-29T00:40:07Z 2023-10-30T04:06:26Z Cook tech: Eat Your Books
I love to cook and so I have a lot of cookbooks.

This brings about a problem. Much as I love leafing through cookbooks, sometimes you need to work out what to cook more quickly. And I'm often trying to work out what to cook with a particular ingredient we have in abundance.

I actually set myself the task of building a combined recipe index for all my cookbooks. Manually typing in every recipe and the key ingredients. Then as I looked around to see if any tools existed for this kind of thing, I stumbled upon Eat Your Books, a site that already has all the hard work done for you.

You register all your cookbooks and then you can search through all of them by ingredient or recipe name. For example, I just searched for dessert recipes with apples, cos we have a bunch right now.


For some recipes it even includes the page numbers and photos of the result. So fast and means instead of flipping, you have a shortlist of books to pull down.

I'm cooking the Spiced apple cake from Ottolenghi Simple tonight. Perfect for what I want after tonight's roast lamb.

Update: here's the cake. It was delicious.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2040646 2023-10-26T22:19:02Z 2023-10-26T22:19:02Z GoGo Penguin at City Recital Hall
Last night I finally got to see GoGo Penguin, a band from Manchester I've been following for 10 years. I've been hanging out to see them live the whole time. I love their music.

I dragged along my mate Gab who's more of a jazz head than me, particularly keen on the freer end of jazz and a bunch of the 70s smoother stuff. He was commenting that there were periods when the music seemed to be repeating without someone taking the lead.

Our conclusion is that this is techno music played on jazz instrumentation, not a more jazz sensibility. There were solos but the structure of the songs is much more like techno: big build up of tension followed by dramatic release ("the drop") with all the instruments working together to that end.

A number of the tracks incorporate complicated polyrhythms with Chris Illingworth playing two and sometimes (with delays and loops) three parts while Nick Blacka shreds like his life depends on it with the double bass. Incredible complexity and discipline.

Check out some videos of this band. They're awesome.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2039774 2023-10-24T00:25:27Z 2023-10-24T00:29:42Z Los Bitchos + These New South Whales
Last week Sydney hosted the first edition of South by Southwest located outside of Austin. Sounds like it was somewhat successful but I think it takes a while for people to understand what it was. I've heard stories of empty gigs and packed gigs, plus a lot of tickets and wristbands being given away.

I didn't manage to make it to anything until Saturday night. Life has been busy. Though given the vibe I saw, if they run it again I'd be tempted to get work to buy me the tech pass and buy myself a music pass then spend the evenings at gigs. A week of wall-to-wall gigs sounds great!

Los Bitchos
Saturday night there was a free event at The Factory in Marrickville, just around the corner from our place. Better yet it featured Los Bitchos, who I watched on the BBC coverage of this year's Glastonbury. How to describe their sound? Latin-afro inspired psych-surf fuzz? Or put more simply, the perfect sunny Glastonbury afternoon set when you've just picked up your first scrumpy and the hash cookie is starting to kick in.

Their set was awesome. Clearly these women love playing their music. The lead guitarist, Serra Petale the Aussie in the band, has the most intense facial expressions as she shreds. Totally lost in the music. Love it!

These New South Whales
My mate Michael suggested we head upstairs to see this local punk band I've barely ever heard of. There was a strong crowd of clearly die-hard fans. They had great energy but the sound in the room wasn't brilliant. I think I'd like to see them play their own set so I'll keep an eye out.

Coming up
This Thursday we're off to see GoGo Penguin and I am SUPER excited about that gig!

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2034321 2023-10-09T01:15:49Z 2023-10-09T01:18:26Z Bushfire excitement
Last week we planned to travel down to our friends' property on the Far South Coast of NSW. It's a beautiful spot right on the coast with two beaches on the property and not far from the little town I grew up in.

The trip down was uneventful. Six hours of driving but the kids and dog were great and we made it there. This is the first time we've taken the dog here, under strict instructions to keep her under control to protect wildlife and stock on the farm.

Foxie loved running around on the beaches, hanging out. She really got settled in.

It's such a stunning spot. Our happy place.

Then on day 1.5, Tuesday, one of the kids spotted smoke on the horizon. This was a weird day for weather in early October: 33 degrees with a very hot wind. Earlier in the day we'd been at one of the beaches glad to be wearing wetsuits in the ice cold water, then the wind changed and we were blasted with a wind that felt like it was an open oven. Bad news for fires.

Popping down to the beach where we can get (slow) mobile reception, it looked like there was a fire up the road. Growing fast.

It was decided we'd head to the house on the farm with its satelite internet, television and power so we could keep an eye on it. We packed our dinner and planned to settle down to ride it out.

As we drove around the corner to the house, the alarm sound came on ABC South East with the news that for those up the road from us, Cuttagee and Barraga Bay, it was now too late to leave with the massive fire front bearing down on them. So we decided instead of waiting it out in the house we'd bug out to Tathra.

As we left the fire got scarier and scarier looking in the distance. With this kind of weather—especially that hot, dry wind—fires can move with insane speed and this one was evidently a big one.

We got to Tathra and it turned out in just a few hours the fire burnt through 5,000 hectares of bush and was wildly out of control. Bugging out was definitely the right move. We would have been safe and even if the worst had happened we could have popped down to the beach and been okay, but the stress of that would've been immense.

We spent a couple of nights down at a caravan park in Tathra. Had to get some emergency prescriptions for medication we'd left behind, bought some cheap clothes since we only had what we'd left wearing. We didn't even have our wallets: not something you need on a farm. Thankfully mobile payments!

This is going to be a rough Summer in Australia. After two days of huge rains, there's a lot of plant growth and we're going into an El Nino cycle which means low rainfall, high temperatures.

Lesson: always have a plan for a bug out bag and the moment anything looks iffy with what you need for a few days. Just shove it all in a pile ready to grab and go. Leaving was definitely the right decision.

We haven't had much luck with holidays this year. Our Bali holiday earlier this year saw us all get Bali Belly and spend much of the trip feeling miserable. We might have to plan a very low key holiday to get some actual downtime! This truncated holiday didn't feel particularly restful.
Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2026256 2023-09-18T08:11:14Z 2023-09-18T08:11:15Z Take advantage of free solar power with Home Assistant
It's that time of year when it warms up here in Sydney and I start tinkering with my home automation to make life easier and cheaper.

Our house is very well insulated: the old 1920s part of the house has double brick and good insulation in the roof, the new part of the house has hempcrete walls, good roof insulation and double glazed windows. The high thermal mass means the temperature can stay very stable. Just closing the house up on hot days goes a long way to keeping it cool, but sometimes it needs a bit of help.

There's got a 6kW solar system on the roof and a Daikin wifi-connected air conditioner in the lounge room. On hot, sunny days when we're exporting lots of power to the grid and getting paid a pittance for it, I want to pre-chill the house below the usual comfort level so that when the sun goes down we keep the house closed up and turn the air con off but keep comfortable.

Home Assistant Helpers
I created two Helpers in Home Assistant, a dropdown called "Air con mode" and a numeric called "Air con target temp". The dropdown has "Manual" and "Power-driven cool" modes.

The logic I want is that when we're exporting more than 1kW of power and the air con is in "Power-driven cool" mode, drop the set temperature of the air con by 5 degrees. When we don't have excess, set it to the actual target temp. So we set the target to our comfort level, usually 24º, but when we have excess power cool it quite a bit lower.

Adjusting the set point means we're not hard switching the air conditioner off and on, so we don't have to worry about hysteresis and the like. When someone switches the kettle or oven on, drawing lots of power, it silently switches to "keep it at the comfort temperature" and then will automatically switch back when more power is available.

By contrast, my shed/office air conditioner is a fair bit dumber so I just have it on a wifi switch to turn off and on under similar conditions, but I use a five minute average of the power and also have a condition set on the temperature so it's not flipping on/off too often.

I could probably set the excess power threshold and the amount of adjustment as Helpers too, but they're hardcoded here for now. In Winter I might do a similar automation, though there's usually a lot less excess power at that time of year.

Home Assistant Automations
The logic requires two automations that run every minute each. One for when there is excess power, one for when there isn't.

Automation for when there's excess power
alias: "Air con: Power-driven cool excess power"
description: ""
  - platform: time_pattern
    minutes: "*"
  - condition: state
    entity_id: input_select.air_con_mode
    state: Power-driven cool
  - condition: numeric_state
    entity_id: sensor.envoy_current_net_consumption
    below: -1000
  - service: climate.set_temperature
      temperature: "{{ states('input_number.air_con_target_temp')|float - 5 }}"
      entity_id: climate.daikinap26021
mode: single

Automation for when there's no excess power
alias: "Air con: Power-driven cool no excess"
description: ""
  - platform: time_pattern
    minutes: "*"
  - condition: state
    entity_id: input_select.air_con_mode
    state: Power-driven cool
  - condition: numeric_state
    entity_id: sensor.envoy_current_net_consumption
    above: -1000
  - service: climate.set_temperature
      temperature: "{{ states('input_number.air_con_target_temp')|float }}"
      entity_id: climate.daikinap26021
mode: single

Shed automation with a simple switch
This one uses a 5 minute average and also checks that it's uncomfortably warm before turning the air con back on. I actually leave this one running all the time: it checks that the door is closed so I'm okay using excess free electricity to keep the shed at a reasonable temperature even if I'm not in there.

alias: Shed aircon automatic on
description: ""
  - platform: time_pattern
    minutes: "*"
  - condition: or
      - condition: state
        entity_id: input_select.shed_air_con_mode
        state: "on"
      - condition: and
          - condition: numeric_state
            entity_id: sensor.envoy_current_net_consumption_5_minute_average_linear
            below: -500
          - condition: state
            entity_id: binary_sensor.shed_door
            state: "off"
          - condition: numeric_state
            entity_id: sensor.shed_weather_temperature
            above: 25
          - condition: state
            entity_id: input_select.shed_air_con_mode
            state: Excess power
  - service: switch.turn_on
    data: {}
      entity_id: switch.shed_aircon
mode: single
Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2003871 2023-07-25T00:52:56Z 2023-07-25T00:52:57Z Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Busy week for gigs! Last night was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Hordern Pavillion. Amazing band, visually stunning sound. Karen O has a pretty unique stage presence.

Their sound and show is definitely on the "art school" end of the spectrum, but that means great visuals. They were a lot of fun!

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2003519 2023-07-24T05:47:06Z 2023-07-24T05:53:16Z Swarm presents Mark N
Back in the 1990s a unique music scene formed in Newcastle, a small industrial city a few hours drive or train North of Sydney. A bunch of lads were making extremely aggressive hardcore techno on crappy Amiga computers. Noisy 4- and 8-bit samples, distorted kick drums and nasty, nasty samples. It was brilliant. Check out Nasenbluten for a taste.

One of the protagonists and the founder of one of the seminal labels, Bloody Fist, was Mark N. So when he popped up playing at a Swarm rave I had to go.

Loads of fun. We also enjoyed sets from Luke Snarl and Vic Zee.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2002773 2023-07-22T04:00:17Z 2023-07-22T04:00:18Z On repeat: Sprints
This great garage punk band popped up in my Discover Weekly feed this week and I've been smashing their stuff ever since. Spiky, energetic guitar with sharp, witty, insightful lyrics. I really like these guys. Sprints from Dublin.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/2001706 2023-07-19T08:28:26Z 2023-07-19T08:28:27Z Let's talk about music
I haven't been posting to this blog much but I'd like to change that. As always, I still listen to a lot of music and go to a lot of gigs. I'm often asks for music tips so I'll try to make a habit of posting some music discoveries.

For now, here's the gigs I've been to so far this year.

Pitch Black and Sub Bass Snarl
2023-01-20 at Kings Cross Hotel
I've been mates with Seb and Luke of Sub Bass Snarl since the early 90s. They ran a bunch of seminal events: the Freaky Loops fundraisers for 2SER, weekly Frigid club night and the legendary island parties Cryogenesis. They also introduced me to NZ dub techno act Pitch Black. Great gig and I actually think the SBS set was better than Pitch Black, but both were awesome.

2023-02-24 at Factory Theatre, Marrickville
I haven't danced to much DnB since moving back to Sydney from London so when Dillinja popped up, and at a venue 5 minutes' walk from home, I jumped at it. This session was supported by a bunch of great Sydney dnb crews who all played short sets and their enthusiasm was infectious. The extra bass reinforcement set up for the night sure helped!

Vibe Tribe Reunion
2022-03-04 at Bridge Hotel, Rozelle
Another 90s rave crew, Vibe Tribe put on these amazing, anarchic parties that brought together the straight ravers with the Nimbin crusties, nerdy music types and a peppering of activists for wild early psy trance amazing stuff. It was great to catch up with a bunch of people I hadn't seen for years.

Golden Plains
2023-03-10-13, Meredith, Victoria
Always the highlight of our musical year, this festival is so much fun out in the Victorian countryside. A single stage, always eclectic lineup and a very relaxed vibe. BYO booze and unlike a NSW festival, no sniffer dogs or agro cops. So much fun. Highlights: Bikini Kill and Four Tet. Carly Rae Jepsen was wild too!

2023-03-26 at Lazybones, Marrickville
A band my mate Gab has recently joined on drums. They were good fun and they clearly had a good time.

Billy Bragg
2023-03-21 at Enmore Theatre
A gig three years in the making! This got pushed three times due to COVID, lockdowns and scheduling problems. Finally got to see the old fella again. He's always great. Played all the big tunes. Told the anecdotes. Entertained.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
2023-03-30 Luna Park Big Top, Milsons Point
The Giz are always amazing, always prolific and tackle so many different genres. Hadn't been to this venue before but it's a great one. Ample space, good view of the band and the bike ride across the bridge is always spectacular.

A Clockwork Orange and Beyond, Australian Chamber Orchestra with the Will Gregory Moog Ensemble
2023-05-12 City Recital Hall, Sydney
This one grabbed my interest as they were playing parts of Wendy Carlos' groundbreaking soundtrack along with some other scifi synth soundtrack classics. Will Gregory is the non-Alison half of Goldfrapp. It was a great gig and the cheapest seats in the house were excellent!

2023-05-20 UNSW Roundhouse, Kensington
For those of you outside Australia, you probably missed Regurgitator in the 1990s when they were making absolutely amazing music. Crossing over between rock, punk and techno with witty humour, they deserved to be way huger than they were outside Australia. In Australia they're rock royalty and this gig saw them reprise their classic album Unit in its entirety. Great fun!

This Is The Kit
2023-06-12 at Prizm, Kingston-upon-Thames
For my work trip to London, I checked out what gigs were on. This one was the Monday night after I arrived so I was dubious whether I'd be too tired but I felt fine so I managed to get along and catch up with my mate Aidan. Fantastic set, especially when she played Moonshine Freeze.

Arab Strap
2023-06-13 at EartH, Hackney
Another classic band, Scottish miserablists Arab Strap played their album Philophobia in its entirety. Brilliant set from the old bastards and great to catch up with Simon and Aidan again.

So that's half a year of gigs. Still plenty more gigs to come. Going to a rave this weekend with Mark N (of Nasenbluten fame) playing, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs next week, Kristen Hersh and Django Django later in the year. Undoubtedly there will be more!
Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1893354 2022-10-21T04:34:25Z 2022-10-21T11:20:06Z Data Product Managers: links
I'm planning a talk and discussion about Data Product Management for tomorrow's MeasureCamp Sydney. Here's my links to further reading.
Always up for a chat about this kind of stuff. Find me on Measure Slack.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1881510 2022-09-21T04:21:31Z 2022-09-21T04:21:32Z The Unravelling - Nomads Like Us

Last night I popped out to see this short gig, The Unravelling by Melbourne composers Nomads Like Us. The show consisted of a number of short pieces synchronised to visuals on in the background.

I really enjoyed the show. Beautiful music and curious visuals. Musically I'd call the style sountracky?
Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1881093 2022-09-19T12:09:25Z 2022-09-19T12:09:26Z How to protect your privacy online: notes for my paranoid friend
I've got a friend who seems to be paralyzed with fear of the tracking happening on the modern Internet. He barely dares turn on a computer. This is someone who was a very early adopter of the Internet, worked for many years building web sites and infrastructure.

This bit of writing will hopefully help my friend assess the risks and take appropriate actions to re-connect with the modern internet safely. It's generally applicable so worth reading to anyone.

How am I the expert?
I've been using the Internet since before the World Wide Web existed and built a career around being an Internet nerd. Building web sites, helping companies get online. Eventually the discipline of web analytics emerged and I got heavily into it. So much so that I started a very successful meetup nearly ten years ago that has grown into a fantastic community of practitioners who run a monthly meetup and an annual unconference.

Tracking peoples' behaviour on the Internet is what I do. I even have a bookmark folder labelled "Evil Tracking" which chronicles mechanisms people have developed to get around security limitations and track in ways you're not supposed to.

Then I got concerned
I never worried too much about all the tracking we were doing. For many years the default for people like me was to track everything you could and worry about how you'd use it later. It wasn't such a huge problem at the time because the technology was too primitive, the data sets too disjointed and no single player really had a thorough enough view of any individual's behaviour to be worrying.

The technology got better, the players consolidated into the now familiar omnipotent FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) who could see vast portions of your online behaviour. There's a good chance that your behaviour right now is being tracked by some or all of those players. If you're reading this on my site, it's got at least Google Analytics on it.

My friend is right about what's going on: every app you open and web site you visit is tracking you and sending the data to powerful global players. Mostly they do this to target advertising at you with slightly more precision, then measure the impact of that targeting and advertising.

These days I spend a huge amount more time thinking about and taking action on privacy. The last few years I've spent a lot of time with lawyers, privacy experts and ethicists. I've also had a lot to learn about ethics, ethical reasoning, mechanisms to work through the implications of proposals and more general philosophical matters.

Match your action to your level of risk
If you're Edward Snowden, a dissident Uigher, an ambassador or spy, your level of risk is going to be much higher than an ordinary schlub like me. The Snowden leaks of the NSA's Taillored Access Operations show that if you're important enough for the spooks to put in some effort, they can physically intercept your hardware and install basically invisible stuff to monitor everything at the hardware level.

You and I are not those targets. Nobody cares enough to break into our house, open our laptop and solder in an expensive custom minutarized implant to send everything back to Fort Meade, Beijing or Tehran. It's sufficient for us to protect ourselves from the wholesale harvesting of data and not go to the levels of effort you'd need to have to protect yourself from the NSA.

Third-party dragnet tracking is easy to block
I'm not an absolute zealot on this. I run Android. My email and file storage uses Google. I watch a lot of YouTube. I have to be practical. However where I try to keep things under control is the vast range of uncontrolled third-party tracking on the web and in apps. Fortunately it's relatively simple to block the vast majority of this.

What I mean is that if you're visiting somesite.com and it's sending data to creepytracker.com, you can trivially block that and still use somesite.com without any negative impact to you. Needless to say if you go to creepytracker.com's site directly (or Google or Amazon etc), they're going to be able to track you. You have to pick the battles you can take on and the steps I take massively reduce my data exhaust being hoovered up. But I'm not invisible.

Browser and browser settings
The first level of protection is to use a browser that doesn't straight up invade your privacy. Don't use Chrome. Firefox is a good choice, though they're not perfect. They use some mildly dark patterns to trick you into sending telemetry back to their servers by default. Go through the settings and pick the most stringent settings you can work with. Introduce exceptions where you have to and are willing to.

This is your first line of defence.

I don't use Brave, though it's probably not the worst choice. I just don't trust the guy who started it (also responsible for unleashing JavaScript on the world, make of that what you will). The various ways they've been found to do slightly iffy things hasn't filled me with confidence either.

Ad and tracker blocking
Next you want to block ads and tracking pixels. Here we're fortunate that most developers are lazy. The tracking code on the web is loaded from a central location and the tracking data is send to a central location.

Ad blocking extensions in your browser load up blacklists of known tracking endpoints and simply block them. This means faster loading webpages, no ads and importantly no tracking! A better world all around.

Of course there is a cost. Sometimes the ad blocker will interfere with site functionality. If you're willing to tinker, you can often disable just the bits causing problems and continue. In the worst case, you can whitelist a specific site so it runs all its crap. Or open up your browser's Porn Mode, do what you need to do on the offending site, close the window and all the associate cookies and other long-term tracking info is gone.

The best ad blocker is without a doubt UBlock Origin. Just having it loaded with the defaults is a great start. Go through the settings and you can add more stringent blacklists and rules. It also has the cool dropper tool where you can select specific DOM elements in the page to remove. Great for popups and other annoyances.

DNS blocking
Next line of defence is DNS blocking. As most of the trackers and ad crap is centralised, you can block the DNS entries for much of it so it never even loads. This approach captures devices where you can't install your own software, like smart TVs, Internet of Things devices, phones and anything else connected to your local network.

There's a couple of ways to do this:
  • The Pi-hole uses a Raspberry Pi (or other cheap, low power computer) to run a custom DNS server with a range of blacklists on it. It's a great little system and works well, though only on your local network. Apart from the cost of the Raspberry Pi (and you can use one of the older, lower powered ones), it's free.
  • NextDNS is a paid service I use which does much the same but without you having to run a local server. It also allows you to protect your phone and other devices when you're away from your local network. It's really handy and simple to use.

A nice side effect: your ISP's blacklists that block things like The Pirate Bay are avoided because they're also done at the DNS level and you're no longer using their DNS servers.

How about your phone?
Mobile phones are filthy cesspits of tracking. Even if you don't have any apps (which all have tracking software inside), the manufacturers are all tracking you, whether that be Android (Google), iPhone (Apple) or one of the other Android players (Google still gets their data, Samsung, Huawei etc take their own too).

The only option I can offer if you want a phone but are totally uncomfortable with the tracking would be some of the open source options. But they're clunky and you won't have any of the particularly useful apps. Though I suppose you can browse the web and make phone calls.

Some options. I haven't explored this recently.
Of course the browser on your phone should be something like Firefox too, which has some limited ad blocking functionality too.

App telemetry
If you're going to be paranoid, you're going to need to get used to going through any settings on software you're using. The defaults tend to phone home and send telemetry, which you might want to disable.

Avoiding the FAANGs
So you've mostly cleansed your own hardware and software, but what about the services? Well you can still do a lot of things locally the old school way, and there's generally alternatives for any of the particularly problematic applications.

  • Search:
    • DuckDuckGo are a great search engine. Change your browser over to it now. Learn about the shortcuts that will take your search to other search engines for when it doesn't find you what you need. And don't install their apps, you don't need them.
  • Email:
    • Use a local email client and your ISP's mail server
    • Online services Fastmail, Protonmail are probably kosher
  • Maps:
    • It's funny to think how much we've got used to Google Maps. Of course Google's tracking where you go! You could try OpenStreetMap which isn't bad, though their directions routing isn't as good
  • Music:
    • Old school: load mp3s and FLAC files and use a local player
    • BandCamp are a great company, though I bet their apps have third-party tracking
    • The old Logitech Squeezebox music server software is still going strong and now supports a wide range of playback hardware including some cheap devices.
  • Media:
    • Jellyfin is an open source alternative to Plex for playing back video files
Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1667287 2021-03-18T03:23:21Z 2021-03-18T03:23:21Z Random albums to mix things up a bit
I've taken to using the "Random Albums" option on my music system to surface music I haven't listened to in ages. It doesn't force you to listen to whatever comes out, that would be painful with the diverse library I have. Instead you can choose from the random albums it throws up.

It's been a fantastic tool for rediscovering great music I haven't listened to in a long time. It's really diversified my listening too, which is something I always try to do to keep out of music ruts..

Current pick I'm loving is the amazing Street Horrrsing by Fuck Buttons, first encountered at the Nick Cave-curated All Tomorrow's Parties festival held on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour back in 2009. That was a mammoth day of incredible music! Still a great album too.

(See also Holy Fuck if you're looking for band t-shirts you can't wear to work.)

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1660155 2021-03-01T07:00:04Z 2021-03-01T07:00:05Z A month without booze

It's March which means my February booze fast is over. I tried a lot of alcohol free beer over February and there were some real gems amongst them.

The real standouts were the Vandestreek Playground IPA, Heaps Normal and the three Upflow brews. These made me not really miss beer at all. I'll be buying more of these!

The Sobah brews were disappointing. The backstory is great and I love the use of bush foods but the brews themselves weren't great. The Pepperberry one is great but I actually tipped out the Lemon Aspen. The finger lime one is okay but nothing special.

The mainstream brews were predictably underwhelming. The ones who get close in that category are the German wheat beer brands.

Sydney is starting to emerge from the restrictions we had over Xmas so there were a few outings in February. We went to a gig last week and then this weekend to a friend's birthday party in a local bar. The gig had Heaps Normal available so that was great. Out at the bar this weekend the bartender made me a really nice alcohol free cocktail with various juices and flavours, and I drank some plain tonic as they were using a good brand.

It's interesting to find I can get by without booze pretty happily though there are things I noticed. A lot of drinking is really giving you something to do with your hands. Without the booze, I ended up drinking quite a bit of water. No real problem but it was interesting to notice. Otherwise you end up drinking a lot of sugar.

Socially there's definitely a lubricating effect from alcohol. I didn't feel as talkative and definitely noticed the people around me loosening up as the night wore on. It's quite interesting observing it without being deep in it. Definitely worth experiencing from time to time anyway.

I've stocked up on a few favourite brews for my return to drinking. Since the whole idea is to cut down on drinking that definitely crept up in COVID-land, I probably won't crack anything open until Friday. Bummer that 1st March is a Monday but it won't hurt me.

So far in the stock is the Balter Hazy which is just brilliant summer quaffing and our closest brewery's best brew, the Sauce Bubble & Squeak. I'd also like to some of the Philter Marrickville Nights which is a brilliant Dark Ale, but I'll have to wander down that way to pick some up. Open to other suggestions.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1656821 2021-02-21T20:56:15Z 2021-02-21T20:56:15Z Booze free beer: Sobah Lemon Aspen Pilsener

Sobah use bush foods as flavourings with mixed results. The Pepperberry isn't bad: an interesting flavour in the mix for a beer. The lemon aspen, not so good. It tasted like toilet cleaner, to be honest. I tipped it out.

Simon Rumble
tag:blog.simonrumble.com,2013:Post/1656665 2021-02-21T09:42:59Z 2021-02-21T09:43:00Z Booze free beer: Erdinger Weissbrau Alcoholfrei

When holly was pregnant we drank a bit of this so I bought a bunch more for this booze free spell. It's still good, though now that I've discovered better it's not as amazing.

Styled as a wheat beer, which is very much Erdinger's thing, it's hoppy and flavoursome, very refreshing on a hot day. I still gladly drink this one. Though if I were drinking alcohol I'd go a Schofferhofer in preference.

Simon Rumble