Lies, Damn Lies and Dam Statistics

10 PM February 4, 2008

Apparently, we’ve had a lot of rain lately. The water board reckon that it hasn’t made much difference:

Warragamba Dam had received just 30 millimetres of rain since Friday, a spokeswoman for the Sydney Catchment Authority said. “The rainfall we’ve had so far hasn’t been enough to make a significant impact [on dam levels].”

I live in have a different story – 0.1% up over the last few days. That’s a lot of water.

They also have a neat page detailing Sydney’s dam levels over the last few years, and showing the positive effects of the water restrictions. Without the restrictions, Sydney would have run out of water in early 2007.

By alang | # | Comments (1)
(Posted to Stuff and Rants)

Phase Playlist Sync Bug

10 PM January 4, 2008

I recently downloaded the game Phase for my shiny new iPod Nano and immediately hit a bug synchronizing the Phase playlist. If you just want to know how to solve the bug, skip down two paragraphs while I tell everyone else about Phase.

Phase is one of those games like Guitar Hero: you press keys matching the coloured dots falling down the screen in time to the music. The twist is, you get to use your own music. When you first sync the game to your iPod, it creates a playlist named “Phase Music”. You load up the Phase Music playlist with your songs, sync to your iPod, and ta-da, you can play with your own songs. Woohoo! The coloured dots are backed by The Living End! All good, except…

The Bug: you have songs on your iPod, in the Phase Music playlist, but Phase can’t see those songs and says that your Phase Music playlist is empty.

The Workaround: Back in iTunes, you need to drag a song to the Phase Music playlist that isn’t already in there. If you add songs to the playlist using “Add To Playlist” on the option menu, it won’t work. After you have dragged a song, you can then resync your iPod and it will happily play all the songs on the playlist.

It took me two hours of searching, fiddling and resetting my iPod to find this workaround. Grrr.

The Cause: it seems that Phase requires some sort of pre-processing to be done in iTunes before it can be played in Phase. This pre-processing is only triggered when a song is dragged to the playlist, not when a song is added by other means. I’m not sure whether this is dodgy programming on Harmonix’ part, or iTunes not providing a rich enough set of events for game plugins. Either way, for people that tend to use menus instead of dragging, the out-of-the-box experience is terrible, and this reflects both on Harmonix and Apple.

Apple/Harmonix: It’s disappointing this bug wasn’t caught and fixed in testing. I’m sure your developers are fixing it now, but, in the meantime, could you please mention drag-not-menus right up front in the help, the faq AND the support article? Three short sentences would save hundreds of hours of frustration from iPod fans all over the world.

PS: It turns out that you can put any song you want on Guitar Hero – it just takes a bit of hacking.

By alang | # | Comments (0)
(Posted to Stuff, Software Development and Rants)

In which I write a Letter To The Editor

8 PM November 27, 2007

Andrew Bolt presented very calmly on Insiders on Sunday, and I thought, “Hooray! The culture wars” are over. But no. Today Andrew Bolt is back denying the Stolen Generations.

In summary, his argument is that, because Robert Manne couldn’t name ten people out of the 100,000 in the Stolen Generations, the Stolen Generations must be a myth. And because of that myth, Aboriginal people don’t trust the government to take their children away, even when it’s obviously the right thing to do.

Great argument, except that the Stolen Generations are real. Many, many children were really, in actual life, taken from their families for no reason apart from a smug, racist belief that it would be better to raise them in White culture.

It got my blood boiling. I wrote a Letter To The Editor:

I was stunned to read Andrew Bolt deny the tragedy of the Stolen Generations. If Aboriginal communities have lost respect for their government, it is because of actual mistreatment suffered by older relatives and friends, not because a bunch of latte-sipping, academic, city dwellers told them a reconstructed history.

As Andrew Bolt points out, lack of respect for the government is hindering the intervention. Regaining that respect will be a long process, but it must start with acknowledging past wrongs and apologising for them. Saying “sorry” is the first step toward helping these little children.

The sooner people like Andrew Bolt start to ground their rants in reality, the better off we’ll all be.

And while I’m at it, I’d just like to point to an interview with Alexander Downer in which he describes the Northern Territory intervention in terms that the uncharitable might take to mean that it was just grubby vote-grabbing.

By alang | # | Comments (1)
(Posted to Rants)

Why United is better than Qantas

10 PM September 17, 2007

United are better than Qantas in all these ways:

  1. They have moisturiser in the bathroom, in addition to the soap.
By alang | # | Comments (1)
(Posted to Stuff and Rants)

The Sydney Declaration of Convenient Aspiration

8 PM September 9, 2007

The Australian Prime Minister is so proud of The Sydney Declaration on Climate Change and Energy, the agreement he shepherded through the latest APEC meeting. He says, “This is the first such agreement involving the major polluters—the United States, China and the Russian Federation”.

True, but disingenuous.

The Kyoto Protocol has already been ratified by 172 countries, including China and the Russian Federation. Only two countries have decided not to sign the protocol, marked in red on this map:

Maps showing Kyoto Protocol signatories

It’s great to see Australia and the United States beating their chests and slapping each other on the back for boldly promising that they aspire to definitely consider addressing carbon dioxide emissions, consistent with the convenience of their respective economies and their societies. They also promised to review each other’s work, to set up an inter-governmental study-group, and to go to any meetings the UN might have on the topic.

Enough to make Sir Humphrey Appleby shed a quiet tear at the beauty of it all.

By alang | # | Comments (0)
(Posted to Stuff and Rants)
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