An Ultimo pilgrimage to MSY

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MSY shopfront Ultimo

When I grew up in Singapore, I knew two things. That if I wanted some affordable computer hardware and software, I'd head to Funan Centre (then “Funan the IT Mall”, then “Funan DigitaLife Mall”). If I wanted really cheap computer components, I'd go to Sim Lim Square, and maybe Sim Lim Tower. Those places were full of tiny shops with more stock individually than an Australian Tandy would have. I spent more of my formative years surrounded by their walls than I care to admit.

Moving back to Sydney, I learned to live with high computer component prices. eBay and Gumtree didn't have the instant gratification that buying parts at low prices from overcrowded, bustling marketplaces had, but they were acceptable.

On a whim, I needed a replacement Sandisk Extreme USB3 key, so I hit up StaticIce; that depressing site that reminds you just how overpriced stuff is in Australia. Among the retailers though were MSY, which Clara instantly recognised and demanded we pay a visit to in person. Sure enough, they have brick and mortar stores all around Australia, including a branch tucked away just behind UTS.

Walking in was like taking a step back home. Isles and isles and isles (and isles) of tall shelves with components. Display cases with routers and keyboards. That tiled carpet stuff with discarded packaging. A hardware nerd with an accumulating stack of boxes for PSUs, graphics card, storage, memory and cases. Aside from the long desk that separated customers from the shelves of goodness, you could have been transported into a more spacious Sim Lim Square store.

The staff were knowledgable and friendly, and their prices were very competitive. I won't mention the well known chain of electronic stores, but suffice to say I got this memory key for almost a third less. And without the waiting time and shipping costs associated with eBay, it was even cheaper.

I get the feeling we'll be making the pilgrimage back here many more times !

Ruben and Malcolm's technology mix

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Happy Sunday. It's been an incredibly busy few days, with plenty of fish to fry. Though given the choice, I'd rather bake.

In lieu of my own writing, I'll be indulging briefly in the Simpsons-Clip-Show style of blogging so popular today. Have a lovely evening.
I'll be talking about this in the coming week, but for now this is a pretty solid review of the OpenSSL exploit all us sysadmins in the world are dealing with right now. Spare a thought!

Tony Abbott to consider ABC funding cuts
This despite his 2013 election promise of “no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS. In his defence, he did say he would be a no surprises prime minister.

David Pope on Malcolm Turnbull's Technology Mix
Delicious depiction of Malcolm Turnbull's alternative to the National Broadband Network in Australia. I've always said if a current government built the Sydney Harbour Bridge today, it would be two lanes wide and built as a "public-private partnership".

「Forever」/「Y-K」のイラスト [pixiv]
The image at the top of this post. An apt title by this artist; I've been staring at it all evening.

Ruben talks shoes

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You can throw me in with Marco Arment when it comes to clothes shopping. It's among the most boring of the necessary activities I find myself having to perform. I have a recurring fantasy where a fashion consultant fills and maintains my wardrobe for me.

(For some reason this doesn't extend to Uniqlo. Those Japanese designers have made the experience as frictionless and fun as IKEA has for furniture).

Fortunately though, we have the phenomena of clothing sales. Suddently, much of the decision making process is taken care of, because the pool of avaiable choices is reduced. When Sketchers had their recent sale, I pulled out the shoes in my size from the pile of sale items, and when I found some, I ran with them.

It's always good to have a durable pair of black runners; they're comfortable and easy to clean. I especially love the blue ones though, I haven't had a funkier pair like that in a long time. Despite their appearance, they're also surprisingly comfortable.

So there you have it, Ruben talked about fashion. For the first time in nine years. Stay tuned for 2023 when I discuss slacks.

HBO Go Game of Thrones etc

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I don't live in the US, nor do I watch HBO programming. Well, other than Carnivale, that show was sublime.

Still, I've heard every podcaster wax lyrical about HBO's Go service crashing during the premiere of the latest Game of Thrones. How did such a huge media company botch something so spectacularly? Was HBO CEO's lack of concern about login credential sharing a wise position? Can HBO even be blamed, given even the mightly Apple couldn't handle WWDC booking traffic?

Strangely, nobody has stated the obvious. That we've already solved the issue of CDN resouce contention. If only I could remember what that decentralised, distributed technology was…

Beautiful Bravia commercial from 2005

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Screencap from the end of the Sony Bravia TV commercial in 2005

This is a ridiculously verbose post that would benefit from a TL;DR, something along the lines of hearing a commercial when I was a child, and recently rediscovering the ad and song that I've been humming that whole time. Consider this intro the TL;DR.

The year was 2005

About a decade ago, I was growing up in Singapore and watching TV. Back in those days, we only had 4:3 aspect ratio CRTs in the house, connected with analogue cable. I can only assume the TV guides for our SCV service (now StarHub) were chiseled on stone tablets, my memory of those years is quite hazy.

Starting one evening and continuing for several weeks, one ad started playing that caught both my mum's and my attention. I can count the number of ads I'd willingly watch on one hand; this was one of them. Whenever it came on, my mum and I would drop what we were doing and just stare.

I could barely remember much about it now, all that I knew was it was for a consumer electronics company. After panning across an unknown (to me!) cityscape, the camera zoomed into one street which proceeded to be filled with millions upon millions of brightly coloured balls. As they fell and bounced, a hauntingly beautiful melody began playing in the background.

It was utterly mesmerising

Long after that commercial ended, I still had the imagery and music from it in my head. For years and years and years (and years), I'd find myself sitting here typing away, humming along to a song I didn't know the words to, barely knew the tune to, for a commercial I didn't know.

You'd think it'd drive me insane. Sometimes, it did. Other times though, I'd hear that song in my head, and it'd bring back such beautiful memories of my childhood, sitting there with my mum while she was still around. Doctors far smarter than me say we're influenced mostly by sight; I can confidently say sound would be the runner up for me.

Screencap from the end of the Sony Bravia TV commercial in 2005

Back to the future

Fast forward ten years. My mum had passed on, and my father and I were sitting in a coffee shop back in Hornsby, Sydney. My PalmPilot had given way to an iPhone; our TV to an AppleTV without any cable service at all! School had become university and work.

What should I hear, out of the blue, but that song.

Now I'm as shy as they come, but when that happened I bolted out of my chair, launched SoundHound and aimed it shamelessly at the closest speaker I could find. It couldn't recognise it, so I tried twice more. I was about to give up, when the name came up. Given it had trouble recognising it, I assumed it was wrong, but I saved it anyway.

The commercial

Plugging the name into YouTube when I got home, I heard that song again, and with it the commercial. It was Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez. The commercial was for Sony's then–new Bravia LCD TVs. The city was San Francisco, and the balls were those small little bouncy things.

I've downloaded the song from iTunes, and the uncut original video from YouTube. I'm unreasonably happy!

If you want to be lost for a few minutes, watch away: