Moving in 2017, and all that fun stuff

I haven’t had time to podcast the last few weeks, basically because we’re moving house.

Packing. Triple checking all our belongings and boxes don’t have the roaches that have infested this apartment block. Hand carrying sensitive electronics. Booking moving companies. Getting utilities transferred. Making sure we can transfer our NBN connection, which may be possible because work has started in the destination area, but might not be ready yet, in which case we need to suspend our account, and get 4G data from somewhere. Making sure work is done before leave. Getting a new fridge, microwave and vacuum cleaner. Suspending investment account auto-payments so we can finance all this. Organising for our tax returns. Cleaning the old apartment in the hopes we’re not screwed out of bond money. Selling, recycling, or throwing away everything else.

On top of that, work is ramping up big time, and there’s a large project that needs to have been at least mostly done before I go on leave.

Clara and I can afford this. We have solid savings, budgets we always stick to, and bosses who give us income and flexibility for time off to arrange these things. Many people—fuck it—most of the world doesn’t have any of this.

I’m feeling burned out to the extreme, so I selfishly needed to write that penultimate line to remind myself. Penultimate sounds like a hipster biro.


VASP

I always read this airline as WASP for some reason. But I was packing some old aviation books last night, and realised it’s clearly VASP! From Wikipedia:

Viação Aérea São Paulo S/A or VASP was an airline with its head office in the VASP Building on the grounds of Congonhas-São Paulo Airport in São Paulo, Brazil.

The image was by Torsten Maiwald on Wikimedia Commons. Clara and I still see MD-11’s coming into Sydney Kingsford Smith from time to time on our plane spotting aventures. Handsome birds.


Ogden Nash #1

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I’ll never see a tree at all.


Definition lists in markdown

Standard Markdown doesn’t have a provision for definition lists. It seems like an odd omission, given John Gruber uses them extensively on Daring Fireball.

The first search result for someone asking if its possible prompted this delightful answer by StackExchange co-founder Jeff Atwood:

Ah yes, the totally useless <dl> and <dd> definition lists. I still don’t see the point of these tags at all, but they are allowed in the HTML

This must be where StackExchage gets its cordial, constructive reputation.

Definition lists are valuable semantic tags. They codify a relationship between a term and a definition which plain CSS and divs can’t. It’s the reason why HTML5 has all these new tags like article, main, and navigation.

They’re easy enough to write, though they get tedious once you’re used to writing everything else in Markdown:

<dl>
    <dt>Term</dt>
        <dd>Definition</dd>
    <dt>Term</dt>
        <dd>Definition</dd>
</dl>

Fortunately, Hugo uses Blackfriday which I discovered today has an awesome definition list extension. Just like regular Markdown, is as easy to read in plaintext as its rendered form:

Term
: Definition
Term
: Definition

I love this. The colons are consistent with their use in written sentences, and they indent the text to aid readability.


Mr Brandis, You Can (Not) Decrypt

With apologies to Evangelion. I almost can’t believe this is still a thing, as reported by Gareth Hutchins in The Guardian:

The [Australian] attorney general, George Brandis, says existing laws do not go far enough in imposing obligations of cooperation on internet giants such as Facebook and Google, and on device makers such as Apple, to assist authorities who want to break the communications of terrorists using their systems.

I read “authorities” as “authoritarians”, it made me chuckle. Fortunately, there was a predictable voice of reason:

But Greens MP Adam Bandt said he was unhappy that government was seeking to take away liberties, and give itself more power, with every threat of terror.

The idea that somehow, by treating everyone as a suspect and saying that no longer are you able to have secure communications with someone else, no longer can you talk confidentially, that everything is potentially going to be open to the government is, again, very, very worrying,” he told the ABC.

I’d also add that moral and ethical concerns are moot, for three reasons:

  • It’s mathematically impossible to do what Mr Brandis wants.

  • Good, strong encryption is free, open source, and readily available.

  • You can’t create a back door only good people will use.

This has all been discussed ad nausea [sic] for years, but especially over the last twelve months in the context of the US. Mr Brandis is either being deliberately obtuse, or he wishes to compromise the security of everyone. Which kinda defeats the whole mantra of wanting to protect us.

UPDATE: Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has since made this statement in Parliament:

This is not about creating or exploiting back doors, as some privacy advocates continue to say, despite constant reassurance from us. It is about collaboration with and assistance from industry in the pursuit of public safety.

This is somewhat encouraging if true, but contradicts the bulk of the Attorney General’s comments on the issue.


Castle


UK election 2017

The fatherland is at the polls now, and indications are either a hung parliament, or at least a huge swing against the Tories. The Guardian has the best interactive constituency map, not least for the cute SVG caricatures.

Interestingly, the Guardian puts the SNP on the Labour side of the two party split. Forming a coalition with a party who’s stated goal is independence from you would be weird. What if they got their way? Wouldn’t you lose your coalition partner’s seats, and your majority?

You could probably guess which side I tend to fall on, but in this election I hope it goes to the parties that will preserve and rebuild the NHS. I still consider that system one of the greatest accomplishments of modern times.


Sydney house prices in 2017

Worried you’re priced out of the Sydney housing market? Domain has the goods:

Are you wondering where you can buy your first home at an affordable price? There are still a number of Greater Sydney suburbs that have a median house price below $650,000.

Domain’s First Home Buyers Report uncovers the suburbs across Australia with the most affordable average median prices and unpacks government grants available in each state, to help you make your move.

Sounds great, do tell.

Gosford, about a 75 kilometre drive from Sydney’s centre, on the Central Coast and the cusp of the Greater Sydney, is the cheapest area for first time buyers.

The most affordable spot for Sydneysiders looking to buy their first home is so far from the city it barely counts as Sydney at all.

Hey, at least the report is honest.


Social norms and coffee shops

The title of this post sounds like a Crash Test Dummies song.

I was sitting at a coffee shop this morning, trying to hold off rushing to the office across the street in the pouring rain. It’s become something of a morning ritual that I read emails, catch up on news, and what happened in the US office before facing the day.

I’ve been blogging and working in coffee shops since high school. I can’t explain why I’m far more productive in these places than in offices or at home; caffeine, the atmosphere, the feeling that I’m around people without the obligation to actually speak to anyone.

But this morning, a couple in their mid 70s were sitting at the table a few rows down from me. They weren’t shouting, but their voices carried about the din. How are the kids? Why are people so lazy? What’s with dumb folk on their laptops in public?

I often think how the world has changed in the last decade. My use of a laptop and smartphone in high school in 2004 was unusual, now its par for the course.

But that couple would have seen a far greater transformation. People using coffee shops to catch up on newspapers. Maybe reading books. Perhaps their conceit wasn’t entirely misplaced; I could be improving myself rather than blogging or catching up on email.

What will people be doing in coffee shops in 50 years? And will I think they’re dumb?


Jerry Novak's June coffee

I wanted to give a shoutout and personal thanks to the Official Rubenerd Patron Sir Jerry Novak again for another caffeine-related donation. I’m drinking it as we speak!

I may be working from San Francisco for a couple of months later this year, I’m thinking a quick trip down to LA for a meetup may be in order :).