Rubénerd Show 354: The New York ① episode

Rubénerd Show 354

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

49:39 – Join Ruben and Clara on annual leave as they wander from the Top of the Rock in the Rockefeller Center to Wall Street. Topics include revolving doors, the subway, Halloween bears, Airbnb, Brooklyn, Williamsburg Bridge, ubiquitous horns and sirens, NYPD clothing, Wendy’s potatoes, green nooks, and more. Recorded 7th October 2016.

Recorded in New York, New York. Licence for this track: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Attribution: Ruben Schade.

Released October 2016 on The Overnightscape Underground, an Internet talk radio channel focusing on a freeform monologue style, with diverse and fascinating hosts.

Subscribe with iTunes, Pocket Casts, Overcast or add this feed to your podcast client.

Live from New York City

Beautiful mid-morning view of Bryant Park and the street outside this coffee shop

This is my first blog post from the Western Hemisphere, United States and New York all at the same time! Clara and I are sitting across from Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan with a coffee at Pret a Manger, a surprisingly good coffee chain. From the window I can see the park, the streams of yellow taxis, a small food cart by the side of the road.

The trip is about to wrap up tomorrow, so Clara and I are taking a page from Bobby Darin and having a lazy New York Sunday afternoon on our last full day. We avoided the crowds and saw the Empire State Building observation decks late last night, so we’re both still a little fuzzy.

I’d intended to blog as we were exploring, but time wasn’t on our side when we wanted to see everything in the precious short time we had. We also went around New Jersey and Philly, Pennsylvania which all deserve their own posts!

It’s been the most exciting, overwhelming experience I’ve had in a long time. Despite their reputation outside the US, New Yorkers are very friendly. There were a few times where things felt a bit sketchy, but generally we felt as safe as walking around Sydney.

We got to see Frank and Denise from The Overnightscape, and Jim and Esther from the late great Whole Wheat Radio and indie music fame. Despite being on the other side of the world, they’ve been a part of my life since I was a teenager; it felt unreal actually meeting them. And they were all as nice, humble and fascinating as I imagined.

I’s also a bit bittersweet. My mum and I were supposed to go to The Met once she was cured, so Clara and I went to explore for her. Like the people, it exceeded my expectations in every way.

A few Rubénerd Shows have been recorded and queued up, but won’t likely be produced till we’ve weathered the next 22 hours of flying and timezone adjustments! In the meantime, Frank graciously recorded these episodes:

See you soon!

Rubénerd Show 353: The Olympus trip episode

Rubénerd Show 353

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

40:29 – Banana with apple, walking distance to work, uncooperative throat coughing and iOS 10 upgrades, never using Apple 1.0 releases, going to NYC and Philly, the Kobo, the US ESTA, the Clinton Trump debate, becoming an Olympus camera guy again, and a friggen vanishing iPad!

Recorded in Sydney, Australia. Licence for this track: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Attribution: Ruben Schade.

Released October 2016 on The Overnightscape Underground, an Internet talk radio channel focusing on a freeform monologue style, with diverse and fascinating hosts.

Subscribe with iTunes, Pocket Casts, Overcast or add this feed to your podcast client.

287 megabytes of Emacs

This 11” MacBook Air is still an incredible machine for its size, though its aging 60GB SSD is getting a bit long in the tooth. While I decide what to replace it with, I’ve been trying to scrounge enough space to live on.

GrandPerspective highlighted something rather eye-opening with a default macOS install:

$ ls -lh /usr/bin/emacs
==> -r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   274M Sep 14 10:57 emacs*

I guess kitchen sinks wrapped in paretheses come with a steep cost. By comparison, here’s my primary web browser:

$ du -sh /Applications/
==> 178M    /Applications/

And iTunes, which everyone claims is bloated and slow:

$ du -sh /Applications/
==> 184M    /Applications/

And my weapon of choice:

$ ls -lh /usr/local/Cellar/vim/8.0.0005/bin/vim
==> -r-xr-xr-x  1 rubenerd  staff   2.1M Sep 25 10:44 vim*

Crazy stuff. I’d delete Emacs from my machine if it weren’t for having a discrete, console-based tetris game.


Inb4 people tell me Emacs can do more, than Vim isn’t as good as Emacs, that Vim needs extensions, that kitchen sinks are actually more portable than they look, that iTunes stores plugins and metadata elsewhere, and that if I think 287 megabytes is large it’s a problem with my SSD, which I already addressed.

Kelana Jaya Putra LRT line

This photo by cmglee of the Kelana Jaya line in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia took me back. PJ is classed a satellite city of Kuala Lumpur, but it may as well be a suburb.

If I may put on my thirty-year-old man hat, time was this line was called the Putra LRT. Today, it’s part of the RapidKL system, and one component which will be eventually integrated with the new MRT lines they’re building. I had a job interview at the Dang Wangi station on that line back in 2006. I haven’t been back to KL in almost a decade, I wonder how much its changed?

Now that I think of it, have a picture of the aforementioned Dang Wangi station by Two hundred percent on Wikimedia Commons too. It’s cleaner than the stations in Australia, go figure.

A week of posts at once

Last night, South Australia lost its entire energy grid.

In case you skimmed that, an Australian state larger in geographic size than Texas, lost its entire energy grid. Wild weather is being blamed for toppling key pieces of infrastructure, though the regular chorus of “coal is good for humanity” folks took it upon themselves to proclaim the issue was a reliance on renewable power. If only Mike and I were still doing Fake No Agenda

Anyway, I figured if an entire Australian state can handle having their power knocked out, I can make up for a week’s worth of posts.

Static site generation is great for operations, but it does mean publishing and uploading posts are two separate steps. A week of posts were “published” since Humble Bundle, but unfortunately the uploading never happened. Not to get all Gladwell on you, but turns out an errant pf rule had blocked the host uploading the changes.

So have a week’s worth of posts, preceding this one.

Check for bashisms

For better or worse (depending on your disposition), GNU/Linux has become the defacto *nix standard. But there are still plenty of unices out there, even Debian uses ash during start. If you’re concerned with script portability, you should abstain from bashisms.

I normally just call it Linux like a normal person, but this post concerns GNU bash, so I figured I’d make an exception. Purple monkey dishwashers).

A quick way to check your scripts is with the excellent checkbashims script by Yann Dirson and Julian Gilbey. And it’s even available on homebrew, boom.

$ checkbashisms -p
==> possible bashism in line 29 (<<< here string):
==> _original=`sed "s/this/that/" <<< $_image`
==> possible bashism in line 61 (should be 'b = a'):
==> [ `uname` == "Darwin" ] && echo $_html | pbcopy

Heh, whoops. I’ve got some scripts to fix.

One Australian electorate against marriage equality

Adam Morton reported this in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Just one electorate in the country has a majority of voters opposed to same-sex marriage, according to new research that suggests MPs and public debate significantly trail voters in backing change.

You’d never guess which state. No wait, I’ll try. It’s on the tip of my tounge. Does it start with a rarely-used letter and rhyme with Russel Brand?

Maranoa, in outback south-western Queensland and held by the Coalition’s David Littleproud, has just over 50 per cent of voters who do not want a change to allow same-sex couples to wed.

Hey, we have a winner!

Australians have consistently shown a preference for marriage equality for decades. For a country that was among the first to grant women universal suffrage, we’ve sure slipped.

For what it’s worth, the Sydney Morning Herald backed the Coalition in the last election. Labor promised marriage equality within 100 days of assuming office.

Dismissing macOS modal dialogs

There’s a macOS convention that pressing Command along with the first letter of a push button will press it. This is most useful for quickly dismissing Save dialog boxes for documents I want to discard.

In the above screenshot, I activated the modal dialog with Command+W, to close the window. Pressing Command+D here presses the “Discard Changes” button, which means my fingers haven’t left the keyboard to close this window.

Unfortunately, support for this time-saving convention is patchy, with even some of Apple’s own tools ignoring it. The following require a trip to the mouse to dismiss their dialog boxes:

  • Apple
  • Mozilla Thunderbird
  • More I’m blanking on right now

As much as I’ve begrugingly switched to Outlook for $reasons, being able to dismiss dialogs with the keyboard has already made me far more productive. If you’re a macOS developer, please implement this.

Multiple GoToMeeting versions

I like to keep a pretty tight ship as far as software goes. It’s why I only begrugingly use Microsoft and Adobe software with their rheems of supporting tools, updaters and other cruft clogging my Applications folder and menubar and other unmentionable places. What?

So I was in for quite the surprise when I found a GoToMeeting folder alongside the application:

$ ls -ld /Applications/GoToMeeting*
==> [..] Sep 19 15:42 /Applications/GoToMeeting/
==> [..] Sep  5 15:35 /Applications/

Why does it need another folder? Not to get all Malcolm Gladwell on you, but turns out the tool is keeping multiple copies of itself:

$ ls -lt /Applications/GoToMeeting
==> [..] Sep 19 15:42 GoToMeeting (5573).app/
==> [..] Sep  5 15:35 GoToMeeting (5530).app/
==> [..] Aug 31 13:53 GoToMeeting (5506).app/
==> [..] Aug 18 13:54 GoToMeeting (4962).app/
==> [..] Aug 11 13:38 GoToMeeting (5387).app/
==> [..] Jul  4 12:49 GoToMeeting (5174).app/

I asked around the office, and some poor saps had more than twenty entries in here, some of them dating back almost a year.

According to [Citrix’s knowledge base]:

In order to join a meeting, you must have the same version of GoToMeeting installed as the Organizer (host). We recommend enabling auto-updates to ensure that you are always running a compatible version of GoToMeeting.

I didn’t enable auto-updates, though I assume its the default now. I just click the link whenever people invite me to the meeting.

GoToMeeting will download the most-recently-released versions automatically, so you don’t have to wait to install a new version when you join a meeting. [..] Versions older than 90 days will be removed automatically

That doesn’t seem to jive with experiences elsewhere in the office, but 4th of July does fall within 90 days for me. Mystery mostly solved.

Leaked doc show long Medicare delays

You know it’s big news when even the Murdoch press has to report on it.

Whistleblower public servants have told News Corp they had been told by December there will no longer be any face-to-face Medicare services and they had been banned from telling patients their Medicare claims will be sent off-site for processing.


Patients undergoing expensive medical treatments could be left out of pocket for weeks after the documents revealed the federal government has outsourced processing to new centres and closed Medicare shopfronts.

Weeks? For what’s supposed to be universal healthcare? Do these people appreciate just how expensive and terrifying medical treatments can be? If I ask enough rhetorical questions, do I get a prize? Did that question and this one count?

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said [..] ‘This is a continuation of Labor’s Mediscare campaign … and frankly they should be ashamed of themselves and they should stop it.’

Introspection is seemingly not a strength of his.

At a meta level, 75% (9 of the 12 paragraphs) of the AAP report were dedicated to quoting the government and their defence of Medibank changes. I believe their colleagues in the United States refer to this as Fair and Balanced.

Blank iTunes apps column

I’m one of those weird people who still syncs his phone with iTunes. In fact I remember when doing so was one of the primary motivations for getting an iPhone; third party sync software on Mac was pretty awful once Palm Desktop stopped being maintained.

Weirdly, after plugging in my iPhone and attempting a sync, the column for Apps on the left was completely blank. There were plenty of guides online for fixing the preview column on the right (change the background on the phone), but it seemed my.

The key to remember is the apps list shows what’s available, not what’s on the phone. So to get this app list back, you need to download your previous purchases. In iTunes (current at the time of writing):

  1. Go to the Account menu and choose Purchased
  2. Click Apps in the top-right corner
  3. Click the “All” pseudo-tab, instead of “Not in my Library”
  4. Click Download in the bottom-right

This will start all your apps downloading into the standard iTunes “Mobile Applications” folder, and you’ll start to see them in the Apps column for the phone.

Almost. Frustratingly, if iTunes encounters an app that can’t be downloaded onto the local machine (like Find My Phone and Apple Podcasts), it will throw up an error message and stop like so many lightweights. The only way I could find around this was to right-click the offending app and choose “Hide”.

Clear as mud!

Selling my Yoko Littner bunny fig

Last year I excitedly blogged about the latest fig rendition of Gurren Lagann heroine Yoko Littner. As I said at the time:

What sold her for me were her preserved trademark chopsticks and hair clip, along with her confident, yet subtly bemused expression at being dressed in such a ridiculous outfit. Yes, I preordered her, shaddup!

She arrived in the post last month, and she hasn’t left her box. Unfortunately, since ordering her I’ve been on a decluttering/minimalism binge, and the shelves I was expecting to put her on have been emptied and thrown away. With the prospect of moving into an even smaller apartment in the not too distant future, it’s pretty obvious I don’t have space for her.

So I’ve decided to sell her. If you’re in Australia or New Zealand and are interested, check out my listing on MFC:

Australians: Selling mine (sale #111411), unopened in AmiAmi box. Would love to keep, but run out of space in this tiny apartment :‘( #AustralianHousingMarket

AU$260 with free shipping in Aus, but also willing to negotiate. Please let Yoko pierce the heavens once more.

It sucks especially given her face is even warmer than the original press photos. Thanks Celestial Lightning Maid for bestowing the world with that epic name and image.

Latest @humblebooks bundle: Science fiction by real scientists

If you want some really wonderful, hard science fiction written by real scientists, you have about seven days left to grab the latest Humble Book Bundle. I was already a fan of Stephen Webb, but there are dozens of authors with topics ranging from space exploration to medical science and engineering.

This is also basically an advertisement like yesterday’s post, but I think this is all wonderful stuff, and for good causes. Make sure to spruik US$15 so you get the entire collection.

The registration process threw me a bit though. If you purchase the bundle, then decide you want an account with your purchase, follow these steps:

  1. Buy the bundle with the email address you want your account created under. This doesn’t need to be the same address as your PayPal account, if you use that for payment.

  2. Click Login/Sign Up on the home page, and create a new account with the same email you used in #1.

  3. A page will appear asking you to verify. It also told me my “email address is not valid”, but it delivered it anyway.

  4. Copy and paste the activation link sent to your email, and log in.

  5. Click the Purchases tab, then the Claim dropdown link to claim the bundle.

It’s IT Pro Day ‘16!

Yes, it’s basically an advertisement. And yes, it’s horrifying that anyone in this day and age would resort to using 2 digits to represent the year. Damn it though, I’ll take what I can get!

September 20th is IT Professionals Day. Celebrating the unsung heroes who impact our lives every day, because IT is everywhere.

Rubénerd Show 352: The companion cube episode

Rubénerd Show 352

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

58:39 – Getting family podcast balance right; deciding what's breakfast food (English and German); broken neon signs (The Good Guys); Airbnb; Mercedes A Class; eschewing (gesundheit) new Western franchises for anime; memory/latex foam mattresses; Captain Snooze got a promotion; computer data rot; and an indulgently-rambling discussion on building a fault-tolerant personal archive out of MicroServers, FreeBSD and ZFS. Recorded mid-August 2016.

Recorded in Sydney, Australia. Licence for this track: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Attribution: Ruben Schade.

Released September 2016 on The Overnightscape Underground, an Internet talk radio channel focusing on a freeform monologue style, with diverse and fascinating hosts.

Subscribe with iTunes, Pocket Casts, Overcast or add this feed to your podcast client.


We’ve got a slew of new Apple goodies to play with, but I’m always most interested in iTunes. When will the former centre of the Apple media ecosystem get better? I defended iTunes for years on the basis that version 1.0 running on Mac OS 9 on my blueberry iMac DV was so much better than anything else, but there’s no doubt it’s long past its prime now.

No substantive changes this time that I can see, though their imitation of the Rubénerd blue and pale grey colour scheme and bold headings (heh) are a welcome change from the pencil thin lines and muted colours taken from iOS 7.

The confusingly named “New” tab which lead to Apple Music has also been changed to “Browse”. Somewhat of an improvement, but not ideal.

Above all though, I’m disappointed to see the adaptive album colours gone. Recent versions dynamically chose a colour palette based on the current album’s art, which made for some striking themes.

For reference, I reviewed iTunes 9 in 2010, and iTunes 7 almost a decade ago to the day! I also posted excitedly at the airport in Kuala Lumpur when I was able to log in and stream Whole Wheat Radio; seems like a whole other time ago.

Moving from del.ici.ous to Pinboard

Changing habits, and services you once loved dearly, are hard. But I’ve been using a Pinboard for a few days now, and it’s so much better I’m regretting not switching sooner. You’d never guess the terrible username I chose!

I didn’t want to move from; I registered for my account in 2003 and used it fairly consistently ever since. Almost every bookmark I’ve ever saved for a decade and a half is on there, making it a fascinating trip back in time now. It even generated a ton of linkblog posts here back in the day.

Unfortunately, in what has become the new normal for beloved online services, it has been passed around like a that licorice jelly bean nobody wants, and regurgitated every time. It was sold to Yahoo!, then (famously) listed as sunsetted, then sold to AVOS, then sold to Science, Inc, then sold to a new company owned by Science and Domainersuite.

The latest iteration of the site is a bit of a mess; aesthetically and functionally. They’ve also got an online shop, not selling merchandise (sorry, “merch”), but reselling everything from security tokens to online courses. What these have to do with social bookmarking is a bit beyond me; perhaps its just a last-ditch attempt at monetisation.

The frustrating thing is it didn’t have to be this way. I like Pinboard because it reminds me of the classic, no-nonsense delicious, and I’m happy to help pay Maciej’s bills. With a simple design and clear business model, he’s been profitable from day one. could have done that.

To their credit, still has a data export option, which Pinboard was able slurp up with ease.

The first Lockheed L-1011 TriStar

Photo of the first Lockheed Tristar

I saw this image by Jon Proctor on Wikimedia Commons and knew I had to share it. How spectaculary retro, right down to the eagle logo on the tail for the type.

The Tristar was the second “jumbo jet” to be announced, after Boeing’s legendary 747-100 and the newly-renamed McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Financial troubles at Rolls-Royce delayed the introduction of the TriStar, resulting in the DC-10 commanding a lead in the market Lockheed could never recapture.

From a design perspective, the second nacelle “s-duct” made the type look more like a jumbo Boeing 727 than a DC-10; the latter’s protruding engine looks ungainly by comparison. I was too young to ever fly on a TriStar, but its curves and clean lines render it one of my favourite commerical aircraft designs.

For those interested, has the best L-1011 photo archive, along with every other aircraft out there.

iTerm2 3.0.9

The tireless iTerm2 contributers keep pumping out awesomeness. The second point in their 3.0.9 release notes shows especially shows the care and attention they put into this:

- Fix a bug where iTerm2 would hang if a profile’s command terminated quickly, or could not be executed.
- When a profile’s command can’t be executed, print the reason for the failure to the session.
- Fix a bug where you could remember the “cancel” action when prompted about pasting.
- Make Japanese keyboards produce a backslash when Yen is pressed so long as shift is not also pressed.
- When a profile’s command can’t be executed, print the reason for the failure to the session.

I was user with dvtm for years, but iTerm2 won me over with its native (and restorable) tiled terminals. Coupled with the new polished UI and a giant screen, you can’t get much better.