Where oil rigs go to die

This article by Tom Lamont in The Guardian is one of the finest pieces of long form journalism I’ve read in a long time. Here’s a taste:

What had begun as the quiet removal of Winner from Norway – a journey scarcely noticed by anyone outside the oil business – was now a richly public event. Nothing quite like it had happened in the Hebrides since the 1940s, when the cargo ship Politician, abundantly loaded with bottled spirits, ran aground on the nearby island of Eriskay. The local response on that occasion – an outrageous carrying-away of the booze – inspired a novel and a film, Whisky Galore. In the case of [the oil rig named] Winner, her plunder value existed in her bones – her predominantly steel frame – and it was residual value that would not be easily released; something to which Transocean could by now attest. It had in its fleet more rigs than any other drilling company – more than 70 in 2016 – and the earlier pruning of about a dozen of these vessels had been conducted with discretion. Now the sun was up on a fiasco.

The photos are also incredible.


Marcon, not Le Pen

France looked at Brexit, Trump, and hard-right populism, and said non! I’ve been threatening to stop political commentary on Rubénerd, but what great news to start the week.


Rubénerd Show 361: The Clark episode

Rubénerd Show 361

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

36:58 – A tribute to the legendary Mr John Clarke of Clarke and Dawe fame, one of the all-time greats. Also the impact of studies and work on hobbies, uni assignments, expectations, abandoned buildings with toxic signs, clouds, looking for affordable housing in 2017 Sydney, unfortunate Mascot street names, and other spontaneous observations. Brought to you by Lars Torders, an incendiary device repairer.

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

Released May 2017 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.


Flex

Speaking of amazing satire, this mock interview with Marc Andreessen is almost too real:

Interviewer: Doesn’t the new CSS Flex model fix vertical centering?

Andreessen: It’s a bandaid. It doesn’t fix the real problem: as long as putting one element inside another element has a visual meaning, it will be impossible to separate presentation from the HTML. [..]

Speaking of Flex, isn’t it a hot mess? We spent all this time telling people not to use tables, and here they are, back again, more complex than ever, and the html ordering matters visually. We’re such hypocrites! But not really, because our goal was always to make things as complicated as possible. And now with Angular.js and React.js we have yet another layer of complexity on top of that! Try getting a semantic web when everything is built in Javascript! It’s getting so complex I’m feeling guilty.


Mr John Clarke, one of the great satirists

The witty, fabulous interviewee from the legendary Clarke and Dawe duo passed on last month, and I’ve been dragging my heels posting because nothing I write seems to do the bloke justice.

His sharp, dry wit aside, I loved his uncanny ability to reproduce the talking points and attitudes of his subjects, without needing to mimic their voices. He just weaponised their words.

Clarke and Dawe’s three minute skits have been a fixture of Australian TV for decades, and most of their material is now on their YouTube page. I’d recommend every single one, but here are just a few of my recent favourites, along with arguably the all time classic at the end.

Thanks for your time, Mr John Clarke.


Dat sentence

I don’t like these sentence structures.

  1. Whether it’s something, or another thing, sentences that start with this always sound like PR spin.

  2. That sentences start so abruptly like this is most unpleasent.

  3. Person X, writing for Y, on article Z, discussing point A, about the issue of B, from person C, writing for D, hasn’t saved you reading time, because you have to parse this mess.

  4. It’s only a third percent, you don’t have time to read the far more natural “third of a percent”.

I’d prefer passive voice over these. No wait, if I had to choose among these structures, I’d prefer a passive voice.


Rubénerd Show 360: The revolutionary episode

Rubénerd Show 360

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

01:29:42 – Because it's episode 360! Shaddup. Take a wander with your esteemed host as he records three separate episodes, doesn't have time to produce all of them, and subsequently smashes them into one convenient episode. In Buzzfeed style, you'll never guess what he talks about! Mostly because the episode doesn't have a proper description.

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

Released April 2017 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.


Sending back UTM links

It really feels like a race-to-the-bottom for user tracking online. If you copy a link to send to a friend, or to write a blog post about, chances are you’ll have a ton of UTM spam attached.

They’re bad for several reasons:

  1. They’re a usability nightmare. Suddently, messy URLs to copy and paste are made even worse. GET request attributes don’t need to be in any order, so if you attempt to strip them off the end, you may inadvertedly remove a part of the required link.

  2. They break the idea of canonical links. And no, rel="canonical" metadata links aren’t the solution.

  3. They persist when context changes. If you copy a link from email and paste on another carrier (Twitter, your blog, etc), “email” will still be listed as the source.

Whenever a site includes a link with all this extra junk attached, I’m going to replace it with this:

http://example.com/?utm_source=SPAM_VICTIM&utm_term=STOP_POLLUTING_URLS&utm_medium=NO_REALLY&utm_campaign=STOP_UTMS&utm_content=IS_EVIL

Big Boy

I haven’t done a Friday fanmail in a few weeks. Here’s a recent message:

What’s up, Big Boy?

Flattery will get you nowhere.

My name is Violette, what’s yours? I can not wait to meet you in private. I was going to have a nice talk with you in chat but you had gone offline.

My fake name is Chuck Norris.

May I ask you to write me a few words some day? Trust me, it’s going to be lots of fun. I’ll be waiting for your letter…

Consider them written.

Actually, I would like to meet and talk with an interesting and nice man!

Sure, I know just the guy.


diskutil unmountDisk

I was running a QEMU lab on my Mac, and needed raw disk access to a USB device with multiple partitions. QEMU needs these partitions unmounted on the host before they can access them, for good reason. I tried writing on the same paper as a friend was in real time once, it ended up a huge mess.

The graphical approach is launching Disk Utility.app and unmount each partition, at least for as long as Apple lets us do so graphically before they remove this feature in their next bout of short-sightedness.

From the shell, you can use BSD’s standard umount:

# umount [volume1]
# umount [volume2]

Though diskutil is the preferred macOS approach:

# diskutil unmount [volume1]
# diskutil unmount [Volume2]

This is tedious for multiple partitions without easily-iteratable names. So I thought I’d be a smartarse dumbarse and unmount the root volume:

# printf "%s\n" "Right about now, the funk soul brother"

… that was clearly the wrong snippet.

Check it out now, the funk soul brother:

# diskutil unmount /dev/diskX
==> disk2 was already unmounted or it has a partitioning
==> scheme so use "diskutil unmountDisk" instead

Hey, wait a minute. There was an argument for this, the entire time?

# diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskX
==> Unmount of all volumes on diskX was successful

From the manpage (8):

unmountDisk | umountDisk [force] device

Unmount all volumes on the given partition map; that is, an unmount is attempted on the directly-mountable volume, if any, on each of the whole disk’s partitions. However, “virtual” volumes, such as those are implied by e.g. Core Storage Physical Volumes, AppleRAID Members, etc., are not handled. Force will force-unmount the volumes (less kind to any open files; see also umount (8)). You should specify a whole disk, but all volumes of the whole disk are attempted to be unmounted even if you specify a partition.

Boom! Much easier.