Safari 4 Beta hidden preferences etc

Wednesday February 25, 2009

Filed under: computing,general — jackman @ 10:42 am

Lots of ways to tweek Safari back to its former self, stylistically (via Daring Fireball, and its here just in case I forget).

Like Gruber, I’ll give the new Safari look and feel a trial.

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Former High Court judge to mediate priest sacking row

Tuesday February 24, 2009

Filed under: Australian Politics — jackman @ 1:22 pm

…reports the ABC:

Catholic church authorities have hired former High Court Justice Ian Callinan to attempt mediation with a sacked Brisbane priest.

Father Peter Kennedy was dismissed from the South Brisbane parish of St Mary’s for unorthodox practices.

Strikes me as an odd way of implementing an odd strategy…

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Saturday February 21, 2009

Filed under: computing — jackman @ 5:55 pm

iStat is a pretty cool application for the iPhone, for those whose interests run in the sysadmin direction.

I figured out how to install it on my Stanford server, which I can now monitor remotely from my iPhone while riding the bus to work, 7,500 miles away.

Screenshot from the iPhone (temps are Fahrenheit):


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“logistical regression”

Thursday February 19, 2009

Filed under: politics,statistics — jackman @ 4:41 pm

Keith Olberman says that is what Nate Silver does. Too weird. (I watch Countdown here on iTunes).

The copy-writer clearly thought logistic regression must have been a typo.

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the coss toss in cricket

Filed under: general — jackman @ 8:15 am

I gather that this paper by V Bhaskar has been doing the rounds (now out in Economic Journal), but Jim Fearon just brought it to my attention. Abstract:

In cricket, the right to make an important strategic decision is assigned via a coin toss. We utilize these “randomized trials” to examine (a) the consistency of choices made by teams with strictly opposed preferences, and (b) the treatment effects of chosen actions. We find significant evidence of inconsistency, with teams often agreeing on who is to bat first. Estimated treatment effects show that choices are often poorly made since they reduce the probability of the team winning.

Leverage that randomization, whenever you see it…!

The paper also has the best footnotes/quotes of the year to date:

…at St. Vincent I made an error of judgement at the toss, putting the West Indies in. We went down to a then record defeat for England in one-day internationals. The day before that game I had been, literally, sitting on the dock of the bay watching the time go by, and pondering the team for the next day. A Rastafarian smoking a huge spliff came by and we got chatting. ‘Man,’ he said, ‘you always got to bat first in St. Vincent and then bowl second when the tide comes in.’ The pitch the next day look mottled and uneven and I looked at it uncertainly. Geoff Boycott was also on the wicket and I asked his opinion. ‘I think you’ve got to bowl first,’ he said, ‘just to see how bad it is before you bat.’ In fact it was very good and the West Indies plundered 313, and then, when the tide came in, it was very bad and we were skittled for 148. I learned my lesson. When it comes to pitches you had never seen before, local knowledge, rather than the Great Yorkshireman’s, was eminently preferable. (Atherton, 2002, p.85).

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new buzz words

Filed under: general — jackman @ 7:53 am

With news of that satellite collision last week it would seem that we can add “ablation cascade“, “Kessler Syndrome” and “spall” to the vernacular…? That will be interesting.

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Barnaby has the line of the week; Greens asleep at the wheel

Sunday February 15, 2009

Filed under: Australian Politics — jackman @ 7:58 am

I’d be suggesting that a Barnaby Joyce type “maverick” Coalition Senator might have crossed the floor to give Labor the extra vote in the Senate, to get its stimulus package through.

That didn’t happen, but I still think someone might have been tempted. The price of Xenophon’s vote was $900 million; I wonder if Wayne Swan went to Barnaby with $850 million for something-er-other for Queensland, what the result would have been?

In the end, Barnaby Joyce did have the line of the week. As recorded in Hansard:

… but basically the Greens have left all the running to Senator Xenophon. For Senator Xenophon, even though I do not agree with his position, it was a political masterstroke. He has left them all in his wake. He has managed to get more than Minister Wong got from her own cabinet. It is quite incredible and I think that if there is a political award he should get it—and good luck to Senator Xenophon. He is extremely astute and adroit, far more adroit than the Greens and far more adroit than Labor’s own minister.

Barnaby’s “masterstoke” line and the slap of Penny Wong was reported in the media. But the criticism of the Greens hasn’t garnered much mention. The weekend papers are full of speculation about Julie BIshop etc, and how Xenophon struck a great deal.

I can’t help but think that Greens are the biggest losers here: Xenophon revealed the Government’s considerable willingness-to-pay, while the Greens were nowhere in the end game when the big money was being tossed around.

Again, I quote Barnaby:

I hope that Greens supporters realise that they were sold out yesterday and that, when push comes to shove, they are the minor party of the Labor Party and they do the Labor Party’s bidding. Good luck to Senator Xenophon because he managed to exploit that. He outread them; he outsmarted the lot of them.

The Greens had a tremendous opportunity to extract concessions from a Government obviously desparate to get its package through, and stupendously failed.

Paul Daley has a column this weekend on how Gareth Evans was a tougher in cross-bench negotiations than (current Leader of the Government in the Senate) Chris Evans: i.e., Xenophon extracted a steep price. Maybe. But the alternative take on the week is that by holding the Greens to a relatively cheap price, maybe Evans did well.

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Senate rejection; double dissolution?

Friday February 13, 2009

Filed under: Australian Politics — jackman @ 10:12 am

With the Senate meeting this Friday morning to debate the Stim (again), there has been a little bit of talk about the possibility of a double dissolution of parliament. That is unlikely (see below), but it does add an interesting perspective to Labor’s attack on the Coalition’s refusal to play ball on the stimulus package.

Antony Green has a nice rundown of the possibilities, reminding us that section 57 of the Australian Constitution requires that there be a 3 month period between the two Senate rejections of the particular legislation:

57. If the House of Representatives passes any proposed law, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, and if after an interval of three months the House of Representatives, in the same or the next session, again passes the proposed law with or without any amendments which have been made, suggested, or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor-General may dissolve the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously. But such dissolution shall not take place within six months before the date of the expiry of the House of Representatives by effluxion of time.

In the meantime, I can’t help but think there is a deal in the works. Xenophon seemed to be leaving the door open to that in media interviews last night.

I can’t help but think someone like Barnaby Joyce must be thinking about what he could get for Queensland, and if it would be cheaper (!) than what Xenophon is asking for in the Murray-Darling; now that he is the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, are his “maverick” days over?

I’m still a little surprised at the Greens, both in terms of the relatively cheap price of their support in terms of “green” initiatives (they didn’t put the Tasmanian pulp mill on the table) and that their “social justice” type of initiatives came at the cost of decreased cash bonuses for low and middle income earners.

Lyndall Curtis interviewed Wayne Swan this morning on AM. She asked Swan if it is good policy to be making deals at the last minute. Yeah, but isn’t that the definition of the “last minute”? Conversely, who would pre-commit to a position far in advance of the actual vote, if there are more goodies to be extracted?

Labor’s message discipline has been very solid in all of this. The “bad guys” here are the Coalition; there hasn’t been any Xenophon bashing from Labor in the media afaik.

The surprising/interesting feature of yesterday’s events in the Senate is that the government would let the bill come up for a vote and fail to pass. They knew they didn’t have Xenophon’s vote, but went ahead anyway. I suppose they made the decision that holding Xenophon’s feet to the fire was worth it, but it does make the next round of negotiations with Xenophon a little more pointed.

Real-time politics is good theatre, if nothing else.

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fire bunker

Filed under: Australian Politics,general — jackman @ 7:41 am

The ABC’s 7.30 Report has the 2nd story I’ve seen on “bunkers” as a way to survive intense bushfires. This one has some amazing video shot by the survivor, Jim Baruta (currently only viewable from the ABC News front page). There is a bit of cursing in the opening seconds, if you are sensitive to that kind of thing (kind of understandable under the circumstances).

Baruta also seems very lucky/smart in that he had quite a bit of cleared ground between his house and the bush, particularly in the direction that the fire made its main approach (giving Baruta — and now us — an awesome-if-terrifying view of the approaching firefront). I didn’t quite catch if the bunker was purpose built for a fire or “to withstand a bomb” (as Baruta says), but whatever the original intent, it seems to have worked.

Then again, you have to wonder about the efficacy of even wide firebreaks in a fire this intense, where the heat being radiated ahead of the fire is so great that surfaces are combusting apparently hundreds of metres ahead of the main front of the fire: i.e., what would a “safe” firebreak be in a fire like this?

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Apple Mail, IMAP, sent mail

Thursday February 12, 2009

Filed under: computing — jackman @ 12:40 am

More a note to myself than anything…

I’ve been bouncing around ISPs here in Australia (long story to do with speed-limiting bandwidth rationing that drives me crazy, but never mind….).

Somehow in the middle of all this some of mail settings got mangled. It seems that I lost the “Sent” folder in Apple Mail that points to my Stanford IMAP server. Sent mail was being saved locally, but not to the server. The server’s sent mail folder was appearing in the list of folder on the IMAP server.

The solution was a little counter-intuitive: go down to the Sent Messages folder listed as part of the IMAP folder hierarchy. Under the menu item “Mailboxes -> Use This Mailbox For” select “Sent” and then the folder jumps up under “Sent”. Hooray.

This simple solution was found here.

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