Archive for August 2006

Showtime!

Just saw Varekai. Mixed feelings about it. There was much less storyline than I was expecting – but that’s a good thing. I’d been expecting some kind of interpretive-dance story; the kind of thing that’s far too abstract for me to enjoy. However, it turns out that the storyline is little more than a way to loosely weave together a whole bunch of acts, so it was quite accessible. In the main, it turns out to just be a bunch of circus acts, many involving acrobatics and/or trapeze.

On the whole, it was very good. However, it was almost a bit *too* good; some of the feats performed were superhuman, but the performers made it look too easy – they almost took away my appreciation of a difficult act by forgetting to remind me it was difficult. On the whole, it was a much more polished performance than I’m used to, but to the point where it almost felt artificial.

I did enjoy myself though.

In other news, I got my catalogue of next year’s Opera Australia program today. In the past, I’ve taken out a youth subscription for the years 02, 04, and 06, and it looks like I’ll be continuing the pattern – there’s just nothing in next year’s youth subscription that I want to see.

On the other hand, they are putting on some shows that I do want to see: notably, the Carmina Burana and Sweeney Todd.

My current plan is to get tickets to those two, then investigate local theatre companies to pad out the rest of my year.

And now, to bed. gnight!

PS: If you want to come to any of the above with me, let me know ASAP as I’ll be booking tickets within the next month. If you have other suggestions, please let me know. Perhaps I’ll actually see some amateur musicals this year…. I’ve got enough friends in amateur dramatic societies who are always on stage…

RIP, dear friend.

My ipod has had one too many knocks and has finally given up working.

Amusingly, it now gets stuck in a loop:

10 Reboot

20 Attempt to read disk

30 Fail to read disk

40 Goto 10

It looks like it’s going to be doing this till its battery dies.

Poor thing. It lasted me three years, much longer than even its extended warranty period, and it’d still be running fine if I hadn’t dropped it too many times.

On the plus side: I now have a valid reason to go buy myself a new video iPod, with radio attachment.. woo!

Operations != Development

Dare has a good article on the difference between Development, Test, and Operations teams:

The same reasoning applies to the argument for folding the responsibilities of your operations team into the development team’s tasks. A good operations team isn’t just responsible deployment/setup of applications on your servers and monitoring the health of the Web servers or SQL databases inyour web farm. A good operations team is involved in designing your hardware SKUs and understanding your service’s peak capacity so as to optimize purchase decisions. A good operations team makes the decisions around your data centers from picking locations with the best power prices and ensuring that you’re making optimal use of all the physical space in your data center to making build . A good operations team is the first line of defence when your service is being hit by a Denial of Service attack. A good operations team insulates the team from worrying about operating system, web server or database patches being made to the live site. A good operations team is involved in the configuration, purchase, deployment and [sometimes] development of load balancing, database partitioning and database replication tools. Again, you can have your development team do this but eventually it would seem to make sense that these tasks be owned by specific individuals instead of splitting them across the developers building one’s core product.

I heartily agree; but then again, I’ve always been (and probably always will be) an Ops man, so I’m probably a bit biased…

Upgrades.. and podcatching…

First, the podcatching. Way back in the dawn of time, when the earth was young and the rocks were still cooling, I tried out a few podcatchers. The one I liked best was iPodderX – almost entirely because it allows you to specify that the mp3s you download should be converted to bookmarkable AAC files[1] as they’re imported into itunes. There are a couple of other nifty features too, including the ability to have it subscribe to an RSS feed and run the Mac’s inbuilt text-to-speech over the contents, thus turning any blog into a podcast of sorts.

However, as time has passed I’ve become less and less happy with this product. Partially it’s the fact that the product is slow and clunky, and hasn’t been updated in well over a year[2]. Partially it’s the fact that when I made some feature requests on their forums, the forums immediately got hacked/corrupted/deleted/went away for some reason – and when they were put back, all previous content was lost. Apparently the developers hadn’t made a note of any feature requests or bug reports anywhere but inside the forums, for the asked their users to please re-report all the bugs and feature requests as they now had no documentation.

Largely, it’s because late last year, the website and forums and such all went away, to be replaced with a “Coming soon!” page. That page points at transistr.com – which is itself nothing but a big “Coming soon!” page. That site has been promising an update in “probably be at least a week, maybe two” ever since they missed their originally planned launch date in march.

What’s really pissed me off now is: iPodderX was busy doing it’s thing last night, downloading and importing podcasts. That’s fine, but my little laptop isn’t the gruntiest beast, so the overhead was causing other things to be slow. As a result, I closed it and iTunes. A couple of hours later, as I was going to bed, I started it up again – only to be presented with a dialogue informing me that “Your 30-day trial period is over” and requesting that I pay once again for the software.

There used to be a rant here, about how I couldn’t find a way to contact the developers. However, this was just because I wasn’t looking hard enough; I did eventually find a contact form, filled it out, and heard back from the developers within an hour. The problem isn’t resolved yet, but that’s largely because I’m not home to try out their suggestion yet. I’ll update this if/when it gets fixed.

So. I’m looking for a new podcatcher. It needs to be able to convert mp3s to AACs as it imports them into iTunes (no biggie – it’s just a few extra lines of Applescript), and.. well, it has to do the standard podcatcher things as well, of course. It shouldn’t, however, require me to pay money more than once (once is fine, I have no problem with rewarding developers for their work), it should be developed by a team or company that is contactable, that maintains lists of feature requests and bugs somewhere other than their forum. It should respond to mouse clicks in under a second, if it uses a GUI at all – given how little time I spend looking at a podcatcher, I’d be just as happy with it if it ran as a cron job or something.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re reading this, I’ve update my version of Drupal at last. Isn’t it exciting? I’ve switched back to one of the bog-standard supplied themes for now, but that will probably change soon. I’m very excited by some of the new features – in particular, the ability to be an OpenID consumer[3] – but more on that later.

[1] I find this invaluable; I often get interrupted in my podlistening, but because all my podcast files are bookmarkable, I can come back to exactly the same place and pick up where I left off. This is particularly useful with podiobooks, where the chapters tend to be long and complex, and I often go weeks between listening to them.

[2] I think. As far as I recall, the new version came out around February/March last year. I could be wrong about this, and I’d welcome correction. Normally, I’d check on the products website for this kind of information – but in this case, the company has taken the entire website offline, so there’s nothing for me to check.

[3] I’ve just discovered that in order to make use of this, I need to upgrade from php4 to php5. This is not something to be attempted lightly… so it may be a while before this works.

Update: Thunderstone got back to me within an hour with a suggested fix; I didn’t understand their email, so asked for clarification and had a response within about 15 minutes. I got home just now, tried the fix, and it worked. I now feel moderately dumb, because the “fix” was to click a button that I’d ignored (which, in hindsight, was the first button I should have pressed) and re-enter my registration code. iPodderX is now humming fine – Thanks Thunderstone!

I’m still looking for something new though… if transistr does get released sometime soon, I’ll give it a try…