Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category.

Marley Spoon vs Hello Fresh: an update

A couple of months ago, after my second week of trying Marley Spoon, I wrote a post summarising what I’d found using it and Hello Fresh.

You might think this is an update to tell you about the third and subsequent weeks – after all, I did say at the end of that post that I’d be sticking with it but keeping HelloFresh around to try out occasionally.

Things didn’t work out that way though. The first week with Marley Spoon, my food had been left on the street, in the rain, at 2am – 4 hours before the 6am delivery window started. I updated my delivery instructions to explicitly tell them to call me at any time of day or night when the box was delivered; but despite this, the second week’s delivery was again delivered in the middle of the night and I wasn’t called.

The third week my box didn’t turn up at all. One of Marley Spoon’s features is that you can choose which 3 (out of 7) recipes you want in your box each week. Apparently when I made changes to my delivery the website decided that I really wanted to cancel the delivery. I wasn’t notified of this until after my box didn’t arrive.

So I switched back to HelloFresh and I’ve been using them every since. Their boxes arrive on time, and their recipes don’t have missing steps or missing ingredients.

I’d like to give HelloFresh a try again at some point in the future, but it won’t happen when their facebook page has posts likethis or this or this sitting on top. It sounds like they still haven’t got deliveries sorted out – which is a bit of a shortcoming in a delivery service.

Marley Spoon vs Hello Fresh

After a month or so of HelloFresh​, I’ve just finished my first week of Marley Spoon​.

I’m not going to go into detail – Techly’s review does a good job and matches my experience.

Two exceptions:

Firstly – Techly’s review mentions that Marley Spoon has limited delivery hours. I picked the 6-9am delivery slot, because I wanted to make sure I was home and the box didn’t end up sitting on the street for hours – but it ended up being delivered at 2:35am and sitting on the street (in the rain!) for hours. MS have updated their website to advise that the delivery window is now 2-8am, and I’ve asked them to call me whatever time of night they leave the box – we’ll see how that goes tomorrow.

Secondly: Techly’s review describes MS’s recipe cards as “easily the best to follow”. I haven’t found that to be the case.

Partly this is because HelloFresh has a really nice iOS app with very clear step-by-step instructions (including timers for any of the steps that need to be timed), while Marley Spoon only has the paper instructions, and they are often a jumble. They have to fit everything into 6 steps, so one single step might have several unrelated actions in it – “Bring some water to the boil. Meanwhile, fry the fennel”. They overlook kitchen implements (the recipe I cooked last night needs a stick mixer, but this isn’t mentioned in the list of implements) and ingredients (a stir fry came with oyster sauce and five spice powder, but the recipe didn’t mention using them – I had to make my own guess about when to add them).

Still, on the whole, I think I enjoyed Marley Spoon a little more. The recipes are a little bit more of a challenge, which I like (HelloFresh is probably better for beginners) and more varied. HelloFresh is still good though, and I’m keeping my subscription active (but on pause) for now – I plan to swap between the two every now and then.

Both services allow you to opt-out of individual weeks, so I’m signed up to both at the moment but can choose which I get each week. Marley Spoon offers your choice of 3 (or more, if you pay for more) recipes out of their selection of 7 each week; while HelloFresh gives you 3 fixed choices.

BTW, if you want to try out HelloFresh, use the referral code BW2MLZ – you get $35 off your first box, and I get $20 off my next box. Marley Spoon don’t seem to offer any kind of referral program.


(If this post doesn’t make sense to you, you haven’t been following the discussion on IRC that this relates to – feel free to ignore and go about your day)


  • virtualenv repro
  • cd repro
  • source bin/activate
  • wget
  • tar -zxvf repro.tar.gz
  • pip install -f index/ bar==2.0

Installing foo directly

Expected behaviour
Foo and its dependency, bar==2.1, get installed
Observed behaviour
As expected

⌂64% [:~/src/tmp/repro] [repro] master* ± pip install -f index/ foo
Collecting foo
Collecting bar>=2.1 (from foo)
Installing collected packages: bar, foo
Found existing installation: bar 2.0
Uninstalling bar-2.0:
Successfully uninstalled bar-2.0
Running install for bar
Running install for foo
Successfully installed bar-2.1 foo-0.3
[:~/src/tmp/repro] [repro] master* ±


  • pip uninstall foo
  • pip install -f index/ bar==2.0

Installing requirements

Expected behaviour
Foo and its dependency, bar==2.1, get installed
Observed behaviour
bar==2.0 is left installed

⌂69% [:~/src/tmp/repro] [repro] master* ± pip freeze
⌂68% [:~/src/tmp/repro] [repro] master* ± pip install -f index/ -r requirements.txt
Collecting foo (from -r requirements.txt (line 1))
Requirement already satisfied (use --upgrade to upgrade): bar>=2.0 in ./lib/python2.7/site-packages (from -r requirements.txt (line 2))
Installing collected packages: foo
Running install for foo
Successfully installed foo-0.3
⌂66% [:~/src/tmp/repro] [repro] master* ±

iOS “append to day note” workflow

I’ve created a Workflow which asks for input and appends it to a day note in Evernote.

For my reference, when I need to restore it onto another device, it’s available at:

My Todoist homepage

This is what I use as my Todoist home screen:

od, @inprogress, (@today | today) & !@inprogress , @next, (7 days & !today &!@TODAY &!@inprogress)

Anything that shows up in “overdue” is immediately acted upon: cancelled (if there’s no point now that the deadline has passed) or completed (if I did do it but forgot to note the fact); rescheduled for today, if I can commit to getting it done today, or rescheduled for later.

Anything that I’m in the middle of working on, but have had to step away from, is labelled as INPROGRESS to remind me to finish those tasks first.

The next block is a mix of things scheduled for today (mostly recurring tasks) and stuff I’ve committed to getting done today (by labelling with TODAY

mtr on mavericks via rudix(‘s ports collection)

With thanks to and

hg clone rudix
cd rudix/Ports/mtr

You’ll need to update the Makefile:

diff -r 11e7e05f8dd7 Ports/mtr/Makefile
--- a/Ports/mtr/Makefile Fri Jul 20 18:29:04 2012 -0300
+++ b/Ports/mtr/Makefile Thu Feb 13 16:03:51 2014 +1100
@@ -2,7 +2,7 @@

Title= MTR
Name= mtr
-Version= 0.82
+Version= 0.85
Revision= 1
Source= $(Name)-$(Version).tar.gz

Now you’ll need to provide one small patch to be applied while building:

mkdir patches

Make yourself a patch file that looks like this:

diff -rupN mtr-build.orig/asn.c mtr-build/asn.c
--- asn.c 2014-02-13 15:59:36.000000000 +1100
+++ asn.c 2014-02-13 15:59:46.000000000 +1100
@@ -21,7 +21,7 @@
 #include <sys/types.h>

-#ifndef __APPLE__
+#ifdef __APPLE__
 #define BIND_8_COMPAT
 #include <arpa/nameser.h>

now you can

make build

cd mtr-build/
sudo make install

Money tracking/budgeting apps

A mini-review…

I’ve been using PocketMoney from Catamount Software on and off for a long time. It’s very powerful – but I always found that, unless I had a particularly urgent need for budgeting and tracking my spending, I was never motivated to keep up the effort. Every other program I’ve tried, including the ones I’m about to mention, feels like I’ve traded away some subset of PocketMoney’s power.

Currently I’m using two different apps (yes, that does mean that I’m entering every transaction twice. I’m not sure how long I’m going to keep doing this). One app is fantastic for forecasting your cash flow down to the last cent and second, so that you know exactly how much money you’ll have on hand at any given time.

The other app explicitly refuse to enable that kind of forecasting. Instead, it takes the approach that you should only ever make a budget for the money you already have on hand. If you have long-term goals, you can start to meet those goals by setting aside some of the money you have on hand, but you should never start playing with money you don’t actually have yet.

The first app – the one that does the forecasting is MoneyWiz

It’s fairly simple to use, but has almost all the functionality you’d expect to be able to track transactions on your accounts. Its best feature is the ability to set up recurring (eg, $x salary in to account 1 every fortnight, $y for a recurring doctor’s visit every 3 weeks) and one-off (eg, need to buy a birthday present for mum on june 15) scheduled transactions and then generate a forecast. For instance, I’m in the middle of planning to move house – I used this just last night to check how different levels of rent would affect me, taking into account all the other bills and living expenses I already know about.

The iphone, ipad, and Mac versions of MoneyWiz all support all the features and they all sync together, but you have to pay for each version separately (5.99 each for iphone and ipad, 24.99 for Mac). It’s possible to just get the iPhone version and do everything with that, but I find it handy to use the ipad or desktop version to be able to see more detail, especially when I’m looking at the forecast graphs.

The other one I’m trying out is You Need A Budget, or YNAB for short. It comes in Windows and Mac desktop versions, and has iPhone and Android mobile clients to support the desktop program. The mobile clients are free, but they only support a limited range of functions. You need to have paid for the desktop version to use them, and they’re mostly designed for you to check your budget balances or enter a transaction. YNAB has a free 34 day trial, but after that it costs $60.

YNAB doesn’t do forecasting; instead it focuses on having you figure out how much money you have *right now* and what you need that money to do before your next pay. They don’t explicitly say this, but obviously they believe that once you’re collecting the data about what you *have* been spending money on, you’ll be more able to make decisions that support your goals in the future.

As well as giving you 34 days to try it out, they have a comprehensive series of videos ( – look for “YNAB 4 Video Tutorials” on the right) and tutorials ( which don’t just cover how to use the program, they aim to teach you how to think about budgeting.

If you’re looking for help budgeting because you just don’t know where the money goes, I recommend giving YNAB a go – after all, it’s free to try for 34 days (and there’s your first savings goal right there – have $60 on hand to pay for it at the end of those 34 days!). Take the time to watch some of their videos and sign up for their 9-day email course – Even if you don’t end up paying for it, the information you’ll get from the progam about your own spending, and from their courses about what to do next, will leave you much better able to make informed decisions about your spending.

If you have some idea of where your money goes but need better visibility into some of the trickier patches, MoneyWiz is probably a better choice. YNAB is aimed at helping you spend the money you have; MoneyWiz is much better at helping you plan what to do with the money you’re going to get later.

Personally, I’ve always been *horrible* with money. It comes in, at some point later it runs out, and then there’s a bit of a panic until the next payday. MoneyWiz has helped me a lot: because I was able to see ahead, I started having the panic weeks before the money ran out – which meant that the money ended up *not* running out. However, that’s turned into a steady stream of just-scraped-through paydays. I don’t end up in the same panic any more, but I do end up only *just* scraping through.

I’ve only been using YNAB for a few days, but the way it presents essentially the same information as MoneyWiz in a slightly different format, combined with their propaganda, have already made a difference in the way I’m thinking about budgeting.

I think I might need to keep using MoneyWiz for a few weeks (maybe even months) more to help me past one last tricky place – but as soon as I have a bit of a buffer (nb: thanks to MoneyWiz’s excellent forecasts, I know to the day when that’s going to be) I won’t need to MoneyWiz’s level of precision, and I’ll probably switch to just using YNAB.

Netcat tarpipe – with bonus progress bars!

This post was written for my own reference, so I can stop recreating the process each of the 2-3 times a year I need to use it

Every now and then, you have a large number of files to transfer across a really fast network, and the usual methods just have too much overhead.

At times like this, Ye Olde Skool Neckbeard Sysadmin reverts to a time-honoured technique known as the Netcat Tar Pipe:

On the receiving end do:
# netcat -l -p 7000 | tar x

And on the sending end do:
# tar cf - * | netcat otherhost 7000

The chiefest drawback of this technique is that you don’t know what’s happening. You know that Some Data is being transferred at A Rate, but that’s about all.

Enter Pipe Viewer, aka pv:

pv – Pipe Viewer – is a terminal-based tool for monitoring the progress of data through a pipeline. It can be inserted into any normal pipeline between two processes to give a visual indication of how quickly data is passing through, how long it has taken, how near to completion it is, and an estimate of how long it will be until completion.

A minor tweak or two will give you fancypants progress indicators, and a file transfer mechanism that’s almost certainly faster than anything else you can do.

First you need to calculate the size of the data you’re sending:

[/share/polleyj] # du -sk
594409480 .

Now we use a simple modification of the command above on the receiving side:

netcat -l -p 7000 | pv -s 594409480k | tar vx

and on the sending side:

tar cf - * | pv -s 594409480k | netcat otherhost 7000

You now get a fancy progress indicator on the sending side:

959MB 0:03:18 [4.64MB/s] [> ] 0% ETA 33:13:22

and with the addition of the ‘v flag on the receiving side, you can see filenames as they’re unpacked as well:

352MB 0:02:41 [4.85MB/s] [> ] 0% ETA 73:41:36

So there you go. May as well go make a coffee or 73 while you wait for that data to copy over.

Wrest Point Casino hotel swimming pool length

I’ve been unable to find this information online, so I thought I’d fix the problem.

The hotel pool at Wrest Point Casino is roughly 10m long. For the convenience of patrons, it has handrails at each end, just underwater. I the pool is not ideal for lap-swimming.

Wed and Circuses

Circus the First: Sexuality

I noticed, well over a decade ago, that many gay young men, once they finally accept themselves and their sexuality, over-compensate. They jump straight from self-hatred into embracing extreme gay stereotypes – not because that’s who they are, but because that’s the only way to be gay that they’re aware of. The jump from “I’m okay! I’m gay; gays do X, therefore I must want to do X” has always saddened me.

I think a lot of people would be much happier if they were able to just say “I’m okay! I’m gay” and not think that they have to radically change every aspect of their life. That’s not going to be a common thing until every gay child grows up being aware that they are surrounded by gay people, who are just as diverse as the rest of the people they know.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where teachers, actors, singers, sports people, politicians (to name just a few) all feel they need to stay in the closet in order to have a career; where children are routinely told that gay love is “different” and “inferior” and “we can’t let those dirty gays have our precious marriage”. Until all of that changes, gay kids are going to grow up only having one kind of role model – they’re going to believe that the only way to be authentically gay is to “be here, be queer, get used to it”.

I lucked out and (mostly, I think) avoided this mistake myself – although I certainly went through a period where I was certainly acting the way I thought I ought to behave, and not the way I wanted to behave. A big part of how I got lucky was that I happened to fall in with a crowd of gay men who showed me that I don’t need to change who I am in order to be gay.

I would like every child to have the chance to make the discovery I made *before* they start trying to mutilate their personality until it fits into the only mould they’ve ever been aware of. Until we get a critical mass of public figures being visbly out of the closet, Mardi Gras is one of the best ways to achieve this. It gives a very distorted, one-sided extremist view of what it means to be gay; and that does cause some harm – but it causes much less harm than having children growing up believing they’re the only gay in the village.

Fortunately, I think that this circus is drawing to a close. There are far more out public figures now than there 10 or 20 years ago, when I was struggling. Most of the ways the law treats heterosexual couples different from other couples have been removed. There are still remnants of discrimination that are politically infeasible to remove just yet – but there’s a growing awareness that the political problems stem from a very vocal minority and don’t actually reflect the views of the majority of the population. I’m reasonably confident that children born this decade will be able to mature without going through too much trauma if they realise that their sexuality is something other than 100% hetero.

In short, I believe that Mardi Gras is going to become far less relevant over the next decade or so – and we’re going to see far fewer young gay men making drastic changes to their lifestyle and harming themselves in the process. This won’t be achieved solely because of the noisy extremists who started the gay rights movement in this country 30+ years ago – but it *will* be achieved because their noisy, violent, rude pioneering made it possible for ordinary everyday gay people to make themselves known to the people around them.

Circus the second: Religion

For myself, being able to accept my sexuality meant that I first had to modify some of the religious beliefs I’d grown up with. However, I didn’t happen to fall in with a crowd who showed me that it’s possible to only modify parts of my religious belief. I’d grown up surrounded by one end of the religious spectrum (the end now represented by the ACL, although if it existed at the time I wasn’t aware of it). The only alternative I was aware of – thanks to a lot of very noisy extremists – was right at the other end of the religious spectrum. Consequently, that’s where I went – one huge leap, discarding huge portions of my prior belief system, because that was the only change I believed possible.

I did start to meet people who showed me that there was another I could have taken much later – but by then, it was too late. There’s as little chance of me tweaking my beliefs from my current extreme as their was when I started. In fact, even though I’ve been aware of the first Circus for a long time, I really only became aware of that I’d done essentially the same thing in the second Circus tonight.

I believe that the largest part of why I was unaware of other possibilities is because moderate Christians tend not to speak out publicly against the extremists – at least, not the extremists they regard as being within the fold of Christianity. There are good biblical reasons for this – 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, for instance. Because of passages like this, many Christians seem to feel that the correct way to handle people at the extremes of Christian belief is quietly – within the church, or just maybe, by expressing a very quiet contrary opinion only when directly questioned – but never, ever speaking out loudly against the extreme viewpoints.

I can sympathise with this view. Unfortunately, it means that this circus looks very different from the first circus. The first circus started with loud extremists at both ends of the spectrum – but is going to end because the vast majority of people in the center stood up and made themselves known. The second circus has also attracted loud extremists at both ends – but so far at least, the vast majority in the center refuse to make themselves known.

I’d love to see the second circus draw to an end too. I’d love to see the ACL and their ilk to be understood as the extremist, vocal, minority that I believe they are. I’d love to be able to tell the atheists currently gathering in Melbourne that their conference has no more value than I believe Mardi Gras will have in a few years time – a fun spectacle, perhaps, but not a vitally important way of letting people understand that they aren’t alone. I’d love for children who grew up with a Christian background be able comprehend the enormous diversity of opinion within the Christian churches, and were able to make minor corrections instead of having to ditch Christianity entirely.

However, none of this is going to happen while the only people willing to speak up are the people at the extreme ends of the spectrum. If you’re neither an extreme atheist nor an extreme Christian, it’s *vital* that you be willing to be loud and proud about your beliefs. It’s vital that you step forward and say “The ACL does not entirely represent what it means for me to be Christian” or “Extremists like PZ Myers do not entirely represent what it means for me to be atheist”, just as it was vital for the silent majority of gays to step forward and say “Mardi Gras does not entirely represent what it means for me to be gay”. As long as the moderates refuse to loudly, publicly, visibly repudiate the extremists who claim to speak for all Christians or all Atheists, *those will be the only voices that are heard*.


As it happens, there’s a fantastic opportunity open *right now* for everyone to have their say. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs is holding a a verbosely-named Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 which is calling for public submissions on the topic of marriage equality generally, and two specific bills in particular. The ACL are encouraging their constituency to make their feelings known; and of course, we gasbagging noisy atheists are doing the same. If you’re a moderate, this is your chance! Don’t let the extremists make it look as though there are only two opinions here! Don’t let the ACL or the noisy atheists get away with pretending they talk for you!

All you need to do is answer 5 multiple choice questions (and, optionally, say a few words (very few – only 250 words will be accepted) in response to two more open-ended questions) in order to make sure that our Parliament is able to understand the full diversity of opinions in the community.

Two of the questions on the survey ask you whether you support each of the bills named in the Inquiry’s title. If you believe that any amendments to remove the “Man and Woman” clause from the Marriage Act would be bad, there’s no need for you to read either of the bills.

Everybody else should read both of the (very short) bills before they complete the survey. The bills do differ – for instance, both aim to preserve the right ministers of religion already have to refuse to solemnise any wedding that falls outside of their religious belief, but both bills approach this in slightly different ways.

Both bills – and some other background information, if you want to learn more – are linked from the Inquiry page. If you’d like to read the full text of the existing Marriage Act, that’s available over at ComLaw

And so, to bed

This was meant to be a quick response, just a tiny bit too long to fit in a single tweet. 3.5 hours later, I’m not sure the words I’m writing make sense any more. It’s time for bed.