Exciting stuff. The local telephone exchange is only 4 people away from being activated from ADSL. Broadband is almost here and I can’t wait. Working from home to be non-painful once more!

Exchange Name: MOUNT NEBO  
Registered Interest: 31 (88%)  
Required Interest: 35

If you live here on the mountain, please, please, visit Bigpond’s ADSL Demand Register and say you’d like ADSL. When the exchange is upgraded, you are not committed to sign up through Bigpond. Internode and iiNet both have fast, good value deals around $50/month, and many cheaper options are available. Check out Broadband Choice at Whirlpool for a complete guide to the price and features of each ISP.


This is great stuff, in a great book by a great writer. Read Cryptonomicon first if you haven’t already, it’s fantastic.


State your intentions, Muse. I know you’re there.
Dead bards who pined for you have said
You’re bright as flame, but fickle as the air.
My pen and I, submerged in a liquid shade,
Much dark can spread, on days and over reams
But without you, no radiance can shed.
Why rustle in the dark, when fledged with fire?
Craze the night with flails of light. Reave
Your turbid shroud. Bestow what I require.

But you’re not in the dark. I do believe
I swim, like squid, in clouds of my own make,
To you, offensive. To us both, opaque.
What’s constituted so, only a pen
Can penetrate. I have one here; let’s go.

—Neal Stephenson in Quicksilver

As I’ve been wrestling with this recently and Googling didn’t immediately show me the light, here’s an answer for video nerds. If you shoot anamorphic video (with or without a lens, but using the full frame to record a 16:9 image) and edit with iMovie HD (v5) you can now burn an anamorphic DVD with iDVD 5. Yay! (Anamorphic footage from iMovie HD plays back with grey bars top and bottom and the note “widescreen preview” in the bottom right corner, so it’s not just letterboxed 4:3.)

However, anything edited in Final Cut Pro (anamorphic flag set or not) and brought into iDVD 5 is interpreted as 4:3 footage and appears stretched (tall). Doesn’t matter what setting you use to export, iDVD gets it wrong.

Anyway, there’s a flag set by iMovie HD to indicate to iDVD that this footage is anamorphic and should be thus interpreted. (Why they couldn’t use the same method as FCP?) You can fake this flag with some fancy footwork.

The solution: visit Apple – Discussions – Anamorphic DVD from FCP – Solution where a kind and generous person has provided an Applescript application that solves the whole problem neatly. Thankyou Colin McFadden. [EDIT: link fixed]

Perhaps iDVD 5.0.1 will work without it, but I’m not waiting and will be using some of the great new iDVD menus for some video of my sister and I on holiday. Cool!

Oh, and back to the par-tay mentioned earlier: big, special thanks to my mother, who slaved away to create an excellent birthday cake with my name on it. And it’s her birthday too. Raise a glass one and all.


If there’s a benefit to growing older (disregarding that whole overrated “wisdom” thing) it’s that you get to host a party, and not have to drive home afterwards. At some point during the party, you might even get to blow out some candles on a delicious cake. I’ve just had a great experience doing just that.

Loads of people came, from as far as Sydney (for the party) and from London (for their own reasons, but to the party they came) and a cross-generational mix of attendees meant that everyone had a good time, or hid their sadness well. No rain, good food, the swing in the garden didn’t break, the deck held, nobody changed the music on the iPod, and the “paint over this mural we don’t like” experiment went very well indeed. Now we’ve just got to paint the rest of the house, and clear out the dishwasher so we can run it again.

So thanks to all who came, we hope to do it again soon. Apologies if you couldn’t make it or weren’t invited; a short, sharp email to me will get you on the VIP list for next time. (Probably.) I will try to talk to more of you for longer then, or at smaller gatherings where it’s just a lot easier to communicate. Attendees: comments are open. Go for it, and see you again soon.

In Australia, just about all the major electronics companies sell their DVD players region-free, out of the box. That includes Sony, Pioneer, etc., and the same models that are sold region-locked elsewhere in the world. Why? A decision by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) ruled that region coding was anti-competitive. Here’s a quote:

The court noted that region coding does not prevent or inhibit the copying of games and is therefore not worthy of protection under Australian Copyright Law. This decision may set a precedent if the courts consider the issue of region coding measures present in other forms of digital media, such as DVD’s. At present, there is no evidence to suggest that DVD player modification chips enable the illegal copying of DVD’s.

(From http://www.accc.gov.au/content/item.phtml?itemId=302673&nodeId=file3f9c90cc579dd&fn=Consumer%20Express%2011.pdf)

They’ve also ruled that modding your PlayStation to play overseas games is legal – the same document has details.

Lastly, to prove that some politicians get it – Kate Lundy talks sense about open source, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, and the impact of the Free Trade Agreement with the US.

As lions don’t live in the jungle (they live in the savannah) you really shouldn’t use the old “Kings of the Jungle” line into your slogan, if you’re a football team called the Brisbane Lions.

In other news, it’s a busy time. Many interstate and international visitors, and a party coming up. If you think you should know about it and don’t, drop me a note.