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Jeremy Visser
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Jeremy Visser

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Ever since I upgraded to OS X v10.11 (El Capitan) I started getting this bizarre behaviour where bash failed to append terminal history if I prefixed a command with 'exec'.

Turns out this is a weird edge case broken by the introduction of 'bash sessions' in El Capitan.

I haven't really had time to dig into what the actual bug is, but for now, "touch ~/.bash_sessions_disable" gets my usual workflow going again.
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Caught an Uber to Avalon Airport this morning and the driver, unprompted, started bagging out taxis.

Caught a taxi from Sydney Airport to home and the driver, unprompted, started bagging out Uber.

I sense a disturbance in the force.
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Hi Jeremy, How was Slovenia??
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Fun project for +Anthony Baxter and I today: trying to work out, once and for all, if the ACT has a coastline.

For you non-Australians: the ACT is the Australian Capital Territory. The place where Canberra is. Think DC in the USA; there are many similarities, including the fact that states donated land to carve out a neutral HQ for the national capital. (Side note: you may see references to the FCT, or Federal Capital Territory, in some of the stuff linked below. It's the same place; it was renamed along the way.)

You'd think "does a federal subdivision have a coastline" would be an easy question to answer. You'd be so, so, so wrong. This is a pub trivia kind of question in Australia; the problem is, most people get it wrong. At best, they get it right, but for the wrong reasons. Like, maybe it does have a coastline, but not the one they think.

At least 3 Wikipedia pages cover the topic. Each of them give different answers to the question.

Regardless, this is a fascinating geopolitical quirk. So here's what we know:

Easy answer: no, it's inland

This is the answer you get when you look up 'Australian Capital Territory' in your favourite online map site, or (heaven forfend) a paper atlas. The ACT is landlocked, as any fule no (cf. http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/__data/assets/image/0004/117526/Australia_map_downsized.jpg). Obviously it doesn't have a coastline, some will say.

These people are wrong.

Pub trivia answer: yes, on Jervis Bay

Some background. When the various states federated into the Commonwealth of Australia (1901), Australia didn't have a capital per se. Melbourne acted as capital, with the promise that they'd sort a real one out later. In 1908,  the Seat of Government Act was passed, which basically said "we're going to build something in the Yass-Canberra area, the New South Wales government will give us some land once we've worked out somewhere mutually agreeable". The interesting part is the quote "The territory to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for the Seat of Government shall contain an area not less than nine hundred square miles, and have access to the sea." (emphasis mine). The astute amongst you will note, from your maps, that the "district of Yass-Canberra" is nowhere near the sea. No problem, New South Wales will carve out another bit, on the sea, and pony that over too. The land they chose was at Jervis Bay (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jervis_Bay), a bay due more-or-less east of Canberra.

So, people say, this land they carved out (you can see it on a map!) is actually part of the ACT. It does have a coast!

These people are wrong.

Advanced double-bluff pub trivia answer: no, Jervis Bay isn't part of the ACT

The next (correct) argument is that the thing at Jervis Bay is not part of the ACT; it's part of the Jervis Bay Territory (JBT), a completely separate part of Australia. This is fairly startling to many Australians; we are all taught that Australia has 6 states (NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania) and 2 mainland territories (Northen Territory and the ACT). But this isn't true; there are three mainland territories. Jervis Bay Territory is, legally, exactly like the other two: an independent top-level division of Australia. Finding out there's a third territory is startling for many Australians: it would be like if the US actually had 51 states, but no-one ever bothered to mention, say, a South Rhode Island. Anyway, it's true. Legally, in Australia, JBT is just like the ACT. The difference is: it's smaller, almost no-one lives there, and lots of people have never heard of it. But that's irrelevant.

Really quite advanced pub trivia answer: the Jervis Bay Territory is PART of the ACT, so yes

This is wrong, as stated above. But people believe it, because of one key fact: the JBT doesn't have a government. Because almost no-one lives there, giving it a government is kind of wasteful. So the ACT administers it. That is, the laws of the ACT apply; commit a crime there, you're tried in the ACT courts. Live there, you vote for the ACT government. But the law is clear; it's as if it's part of the ACT, but it's not. This is an administrative convenience.

Exhausted and confused person answer: so it's no then?

Ahahaha. No.

Epic map nerd smart arse answer: yes, but not the one you're thinking of.

Ahh. Here's where we get really tricky. All that stuff above? You know where I said the "pub trivia answer" people who said "yes" were wrong? Well, they're very possibly right. But for the wrong reasons. There's a completely separate parcel of land, also on Jervis Bay, which may well be part of the ACT.

Look at Bing Maps (no, really): http://binged.it/1nngW39. The Jervis Bay Territory (NOT part of the ACT, as established above) is the thing outlined in green. But that's irrelevant to us. Look north-east of there. See the land at the north headland of Jervis Bay? That's the Beecroft Peninsula. This is in fact the bit of land that may be part of the ACT.

Cadastral surveying nerd answer: a-ha! That's not part of Commonwealth land; Beecroft peninsula is merely leased to to Commonwealth by NSW! So no!

Oh-ho, cadastral surveying nerd, hold up. I'm not talking about all of Beecroft peninsula. In the majority, you're right. But there's one part where I'm not sure you are. See http://i.imgur.com/giylEo1.jpg - I'm not saying A or B are part of the ACT. All I'm talking about is C: the land given to the ACT under the Seat of Government Acts of 1908 and 1922.

That land is part of the Jervis Bay Territory too! So no!

No, it's not. This is actually really quite clear. The Jervis Bay Territory Acceptance Act 1915 (https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2004C00038; hereafter JBTA) makes it clear what's part of the JBT. See "The Schedule". Following the descriptions is complicated, but this describes the parcel of land on the south headland. It mentions nothing about the North one. 

If your argument is based around the JBTA: nope, it's not in there.

If you argument is that a subsequent piece of legislation post-JBTA has changed it: [citation needed], as I'm not aware of any.

THE LAW

So, let's look at the law. There are a few relevant parts here, beyond the ones we've already discussed.

There's the Seat of Government Acceptance Act 1909 (https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2004C00608). This was actually two acts: this one, and a corresponding one from the NSW Government, the Seat Of Government Surrender Act 1909. That is, NSW passed an act surrendering the land; the Commonwealth passed one accepting it. Each was conditional on the other; both were passed and both came into effect. This does cover the north headland; for example, "Eastern Division, Land District of Nowra, County of St. Vincent, Parish of Beecroft, area five hundred and thirty‑one acres. The Crown lands within the following boundaries: Commencing on the High Water Mark of Jervis Bay at Longnose Point, and bounded thence on the east by that High Water Mark and the right bank of Duck Creek generally northerly to the road leading to Point Perpendicular Light House, thence by that road, generally westerly and north‑westerly to the High Water Mark of Jervis Bay at a wharf, and thence generally on the west and south by that High Water Mark southerly and easterly to the point of commencement. Plan Misc. 1393 Sy." (Yes, it's ALL like this. Gripping). I chose this example deliberately: the lighthouse is recognisably on the north headland, so you know that's where they're talking about. If you follow up on the others, they all seem to be on the north too (with one exception, but let's not go there).

There's the Seat of Government Acceptance Act 1922 (https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2004C00609; again, there's a corresponding NSW act). This complicates things, but then again… it doesn't. It does because it defines a whole new set of land parcels; it doesn't, because it's the same set. This exists only because _"certain errors and misdescriptions exist in the descriptions of lands set forth in [SoGA 1909]". That is, it's covering the same stuff, but more precisely. Nothing (really) to see here.

There's the Jervis Bay Territory Acceptance Act 1915; the one I cited above. I've already said this is irrelevant; what complicates it a tiny bit is that the corresponding NSW state act was called Seat of Government Surrender Act 1915. Ignore that, it's nothing to do with the Seat of Government. It's totally seperate. They just, like… copied and pasted the name of the 1909 state act, or something. Ignore it.

There's the Australian Capital Territory (Self‑Government) Act 1988 (https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2014C00617): this is the act that gave the ACT the right to make its own laws. This should be useful, but… it's not. Its entire definition of the actual boundaries of the ACT is "Territory: (a)  when used in a geographical sense, means the Australian Capital Territory". That's really helpful, you bastards.

As far as I can tell, that's all the legislation that's relevant. 

So, my answer: as far as I can tell, it's unambiguously part of the ACT. It was ceded in 1909 (and clarified in 1922). These acts, as far as I can tell, are the best source we have for defining the boundary of the ACT. If there are other sources, I don't know them.

To address some likely objections:

"The Jervis Bay Territory Act says…" I'll stop you right there. Irrelevant; these acts don't cover the north headland. Ignore JBT, it's a red herring.

"This map says…" Maps don't actually define boundaries. This is an obscure point of geopolitics: it's obvious that many maps don't bother to get it right. Even government maps: we know some of them get it wrong, because many of them disagree. They can't all be right. So which ones are?

"The boundaries have changed since the 1909 Act" [citation needed]. Where? Give me a source dammit.

"NSW ceded the land, and the Commonwealth accepted it. But they didn't make it part of the ACT; it's now just regular Crown [commonwealth-owned] land" Great, good argument. But where is it defined which bits are part of the ACT? Again, [citation needed]. If not the act, find me a source.

In conclusion: damn, I need a stiff drink.

No, wait.

In conclusion: I'm pretty sure it is part of the ACT. But it's deeply murky, and not only do the three goverments seem to disagree on the exact state of this land, but individual sources from the same government do.

Geopolitics is fun!
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That's nuts.
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Jeremy Visser

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Encountering a bizarre bug where after logging in through GDM, a background gnome-shell process runs and constantly consumes 10% CPU in the background.

If I hit Ctrl+Alt+F1 to switch back to the login VT and then Ctrl+Alt+F2 to go back to my desktop session VT, the usage drops to 0%.

An strace shows it's repeatedly calling read() on a unix socket but getting a "resource temporarily unavailable" error.

Wouldn't surprise me if this is a problem injected by the NVIDIA libGL, but I will admit I've done zero debugging.

As a workaround, GDM behaves differently if you enable AutomaticLogin, where it doesn't bother spawning the login VT, making the problematic gnome-shell not spawn in the first place.
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Frustrated with the combination of my hardware and systemd-boot, (a new, renamed version of gummiboot by +Lennart Poettering).

systemd-boot is a minimalist UEFI bootloader that can only execute .efi executables. This includes Linux kernels if they are compiled with CONFIG_EFI_STUB=y.

This is distinguished from GRUB, which is larger codebase–wise, and has a Linux–specific way of loading the kernel.

Unfortunately, there is a long–standing series of problems with systemd-boot, where some UEFI implementations have buggy keyboard handling. From what I can tell, they advertise long keypress support, but don't actually implement it.

It appears that my UEFI has this problem, meaning that in certain situations my system crashes in the bootloader after entering a single keystroke.

If I let the timeout run down, it boots whatever option was selected just fine. Or if I hit the up/down arrows, I can select another option, but it will crash before I can hit enter.

The weird thing about the bug is that my UEFI unpredictably decides between two possible video modes to run in. This is influenced by whether I mash the keyboard to dismiss the HP splash screen but it's not completely binary.

If it picks the higher–resolution mode, systemd-boot works fine and doesn't crash and I can use all the keyboard input I want.

If it picks the lower–resolution mode, systemd-boot only accepts one keystroke, and promptly crashes.

This is extremely frustrating, because I've done nothing wrong, and I can't fix it without using brute force (i.e. using a different bootloader).

There is no way HP would fix this bug. The PC shipped with Windows, and given Windows doesn't trigger this bug, there would be no way of getting a fix. I'm definitely running the latest firmware version at time of writing.

And it's unlikely systemd-boot would fix the bug. A similar issue went non-worked-around in systemd-boot for several revisions with the authors squarely placing the blame on UEFI vendors in the meantime. Only after the public got out their pitchforks was a workaround finally put in. Unfortunately it looks like my hardware needs another workaround for this similar but not same issue, and I can't find anyone else on the lazyweb with my exact issue.

Sigh. Now I know why +Matthew Garrett drinks so much gin.
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As much as I like new shiny things, at least GRUB works. Imagine the furore if GRUB was unreliable on a sizeable percentage of UEFI machines out there.

Only reason why systemd-boot can get away with being broken is nobody uses it.
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Finally got too frustrated with Fedora not supporting non-free drivers well enough and relying on either third-party repositories or building things myself.

Also even several times in the last few weeks there have been certain free software packages I've wanted to install that are available in Debian, Ubuntu, and Arch Linux, but aren't in Fedora, and I really can't be stuffed packaging it or setting it up in Docker.

For those reasons, I'm installing Arch Linux this arvo.

After a few weeks running Arch on my Raspberry Pi I'm happy and comfortable enough to be running it on my primary desktop at home.

The minimalist approach, vanilla desktop environment, and great systemd integration is really appealing to me.
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Good choice. I've been using Arch of a few years now, and am very much enjoying it
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Have you ever mentioned something that seems totally normal to you only to be greeted by surprise? Happens to me all the time, when I describe …
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Jeremy Visser

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Important Notice for Certain AC Wall Plug Adapters & World Travel Adapter Kit Customers. Voluntary Recall and Exchange Program. CUPERTINO, California — January 28, 2016 — Apple® today announced a voluntary recall of AC wall plug adapters designed for use in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, ...
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Jeremy Visser

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Does anyone here work for the +Bureau of Meteorology?

Need the following CSS added to the home page:

#banner > div > ul > li a {
overflow: hidden;
white-space: nowrap;
}

If you don't have the exact font installed or your font size is set too large and the text decides to wrap, the blue buttons in the home page banner aren't handled well.

Better to cut a couple of the letters than to leave an entire button unreadable.
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I think specifying "new homepage" and "system fault" might do it in the feedback page - it ought to create a ticket that at least requires a response:
http://www.bom.gov.au/other/feedback/
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How to C in 2016. This is a draft I wrote in early 2015 and never got around to publishing. Here's the mostly unpolished version because it wasn't doing anybody any good sitting in my drafts folder. The simplest change was updating year 2015 to 2016 at publication time.
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This morning I was wondering why "9HD Sydney" was such good quality on my television.

After looking at the stream in VLC (with my USB DVB-T dongle) it looks like they're broadcasting in H.264!

This is really great news. Most DVB-T video content in Australia uses MPEG-2, which just looks plain awful especially at 1080 resolutions.

The majority of set-top boxes out there already support H.264 as most of the rest of the world is already broadcasting in H.264, but unfortunately Australia has been a bit of a laggard broadcasting in MPEG-2.
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I expect it'll be whatever follows; DTV technology seems to skip generations (there was no usage of DiVX;)/XViD-era MPEG4, for instance). Probably due to being low-CPU boxes that rely on hardware device, like you said.

It's a bit concerning to me that the DTV switchover is so recent, and some of the equipment bought for it is already obsolete. IT might drive a paperless office, but it generates so much technological waste sometimes...
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Dear game developers: do not change my screen resolution.

Ever.

If you cannot render a resolution independent display, render at that size offscreen, and scale it up to my desktop resolution before displaying it onscreen.
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Male
Story
Introduction
Hacker. Bassoonist. Sysadmin.
Bragging rights
Wrote Python-iView. Performed in an orchestra in the Kraton, Yogyakarta as a guest of the Yogyakarta Sultanate; toured Spain and performed in the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; toured Italy; toured Tasmania, rural Victoria, and rural NSW.