Planet (Former) Advogato

This is a complement to Advogato, it is an aggregation of blogs of those who used to post on Advogato, but for one reason or another moved their blog from Advogato. It is provided as a service to those who would like to read the "greater Advogato" community.

This site works only as a Planet, it aggregates the post only, to comment on a blog entry, click on the title or time to go to the blog entry on the original site, hopefully it will have a comment facility.

December 19, 2014

Mary Gardiner [hypatia]

The Sydney Project: Wet n Wild Sydney

This year is my son’s last year before he begins full time schooling in 2015. Welcome to our year of child-focussed activities in Sydney.

I’m posting out of order: the SEA Life Sydney Aquarium and Skyzone are waiting. But I thought I’d get Wet n Wild Sydney up while their season passes are still on sale (I believe sales end December 24).

Spoiler: we really liked it! Much more than most reviews of Wet n Wild would have you expect.

All that bad press

Let’s talk about the negatives you may already know about.

Entry is very expensive and pretty much everything else is extra. Lockers? $10. (Oh, but the enticing looking big ones conveniently near the entrance? Those ones are $12.) There are a couple of rides that cost extra. You can’t bring your own food in unless it’s for a baby or for someone with special dietary needs. Food can easily come to $20 a head between a meal and snacks. Parking is $8 (if you pay at the park exit) or $10 (if you pay at the carpark exit). Etc etc. Budget something like 25% of your already plenty pricey admission again, more if you’re going alone.

The food is atrocious. It’s all gluggy, floppy burgers and chips cooked to equal floppiness. This links nicely to this supposedly being a kid-centric review (although really we were there because I like waterslides), in that V is a very fussy eater. When people picture fussy eaters, they tend to picture Wet n Wild’s menu: burgers and chips and chicken pieces. Yeah no, not really. V is almost entirely vegetarian and his emergency go-to foods are mostly various types of bread and baked goods. He does, luckily, eat chips, but we run into a lot of trouble at almost every “lowest common demoninator, give the kids a little treat Mum” place because of the meat. (This isn’t a review of Daydream Island, which is lucky because then I’d have to tell you about V trying to live for a week on Wet n Wild’s food. It was bad enough for seven hours.)

Wet n Wild’s food is actually not what I’d call expensive by Sydney eating-out standards: it’s about a $12 lunch. But it’s $12 that you have to spend on a burger and chips. Not impressed. Adult-wise, Andrew sized up the barista and decided that perhaps a mocha was best. She wasn’t wiping down the steam wand between uses.

Crowds are something that people complain about a lot. We went on a school term Friday rather than a weekend for that reason, and not an unseasonably warm day. Ride waits ranged from none to about 15 minutes, which is about the limit for a four year old. I think in future, we will probably plan to go on a weekday afternoon after school and take advantage of their cheaper post-3pm admission. (Even though there’s the new patrons coming in, the crowds were actually dropping way off from 2pm. We left at 5pm.)

I would be very very wary of ever going on a weekend, or in the school holidays. I’d also be wary of going on a day forecast to be hot: there’s some shade, but I think it wouldn’t be enough to beat off a Sydney scorcher. Weekdays. Afternoons. Mild weather.

Why it worked for us

Here’s one thing that gets negative reviews that I’m not complaining about for our family: the fact that they charge full admission for anyone who is 110cm tall or more, which includes a lot of four year olds. (V is about 115cm.) Don’t get me wrong, this would absolutely be annoying if you have any adult or tall child coming who can’t go on the rides or doesn’t want to, because they have no child carer or “limited rides” entry. You’re 110+cm? Full price for you. (I should note that the paths appeared wheel-accessible to me — we had a stroller with us but not an adult wheel user ­— and they do offer a discounted admission to people with disability cards and free carer admission in that case. Accessibility info here.)

But, for our family, they have us pegged, because here’s what I really liked about the park with a four year old: the rides don’t require that you can swim. I personally quite like being shot off the end of waterslides to sink or swim in a churning pool, but that’s because I can swim well. V cannot: he knows how to hold his breath when water hits his face and he can float and swim a few metres in a calm pool. I wouldn’t put him down a slide that ended in swimming in a churn pool yet if I wanted to see him again. So I had imagined that the day would involve a lot of staring longingly at the best slides while a parent went off to ride them.

But no. The Wet n Wild Sydney model is almost entirely that you go down the slides as a group on a huge raft. As long as you can hang on and follow instructions, you can ride. And the solo rides end in a very shallow long splash pool, so if you have the ability and reactions to lift your head up, you can breathe. So this made every ride for which V met the restrictions (some are minimum 120cm, and 360Rush is 120cm with a minimum weight of 35kg) accessible to him. A much better day than I had thought.

V is also a daring little kid, which is important, because after all, you are riding a raft on rapids. Carefully constructed rapids, yes, subjected to all kinds of safety modelling, under the eye of CCTV, but your kid’s hindbrain may not know that. I think it could easily be a tough day with a nervous kid.

As it was though, with a daring kid and stops for snacks and calming, we ended up spending seven hours there, much much longer than I’d planned, and when calculated at the hour level, the price comes down to similar to some of the other things I’ve reviewed.

Kid review

V’s favourite rides: “the racers!” The H2Go Racers were the second “grown-up” slides we took him on, which was a gamble because they’re solo, and in the second half of them, they’re also dark (Wet n Wild loves adding to the tension by having you ride in the dark). So some careful coaching went into what to expect, but it worked out well. Probably not a surprise for a child who can ski. The only issue with the Racers is that you win the race by, essentially, weight, and so Andrew and I worked out that we needed to wait for him to launch, then stand there and slowly count to ten before going ourselves, if he was to win. This wasn’t the staff’s favourite thing, they’re big on turnover.

That said, the staff were very comfortable with helping him. They launched him down the Racers because he’s a bit short to launch himself. They helped him out of the two person rafts and congratulated him. They’re very supportive of littler kids on the big rides.

He also enjoyed The Breakers (a two-person ride), where you go up a ramp with a water jet shooting you in the back before bumping down the slide, and volunteered himself and me for the Aqua Tube. I looked into it dubiously. “Buddy, you realise that this is entirely dark? And it’s going to be dark all the way to the end?” Sure, he said. And he seemed happy enough, but he didn’t volunteer to go on it again. Of the four-person rides, he enjoyed The Curler and Double BOWLSEye with Andrew but was too short for the rest.

We had expected to spend most of the visit in Wet n Wild Jr/Nickelodeon Beach, which is the children’s area with shallow slides and a little current they can float around in. As you can tell, we didn’t spend much time there, but V is still young enough to think that it was also pretty great. I think he would have been happy there if he was too short for the rest of the park, but probably this is the last year that would be true. (He’s 5 in January, so by the next season, he’ll be nearly 6.)

A (who is 11 months old and doesn’t walk yet) loves pools with Mama, but it turns out she doesn’t much like being sat in water without an adult to hold. Her favourite activity was thus pulling up to stand against a fence. If she was writing this review she would say: six hours of boredom ONE HOUR OF THE BEST FENCE OF BESTNESS. She squeezed in a whole day’s worth of cooing and squealing during her fence time.

Safety-wise, we did manage to get a “tour” of their first aid facilities, courtesy of V taking a nasty fall climbing up the stairs to some slides, and grazing the skin along four of his ribs. It started off badly, when we asked that tower’s “Aquatic Safety” staffer for directions to First Aid and she sounded puzzled and didn’t know. She suggested we go ask Guest Services at the other end of the park. However, 50 metres into the walk, a different staff member stared at us lugging a crying kid and came over to ask us what was up. He was appropriately horrified that we had not got good directions or an escort, and he pulled out a whistle, blew on it, and flagged another staff member over to show us to First Aid. I had half expected them to have a bored GP on staff for the look of the thing, but it was a paramedic and a nurse, which is fine (and for emergencies and first aid probably more appropriate). They have a nice big space with a few beds, basically a doctor’s office. They bandaided V up and gave him stickers and no doubt watched him for all the danger signs that I don’t even know about for shock or concussion.

For an hour or so, he didn’t want to slide any more, and we worried that he’d cracked a rib perhaps, but then suddenly he was watching Andrew on the Racers and then he announced “I want to slide again!”

Adult review

I can’t resist a quick adult review, and in any case, I’m recommending this as a family outing. Which may include adult slide lovers.

First, as above, a disappointment: the group-oriented model means that there aren’t a lot of solo rides and they aren’t the most fun ones either. I think you can go up the towers with four-person rafts and get grouped at the top (rides on those towers are The Curler, Riptide, Double Bowlseye, Tantrum, T5 and Bombora) but you’re supposed to pair yourself up for the two-person raft slides (Half-pipe, The Breakers, Typhoon and Aqua Tube). The two solo rides are H2Go Racers and 360Rush.

For adults, I’d say it isn’t the best solo day out, but I’d go there with friends.

We only went on one ride that was pretty much tweens/teens/adults only (due to the minimum weight): 360Rush. They position 360Rush as the most extreme water ride (“leave your loose jewellery with your friends who are too chicken to ride!”) because it’s the (near) free-fall one: you fall about 15 metres or so and then go around a 360° loop feet first. Andrew and I both did a 360Rush ride, and here’s our collective review: it’s over pretty damned quickly! Andrew’s report was pretty much: aaaaah, oh, now it’s over. Having heard that, I tried to pay attention, and so I got aaaah, huh I’m slowing, so that means this is the bit where I’m upside down, only I have no sense of direction, how strange, oh, now it’s over.

But that’s not to say it isn’t potentially scary. You wear a backboard (I guess to stop you flinging your head back and banging it), you get shut in a small capsule (I guess to position you safely, but also because they can find out if you’re too claustrophobic while it’s reversible), a voice counts down, and a trapdoor opens under your feet to drop you down. It’s all in the build-up. You need to be willing to trust in the machines. I’ve never dropped so fast, so I realised afterwards that I had a little bit of cartoon physics in my head, where I’d hover above the open trapdoor thinking “NOOOOOO”. But real physics doesn’t work like that. By the time you know the trapdoor is open, you’re about 5 metres below it.

It’s actually not a super-fun ride, because it’s so fast and there’s not a lot of sensory experience with it. The rush is good afterwards though. Assuming you’re OK with the fall and the confined space (and note: I am not normally especially thrilled about heights), it’s worth doing once so that you can downplay the experience to all your friends.

Summary

Cost: $79.99 for people 110cm+, $59.99 for people shorter than 110cm, age three and under is free. All 3yo+ admission is $49.99 after 3pm. Season passes from $119.99, so if you’re going more than once, you should probably buy one.

Recommended: yes, much more so than I’d dared to hope, but with the proviso that it’s even more expensive than the sticker price, and that you should pick a day that’s not going to be hot or crowded.

More information: Wet n Wild Sydney website.

December 19, 2014 10:51 PM

December 16, 2014

Thomas Thurman [marnanel]

Region mapper

Something I've wanted to do for a while: You know those sites where you can fill in which states/counties/whatever you've visited? I'd like to generalise that. You could zoom to a particular area and it would say "counties of Wales" or "police force areas of Wales" or "wards of Salford" or whatever. Then when you chose one you could colour the regions in as you wished, and make a key. And then you could save them as SVG or PNG, both with enough metadata that you could reload them back into the site and get your editable state back. Some sort of integration with Wikimedia Commons would be nice too. What do you think?

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/319179.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

December 16, 2014 09:37 PM

Rachel Chalmers [rachel]

this is a thing that salome and i do sometimes

Me: trying to find the perfect version of o holy night, so far it’s a tie between sufjan stevens and tracy chapman
story of my life

Her: Oh no it’s not! It’s the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I listen twice a day. I sit quietly and cry. It’s sublime. Truly.

Me: fall on your knees, o hear the angel voices
is pretty much everything right now

Her: It’s funny you’d be listening to that. I mean, I’ve seriously been listening in silent meditation twice a day for about two weeks. And in my head I hear that line all day.
What are the odds, really?

December 16, 2014 06:19 AM

Thomas Thurman [marnanel]

Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 2, number 7
15th December 2014: the strangest whim
What I’ve been up to

I've been dividing my time between writing, contacting potential literary agents, and being asleep-- this last because they're trying me with a new antidepressant. So far it seems to be going well, but time will tell.

Two special offers for your attention, especially if you're looking for last-minute ideas for presents:

1) Because my partner Kit and I are still both too ill to work, I've reissued Time Blew Away Like Dandelion Seed, a collection of over a hundred of my poems. You can buy the paperback from Lulu. A signed and numbered hardback edition is also in the works: I'll let you know when it's ready. (The best regular way of supporting Gentle Readers, and me, financially is still through Patreon.)

2) My good friend Katie, who is a talented photographer as well as a nursing student, was due to study in the Netherlands next semester, but then she was unexpectedly sent to Finland instead. The Finnish cost of living is rather greater than the Dutch, so she is selling prints of her work to make up the budget shortfall. Please do go and check them out.

A poem of mine

FOR NIGHT CAN ONLY HIDE

When once I stop and take account of these
that God has granted me upon the earth,
the loves, the friends, the work, that charm and please
these things I count inestimable worth;
when once I stop, I learn that I am rich
beyond the dreams of emperors and kings
and light is real, and real these riches which
exceed the worth of all material things...
   when thus I stop, I cannot understand
   when few and feeble sunbeams cannot find
   their way into that drab and dreary land,
   the darkness of the middle of my mind.
yet darkness cannot take away my joy,
for night can only hide, and not destroy.

Something wonderful

The City of Westminster is one of the towns that make up Greater London. In 1672, its population was growing very fast, and builders were anxious to buy land for housing. George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, owned a mansion in Westminster called York House, and he agreed to sell it for demolition and redevelopment. The price he named was £30,000-- around £6 million in modern money-- plus one extra condition: all the streets built on the land had to be named after him.

The developers agreed, and set to work. Soon they had built George Street, Villiers Street, Duke Street, and Buckingham Street, at which point they were running out of naming possibilities, with one small alley yet to be named. Thus, in a moment of desperate lateral thinking, they gave it the ingenious name of Of Alley.

Something from someone else

Chesterton wrote quite a few poems about depression. I like this one particularly because it starts humorously-- literally using gallows humour-- but once it's drawn you in, it ends on a serious point about hope. Ballades are a difficult form, but Chesterton makes it look easy, though in fact he's made it even harder for himself by his choice of rhymes. It's conventional to address a prince at the end of a ballade, who is often assumed to be the Prince of Darkness (i.e. Satan): thus the end of the poem is about the downfall of evil, and perhaps the Second Coming.

BALLADE OF SUICIDE
by G K Chesterton

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall.
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours— on the wall—
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
The strangest whim has seized me... After all
I think I will not hang myself today.

To-morrow is the time I get my pay—
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall—
I see a little cloud all pink and gray—
Perhaps the rector's mother will NOT call—
I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way—
I never read the works of Juvenal—
I think I will not hang myself today.

The world will have another washing day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H. G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
Rationalists are growing rational—
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
So secret that the very sky seems small—
I think I will not hang myself today.

Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even today your royal head may fall—
I think I will not hang myself today. 

Colophon

Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at https://gentlereaders.uk, and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at thomas@thurman.org.uk and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. ISSN 2057-052X. Love and peace to you all.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/318874.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

December 16, 2014 04:17 AM

December 14, 2014

Michael Still [mikal]

Ghost




ISBN: 9781416520870
LibraryThing
Trigger warning, I suppose.











This like a Tom Clancy book, but with weirder sex, much of it non-consensual. Also, not as well thought through or as well researched or as believable. I couldn't bring myself to finish it.

Tags for this post: book john_ringo terrorism nuclear
Related posts: Citadel; Hell's Faire; Princess of Wands; East of the Sun, West of the Moon; Watch on the Rhine; Cally's War
Comment

December 14, 2014 11:48 PM

How are we going with Nova Kilo specs after our review day?

Time for another summary I think, because announcing the review day seems to have caused a rush of new specs to be filed (which wasn't really my intention, but hey). We did approve a fair few specs on the review day, so I think overall it was a success. Here's an updated summary of the state of play:



API



API (EC2)

  • Expand support for volume filtering in the EC2 API: review 104450.
  • Implement tags for volumes and snapshots with the EC2 API: review 126553 (fast tracked, approved).


Administrative

  • Actively hunt for orphan instances and remove them: review 137996 (abandoned); review 138627.
  • Check that a service isn't running before deleting it: review 131633.
  • Enable the nova metadata cache to be a shared resource to improve the hit rate: review 126705 (abandoned).
  • Implement a daemon version of rootwrap: review 105404.
  • Log request id mappings: review 132819 (fast tracked).
  • Monitor the health of hypervisor hosts: review 137768.
  • Remove the assumption that there is a single endpoint for services that nova talks to: review 132623.


Block Storage

  • Allow direct access to LVM volumes if supported by Cinder: review 127318.
  • Cache data from volumes on local disk: review 138292 (abandoned); review 138619.
  • Enhance iSCSI volume multipath support: review 134299.
  • Failover to alternative iSCSI portals on login failure: review 137468.
  • Give additional info in BDM when source type is "blank": review 140133.
  • Implement support for a DRBD driver for Cinder block device access: review 134153.
  • Refactor ISCSIDriver to support other iSCSI transports besides TCP: review 130721 (approved).
  • StorPool volume attachment support: review 115716.
  • Support Cinder Volume Multi-attach: review 139580 (approved).
  • Support iSCSI live migration for different iSCSI target: review 132323 (approved).


Cells



Containers Service



Database



Hypervisor: Docker



Hypervisor: FreeBSD

  • Implement support for FreeBSD networking in nova-network: review 127827.


Hypervisor: Hyper-V



Hypervisor: Ironic



Hypervisor: VMWare

  • Add ephemeral disk support to the VMware driver: review 126527 (fast tracked, approved).
  • Add support for the HTML5 console: review 127283.
  • Allow Nova to access a VMWare image store over NFS: review 126866.
  • Enable administrators and tenants to take advantage of backend storage policies: review 126547 (fast tracked, approved).
  • Enable the mapping of raw cinder devices to instances: review 128697.
  • Implement vSAN support: review 128600 (fast tracked, approved).
  • Support multiple disks inside a single OVA file: review 128691.
  • Support the OVA image format: review 127054 (fast tracked, approved).


Hypervisor: libvirt



Instance features



Internal

  • A lock-free quota implementation: review 135296.
  • Automate the documentation of the virtual machine state transition graph: review 94835.
  • Fake Libvirt driver for simulating HW testing: review 139927 (abandoned).
  • Flatten Aggregate Metadata in the DB: review 134573 (abandoned).
  • Flatten Instance Metadata in the DB: review 134945 (abandoned).
  • Implement a new code coverage API extension: review 130855.
  • Move flavor data out of the system_metadata table in the SQL database: review 126620 (approved).
  • Move to polling for cinder operations: review 135367.
  • PCI test cases for third party CI: review 141270.
  • Transition Nova to using the Glance v2 API: review 84887.
  • Transition to using glanceclient instead of our own home grown wrapper: review 133485 (approved).


Internationalization

  • Enable lazy translations of strings: review 126717 (fast tracked).


Networking



Performance

  • Dynamically alter the interval nova polls components at based on load and expected time for an operation to complete: review 122705.


Scheduler

  • A nested quota driver API: review 129420.
  • Add a filter to take into account hypervisor type and version when scheduling: review 137714.
  • Add an IOPS weigher: review 127123 (approved, implemented); review 132614.
  • Add instance count on the hypervisor as a weight: review 127871 (abandoned).
  • Allow extra spec to match all values in a list by adding the ALL-IN operator: review 138698 (fast tracked, approved).
  • Allow limiting the flavors that can be scheduled on certain host aggregates: review 122530 (abandoned).
  • Allow the remove of servers from server groups: review 136487.
  • Convert get_available_resources to use an object instead of dict: review 133728 (abandoned).
  • Convert the resource tracker to objects: review 128964 (fast tracked, approved).
  • Create an object model to represent a request to boot an instance: review 127610 (approved).
  • Decouple services and compute nodes in the SQL database: review 126895 (approved).
  • Enable adding new scheduler hints to already booted instances: review 134746.
  • Fix the race conditions when migration with server-group: review 135527 (abandoned).
  • Implement resource objects in the resource tracker: review 127609.
  • Improve the ComputeCapabilities filter: review 133534.
  • Isolate Scheduler DB for Filters: review 138444.
  • Isolate the scheduler's use of the Nova SQL database: review 89893.
  • Let schedulers reuse filter and weigher objects: review 134506 (abandoned).
  • Move select_destinations() to using a request object: review 127612 (approved).
  • Persist scheduler hints: review 88983.
  • Refactor allocate_for_instance: review 141129.
  • Stop direct lookup for host aggregates in the Nova database: review 132065 (abandoned).
  • Stop direct lookup for instance groups in the Nova database: review 131553 (abandoned).
  • Support scheduling based on more image properties: review 138937.
  • Trusted computing support: review 133106.


Scheduling



Security

  • Make key manager interface interoperable with Barbican: review 140144 (fast tracked, approved).
  • Provide a reference implementation for console proxies that uses TLS: review 126958 (fast tracked, approved).
  • Strongly validate the tenant and user for quota consuming requests with keystone: review 92507.


Service Groups



Sheduler

  • Add soft affinity support for server group: review 140017 (approved).


Tags for this post: openstack kilo blueprint spec nova
Related posts: Specs for Kilo; One week of Nova Kilo specifications; Compute Kilo specs are open; Specs for Kilo; Juno nova mid-cycle meetup summary: slots; Juno nova mid-cycle meetup summary: nova-network to Neutron migration Comment

December 14, 2014 11:15 PM

Soft deleting instances and the reclaim_instance_interval in Nova

I got asked the other day how the reclaim_instance_interval in Nova works, so I thought I'd write it up here in case its useful to other people.

First off, there is a periodic task run the nova-compute process (or the computer manager as a developer would know it), which runs every reclaim_instance_interval seconds. It looks for instances in the SOFT_DELETED state which don't have any tasks running at the moment for the hypervisor node that nova-compute is running on.

For each instance it finds, it checks if the instance has been soft deleted for at least reclaim_instance_interval seconds. This has the side effect from my reading of the code that an instance needs to be deleted for at least reclaim_instance_Interval seconds before it will be removed from disk, but that the instance might be up to approximately twice that age (if it was deleted just as the periodic task ran, it would skip the next run and therefore not be deleted for two intervals).

Once these conditions are met, the instance is deleted from disk.

Tags for this post: openstack nova instance delete
Related posts: One week of Nova Kilo specifications; Specs for Kilo; Juno nova mid-cycle meetup summary: nova-network to Neutron migration; Juno Nova PTL Candidacy; Juno nova mid-cycle meetup summary: scheduler; Juno nova mid-cycle meetup summary: ironic Comment

December 14, 2014 09:51 PM

Thomas Thurman [marnanel]

major rode ahead

I can remember going through that stage fairly clearly. I was about five, and I'd read a cracker joke at a party that said:
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Major.
Major who?
Major road ahead.
This is because there used to be road signs that said "major road ahead", but I didn't know this-- they'd been obsolete before I was born. I assumed it meant that a major in the army rode ahead of the rest of the soldiers. That seemed a bit odd, but when I told my parents the joke, they laughed. Can anything compare to that moment when you make someone else laugh on purpose? So I told the joke again the next day, and it somehow wasn't funny any more. Clearly, then, I had to learn new jokes, but how? I determined to experiment by changing the joke slowly to see whether I could work out what made the original joke funny. My first attempt was:
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Major.
Major who?
Major curtains.
Of course when I told my parents that joke they laughed as well because of the surrealism, which made constructing a hypothesis about the nature of humour rather difficult.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/318668.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

December 14, 2014 01:29 PM

December 13, 2014

Don Marti [dmarti]

Look who's beating the advertising business at the BS game.

I read Bob Hoffman's blog, and, fine, I have to agree that advertising has a certain amount of bullshit in it. But the sad news is that old-fashioned brand bullshit is losing out to web-scale Big Data bullshit. Seriously, ad people, you're getting beat by a bunch of computer programmers. That's weak. Our idea of bullshitting is stuff like Look at the the ROI to the company if you buy me a faster computer! We're just tech people, no formal training in any of this stuff. We shouldn't be able to out-bullshit anybody. But I guess that as soon as you throw TECHNOLOGY and STATISTICS into the mix, ad people are all, whatever you say!

Bwah ha ha.

How about a simple example of the kind of thing that gets through?

I'll start a used car lot, and hire a statistician. She stands around with a clipboard and watches the people who walk in. 20% of the people kick at least one tire. Out of the tire-kickers, 10% end up buying a car. Out of the rest of the people, only 1% end up buying a car. So, out of every 1000 visitors:

20: kick a tire and buy a car.

180: kick a tire and don't buy a car.

8: don't kick a tire, buy a car anyway.

798: neither kick a tire nor buy a car.

What do I do with this information besides sell 28 cars? Maybe, not much. But let's say I need to hire my nephew. So he comes in to work and starts handing a live rat to everyone who kicks a tire. Now, half of the people who get a rat just run away.

100: kick a tire, get a rat, run away.

10: kick a tire, get a rat, buy a car.

90: kick a tire, get a rat, don't run away but don't buy a car.

8: don't kick a tire, buy a car anyway.

798: neither kick a tire nor buy a car.

Now, are the rats a good idea? If you want to go by common sense, probably not. I'm selling 18 cars instead of 28. But let's say the nephew and the statistician work together to justify the rats. The statistican can do multi-touch attribution on car sales. How does that work?

Simply speaking, channels that appear more often in converting paths than to no-converting paths receive a higher weight, which in turn allows them to claim more conversion credits and thus revenue.

By multi-touch attribution, the rat plan is a huge win. There are 18 converting paths and there's a rat on 10 of them.

So, did I convince you that we should be handing out rats to more customers? Probably not. But use real-world messy data, dress it up with a few more graphs and some more mathematical-sounding language, and make the rats digital? Hell yeah.

December 13, 2014 03:29 PM

Shlomi Fish [shlomif]

Tech Tip: Make Jamendo Playback Work in Firefox on Mageia Linux

If you’re having a problem playing Jamendo tracks after pressing the “Listen” button (such as on this page) on Firefox running on Linux, then try to install the packages «gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-plugins-good gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-mpeg gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg» (relevant to Mageia; try their equivalent in other distributions), restart Firefox and try again. The problem is that Firefox needs extra gstreamer plugins to play proprietary formats in HTML audio and video elements. Cheers!

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December 13, 2014 12:15 PM