Archive for September 20th, 2009

Photo Gallery dead, sort of

I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that I am declaring the photo gallery to be dead, meaning that no more photos will be uploaded to it ever. This is due to yet another issue with the software which runs it.

The good news though is that it will remain online in an archived form, in its current location, and I will launch a new gallery in the near future.

Gallery version 1 is a decent application for what it does, but it is old, inefficient, hopeless at providing any useful information in errors, and virtually impossible to fix when it has anything other than an obvious problem.

The current issue (and the proverbial straw of an issue) that I am currently having with it is that it won’t create thumbnail images (the smaller versions of images that you see on the pages which show many images)…or to be more precise, will get them created by ImageMagick, but fails to recognise that they have been created. As far as I can tell, Gallery is sending a mangled command to ImageMagick which is causing ImageMagick to create the thumbnail and then spit out an error, which is causing Gallery to assume that creation of the thumbnail failed, and ignore the created thumbnail image. Bizarrely, the older version of the Gallery software which I had installed until a few weeks ago completely abandoned processing the images upon receipt of the error from ImageMagick, whereas the current version treats it as a minor error which means that it accepts the image and just doesn’t show a thumbnail.

This issue has been bugging me for a while, and as I couldn’t sleep last night I had plenty of time to play around with the Gallery installation, but didn’t really get anywhere. I did, however, manage to prove that it is a fault in my Gallery installation and not in the Gallery software as distributed, nor a problem with ImageMagick, as a clean Gallery installation does not have the problem in the same environment with the same settings.

As such, I now have the incentive to do what I have wanted to do for a while but could never be bothered to mess around with…upgrade to Gallery 2, or possibly even a different photo gallery application. Gallery 1 has a horrifying and archaic file structure, and upgrading an existing installation to the more elegant Gallery 2 is a rather appalling process, and would mangle the page layout in ways which I would prefer to never have to think about.

Leaving the gallery in its current form is not an option due to the fact that it relies on an aging, and soon-to-be-unsupported, set of PHP scripts which will undoubtedly be exploitable in the near future. Thankfully Gallery has an “offline mode” where it can be easily archived in pure HTML and images form, which will allow me to keep it online without having to worry about updating the software which runs it.

The next thing for me to do will be to play with some newer photo gallery software to decide what I will use for the next incarnation of the gallery…and you can rest assured that, due to my aversion to placing my important online data in the hands people like Flickr who have proven that they can not be trusted to leave photos in their intended form, I will be running the next gallery myself, just like the current one.


September 20th, 2009 at 10:55am

ACCC doesn’t like lottery predictions

The Australian Competition and Consumer Comission has won the first legal battle against, which claimed to be able to predict the Powerball numbers in a way which expands on a theory I have had for some time.

A SYDNEY company promising a guaranteed win at Powerball has had its assets frozen by court order following legal action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Pty Ltd offered a “100 per cent guarantee” to provide the correct Powerball number and help subscribers choose the next five numbers, Federal Court documents show.

The company claimed its system was based on “mathematics, statistics, computer modelling and the complex study of the theory of random probability”, court documents said.

However, the ACCC this week won a court injunction against the company and four men, suspending the scheme and freezing their bank accounts until a further hearing tomorrow.

The promoters disputed the theory that lottery balls fell in random patterns and promised subscribers a system to help them win “all divisions of Powerball”, court documents said.
However, the ACCC said in court documents the promoters did not have insider information, and were engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.
One of the company’s ads included in the [ACCC] application stated: “Win Powerball this Thursday! The first Australian Powerball draw was conducted at 8.28pm on May 23, 1996. After analysing each number drawn excluding the Powerball number since its introduction, we have made an amazing discovery that disputes the theory of random probability and has totally shocked experts.”

I have disputed for a long time the notion that lottery numbers are drawn in a purely random manner for the simple reason that, for this to be true, the balls would all need to weigh exactly the same amount, have the exact same shape (including surface area covered by numbers) and receive an equal amount of the air being pumped in to the lottery machine.

Predicting lottery numbers accurately is, in my view, a simple (OK, simple might not be the right word) matter of knowing the original position of each ball, knowing the precise characteristics of each ball and the machine being used, knowing the characteristics of the air being pumped in to the machine, and then putting it all together with some physics modelling.

That said, knowing all of this information is more-or-less impossible, and knowing it far enough in advance to run a simulation which can predict the lotto numbers is even less likely. Knowing a subset of the information and making a “close enough” prediction is much more likely (and is similar to predicting the weather). I suspect that this lottery prediction service, if the people behind it are being honest, has monitored enough Powerball draws to gather a significant subset of the information.

If they are on the level, then they should have a high enough accuracy rate to prove their case in court…and if they’re feeling generous they might even give the ACCC a complimentary prediction so that the ACCC can cover the court costs without burdening taxpayers.

One thing about this court case will be very interesting though…if the lottery prediction service is legitimate, then it will be interesting to see how much of their research and formula ends up in public court documents. If enough of it is made public, then the business model will be void, as anybody would be able to predict the numbers for themself without the aid of the lottery prediction business. If that happens, you can expect the ACCC to be sued for destroying the business, and quite possibly for the value of every Powerball jackpot in the next decade or three.


September 20th, 2009 at 06:52am

Kevin Rudd’s temper f***s err flares up again

News Limited papers today are carrying a story by Glenn Milne about Kevin Rudd’s latest outburst, and it’s rather interesting to see the various adaptions of it which are being run by the various editors of News Limited newspapers. is running the story from Melbourne’s The Sunday Herald Sun with the headline “PM Kevin Rudd swears at MPs over allowances”, Adelaide Now (Adelaide’s Sunday Mail) has the headline “Cranky Kev blasts MPs in @$%#! tirade”, while over at Sydney’s The Sunday Telegraph it’s “Rudd’s ‘f***ing’ rant at factions”.

The Adelaide and Sydney papers are running the same version of the story with minor alterations from the papers’ editors. The opening paragraph of the Adelaide edition reads:

KEVIN Rudd has had another expletive-laden brain snap – this time in front of a group of Labor’s faction bosses, including three women MPs.

Sydney is the same, except for using the term “brain explosion” rather than “brain snap”.

Anyhoo, the story…Kevin had another outburst, this time aimed squarely at his own parliamentarians.

The outburst on September 7, which shocked even the hardened ALP operatives who witnessed it, occurred after the faction leaders met in the Prime Minister’s Parliament House office to object to government plans to slash MPs printing allowances from $100,000 to $75,000 a year.

At the meeting were MPs Sharryn Jackson, Maria Vamvakinou and Senator Carol Brown, all from the Left faction and Senator Michael Forshaw, South Australian Senator Don Farrell and Senator David Feeney, from the Right.

Three of the MPs present put an initial case to the Prime Minister to retain the printing allowances, which the Government has decided to scrap after a report into parliamentary perks by the Commonwealth Auditor-General.

It was when Senator Feeney, a former Victorian State Secretary spoke up, that Mr Rudd “exploded”.

Mr Rudd then said: “I don’t care what you f—ers think!”

Singling out Senator Feeney, he said: “You can get f—ed”, before asking in regard to the printing allowance issue: “Don’t you f—ing understand?”

A much more detailed expletive-riddled verbal onslaught followed.

This is really a double-edged sword for Kevin Rudd. On the one hand, there are a lot of people who will identify with him as an “ordinary bloke” which will probably do his popularity a world of good in the short term, but more importantly it is another blow to the public image which Kevin and his PR team have worked hard to produce of a well-mannered diplomat with amazing negotiation and placating skills.

A lot of the credit for Kevin Rudd’s 2007 election victory belongs to his public image, and the fact that his public image is unravelling has to be a cause for concern…although as long as the opposition has a bigger concern in their rudderless leader Malcom Turnbull, Kevin’s job is almost certainly secure.


September 20th, 2009 at 03:04am


September 2009

Posts by Month

Posts by Category


Blix Theme by Sebastian Schmieg and modified for Samuel's Blog by Samuel Gordon-Stewart.
Printing CSS with the help of Martin Pot's guide to Web Page Printability With CSS.
Icons by Kevin Potts.
Powered by WordPress.
Log in