Fixing The 1990 Bathurst Victory – Again!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Sport

Earlier in the year, I posted about the 1990 Bathurst 1000, and how as part of the telecast, Channel 7 embarrassingly missed the winning Holden Commodore of Win Percy and Allan Grice crossing the line.

After finding in-car footage of the car crossing the line from the 1991 telecast, I moved to edit the video to include that footage, recording the car crossing the line for posterity.

Here is the resultant video from that first attempt:

I mentioned in my first article that footage of the car crossing the line did exist, and was broadcast as part of Derryn Hinch’s program on the Friday night before the 1991 race.

I had never seen it again since.

Now, with the recent release of the 1992 Bathurst 1000 on DVD, I have finally come into possession of the missing footage of the car crossing the line for victory – after discovering it within a profile of Grice as part of the 1992 telecast.

So, armed with that footage, I have revisited my edit, and finally – FINALLY – after 30 years I’ve been able to put it together for posterity.

Here is the entire final lap, with the footage of Grice crossing the line spliced into exactly where it belongs:

Enjoy it, Holden fans!

Sunday Nerding: Soyuz Clock

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Technology

A while back, I published a link to a series of videos about the restoration of an Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) – the computer that allowed man to travel to and land on the moon in 1969.

Now the same team have been working on a Soviet-era clock from a Soyuz spacecraft.

The clock is in pretty good condition, so won’t take the time and effort it took to restore the AGC, but for the electronic and space geeks, this is pretty cool too.

I will add to this playlist as more installments of their work is added.

Bitly’s V4 API – Sample PHP Code

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Technology

Recently Bitly have rolled out version 4 of their API, and if you’re using the old API, it is quite a change.

While users were asked to move from older versions to the new version before March 1st 2020, the version 3 API was to hang around until March 31st 2020 to give people a little extra time to move.

Given the current COVID-19 situation, this discontinuation has been put on hold for the time being as per an email sent out to API users.

Nevertheless, it is absolutely time to move to the new version to ensure that you can still automate the shortening of your URLs.

Given my professional working life, I’ve worked with very similar API implementations, so for me it wasn’t a big deal to change over.

Here is the simple function I wrote for PHP, to do a basic URL shorten. Your PHP installation will need to have cURL and JSON libraries installed and enabled.

function shorten_url ($access_token,$group_guid,$shorten_domain,$shorten_url) {

  # setup the JSON payload
  $json_payload = @json_encode(Array(
    "group_guid"=>"".$group_guid."",
    "domain"=>"".$shorten_domain."",
    "long_url"=>"".$shorten_url.""
  ));

  # initialise cURL handle
  $curl_handle = @curl_init();

  # define cURL parameters
  @curl_setopt_array($curl_handle,Array(
    CURLOPT_URL => "https://api-ssl.bitly.com/v4/shorten",
    CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER => TRUE,
    CURLOPT_ENCODING => "",
    CURLOPT_MAXREDIRS => 10,
    CURLOPT_TIMEOUT => 0,
    CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION => TRUE,
    CURLOPT_HTTP_VERSION => CURL_HTTP_VERSION_1_1,
    CURLOPT_CUSTOMREQUEST => "POST",
    CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS => $json_payload,
    CURLOPT_HTTPHEADER => Array (
      "Host: api-ssl.bitly.com",
      "Authorization: Bearer ".$access_token."",
      "Content-Type: application/json",
    ),
  ));

  # execute the cURL request
  $json_output = @curl_exec($curl_handle);

  # decode the output and get the HTTP response code
  $json_decoded = @json_decode($json_output);
  $http_code = "".@curl_getinfo($curl_handle,CURLINFO_HTTP_CODE)."";

  # return results for further processing
  return(Array("json"=>$json_decoded,"http"=>$http_code));

}

The inputs are relatively straight forward:

$access_token – this is the same as your existing OAuth application access token – this has not changed, at least in my case.

$group_guid – this is the only new piece of information you might need. While you can query for this value via the API, for most people the simplest way to get it is to open into your Bitly account in a web browser, where you will find the GUID in the URL, as per this image:

$shorten_domain – if you have a custom domain – (for example, I have the domain “mwyr.es” for shortening purposes) – this is the value you need here. If you don’t have a custom domain, just use “bit.ly”.

$shorten_url – this is the URL you wish to shorten – simple!

So now you can call the function, with the required information.

Firstly, the input data required by the API is converted to JSON via the json_encode() function.

Secondly, we set up the cURL handle, and then supply it with the required data. Note the JSON data is passed within the “CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS” variable, and that the access token is passed as the “Authorization: Bearer” header in the “CURLOPT_HTTPHEADER” variable.

Then we execute with curl_exec() – and store and return the results for further processing.

That’s it!

To understand the returned JSON – (including the generated short link) – and the HTTP response codes, refer to the excellent Bitly API v4 documentation.

Sunday Nerding: Machine Learning

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Technology

In today’s Sunday Nerding, we’re looking at what has become an increasing trend in data and data analysis – machine learning.

In simple terms, as described on Wikipedia, machine learning is:

Machine learning (ML) is the scientific study of algorithms and statistical models that computer systems use to perform a specific task without using explicit instructions, relying on patterns and inference instead.

Watch this video from former NASA engineer Mark Rober on what machine learning is in a practical sense, and how it can be used in a real-world scenario – in this case, sign stealing in baseball.

Fixing The 1990 Bathurst Victory

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Sport

The 1990 Bathurst 1000 was an historic event for a number of reasons.

It was the first appearance at Mount Panorama of the Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R, commonly nicknamed “Godzilla”. It was also the first time the circuit had ever been fully re-surfaced since it was first sealed in the 1950’s.

There was also an unexpected winner – the Holden Commodore of Win Percy and Allan Grice.

Touring car racing in Australia at the time was dominated by the turbo-charged Ford Sierras, and soon it would be the Nissan GT-R doing all the winning. Holden were largely also-rans, and had only won one significant race in about four years.

In fact, until Larry Perkins hit the lead early in the 1990 event, a Holden hadn’t led a single lap at Bathurst since Allan Grice took the chequered flag as the winner of the 1986 race.

A Holden simply wasn’t expected to win – but come the end of the race, the #16 Commodore took the win against all the odds.

Many believe it was the re-surfacing of the track that was a major factor. The new surface gave everyone more grip, and the Ford Sierras spent the first half of the race tearing their tyres to pieces because of it. So they slowed down to preserve tyres and the Commodores could stay with them.

There was also another significant happening that afternoon. Long time broadcaster of the race, the Seven Network – renowed for their innovation in motorsport telecasts – (they introduced RaceCam to the world in 1979) – embarrassingly missed the winning car crossing the line!

This had always bugged me – but recently, I fixed this!

In the opening of the telecast of the 1991 Bathurst 1000, there was a short in-car sequence of Grice crossing the line for the win. Having recently come into possession of high quality copies of both events, I took it upon myself to fix the mistake as best I could.

Here is the result of overlaying the missing piece onto the original broadcast footage:

Fixed for posterity!

On a final note, there *is* footage of the car actually crossing the line somewhere in the Seven archives. The Friday night before the 1991 race, Derryn Hinch broadcast his current affairs program from the circuit, and within his “Thank God It’s Friday” segment, there was backpack camera footage from the pit lane of the car crossing the line.

I saw it at the time, and was pleased to see it – but I’ve never managed to get a hold of it. If anyone has a copy of Hinch’s program from 04/10/1991, I would love to hear from you and fix this properly!

Sunday Nerding: The Birth of BASIC

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Technology

Many people working in the Information Technology industry today, probably started their journey when they learnt the computer language BASIC – (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) – on computers such as the Apple II or the Commodore 64.

What many people won’t know is the fascinating story of how BASIC started, at Dartmouth College in 1964. In today’s “Sunday Nerding”, learn about the origins of this once ubiquitous programming language.


References

Quickshot: I Like Blue Light!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Quickshots

I’ve typically been a poor sleeper for quite a number of years – and when I added a colour smart globe to my lounge room recently, I thought I’d see if it made a difference.

I’ve been spending the evening before bed for the last couple of weeks under a steady blue light, and I swear I haven’t slept better in years.

If you have trouble sleeping, maybe give it a try too?

Turnbull’s NBN Legacy of Failure

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Technology

Malcolm Turnbull has left Australia with quite a legacy with the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Back when the NBN was first mooted in 2008 – (though one could argue its origins go back the OPEL Networks plan from 2006) – everyone was supposed to be on one of three different technologies – 93% of the population with Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP, with up to 100Mbps), 4% with Fixed Wireless (FW, with up to 25Mbps), and 3% Satellite Broadband (SB, with up to 12Mbps).

Tmthetom [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

When then Communications Minister Stephen Conroy cancelled the OPEL plan in 2008, what has become known as the NBN was formulated, with the 93/4/3% split described above.

Enough capacity was to be put into the ground in the FTTP footprint to support 6 separate services – (4 data, and 2 voice) – in every single premise in those areas. The fibre going into the ground was to support services of up to 40Gbps.

To achieve those speeds – (over and above the standard 100Mbps offered initially) – all that would be required is an update to the electronics at each of the fibre connection.

Yes – the original 2008 NBN plan would have allowed for 40Gbps, dependent on CVC and backhaul capacity to be provided by individual ISPs.

Leading up to the 2013 election – and the change of government – then opposition communications spokesweasel, Malcolm Turnbull, and opposition leader Tony Abbott had other ideas.

Simply to oppose on politically ideological grounds, they decided that Conroy’s plan was “too expensive”, and would take “too long”.

Their alternative was to be “cheaper” and “faster to deliver” – neither which has been proven, and has in fact been widely debunked. Their plan called for all areas in which FTTP had not already been deployed, to change to Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN, with up to 100Mbps), using existing copper.

The status of the existing copper was questionable at best.

The rollout has proven to be no faster to deliver – (and in fact has taken longer) – and sustainable speeds of 100Mbps have been so difficult to reach that most ISPs no longer even offer 100Mbps plans – including on the parts of the network that are deployed with FTTP.

What we in fact end up with is what Turnbull called the “Multi Technology Mix” (MTM) – which would leave Australia covered with FTTP in areas where it had already been rolled out, Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) cable in areas where HFC was already rolled out, FTTN in the remaining areas where FTTP had not already been committed and there wasn’t already HFC, and finally FW and SB in much the same areas as originally planned.

The FTTN areas were later broken up further to include some Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) deployments when they realised FTTN, in particular, wasn’t cutting it. Many areas which they earmarked for existing HFC later switched back to FTTN or FTTC, because many of the existing HFC networks they purchased couldn’t be made suitable.

And 100Mbps? Not even remotely likely unless you’re in an FTTP area, and with an ISP that has purchased enough CVC and backhaul capacity.

Rare.

So what does the MTM end up looking like? Take a look at this small area in the western part of Geelong, Victoria, with mapping provided by NBN MTM Alpha:

The purple dots represent locations that are serviced by FTTP; the yellow dots locations that are serviced by FTTN; the green dots locations that are serviced by FTTC; the pink dots locations that are serviced by FW; the orange dots locations serviced by SB; and finally the blue dots locations that are serviced by fibre from a non-NBN provider.

This is pretty stunning – and stunningly stupid.

You’ll see in the bottom right a patch of FTTC – (green) – where some premises right next door to green dots are getting FTTN – (yellow).

In the same street.

In the middle of the map, you’ll see the hamlet of Fyansford – where at the southern end of town you have a non-NBN fibre provider – (blue) – and at the northern end of town you have FTTP – (purple) – with a blob of FIXED WIRELESS in between. This band of fixed wireless is about 10 house blocks wide – or around 120 metres.

Apparently nobody thought that this area – (which is the newest part of that residential estate) – right next door to two fibre areas should get any kind of fixed-line service – not even FTTN or FTTC.

Stupidity.

Finally, zooming into the area just to the right of Fyansford – (which is on the side of a hill) – we see this:

Locations on the eastern side of Hunt Road get FTTN – (yellow) – locations on the western side get SATELLITE – (orange) – and just a little way down the hill, locations get Fixed Wireless – (pink).

And just to the north? A purple dot of FTTP.

I mean, what the hell?

Australia will one day rue this shemozzle of a “multi-technology mess”.

Trouble is, that day has already come, and Turnbull should hang his head in shame.

Mr Robot – The Art of Silence

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Musings

WARNING: This article may contain Mr Robot spoilers if you’ve not yet watched “S04E05 Method Not Allowed”.

I’ve been a fan of the television series Mr Robot since it first began in 2015. The show is an intense thriller based around a hacker group known as ‘fsociety’, which “aims to destroy all debt records by encrypting the financial data of E Corp, the fictitious largest conglomerate in the world.”

Not only is the story and scripting of this series fantastic and engaging, Mr Robot has become famous for testing the bounds of traditional cinematography.

https://tvline.com/2019/11/03/mr-robot-recap-season-4-episode-5-method-not-allowed-no-dialogue-silent/

For example, rather than use traditional cinematographic techniques, creator Sam Esmail has pushed the boundaries to create a stunning visual look and feel. The following video provides an excellent explanation of what this means within the show.


In the current and final season, Esmail is taking us towards to conclusion of the story in even more interesting and stunning ways.

This is where S04E05 is remarkable. After watching it and being – (yet again) – amazed by the experience, I carried on with my evening.

The next day, I read a review of the episode and found myself shocked. The review described the episode as a “silent episode” – and I’m like, what?

Within the first couple of minutes, Darlene tells Elliot that “we don’t have to speak”. And they don’t – there isn’t a single other line of dialogue until the last few seconds of the episode.

This is where the writing of Esmail shines. I thought to myself that “no, it wasn’t silent, I was listening the whole time”.

And I was.

But the story is so well written that I believed I heard the story being spoken. The only “talking” in the episode is done with characters sending or receiving text messages.

I was blown away – I literally remembered hearing the story being told – but I went back and watched again.

No dialogue. And I didn’t even notice.

Stunning television that is truly art.