Radiolab is a truly great podcast.

The tagline is “on a curiosity bender”, and it seeks answers to interesting questions about science, humankind, the world, and everything else.

Here are a couple of recommended episodes:

The 1938 War of the Worlds Broadcast



Highly recommended.

Background: I was disappointed to learn recently that some of the most popular podcasts are very similar in content to popular radio shows: mildly amusing but vacuous people chattering inanely. A tragic waste of time considering the alternatives. I thought I’d better do my part to promote some podcasts with actual content, content that’s actually entertaining, informative and/or genuinely useful.



I finally finished Bioshock.

It is a truly extraordinary work of art. Beautiful, frightening, thought-provoking.

If you haven’t played it (and you’re an adult, and not too squeamish) you might like to know it’s on sale through steam for $4.99 until November 1st.

Warning: It’s a horror game. It’s shocking, frightening, very graphically violent, and includes a bit of offensive language and a few sexual references. I do not recommend it for kids.

Note: This is not in any way a paid product endorsement.

Use Winmerge with AnkhSVN

That’s not a suggestion.

If you use AnkhSVN but haven’t already set up AnkhSVN to use Winmerge for merging and comparing, do it immediately (it’s much better than the default tool, and it’s free):

  1. Install Winmerge
  2. Open up Visual Studio and choose Tools > Options.
  3. Expand Source Control (if you can’t see it, make sure you have “show all settings” ticked)
  4. Choose Subversion User Tools
  5. For External Diff Tool and External Merge Tool, choose Winmerge.

Now you can diff and merge files (and whole folders – handy when production and source control get out of sync!) easily:

Hint: hold ALT and use the arrow keys. Up and down move you between changes, left and right copies the change from one document to the other. This allows you to find and merge the changes you need in seconds.

“Object doesn’t support this property or method” errors in jQuery UI

Ever had an “Object doesn’t support this property or method” javascript error occuring inside your downloaded custom jQuery UI code file, e.g.: jquery-ui-1.8.5.custom.min.js?

If you’ve confirmed that jQuery itself is working fine, you might be missing an internal dependency. Apparently, sometimes the jQuery UI download page’s dependency checker can get it wrong (in my case, draggable was listed as a dependency in the comments in the code for dialog, but it wasn’t enforced as such when downloading.).

Try going back and downloading it again, but this time check everything. Replace your existing jQuery UI custom js file with the new one, and see if that fixes the problem.

Booktopia – free postage code

[Update: the free postage code below has expired.]

I’ve previously bought books from an Australian online retailer called Booktopia. Their prices and range are generally better than your traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Amazon is still cheaper, usually – especially with the exchange rate so great for Aussies at the moment (about 1AUD = 1USD)  but when you factor in postage cost (and delivery time, of course) Booktopia will sometimes come out on top, especially for more than one book.

Booktopia postage is a flat fee of $6.50 for any number of books, to anywhere in Australia.

I recently looked at ordering about 5 books for myself and for Christmas presents, and despite Amazon being less than half the price on a few of them (that great exchange rate working nicely!) Booktopia still ended up cheaper thanks to the cheap postage. Did I mention the faster delivery?

I’m sharing this now because I just got a discount voucher from them in my email. “Share it around!” they said. Thus, here it is (use it quick, it expires Monday):

Free shipping, expires midnight on Monday 11th October, 2010 (AEST). Enter code at checkout: BOOKTOBERFEST

You can also win $1000 worth of books by ordering something during October.

Note: I’m not affiliated with Booktopia. I’m not being paid for this. Booktopia doesn’t know I’m writing it.

Basement Books

What happens when a bookstore orders too many copies of a particular book? I found out the full story only a few years ago.

It costs a lot of money to ship books around, and often publishers don’t charge the stores up front for the books, so the books will often be:

1. Remaindered, meaning marked with a pen on the bottom next to the spine and sent off to be sold cheaply elsewhere.

2. Have the cover stripped off and be destroyed (I’d always wondered why books often have an odd warning message about not being sold without the original cover in them – the publisher wants to be sure the books aren’t re-sold).

Well, I’ve found a place that sells remaindered books, and it’s fantastic. It’s called Basement Books, it’s near central station in Sydney, and I make every excuse to visit.

Yesterday I bought:

Remember, these books are brand new, and often good titles (even very popular titles) it’s just that somebody overestimated demand and ordered too many.

The shelves aren’t always alphabetised, and they don’t have everything, but you can get some great books for a heavy discount. Next time you’re in the neighbourhood, check it out.

Note: I’m not affiliated with Basement Books. I’m not being paid for this. They don’t know I’m writing it.