Head Case

After 11 years of riding my bike to work, today I saw something I’d never seen before – a cyclist being fined by a police officer for not wearing a helmet. (And no, the cyclist wasn’t me.)

The issue of compulsory helmet wearing is a complicated one. If you’re going to fall off your bike and bang your head on a hard surface, wearing a helmet is probably better than not wearing a helmet. But does wearing a helmet give a false sense of security and encourage reckless riding? Or is wearing a helmet a reminder of the dangers, and therefore encourage safer riding?? Or does compulsory helmet wearing reduce the number of cyclists, which then reduces the  amount of money that governments will spend building safe cycle paths and therefore make riding more dangerous???

The only thing I’m certain of is that anyone who has a firm opinion one way or the other hasn’t understood or thought about the complexities of the issue enough.

For myself, if helmet wearing was optional, I’d still choose to wear a helmet. As for whether it should be compulsory, I lean towards it being compulsory, but the fine for not wearing a helmet (in NSW) needs to be much lower. The current fine of $319 is egregiously disproportionate to the offence, when you consider that the fine for a motorist using a phone while driving, which is substantially more dangerous in its potential consequences to other people, is about the same at $337.

Apollo 11 50th Anniversary

Thanks to the fabulous work by the people at Apollo 11 in Real Time, I’ve enjoyed the weekend reliving the excitement of the Apollo 11 mission, minute by minute.

I was only 5 years old when it all happened back in 1969. Because of timezones and other constraints I didn’t see the moon landing or Armstrong’s first steps live, but I well remember the general excitement of the time, and seeing the replays on the television.

Well done to all!

App failure

As a software developer I well know that software and information systems can have bugs. But it still astonishes me when software from big companies that is being used thousands of times each day across the world has egregious errors.

For example, look at this screenshot from the Malaysian Airlines iPhone app, where the top of the screen has a prominent and scary message about there being no e-mail address provided, while the bottom of the screen has a notification that an e-mail has just been sent to the address which is supposedly not available. And yes, an e-mail was received.


Common People

My June article for The Local is out now, this month on the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, also known as the Commonage. Coinciding with this article, I’ve finally completed a task that I’ve been working on for some time, which is to compile a list of all the people who applied to purchase allotments after the passing of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve Act in 1889. The list of names comes from the 41 days of Land Court hearings held in 1890 to adjudicate on the applications. The list of names is available either in Excel Online or as a PDF.

There is a two part map that shows the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve with the lot numbers as mentioned in the land court hearings. Click on the thumbnail images below to view the map.

Sheet 1

Sheet 2

Steaming along

After years of intending to go, I finally visited Richmond Vale Railway Museum yesterday. On the short trip on the steam train I was standing at the rear door of the passenger carriage. It was the the perfect position to take a time lapse video of the return journey as the steam engine pushed the carriage back up the hill.


My ride to work this morning was aborted by this little tack that I picked up while riding on the bike path alongside Ford Oval in New Lambton. I hope this is just a random bit of debris and not some idiot deliberately having a go at cyclists.

Salesforce Summer ’19 issue with ADFS single sign on

This is a work related techie blog post for the benefit of others who may experience the same problem.

We have a production Salesforce Org and a number of sandbox Orgs, all set up with a Salesforce “My Domain” and configured to use Single Sign On authenticating against Microsoft ADFS. On the weekend, after our sandbox Orgs got upgraded to the Summer ’19 release, we were unable to login to any of our sandboxes using Single Sign On. We were just getting a very unhelpful “An error occurred” message on the sign-in screen.

Comparing the Single Sign On settings in our Production Org (which was still working), I noticed that where the “Login URL” SAML endpoint used to have an “so=OrgID” parameter, this was now gone in the updated sandboxes. Jumping on to our ADFS management console, and editing the relevant Relying Party Trust to remove the “so=OrgID” parameter from the Endpoint was all that was needed to fix the problem.

Curiously, when I checked the release notes for the Summer ’19 update (which is 480 pages long!), there appears to be no mention of this change in Single Sign In configuration.

Production (not yet updated to Summer ’19) had an “so=” parameter in the Login URL SAML endpoint
Sandboxes that had been updated to Summer ’19 release did not have the “so=” parameter in the Login URL SAML endpoint
Removing the “so=OrgID” parameter in the ADFS settings fixed the sign in problem.

Lizotte’s building

My article for the May 2019 edition of The Local is out. This month I clear up two errors that have appeared in a number of history books regarding the Coronation Hall (now Lizotte’s) in Morehead Street Lambton.

Error The truth
The Coronation Hall was built in 1910, the year George V became king. The Coronation Hall was built in 1911, the year of the coronation of King George V.
The Coronation Hall was built on the site of the Criterion Skating Rink/Star Theatre.

The Criterion Skating Rink was built on the south-west corner of Morehead and De Vitre Streets in 1888. In 1892 it became the Star Theatre.

The Coronation Hall was built on the corner of Morehead and Kendall Streets.