Ribena In NZ Court (Updated)

It would have worked, if it hadn’t been for those pesky kids.. 🙂

The global drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline faces a court case tomorrow over misleading advertising, after two 14-year-olds found its popular drink Ribena contained almost no vitamin C.

Ribena advertises itself as having lots of vitamin C:

In fact, each serving of Ribena Blackcurrant fruit juice provides the full Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C

Apparently not!

But it now faces 15 charges related to misleading advertising in an Auckland court, risking potential fines of up to NZ$3 million ($2.1 million).


So GSK ‘fessed up to the 15 counts and copped a fine which was probably small change to them:

The judge fined the company a total NZ$227,500 ($163,700) for misleading advertising.

A Hopeful Sign

The ABC is reporting that “Northern Ireland parties agree to power-sharing government“. Ian Paisley said:

We must not allow our justified loathing of the horrors and tragedies of the past to become a barrier to creating a better and more stable future

Gerry Adams said:

The discussions and the agreement between our parties shows the potential of what can now be achieved

Well here’s hoping, there’s been enough fear, loathing and killing in NI for long enough.

C, Safety and Sanity

On the Beowulf list the semi-mythical RGB wrote an interesting digression on getting started in parallel programming:

C is like an M-1 tank armed with pocket nukes and with a built in levitation system and antimatter propulsion system — misuse it and you can blow up whole worlds, but it can solve lots of problems very quickly. Safe is a kiddy bike with training wheels — not fast, not powerful, but if you pedal long enough you can get where you want to go.

Unless you get run over by a tank, that is.

Talking about parallel programming, André Pang has a nice blog post quoting Edward A. Lee’s essay “The Problem with Threads” which investigates the problems with concurrency and non-determinism in parallel programming. Edward Lee talks about non-determinism he gives a two analogies, the best of which is the one that André picked up on:

To offer a third analogy, a folk definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and to expect the results to be different. By this definition, we in fact require that programmers of multithreaded systems be insane. Were they sane, they could not understand their programs.

I’m glad I’m not a parallel programmer.. 🙂

VPAC & Linux Users Victoria off the air – all RMIT networks down (Update: RMIT back)

RMIT came back online at around 09:30, hopefully it will last!

VPAC systems are unreachable from the outside world as it appears that all RMIT networks failed at around 8am.

This means that the Linux Users of Victoria (LUV) server is also down as it is hosted at VPAC, so no LUV email or website for the moment.

The systems themselves are still functioning normally, just needs the RMIT ITS networks folks to track down the problem and fix it (good luck people!).

A Legal Python Moment

Wonderful repartee courtesy of David Starkoff.

KIRBY J: By the way, is that the form of the State search warrant? I mean, does it still look like that? It is such a tacky little piece of paper. I mean, if somebody presented you with a piece of paper like that that looks for all the world like the roneoed law school notes that I used to receive 40 years ago, you would not take it seriously. It does not even have the State coat of arms on it.

It continues whimsically in that form, worth a read..

XFS, JFS and ZFS/FUSE Benchmarks on Ubuntu Feisty Fawn

Having upgraded to the Feisty beta I thought it would be fun to see what (if any) affect it had on filesystem performance (especially given my previous aide memoir).

For these tests I stuck to my 3 favourites, JFS (from IBM), XFS (from SGI) and ZFS (from Sun, ported to Linux using FUSE by Ricardo Correia due to Sun’s GPL-incompatible license). This is a follow on from a slew of earlier ZFS & XFS benchmarking I did reported on previously (( here, here, here and here )).

Summary: for Bonnie++ JFS is fastest, XFS next fastest and ZFS slowest and Feisty made XFS and ZFS go faster (didn’t record my previous JFS results sadly).

The fact that ZFS is slowest of the three is not surprising as the Linux FUSE port hasn’t yet been optimised (Ricardo is concentrating on just getting it running) and is also hampered by running in user space. That said it still manages a respectable speed on this hardware and does have useful functionality that makes it useful to me.

Continue reading

Three Dead in Traffic Accident and Fire in Burnley Tunnel in Melbourne (Update #3)

Bad news, many sources are reporting that three people have died in an accident that caused an explosion in the Burnley Tunnel in Melbourne. Traffic around VPAC is very heavy as people are diverted.

Major incident: Smoke is billowing from the Burnley Tunnel in Melbourne. (ABC News)
Photo Caption: Major incident: Smoke is billowing from the Burnley Tunnel in Melbourne. (ABC News)

The Herald Sun is saying there could be more fatalities (update 3: police later confirmed 3 dead).

VicRoads has information on diversions and a warning that traffic is very heavy and the notice that:

Access to the Latest Traffic and Road Conditions information may be slow or unavailable due to the number of enquiries.

The VicRoads Traffic Viewer is currently alternating between runtime errors and being unreachable.

Update 2:

ABC are reporting that:

Police say there was a pile-up after a vehicle crashed into a broken-down truck, then burst into flames.

Police have said “We don’t even know what type of vehicle is involved in one occasion, it is so badly damaged” and “There are vehicles down there that are literally balls of metal“.

Police say there was a pile-up after a vehicle crashed into a broken-down truck. (ABC News)

Update 3:

Police have confirmed 3 dead:

The names of the victims have not been released but police say they were a 51-year-old Essendon man who was driving a van, a 37-year-old man from Sandringham who died in his ute, and a 34-year-old man from Sunbury who was killed in his car.

Blair “disingenous” over the misuse of intelligence about Iraq

According to this BBC report in the run up to the Iraq war the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (often mis-identified as MI6) was open within UK government circles about their lack of knowledge of what was going on in Iraq.

When Lord Butler spoke in the House of Lords in February 2007 he quoted from an intelligence report dated 22nd August 2002 which said:

we … know little about Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons work since late 1988

Pretty concise and easy to understand you would have thought – and yet somehow over the next month that got spun into “extensive, detailed and authoritative” intelligence when Tony Blair reported it to the House of Commons on the 24th September 2002.

I am aware, of course, that people will have to take elements of this on the good faith of our intelligence services, but this is what they are telling me, the British Prime Minister, and my senior colleagues. The intelligence picture that they paint is one accumulated over the last four years. It is extensive, detailed and authoritative. It concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own Shia population, and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability.

So much for good faith. Lord Butler called Blair “disingenuous” for that abuse of intelligence, and goes on to say:

Those words could simply not have been justified by the material that the intelligence community provided to him.

So by misrepresenting what the intelligence community said he has completely blown the chance of people in future believing real reports of danger that come via those agencies. So Blair, Bush and Howard have become “the boys that cried wolf” and we are all less safe for it.

Consumer driven climate change

Our good friend Chris Borthwick has had himself a blog since 2004, helpfully entitled “A live toad every morning“, and catching up on which I came across this observation..

One effect of global warming is that the seasons are beginning earlier each year. As one sign of this, I saw a display of hot cross buns for sale in Coles on Wednesday, January 3rd – at least two weeks earlier than last year.