An update on 2020

Well, 2020 has gone in interesting directions so far! 🤷🏻‍♂️

I’m writing this from Hobart, where I live, and am currently self-isolating, after we returned home early from the USA a few weeks. We finished two events — including O’Reilly’s Software Architecture Conference (more on that in a second). After the second event, we found ourselves in Miami with the news that both the Game Developers Conference 2020 and O’Reilly’s Strata Data+AI conference (our next two events) were both cancelled.

With news that the COVID-19 virus was spreading, we sat in a Starbucks and worked with Virgin Australia to get us home. We landed in Melbourne early in the morning of 12 March 2020, arrived in Hobart a few hours later. We’ve been voluntarily self-isolating since then, out of an abundance of caution.

It’s already a bit stressful, but it doesn’t seem like the end is in sight.

A few days ago our publisher O’Reilly Media announced that they were shutting down their in-person events business, and wouldn’t be running conferences any more. This coincided with the positions of many of our friends at O’Reilly being made redundant. We’re pretty shocked, and sad. We’ve been to many, many O’Reilly conferences over the last 15 years, so this is very much the end of an era.

This week also coincides with the end of Jon and myself being employees of Secret Lab for 2 months! We made the change, after planning to do so for more than a year, because of all the upcoming travel we’d had planned, and the amazing opportunities we could see ahead if we worked in the business a little more and differently (more announcements soon!) Well, the travel didn’t pan out, but the employment is going well.

More, hopefully more cheerful, updates soon.

Game engines and machine learning

Together with Mars and Tim, at the O’Reilly AI Conference in NYC I delivered a talk entitled Game engines and machine learning, and again with just Mars at the YOW! Data conference, in Sydney.

This post serves as a pointer to some extra resources, as well as a summary of what we presented!

Full code demo, sample, and documentation for the ‘self-driving car’ that we demoed will be provided on GitHub:

The video is also available on YouTube (embedded below), and on O’Reilly’s Learning Platform (if you have an O’Reilly Learning Platform subscription, we strongly recommend watching it there!)

Here’s some useful links, as well:

If you enjoyed what you saw at The AI Conf NYC or YOW! Data Sydney, we’ll be presenting a longer version of this at OSCON in Portland, in July. Check it out!

CommBank is evil.

That should come as no surprise to anyone. But here’s how they’ve been evil  to me this time. Can anyone help?

On 19 September 2018 I filed a AFCA (then FOS) complaint, outlining the following:

I can’t access my credit card in NetBank. It’s disappeared. CBA is confused. Statements have vanished and are not being provided. I can’t pay the card in NetBank, as NetBank claims the card doesn’t exist (and I can’t get statements to see how much I owe).

CBA arrears department keeps calling me at 8:15 every morning (7 calls so far) with no knowledge of my complaints.

Happy to pay, just can’t because of technical failings of CBAs.

This started happening after I used the button in the CBA app on my iPhone to request a replacement card. A feature they advertise and seem to support.

No new card ever turned up, but instead my card disappeared from NetBank, I lost the ability to pay it, and CBA started harassing me.

I tried to be responsive to CBA, and called them regularly about this.

In response to the FOS/AFCA complaint, CBA has claimed to send a replacement card about ~4 times now. I’ve never received a replacement card.

I get emails from NetBank when a new statement is available (screenshots below), but I cannot get statements in NetBank (screenshots also below). CBA has emailed me a few statements, back in October, but never provided any since. 

When no card turned up CBA, at my request, gave me BPAY credentials for the card. So I sent what I guessed was the outstanding amount to the BPAY credentials. It bounced back within 7 days. Charging me a dishonour fee. Wonderful.

Now, here we are, months and months later. I still have no credit card.

CBA referred me to a dispute resolution team member, Jonathan, who was utterly incompetent: he ignored me for weeks at a time, then came back with his final resolution…  to close the card account… and not do anything else?

Recently, CBA has now listed missing payments for the credit card on my Equifax/Veda credit file/credit history. This makes it impossible, for example, for me to get a business loan, or get a replacement credit card from another bank. They have listed so much stuff on my credit file, my credit score has tanked to ~200.

In the last two weeks, CBA booted the incompetent Jonathan off my case and handed me to Tina and Elias, who seemed better at first, but then came back to me with a verbal offer:

  • they would pay me $1,000 for the inconvenience 
  • they would waive the entire credit card debt (approximately $1,500)
  • they would close the credit card account (I told them I didn’t want to be a CBA customer anymore after this—this is true, we’ve started migrating Secret Lab to Bendigo Bank)
  • they would remove the stuff they put on my credit files

When the offer turned up in writing, they had changed the last element to be, instead, “If the Bank has caused an error to the Customer’s credit reporting due”. Calling them to confirm resulted in them telling me that they would not be fixing the credit reporting, as no error was caused. So I have to decline their offer.

Now I have no credit card (this is my only non-AMEX credit card), a ruined credit history (directly impacting my business), and zero access to get CBA to fix this.

Don’t use CBA. They are evil.

Oh and I’m still getting statement emails from them. Even though no statements are available!

All the books! 50% off!

Update 8 September 2014: this promotion seems to have finished now!

AsiOS_Games_1stEd part of O’Reilly’s “Back to School” promotion, all their ebooks and training videos are currently 50% off. This includes the books written by myself, Jon Manning, and Tim Nugent!

Grab a great discount on Learning Cocoa with Objective-C 4th Edition, and our iOS Game Development Cookbook 1st Edition, as well as all of O’Reilly’s other fantastic books. Use the code B2S4 – it’s valid through to September 8, 2014.Learning_Cocoa_4thEd

It’s a great time to pickup these books – while Apple’s Swift and iOS 8 are around the corner, an understanding of Cocoa and Objective-C are still hugely relevant and necessary for iOS and Mac programmers, and the recipes in the game cookbook useful for everything from games to regular apps. Both these books have almost nothing but 4- and 5-star reviews of Amazon (visit them on Amazon, or just grab the sample code via the links on Secret Lab’s books page!)

GovHack 2013

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be part of a team for GovHack 2013. Together with 9 friends, a game about appliances, energy consumption, and battling was born. You can read more about the project, Marvellous Ultimate Appliance, at the team website. We also put up a blog post on the Secret Lab blog.


We were lucky enough to win won of the national GovHack prizes: Best use of A number of friends also won local and national awards!

Voice over

Check out all my photos from the event on Flickr.