Friendly cat in Yarraville

We take a break from our usual cats of Kingsville coverage to show a friendly cat in Yarraville that loved getting scritched by Nadia :)

Turned up after we’d parked our car, got a few scritches, and then wandered off through the hedge into the neighbouring park.

Snoozing dog

One of the perks of working from home is having a snoozing dog in your eye line the whole time.

It’s a cold day and that’s a big gas heater on the back wall. Maggie is very happy.

It’s also a little amusing when you start to speak in a conference call and startle said sleeping puppy :)


Warm and stylish!

It’s important to be warm and stylish when Nadia takes you for your morning walk on a windy, overcast 4-degree day in Melbourne :)

I’m not sure how much she appreciated the coat, but she was certainly looking forward to her walk!

Happy puppy :)

Happy puppy :)

Bypassing the YouTube recommendation algorithm

How many times have you watched a YouTube video that’s ended with a variation of this phrase: “please like and subscribe, and remember to click that bell icon so you get notified every time I upload a new video”?

If you watch YouTube as much as I do [1], you hear this All. The. Time.

What’s with the bell icon?

Why are YouTubers so insistent that viewers clicking that bell icon?

Veritasium (Derek Muller) explains this in his recent ‘My Video Went Viral. Here's Why’ video. In that he presents his “theory of everything when it comes to YouTube”. If you’re a big watcher of YouTube videos, I highly recommended you watch it.

But, basically: clicking that bell icon is great because doing so lets you, essentially, bypass part of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm (while also, technically, giving it more data). This, of course, is the algorithm that, among other things, determines which eight recommended videos you’ll see at the top of your YouTube home page.

If, however, you watch videos from your favourite channel by clicking on a YouTube notification instead, two things happen.

  1. You don’t have to wait for your favourite channel’s newest video to appear in your recommendations list. This is great because now you don’t miss a video just because the algorithm determined, for whatever reason, to not feature that video in your top recommendations.

  2. Once you’ve watched the videos from your favourite channels, YouTube doesn’t need to recommend them to you anymore. That means it can now recommend other things in your recommendations list. Which, depending on how you look at it, can be an excellent outcome.

But…I use an older magic

That, however, is not the method I use. It would make sense if I did – I do subscribe to 454 channels on YouTube, after all. But I really don’t want to be bombarded with all those notifications and emails.

Instead, I use a much older, much simpler, and much less obtrusive way of keeping track of every video a channel uploads: RSS.

Yes, I subscribe to the RSS feed of all the channels I want to watch most (if not all) the videos from :)

Some of the learning and science YouTube channels (and blogs) that I subscribe to.

Some of the learning and science YouTube channels (and blogs) that I subscribe to.

Depending on which RSS news reader you use, this is super easy to do. My reader of choice is NewsBlur so all I need to do is copy-paste a YouTube channel’s URL into NewsBlur’s add-feed dialog and, voilà, I am subscribed to a full feed of this channel’s videos.

So, if you’re someone who watches a lot of YouTube and also uses an RSS feed reader, I highly recommend you give this method a try. It will make your life much easier and you’ll be free of those pesky notifications.

[1] About and hour and half a day, on average.

Tour of the West Gate Tunnel Project

One of the perks of working at Transurban is that you can sign up for tours of our major construction projects — which is how I found myself on a tour of the West Gate Tunnel Project last week :)

Wearing boots, a hard hat, and high visibility vest while touring the West Gate Tunnel Project northern portal (which is across the street from Yarraville Gardens).

I love the West Gate Tunnel Project because, as someone who lives in Melbourne’s west, I know first hand how much of a pain it can be to drive into the city.

Once complete, this new toll road will make it much easier for folks coming from the west — ie the Western Ring Road (M80) or the West Gate Freeway (M1) — to get into the western side of Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD).

Right now, if you’re driving into the city from the west, you have two options: (a) go through Footscray by taking Geelong/Williamstown road and then Dynon/Footscray road or (b) take the West Gate Bridge and get to the south of the CBD.

The West Gate Tunnel will give us a third option, albeit a tolled one: (c) take the tunnel under Yarraville and the Maribyrnong River, followed by the elevated roadway above Footscray Road. Then connect to Footscray Road, Dynon Road (near North Melbourne railway station), or Wurundjeri Way to get into the city; or take the on-ramp to CityLink and go north.

Sadly, this project is still three years away from completion so there’s nothing to do but wait.

On the up-side: this means I’ll get to go on more project construction tours over the coming years :)