Canberra Wine District

Canberra – a well deserved rise to fame

The Canberra District is a small wine region in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory), with very blurred lines separating it from nearby regions in surrounding New South Wales like Hilltops, Lake George and even Tumbarumba. Partly these regions are conflated because they share similar climate, and are growing from obscurity at a similar time.

Among these regions, the Canberra District has the strongest growth, but it’s still tiny. Official pages cite 30+ wineries, but I think they may be crossing some of the above blurred lines to get that number.

Yet despite the not-quite fledgling status of the region, Canberra has a strong reputation. In fact it’s quickly becoming a very badly kept secret. The reason for Canberra’s growth is quality. There are no big producers here, and the total output would be a small drop in the large vat of Australia’s national production. But the quality and uniqueness of the wines is attracting a lot of attention.

There’s a somewhat useful map at, but I was hoping for something a bit more artistic than a google map overlay.


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Wine Tasting Around the World

Code is dry, I’m thirsty

So this blog is “Code and a glass of wine”, but really there’s not much wine on here. It’s a complaint I hear often from my fans. It’s time to fix this.

One of the things I love doing most is travelling, and one of my favourite types of holiday is a wine holiday. Just in case that term is making you anxious, this is a holiday where you go to a wine region, not a holiday away from wine (that’s not a holiday, it’s a punishment).

The wine world is huge

Over time I’ve visited quite a few wine regions in various countries:

  • France – Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire Valley, Champagne, Alsace
  • Australia – Hunter Valley, Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Canberra, Tasmania, Yarra Valley, Pyrenees
  • USA – Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Willamette Valley, Walla Walla
  • Argentina – Mendoza

Though it’s a decent list, it’s also only scratching the surface. There are lots of regions and even wine producing countries I’ve never been to, and even in the regions I have been there are many producers and sub-regions still on the to-do list. The more you dive into wine, the more you realise there is left to explore.

The huge and changing range in the wine world is actually the best part, because there’s so much new ground to expand your wine horizons into – you’re never finished. Visiting wine regions is a great way to find something new you love about wine. It’s also a great way to build a diverse collection of interesting wines, and expand the range of wine you’re confident buying back at home.

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Wine tasting notes – you couldn’t make them up… could you?

Wine tasting notes and reviews are usually an exercise in self indulgence, in more ways than one. Most are completely unrelated to how you’ll actually enjoy the wine – they’re more about making the reviewer look good. And that’s important, because if people don’t think the reviewer has some special, rarefied insight into wine, then no one will care what they say, and they’ll stop being sent free wine and being invited to wine tasting events.

Take Nick Stock’s review of Clonakilla’s top notch 2015 Shiraz Viognier:

The aromatic spectrum is vast, from fine musky florals to white pepper and almost every imaginable spice, then an incredibly exuberant explosion of fruit, boysenberry, raspberry, cherries of every shade, and plums from red to blue and purple; it is full of life.

The palate has an incredibly deep draw, total palate saturation of ripe red cherry, raspberry and red plum flavor, chocolate and a dusting of white pepper. The tannins radiate light and energy, bright from start to finish. Perfectly ripe, seamlessly balanced and actually very approachable.

Drink it now, but there’s plenty to come in time; this will be best from 2022.

The wine may or may not actually be full of life, but I certainly know what the review is full of. Every shade of cherry! An impressive palate indeed.

It makes you wonder how reviewers actually come up with their reviews. I suppose more pithy and factual reviews would quickly become self-similar. But perhaps there’s a market for a tool to help reviewers hone their prose.

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NDC Sydney talk

In August this year, I gave a talk at NDC Sydney on Real-time Twitter Analysis with Reactive Extensions. NDC is the Norway Developers Conference, so it’s a natural progression for them to come to Sydney. This was their first time down under, but they’ve already announced they’ll be back in August 2017.

It was a three day conference with over 100 speakers, some international and some local. That’s a lot of speakers, and it translates into 7 parallel tracks, or 7 concurrent talks.

Full talk video and code online

The video of my talk is on NDC’s vimeo channel, and the code and data driving the visualizations in the talk is on github. The repository is fairly large because the data files total a couple of hundred megabytes.

I’ve written a few articles covering parts of the material in the talk and discussing the code approach:

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Twitter Analysis: Hillary and Obama’s Convention Speeches

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention

While preparing for my recent NDC Sydney talk on real-time Twitter analysis, I was looking for interesting events to watch play out on Twitter. One great candidate was the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where Hillary Clinton accepted the nomination for president – the first woman in history to be nominated. There were a lot of major speeches from people such as Michelle Obama, former president Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and of course Hillary herself.

In a previous post I discussed the approach I used to identify the topics of Twitter discussion over time. Mapping them out into a histogram in real-time made for an interesting view of the event from the audience’s perspective.

Another view that can be taken using the same analysis approach is to plot key topics over time, to get an idea of the strength and duration of each topic’s impact. It’s interesting to see the topics that got the biggest response on Twitter during Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s convention speeches.

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Tracking Twitter Discussion Topics in Real Time with Reactive Extensions

During my recent NDC Sydney talk on real-time Twitter analysis with Reactive Extensions, I talked about the approach I used to track current discussion topics as they changed over time. This is similar to Twitter’s trending topics, but changing more dynamically.

The source data came from Twitter traffic during two episodes of the ABC’s Q&A show in the lead up to Australia’s 2016 federal election. Each of the candidates for Prime Minister – incumbent Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten appeared as a solo guest to face questions from the audience.

I wanted a live view of the current topics of discussion as the show progressed, to get a feel for which topics the Twitter audience was responding to.

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Detecting spikes in time series with Reactive Extensions

I recently spoke at NDC Sydney, which was a great experience. My talk was on Real-Time Twitter Analysis with Reactive Extensions. I wanted to have a deeper look into the data and approaches I’d started with the Women Who Code workshop.

I wanted some compelling Twitter data, and given the year we’ve had so far in 2016, politics seemed a good choice. Between Australia’s federal election, the EU referendum in the UK and the US presidential primaries, there was a lot going on in this space. Twitter engagement was huge across all of these events.

One thing I wanted to be able to do was to plot the rate of Twitter traffic in real-time. This was relatively easy with a couple of lines of Rx, and it gave me a good grasp of the tweets per minute rate through my data.

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James Bond Data Analysis

This Bloomberg article on James Bond is pretty much perfect. These are some of my favourite things: data analysis, data visualization, and cheese.

I like that the authors sat through all Bond films to classify such things as:

  • Time spent flirting
  • Number of double entendres
  • Aggregate time spent in tuxedos – with (or the morning after adventurous nights) without jacket

I also like that the method of data gathering and delineation of time in/out of tuxedos (or shirts) is precisely specified. Accuracy is important in maintaining significance and respectability.

Also important is the attention to detail in Bond’s romantic escapades, and kudos must go to the authors for including “making eyes” in this category – an easily missed, but crucial and subtle part of any Bond film worth its salt.

Scoldings from M, Q and anyone else alphabetically named are all scientifically categorised. Gadgets are carefully distinguished from plain, unsophisticated weapons.

Poker, Baccarat, and a kaleidoscope of cocktails do not escape the authors’ scrutiny, and of most importance is recognition of Bond’s surname first self introductions.

What I like most of all of is the deep, rewarding insights the authors have uncovered:

  • Sean Connery spent the most time in top drawer dress, followed by Daniel Craig
  • Connery was also the most shirtless of all bonds (possibly a reason to stick to the newer ones)
  • Daniel Craig managed to find something other than romance to do for over 95% of his movies. It must be hard resisting the temptations of being so tempting.
  • The safest Bond to hook up with is Timothy Dalton, the only Bond to have no love interests perish during their movies. Of course, Timothy Dalton may not be the most appealing Bond to choose from, and so perhaps some of the others are worth the risk.
  • If you want an Aston Martin to stay in good shape, give it to me, not James Bond. Please.
  • Brosnan’s Bond was the most prolific with puns and double entendres. Perhaps if he was more focused on delivering value, his movies would have been more appealing.

Particularly worth attention, I think, is the in-depth analysis of correlation between flirting, love interest and mortality for Bond’s female companions. While most Bonds manage to endanger their love interests to the point of fatality in at least some of their movies, Craig, Connery and Moore all manage to lose two love interests in the same movie at least once.

I love the timelines of each movie, which reveal the typically short timeframe Bond takes to recover from the loss of a loved one before moving onto the next opportunity:




If only all scientific method was so exhaustive. Most recommended, A+++, would buy again.

Read the original article here.

Service health monitoring with Reactive Extensions

When integrating independent services to build larger systems, it’s often important for services to keep track of the status of the other services that they depend on. Especially for a microservices approach, where services should expect their dependencies can be absent at any point in time. Services that cope with dependencies being unavailable make a less flaky and more resilient, hands off system.

Services can dynamically change their behaviour as the states of their dependencies change. If a dependency is offline, a service can decide to re-route work, buffer it until processing can resume, or explicitly reject requests. Doing this proactively by reacting to changes in dependencies’ statuses makes this much more fluid.

This post will look at a simple way of using Reactive Extensions to keep track of dependency status.

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