Eric Lindsay's Blog 2006 April

Saturday 1 April 2006

Sonic Impact T-amp

A cheap portable amplifier from Sonic Impact in 2003, intended for toys for children. It uses a digital audio amplifier chip designed by Adya Tripathi, founder of Tripath in San Jose. Richard Bracke, Robert Cotton and Mark Zickel started SonicImpact to get in to the expected portable audio boom. Sonic Impact wanted to use the $3 low end 2024 Tripath chip because they could power it using 8 AA cells. They used Tripath's board design, with production outsourced to China. SonicImpact is a small self funded company still has only 5 employees, with production outsourced.

In 2005 T-amp sales boomed, as audio enthusiasts realised the tiny chip produced good performance, at least up to 5 watts output. Nominally it can produce 15 watts, but THD increases rapidly after 5 watts into 8 ohm speakers. Tripath have other more expensive chips using the same idea for high output powers.

I even finally located a Sonic Impact T-amp sold in Australia at Decibel HiFi. Easier than attempting to import from the USA. I have been seeking a high efficiency digital amplifier for ages. Can't understand why I have not seen them in local electronics hobby magazines.

Sunday 2 April 2006

Zero Power

Power went out at 8:32 p.m. for long enough for the UPS to be noticed. No wind, no obvious causes.

Media Ownership and Digital TV

Communications Minister Senator Coonan has released a PDF discussion paper on Meeting the Digital Challenge. I am not sure what media ownership restrictions have to do with digital media (except that all analogue media is challenged by computers and especially the almost unrestricted internet). Since DCITA consultation was presumably with the media owners, I am not sure why the good senator bothered with a discussion paper for (I assume) the same media owners to discuss yet again.

As usual, I imagine the government will only be prepared to listen to advice that confirms what it wants to do. The Productivity Commission gave excellent advice about five years ago, and was ignored. That advice was basically to remove the protection from the old media, and let them compete. So naturally advice that fits the Nature red in tooth and claw, dog fuck dog Liberal competition philosophy obviously does not apply to their friends in the media. Then the Allan Consulting group report in September 2004 for the Department of Communications pointed out the merits of wider consumer choice, via multi-channeling or more networks would drive digital uptake by the public. What a surprise that the public may prefer more choice of channels! Not that the public were ever told the contents of the report.

Monday 3 April 2006

Psion Revo Prototype

I was sent a note of this Psion Revo prototype from several years ago being offered on eBay. Psion Revo Conan prototype. There was even a photo, with the Bluetooth antenna. I can't believe it. Psion were so close to a great PDA. Now all we have is Windows CE, slow and bloated.

Technological Protection Measures

I made a submission to the House of Representatives review, so they kindly advised me when the copyright protection review appeared. The committee report appears at Review of Technological Protection Methods. Actually, since any sort of copying of electronic media is illegal in Australia, I might as well pirate everything in future. Well, OK, except stuff my friends have written.

Tuesday 4 April 2006

Telstra i-Mode

This i-Mode keeps appearing in advertising flyers from Telstra. Appears to be a proprietary Telstra only content system for mobile phones, launched in November 2004, aimed at lifestyle content. Telstra seem to have licensed it from NTT's DoCoMo service. If I were going to use a mobile phone to obtain content, the content I would want would be access to the Internet, and to regular web pages. However they are all bloated crap.

i-Mode content appears to be cHTML, a compact subset of HTML developed by Access Co. Ltd. Sounds cost and content limited to me.

The closest thing to a standard I can find is W3C Mobile Computing best practice and this note on compact HTML. There is also a description of i-mode compatible HTML at DoCoMo.

Wednesday 5 April 2006

Apple Boot Camp

Apple release Bootcamp, a method of installing Windows XP SP2 so you can dual boot it on an Intel based Macintosh. While not simple, the Apple method is a lot cleaner than previous methods of doing this. Bootcamp is not supported by Apple, but is a beta of a facility to be released with Leopard, the next version of their operating system.

I do not need Bootcamp, as I do not have an Intel based Macintosh. However when I switched to Macintosh a few years ago to escape Windows, I kept one old Windows notebook, for the two or three programs that had no substitute in OS X. As it happened, once I got used to OS X, the prospect of running Windows was so hateful that instead I stopped using the PDA that needed Windows support. My only need for Windows now is to see what bugs Internet Explorer 6 has when it displays my new web pages. If Internet Explorer correctly displayed my web pages (which are all valid and validated HTML and CSS that work on every other browser) I would not need Windows at all. Plus Internet Explorer 7 fixes a fair number of the IE6 bugs (although not enough bugs for me to write web pages in XHTML). So sometime in the future, a Macintosh that can also run Windows would let me finally dump my last Windows PC. That sounds desirable.

Thursday 6 April 2006

Parallels Virtual Computing

Parallels release beta of virtualisation for Mac OSX to allow you to run Windows XP on a Intel based Macintosh OSX system at the same time as OSX. Workstation version to cost US$50. Parallels have had Windows and Linux hosted version of their software for some time. For people who need to run two (or more) operating systems frequently, this could be better than dual booting. Well, except for games players. Games need to be close to the hardware.

Friday 7 April 2006

Tree Fall

A rending, followed by crashing. Along with lots of neighbours at the Whitsunday Terraces I went outside into the dark and stormy night. The continuing rain probably loosened the soil around the very large tree outside our apartment. So it came crashing down. Luckily we don't need to use the car soon, as it looks like the driveway is blocked. I guess I will get a good look at it in the morning.

The peacocks that roost in it will be furious! I did hear the peacock, so I know it escaped the fall. Do not have any idea where the peacock is roosting these days. Jean had been pleading for divine intervention, to prevent the peacock roosting in the tree outside out bedroom window. In future she is going to be more careful what she wishes for.

Saturday 8 April 2006

DRM and Apple

Does the Intel based Macintosh contain a DRM chip? Several people have noticed that the Apple prototypes contained a trusted computing chip. Most of us imagined it was part of the way Apple intended to make it more difficult for people to use Apple's OS X on non-Apple hardware. However other people thought it something intended to restrict copying of music and films.

I am in wait and see mode. If it is a device that restricts what I can do with media items I purchase, then I will not purchase those items. Sony are already so thoroughly on my shit list that I boycott all their products, and hope that Sony go out of business. If Apple play the same restrictive game, my response includes never buying another Apple computer.

Sunday 9 April 2006

Mount Whaleback

BHP-Billiton are really the pits. A hole 5.5 km long, 1.5 km wide in West Australia, shipping 100 million tons of iron ore a year. Now, where is the value adding? OK, we have a lot of minerals R&D activity. About the only value adding I can see in Australia is loudspeaker design. We should be doing better than that. OK, OK, as long as we burn coal, we can also do cheap electricity for aluminium refining.

Monday 10 April 2006

DVDs don't play

What is it with DVDs and DVD players? I just tried to watch 2001. It stopped at the Intermission! Most DVDs seem to get about half way through the thing and then fail to work. Is it the cheap shit player? If so, just how do you avoid cheap crap DVD players when all that is available is $50 stuff for BigW and KMart? Is it copy protected media? I was planning on trying to collect a bunch of movies and TV series that I wanted to see in peace, avoiding advertising. On present experience, I'll well end up deciding the entire media industry can shove their crap products up their arse!

Tuesday 11 April 2006

Prelude to Travel

I had a bad back. I had organised to visit the chiropractor when Jean had her appointment. Felt a little better, for a while. However the pain soon returned.

I spent a lot of the day trying to get little tasks done, and get the paperwork off the floor. Plus making sure I had packed the right things for our trip to Brisbane.

Wednesday 12 April 2006

Travel to Brisbane

While the floor of our apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces was clear when our cleaner arrived, preparations for travel were not. Plus I was again feeling poorly, with my back hurting badly.

Jean and I did get away on time for the 3:20 p.m. shared taxi to collect us. At Proserpine Airport we spotted Jim, our neighbour, and so we had a chat with him while waiting on Deathstar ... sorry, Jetstar flight 677 at 5:10 p.m. Jean and I reached the Hotel George William and were settled in our room by 8. Luckily the hotel restaurant stayed open until 9, so we dined there, and took the remains of our bottle of wine back to the room.

I had trouble sleeping, with my back pain getting worse. By 3 a.m. I couldn't tolerate being in bed, and was trying any contorted position I felt might relieve the pain. Didn't work.

Thursday 13 April 2006

Conjure - NatCon

I took a pain tablet, since Jean carries them. I told Jean I didn't think this was a bad back, and that I wanted to see a doctor. She located a 7 day medical practice within a short walking distance. After breakfast (not that I could eat it all, but it came with the room) we managed to get me an appointment for 10 a.m.

Doctor Jerome Ephraums noticed a rash on my back (I thought it was an insect bite, on the basis of having previous similar marks) and to my surprise the doctor diagnosed shingles. Took some time to get the computer connection to the issuing authority through, but eventually I wandered off with a prescription for Famvir famciclovir, an antibiotic, to take every eight hours for the next week. While I only had to pay the standard $29.50 Australian pharmaceutical charge for the prescription, I noticed the price on the box for the 21 tablets was far higher, at A$166.95.

Pain pills helped me sort of function through most of the day. We did a bit of walking and looking at stores. Got some snack food supplies at Woolies, like brie, milk, orange juice and some crackers, since much of Brisbane closes on holidays. This includes our hotel restaurant, which does breakfast only during the weekend. Vintage Cellars supplied a couple of bottles of cleanskin wine to cover us for the weekend.

I returned to the room fairly often to collapse. Didn't manage to persist long enough to find any new DVDs. Got to Ron's Pulp Fiction Bookshop, in Anzac Square Arcade, where I was pleased to find a few books I wanted. I didn't even know that they existed until I saw them in the shop. A recent David Weber, At All Costs, plus Gardner Dozois The Mammoth Book of Best New SF. We had discounts from previous purchases that decreased the cost.

I skipped lunch. Didn't feel I could eat. We again had dinner at the hotel restaurant, and Jean grabbed most of the food I had on my plate. We had another bottle of wine, and again took the remains of the bottle to the room. By this time excessive wine had accumulated.

Jean had organised herself a wireless connection to the Internet. We picked the Hotel George Williams rather than the Mercure where the convention was held because the Hotel George Williams mentioned they had Internet access, whereas the Mercure and Ibis did not mention it (the Mercure almost certainly did have access). A$8.80 for two hours is a little excessive, but not impossibly so. Same for ADSL or wireless.

Friday 14 April 2006

Conjure - Natcon Day 1

While I didn't like the idea of taking a tablet at 3 a.m. I was awake on and off through the night anyway. By morning I seemed at least a little less uncomfortable. After breakfast (I typoed that as breakfats, which was very appropriate), I left Jean as usual typing away on her computer and walked to the next block to the Mercure motel.

Conjure already had convention registration set up when I went along to the Mercure hotel. Finding some of the convention rooms was real hard. I think you need a four dimensional map to figure the hotel con facilities. I never did find a way to reach registration without using the lifts. I did find a way out (via steps) but the fire escape door on the street was naturally one way.

Lots of flyers in the con bag.

Conflux 3 membership form, for a convention in Canberra on 9-12 June 2006. Lots of guests. However I am not keen on having the con at the National Museum, rather than at Rydges, the convention hotel (I am lazy). Plus it sounds more fantasy than sf, not to my taste. The last two were very well organised, so I am sure it will run well.

Continuum 4 the future was retrorama, 4-6 August 2006 at the Victoria Hotel, Melbourne. Guests whose name I recognised are artist Shaun Tan and author Charles Stross. I have good nostalgic feelings about the Victoria Hotel.

The first person I saw was Marjorie Lenehan. I had not expected her and Cary to visit from Tasmania, where we last saw them. They were at Conjure to launch a Nylon Angel role playing game based on a novel.

I was utterly astonished to see Leigh Edmonds and Valma Brown at Conjure. I had this image of them never attending science fiction conventions these days. Leigh was looking much recovered, and I was pleased to hear him so cheerful.

Leigh carefully explained to me part of his model making philosophy, involving making the largest model planes or spacecraft while he had the most space at Ballarat to store the expanded models. If and when they move to a smaller home, then the smaller models could be still built. It seemed much akin to my movement from physical books and magazines towards keeping everything I can on computer, where the space occupied physically is minimal.

Erika Lacey was fan GoH at the convention. I wasn't sure where she had sailed her boat to after working for tour operators for a few months at Airlie Beach. I used to see her from time to time at the markets. Erika told me the boat was finally getting the long planned maintenance at Mackay, 150 km south of Airlie. I am sure facilities there are cheaper than at now upmarket Airlie.

Bill Wright had organised to add me to one of the early panels, Fanzines 101, along with Erika Lacey. Erika had experience organising small press magazines, and especially with managing not to lose lots of money doing them (somewhat rare in my experience). Christina Lake was scheduled to be on the panel, but was not. I later saw Christina and Doug Bell several times at the con.

The book launch for the day was scheduled to be Troy, by Simon Brown.

There was a welcome cocktail party at Legends bar, before Justin Ackroyd did the auction. That seemed to continue for a fair while. The noise level was too much for me, but I wasn't feeling at all well in any case.

Saturday 15 April 2006

Conjure - Natcon Day 2

I hung around the fanzine production workshop for some of the morning. Bill Wright again was heavily involved. The con committee did a splendid job providing computers and a printer. Jean assisted with her OpenOffice knowledge, as did Erika Lacey, and Leanne Frahm was visible much of the time. Alas, the number of participants seemed low, which probably disappointed Bill.

White Mice Worldbuilding had Bruce Sterling along at midday to launch their new fantasy future role playing game based on Marianne de Pierres cyberpunk sf novel Nylon Angel. Cary and Marjorie Lenehan seemed to have put a lot of detailed work into their new game and new business. I admit I was surprised to see them outside Tasmania.

Dancing in Red Dust covered manned missions to Mars. The panel listed Russell Blackford moderating, Chris McMahon, Claire McKenna and rocket scientist Cameron Boyd. I thought it worked pretty well.

Fandom continued to be covered with a Fandom Through the Ages panel before dinner.

I believe the launch was The Calvanni by Chris McMahon.

We managed to drag Leanne Frahm off to dinner. She suggested Sizzler, which delighted us. Apart from liking Sizzler (they don't have noisy music), Jean gets Seniors Card discounts there, at least before six. That covered the cost of the wine.

I seem to recall that people again turned up in Legends bar, although there were other events on.

Sunday 16 April 2006

Conjure - Natcon Day 3

The launch today was The Outcast by CSFG Publishing

I think I had a bit of a relapse today, with the shingles giving me a lot of trouble. No notes, and little memory of the day.

Damien Warman was fairly visible at the con, and I was able to chat with him every now and then. Two geeks with gadgets, although I never did get into the iPod idea (I don't like earphones). I hadn't recalled seeing Damien very often at previous conventions, but then we missed some Melbourne events. Long ago Jean and I had sent him fanzines, back when we did them in paper or at all.

Robin Johnson was wandering around, and we saw him frequently. Alicia had not come to the con, so I was hoping she wasn't having too many extra problems walking. Sometimes it seems to me that we spend half our time talking with old friends about our aches and pains and illnesses. It is not true, but at times it seems that way.

Robert Hoge was one of the organisers, and was taking numerous notes on a tiny Fujitsu Lifebook notebook computer. I got Jean to take a look at just how handy a size you could get in these specialist computers.

Monday 17 April 2006

Conjure - Natcon Day 4

David Carroll, ex UTS student, turned up. I hadn't seen him for a fair while, and did not expect to see him in Brisbane. At one stage soon after UTS, he did a Dr Who fanzine. He pointed me to a new novel Prismatic, by his partner under the pen name Edwina Grey, to appear from Lothian Books from June 2006 as part of a Dark Suspense series.

I enjoyed the panel on hardware hacking, with Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling and David Cake. David brought one of his prototype gadgets. O'Reilly's Make Magazine, for whom the first two are columnists, was very apparent. I have a feeling I should get a subscription.

I also enjoyed the panel on web publishing, and the doubts some have about it as the future of much publishing.

Adrienne Losin mentioned she was staying in Brisbane until Supanova pop culture expo on 21-23 April 2006 at the Showground. TV and movie stars, none of whom I recognised. Luckily they also listed the names. I didn't recognise them either. The price was only $30, so that seemed more than fair.

Tuesday 18 April 2006


Jean specified the morning before our flight as a time to shop until we dropped. Dropping didn't take long. Jean encouraged me to get a luggage strap at Myer, to keep my broken suitcase together. Since it was purple, I imagine I will lose it to her collection as soon as we reach home. We were in Myer so she could find clothes, but had no luck. I did manage some to find some early Aardman animations on DVD, at the Virgin music store inside Myer.

Jean pointed out a RetraVision store with a Samsung 210 litre fridge freezer to replace my old bar fridge. Right dimensions, right price. I took a note of the model.

Jean eventually also found a shirt similar to the type she wears on most travel. Alas, Lowes had only the one of the required size. Alas, this searching for clothes took some time. I amused myself trying to guess the nature of stores from their name. Sixteen to twenty six was clothing for young women. Maybe they should have used 16226 to make it harder. However NineWest (shoes), Sunburn (swimsuits), Seriously Pink, Ice, Oxygen?

I found JellyBelly jelly beans, to my great delight. Managed to resist the chocolate that was the main stock of that store.

David Jones was more interesting to me than Jean. No DVDs, however they had an Apple section. Although they didn't have an iPod HiFi, the sign about it listed it at a 20% discount. Maybe it was part of a general sale. Just next counter were a bunch of Henry Kloss Radio One and also the PAL portable radio. Again, a considerable discount on the price the distributor lists. Although I had been following these gadgets on the internet for a considerable period, this was the first time I had actually seen one.

We took a taxi to the airport. Our neighbour Jim turned up on his return trip soon after we reached the waiting area for Deathstar flight 676 at 3:10. Shows how few flights there are.

Cosmos Magazine

Issues of Cosmos Magazine were one of the handouts at Conjure. I picked up a few issues of this recent glossy Australian science magazine, and so far I am impressed. Enthusiastic in approach, glossy and attractive presentation, and diverse content.

Wednesday 19 April 2006

Tropical Cyclone Monica

Crossed the coast south of Lockhart River mid afternoon, and probably reached the Gulf by evening. The area is not heavily populated, so relatively few people are threatened, compared to Larry one month ago. The down side is that getting help into the area os difficult because it is so remote. Many people are hoping this brings good rains to north Queensland, although some areras already have as much rain as they can cope with. Rain as far south as Cairns may mean some evacuations as rivers and dam levels rise.

Visit Doctor

I visited my local doctor, who confirmed that I did indeed have shingles. Just what I need. Luckily the rash and the pain are both finally decreasing as I reach almost the end of my antibiotic tablets. I sure hope it never happens again.

Truck Stuck

An articulated truck unable to negotiate the corner of Golden Orchid Drive was the late afternoon entertainment from the Whitsunday Terraces. Tried it in low drive, but managed to get it slightly wrong. Backing up for another attempt took out the sturdy timber and stainless steel wire fence along the road. A large tree prevented the truck backing any further towards the drop off to the set of apartments next to us. By then the left hand side drive wheels and the trailer wheels were in the air over gutter and driveway.

Eventually a very large tractor arrived. With help from that, the truck eventually got away, with relatively little damage.

Thursday 20 April 2006


Since I hadn't felt able to shop much at Brisbane, after we did our Bilo food shopping, I took the car and my list to the new and still incomplete Centro shopping centre.

After months of failing to find the furniture casters I wanted at the closer Home Hardware, Mitre 10 hardware finally had both an appropriate sized set, and sufficient of them (8) for one table project. I have two tables planed, with the table tops to be made from the ends and sides that made up the water bed we replaced a few weeks ago. Home Hardware did however have some 900 x 600 mm thin plywood, which means I can salvage the radiata pine from my indirect lighting for table legs, and replace the screens on the lights with ply.

A few more DVDs from BigW. The ones on special seem to change often, making checking every few weeks a good idea. Can't imagine why a store might do that. At least this time I picked up a catalogue listing what which DVDs were on special. Another trip soon.

LEW Lighting opened their new store, and you could actually see the stock in the much larger showroom. I didn't know you could get an oyster light that accepted two circular fluorescent tubes (one 40 watt, one 32 watt). I also didn't know that anyone had slimline fluorescent fittings that took the new (here) T5 tubes. I can see replacing my home made lighting with something less inelegant. Pretty much anything should qualify.

RetraVision had the Samsung 210 litre fridge freezer Jean had found in Brisbane. The price was even better than in Brisbane. I ordered one for delivery on Friday.

LEW had not moved their professional electrical parts to the new store, so I dropped in at the industrial area. Managed to get a couple of four metres lengths of white PVC conduit to help hide the new speaker and other wiring above the balcony door. Sticking it on the luggage rack with ancient octopus cords that had lost their elasticity was more interesting than I expected.

Friday 21 April 2006


RetraVision delivered the new fridge in the morning, as promised. Luckily the two young guys didn't have any trouble taking it up the stairs on a hand cart. They were not taking the old fridge, as I thought I could find someone who could use it as a beer fridge.

One of the delivery guys seemed interested in the few tips I could offer on video camcorders with ADC, and the tricks you could play with them.

Saturday 22 April 2006


I saw Rex at the Airlie Beach market, and he mentioned he was seeking a monitor. I offered the 15 inch LCD. He dropped in after the market closed to inspect the display, and took it away with him. He was also interested in the bar fridge, but couldn't fit it in the truck. Later.

Sunday 23 April 2006

WaterBed to Desk (1)

The useful parts of the old waterbed consisted of four lengths of 40 mm by 240 mm radiata pine timber. Two were 1600 mm long, two were 2100 mm long. It took a couple of days to chip away the wooden base supports enough to carefully remove all the nails Jean had used. Took even longer to remove most of the glued remains of the base supports. When completed, I had four large planks of wood, with one side in reasonable shape, and one side rather scarred.

Monday 24 April 2006

Indirect Lighting

Jean and I were both seeking more timber. Jean for supporting the Lexmark printer, and me for my new desk. We turned to our indirect fluorescent lighting on top of our bookcases. Jean had four lights, and I had six. These were standard 18 inch industrial fluorescent. I had used some L shaped wooden bookends screwed to the lights, and had bookshelves screwed to the bookends to block the light and only allow it to shine on the ceiling. We proposed salvaging the stout 140 mm wide 19 mm thick bookshelf timber. The replacement was 3mm thick plywood.

It didn't take long to remove the bookshelves from the lights, since they were held only by screws. Cutting the plywood with a hobby knife took a fair while, and gluing them to the L shaped bookends even longer. Mostly because we had only a limited number of weights for pressing them while the glue set. Jean had to paint her ply, so her lights finally matched her painted Ikea bookcases. I had to Estapol my ply, to attempt to match my radiata pine bookcases. Not difficult, but it sure took some time waiting for everything to dry.

Tuesday 25 April 2006

WaterBed to Desk (2)

I glued the water bed sides together along the long edges to make a couple of desk sized surfaces 480 mm wide, 40 mm thick, and 1600 mm and 2100 mm long. Given the weight of the wood (the largest desk ended up 28 kg), I left them with weights applied for several days to ensure the PVA wood glue was doing its job.

Meanwhile I took apart a bookcase, lighting units and the speaker stands I had made previously, to get some wood for legs for the desks. The speaker stands consisted of two bookshelves set lengthwise in a T, and stood on end. At the top and the bottom I made a stand and a foot from other shorter lengths of bookshelf. I decided this method would work as legs for narrow 480 mm desks. Plus it looked kind of stylish and modern. We will not mention that two legs are less likely to wobble than the traditional four table legs.

The bookshelves were only 140 mm wide, and I decided I needed deeper timber for part of the legs, so I bought 5 pieces 240 mm deep at the timber yard, and had them cut to length. These became the upright of the T, while the 140 mm bookshelves became the top of the T (and front of the desk legs). I used more of the 140 mm bookshelves for the feet, and for the stands at the top for attaching the desk surface. The lengths of these were somewhat determined by how long the bookshelves were, and the best cutting pattern I could manage.

Wednesday 26 April 2006

WaterBed to Desk (3)

After the 100 plus screw holes were in the table legs (I love electric screwdrivers), and the glue was set, I attached the legs to the table surfaces. Two legs for the shorter 1600 mm table surface, three legs for the 2100 mm table. I used only screws for attaching, so the desks could be pulled apart if I needed to move them. I thought they ended up looking fairly modern and stylish, for rustic carpentry. I still need to do some finishing touches to the desks, mostly timber staining and surface finish, but they are stable and can be used.

Thursday 27 April 2006


Target Country listed the Kodak Z740 10x ultra zoom digital camera at a $50 reduction, down to $349. It is about half the price of a Cannon ultra zoom that I would prefer, but lacks the optical image stabiliser. So if you want to use the 10x optical zoom, you will need a bench rest or a tripod. I figure I can mostly live with that. Like all low cost cameras, the repeat photo time is poor. Since I don't photograph motor sports I will try to live with that. It is a pain, but I don't believe I need rapid repeat photos enough to pay double for it.

There were a bunch of reviews available on the web. Main complaints were the slow second photo (but there were two sequence modes taking 4 photos at half second intervals to try to capture rapid shots). Some complaints about the small grip area close to the lens (however Jean and I have small hands). Noise in the photos, however 5 megapixel is overkill for my web purposes anyhow. The camera was praised for bright good looking photos. Naturally RAW mode is not available. You have to make do with Kodak's slow processing into jpg.

There were complaints about the viewfinders. The LCD not being visible in bright sunlight (I have never seen an LCD that was). No optical viewfinder, but I can hardly think of a a mid range digital camera that does these days (my Pentax has optical, far superior to any electronic viewfinder). The Kodak Z740 does have an nasty, low resolution eye level electronic viewfinder that you can see in daylight. It is enough to frame photos. Can not be used if you wear glasses.

As an amateur mostly taking snapshots, I figure I can tolerate all the compromises Kodak made with the design. The thing I mostly dislike is the use of Secure Digital cards instead of Compact Flash. All my other equipment uses CF. However even the increasingly widely used SD is better than proprietary cards like Xd and Sony Memory Stick. Best point, this camera accepts AA rechargeable batteries. The upmarket metal body ultra zoom models from Kodak have custom Lithium batteries, and I hate custom batteries.

Friday 28 April 2006


Rex dropped in before midday to collect the NEC bar fridge. Hard to carry down the stairs. Dropped it on my toes. Plus the door fell off (again). I always thought the door falling off a fridge was a design flaw. Who needs hinges you can bend with your thumb?


I mentioned Target Country listed the Kodak Z740 10x ultra zoom digital camera at a $50 reduction, down to $349. When I arrived at the store, it was actually listed at A$319, even more of a reduction. It was cheaper than my 3x zoom Pentax from 3 years ago.

I stopped in at Tandy to collect an SD memory card. I wish it was CF, like all my other devices. The camera takes AA rechargeable. I won't buy cameras with custom batteries. The Z740 is a compromise camera, but I think on balance the compromises are cost effective.

I managed to get more water based Estapol wood finish, after a bit of a search in the hardware. Guess I will get the desks finished eventually, except I now wonder whether that type of Estapol is the best choice for a desk surface.

Saturday 29 April 2006


Has anyone seen Arlec Power Chain 4 and 6 outlet power cords? 4 and 6 switched power outlets spaced at 2 metre intervals along 8 or 12 metre power extension cables. I picked a 4 outlet one for $31 at LEW a few days ago. Nice easy way to string power outlets around a room. It is a pity the Arlec web site is a mess of PDF so that you can't search for anything.

Sunday 30 April 2006


Nearly one in four Australians had no religion at the 2001 Census. However the nearer to god they came, the greater the belief, with only 5% of those over 87 being religion free. Demographer Bernard Salt thinks there may be something in turning to religion when real life is tough, and it was certainly tougher for the older generations to get established. Non-believers went up 86% in the 20 years to 2001.

The religious can take solace from the 170% increase in Pentacostal Christian believers, which works on the believe now and you get saved instantly. Certainly that would appeal to those wishing instant gratification. Not so good for Catholics. Be penitent all your life, judgement after death, and maybe you linger in purgatory. That is no way to sell a religion in good times like now, only in bad times. Despite which, the Catholic franchise leads the market with 30%, followed by Anglicans at 18% and falling. The Pentacostals only have 2%.

May explain the scarcity of churches in new suburbs, and lack of planning for them in new communities.