Steady rain throughout the day, with some heavier falls overnight. My rain gauge at the Whitsunday Terraces overflowed, but we had more than 130 mm. Peter Faust dam was -14.71 metres below the spillway in the morning. First reasonable week of rain for the wet season, so most people are hoping some of the dams fill. Didn't get down south, where most of the population are.
Aggressive DMR reported in Microsoft Vista would be enough to stop me using it. Especially if that applies to other media being run by it, like HD video.
To see Linux Genuine Advantage read the link. They have just the operating system for admirers of Windows (read the faq before installing).
More than a decade ago, the excellent (and expensive) Mathematica package was difficult to deploy because it detected minor changes in the computer on which it was running. Since we had a site licence for everyone in the organisation to run it, we found a password generator and generated new passwords each time Mathematica complained. Probably illegal, but Mathematica was essentially impossible to deploy without some similar action. (Mathematica may be less of a problem now - I haven't used it since.)
That experience lead me to vow never to use any DRM locked formats, regardless of how good the product was. The problems of DRM are impossible to solve. It will only go away if almost everyone refuses to put up with it. So, I won't be using Vista (not that I used Windows XP either).
I also won't be buying HD-DVD or Blu-ray. DRM on them, and although cracked, it is not routinely cracked. I didn't buy my first DVD player or DVD movie until the copy restrictions and zone could be routinely removed. I don't buy music in copy restricted formats. I have never bought a SACD or DVDAudio disk, or iTunes Store music nor any of the multiple and incompatible Windows restricted music formats. Why should I?
On the lighter side, Engadget showed this photo of Microsoft demonstrating Vista on an iMac in Norway. I bet Bill Gates loved that.
Filmnut asked Apple if an Apple TV would play anything iTunes would play. Apple TV should therefore play mov and avi, if you add appropriate codecs to Quicktime. Some people don't believe Apple TV will work this way. I don't believe it will work either, but it will be worth checking after Apple TV appears.
So, you want to help the environment? Should you buy clean green power? If you live in country Queensland, you probably get electricity from Ergon. They say the right things about Ergon Clean Energy, mostly from biomass, in the form of bagasse from sugar waste. Your typical $30 a quarter for 1000 kWh is claimed to save the equivalent of 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. The usual Queensland household output is 18 tonnes, and to use clean power for all that would cost around an extra $550 a year, at a rate of 3 cents a kWh extra.
About 44,000 Queenslanders have subscribed to the Ergon Clean Energy program, out of 1.3 million households.
Rain eased to only 30 mm. Peter Faust dam was -10.92 metres below the spillway in the morning, thanks to the falls over the past week finally getting to the dam.
Since I got a Grumpy Old Man beer cooler and stubby holder for my 60th birthday, that reminds me Retravision are advertising TV set with really poor specifications. Most have no specification, so you can't tell how bad they are. However there are more than a half dozen 1366 x 768 models, which are HD in terms of digital TV broadcasts, but not capable of the full 1080i or 1080p that a HD recording may offer.
The 852 x 480 plasma models are so far below what they need to be that they should never be sold in this country. They are intended for countries that have NTSC, and can not handle double upconverted PAL.
Then there are the 1024 x 1080 models, which must be using weird rectangular pixels, as that is a crazy ratio.
Next there are the high price HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players being advertised. No-one knows which will be the failed Beta video model that disappears from the market. Plus both have digital viewing restrictions built in. Your disks can not be copied if you make the wrong choice. Or both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray may be like SACD and DVD-A, both of these (copy restricted) music formats totally irrelevant against the continued sales of CDs for music. Even old fashioned vinyl recordings sell better than SACD and DVH-A.
During a climate change cyclone that takes us over the waterless rainbow, we follow the yellow cake road to the Emerald City of good (Greens) and wicked (industry), with the Scarecrow who has no brain, and the Tin Woodman who has no heart (both parts played by John Howard ... the actor).
230 passengers stranded at Whitsunday Coast airport by heavy rain on Friday. Now that is a good start (or end) to your holidays. The Bruce Highway was closed to the airport, although I hear a pizza delivery got through. The Bruce Highway was cut both north and south of Townsville. Inisfail had excessive rain (as usual). Giru was flooded, but the pub was still open.
Another 65 mm of rainfall. Peter Faust dam was -10.62 metres below the spillway in the morning.
The most damaging earthquake in Australia's history was caused by humans. The magnitude-5.6 quake that struck Newcastle, in New South Wales, on December 28, 1989 caused more damage than the coal removed from local mines was worth, according to Dr Christian D Klose. It also killed 13 people and injured 160. The cause is thought to be water removal to prevent mine flooding.
Hot dry rock thermal power is also known to cause small earthquakes. Don't be so sure green power has no side effects.
Just what is with all the names of colours that are actually names of food? On a Spotlight flyer I saw cream, sage, coffee, vanilla, chilli, java, plum shadow, chive, latte, expresso, oatmeal, mushroom, biscuit, claret, paprika, duck egg, olive, mint, pistachio, burgundy and chocolate. Can we please keep the contents of the kitchen out of our colour schemes?
22 mm of rain on Sunday. Peter Faust dam was -10.35 metres below the spillway in the morning. Looks like the inflow has really slowed down now. Weather radar isn't showing much. The potential cyclone in the gulf didn't develop past a low.
Brief account of Sonia Green, the woman who bankrolled H P Lovecraft for several years.
No measurable rain at the Whitsunday Terraces, although enough sprinkles that I didn't attempt the long neglected laundry. Peter Faust dam was -10.14 metres below the spillway in the morning. The evening news claimed it had risen from 10% to 33%. I think this figure is bullshit - the lake behind it is shallow and gets wider, not a tall glass with straight sides. The potential cyclone in the gulf is now expected to turn seaward again, and is again expected to form a category 1 cyclone around the time it hits Mornington Island on Wednesday. A tropical low 90 km off Cairns and Inisfail is now on the cyclone watch.
Despite the Toronto Sun report, Apple didn't appear to have any new commercial at the US Superbowl. Pity, but I am not sure what they could announce that would have been worth that spot.
The combos that got the tick from 28 February are:
About 10 mm rain. Peter Faust dam rose to 10.06 metres below the dam spillway overnight.
I heard that Lee Hoffman died of a heart attack today. Somewhere here I have the 12th issue of her Science Fiction Five Yearly. A sad loss to fandom.
Apple have published Steve Job's Thoughts on Music linked from their home page. Whatever ego involvement their head may have, publishing seems to me to indicate Apple regard it important to comment on the background and origin of their iTunes DRM, particularly in light of European attempts to force access to iTunes.
Locking customers into iPod is a non-issue to me. Since I don't buy any DRM product that I can't break, the only DRM music I have is free downloads from iTunes Store (none of which have yet rated sufficiently high for me to buy a CD). This fits me well into the massive class of customers with little lock in, since their music essentially comes from CD.
On the other hand, claiming the average consumer has 22 pieces of iTunes music is pointless. Some iPods are broken, probably most iPod owners never buy from iTunes. The lock in factor may be massive for heavy users. Jobs claimed previously that someone had bought tens of thousands of dollars of iTunes music.
The major point of Job's article is that most music is unprotected, as it appears on CD. Nothing anyone else says about DRM changes this fact.
Steve Jobs concludes that the best approach for music customers is to convince the music companies to sell their products DRM free. Nice to see Apple come out into the open and say DRM sucks. Sure it is probably Apple's best strategy to say this. Sure it is passing the buck to the music companies. However the music companies are the people who wanted DRM.
For a contrarian view, please read Jon Lech Johansen on licensing FairPlay. DVD Jon points out that the Apple article has lots of Reality Distorting Field working for it. Especially the weak argument that revealing details of the DRM would make it more exposed to cracks. The main merit of that argument is that the only real response of the music companies is that Apple is smart enough to do it.
I see the minor European countries staying the course on demanding interoperability. I see Apple not getting any change in contract from the music companies. So I see Apple's response (in these few countries) to be to leave all their music up and able to be sampled on iTunes, but to decline to sell it. Apple could claim to be helping the music companies by continuing to advertise their products.
A minor variation might be to actually use unprotected AAC for the independent labels that do not demand DRM, and sell only them. Most Europeans would find a way to buy from one of the other iTunes stores. Throughout this all, Apple could claim this two level stuff was spoiling the iTunes ease of use experience.
The Economist agreed DRM should go.
Mr Jobs's argument, in short, is transparently self-serving. It also happens to be right. I am staggered. Stereophile also say dropping DRM is the right way to go. On Seeking Alpha Thomas Hawk points out only suckers buy music from iTunes Store. I agree. Buying any DRM product you can't break into an open format is an act of idiocy.
42 mm of rain. Peter Faust dam rose to 10.02 metres below the dam spillway overnight. Tropical Cyclone Nelson crossed the Queensland coast in the gulf, between Karumba and Kowanyama. It seems on track across north Queensland towards Innisfail, devastated last year. There are still around 100 homes in that unfortunate area still needing replacement or repairs of their roof.
I see a pdf of the Commonwealth Government issues paper on emission trading has been released. Their problem is how to reduce emissions without reducing Australia's competitive advantage. Given many of these economic advantages relate directly to cheap coal power, I am not sure they can be reconciled. Actually, they can not be reconciled. Any compromise, in either direction, will cost votes.
Continuing rumours of an Apple Store in Sydney, the Apple Insider forum includes plan and elevation drawings showing the shopfront for the bottom three floors at 77 King Street, Sydney, on the corner of George Street. This is where City of Sydney planning documents had previously listed a A$15 million renovation. There is also a photo of the building. Another Apple Insider description of pending A$15 million Apple store in Sydney.
It must be happening. The Sydney Morning Herald say Apple shop for downtown Sydney.
Also, Apple Insider in another report says Apple store for Chapel Street Fun Factory site in Melbourne, and has a number of sketches of the proposed store. Looks like planning approval for 257 Toorak Road and 625 Chapel Street, South Yarra were granted in 2002 for the Chapel Street location.
Peter Faust dam was 9.91 metres below the spillway in the morning.
The photos of the Nokia E90 Communicator look a lot like a Psion 5. It follows the 9210, 9500 and 9300 and variations of these models dating from before 2001. All had significant features missing. Personally I'd claim the S60 interface lacks a lot of Psion's power, and that has not changed, but probably does do more than the S80 used on previous models.
You get a 210 gram gadget measuring 132 x 57 x 20 mm, and it is claimed the hinges are now fixed. It has a 30 x 40 mm external QVGA phone display of 240 x 320 pixels, in 24 bit colour. You can run everything on the external display! Open the E90 and the internal display takes over, with everything open. The internal display is 800 x 352 pixels in 24 million colours, and you have a full qwerty keyboard. Alas, Nokia still don't believe in a touch screen.
Battery life is 5 hours talking, up to 14 days standby, from a 1500 mAh battery. The camera is 3.2 megapixels, doing 2048 x 1536, but only LED flash. It does record 640 x 480 VGA MPEG-4 video at 25 fps, with 48 kHz mono sound. Hotswap MiniSD memory card. Infrared port, plus buttons for taking a photo or recording sound.
The E90 packs the usual ARM, a TI OMAP2420 at 330 MHz same as the N800 tablet. Memory is up to 128 MB, of which 80 MB are available to the user. E90 supports data with GPRS/EDGE and also HSDPA at up to 3.6 Mbps. It is a four band GSM phone (850, 900, 1800, 1900) and also has CDMA 2100. Other interfaces are 802.11b/g WiFi and Bluetooth 2.0. USB 2.0 is a mini USB type B as mass storage. It has a GSM SiRF Star III receiver, as in the N95.
It does NOT have a fax facility (I couldn't care less, but it is important to many people). The earphone connector is 2.5 mm instead of the near universal 3.5 mm of music players. I have no idea why the phone people insist on this.
Mind you, a laptop and a regular dumb phone would be cheaper. It is noticeable that the specifications are way better than the Apple iPhone.
Peter Faust dam was 9.88 metres below the spillway in the morning.
Honda charged Whitsunday resident Kurt Maring $2000 to fix burnt valves on his Homda CRV after 105,000 km. The valve clearance check was originally scheduled for 100,000 km, but after finding problems, Honda seem to have reprinted the manuals to say inspect them at 40,000 km. By contrast, a Subaru Forester expects 160,000 km before that inspection. Kurt is more than a little unhappy with Honda. He even got a mention in John Connolly's column in The Weekend Australian, page 37 (which I can't locate on the web site). Honda didn't comment, according to the paper.
High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) protocol allows mobile phone network broadband at up to 14.4 Mbps. Not that the new 850 MHz Next G network Ericsson started building for Telstra in October last year to replace CDMA can reach this speed. Even if it did, the few available phones can not (I don't think any phone can). Even if all else worked, network bandwidth prevents everyone from getting that speed all at once. Looks like Telstra may share the network with Hutchison. Optus and Vodaphone are sharing their own 2100 MHz 3G network, and also plan to extend HSDPA to country areas starting in 2008, although I think they are looking for handouts also.
Country Australia requires a range greater than the 50 km limit of Next G. Telstra claim Ericsson's Extended Reach software can push the range to 200 km at the 40 mountaintop locations intended to have that. Anyone who expects 14.4 Mbps over that distance is being wildly optimistic (try 2.3Mbps if lucky). Personally, I don't believe that range and speed combination is physically possible at 850 MHz.
What I don't understand is the reason for it. Data transfer prices over mobile networks are too high to make it of any use except for email and similar small data transfers. Who wants to see video calls or TV on a postage stamp? If not for media, then what use is the higher bandwidth? But maybe this is just my prejudice, since what I need is ADSL2+ (not the crap low speed ADSL that Australians are being sold as our internet connections plunge below third world standards).
I gather the broadband wireless modems being pushed for Telstra's Next G mobile phone network are flawed. They only make USB available, so you can't plug your local area network in. They connect only to Telstra Big Pond. Does anyone want that crap?
This is an amazing folding couch video of a chair or couch made like a slinky. Just right for visitors.
Table frame has flat topped panels that invert to reveal moulded holders for candle sticks, wine cooler, vase and so on. Grid structure with nine panels.
Mark Cheeseman writes: Another icon of Sydney's Electronics landscape bites the dust: David Reid is currently having a closing down sale - 20% off everything except computer bits. I'd suspected it was coming for a while - there has been no new stock in there for months, that I could see. The final day according to the sign is the 28th of February.
Silicon Alley was York Street, Sydney, behind the Queen Victoria Building. It appears Tandy closed recently. This leaves only Dick Smith Electronics, which is more a toy store, and Jaycar, which still has real electronics parts. I also note Dick Smith halved all their DIY kit prices in February. It would not surprise me to see electronic construction kits disappear from the store.
I really liked this green light dream. A wire frame for a plant, illuminated from within by a CFL bulb.
There have been repeated claims Diesel is more efficient than petrol, including claims a Hummer is more efficient than a Prius over its life cycle. Criticisms of the Prius vs Hummer report are not hard to find. This Sierra Club rebuttal of Hummer being greener than a Prius is well organised.
We seemed to have a heap of rainfall that the radar images claimed was mostly very local indeed. About 33 mm rainfall by early evening. The construction workers for Port of Airlie were probably not happy, as they didn't manage to complete the roof. Peter Faust dam was 9.79 metres below the spillway in the morning.
Why did the electricity go out for three seconds at 8:52 p.m. at the Whitsunday Terraces? At least the UPS worked.
Environmental reform as misguided religion. Sounds about right.
The Australian newspaper front page says carbons credits worldwide are selling more than $300 million a year. Well, la de dah! Australian's coal exports sell for A$24 billion a year. Carbon credits are for feel good fruitcakes making token gestures. Most people don't give a shit.
Example of not really giving a shit about being green. 44,000 households have signed up for green energy (actually mostly burning sugar cane bagasse waste, not wind or solar) in Queensland. 1.3 million have not. See what I mean? Cost can be as little as $10 a month to sign up. However if an average household (18 tonnes of CO2) wants to be all green, the green energy (cheap at a mere 3c per kW extra) will cost an additional A$540 a year over and above normal electricity bills.
The early morning rain brought another 20 mm.
The rain all morning provided another 94 mm by 11 a.m. I managed to duck out then to get a pizza.
John Gruber explains what Macrovision really said to Apple about DRM, in a wonderful translation of the PR talk in Fred Amoroso's response to Steve Job's Thoughts on Music. Should be more of this sort of plain talk.
Apple changing their name from Apple Computers at MacWorld Expo was one big sign of something that has been rolling in for a while. Not releasing a traditional Macintosh computer at MacWorld was another. Like other companies, Apple want to be a hit in consumer electronics.
Most consumer durables are a bad place to be for computer companies, although embedded computers run most consumer electronics. But being a personal computer is also a bad deal - IBM bailed out because there is no margin left. It is like electric motors. No one cares which electric motor, nor which chip is in your gadget. Whitegoods like washing machines and fridges are mostly bought on price and size. Adding an LCD and internet access to a fridge doesn't convince people to buy it, it just makes them laugh.
Microsoft and the personal computer companies really want to get computers out of the study and into the living room. Some geeks love media centre computers, but for most buyers, it is a big yawn. Nothing happening here except complications. Even people who buy media centre computers often end up using them as a conventional computer.
In his swan song appearance in Forbes Stephen Manes spewed all over Vista, recommending not even considering upgrading an old machine. Choice quotes: A vista slightly more inspiring than the one over the town dump.
Dated, but I really liked this funny description of Apple product cycle. Way too accurate.
If global warming is of real concern to the electorate, and if it is likely that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide emissions are a major cause, then reducing the greenhouse emissions in Australia that come from motor vehicles should probably be announced during this election campaign.
On 20 November 1997 the Prime Minister, Hon John Howard MP, announced a number of measures designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He introduced mandatory, model specific, fuel efficiency labelling for motor vehicles. It is time to move to direct greenhouse gas emission control of vehicles. The voluntary but very indirect National Average CO2 Emissions (NACE) target of 6.8L/100km fuel efficiency will no longer satisfy the electorate. Nor will Euro 4 diesel, with petrol cars meeting this pollution (but not greenhouse) emission standard ADR79/02 in 2010.
As vehicles now have a greenhouse gas rating, I suggest the Australian Design Rules should now include limits on carbon dioxide emissions for light vehicles. I suggest an initial limit of 400 g/km be established, commencing in 2010. A search of the Green Guide indicates an initial limit of 400 g/km would exclude only 15 of the 1440 cars listed.
US Outdoor writer Jim Zumbo had to resign after calling hunters who used assault rifles terrorists. His web site, weekly TV program and Outdoor Life magazine column have all ended. Shows the power of those small pricked wankers in the NRA and the shooting fraternity. Hand me my assault rifle, I'm going to hunt me a wabbit! What a pack of arseholes.
A civilised country doesn't need assault weapons in the home. It probably doesn't need guns in the home. It most certainly doesn't need guns in the streets. The number of shootings and shooting deaths in the USA is a national disgrace.
At 3GSM, Austrian Emporia Telecom showed off a phone designed for old people. Nice big buttons, including one to call friends or relatives. An alarm button, so you can easily use it as an alarm clock. It is compatible with hearing aids. Plus it can run from AAA batteries! Yes!
No digital camera, internet access or instant messaging, no Bluetooth, no music player, no MMS, or any of that junk.
I can see a bunch of people I know going for that. Folks whose only use for a phone is to speak to their friends. Most hate SMS, and never did manage to view the MMS photos and images their grandchildren sent them. Well, maybe with a Rolodex type address book, but only if there is some foolproof way to get phone numbers into it.
Older people often need a digital magnifier, but most digital magnifiers are expensive. Geeks build their own from digital cameras feeding Image Capture in their Macintosh, but that isn't portable. Cell phones work as magnifiers if you have an external macro lens.
I could see an neat magnifier accessory (with a built in light) that you clip an Apple iPhone into, to increase the appeal to the older generation. I already can't read most restaurant menus, between the tiny, italic type, foreign language, and the dim candle lit settings. I already look like a geek in such a place, when I pull out my 3 watt Lumiled flashlight to read the menu, so using a phone to read the menu wouldn't worry me.
For a lot of people, their reaction to advertising is that if they notice it, they kill it.
Just what is the point of recycling paper? The stuff is made from trees, which reduce carbon dioxide while they are growing (but not when they stop growing). If paper goes into landfill, the carbon in the paper gets buried. Not as good as turning it into oil, but gets it out of the way for a while. Given the USA alone uses 100 million tonnes of paper a year, made from about 1400 million trees. That is a lot of notes.
Recycling paper can take around 60% of the energy of making new paper. Seems obvious that using less paper would be a better starting point. Reusing the blank side of paper is a minor thing, but how many people print only on one side of the paper?
I belatedly notice the Queensland Government (like NSW, Victoria and S.A.) plan to make smoke alarms complying with Australian Standard AS3786 compulsory in Queensland homes from 1 July 2007. Fine of up to $375 for failing to install an alarm. The minimum legal requirement is a 9 volt battery-operated smoke alarm, with a one-year battery.
About six people per year die in fires in homes in Queensland that do not have working smoke alarms. The risk of death by fire is said to be three times higher in homes without working smoke detectors. 8% of smoke detectors are not working. 15.8% of homes don't have smoke detectors. These figures seem low to me - I can't think of any home I have seen that has a smoke detector.
Fires are more frequent in winter when heaters are used. In the tropics, we don't have heaters. Also more likely around smokers. We don't smoke. Our mostly likely point of failure in electronic equipment faults.
When I lived in NSW a decade or more ago, I carefully installed smoke alarms in my mostly open plan home. If in the same open space as the kitchen, nothing I did could stop them giving false alarms. I am not such a bad cook that I need to use a smoke detector as a cooking timer. I admit my preference for manual rather than pop-up toasters could produce some burnt toast, but I was willing to accept that sort of thing as reasonable alarm behaviour. I mean alarms going off in the middle of the night, many hours after dinner. After about three months of false alarms, the smoke detectors were pulled down, and sat on the bench with the batteries removed from then on. Research indicates that a primary reason why smoke alarms do not operate when needed is because batteries have been removed after repeated false alarms. Well, of course. If the alarm isn't suited to the purpose for which it is sold, you do something about it.
I can't help but note that in a small open plan apartment such as mine at the Whitsunday Terraces, there is no place to mount a smoke alarm that is not directly exposed to the kitchen. Only the bathroom and bedroom have doors that block them from the kitchen. Photoelectric alarms are said to be less prone to false triggering.