Eric Lindsay's Blog 2008 May

Thursday 1 May 2008

To Hell with Ikea (1)

Actually I would have been absolutely delighted to buy $500 of Ikea bookcases. Even figured out I could replace my removed bookcases with two full width and one half width 30 cm deep Ikea Ivar units about 2.1 metres high. Figured the shelf count would need to be about seven in each. That would have given me a substantial increase in my storage space. Jean had even promised me the surplus curtains from her Ikea units to hide the mess on the shelves.

Had the whole list worked out, just like Jean's kitchen pantry cupboards. Like Bunnings with the pantry cupboards, Ikea had everything except delivery. Our car can't handle flat packs that large. Plus the closest Ikea is 1200 km away (the existing Ikea units we have came when we moved). If a company doesn't make life easy for me, I don't deal with them. That is competition.

However what alternatives were available? I drew up a couple of designs, including a fake Ikea (like in my built-in cupboards). Then drove Jean's car to the Home Hardware store. They had some radiata pine DAR in 190x19mm in 0.9 lengths. Only three on hand, but that would do one item I wanted. Then I started reworking my bookcase designs for pine DAR, to suit the many 290x19mm in 0.9 lengths. The price was good. Not the precise sizes I wanted, but I thought initially a few half height bookcases could work, so I bought ten pieces for both shelves and uprights. Later I saw that Mitre 10 hardware had longer length of pine DAR, so I figured I could get some 4.2 metre lengths cut in two, to make two 2 metre high bookcases. If I get some rope I can tie them on the car rack. On a later trip with Jean, I got an extra three shelves. Total cost so far for wood, $81.91. That seems OK.

I also managed to find a pair of one metre 16 mm stainless steel tubing, for use as curtain rails. A package of Terry (tool) clips are my usual method of handling curtains - they don't leave the curtains popping off when you bump the rail. The stainless steel is more expensive, but most metals don't last well in our climate.

Naturally I forgot to get Estapol clear varnish for making these new bookcases look more like the old ones. That will probably cost nearly as much as the wood. As well as being annoying to apply.

Good Web Pages

Comprehensive web design resources list.

Handy Web Standards checklist from Russ Weakley of MaxDesign. Complete enough to show most web sites don't have a clue; not so exhaustive as to be hard to follow. Another using web standards checklist from Mozilla. See also Truth and Consequences of web site design.

Web development mistakes are covered in this long article. Why you need to validate your web page, and why you will not get help until you do. The consequences of using the wrong doctype, with sample pages.

Problems with Internet Explorer? List of Internet Explorer 7 bugs. Compare with bugs in other web browsers.

Friday 2 May 2008

To Hell with Ikea (2)

I collected the Estapol satin finish, couldn't find the water based Clear version. However I don't care much, as I will throw away the brushes when I get this done. I hate painting. Mind you, the 5 litre (one bonus litre) can marked as A$75 was actually A$64, while the standard 4 litre can was A$85. Hard to explain that sort of pricing.

The Mitre 10 hardware were indeed able to cut up the 4.2 metre radiata pine DAR 290x19mm into two lengths. Bit of a pain getting it to stay on the car roof rack, but I had extra octopus straps for that.

The Cost of Changing Climate

Wall Street Journal article on the real cost of tackling climate change. This points out that for the USA, a reduction of 80% from 1990 levels implies around 2.5 tonnes of CO2 per person. That was probably never possible.

A typical USA home would need to use less than 2500 KwH electricity equivalent per year. Household emissions would need to drop below 1.5 tonnes a year. Vehicles would all need to be 40% more efficient than a Toyota Prius. In short, it isn't going to happen. The problem is human overpopulation. In only a few more days, the estimated human population of the world will exceed 6,666,666,666. Talk about the Number of the Beast! Mind you, Robert Heinlein said the Number of the Beast was 6^6^6, which is 2,176,782,336, a number we passed several decades ago. The solution is to reduce the population.

Saturday 3 May 2008

30th Anniversary of Spam

Today is the 30th anniversary of spam. Now close to 90% of all email is spam. Hide your email address. Have multiple addresses, change them each year.

Spam mostly comes from botnets, hijacked home computers. Is it not about time that people who are incapable of protecting their computers be excluded from the internet? The obvious point of control would be ISPs.

Also, kill off all the spammers. Start with Canter and Siegel (well, actually I think one is dead). Assassination is too good for spammers. Maybe boil them in a frying pan and broadcast it live?

Man Trapped in Elevator

Fascinating New Yorker article written around man trapped in an elevator. Nicholas White was stuck in an elevator in the McGraw-Hill Building at the Rockefeller Center for 41 hours. Has many asides on the accident history of elevators (low), the multiple safety equipment, the personalities involved in proper elevator design, the invention and purpose of sky lobby transfer stations, why cafeterias need to be on the ground floor, destination dispatch from a central console, lack of buttons in elevators, and future buildings and their elevators.

Sunday 4 May 2008

To Hell with Ikea (3)

I completed the sanding of the first side of the radiata pine shelving. Seemed to take forever. In the afternoon, I managed to get Estapol on the first side of a number of uprights and shelves. Stacking the new shelves out of the way is a problem. I left them outside to dry, especially since I hate the smell of paint. However since there will be dew overnight, they can't stay there into the evening.

Monday 5 May 2008

To Hell with Ikea (4)

Very slow work on the shelves. The adhesive from the labels didn't want to sand off. Jean eventually took pity on me, and produced a bottle of meths, which acted pretty well as an adhesive solvent. Took most of the morning to get the hand sanding done on the second sides. I was working in the very narrow walkway outside the entrance, and hoping the neighbour's air conditioner would hide the noise from everyone else.

I managed a coat of Estapol on the second side of most boards, with six shelves getting only their first side painted.

Tuesday 6 May 2008

To Hell with Ikea (5)

Put even more Estapol on the radiata pine. First coat on the second side of six shelves. Second coat on one side of the uprights and seven shelves that already had a coat on one side. It sure seems to take forever, between sanding, preparing and cleanup. I also put a second coat on the previously painted side of the six shelves that had a first coat in the morning. This means everything has one coat all over, and one side has two coats. If it does not rain, I should be able to complete the painting in the next day.

Tenth Anniversary of iMac

Bondi Blue, and it had USB, not ADB, no printer port, and no floppy drive. The horror! Well, that stupid round mouse certainly was. 223 MHz G3, 32 MB ram, 4 GB hard drive, and IrDA. No CD burner (which was stupid). Price US$1300. I believe you can run Panther on it still.

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Personal Portable Microwave

Personal portable microwave, fits on a very small desk, from Sharper Image, of course. Maybe this sort of thing is why they went bankrupt and closed?

Here is another tiny 660 watt portable microwave, from WaveBox, which can also plug into a car battery.

Thursday 8 May 2008

Windows Cheaper than Linux?

That is what APC Magazine claim for Asus EeePC 900. That the Windows version is A$50 cheaper than the Linux version. Lots of additional comments on Asus EeePC operating system are floating around. Both systems appear identical, with 4 GB of memory. The Linux version of the Asus Eee PC 900 at A$649 comes with a 16 GB memory card for storage. The Windows version at A$599 comes with an 8 GB memory card for storage. I have used the New Zealand description because Dick Smith Australia do not list Asus at all.

The main problem according to APC is that the Linux version will only be available in Australia via computer resellers, not via retail stores like the Windows version. Actually the main problem is that an Australian computer retailer says the price with Windows is A$799, and that the Eee PC Windows version comes with the 16 GB memory card. However they do indeed sell the Eee PC Linux version at A$649.

The original 7 inch Eee PC with Linux sells at A$479. The Eee PC with Windows XP Home sells at A$559.

In short, the Windows version of the Asus Eee PC 900 costs an extra A$150. It is not cheaper. It is much more expensive. Linux is cheaper to buy, and costs less to run. Unless Asus themselves have a web site with different costs, this APC story just seems wrong.

Make Your Own Ethanol

Report about making your own ethanol from sugar. Tom Quinn's eFuel100 corporation makes a washing machine sized MicroFueller still to produce ethanol from sugar, water and yeast. Produces around 20 litres per day.

Friday 9 May 2008

To Hell with Ikea (6)

Home Hardware didn't have much variety in the way of shelves. I was able to buy one 290 mm wide shelf I had previously rejected. Not as wide as I need for my electronics workshop. I need around 380 mm for that, but my existing shelves were too wide to use, and this was not wide enough. However the only other size was 240 mm. I needed at least one 140 mm, and at least three 190 mm shelves. I bought three 240 mm planks. Two were (sort of) suitable for making the very high platform in the compact library cupboard. One could replace my disk drive shelf, which was too narrow at 190 mm to hold some of my drives. Since that original shelf was pieced together from two shorter lengths, I repurposed it into more DVD shelves.

During the afternoon I was able to sand the new wood, and put a coat of Estapol on each side.

Lead in Free Range Eggs

I just love this one. Free range chickens contaminated by eating lead pellets from shotguns, so Waitrose in England had to recall their eggs. Next time someone tells me free range eggs are safer, I will point to this.

Saturday 10 May 2008

Shuttle Crash

Report on scientific data recovered from destroyed space shuttle Columbia relating to xenon gas experiment. Kroll Ontrack did the data recovery. More on shuttle data recovery.

To Hell with Ikea (7)

I painted the second coat of one side of my remaining four radiata pine planks before heading off to the markets at 7 a.m.

Painted the second side of the shelves. Then I started on some more DVD shelves with the salvaged wood from other shelves. This furniture reconstruction is taking on a life of its own.

Sunday 11 May 2008

Carbon Emissions too Expensive

Carbon emissions permits are too expensive is what oil companies like Shell are saying to the European Union. The EU wants to reform the emissions trading scheme so that it works, to reduce emissions by 20% below 1990 limits by 2020. The permits were free. You can imagine how much of a change to emissions that made! The oil and other industries basically say they will pick up their plants and go elsewhere if there is effective changes for carbon emissions. Did anyone expect anything different?

Wind Energy in Australia

If you want 20% renewable energy in Australia by 2020, that means something between 6000 and 9000 megawatts of wind power. You need to add around 4500 wind turbines to the 560 or so that already exist and produce around 800 megawatts. That sounds like about one wind turbine a day, about ten times what anyone is expecting at present. There is after all a global shortage of wind turbines.

There is often local opposition from councils and local townfolk to the development of wind farms. Farmers tend to see it as another possible cash crop, but not everyone likes the look.

There are problems organising sufficient connection to the electricity grid, especially from more remote areas that often have the best wind sites. However competing with coal at under A$30 a megawatt hour is hard for wind. Wind power costs around A$105 to A$110 per megawatt hour. Wind is a volatile power source, and as such, you can rarely use it for more than around 15% to 20% of your power demand. Major coal power plants can need a day or more to be taken out of service and brought back online. As a result, a coal plant will keep right on running, and always be able to undercut the prices of wind power.

Wind power works fairly well in remote areas that would normally need to produce their power via diesel engines. Diesel can be switched on and off in 30 seconds. In addition, as diesel prices continue to rise, wind at around A$105 to A$110 per megawatt hour no longer sounds as outrageous.

Monday 12 May 2008

Townsville Trip

We set out from the Whitsunday Terraces for Townsville around nine. Usual stop at Inkerman for a sandwich. At OfficeWorks in Townsville I was again unable to find any of the gadgets I most wanted, like a camera EyeFi card. Nice sales guy named Adam told me about StaticIce Australian price comparison site, which was good of him.

Jean was kind enough to let me visit Dick Smith, and Jaycar. I collected the larger gel cell battery I wanted at Jaycar.

We had dinner at the Sizzler, and took most of the bottle of wine back to the motel.

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Townsville Trip (2)

We put Jean's Subaru in for its service, and talked with the dealer about a new car for her. Talked for a long time, but Jean had pretty much decided she wanted a replacement. Usual trial run, check the comfort level. She had checked specifications and reviews before we took this trip. Bit of work getting money to the dealer, but we would be able to collect the new car the next day.

At Howards Storage World we were able to get the dish washing drainers we wanted, plus the wine glass racks. A very pleasing result, to obtain stuff we first saw at the Mackay shop, but were not sure would fit until we did some measurements at home. Jean sent me off to bring pizza to her at the motel for dinner, for lack of a better idea.

Stardust Circus

The Stardust Circus was in the area from 13 May to 15 May at Galbraith Road, next to Centro shopping centre. As usual, we didn't get to the circus, being away at the time. I miss the days they parked on the Airlie Beach foreshore, directly below us.

Wednesday 14 May 2008

Indian Demand for Coal

India is the fourth largest carbon equivalent emitter. It will probably overtake Russia to become number three behind China and the USA by 2015. Coal use could triple by 2030, and coal imports increase seven fold. India basically imports three things from Australia. Coal (coking coal for steel making), gold, and copper. India emissions per person are around a twentieth of Australian levels. This leaves a long way to go in really increasing carbon emissions.

Asus motherboards and Linux

All Asus motherboards will be getting DeviceVM Splashtop Linux embedded for instant start up of web applications. This could be a very handy feature. Must keep an eye out for the reviews of the Asus and Express Gate (the Asus name for Splashtop).

Asus say they are doing this for energy efficiency reasons. Switch off your computer each day. If you need to check a web site, or webmail, the Linux boot is only a few seconds away.

Thursday 15 May 2008

Apple Changes DRM

Article by Tim Anderson in British newspaper The Guardian on How Apple is changing DRM. Digital Restrictions Management (sometimes inaccurately called Digital Rights Management) has bitten users of Microsoft MSN Music store, as Microsoft will drop support for the licence server from August this year. This means no more licence keys if you change your computer. Your music evaporates, unless you had burnt it to a regular audio CD.

Trip to Townsville (3)

Left the Cedar Lodge motel around 9:30 a.m. Checked more stuff at the Domain shopping centre. One interesting place was that RetraVision had a LaZBoy display centre. That was great. We could probably get them to bring in any model we wanted of these chairs. I need to replace my broken chair. Lunch at the Coffee Club. Harvey Norman didn't have anything we wanted, except we restocked on DVD-R disks. Jean's new Subaru wasn't ready. We finally collected it around 3 p.m. Ten minutes later the dealer phoned to say the registration sticker wasn't on it. We got away again around 3:30. On the way home a truck passed us, chucked up a stone that cracked the windscreen. Arrived at the Whitsunday Terraces around 7:30 p.m.

Friday 16 May 2008

Geckos Everywhere, Even Eggs

This is a classic. Gecko found inside egg shell. I hate geckos. The score here is an air conditioner and an electric kettle. Plus gecko shit everywhere else.

Saturday 17 May 2008

Fuel Rationing

Fuel rationing in Queensland is a possibility, warns Sustainability Minister Andrew McNamara. The Minister appeared in a film, Australia Pumping Empty, assumes road tunnels and roads are wasting billions on infrastructure most people will not be able to afford to use. The report assumes peak oil will occur soon, as described in Queensland's Vulnerability to Peak Oil Prices. Australian oil production peaked in 2000. The minister recommends adopting a wartime mentality, and a focus on cutting private car use.

Bird Overpopulation

Juvenile pelicans at a shrinking lake awaiting the return of their parents. However the parents can not find food either. So thousands of pelicans starve to death. This is what happens when you have more mouths than your resources can handle.

Sunday 18 May 2008

Cheap Food in Australia

The days of cheap food in Australia are over! Sounds dramatic, especially for low income pensioners. Good news is rising export prices for food, and better use of water allocations for higher value food. Price rises blamed on increased demand for protein from middle classes in developing countries (meat takes more cereal crops), conversion of food to biofuel, and decreased arable land, some as a result of higher population growth.

However with food being perhaps 16% of CPI in Australia, an increase to say 17%, is a very small inflation increase. Restaurants are another thing. Thirty years ago eating out and take away food was no more than 15% of food prices. Now it is 24%. There is an obvious place there for savings.

Growing Fuel

Using food crops like corn to produce fuel reduces food supplies, and feeds higher food prices. However there are better crops. For example, ethanol from sugarcane could be used, but is inadequate in quantity as a substitute for oil. Oil palms tend to result in large scale clearing, and in any case, except in the north, Australia lacks the rainfall. Several people have planted cobaifera, the Brazilian diesel tree. This can grow in moderate rainforest areas, unlike oil palm. Hand harvesting like rubber trees is needed, and it takes 15 years to mature. Large scrub jatropha survives in arid areas, and the seeds contain oil. However it is toxic, and care must be taken when hand harvesting. The purple flowered native wisteria (pongamia milletia pinnata) is an Australian native, sold as an ornamental plant. Tolerates drought, light frost and moderately salty soils. After five or six years it might yield as much as 3000 litres of biodiesel per hectare. There would also be large quantities of pod shell and high protein meal for cattle feed as byproducts. That one actually may have decent potential for Queensland.

Monday 19 May 2008

Cruise Ship Arrives

The cruise ship Pacific Sun was anchored in Pioneer Bay overnight. I could see it from the balcony of the Whitsunday Terraces. Some of the 900 passengers visited Airlie Beach, where a special market was on display on the foreshore. I must have been a little early when I visited the market, as I didn't see many of the regular stall holders.

Pay Employees to Quit

Zappos pay new employees to quit. Their call centre staff have a certain culture. One week into the four week paid training course, Zappos offer money for new employees to quit. If they take the offer, they obviously were not suitable for that kind of work. Interesting tweak on getting the employees that you really want.

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Ceto Wave Power

West Australian company Seapower Pacific Pty Ltd was working on a fully submerged 20 metre by 4.5 metre CETO wave power generator designed by Australian inventor Alan Burns. There were initial trials of CETA 1 back in 2005. Interesting technology. It uses a small diameter pipe to bring high pressure (7000 kPa or 1000 psi) seawater a few hundred metres onshore. There the water can be used for either electricity via a turbine, or for reverse osmosis to produce fresh water. One of the neat things is that you don't have any fragile electrical plant out in the water, and can build most of your gear onshore.

Links to CETO milestones are on the CETO company web site. Alan Burns' reciprocating pump patent and his wave energy patent appear to cover what is being done offshore of Freemantle, West Australia. Possibility of commercial scale deployment as early as 2009.

Naturally this is entirely useless anywhere along the eastern coast of tropical Queensland. The Great Barrier Reef essentially eliminates waves here.

Fire and Water

One major problem is that a 1000 megawatt coal fired power plant will typically use between 30 and 50 million litres of water a day for cooling. If water remains in short supply, at some stage you need to shut down water cooled power plants. The exceptions are air cooled plants (which use perhaps 10% as much water), and plants cooled by sea water. Each have additional construction and operating costs (it takes more fuel for a given output power). Two recent air cooled plants have been built in Queensland, at Millmerran, and at Kogan Creek.

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Press Interview

A nice reporter and cameraman from the Sunday Mail visited the Whitsunday Terraces in the afternoon to get a bit of a view of the new (and noisy) Port of Airlie Marina site. They were looking for a few Airlie Beach residents who were not impressed by all of the development, as a counter view to the real estate agents figuring they would make a fortune.

This reminded me that I needed to continue to develop my Airlie Beach Bum anti development web site. I have news of a lot of problems in the Whitsundays area.

Thursday 22 May 2008

Last Bookcases

When we went shopping this morning, I was able to buy 3 @ 1800 mm lengths of 140 x 19 mm DAR radiata pine. Must say wood these days seems to be really bowed, but I can at least sit the shelves with the raised side up, so the load helps straighten it up. Harder to deal with bowed side panels. Some of the boards were also warped, but since I will be cutting each into four, the twisting shouldn't be too bad. The 1800 mm boards (just) fitted into the back of Jean's new Subaru. This should be the last lot of wood I need for this job.

After lunch I measured and sawed all the boards (mostly to 450 mm). Filed a rounded edge at the front of each, used meths to remove the adhesive left over from the price stickers, and sanded all the boards. I also drilled pilot holes for the screws. I was just able to get a coat of water based Estapol on each side before it got too dark to continue to work. I was pretty pleased with my progress. Although I would rather just purchase a set of bookcases the size I wanted.

Sunday Mail Interview

A reporter from the Sunday Mail, Jessica Lawrence, interviewed me for an article on Airlie Beach - Luxury haven or paradise lost?. That subsequently appeared in the 25 May Sunday Mail.

I decided that I really did need to get to work turning my own rough notes into an actual Airlie Beach anti-development web site. Or if not anti-development, to at least point out that there were problems with bringing lots of people into new areas that lacked infrastructure, and that had fragile industries.

Friday 23 May 2008


We had over 22 mm of rain overnight and during the day on the balcony at the Whitsunday Terraces. This was unexpected for this time of year. The rain helped turn the Port of Airlie marina construction site into a sea of mud once again.

I was able to do the second coat of Estapol on my new shelving before breakfast, and leave it out to dry. Had to bring the boards in during the morning, when rain disrupted play.

Saturday 24 May 2008

Divers Lost at Bait Reef

Diving instructors Briton Richard Neely, 38, and 40-year-old American Allyson Dalton were separated from four other divers at Gary Lagoon near Bait Reef after 2:00pm on Friday while diving from the comfortable 20 passenger tourist diving catamaran Pacific Star. Gary's Lagoon is considered a fine site for beginner divers to start looking at coral formations, protected from currents on all sides except the entrance. The divers all surfaced at around the agreed 3 p.m. time, but although only 200 metres from the boat, the pair could not attract attention. After failing to sight the missing divers, Pacific Star raised the alarm via their OzSail base.

Pacific Star is a typical reef tour catamaran, a bit larger and more comfortable than some. It has limited small cabins in the hull, and a large saloon across the decks. It typically carries around 20 passengers on a three day cruise around the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. The crew is usual a skipper, a dive instructor and a hostess. The crew all do multiple jobs during the journey and at dive sites, and are basically on duty close to 24/7.

Seven helicopters and three fixed wing planes took place in the search, despite deteriorating weather conditions, in addition to Pacific Star and other local boats.

The missing divers were sighted by SES volunteer Andrew Barker on a spotter helicopter from Hamilton Island around 8:45 a.m. next morning, about 14 kilometres from where they entered the water. Patrick Martin entered the water to secure them to rescue harnesses. They were lifted to safety by a rescue helicopter, and were in good condition despite being in the ocean overnight.

Photograph of rescued tourists Richard Neely and Allison Dalton in CQ Rescue helicopter. See Courier Mail story of rescue of divers, and also U.K. Sunday Mirror exclusive interview with the survivors.

Sunday 25 May 2008

Electricity Bills

Electricity produces at least 35% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, mostly from coal power plants. Over 190 million tonnes a year. This is around a 50% increase since 1990. Electricity demand is likely to increase 35% to 2020, and 66% to 2030. This means another 8000 MW of base load by 2020, and as much as 35000 MW by 2030, against a current base of around 45000 MW.

These power plants bring in around A$12 billion in wholesale revenue a year. A $10 per tonne emissions trading scheme would cost around A$2 billion. However to change the mix of power stations, you probably need something in excess of $50 a tonne.

Just who is going to make such massive investments without some certainty about profit margins? If you build renewable or low emissions now, you simply can not compete against existing coal plants. If the government starts emissions trading to encourage reductions, to be effective, you need to at least double the retail price of electricity.

Increased power costs make multiple industries uneconomic. For example, aluminium production would have to go to lower cost, high emission countries (power costs are 22% of alumina, 35% for aluminium in Australia).

Pure Paper Pulp

The pulp and paper industry employs around 13,500 people, many in rural areas. Revenues are around A$4 billion a year, and there is a A$2 billion deficit in wood and paper products. A lot of the imports come from illegal logging in developing countries. In view of the competition from countries that will not have emission trading schemes, the paper and pulp industry will be one of many wanting to have free permits.

Monday 26 May 2008

Apple Store Sydney

Blue Drop in soon banner on Apple Store, Sydney site at George and 77 King Street, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The betting is for a 19 June opening.

Vehicle Emissions

Most vehicles produce carbon dioxide in proportion to their fuel use. The most energetic fuels tend to produce more carbon dioxide. Diesel produces 2.7 kg of carbon dioxide per litre burnt. Petrol about 2.4 kg. Liquified petroleum gas (LPG) about 1.6 kg. However the economy of each fuel is fairly proportional to their carbon dioxide output, so the results from using each are similar.

In Australia, back in 2004, cars produced 41.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (or equivalent). Trucks and light commercial vehicles 26.2 million tonnes. This was around 12% of the total emissions in Australia, and a 25% increase since 1990. Even if vehicle emissions are reduced considerable, over 70% of emissions are from elsewhere.

The most efficient vehicles we have produce more than 100 grams of emissions per kilometre. Toyota Prius is around 104g/km, Smart Fortwo Coupe 113g/km, Fiat 500 around 119g/km. Some small diesels do just as well, or better. On the other hand, there are a dozen or so cars that produce more than 400 grams per kilometre travelled. A heavy Kenworth or similar semi-trailer produces around 900g/km.

Tuesday 27 May 2008

Cruise Ship Arrives

The 2000 passenger Sydney based superliner Pacific Dawn is expected to be anchored in Pioneer Bay this morning. This is the last and largest of the cruise ships expected this season.

Wednesday 28 May 2008


WebnoteHappy is a better desktop bookmark management tool from Happy Apps author Luis de la Rosa. Organize, bookmark, and make notes about the web pages. Each web page can be personalized with notes and tags as you bookmark it, creating a "webnote". The fast integrated search makes it easy to find your webnotes again. Organize your webnotes with folders and smart folders. One item I particularly wanted to explore was use of tags.

While Safari bookmarks work well, I had too many of them, and my organisation was less than perfect. Plus my myriad categories were now chaotic. However my main objection was I wanted to be able to put only a subset on my MacBook Air and my iPod Touch, and not synchronise the whole mess of bookmarks. I considered writing a little bookmark swapping routine so I could have multiple independent sets of bookmarks (and may still go that way).

First problem I encountered in WebnoteHappy was the font size. On my iMac display, the Small font size is totally unreadable. Luckily you can change the font size (I could live with Medium but prefer Large) in Preferences. As I get older, and my eyes get worse, I get a lot more annoyed about fonts I can't instantly change. I think it would be a lot nicer if the Command + and Command - text size shortcuts that work in Safari (and many other Cocoa programs) also worked in Webnotehappy.

I exported my Safari bookmarks (as a precaution). Safari appear to use the Netscape bookmarks format when they export. Microsoft Internet Explorer also uses Netscape Bookmarks format for exports, as do Opera and Firefox. Webnotehappy exports to Netscape Bookmarks format, and also to Xbel (XML Bookmark Exchange Language).

Imported 2290 bookmarks from Safari in seconds. Tagged each with folder (and sub-folder) names I had used. Search is very quick. You can put in a search term, and search by Note, Tag, Title, URL, Source, or search All.

Alas, I could find no easy method of editing titles of imported bookmarks. Having the titles all in an alphabetical sequence revealed a lot of web site editors choose idiotic titles. Or have the titles generated by a broken content management system. If I hadn't taken the time to change the title when originally saving, then I was stuck with uninformative titles. Take that comment back. Command return lets you rename the title.

Looking at the tag list for Exif, I now have 3 files. However my original list had 13! This is a real problem. I can't trust the transfer from my original browser list of bookmarks. I can't explain this as duplicates, although there were a few in that folder. Not a good start. However it is possible that many of the URLs were also in totally different folders as well, and that these were detected first, and duplicates discarded.

Junk Phone Calls

What is the point of having a telephone when the only people who call are junk phone call spammers? Cheap travel accommodation was this one. Now, if only the Do Not Call register actually worked. Especially, if only it also stopped charities and politicians from calling.

After dinner, some machine phoned me. Why? I have no interest in some thing beeping at me down my phone line.

So, the question becomes. Do I connect a phone answering machine as a filter? Or do I dump the entire phone line? Or do I try to find an ISP who will sell me a naked DSL line, without any phone calls? Decisions, decisions.

Thursday 29 May 2008

Telstra TurboCard NextG Wireless

A Telstra TurboCard to connect a computer with Telstra's NextG wirelss mobile phone data network. Despite the packaging saying use a PCCard slot, it was actually an ExpressCard/34 device (PCCard is physically the same slot size as the older PCMCIA). It actually appears to be the Option GlobeTrotter Express 7.2 (Option Model GE0202).

Card came complete with quick start instructions (for Windows XP and 2000, not Windows Vista) and a CD ver The CD contained a manual in PDF, for Windows only. It did contain a section incorrectly labelled MAC (should be Mac, as MAC is an acronym for Media Access Control). The MAC section contained a GlobalTrotterConnect.mpkg So instead of attempting to install it, I opened the package file and checked the contents. Apart from resource files, there were three package containers. The GlobalTrotterConnect, plus obsolete driver packages for Panther (OS X 10.3) and Tiger (10.4). This isn't much use, as any current model Macintosh will actually be using Leopard (10.5). These days Telstra has an updated Telstra TurboCard GT Express connection manager available for download.

First remove all the old GlobalTrotterConnect material (it comes with a competent uninstaller) if you installed it. I failed to get the card to connect, but believe that this was caused by the SIM PIN. If you have a suitable mobile phone, use it to remove the SIM PIN number. Rodney Campbell believes you could get a Macintosh with Leopard to connect via Telstra TurboCard using System Preferences - Network. You will need to make a new configuration, and in Advanced, select Other (or perhaps Option) as the modem. The model selection should include GT Express 7.2.

If that doesn't work, try downloading the new version of the GT Express connection manager. I managed to get one working for a friend, for small values of working. Performance on a very short test seemed reasonable. I don't know how stable it will be as yet.

Friday 30 May 2008

Nothing Happened

Nothing happened today. Either that, or I was so busy that I didn't have time to note the various things that really happened.

Saturday 31 May 2008

Farewell Party

Went to a farewell party for a fellow Whitsunday Terraces body corporate committee member who is off for a six month holiday. Met an interesting bunch of real estate and property market associated people, plus some in the building industry. Funniest moment was finding someone who actually knew of my little web site. He seemed to have encountered my original and mostly outdated Airlie Beach site mostly when he was trying to get position in search engines for his own Airlie Beach real estate site.