Eric Lindsay's Blog 2008 August

Friday 1 August 2008

Leaving Cairns

Leave Cairns International Hotel. We had an entire trolley load of stuff to pack in the car. On the other hand, we did have a pattern to make everything fit.

We went out of our way along Mulgrave Road to Spotlight. No more shirt material. After much searching, we found some fabric that seemed suitable for chair covers. It seems to pay to persist in these searches, and not accept good enough choices. Plus you have to go back several times over the period of a year. Shopping is a real pain.

Back into town to find the Captain Cook Highway to Port Douglas. We went into a large number of coast beaches, to look at beach scenery. With the beautiful weather I was able to get a heap of photos of various beaches. Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Beach, Kawarra Beach. We had lunch at Ellis Beach kiosk, where Jean had a meat pie and I had scone, jam and cream.

We reached the turnoff to Port Douglas around 4 p.m. Police and fire engine were in attendance, as there had been a dreadful accident. A 4WD on its side, and a smaller car with the side stove in across part of the intersection.

Le Cher du Monde was a three floor self contained apartment block in the middle of the main tourist street in Port Douglas. Underground parking with an entrance on a side street. Our room (up one flight of stairs from parking or street) opened on the pool. It looked very relaxed, once I got our luggage in from the car. We had access to the resort pool directly outside the covered porch area of our apartment. It had a bedroom with en-suite, a large living area, and a small kitchen.

I wandered the length of the main street while Jean relaxed. Port Douglas had more restaurants and fewer real estate agents than Airlie Beach. It certainly had more art outlets and aboriginal art galleries. A number of eco styled shops as well. The Wharf Street end had more pubs. There was even a Coles right in town, where I got breakfast essential like milk and orange juice, and a salad for Jean, and some nice James Squire Golden Ale to have with meals.

Did we go out and eat? No, Jean sent me out for a pizza from Pizza Express, one of the several places whose pizza menu I had brought her.

Hot Rocks

Stories that the Millungera Basin east of Cloncurry could be a vast hot rocks geothermal energy source in the north west of the state, rivalling the Cooper Basin in South Australia. The extent of the hot rocks may have been hidden by areas closer to the surface. There could also be coal seam gas and additional water there.

Saturday 2 August 2008

Port Douglas

I went out after 7 a.m. to get newspapers from the news agent near Coles. A few cafes were starting to show signs of food being available. I went out again to have a big breakfast and read one of the newspapers.

We went for a walk down to the beach. I was taking photos of all the sunlit buildings as we walked. We spotted the area we had last stayed in, now site of a large resort and commercial building that was just being completed. It was named Coconut Grove, which Jean recalled was where we had stayed on a long ago previous visit. Then we headed back towards Wharf Street. Checked the waterfront area, and then headed back to our room via one of the side streets.

Couldn't decide on anything for lunch. Jean had some cheese from our fridge, and shared a little with me.

Our afternoon walk was down to the beach. I had hoped for photos of the other side of the street as we walked, but the angle of the sun means I need to go out around 4 p.m., not 2 p.m. We walked to the beach, and then along the Four Mile Beach. Not the whole way. The beach at Port Douglas certainly seemed popular on Saturday! There was the surf club annual surf ski paddling competition on. Life savers were on duty. There was a mobile food vendor on a tricycle.

Once again we walked up to Wharf Street, with Jean checking restaurant menus as we went. She wanted fish, however we didn't really see any places that attracted us. Neither of us really like crowded restaurants anyhow.

Once again unable to decide on what to get, Jean sent me out to get a chicken from Coles. I got some tabooli and a potato salad as well. All of these were on special, so it wasn't even expensive. We already had some very nice Goundry G wine on hand.

Book Wars

Interesting article by Rosemary Sorensen in the Review section of the July 26 Weekend Australian. Covers parallel importation of books. Australian booksellers are once again asking the government to remove the rule allowing local publishers 30 days to supply books published overseas before other editions are allowed into Australia.

Most booksellers in Australia absolutely suck in terms of service and stock. Prices are 50% above anything realistic. Just look at US$8 paperbacks selling here at A$18 when the exchange rate is above 90 cents to the US dollar.

I was once a great supporter of Australian booksellers. Now I wouldn't give tu'pence if most of them went straight out of business. I used to buy lots of books. Now I look for electronic editions. I would like to support authors, but I am tired of being played as a sucker by the publishing industry.

Your publishing business is going to get eaten by the internet. The value that publishers add is mostly from their editors, and increasingly, publishers have wimped out of their editorial duties. Well, as far as I am concerned, the Australian publishing industry can get flushed down the loo of competition. You blew it, and now you can disappear.

Sunday 3 August 2008

Sunday at Port Douglas

I went out early to get the Sunday newspapers. Channel Nine was showing the very last Sunday current affairs program, so I plugged headphones into the TV, and watched the retrospective. Very sad to see one of the last decent commercial current affairs programs die under the heel of the cost accountants. The TV stations will soon be worth diddly-squat. Actually, during the Olympics, they are already worth diddly-squat.

Jean waited patiently for way too long for the Sunday program to end, so we could go out and get eggs benedict for breakfast. Slow service, but a great way to have breakfast. We should have taken newspapers with us, like I did the previous day.

Next we visited the Port Douglas Sunday markets. It was pretty impressive. More than double the size of the Airlie Beach Saturday markets. We went through several rows of vendors tents. We even found things to buy. Some macadamia nuts for Jean (one of very few she can eat, but we normally have to avoid them due to cross contamination from other nuts). Jean also spotted some small fossil coral stone pots, that could use for our daily tablets. We bought one each of these. We had been looking for small pottery containers for years without any luck, and tend to check at markets.

Continuing our walk brought us to the marina area, where there was another small shopping centre. There we found a Cairns area picture calendar, a suitable gift to one of Jean's friends.

When we went out to lunch we didn't get far. Found some fancy Swiss ice cream, and had that for lunch back at the room.

I went to Wendys hot dogs place mid afternoon. Only two doors away, and they had a WiFi hot spot, available for only a few dollars. Checked my Google email, and downloaded a stack of web pages to read later.

By the time I had taken my MacBook Air back to the room, the sun was as good as it was going to get for photographs of the other side of the main street in Port Douglas. I walked the entire length, taking a photograph of each building. Later Jean downloaded all my photos, so she could see which she wanted for her travel reports.

Just before dinner we went back to Coles to collect cereal for our next few days. We used up yesterday's chicken and salads for dinner. Still not keen on going out to restaurants. Somehow restaurants just did not grab us, and it wasn't a matter of cost.

Monday 4 August 2008

Leaving Port Douglas

After breakfast I packed the car, over several trips for all the luggage and such. We left Port Douglas around 9 a.m. At the corner of Captain Cook Highway there was yet another car crumpled into a light pole. Seems a dangerous corner.

The trip south took a fair while, with the many kilometres of winding road dropping travel speed. The many sections of repairs and flag men or lights had traffic stopped fairly often. We managed to refuel at a Coles Express petrol station outside of Cairns. We had an 8 cent off coupon to use up before it expired, and wanted a mostly empty tank before using it.

At Cairns we went up Mulgrave Road, and stopped opposite Jaycar Electronics. I was able to pick up the Lux meter I had wanted for testing light output from different light bulbs.

We were running so late that we stopped at Innisfall for lunch. I took some photos of the town, to compare with those we took soon after the cyclone of a few years ago when it was so badly damaged. We just had meat pies from Brumbies for lunch, not having seen much that otherwise attracted us.

Eventually we reached Cardwell, halfway between Cairns and Townsville. We stopped to get milk for breakfast, and at the bakery I picked up a potato salad and some lamingtons to supplement what we had in the cooler.

The nearby Keith William's Port Hinchinbrook resort seemed like a part time resort and full time land sales office. Lots of land for sale, and even more flat sand dunes occupied by what mostly looked to me like ugly MacMansions.

Our initial impression was unfavourable. Poor signage meant we couldn't easily find reception. Our check in went fine (we were prepaid on Wotif), and they gave us a street map and correct directions to our cabin.

They also gave us a key to a luggage trolley near the guest parking. The trolley key didn't fit the padlock. I was later able to see that a screw shackle actually held the chain, and so could use the trolley easily.

We walked across to the cabin to check that the cabin key fitted. We couldn't see the room number. It wasn't on the door, nor alongside the door. It wasn't on a pole along the walkway. It turned out to be on the fascia board under the gutter. On some cabins it was hidden by the very nice scrubs that abounded in the excellent gardens. We were not the only people who were fooled. As we were unpacking, some other guests asked us how to find their cabin number.

The lake in front of the lakeside cabins seemed to be a fetid tidal canal (not as bad as some), which mostly didn't have much tidal movement. However the mosquitos we encountered inside and outside probably came from elsewhere. The Cardwell waterfront always seemed terrible to me for mosquitos.

We found incomprehensible spa instructions in the cabin, with didn't match the actual spa equipment outside. Luckily one of the staff came along to fiddle with the controls, so we asked for help. It takes about three hours for the water to heat, but the spa works well enough then.

Part of the fridge door was falling off, which seemed a maintenance matter. There were warped doors on the wardrobe, so we didn't bother to try to use it. One of the ceiling fan doesn't turn off, and ticks when turned up. There was a cigarette burn hole in one of the directors chairs outside on the balcony. In short, it seemed a bit run down. It was still comfortable enough, so these were not the sort of things that would spoil a stay.

Fragile Solder

The European ROHS rules mean electronic devices are increasingly built without lead in the solder. Lead (Pb) free solder joints appear to be brittle and fragile under shock loading, especially as they are subject to thermal ageing. This has long been known for Ni/Au joints, but there are at least two mechanisms that increase brittleness in Cu solder pad joins.

I note with interest that the European military are exempt from ROHS soldering. For the rest of us, expect any consumer electronics device to have increasingly poor life span, and increased failure rates.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Port Hinchenbrook

We spent the day walking (and sometimes driving) around Port Hinchenbrook, looking at what they had done with the place. I drove back to Cardwell early in the morning to get a newspaper, and collected a few apple pies from the bakery. Later we returned to the bakery at Cardwell to get some meat pies for lunch. Having waited the appropriate time for the spa to heat up, we sat and sogged in the spa for part of the afternoon. I have to say that a resort that is so far away from any sort of services that you have to drive to a nearby (small) town really sucks. I am used to living in places where you could walk to shops, and that is really convenient.

Advances in Cars

Julian Edgar had an article on What happened to electronic advances in cars, back in the December 2006 Silicon Chip. He asks the very good question why have so many electronic gadgets been added to cars, rather than fundamental improvements? He starts by saying it is a snow-job. In-car entertainment, electric seat adjustment with memory, climate control, electric handbrakes, parking proximity sensors, auto dimming of rear vision mirrors, car stereos. He asks what happened to fundamentals. All the significant electronic breakthroughs happened a decade ago. Electronic engine control was a major advance. As was electronic stability control.

What about active aerodynamics? Or even getting drag coefficients down to 0.25? What about dropping the weight of cars, instead of always increasing it? Engine knock sensing, so you can run as advanced and fuel lean as possible. We still use a 14.7:1 air/fuel ratio, probably to reduce nitrogen oxides.

Edgar is impressed with the aerodynamics of the Toyota Prius. However the NiMH battery pack is heavy, and propels the car only a little over a kilometre. The car is way too heavy for its class size. He thinks it would have been better with an aluminium body and a turbo charged engine.

He points out that the 2001 Honda Insight managed 3.6 litres per 100 km on a real world trip of 3500 kilometres, and had an official figure of 2.8 litres per 100 km. It had a lean run one litre 3 cylinder petrol engine producing 56kW at 5600 RPM, and with peak torque at just 1500 RPM. The electric motor (also starter and generator) was 10 kW. It was a lightweight (827 kg) two seater with poor internal packaging, but it does show what could be done.

He asks why not have solar top up of the battery, and running a cabin ventilation fan when parked? You used to be able to add that. In all, motor vehicles are in a fairly sad state compared to what the engineers could obviously do.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

Return Home

We got away from Port Hinchenbrook around 7:45 a.m. We had a good run to Townsville, with a stop to top up fuel before we got into town. We were getting 8 litres per 100 km from the Subaru Forester, which was pretty acceptable. We managed to miss the highway somewhere in Townsville, and had to go deeper into the suburbs than we planned. We stopped for lunch at Inkerman before midday, and restricted ourselves to sharing a single sandwich. We were home before 2 p.m. which was a very fast drive by our standards.

I can't stand leaving luggage in the car, so I made five trips up the stairs unpacking it. Then there was a trip to reception and the Post Office to collect mail. A cheque awaited me in the mail, so I made another trip down the 12 flights of stairs, only to run into scaffolding. Had to divert around. The bank didn't seem to have anything decent to offer in the way of interest rates. Back up the stairs, find details of stuff on the internet, and then another trip down the stairs so I could mail it instead. Good exercise, but what a drag.

Compensate Polluters

Should polluters be compensated for the reduced value of their assets. Coal fired power stations will be in the queue asking for money to compensate for poor business decisions. However, if they had invested in alternative energy, they would not have been able to sell it (too costly). So the result would be essentially no electricity available. It basically comes back to not frightening foreign investors.

I think government assistance should be limited to two items. Improving the transmission infrastructure, so power can come from elsewhere, if any elsewhere has surplus power. It costs money to make interconnects bigger than they initially might need, however only big interconnects let you share power. Research money on carbon sequestration is the second item. Since there is no guarantee it will work, help is needed for pilot plants. With 80% of our electricity from coal, there is no quick and easy solution. Renewable basically doesn't work as yet, and may never work. However business always want handouts, and are good at arguing for them.

On the personal side, anyone concerned about having power at home should be looking at what sort of diesel generator they want to install. If particularly paranoid, maybe some sort of contact with farmers who may be interested in bio-diesel production.

Thursday 7 August 2008

Sharpcast Sugarsync

I was looking for a way to synchronise multiple computers. SharpCast SugarSync for phones, Windows and Macintosh has been getting good reports. Only downer is that the Mac side is still beta (I don't have any Windows computers). On the other hand, the SugarSync white paper says sensible things about synchronising.

Weather Station

Jean says we should have a weather station. It should be available via the internet. The official weather is for Proserpine Airport (no-one lives there), and Hamilton Island (not precisely typical Airlie Beach weather), so visitors may find it handy.

Jaycar Electronics have two wireless weather stations with a USB connection for storing data, their catalogue number XC0330 and XC0332. They appear to be Bios brand, but I can't read the model number. Alas, the software is not for Apple Macintosh.

David Wilson in New Zealand wrote Macintosh USB display software for the Bios BW976 weather stations he bought from Jaycar. The question now is how the Bios numbering matches Jaycar catalogue numbers. David's weather station software fires up on my Apple iMac G5 ALS. Plus David kindly makes the source code available.

In David Wilson's blog, I found that his Macintosh weather station software works with Jaycar XC0332, the weather station with a TV interface. Luckily that has just dropped in price to A$199. I think we have a starting point. Unfortunately, the PDF manual for the Bios BW9756 does not list a TV interface! I am not sure where to go from here.

I did find a report of a Macintosh based weather station from Hobo Wifi weather station. Not cheap (sensors are extra), and not in Australia, but at least it is a recent report.

Friday 8 August 2008

Banning Incandescent Lamps

Leo Simpson editorial in April 2007 Silicon Chip, pointing out there is little logic in the Malcolm Turnbull knee jerk banning incandescent lamps, even if global warming is actually happening. The suggested replacement is compact fluorescent lights (CFL). Government figures in the press release of the time say it may save 800,000 tonnes from 2008 to 2012. Halving lighting power use in the home would do relatively little, when the main use is heating, cooling and cooking. The increase in air conditioning and plasma TVs will easily swamp any effect.

Domestic lighting is used at night. Well, do'h! However effectively all our power comes from coal. You can't turn off a coal power station at night. Whether anyone uses the power or not, coal is still being burnt for spinning reserve all night. So who cares whether you use a little more power for lighting at night?

CFL is claimed to produce about 5 times the light output of an equivalent incandescent bulb. This is a lie. Ideally they can last 4 to 10 times as long (another lie). Package claims of 8,000 to 15,000 hours (about 4 years) were once common. My experience is that conventional fluorescent tubes last longer than CFL (they certainly produce more light).

In my experience, CFL take many minutes to reach full light output. The colder it is, the longer it takes. In very cold climates, CFL will not even start working. The least undesirable use for CFL is where they will be let on for several hours at a time. CFL are totally unsuitable for electronically switched or remote controlled lights.

CFL will not work with electronic dimmers. Even if a dimmer is set to full, a CFL will be at risk. f you look hard enough in specialist lamp stores, you can find one brand of CFL designed for use with a dimmer. It doesn't work well, but at least it is designed for that use.

CFL can not be used in areas where they will get hot. No oven lights, for example. In addition, they will get too hot in recessed light fittings, or in lamp holders that lack good air circulation, such as oyster lights. The electronics in a CFL do not deal well with vibration, so they are no good in fan fittings or bathroom exhaust fan fittings.

CFL contain around 5 mg of mercury, which will be disposed of into the environment when they are thrown out. This may be environment neutral, if they actually reduced the amount of coal burnt (coal burning typically releases mercury). However it is unlikely use of CFL will reduce coal burning.

CFL produce electrical and infrared interference. All discharge type lamps produce electrical interference, typically modulated at the twice the mains frequency, or 100 Hz. You can usually hear this on radios left near CFL or any fluorescent lamp. They also produce noise modulated at 100 Hz, and for CFL also modulated at their inverter frequency. Typically this is just above hearing range, 20 kHz to 30 kHz, but can be a little higher. If higher, it may interfere with any infra red remote control, say for TV.

More compact fluorescent lamps answers from General Electric, who manufacture some of the better ones.

CFL lamps typically have a power factor around 0.5, compared to 1.0 for incandescent. This means although your home power meter shows them using less power, the power station still has to supply more than their nominal wattage. Industrial fluorescent installations are typically required to adjust their power factor towards 1.0 prior to approval for connection. If CFL become popular, a similar requirement will probably happen. This reduces the apparent power saving.

CFL lamps tend to flash several times a minute when switched off, in some homes. Not visible in the daytime, but it can be annoying at night. If the lamp switch breaks both active and neutral, they probably won't flash, however wiring in many homes breaks only active. This seems to be an artefact of capacitance of wiring to the switch, where say 10 metres of twin cable would have a capacitance of 300 pF or more. This lets the starting capacitor in the CFL fire up the tube as it discharges the DC buildup.

CFL designs vary, but typically line in goes via a 47 ohm resistor, while neutral goes via a small inductor, to a bridge rectifier. USA bulbs probably use a voltage doubler. A diode and 4.7 uF capacitor filter and produce DC. Output of around 340 volts DC is used to run an inverter. This consists of a couple of MOSFET transistors and a transformer. For starting, a 2.2 uF capacitor charges via a half megohm resistor. A DIAC fires at around 30 volts, and discharges the capacitor into the gate of one of the MOSFET. This should start the inverter oscillating (the cycle repeats if not). The large 4.7 uF capacitor is effectively across mains voltage, and is most at risk of overheating. Since it will not be an expensive AC rated capacitor, with fail open and flame retardant interior, it may catch on fire if it faults.

This ban is a stupid idea.

Sun lounge Cushions

I kept trying to find replacement cushions for our outdoor sun lounge locally. The place that sold it to us didn't have replacements, and neither did anyone else. Avant Garden make sun lounge cushions. No idea what they cost. However that is a better starting point than not being able to find any replacement sun lounge cushions.

Saturday 9 August 2008

Light Outputs from lamps

The lumen is a measure of total light output. The candela is a measure of light intensity in a given direction. There is no direct comparison. If you know the beam angle for a light source, you could calculate a rough light output comparison.

Costly Old Mobile Phones

In November 1999 I bought the Ericsson SH888 mobile phone I used until it (partly) broke a few weeks ago. I turned up the old contract, to see how much it cost. It was A$549, less a Telstra rebate of $280 for taking a $35 contract, making A$269 upfront. The charger and earphone were an extra $38. That sure doesn't seem all that cheap compared with the prices of SmartPhones these days. It was about the same dollar cost as a current model Apple iPhone, which I got on a $29 phone plan, and around a $280 upfront fee.

So what did the nine year old Ericsson SH888 actually do, apart from 900/1800 MHz GSM phone and SMS? It had an address book, by name and position. Voice mail and missed calls, redial the last 15 callers, speed dialling for 10 numbers. A clock and alarm. A very simple calculator. You could set volume, ring type, language, light, call information. Send tone signals for signalling. Had a divert menu. Call waiting, two calls, call transfer between two calls, conference calls with five people. Hands free calling. About 8 levels of menu in all. A 66 page manual.

Unlike the iPhone, the Ericsson SH888 did work as a dial up modem, over GSM, connecting with my Psion 5 PDA via IrDA. You could also receive a fax, and pass it along to your PDA.

Camera? What camera? GPS? Colour? Applications?

Sunday 10 August 2008

Solar Cars

I was re-reading Leo Simpson's article in the May 2007 Silicon Chip regarding solar racers reaching the end of their development. He makes a persuasive case. See Sunswift for technical details of the solar car. The one (slim) prone driver in a 2 metre by 6 metre solar car that looks like a credit card hasn't much place to go. The 98% efficient very thin central stator brushless AC motor inside one rear wheel. However the motor casing has to also handle cornering loads.

The MOSFET pulse width modulated motor controllers can handle 100A at up to 170 volts DC. It is close to 99% efficient. However as the motors are coreless, they generate little back EMF. This can cause severe motor overheating when climbing long hills at low speed, when motor efficiency drops off.

The 1034 laser cut Sunpower A-300 back connected solar cells are between 20 and 21% efficient. They are in six panels of more than 100 cells in series. Since series solar cells can pass only as much current as the light falling on it will allow, you must model the light to ensure current matching. This is especially important when the surfaces are curved, and thus receive different amounts of light.

The solar cells produce maximum power at 0.55 volts, not at their maximum open circuit 0.65 volts. A soft switching zero crossing boost converter for each panel attempts to extract the maximum power voltage and convert that to the voltage required by the battery. Boost converter can be up to 99% efficient.

The batteries are 200 prismatic lithium polymer cells wired five in parallel, with 40 per 40 Ah battery pack. The solar challenge battery weight limit is 30 kg. The battery pack can be charged to 164 volts, and discharged to 108 volts. It can drive the lightweight car 300 km at 100 kph. Elaborate battery monitoring is used, with a microcontroller for each four battery modules.

Sports on TV

The Olympics have started. No matter which TV channel you check, some sports jock is doing something sweaty. I never thought I would be willing to thank Hollywood for letting their films go on DVD. Or I could just watch something I downloaded from the internet while dinner cooks.

Monday 11 August 2008

iPhone Tests

On the iPhone you can put it into Field Test Mode if you dial *3001#12345#* This should let you see dB readings for your phone signal strength, instead of misleading bars.

Tuesday 12 August 2008

Mobile Phone Facilities Airlie Beach

To find out which mobile phone towers are nearby, login as Guest and enter your Postcode into Radio Frequency National Site Archive. This is an internet archive of mobile telephone base stations and radio communication facilities in Australia. It provides a listing of all new mobile telephone base station facilities built or upgraded since April 2003.

The sites listed in the Whitsundays are:

4802001	  Off Kara Cres. Shingle Beach Hill, AB
4802002	  Lions Lookout Rd, Mt Rooper, SH
4802003	  New Pole near Telstra Shute Harbour Rd JP
4802004	  Mt Robinson VMR Tower Whitsunday
4802005	  Currawong Rd, Cape Conway
4802006	  Kara Crescent, AB
4802007	  Whitsunday Drive, Mt Rooper, SH
4802010	  Whitsunday Sports Park off Shute Harbour Road AB
4802011	  Sewage Works, William Murray Road Cannonvale

Wednesday 13 August 2008

No iPhone

I had flip flopped again to wanting an iPhone. When we went to the Telstra Store at Centro, they only had 8 GB iPhones. No 16 GB iPhones available, and they had never had the white model I really wanted.

However instead of only two Pre-Paid 3G phones, the store seemed to have a half dozen. Jean thought I would be better off with a cheaper Pre-Paid on any rough trip, rather than a fancy model. I had been considering that, and it did make sense. Especially while the iPhone still has a shadow hanging over it regarding 3G reception. This way I can stall an iPhone purchase until at least the end of October, by which time there may be more information.

Pre-Paid Telstra 3G Mobile Phones

I found the section of the Telstra web site dealing with Pre-Paid phones, and opened each model in a new tab. They didn't have any content! Which idiot wrote a web page for mobile phones using Flash? Most mobile phones can't handle full Flash. Plus Flash isn't a web technology, it is an Adobe proprietary piece of shit. I nearly dumped the whole project at this point.

So far I am remarkably unhappy with the facilities of the pre-paid 3G phones available.

Thursday 14 August 2008

Mobile Phone Network

You may be able to locate additional mobile phones towers installed prior to 2003 by using the more general ACMA list of radio licences. I have been unable to find any way to search the database for just PMTS class B - authorising a land station in the group special mobile (GSM) service, in a specific geographical area.

Telstra Radio Terminal Airlie Hill Airlie Beach at Latitude -20 16 48, Longitude 148 42 32. They have 900 MHz GSM, and 850 MHz 3G. Telstra have a 13 GHz point to point link from Terminal Hill, Airlie Beach to the GSM Flame Tree Hill site. Telstra have a 400 MHz link to Bluff Point, Cannonvale.

Optus 900 MHz GSM Site Airlie Beach Off Kara Crescent at Latitude -20 16 47, Longitude 148 42 56.

Telstra GSM Site Flame Tree Hill Airlie Beach at Lat 20 16 51, Long 148 44 35. Has 900 MHz GSM PMTS, and 850 MHz 3G.

Optus GSM Site, Shute Harbour, Mt Rouper Shute Harbour Latitude -20 16 58, Longitude 148 46 51.

GSM Site Mt Rooper Shute Harbour at Latitude -20 17 07, Longitude 148 46 55. 900 MHz GSM for Optus and Vodaphone. 7 GHz microwave links between Optus Mt Rooper and Telstra Hamilton Island. Microwave links between Mt Rooper and both Vodafone and Optus at Shingley Hill. Microwave links from Mt Rooper to Optus Daydream Island.

GSM site at Hamilton Island at Latitude -20 20 37, Longitude 148 57 02 has 900 MHz Vodafone GSM, and 900 MHz Telstra GSM, and 850 MHz Telstra 3G.


I thought this was now being done correctly, however once more this morning the garbage was not put out anywhere in the resort (except Florin Terrace, where I put out a full bin as a test). This really is getting beyond a joke, so I will bring it to the attention of the Body Corporate.

Internet Dies

Our iiNet connection to the Internet died mid afternoon, without any indication of other problems. Our Netgear 834 wireless router was running, but no indication of any ADSL activity. The router firmware couldn't manage any ping or traceroute. Around dinner time I replaced the Netgear router with an old DLink 300, but it also gave no indication it could find an ADSL connection. This is the second time in a few months that iiNet has been totally out of action for hours.

Jean connected to the iiNet dial up number. No indication on their site of any problems elsewhere. Seems obvious that we need a second, totally independent connection to the internet. This is annoying.

Only good thing to come from this lack of communications is that while we were not wasting time on the internet, Jean phoned up a cleaner we had heard about. We may end up once again have a cleaner turning up each week to create some order out of our chaos.

Friday 15 August 2008

Buy a Telstra iPhone

I gave up on trying to get a 16 GB iPhone, and settled on an 8 GB. My reasoning is that I haven't filled my 8 GB iPod Touch, and I am fairly happy about modifying what music and video is synced to it. So I should be able to do similar with an iPhone. Plus Jean says she is happy to inherit an 8 GB, and a new improved model will probably be out next year.

Around 9:30 a.m. we headed off. Dropped a boot full of discards into the St Vinnies store, and hope some of it is of use to someone.

Arrived at the helpful Telstra Store at Centro shopping centre around 9:30, where Allan again assisted us. Telstra's new accounting system promptly bit us. This was the first time the store had tried to bring an existing mobile phone number over to a new phone for someone with the new account system Telstra were trying to deploy to millions of customers. It took the helpful store folks until around 11:30 to get the iPhone organised for us, instead of a quarter that time. Some bits of the contract are still not working, like whatever special options you take as your bonus feature. I want the short free calls to one other number, since that is mostly what I use a phone for.

We did some other shopping while the Telstra store worked on the problem. In Harvey Norman, it was interesting to note that there were a whole bunch of routers and wireless access point routers that did not have an ADSL modem. Since cable internet just about doesn't exist in country Australia, it seemed obvious these gadgets were intended pretty much for the USA market. I got a Belkin ADSL2+ modem with Wireless G router. I will use that to also feed my Apple Airport Extreme 802.11n wireless access point. Well, I will once I can get at the internet to organise an ADSL 2+ line, for my phone line.

TV Broadcast Locations

Broadcast TV Translator Site Jubilee Pocket at Latitude -20 17 55, Longitude +148 44 24.

Broadcast site Shingley Hill at Latitude -20 16 29, Longitude 148 42 32. SBS, ABC, Win, 7, plus Optus and Vodafone GSM.

Internet Dies (2)

There is still no sign of any internet connection via iiNet ADSL from Jean's phone line. Internet has not been accessible for over 24 hours. We have tried multiple reboots of the ADSL router, and done other troubleshooting, without result.

Allan at the Telstra Store at Centro shopping centre told us he heard that a number of connections via Airlie Beach phone exchange were out of action. A shop assistant at Harvey Normal said his ADSL connection from Cannonvale was also out of action. It continues to sound as if the problem is unrelated to our equipment.

On dial up, Jean found that iiNet were saying there were problems with a Telstra software update a small number of phone exchanges, including ours at Airlie Beach. Around 3 p.m. the estimated time to repair was around 5 p.m. As at 9 p.m. we still do not have any internet access.


The Fantasea fireworks were on around 7:45 p.m. This year it was part of the boat racing week, not the reef festival. I had charged the camcorder, and got the tripod arranged. Alas, after about five minutes I ran out of video tape. I may have the finale on the start of the next tape. It was as always a pretty nice fireworks display. Looked like a good crowd on the foreshore.

Jean was grumbling about the alleged music being played by the sailing club as part of the festivities. Moreover, her Nokia phone was no longer connecting to Telstra as a modem. It had been a fair while since she had tried using it that way. Who knows what has changed.

Drunk on Camera

More complaints about Google Streets, after Google cameras captured drunk asleep in the street. While it is a pity for the person involved, I have to think that if being caught drunk in the streets is really offensive to you, it would be best to stop doing it. Mind you, newspapers help by plastering the photo all over their pages.

Saturday 16 August 2008

Beep in the Night

I was awake early. In the pre-dawn darkness of my office I could hear an infrequent beep. Lots of things have lights on. I checked my computers for pending activities or alarm. Nothing. Apple iPhone. Brand new the previous day. It was trying to tell me something, but what? Went through all the settings without finding an alarm to turn off or a call to answer.

Finally took the new iPhone into the bathroom. The beep was absolutely louder, but I couldn't really be sure it was the iPhone. I looked with increasing desperation through all the settings. Nothing. Put the iPhone back on my desk.

A bit later Jean came in, and I explained I was seeking a beeping gadget. It beeped. She asked if I had checked the smoke detector, which was stuck above the bathroom door. I hadn't even remembered that we had installed those stupid things. It was indeed the smoke detector low battery alarm. If it were not for the state law, and the way insurance companies dodge claims, I would have hurled the stupid smoke alarm into the garbage.

Apartment Inspection

We checked out Unit 23 in Cutlass Terrace at Whitsunday Terraces, since Ray White Real estate had an open day (well, actually more like an open half hour around 10 a.m). We were the only people to inspect it. I think it has been up for sale for a while, but with three other units (out of over 70) also up for sale can't really recall if it is new on the market.

The good points are that it is at car park level, so you can avoid stairs, and relatively close to pool, reception and bar (two levels). Car park level on Cutlass is also a bad point. There are not enough car parking spaces for all the units, and I believe some do not even have a car parking space available as part of the title. In any case, with two key apartments, and a nominal one space per unit, if both sides are rented, then one side is a already out of luck for parking, on average.

Except for some of the very lowest units, almost every apartment at Whitsunday Terraces has some sort of view. The balcony looks down on part of the Barnacle Terrace parking area, and the light well to the apartment in the area once occupied by the restaurant. You partly look over the top of Barnacle towards the Airlie Beach Hotel and Coral Sea. The open view to the right is towards what used to be called Boathaven Bay by the Real Estate agents, and Muddy Bay by the locals. This is now an ugly construction site, with incredible noise levels from the pile driving for the Port of Airlie Marina construction.

One side of the balcony was uneven, making me suspicious of the waterproofing. There was evidence of water leakage from above on the ceiling and inside the closet along the eastern wall. The bathroom and kitchens seemed to be the original (except one bath had been replaced). I would expect this means the plumbing has never been replaced. The air conditioners were the over the door units that are no longer permitted. It seemed in reasonable condition for such an old unit (+25 years), but not having been renovated, it can not be part of the holiday rental pool.

Units 59, 60 and 62 have all been renovated recently. I must try to find current costs. I would think a full renovation to current 3.5 star accommodation standards would cost around $80,000, and maybe more in this town. Full plumbing replacement and tiling, both bathrooms, both kitchens, although you would probably get away with the existing floor tiling in the main area which replaced the original carpet. New built in closets. New whitegoods. New furniture package.

Even in a town desperate for longer term rental space, I can't see getting away with rents of more than $280 a week for the suite and $220 for the studio, and don't think you would manage to always keep them full. Best case return, $25,000, less outgoings for body corporate, council rates and so on of say $10,000, giving $15,000 clear. If it were not for negative gearing and possible land value appreciation, I would not consider paying more than $180,000 (after all, you can get 8.5% return before tax from a bank now they are desperate). Then it becomes a matter of how much you want to speculate on long term land value. The owners doubtless want $400,000 plus.

Internet Dies (3)

Most internet cafes in Airlie Beach were still working. Although the iiNet web site now claims that the Airlie Beach phone exchange is now working, it sure was not for us. Jean placed a service call into the iiNet queue (she had stolen my phone line for a dial up internet connection). After an hour or so iiNet phoned us back (kudos for iiNet). We went through the usual tests (that we had already done repeatedly) with our ADSL modem, without changing its failure to connect. We both had a bit of trouble with the accent of the service lady, but at least her script was accurate for our modem. iiNet say they will log a service fault with Telstra. That makes well over 48 hours of no internet access. Not happy at all with this situation.

Sunday 17 August 2008

Garbage Bins

Once again most of the Whitsunday Terraces garbage bins were not put out on Sunday. I put out one full bin from Florence Terrace. There was a bin out for Endeavour and for Driftwood, but none lower down the street when I walked to the newsagent around 7 a.m. Not happy about this. Our management contract calls for all rubbish to be removed daily. At least the problem now seems mostly to be weekends, but alas that is also when there is the most stuff thrown out.

Internet Dies (4)

Still no sign of a connection on our ADSL router. This makes over 72 hours that the internet has been totally out of action for us. Makes you wonder why anyone in a country area would try to run any sort of business via the internet. At least in an age of instant gratification.

Flyers DeBagged

Virgin Blue departures desk will charge discount customers $20 per one way flight for each item of checked luggage under 23 kilogram. There is also an extra $8 per kilogram charge over 23 kg. If you pay online, the luggage charge will be only $8. The moral, don't be old fashioned, pay online.

Monday 18 August 2008


Jean took another walk today, following her walk yesterday. That is two times up the twelve flights of steps in two days. Not very exciting walk. All we did was each get a haircut, but the walks were progress enough.

Internet Dies (5)

I had hoped that Monday being a normal working day would act to our advantage in getting our iiNet internet access back. No sign of any change. We have been out of contact with the internet since Thursday afternoon. What is happening at the Telstra telephone exchange? What software change could possibly kill off a connection for this long? We have tried about every combination of Netgear 834G router reboot and power down without anything altering.

iPhone Experience

To add to my experience, the iPhone also wouldn't connect to the internet via Telstra 3G. The 3G connection seemed to be working (I could phone) but the Safari browser and the Mail application could not find their internet connection. I think it is related to the WiFi access point not having an internet connection. I reset Networking. That seemed to unjam the internet connection via the Telstra 3G network. As a bonus, the mail accounts using POP mail also started working. Previously only gmail (which I added manually) worked. The POP mail connections were all set up automatically via a transfer of settings by iTunes, which made it a pretty convenient way of installing them.

Steam Cleaning Terraces

A cleaning crew were making their way around the Whitsunday Terraces, steam cleaning (or maybe hot water cleaning) the outside walls and paths. We had to rush towels under our doors due to the amount of water rolling in. The force of the cleaning knocked paint off parts of the walls, which shows how poor the paint job was. Still, the walls are cleaner. They will be around later touching up the painting.

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Address Book

I was trying to work out what format to use for phone numbers. Pretty much all the 500 or so entries I have in Address Book are +Country Code (Area Code) Number. So an Australian number in say Sydney might be +61 (2) 1234 5678, while a USA number might be +1 (123) 123 4567. In Australia, to dial within your own Area Code (there are only 4 area codes), you just dial the number. To dial outside your area code, you dial 0 before the area code, to indicate you need a different area. To dial from overseas, you would dial whatever the international call prefix is, then Country Code, Area Code and Number.

There is an assumption here that the phone is smart enough to know where it is, and when to add which international call or area code prefix.

Alas, when I started checking my Apple Address Book for consistency in phone numbers, I found that Preferences would not open. Restarting the Address Book did not change this fault. Accessing via a different user did allow Preferences. So I backed up my Address Book contents, using File, Export, Address Book Archive, into my Backups folder. Quit Address Book. Moved ~/Library - Preferences - to the Desktop. restarted Address Book. Preferences are now back, so I can make any changes I want again. No idea why (or even when) that got lost, except that it has transferred through two computers, and three operating systems (from Panther, Tiger and Leopard).

It turned out that you could make the Preferences disappear by making certain style of entries in the Phone settings. Looks like it is repeatable.

Internet Dies (6)

Our iiNet internet connection is still out of action, as it has been since Thursday. The iiNet support staff we talked to said we would get an SMS (they called it a text) when they had service scheduled.

Wednesday 20 August 2008


We had our first visit by the cleaner. She did a great job. Starting with not running away screaming when confronted by our mess. In three hours she made a real difference to the level of chaos and stuff in the Whitsunday Terraces apartment. To my astonishment, she even cleaned up one of the shower curtains! I didn't realise you could wash plastic shower curtains in a washing machine.

Internet Dies (7)

Yesterday afternoon Jean received an SMS saying A field work commitment has been scheduled for Wednesday 20 August by COB. Signed iiNet I hope this actually means that we will be getting our internet connection back.

At 3:17 p.m. we received a phone call from an iiNet tech. I had plugged the ADSL modem in a short time before, without luck. However now the connect light was lit, for the first time since Thursday. Connection went straight through.

While I still can't find why the Internet connection went out, it is looking to me like there was some sort of software update to DSLAMs. In a few cases (reputed to be 100,000 spread throughout Australia, an unlikely figure), for some reason the update failed. Further, some general fix didn't always work. This ended with a tech having to do something manually. We were told we had to be moved to a different port, but I didn't take the phone call, so I don't have any other details. There is speculation it involved NEC DSLAMs being unable to accept further upgrades.

Apple iPhone Internet Speed

I used the USA site Test My iPhone to check my iPhone speed over the Telstra NextG network. Under EDGE it downloaded at 252 kbps (31 kB/s). Under NextG it managed 407 kbps (50 kB/s) with 1425 mS latency. Under my home WiFi it was 476 kbps (58 kB/s) with 984 mS latency. The WiFi is limited by the low speed of ADSL as originally sold in Australia. That basically indicates I need faster ADSL.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Apple Australian Sales

Australians Switch to Apple Mac, according to a Gartner report quoted by the Brisbane Courier Mail. A 52% increase in sales, for 5.3% of the Australian market.

Port of Airlie Marina Noise

The noisy pile driving at Port of Airlie Marina construction site was said to be completed in mid August. The percussive pile driver was running from before 9 a.m. today until after 4 p.m. I think it is pretty conclusive that the work is not yet complete. A real pity for the whole east end of Airlie Beach. You can't realistically expect tourists to stay in Hermitage Drive, or places in Golden Orchid Drive that overlook the construction site. It did seem to me that low building in Golden Orchid Drive, like the lower units in Waters Edge, may escape some of the worse effects of the pile driving noise.

On the other hand, if you are in Airlie Beach for Race Week, and are spending your time out on the water in boats, you probably would not notice the pile driving noise. Since we live here, overlooking the construction site, we really notice it. To the point that having run away from home twice recently, we have another two trips away planed, to escape the noise.

Shale Oil Protest

More protests in Airlie Beach about Queensland Energy Resources proposed oil shale mining at Proserpine. The Whitsunday tourism industry had a protest at Abel Point Marina on Tuesday, also attended by Jan Clifford of Whitsunday Regional Council, and Suzette Pelt, the Save Our Foreshore spokesperson.

In addition, after studying the problem, local Labor member of state parliament, Jan Jarratt, has now spoken out against shale oil mining. She sees it as a risky and potentially harmful project. She also expressed her concerns to the Premier, Anna Bligh, and to Minister for Mining and Energy, Geoff Wilson. Why does this press release seem like a case of climbing onboard the green bus just prior to an announcement?

Friday 22 August 2008

Tax Time

I can't describe the loathing with which I approach the annual waste of time doing my tax return. Most of the time wasted is actually displacement activity, to avoid starting. For example, today I got out the tax papers. Then I went looking for a bank statement. That lead to me finding a whole bunch of outdated and unwanted credit card slips and statements. So I carefully went through all of them and shredded the old ones. Which didn't exactly advance doing the actual tax return.

OK, so I have filled out the first page of the return, except I can't recall my Tax File Number, and will now have to get out the return for last year to get the number. I hate this crap!

Telstra Bill Changes

Telstra sent me a note about changes to my phone bill. A simplified bill (they call it streamlined) that seems to mean no bloody information listed on the bill (unless you specifically ask for it). However if you sign up for internet access to your billing details, maybe you will win a free holiday trip.

It seems I have already received the first of these new look bills. The information on the reverse seems to believe there are 1000 cents in a dollar. I have to say that this is not intuitive to me. This does appear to be a deliberate decision, as it seems some local calls can involve half cents. They also gave me a new account number (not that I had any idea what my old account number was).

Saturday 23 August 2008

Green Energy (1)

Ballpark figures. If you have a 100 watt light globe on 6 hours a night, that is around 2200 hours. Or about 220 kWh. A joule is a watt-second, so a kWh is 3.6MJ.

Petrol contains about 10 kWh of energy per litre. Brown coal power is maybe 25% efficient, so your 220 kWh used by the light globe is 880 kWh at the power station, or about 88 litres of petrol. The 220 kWh of electricity costs you around $3.60. Petrol costs considerably more. By the way, brown coal costs about 1.3 kg of carbon dioxide per kWh.

Green Energy (2)

Solar electricity sucks. Solar panels cost around $10 per peak watt. Frames, wiring and general installation double the cost. Some governments stupidly pay some of the cost. Peak watt from solar is measured at the best combination of voltage and load, however you can't actually get that. In major Australian cities you average less than four hours reasonable output per day. So you actually pay around $120 per watt.

Simply not using as much power in the first place is almost always at least ten times more efficient than installing solar power. Of course the real reason for installing solar is not to have green power. It is to have an alternative energy source when the electricity fails because power stations are underfunded infrastructure, and government green talk scares away power station investors.

Sunday 24 August 2008

Oil Shale Dead?

Short article by political editor Darrell Giles in The Sunday Mail, saying the Queensland Bligh government has scrapped a proposed A$14 billion shale oil mining operation in the Whitsundays. Premier Blight will announce a 20 year moratorium on all mining activities and exploration over the McFarlane shale oil deposit sound of Proserpine.

Legislation would be passed so no new shale oil mines were permitted anywhere in Queensland. The press releases do have a bit of a get out of jail card for the politicians. Opponents of shale oil mining will need to continue to apply pressure to politicians. In particular, James Bidgood, Federal member of Dawson, needs to get onboard this.

Save Out Foreshore sent emails and SMS to their supporters saying they would be celebrating at the Whitsunday Sailing Club at 5 p.m. I would like to thank the many people who continued to protest, phone and wrote to politicians, ran the pink van, and generally made their voice heard. There was a great roll up of supporters, all of them so relieved that the threat of oil shale pollution was at least deferred for a considerable time. There were people who had not renovated their kitchens, for fear that their family home would need be abandoned to protect their children. It was a wonderful party, with far too much champagne spilled around. I didn't stagger home until after 10 p.m.

Green Energy (3)

Solar hot water sucks. This is mostly through lousy design. Assume that you avoid hard water gumming up the pipes. If you live in Cairns you should be able to expect solar hot water to contribute over 80% of your hot water heating. 75% in Townsville or the Whitsundays. Even in Melbourne you should manage over 55%.

However that never happens. Why? Electric boosted hot water tanks is why solar sucks. After cloudy days, the booster heats the water overnight, leaving nothing for the solar to do next day. The best possible combination is solar pre-heating, with an instantaneous gas unit to ensure hot water when needed. If you live in Melbourne, instantaneous gas is probably the best compromise. It will almost certainly beat solar and electric boosted storage.

Gas storage hot water is silly. About 25 MJ per day if no hot water is used. The problem is the heat being thrown away by the flue. Electric off peak storage hot water is also silly, but at least the power is cheap. Doesn't do squat for carbon dioxide emissions, of course.

Monday 25 August 2008

Wired iPhone 3G Speeds

Wired magazine have released the results of their world wide survey of iPhone 3G connect speeds. While I have concerns about the validity of all the results, having a couple of thousand responses does help indicate how well an iPhone goes is very dependent on your 3G network.

In Australia, Telstra did not fare well compared to the extensive infrastructure in Europe, but was way better than local rivals Optus or Vodafone. However using an overseas and probably overloaded source for the test probably renders it not very meaningful. This confirms my decision to pay about three times as much to use Telstra's 3G phone network, rather than just looking at who was cheapest.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Green Power (4)

If your typical car uses 10 litres per 100 km, and is driven 10,000 km a year, it uses 1000 litres of fuel, or about 10,000 kWh of energy. Petrol produces 2.6 kg of carbon dioxide per litre used. So a petrol car would produce around 2.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

A car is perhaps 25% efficient by the time the power gets to the wheels. If a similar electric car is 90% efficient (possible) it would need around 3,000 kWh of energy, plus (probably massive) battery losses.

Victorian electric power emits around 1.38 kg of carbon dioxide per kWh. So 3,000 kWh of coal fired electricity produces something over 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Not looking so good for the pure electric car, is it?

Wednesday 27 August 2008


Bagasse is the fibrous residue from milling sugar cane. The local Proserpine Sugar Mill uses bagasse to generate 45,000 MWh of power. Of this nearly 20,000 MWh of electricity is exported as green power. Bagasse is considered a green energy source, since it comes from sugar cane which absorbs carbon dioxide as it grows. An electricity consumer buying energy from bagasse pays 3 cents a KWh extra. A typical consumer would pay an extra $250 a year for their electricity.

Thursday 28 August 2008

Apple iPhone 3G Mobile speed

Test Results from Oz Broadband Speed Test (hosted in Australia) at 28/08/2008 at 12:03 PM via the iiNet mirror. Data: 600 KB Test Time: 10.73 secs. This is over a typical low speed country area ADSL connection, said to be 500 kbps. Your line speed is 455 kbps. Your download speed is 57 KB/s.

Then an 8 GB iPhone 3G using Telstra's NextG network. Your line speed is 1.31 Mbps. Your download speed is 164 KB/s. This indicates there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this particular iPhone, on this network, in this area. Also reminds me I really should look at getting ADSL2.

Garbage Bins

It seems we are back to having the garbage bins fail to be put out. I noticed they were not out at 7 a.m. (well after the garbage is usually collected, but I had not heard the truck) and took the Florin Terrace bin out. The bin was empty when I returned at 8 a.m.

Telstra iPhone problems

Since I was awake early, I downloaded and updated my iPhone to 2.0.2.

While I was at McDonalds cafe, I tried to connect to the Telstra WiFi hot spot there. The conditions of my iPhone purchase included access to the Telstra WiFi hotspot. I was expecting Telstra to automatically send me an SMS with a one off pin code to use the Telstra WiFi HotSpot. I never did get the SMS.

Back home, I started to worry that perhaps the newly updated iPhone had encountered a problem in the morning update. Didn't seem to be the case. I could still connect to my own WiFi access point (plus I appeared to be getting the Telstra WiFi access point via 802.11 WiFi. Jean was able to send me an SMS. There seemed no problem at the iPhone end.

Friday 29 August 2008

Telstra iPhone Problems

When I bought my iPhone at the Telstra store at the Centra shopping centre a few weeks ago, there was a considerable delay in getting it. The store had to do heaps of manual paperwork. This was apparently because Telstra had moved my existing fixed and mobile phones to a new billing system. The interaction between accounts on the new billing, and an iPhone purchase and change of existing phone number to the new iPhone seemed to be difficult. We were doing other shopping, and came back to the Telstra store a couple of hours later to collect the iPhone. I thought nothing more of it at the time, but when the Telstra WiFi problem occurred, I wanted to check whether I was misunderstanding how to get access.

Since the Telstra store at Centra was empty, I asked the staff about my problem with getting Telstra WiFi access via my iPhone. We also asked about how to join one of the bonus facilities, namely short free calls to a specific phone. That was something that hadn't been able to be set up on my iPhone when I bought it. One of the staff ran Jean through getting her Telstra Nokia 6120 Classic phone to connect to my mobile number. That seemed to work.

The Telstra store were able to find the paperwork for my original purchase. They said there seemed to be some sort of delay still, and they would SMS me when it was fixed. We went away to do our other shopping, and have lunch. On our return, the Telstra staff told us that the change in phone calling plans had not gone through. They had set up some strange paperwork thing to get it into motion again (they had never encountered this previously either). They also said they were organising a credit refund for whatever went wrong with my existing (no data) phone plan being used with an iPhone. That was showing a bit of forethought. The Telstra store staff said they would probably contact me by SMS on Monday, when the changes might be up and running. The Telstra Mobile Terms of Service say they aim for 2 hours for 90% of customers, next working day.

This is getting more and more interesting. Mind you, billing problems could potentially really bite your arse. After all, it seems I am presently making massive data calls on a phone plan for an old GSM only phone (Ericsson SH888) that really doesn't do much with data, except sending slow 9600 bps data out its IrDA port.

Telstra Online Billing

I looked at the Telstra online billing site. There were whole slabs of the Telstra site that I couldn't see, even after I turned off my settings that avoid tiny fonts. This is not a good start.

The web page that was said to demonstrate the advantages (it didn't) jumped my CPU use up about 30%. It was the usual meaningless Adobe Flash item. It certainly makes me wonder if any of the Telstra mobile pages will work on an iPhone, which uses strictly web standards.

Despite the Telstra web site being very unfriendly to my Safari web browser, I was able to get an account. I looked up my outstanding mobile charges. Telstra wanted $600 for 60 MB of data. My contract with them says I have 1GB of data available. Wonderful accounting system, just wonderful.

Saturday 30 August 2008

More Telstra Stuffups

I tried to log in to my Telstra online account. Their web site claims that the account I accessed yesterday does not exist. This is just great! On the other hand, maybe they are in the middle of fixing up the previous problem.

Sunday 31 August 2008

Apple Wireless Mouse Battery Dead

Got a low battery warning from my Bluetooth Apple Wireless Mouse. I add this post so I can try to track just how often I need to replace a pair of Lithium AA batteries in the mouse.

I replaced the mouse batteries on 10 December 2007. However I probably neglected to note other replacement battery events between then and now.