Eric Lindsay's Blog March 2010

Monday 1 March 2010

Melbourne Mourning

Once again the air conditioning fan and the tiny bar fridge in the Mercure Welcome hotel in Melbourne conspired to awaken me to a cacophony of noise at 4 a.m. It also sounded as if the construction site outside had started early, although given the dead nature of Melbourne mornings, this is actually unlikely.

We went out to take photographs of the strange city statues a half block down Swanston Street from our hotel. Luckily the weather was co-operating, despite warnings that it was likely to rain. We also inspected the two sizes of chocolate bilby at the Haigh chocolate store at the entrance to the hotel.

We managed to get a late checkout from the hotel, for midday, without having to pay extra. That actually worked out well, as we went for a walk at midday.

Lunch with LynC

We had finally discovered how to reach the Harvey Norman store in the Queen Victoria plaza, and were looking at gadgets when LynC sent Jean an SMS. She was working only a few blocks away, and could take a break for lunch. It took us a while to walk the few blocks.

Luckily there was a food court service at the area around the corner of the block we walked to after meeting LynC. We were seeking an ATM, but the renovations of the area had placed it behind barriers. Jean and LynC had sensible, good value salads. I had a slice of pizza. So it goes. At least we had more of a chance to catch up on what LynC had been doing.

Leave Melbourne

We caught a taxi outside the hotel around 2 p.m. It seemed to dodge most heavy traffic leaving the central city, without taking us far away from the path to the airport. The taxi trip from Melbourne to the airport is probably the most expensive of all the Australia cities. I keep wondering why Melbourne does not have a train from the airport to the city. Sydney and Brisbane both have a relatively convenient train, one underground, the other high above the roads. Why is Melbourne so behind the times?

We were scheduled on a JetStar (us) JQ918 and Qantas code share direct flight from Melbourne's Tullamarine airport to Townsville, leaving at 4:40 p.m. JetStar actually have reasonably comfortable seats on their small Airbus. However since they do not transfer luggage when you do not have a direct flight, we never use JetStar for anything except direct flights. From Airlie Beach, pretty much nothing is a direct flight, so we always use Virgin Blue. To and from Townsville, we often do have a choice of direct flight.

We had a good view of Carlyle Gardens (in poor light) as we came in to land. The major impression was how green everything was. We took a taxi home, explaining how to get to Carlyle Gardens. The GPS the taxi driver had was not able to take him the whole way. He very politely kept his lights on until we managed to get the security locks undone, and an interior light on. I seem to recall the porch light burnt out as we were leaving.

Tuesday 2 March 2010


I had collected the physical mail last night, just dodging rain. It subsequently sounded as if it had rained all night. Luckily the cloudy weather had not been enough to completely stop the solar hot water service from gathering sunbeams. We still had hot water.

I started up the various UPS, and my Mac mini computer. Transferred changed files from the MacBook Air. The email backlog (deliberately left on the mail server) was over 200. Luckily almost no spam comes in (I redirect spam exposed email accounts to Google for additional filtering).

Our tiny 5 metre square garden was weed heaven after three weeks of heavy rain. The best of the weeds had managed to reach 60 centimetres. I pulled out a fair number of the larger weeds, but the 95% humidity of a tropical wet season soon defeated me. On the other hand, a bunch more of the purple shrubs the landscaping people installed around June had decided to die. Our plastic box of sweet basil on the porch was looking very poorly last night, so I had watered it (for the first time in three weeks). This morning the basil has improved somewhat. Looks like it will take me at least a few more mornings to make much of a dent in the weeds.

Jean insisted she needed to go food shopping. Considering much of the fridge was empty, it was hard to argue, but I did anyhow. We went to the nicely air conditioned Willows Shopping mall. While she went into Woolworths, I shot off to BigW for a tube for my flat bicycle tyre, and a repair outfit. Found a dinky looking repair kit, that at least was cheap. I have a bad feeling about this repair attempt. Collected a paper, and got some raisin toast for breakfast before locating Jean buying crab legs for her lunch.

Defeating Censorship

Since Australia's labor government is lumbered with clowns like Peter Garrett and Steven Conroy, every now and then idiotic decisions get made. Conroy is notorious for his stubborn promoting of flawed internet censorship (The Liberals were also idiots about net nanny censorship). Here is Boing Boing's Guide to defeating censorware. This was actually intended to get around pesky programs like SmartFilter, but many of the techniques work on any type of censorship.

If you are actually a parent, concerned with what your children are doing, then keep the computer in the living room. Do not let children have a computer in a private room. Establish user accounts, and make the children each use their own account. Keep the administrative password to yourself. Run administrative logging of user actions, and set appropriate restrictions, just like companies do. Lock out logging in at times you are not home to supervise. Yes, that is a little hard to set up, but far more likely to work than hoping some magic government help will solve a social problem.

Apple iPad

I think the forthcoming Apple iPad is using the 1GHz 45nm Samsung Intrinsity CortexA8 Hummingbird core announced in July 2009 as the base for their A4 chip. I am not the only one to believe this, despite the number of reports of a dual core A9 chip being used. A PowerVR SGX GPU for the graphics. I think Apple probably upped the RAM in the iPad from the 256MB of the iPhone 3Gs to 512MB.

It really seems unlikely to me that it uses a dual core Cortex A9, or even a single core Cortex A9. The A9 are unlikely to be available for months, and prototype iPads were in the hands of Apple executives in late 2009. Most of the arguments for the A9 right now come from it being intended to be produced on 45nm and smaller fabrication lines, whereas the A8 were typically 65nm or larger. However the CPU core I mentioned was already announced by Samsung in 45nm.

The smart chip folks Apple got when they bought P A Semi around May 2008 would surely not have had time to go to all new silicon, even if the design cost were not prohibitive. They could pull out a heap of the physical IO from the A8, as Ars Technica speculates. That does not increase speed, but does let the existing blocks sit closer so clock traces are shorter.

P A Semi could have done fancy (block level) clock gating to keep power consumption of the chip down. They are specialists in doing that well. You do not want to change the phase locked loop (takes multiple clock cycles) but you can gate the clock, for the whole device, or for underused major blocks of the design. Is it possible P A Semi are gating at an even lower level? Every time I think of the complications involved in gating over hundreds of areas, my head hurts. I do think P A Semi will be working hard on that for a subsequent A9 based device.

Even with low consumption silicon, that fancy IPS LCD display with about five times the pixels of an iPhone, would be the major power drain. It is interesting that the standby time (no display) is measured in weeks rather than days, and that would depend on chip power consumption. Note however the speculation that since P A Semi could get PowerPC power use way down, the reasons Apple gave for moving to Intel are partly irrelevant. Apple are using the Macintosh computer as a cash cow, while moving their real sales to appliances with a smart application core. I think the announced model of the iPad is very much a prototype, to test new production technologies. Just like the MacBook Air tested a bunch of new production technologies.

iPhone Carrier Settings

An update to the carrier settings of your iPhone is available. Would you like to download (and install) it now? Hell, no! Telstra do nothing to help me, and sometimes stuff things up.

I want to find out exactly what they have changed between 5.1 and 5.2 in their carrier settings, before I let them change one thing. I already know there are issues with Telstra iPhone carrier settings 5.2 update. It disables APN settings, which would stop users disabling data access if they need to do so. Some background on carrier settings and configuration profiles, from Ted Landau in MacWorld.

As an aside, it is annoying that iTunes pops up messages every few minutes to remind me I can install new settings. Once a day reminders would suffice. So I closed iTunes.

Apple do supply an Enterprise Deployment Guide for business use of the iPhone Configuration Utility. If you do not understand the guide, do not download and fiddle with the utility. The same applies to use of IPCC carrier bundle generators from third parties.

Wednesday 3 March 2010


OzWeather on our iPhones reports it will be sunny today, and later in the week. The forecast yesterday was basically for rain all week. Our neighbours tell us they have had three weeks of continual rain, with today being the only fine day. We started the first load of laundry.

Then I went out in the garden, before the sun rose over the hills, and started weeding. Jean came out and helped. After about 50 minutes we had the majority of the larger uglier weeds out of the garden. We also had half the soil out of the garden, and had to resort to washing soil out of the roots of weeds.

I am still working my way through the hundreds of emails that got inadequate replies while we were travelling. About 7:30 a.m. we started a second load of washing, and hung the first load of washing out on the line. We started a third load of laundry and hung out the second load after we returned from taking a walk in the air conditioned Willows Shopping mall. Which reminds me, we want to attend the Willows Rotary Markets on Sunday.


I liked this little spray from a friend, after another run in with the phone company. Telstra's corporate incompetence knows no bounds, and is indistinguishable from malice.

I have never tried to get a refund for the overcharges Telstra introduced when I got my Apple iPhone. The prospect of battling their phone centre staff yet again was just too annoying to contemplate for under $100. Getting the original incorrect bill fixed took over 5 months, multiple phone calls, and multiple visits to the Telstra shop that sold me my iPhone.

The fix from Telstra apparently took my automatic payments offline. Telstra then claimed I was not paying bills they were supposed to charge automatically (which they had managed to charge correctly for the better part of a decade). It did not help that they sent all five of the missing monthly bills during a month I was away from home, with pay now dates that same month. I was not impressed to land in Australia and find at the airport that my phone was not working.

When I updated to my new iPhone 3Gs, I bought it direct at the Apple Store. Not locked to Telstra, or anyone else. If Telstra piss me off again with billing, I will put a SIM from some other phone company in the phone for use at home and in major cities. I will buy a Telstra pre-paid card if I am going somewhere where only Telstra works (which is most of the country actually).

Worse Living Through Chemistry

A cheerful little diversion into chemistry, specifically Things I Won't Work With. This is a blog from a chemist, Derek Lowe, who reports merry tales of chemicals so dangerous or obnoxious (or both) that only the clinically insane would ever go near them.

The most recent entry I read started with run a mixture of oxygen and fluorine through a 700-degree-heating block, to directly produce dioxygen difluoride, which is a pretty insane thing to attempt even without the heating block! At those temperatures, fluorine starts to dissociate into monoatomic radicals, thereby losing its gentle and forgiving nature. The whole apparatus was refrigerated by a liquid oxygen bath, since the product will not exist at room temperatures (I gather it detonates at -1800C). However the US government was funding it at Los Alamos, so that makes it OK. I was not willing to pay for the full paper, but I imagine it ended explosively.

It is well known that water will not extinguish some chemical fires. In another episode, it was reported chlorine trifluoride will even set fire to sand. It also apparently eats through asbestos firebrick. These are substances to stay away from.

Why DRM Does Not Work

Funny cartoon why DRM does not work, showing how torrents do work, by The Brads (illustrator and web designer Brad Colbow and web designer Brad Dielman). Even nicer, their cartoons are available under Creative Commons, for blogs seeking content.

Why did they have to present their own web sites using tools that are so poor that the comic included 804 errors when the HTML was validated? Why for that matter did they use Transitional XHTML. Transitional is for rescuing existing sites without too much rewriting, not for writing new sites. As well, you basically can not use XHTML anywhere on the web, since Internet Explorer does not understand it at all. So almost everyone sends XHTML as HTML anyway.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Taxing to Death

I rushed over to the Carlton Theatre at 10:30 a.m. to meet with the committee folks who do the real work. The comparison of scheduled dates of events was sufficiently time consuming for many questions. One is whether Prime Trust are likely to actually provide an on-line calendar of events, so as to ease the synchronising activities. We shall see. Otherwise there is Google Calendar, and probably a number of alternatives.

Putting out the chairs did not take long with three of us doing that work. Then we could have a decent lunch at the restaurant. I sort of volunteered to check up on a few outstanding items regarding the Carlton Theatre.

Alas, the lack of ABN situation for invoices seems to lead to an infinite number of pages of the Tax Office web site, all pointing to more and more dire consequences for our attempt to refurbish the auditorium. At least I shall know what I am talking about when I finally catch up with my lawyer friend in the Tax Office. However I suspect the Tax Office help line may be a more reasonable place to ask about whether we can get away with a Statement by a Supplier. By the time I figured that out it was well and truly evening. So that was a fair few hours wasted on red tape.


I wrote some mailing comments on the March 2009 issue of FLAP, which someone (not me) left in a car (in the USA) for close to a year before discovering it. At the time I lamented that I could not find that issue, but blamed the disappearance on moving.

Now ANZAPA is here as well, and that is way larger than an obsolete FLAP. It will take days for me to get through it.

Internet Censorship

The minister for idiocy and internet censorship … sorry, let me start again. The Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy now now deletes the term ISP filtering from his home page. A courageous decision minister. Perhaps a sand pit to stick your head in would be more appropriate? Now Aleks Bochniak, author of the tag cloud generator, has asked the minister to stop using his code for filtering. He says he does not want to be in any way associated with the minister, his office, or his policies.

Kevin (747) Rudd needs to get rid of Senator Stephen Conroy, before we get rid of Kevin Rudd. Conroy is more embarrassing than Peter Garrett, and is making even more expensive mistakes. Especially with the unwanted and uncosted National Broadband Network. Being annoyed at a communications company (regardless of how annoying they are) is not a suitable basis for government policy decisions.

Friday 5 March 2010


I finally took a walk around Carlyle Gardens this morning. Late, and the sun got in my eyes, but at least I finally started walking again. Jean started some laundry while I was away. Later we visited Willows, where I at least got another walk. Jean phoned when I was just about to enter J B HiFi. We restocked on eggs at the Egg Factory.

At lunch I was able to chat with Geoff about what I had found so far about ABN and PATG complications for our committee. Seems there should be a way around most of the red tape, possibly at the expense of some bookings.

I was forced (arm behind my back) to attend the happy hour at the bar, so I could get tickets for the social club BBQ on Sunday. Luckily I was at the right table for aircraft talk and coups, thanks to my kindly neighbours. I did learn a bit of new changes to the by-law issue. I had ignored the by-law issue entirely while we were (I was hoping it would go) away. Later I sought out The Man Who Would Be King, via the power behind the throne.

Gadgets from Overseas

I find there are a handful of small gadgets I would really like to buy. However there is no-one selling them in Australia. You also often can not import them from overseas sellers.

TV Be Gone from Cornfield Electronics is a single purpose remote control sends a television power off signal for a wide variety of TV sets. Use it when someone has left a TV set blaring annoyingly in airports or other public spaces.

Eye Fi is an SD camera memory card with built in WiFi that makes your standard digital camera wireless when within your own WiFi network. This is sold by multiple USA retailers, including Apple. However they do not sell it in Australia.

iFrame Video

iFrame is a video format being supported by iMovie and Sanyo, amongst others. iFrame was introduced to iMovie in October 2009. It uses standard (H.264 or MP4) video and audio (ACC) formats, at 960 x 540 pixels at 30 frames per second. It is a square pixel 16:9 ratio format. The format allows video to be directly manipulated by mobile devices without transcoding as a production step, unlike many camcorder formats supported by iMovie. I expect to see a feature constrained iMovie equivalent on an Apple iPad. I also expect editing at iFrame resolutions to be acceptably quick.

iFrame is a quarter of FullHD (1920 x 1080), so conversion down is easy. If you go down from iFrame (960 x 540) to a quarter you get 480 x 270, which is a good fit to the 480 x 320 display in an iPhone or iPod Touch. The iFrame resolution is also directly supported by AppleTV.

Obviously the iFrame trademark name is a marketing attempt at reducing consumer confusion when faced with the wide range of video and audio codecs and container formats available. It is essentially a feature constrained H.264, aimed at mobile devices (such as Apple iPad) and bandwidth restricted video downloading such as AppleTV. It produces smaller file sizes. It is for amateur use, not professional.

Criticism of iFrame is common in the technical press, on the basis that 720p is available on TV. Less constrained cameras and broadcast television may use 720p when 1080i is not possible. 720p is 1280 by 720, but at various frame rates. High end computer monitors seem to be converging on double this, at 2560 x 1440 (or 1600 in WQXGA). For example, Apple 27 inch iMac, and some Dell 27 inch and 30 inch monitors.

Saturday 6 March 2010


I went for my morning walk early enough not to encounter the sun rising above the hill and shining in my eyes. All too soon (I was not getting work done as quick as I hoped) we headed for Willows, where Jean had a walk. Neither of the newsagents we tried had copies of The Financial review. Not sure why we have so much of a problem finding that.

After that we basically hid most of the day. I must not have managed to get much work done. Actually, I think I was mainly researching the terms and conditions for using the Carlton Theatre auditorium. There are far more restrictions than I initially imagined. Thanks for helping, governments.

Apple iBook and Apple Newton

I note that some renewals of trademarks have occurred in various countries. A wider range of computing areas covered by the Apple iBook name (formerly the name for the much older PowerPC chip version of what is now their MacBook computer). There is also iBook Store. I certainly hope that gets books out of the Apple App store. The eBook reader on the forthcoming Apple iPad is called iBook, a reuse of the old computer name. I speculated that reuse might happen a few years ago.

Renewal of the Newton name, from the former Newton Message Pad PDA. Is it at all significant that the new device is called Apple iPad, and the old one Message Pad? Apple also seem to be attempting to get the name Joint Venture, and also Magic TrackPad (presumably to go with Magic Mouse).

Sunday 7 March 2010


No walk for me this morning, as I awoke with the sun already cresting the hilltop. We started laundry, since it was yet again a fine clear day. Jean went off to the Sunday markets at Willows while I hung the laundry out to dry.

Social Club quarterly meeting this afternoon, followed by the Social Club BBQ. Walking over just before four p.m. was way too hot for me. I bought a small beer in the bar, and took it into the meeting with me. I had been hoping the ever busy Assistant Treasurer of the Social Club could advise me on PAYG matters for unincorporated groups without an ABN, for the Carlton Theatre Committee. She advised me to ask the Treasurer, who had also never encountered this particular issue. The meeting was pretty standard, with no issues, since the Social Club have been doing a great job.

Sat with some of my neighbours (thanks Mary and Allen) for the sausage sizzle, and met some new people. The caretaker was looking much better, even if his arm was still in a sling. Our table was lucky with two prizes. I got a voucher for the fish shop at Willows. Also managed to eat two sausages, which was probably a little excessive.

Health Takeover

I did watch Meet the Press and Insiders this morning. The Rudd government spin on taking over hospitals sound like another attempt to distract attention from recent disastrous programs (ceiling insulation, solar energy, REC, bailout of car industry, paying brown coal stations in LaTrobe Valley to pollute). Instead of the states being responsible for funding and controlling hospitals, we would have state, federal and local administrations! I am sure adding bureaucrats and casemix will do wonders for health care (not). I think Rudd wants this to fail to go ahead, in such a way he can blame the opposition for blocking reform. If the federal government were serious about reform, they would fund age care places better (more beds). Get age care patients out of hospitals quicker, and into custom age care facilities that are cheaper to run than hospitals.

Monday 8 March 2010

PathTracker iPhone App

I was up well before it was light enough for my walk, so it appears a few synapses started firing. When I started my walk, I remembered seeing PathTracker on my iPhone. I started it, grunted with disapproval when it showed Miles. I left it running while I walked around inside Carlyle Gardens Retirement Resort. When I got home I set up an email alias, and opened an account at PathTracks. My path around Carlyle Gardens was 1.98 km, at an average pace of 5.8 km/h.

The altitude changes obviously suffer from errors of several metres, especially at the start. The recorded altitude is also outright wrong. But despite these minor issues, PathTracker seemed to work just fine for tracking my short walk. The Google Maps part will not show any of the interior of Carlyle Gardens, since it is private property. However the satellite view did not work, for reasons not clear to me.

The Road To Dusty Death

Lessons of a $618,616 Death The bills for his seven years of medical care totalled $618,616, almost two-thirds of which was for his final 24 months. Over the final four days before hospice—two in intensive care, two in a cancer ward—our insurance was billed $43,711 for doctors, medicines, monitors, X-rays, and scans. Health-care costs represent 17% of today's U.S. gross domestic product. Medicare devotes about a quarter of its budget to care in the last year of life. An economic system in which the sellers don't set the prices and the buyers don't know what the costs are.

Rationing health care happens all the time, in every country. It may be by queue. It may be by cost. It may be by ignoring some parts of the population, as in the many USA citizens without medical insurance.

iPad Books

I note an interesting video from Penguin on iPad books, or at least their concept of an iPad application, as distinct from an eBook. They do not see HTML (or by implication, ePub) as sufficient. I partly disagree. See this HTML video with play controls for an example of what can be done with HTML5 and the video element. It also works fine on an iPhone.


We went shopping at Spotlight, after driving over there well after 9 a.m. Found various tacky green items (hat, tie, glass) for Saint Patrick's Day. One of our shopping bags was green, so I can use that to carry my loot over.

We also finally searched out the Dan Murphy liquor store, in the hope that it was dirt cheap. No, I think it was actually because of the impressive range of the one we encountered in Melbourne. Jean was able to confirm they had Pisco available. We bought a few bottle of different Pinot Noir to sample, in the hope some was as good as in Tasmania.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Facebook Sucks

Facebook once again managed to annoy me so much that I stopped looking at it after a few minutes. Sections of it that were once obvious and useful tend to get hidden when they change their layouts. It is handy to have a way of seeing little notes from friends, but most of them post very little anyhow.

I am going back to email instead. Which reminds me, GMail are now offering Google Buzz. You can also access Google Buzz via phone. I have no idea how much use Google Buzz might prove to be. I do not find Google Docs very convincing, but I do not like word processors at the best of times.

Desktops Irrelevant

I believe that to a large extent desktop computers are already irrelevant. Having to attend a special room, and a special desk, to use computers. That seems so 20th Century. So it is good to see this confirmed by Google. In three years desktops will be irrelevant - Google sales chief. Echoing comments by Google CEO Eric Schmidt in January, John Herlihy said Mobile makes the world’s information universally accessible. Of course, they would say that, wouldn't they? Especially given Google have giant server farms all over, and massive communications infrastructure.

iPhone Applications Removed

I removed Alias-i, by Mountain Air Apps, since it seemed unlikely to would ever find a use for it. It just provided different contact details for different businesses.

I removed the BigPond application, since it was basically a link to their web site. Probably started that way when I bought the iPhone.


We drove to Willows so Jean could seek parts for a future costume. I snuck around to as many stores as I could manage. Apart from some chocolates in Darrell Lea (I was only there to check on the Easter Bilbies), I found nothing. Jean did pretty well, with a belt and a coat with metallic buttons (she was after the buttons). She also used the social club raffle prize I had won to buy a mud crab, which she had for lunch.

As foreshadowed by phone calls yesterday from Ann at the office, some men with tools came to check the plumbing. They were taken aback that our bathrooms had 80mm exit traps, rather than the 50mm ones they had been replacing elsewhere in the street. They consulted, and eventually decided they did not need to do anything about ours. Shelley came in an electric buggy, and gave them (and their tools) a lift to some of the other houses that needed changes. It appears some of the drains were simply too small for the standard.

Jean pulled apart some of the spiky looking ground cover with purple under the leaves. I had brought a big pot of them up from Airlie Beach, so it was time to plant them in the garden. I dug little trenches, and Jean did the hard work of planting them. It rained during the evening, so that should settle them in even better than my hosing them.

Magic Mouse Batteries

The batteries in my Apple Magic Mouse ran out of power this evening. I forgot to remove the batteries while we were away for three weeks, which probably did not help their service life. I am usually much better at removing batteries from Bluetooth devices. I am using Energiser Lithium batteries, which give pretty decent mouse life.

Wednesday 10 March 2010


I somewhat reluctantly accepted a position on the Carlton Theatre Committee at Carlyle Gardens. The committee was formed to manage the Carlton Theatre, which was in somewhat of a limbo after Prime Trust leased out the restaurant and bar in September. We held a preliminary meeting some time ago, and I believed we were going along well. This belief was reinforced by casual meetings with other committee members at meals and while helping arrange the auditorium.

The novice committee soon found there were all manner of complications in the smooth running of events. This despite the utmost co-operation and courtesy from the various clubs and societies within Carlyle Gardens. While I was in Tasmania I received some emails whose subtext worried me.

This second meeting seemed likely to prove contentious. I recorded the entire second meeting on my iPhone, placed very visible in the centre of the table. I took this action only after saying I would be recording at the start of the meeting, and obtaining agreement from those present. Had I not received agreement to recording, I would have excused myself from the meeting and left.


After the meeting it was late enough to have some morning tea at the Ball and Wicket Restaurant with a few of the committee. We discussed some of the other work we knew we needed to start on. I did not feel like walking home at such a late hour, so I had a small lunch at the restaurant.

I felt like I hardly managed to get anything done during the afternoon. I certainly read a heap of web pages. Mostly about boring things pertaining to the Food Service Act 2006, the Liquor Act (not a problem, as Crickets Bar does it all for us), Smoking legislation, Noise Nuisance laws (draconian in Queensland) and similar riveting bits of legal code.

Thursday 11 March 2010


I heard some more about fallout from the Carlton Theatre Committee meeting. I am very pleased that I recorded the entire second meeting. I have started providing audio CD copies to all the committee members, and attendees, as I see them. In future, I intend to record every official meeting of the committee, and any interactions with certain individuals.

The only way I see of dealing with the you did not say that situation is to insist on all arrangements being in writing in future. The committee have already approved a Conditions of Hire document, and a Booking Form. The trouble is, we did not form the committee so we could do bloody bookwork. We want to get real work done, not waste time in meetings.

Flash Sucks

I have to admit that Macromedia's Flash is not exactly the problem. Even Flash Sucks says Flash can be great for interactive demos, for animations, for unusual functionality, for auxiliary content. Flash is fine as long as alternate ways to navigate and convey the content are provided for people who can't use Flash. The Flash Sucks site then have three columns about the problems with Adobe Flash. As Apple users say about the Safari web browser, if you've had a crash, it's probably Flash.

To which I would add that I hate Flash advertisements. Luckily Firefox web browser has all manner of ways of blocking Flash. In my favourite web browser, Safari, I use ClickToFlash to eliminate Flash advertising. So if you advertise using Flash, I never see it. Plus, since you do not know I am not seeing Flash, I also do not see your alternative advertising content. You are serving alternate advertising (and alternate content generally) to people without Flash, are you not?

Usability guru Jakob Nielsen said Flash is 99% bad back in the year 2000. Flash sucks for advertisers says Richard Cheshire. Top ten reasons why Flash sucks. Those web publishers seeking search engine will find Google indexes Flash, but it does not index it nearly as well as HTML web pages.

Friday 12 March 2010


I awoke around five, and was driving off soon after. I arrived at Inkerman before 7 a.m. They say their new pub will have an official opening next Friday. Arrived at Centro Shopping Centre at Cannonvale around 8:30 a.m. What a treat!

In the cheap DVD bins in BigW were multiple copies of the 1955 science fiction movie This Island Earth. This movie introduced the term Interociter to SF. Now, if only I could get an Interociter kit. I have been seeking This Island Earth for my collection for the better part of a decade.

Continuing the treat at Centro, Woolworths had Connoisseur brand gourmet Chocolate Obsession ice cream Jean and I like. This disappeared from supermarket shelves about a year ago. We can still not find it in Townsville. Woolworths even had the ice cream on special. So I bought two. If I had the freezer space, I would have bought four.

Post Office Complaints

I read about mail and the post office in various editions of the weekly Whitsundays Times. On 11 February an article on page 5. Airlie not likely to get new post office. The second tender last year failed to get anyone to operate a post office. The post office also managed to fail to get a local business to sell stamps as a Post Point. Local newsagent Peter Hoey, who operated a full service post office agency from when the Airlie Beach Post Office closed until October last year, questioned whether the post office were serious about services in the town. Mandalay resident Jim Wort wrote to post office management complaining about delays of up to 40 minutes at Cannonvale post office.

Eric Bottle of Whitsunday Travel writes Post Office debacle in the letters column on 4 March. He is asked to pay $84.50 for a PO Box renewal, so he can drive to Cannonvale to collect his mail. He wonders how much it is going to cost the Post Office to deliver mail to his street address.

Karina Shim of Cannonvale writes about the Post Office saga in the letter column of 11 March. She wonders why the number of residents and the 800,000 tourists to the area each year do not qualify us for a Post Office. She says it is a disgrace that for five months Airlie Beach has not had a Post Office. She also thinks it a disgrace that our political representatives appear not to have done a thing about the disappearance of this service.

Post Office Box Closed

I collected around about five weeks mail from the inconvenient Cannonvale Post Office, since I had the loan of a car. Looked mostly junk mail. Perhaps a half dozen letters or magazines, most from people I thought had received a change of mailing address last year. Two pieces of mail from people in New Zealand, either unknown to me or unlikely to hear about the change. One of those was a large parcel sent via expensive airmail.

When the official Post Office at Airlie Beach was moved to Cannonvale, our long term PO Box number moved with it, totally against our wishes. We reluctantly opened another PO Box, which we could get only by accepting a new box number, at the new Airlie Beach postal agency. Then there was all the effort of telling various organisations about the new PO Box number. In October 2009, Australia Post closed the Airlie Beach postal agency. So my new PO Box was useless. However Australia Post kept saying they were working on getting a new agency. So I have paid six months of rent on a PO Box that did not exist.

My mail included the renewal notices for our two Post Office boxes. That got my blood boiling. I told Post Office to close both the PO Boxes. I have utterly had it with Australia Post, or more accurately, the higher ups in charge of Australia Post. I can not get a refund for a second wasted PO Box. I probably needed to do that when the agency at Airlie Beach closed, instead of assuming it would reopen. Throughout all my dealings with them, the staff at Cannonvale Post Office (many of them formerly at Airlie Beach) have performed their tasks with diligence and in a helpful manner. I have no complaints about the local postal staff.

I did not get a redirection of mail, because the Post Office do not deliver to my address at the Whitsunday Terraces. This is obviously a difficult problem, being one block away from the former Airlie Beach Post Office. As a result, I no longer have a postal address. I am not sure whether that makes me No Fixed Address or not. I think I have a fixed address, although I am often travelling. Luckily I had already told most of my friends to use email instead of snail mail. I seem to recall last year Australia Post was complaining about a decline in mail volumes. Might be a few clues there.

How will governments and other organisations that demand a postal address contact me? I haven't got a clue. Since I am not dependent upon things sent in the mail by the government, I do not much care. Maybe government departments can fight it out with Australia Post (wholly owned by the Australian government). Courier deliveries work. Email can be sent to govt at my ericlindsay dot com domain name.

Airlie Beach

After I unpacked the cooler from the car, I wandered around Airlie Beach. Good lucky with timing at the hairdresser, and only had a thirty second wait for the chair before she shortened my hair considerably. At the chemist one of my prescriptions got overlooked, but we both noticed it when the price was rung up. Did not take long to fix that. The newsagent had several computer magazines for me, so if the newspapers are not sufficient, my weekend reading is still assured.

Nick had sent me an email about a Macintosh computer not printing to a Ethernet networked printer. I had not come up with any decent ideas for a solution at home, as I basically never use printers. As I wandered around their office, I checked several of the computers that were printing correctly. Luckily that gave me a clue about what was wrong. I suggested a change to an admin account, and reboot, and the recalcitrant connection promptly started working. Jim must have been impressed. He took us to lunch at Capers. Nice food, as always.

When I got home again I found that Michael had decided to do the painting he had mentioned a few months ago. Between when I unpacked at the Whitsunday Terraces, and when I returned, he had got some good Dulux wash and wear paint, moved all the furniture, and done a first coat on the walls of two rooms. It was all dry by the time he left to babysit some pets at a house a bit out of town. That was impressive. Nice colour choice as well.

Saturday 13 March 2010

Fuck Telstra

A web search for fuck Telstra gives about 2500 entries as a single search term, and about 50,000 entries for the two words in the same document. I would have thought the numbers would be greater.

So I went online in an attempt to change my Telstra billing address. Attempting to log in to My Account was rejected. I have no idea why. So I asked KeyChain Access to let me see the password it was using, and used that manually. That let me see my Telstra account. Then I found the place where you can change the billing address. Fill in the form. Click to submit the address change form.

Telstra does not like the address I gave it. Suggests five alternatives, all of which were wrong, and would result in mail either going to an incorrect address, or not to any address. There is no way to simply send my correct billing address to Telstra. I guess they will find out when their next bill bounces this month. As an aside, I did a screen capture of this result.

There is an option to find out how to contact Telstra via email or phone. The phone number is Business Hours only. Having done so in the past, who want to talk to Telstra again? Besides, today is Saturday.

I fill in the email form, with my account details and the change of address details. You have no way to send the form, however they have a list of suggested areas in which they can help. One of them is to change your address. Which was where we entered this mess. Catch 22. I did a screen capture of this result also.

So far the Telstra score is 45 minutes wasted, and nothing accomplished. No, not exactly nothing. I wrote down the Telstra complaints phone number. What I am going to do however is visit my friendly non-local T-Life phone store at Willows Townsville, and get them to change my billing address. I will also get them to cancel my Telstra landline phone. Fuck you Telstra (10,800 search results for entire phrase).


I decided to try out Namebench. This Google 20% project attempts to benchmark Domain Name Servers (DNS). It seems to access a list of numerous DNS to determine which to test. The idea is to find the fastest DNS available for wherever your computer happens to be. It then reports the fastest ones, and graphs the results results. You then select a faster DNS than the one typically provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). This in turn should speed up internet access, such as looking up the locations of web pages. Of course, in many cases, if they are good, your ISP will provide the fastest results.


The overnight rain continued during the early morning. A little after seven a.m. the rain stopped, so I headed down to the markets. I was not expecting to find many stalls. About half a dozen, on very soggy ground, or sheltering in the band stand. I went to one of my favourite stalls to get some of the fancy little chocolate cakes. She had cooked plenty, but the weather meant she would not manage to sell them. She gave me about a half dozen boxes of cakes. I gave a few to Bruce at the banana stall.

At the news agent I was able to get two of the three newspapers I wanted. For some reason the Australian Financial Review was not in. I gave the newsagent a box of cakes also.

Sunday 14 March 2010


I went out when the rain eased. Breakfast at the twenty four hour MacDonalds in the main street of Airlie Beach. However newspapers were much harder. The weekend Financial Review had still not arrived at the news agent. This is the same sort of thing that happens at Townsville. I wonder how they expect to sell a weekend newspaper that does not arrive until Monday? Plus the rain got me before I managed to get the whole way up the stairs to the Whitsunday Terraces apartment.

Michael arrived from his pet sitting duties as I was returning home. I tried to find the paint samples I once had, but they only showed the walls, not the trim. Might be interesting to find what sort of trim colours we end up with. The walls he painted look pretty good so far, but only some of them have had a second coat of paint.

Pete and Dawn dropped in during the afternoon. We ate some of the cakes I had from the markets, and had a glass of bubbles. They were here to collect a small computer desk which I had brought along with me.

Australia Enemy of Internet

Reporters Without Borders have added Australia to its watch list of potential enemies of the internet. Thanks to Australian internet censorship promoted by Minister for Communications Senator Stephen Conroy, Australia joins such luminaries of freedom as South Korea, Turkey, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Belarus and Thailand. As for you, Senator Conroy, I hope the public turn on you this election, and turn your career into dust.

Monday 15 March 2010

Leaving Airlie

A storm woke me just after midnight, and again just before five a.m. I had already mostly loaded the car, so I was on the road again before 5:30 a.m. Stopped to prevent a rattle. I was at Bowen before the sky was getting a bit lighter, but rain squalls happened from time to time. Got out of the grey overcast before I reached Inkerman. One phase of their power was out, so the petrol pumps were not operating. I bought a drink and continued. Refuelled just after the Burdekin Bridge.

I reached Carlyle Gardens just after 9 a.m. Unloaded, thus increasing the local chaos considerably. The giant pot plant seemed to survive the trip. The plant needs to be removed from the pot, and split into a heap of new pots. Very much pot bound. I wish I had space to bring another pot of the little purple leaf plants with me, as the first lot seem to be coping with the garden reasonably well.

Is Google Evil?

Is Google gradually becoming evil? Google have some good ideas. It will be interesting to see what Tim Bray (see also W3C XML recommendation) says in his ongoing blog, now he has joined Google as Developer Advocate. Given Android is open source, it seems a pretty reasonable job.

What I find interesting is that almost everything he likes, I hate. For example, he likes Twitter more than Facebook. I find Twitter almost useless, and while ambivalent about Facebook, at least the web interface works (which is more than I can say for Twitter). He likes Java. I think it makes for a horrible user experience. He thinks software sales without approval are a great idea. I think it exposes naive users to unacceptable risks. One thing we both agree on is that it is good that Apple have competition.

Internet Explorer 9

It seems to me that Microsoft IE9 Developer's notes show IE9 is starting to look like a modern web browser. Border radius is there. Selectors have vastly improved, including CSS3 selectors. Javascript speed has increased. Looks like SVG support. XHTML as application/xhtml+xml is supported! Their ACID test results are up to 55 (although several other web browsers reached 100 a fair while ago). They also show Opera as the fastest Javascript engine (a status Opera reached only very recently).

The negative points are few so far. IE9 will not run on Windows XP. That seems a straight commercial decision, given all XP support ends soon. The open source advocates are disappointed the video codec is standards compliant but patent encumbered H.264 rather than open source but not hardware supported Ogg Theora. Some large businesses are worried about submarine patents on Ogg.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Smoke Alarmed

I was abruptly awakened by the smoke alarm going off at 1 a.m. Lurched out of bed to find a ladder. Scrambled up the ladder and slid the smoke alarm out of contact with the power. However the other linked alarm seemed to be the one that was setting off the noise. Took the ladder to the other end of the house, and with more difficulty, pulled that alarm. The battery decided it wanted into the action, and set off the siren again. I finally got the smoke detector to come off the ceiling, and removed the battery. The damn alarm was still trying to make strangled noises even as the battery came out.

That makes two false alarms in a year, and one set off by burnt toast. The false alarms always seem to be while we are (finally) asleep. Three false alarms are all I am willing to accept.


I once again ran into the problem of not being able to see images in Google Image search. Images failed in both Google Image search, and in Bing Image search. It applies to Safari, Opera and Firefox web browsers. The problem is Snow Leopard launches a heap of internet actions. However my ADSL router seems to interpret these as a denial of service attack.

Poisoning pigeons, err, plants, in the park. Well, actually the garden. After being away all February, the nut grass was making another attempt at a breakout. I poured poison on it. After about a week for the poison to reach the roots, I will pull up all the weeds. That should discourage it a little. Then I will repeat. Until the weeds stop appearing.

At Willows I went to the T-Life phone store to organise a Telstra CoA. Got the apprentice, who called the trainer. Their interface to the change of address also did not cope well with the new address details. However it was better than the online CoA form I found. Unfortunately, the helpful T-Life guy could not actually cancel my land line phone, something I also wanted to do.


I was at a Carlton Theatre Committee meeting after lunch, to consider responding to a Letter. We were pretty much in agreement as to how to proceed, but still have to do the actual work. I will probably write the first drafts of the various items we will need to get arranged.

In much better news, the Carlyle Gardens Social Club funded a much needed commercial vacuum cleaner for the Carlton Theatre. The Social Club also provided additional assistance regarding cleaning. We spent some time admiring the industrial lines of the vacuum cleaner. The design seems even better than I expected, and should make cleaning the carpets much easier for everyone.

Wednesday 17 March 2010


Wasted much of the morning drafting the Letter from Hell. Unfortunately, although I may have managed to make such a fine case that we need not change anything we are doing, that is not a way to move forward. To be honest, I wrote a letter designed to convince a lawyer not to mess with me. However winning the battle is pointless if hostilities continue. Now I have to take a very different approach when I re-draft the letter.

Saint Patrick's Day

The Saint Patrick's day dinner this evening was organised by the Carlyle Gardens Social Activities Club. To my regret, the flyer said residents only, which meant some of the people I expected decided not to attend. Some had previously brought a number of guests. I gather that at 186 tickets bought by residents, this was a smaller number attending than some previous years. I did express my concern to any of the Social Club committee I saw at the bar, but as always with new committees, everyone has to feel their way into what works for them. They are the people doing the work.

The Social Club had subsidised the meal, so it was a mere $10, but I felt non-residents could well have paid full price. We had beef & Guinness pie, with a vegetable medley, plus extra bread on the side. The dessert was a mouse, flavoured with Bailey's Irish cream and hazelnut. Instead of each table being called to collect their food, this time volunteers brought the food to the table. Speaking of volunteers, four of the staff from the local Willows Shoppingtown branch of the Bendigo Bank had decided we were their community service task. They were a lot swifter taking the food out than most of us would have been.

The Social Club also paid for the entertainment, with Jeff Salter singing for a total of several hours. He did not end until around 9 p.m. We sure had a lot of Irish music. Fewer Irish jokes than I expected (so I told a few of my own).

The Lucky Leprechaun came along when it was time to present the best Irish dressed female and male. Alas, the raffle numbers generator (aka the clock in the bar) decided to go on strike. First time I have seen that happen. The Social Club folks were embarrassed. They will hold the draw on Friday evening instead.


I like the idea of having an AirStash portable wireless network media server. Plug the USB port into your computer, transfer your files. Take the AirStash with you. The battery powered WiFi access point lets your WiFi enabled gadgets get at your media content while you are travelling. You can use it at a party, to bring your music along for sharing. You can also use it to wirelessly transfer photos from your digital camera to your portable WiFi device, such as an iPad. Wearable seem to have the right idea with this one. I bet you can not get it in Australia.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Top Level Domains

I can not help but notice everyone tries to get a .com (commercial) top level domain. I did so myself for my own domain. Browsers tend to automatically add .com to incomplete domain names. However both are wrong, and cause problems because there are so few top level domains. Others commonly encountered include .gov (government), .org (organisation), .net (internet service provider), .mil (military). I hope this starts to change.

A Top Level Domain is the string of characters located in the right-most side of a domain name, and represents the base of the hierarchal structure of a domain name. There are two types of TLDs: gTLD (generic Top Level Domain), based on usage application or sector, such as .com. The other is ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain), based on country or region, such as .au.

The new gTLD system is expected to allow a company name, brand name, geographic region, or service type to be used as a gTLD within website and e-mail addresses. For example, Canon have started to acquire the .canon gTLD.

Screen protectors

Corning offer a very tough Gorilla Glass that appears a good match to what is needed for mobile phones and mobile computing devices. It makes me wonder what the exact characteristics are of the glass used in say an Apple iPhone. Apart from having a fingerprint resistant oleophobic coating.

Which leads me to wonder why Apple recently banned stick on screen protectors. One possibility is they do not stick well to oleophobic coatings. Another is people tend to get air bubbles when they put the protectors on a display. This in turn leads to product returns.

Residents Committee Meeting

The Carlyle Gardens Residents Committee held both its regular quarterly meeting and the annual general meeting this evening. The results of the by-laws vote was 140 against, 96 for. I was pleased about that 60% figure. Seemed to me any potential by-law needed more work prior to being presented.

I was particularly taken with the correspondence from Chairman Allan to Ergon Energy about the electricity outage. The sense of outrage was palpable. Ergon confirmed there are four separate electricity feeds to Carlyle Gardens, two from the Dan Gleeson sub-station, two from Rassmussen. It was the latter that keeps going out. They say they will have switchovers by next storm season, including remote switchover.

There was no need to elect a new committee, as the volunteers matched the number of positions available. I think the previous team did a great job, in very difficult financial circumstances. I believe the new committee will attempt to continue this tradition.

Friday 19 March 2010

Tropical Cyclone Ului

We have been following the movement of Tropical Cyclone Ului in the Coral Sea for the past week or so. It meandered around the South Pacific Island as a Category 5 for about a week, mostly a thousand kilometres and more east of Cairns. Now weakened to a Category 3 this morning, it finally turned south as the high over Tasmania shifted. The forecast track map this morning has Ului expected to turn south today. On the present track, it will run right through Airlie Beach.

Vimeo H.264

I tried checking out a video, but the link to Vimeo took me to a Flash version. Since Flash does not work, I tried to find an H.264 version. I recalled Vimeo had said that was available, but could not see how in their FAQ. What I should have done was scroll down past the fold. Vimeo have a Switch to HTML5 Player link on most of their video.

Try our new HTML5 player! is the Vimeo staff blog entry from January about the new H.264 access. Only available for users of Safari, Chrome, or IE with Chrome Frame extension. Get with the program, Opera and Safari.

Media Implodes

I notice the price of album music sold via retailers on CD is set to plunge. Universal Music Group Velocity program will test lower CD prices in the USA. Single CDs will have the suggested list prices of $10, $9, $8, $7 and $6. The new pricing structure will carry a 25% profit margin, which means that $10 list CDs will wholesale for $7.50; $9 for $6.75, $8 for $6, and so on. Retailers used to higher margins are expected to be unhappy with the new prices. This is another step towards music prices reaching commodity levels. Album sales in the USA were down 18.2% in 2009 and 19.7% in 2008. CD sales totalled 360.6 million, as opposed to the 706.3 million units in 2000. Sure a $10 price point will probably drive sales (as they do on DVD), but sales without margins are a waste of effort.

Publishers Struggle to Strike Amazon eBook Deal with Amazon using its strong sales hold on eBooks to insist on multi year contracts. The publishers want to set their own prices. Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Penguin, and Hachette face losing direct sales via Amazon. This removal from Amazon would not just be eBooks, but also physical books. Another take on this. Hysterical Amazon exec calls 911, says accelerator is stuck and he can't keep from running over publishers. When you think about it, with eBooks, you only actually need a single bookshop for the entire world.


I returned to the bar for happy hour. I had some tickets for the prize draw left over from the Saint Patrick's Day event. This time the number generator was working (chip out of socket), so prizes were awarded. I did not get anything for the Saint Patrick's day, but did well on tickets for the night. Two off below my numbers. One off above my numbers. Then I got a nice meat tray, with 4 steaks, 4 lamb chops, and 8 sausages. Jean did not seem to mind that.

Saturday 20 March 2010

Awaiting the Storm

It was a beautiful morning when I set out for my walk. However by the time I returned home, clouds were gathering to the south. The 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. track maps for tropical cyclone Ului (reduced to category 2) show it is now likely to reach the coast early Sunday morning a little north of Airlie Beach, perhaps near Bowen. That is about 200 km south of Townsville. With so much of the soil already soaked from rain earlier this year, flooding to the south seems very likely.

TC Ului was predicted to pass just south of Airlie Beach, according to the 8 a.m. track prediction update. The path took a major kink to the south. However by the 1 p.m, track prediction, Ului was back to passing almost over Airlie Beach, and intensifying to a Category 3.

Allan came through just before 6 a.m. checking everyone was ready for side effects of Cyclone Ului. Some people did not take getting the bins in and caravans away as seriously as others.

I checked the track prediction maps until around eleven o'clock, and then went to bed. If the wind wakes me at 4 a.m. or so, I will check the track again then.


Collected all four newspapers when we drove to Sunland Plaza this morning. I managed to read through two of them today. Turned out six pages of apa zine for ANZAPA, that being three pages of mailing comments, three pages extracted from my blogs. We will probably get them copied at Office Works. Our own Hewlett Packard laser printers do not seem to have liked the summer humidity. Both are refusing to rotate the cartridges after sending a bunch of pages through them.

Masala Bollywood for dinner, on another of Pat's dinner expeditions. Pat had organsied a community transport bus, which are economical and friendly. I had arrived at 6 p.m. and Jeff put a beer in my hand as soon as I arrived, so the evening was already off to a good start. Met the folks at the corner house, who I had seen but not previously met. It was a pity Ray and also Barbara could not attend. A bunch of nice folks were there, and all seemed to be enjoying themselves talking. I had a lamb korma, and it was very tasty. Washed it down with a James Squires India Pale Ale. All too soon the bus arrived to take us home.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Cyclone Ului Watch

I went for a walk through the resort around 6:30 a.m. A windless sullen clouded sky, but only a splash or two of rain. It was as if a cyclone did not exist 200 km south of us. I had been checking the BOM site, and Twitter #ului feeds for what was happening at Airlie Beach as the eye of Tropical Cyclone Ului passed over the Whitsundays. The Channel 7 news had coverage. For some reason, Channel 9 had not been working at all.

We had a phone call from Michael later, reporting limited damage to Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach. There are a number of damaged boats, Tree limbs came off in many areas. The Centro shopping centre had its sun shades knocked down. Michael was going to check the homes of some of our friends.

Canon Hack Development Kit

I was pleased to discover the Canon Hack Development Kit firmware upgrade (see User Manual Wiki and Firmware use) for Canon PowerShot cameras appears to have downloads available at a CHDK-SVN Autobuild Download. Detailed instructions for Macintosh OS X

This firmware lets you override shutter and aperture settings, RAW exposure, do bracketing, get live histograms, zebra mode (some cameras), USB remote shutter support, motion detector trigger, long shutter speeds (up to 64 seconds), ultra fast shutter, high speed flash synchronising, file browser, text reader, calendar and games. I can really see this being nice for astronomical photographs, for security systems, and for stop motion and animation.

Fibre to the Home

I think fibre to the home will cost $2500, according to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. I think Senator Stephen Conroy is sprouting utter bullshit when he claims $1200 FTTP as a reasonable figure. Meanwhile, Telstra no longer deploy copper in FTTP Greenfield estates, according to a recent Telstra letter to Greenfield estates. This may stall council approval for the sale of thousands of homes. If required by Universal Service Obligations, Telstra deploy location fixed mobile phone connections at fixed line rates. This may leave new estates stranded without high speed networking.

Monday 22 March 2010


We set out for OfficeWorks. There was some rain, breaking into clear conditions soon after we left Carlyle Gardens. I left my ANZAPA printing at the copy counter. Jean did not have much luck, but I found numerous AA Lithium batteries for cameras, at reasonable prices. I also bought some rechargeable AA batteries, and will trial them in cameras, keyboards and mouse. The previous time I tried them, they were not all that good.

Power board with two USB power outlets. This was a compact two socket model from Jackson, with a short cord and winding space around the body. It seems very suitable for travellers.

Meanwhile, at Airlie Beach, the power came on in the evening, just seconds after I phoned our house sitter. The phone line was barely working, with heaps of crosstalk, and the noise levels were extreme. The power was off for a total of 43 hours, so I will probably have to throw out everything in my freezer and fridge. At least everything else seems to be still working. Water was in short supply, as there was no power to the water supply pumps for a couple of days. I had left several contains in the place, as part of my cyclone supplies. Many shops in town are closed.

3G Mobile Router

I wanted a cellular 3G router and wireless access point, into which I could place my iPhone SIM card, to replace the landline ADSL connection. I do not care at all about phone calls. So I searched for these while we were at OfficeWorks. The helpful in training staff member suggested three possibilities. Unfortunately, I often could not tell from the box what the specifications were. I took notes of the three model, for checking online at home.

The review of the Linksys WRT160n did not indicate it had any cellular phone connectivity. Nor did the WRT160n user manual. So this one seems simply included in error.

The Netgear 3G Broadband Wireless Router MBR624GU has a USB WAN port, runs WiFi as 802.11g (not 802.11n), and has four 10/100 mbps autoswitching LAN Ethernet ports. It works with a number of ISPs, including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone. This uses a USB 3G modem, rather than accessing your SIM card

The Netcomm USB 3G Wireless router 3G17Wn is similar. However it has 802.11n WiFi, not just 802.11g. It includes a LAN port, and supports automatic fallback from a WAN connection to 3G cellular. Unlike the Netgear, it has only two local 10/100 mbps Ethernet ports. It also allows USB modems from Telstra, and specifically mentions prepaid on Optus, Vodafone. See the 3g17wn user manual for details. Again, this uses a USB modem, not your SIM card.

The Netcomm HSPA+ 21Mbps Wi-Fi Router - BlackJack - 3G21Wn model is similar, but has 802.11n, two USB, four Ethernet ports, and HSPA is incorporated. The Netcomm 3G21Wn Blackjack specifications are much better for my purposes.

3G Mobile Router (SIM)

One of my correspondents suggested the Maxon Maxiport EM 770W ETH, which has HSPA, GSM, GPRS and EDGE cellular connections to 7.2 mbps via a SIM card. The specifications allow an ADSL WAN Ethernet port. It has four Ethernet ports for sharing. It even seems to have telephone handset connection. However although it mentions Windows Vista and Windows XP, it does not specify use with a Macintosh. Luckily the EM 770 ETH brochure does mention it works with Macintosh and Linux. The Maxon Maxiport EM 770W ETH User Manual has more details. At A$438.90, it is also the most expensive.

Until I found the Ericsson W25 which is A$517. Seems there are few cheap solutions on the commercial market. Another expensive possibility is the Netgear MBRN3300 3G mobile broadband router with internal 3G modem.

3G Mobile Router (cheaper)

Edimax 36-6200n supports ADSL Broadband WAN, wireless 802.11b/g/n and 3G/3.5G. The USB port functions as a print server. Uses a USB mobile data connection, rather than SIM. Cost is around A$149.

Internode MiFi

I notice the introduction of the Internode NodeMobile data system, delivered via Optus. You can use a portable battery powered MiFi portable WiFi hotspot, but only providing 802.11b/g and not pre-n, as far as I know. This model is only TriBand, and does not connect to Telstra on 850MHz. Bad decision, when there is a QuadBand MiFi model available in the USA. With a 24 month Optus contract, around $300, or $400 outright.

Tuesday 23 March 2010


It rained all night. At least, it seemed that way. When taking my morning walk I learnt there were 48 mm of rainfall yesterday, and over 140 mm (the rain gauge overflowed) last night. Another resident listed 182 mm and 1328 mm for the year to date. This is basically the aftermath of Cyclone Ului turning into a low.

We drove to Willows for our morning shopping. Jean bought frivolous things, like food. I found hose fittings for Bob, and several newspapers. The most amazing newspapers is the Townsville Bulletin.

According to the Townsville Bulletin, backpackers are starving in the ghost town of Airlie Beach.

I went to T-Life to ask my question. The store was empty, and 9 consultants swooped on me, eager to help this lone mouldy oldie part with money. I asked about 3G to WiFi, and the nearest three said they didn't understand the question. They all looked at the guy I had previously seen training others. He answered that they did not stock any of them. He knew which models they had previously (including the Maxon MaxiPort, which he said was good, but they had dropped it because it was expensive).

Gone Phishing

This evening the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club InfoNite had a large line of guest speakers on the topic of identify fraud. The talk was led by District Crime Prevention Coordinator Sgt Glenn Lawrence of the Townsville Police. As well, volunteers from Westpac Bank gave their time to advise residents on precautions to take with frauds against credit cards and banking.

Google Against Australian Internet Filter

I notice news reports that Google criticises Australia on internet filter plan. This comes as no real surprise given Google have just started pulling out of China because of Chinese government censorship of the Internet. Why would Google take a different attitude to an authoritarian Australian government censoring the Internet? Oh, right, the Australian government is supposed to be the good guys.

Well, bullshit, Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy is an incompetent dunce who is dancing to the tunes of a couple of wowser votes in the Senate. I thought the previous government had some real duds in the job of Communications, but at least they did not propose wasting $43 billion on a fibre optic broadband network when there is no real evidence Australian families are willing to pay for it.

Wednesday 24 March 2010


It was a beautiful clear morning, so I went for my morning walk before the sun got over the hill. When I returned I started a load of laundry. Between the time I hung up the first load of washing, and the time the second load was washed, clouds appeared. Dirty threatening clouds. I do not like that trick of the weather. The laundry ended up sitting on the clothesline on the porch.

John brought me a bunch of State Emergency Services fridge magnets, with their phone number. Fridge magnets are a big item in Australia, especially after cyclones and terrorist alarms. Be alarmed, not aware! No, I have that wrong. Be afraid, be very afraid! Well, something like that.

Mobile 3G to WiFi Router

I think this mobile travel router thing is starting to be the right idea. Press release for Small, fast and flexible: the NetComm 3G Travel Router t1 for A$199, which alas also uses a USB 3G dongle. See NetComm 3G Travel Router T1 specifications, and the NetComm 3G Travel Router user guide.

NetComm announced, and have now released the MyZone 3G Router, which is a battery operated portable 3G to WiFi router that accepts a SIM card, and charges from a micro USB port. Gizmodo saw the NetComm MyZone demonstrated in March, but pricing and availability in Australia are not known. Here are the MyZone 3G24W specifications.


Palm is dead. A long history of innovation in PDA. The founders removed. The Treo dropped. A transition to mobile phones. Some smart people took over. Some angel financial folks invested. Now the share price is $4, not because Palm is worth anything, but because someone else may just buy it (for the patent portfolio and the nice operating system stuff). Palm is dead, and no-one wants the corpse.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Consumer Bullshit

A few decent bits of propaganda. Bottled water (in Flash movie) as a sold by con merchants. Does high fructose corn syrup make you fat? Lots of folks in the USA would like to read this Princeton report. Somali pirates business model. Readers think a free fire zone might reduce profits. It is not easy seeming to be green for New Zealand, not with a 22% increase in greenhouse emissions since 1990.


I avoided doing anything I should have been doing, pretty much until it was time for lunch. Do laundry while you are out, yes dear, no trouble. I did manage to catch up with both Geoff and Leigh, so I now have no excuse not to complete the Letter from Hell. After lunch I worked on the Letter. Pausing only to wash the porch, air broom the back porch, consider how to hang brooms out of the way, look for things in the garage. Almost anything to avoid being near a keyboard. I even tidied up the Ultimate Filing System (otherwise known as The Floor). Finally did also do the Letter.

Conspiracy Theorists

They are not really conspiracy theorists. They are simply people with little reading comprehension and poor reasoning skills, taking many of their opinions second hand from radio shock jocks. Some have no common sense and little knowledge of economics, or consumer business practices. And a handful are just bitter because they didn't buy housing or shares at reasonable prices, or they did not win the lottery, or did not save and invest their earnings. That is all. But you probably knew that already.

Friday 26 March 2010


A beautiful red streaked sunrise. I set the computer to download iTunes items and podcasts while I was away. A group of wallabies were munching the lawns across the way from me as I set out on my walk, with the sun still hidden behind the hills. Since the weather was partly clear, we did the remaining laundry when I returned home.

Spent part of the afternoon helping put tables out in the Carlton Theatre. This is for the Carlyle Gardens Open Day tomorrow. Met Adam from down south, so I took the opportunity to ask about the new website calendar for clubs and societies. Perhaps in a month or so. Afterwards the hard working committee retired to the bar.


I just converted an experimental web page from XHTML 1.0 to XHTML 1.1. Although I had a bunch of errors initially, it turns out that my existing XHTML is sufficiently clean that the actual changes required are absolutely minimal. Obviously the DTD needs to be changed. This includes removing the Strict (since all XHTML 1.1 is in effect Strict). I had a lang=en which was basically for compatibility with browsers treating the pages as if they were HTML. Since all modern browsers know how to handle correctly served XHTML, this extra tag is not required.

This experiment is a first step in learning how to create standard EPUB eBooks. These are essentially written in XHTML 1.1. They are styled with a subset of CSS 2 (plus some book oriented extensions). Along with an XML manifest and other resources, they are wrapped in a compressed ZIP, and given the EPUB extension.

Saturday 27 March 2010

Open Day

Advertising has been moderately heavy on both TV and via flyers in newspapers for the Open Day at Carlyle Gardens. By this, I mean I saw a TV spot last Sunday morning, and I found a flyer in the local Star newspaper on Monday. Others noticed far more publicity.

The Carlton Theatre had Pond doing Thai massage for some lucky residents. There was a jewellery display. The hobby workshop had some woodwork on display, including Ray's router table. Ray later kindly gave me some Huon pine stands he made from a few pieces I brought him. The paper tolle folks had some wonderful pictures with great depth. There were excellent examples of patchwork and embroidery. The RSL sub-branch had a stand. Annie was there explaining about the CAPS care packages. John handled the microphone often, as did our resort manager Leigh.

Demonstrations that residents provided included Thai massage, yoga, Tai Chi, Line Dancing, and Ballroom dancing. There was an active bowls competition on the green, with prizes from Prime Trust. The village bus and a couple of electric buggies were kept busy taking the almost 100 visitors top view the display homes in the west of Carlyle Gardens.

Newspaper Paywall

The London Times and the Times on Sunday will go behind a paywall in the next month or so. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are also expected to be behind a paywall by June. It will be real interesting seeing if these news papers survive online.

I would suggest that many newspapers add very little value to the stories they pull from news feeds. You could probably get away with two newspapers for the Western world. Say the New York Times for reactionaries and conservatives, and the Guardian (since it is funded via a trust) for the socialists and bleeding hearts. Or you could just access your own items from the news gathering feeds, and pretty much ignore newspapers, except for editorial. Either way, most newspapers will be dead in a few decades.

Fake Energy Star

In another typical example of how business and government wants to appear environmentally pure, here is how Fake Products and Companies Certified by Energy Star. The USA Environmental Protection Agency's arbiters of efficiency standards rubber-stamped 15 out of 20 bogus products and a handful of fake firms became Energy Star Partners. This was picked up by the USA Government Accountability Office in their report Covert Testing Shows the Energy Star Program Certification Process Is Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse.

This sort of scheme is exactly why I actually test each appliance for power drain and for electrical safety. You simply can not reply on certificates. It has long been obvious that test articles delivered for pre production testing are nothing like the product that may eventually emerge from the factory floor.

Sunday 28 March 2010


I saw no less than seven wallabies around our home when I left for my morning walk around dawn. Hardly saw any human beings however, which is a little unusual. Typically there are lots of early morning walkers. I had a bit of a chat with Iain, one the security folks who look after us so well.

While walking, I noted that at least fifteen houses have already had their solar panels installed. I only saw one home with a 1.5KW set of panels. I did not think to look for the inverter units, but imagine they have been installed on much the same number of homes. It was obvious that several other homes were being prepared for panel installation.


I converted all of my blog pages into XHTML 1.1. Since the pages were already most of the way to being XHTML 1.1, the changes were minimal. It took longer to validate all the changed pages. As always, some errors had crept in, but typically no more than one or two on any page.

The changes to the blog went so well that I continued. Got the Airlie Beach Bum site, and the Carlyle Gardens Gnome web site converted to XHTML 1.1. Again, validation took longer than the changes, especially with a global search and replace doing dozens of files at once. Now I just need to add some content.

Monday 29 March 2010

USA against Conroy Internet censorship

I was pleased to see the headline Stephen Conroy and US at odds on net filter. That clown we have as minister for communications just does not seem to get it. Heaps of people do not trust the government to censor the internet. Just get your cotton picking fingers off it.


I saw very few wallabies this morning when I took my walk. However the sunrise was so nice I found my camera and tried getting photos before I left. The sky was lightening and the colour fading even as I came out the door. Despite that, it was so dark that I had to use an eighth of a second. I doubt those photos will work.

Had visitors. One dropping off a parcel for Jean. Another changing the date of a visit to Airlie Beach. We drove to the other shopping centre at Stocklands somewhat later than 9 a.m. Dymocks bookshop were having an end of lease sale. Jean wanted to use up her credits with them. She did pretty well at finding books, or book substitutes like a DVD of The Circuit 2, and Hema maps. She also found costume materials in BigW. We also found concrete pots, but only one of the two we needed, so we are hoping to find a matched pair elsewhere. I found nothing, absolutely zip. But it was another walk in the air conditioning, albeit rather slow.

Die Flash

I saw this nice post by Francisco Kattan on Why Steve Jobs will Never put Adobe Flash on iPhone OS Devices. He goes through the technical arguments as to why Flash is simply a bad idea. Some of the technical reasons advanced have had lots of merit, other are weak. I certainly would never use Flash in my own web pages. And I have seen only a handful of web pages where I thought Flash was used appropriately (however I do not play games). I absolutely loath Flash advertisements, and block all use of Flash for advertising. So for me, Flash on the web has always been a negative.

However Flash has a development infrastructure. It can do some things pretty well, particularly games. It was also, for a long while, the most practical way to display video on the web. That is only now changing.

Francisco points out Apple opposition to Flash is a simple business decision. A way to differentiate its products from all Flash display products. I think Apple have made the right decision. Writing to an abstracted hardware target means accepting inferior performance. That is the reason I never went to Java applications, which suffer the same problems.

Tuesday 30 March 2010


I saw only three wallabies, at the end of the block. During the rest of my morning walk, none at all. That is unusual. It also did not seem to me that any more solar panel installations had been completed.

We went to Willows. BigW had none of the pots we were seeking. However Jean found another item for her costume. After food shopping, we collected more screws from the hardware store. I hope Jean puts together more uprights for the Ikea substitute supports for all the surplus Ikea shelves we have piled in the garage. I did ask about using the hobby workshop drill press for boring the holes for the shelf support gadgets.

Apple iPad

First reports of iPad pre-orders being flagged as shipping in the USA. Apple iPad release date in the USA is 3 April, next Saturday. That will be at 221 Apple stores, and selected Best Buy retailers. There will be free setup help in store for email. Jean tells me Easter is not a big holiday and sales thing in the USA the way it is in Australia. The Australian Apple web site lists iPad as not available until late April, and still does not list prices.

Apple App Store Trojan Malware

I received an email addressed to my public address. It purported to come from Apple App-Store which as you can clearly see, is not an Apple address. It included an Order Information link that pointed to (also not an Apple address). It is actually a malicious web site.

Fake Apple App Store Malicious Spam on WebSense has details of this. Clicking the message link may download a known AV Trojan exploit, or may link to pharmaceutical spam (or both). The attack seems to be aimed at Windows users.

Just reinforces my attitude that spammers should be carefully identified by the police. Then taken out and shot! However I will accept assassination as an alternative.

Wednesday 31 March 2010


I was up late, after failing to get to bed until after midnight. I knew there was a massive Macintosh software update out, so I started my MacBook Air downloading it before setting out on my 2 km morning walk at 6:15 a.m.

We went shopping at Bunnings hardware. Jean found some curtain tracks. We had earlier decided to use the curtains that were once in front of the Ikea storage units. This means that only 12 months after moving in, we are actually changing from hanging blackout cloth to having genuine curtains. Real Soon Now.

After lunch, we had a meeting of the nice folks organising the Biggest Morning Tea event at Carlyle Gardens. Seems things are going along very well for the moment. Geoff had some very nice looking door prize tickets printed out.

The mysterious flapping noise I had been trying to track down outside recurred again soon after I turned on the ceiling fan. I decided to get a step ladder and check the fan. A loose blade. I used an adjustable wrench to start, but will have to find a proper spanner when I check all the other fans in the house.

Since I had the tool hooks on hand, I hung five of them on the wall. That let me put a bunch of brooms and garden tools up out of the way, so they did not clutter the floor of the laundry or garage.

Software Update OS X 10.6.3

I started my early model MacBook Air getting the massive (over 600 MB) OS X 10.6.3 update around 6:15 a.m. When I returned from my walk, I had it complete the install. The computer sat moving files (and racing the fan) for a considerable time. It was not until nearly 7 a.m. that the install completed. The fan was still racing.

The software update also included fixes for various iLife applications. The major item was iTunes 9.1, which includes support for iBooks and ePub eBooks. This is in preparation for the USA release of the Apple iPad on Saturday. In an interesting variation on past practice, the update note points you to much more detailed notes of what was changed in OS X 10.6.3. Good to see that from the notoriously secretive Apple.

The MacBook Pro OS X 10.6.3 download was almost 700 MB. It was ready for restart at 7:10 a.m. At 7:20 a.m. the package installer had done its job, and my MacBook Pro rebooted. Certainly a change in time from the MacBook Air.

One of the new items is Apple asking to collect more diagnostics and usage information, which can be done automatically. It is subject to agreement by the user. You can change preferences in Console (which many users never see).

Flash in Chrome

I noticed this in the Chromium Blog. Bringing improved support for Adobe Flash Player to Google Chrome. The important items to notice with this integrated Flash plug-in is that it will be the latest version, unlike the separately installed one in Windows. Google will automatically update the Flash plug-in, rather than let it fall behind. With Adobe's help, Google will extend their Sandbox protection to Flash pages.

Many people see this as a marketing move against the Apple iPhone OS X. Apple refuse to allow plug-ins in the web browser. Others see it as an acknowledgment by Google that Adobe Flash is too buggy and insecure to allow to play outside the sandbox.

Many of the pieces of advertising on the web are produced in Adobe Flash. Since like many others I block all Flash, I never see this advertising. As an advertising company, Google may find this blocking a problem. They are totally dependent upon the web browser being powerful enough to use for … well, everything.

Apple are a hardware company, and want their hardware to shine because of great applications, not be restricted to a commodity in which to run a browser. They do not see it possible to build a great consumer device without both designing the hardware, and writing the software. Anything else reduces your product to a lowest common denominator commodity.

Microsoft also need web browsers to be inferior to their applications, or else their Windows monopoly can be replaced by any decent web browser.

Personally, as a user, I have found that these programmer oriented write once, run everywhere software solutions basically suck. UCSD Pascal was a pain. Java and the various Java engines from SUN were a pain. And Adobe Flash is a pain.

Apple iPad videos

Apple have a series of eleven guided tour videos for the iPad (caution 600MB download as H.264 840 x 480 mov file). These show using Safari, Mail, Photos, Video, YouTube, iPod, iTunes, iBooks, Keynote, Pages and Numbers. They do not show the use of Contacts, Notes and Maps.

The first of many iPad reviews have appeared. Walt Mossberg for Wall Street Journal has a bit of a reputation as an Apple shill. He says iPad has the potential to change portable computing profoundly. David Pogue Looking at the iPad From 2 Angles reviews for techies and for the rest of us. Most polarising product. In general, techies hate it. Apple's iPad is a touch of genius says Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing.

I remember when Apple had to do their own advertising.

Eric Lindsay's Blog March 2010