Eric Lindsay's Blog May 2011

Sunday 1 May 2011

Buying Overseas

The Australian dollar is high. I have a credit card. However most of the things I want to buy are not actually available outside the country in which there are initially sold. Let me quote a few examples.

AirStash rechargeable wireless flash drive. Combines a WiFi hot spot with a flash card reader and a media streamer. Just the thing to share content for your iPad or iPhone. Available in USA and Canada only for $100.

TV B Gone from Cornfield Electronics is a universal TV remote that switches TV sets off. You know the situation. In an airport or waiting room, and the TV is overhead being ignored by most, blaring away. It is just totally distracting and offensive to be forced to listen to a TV you did not want present. You press the button on TV B Gone, and it attempts to switch the TV off. Problem solved.

There is (finally, now) someone selling TV B Gone in Australia. However their only payment method is via PayPal, so that is absolutely useless to me.


I notice Meet the Press now says that from next week it will be at 10:30 a.m. rather than at 8 a.m. That may be convenient for me. I could take a morning walk, do some shopping and still have breakfast before watching the ABC for Insiders and nine, and Inside Business.

Jean did some weeding of the garden this morning. While I fear the weeds will eventually defeat us, at least we have reduced them somewhat. However the concreter has not phoned back as yet.


I tried the simpler and cheaper (A$1.29) Sketch and Scotch's earlier ComicStrip successfully during our tour. ComicStrip does have the advantage of also running on the iPhone, in Retina resolution, where you are more likely to have new photos. ComicStrip also has Twitter Twitpic and Facebook integration. ComicStrip is by three young developers doing their first app, and there is a short ComicStrip tutorial by Mobile Orchid. It is intuitive to use.

Installed Plasq's Comic Life on my iPad via the Apple App Store. Plasq sent me an email saying it was (finally) available, although at A$9.99 it is not the cheapest application. I believe I will be able to do more with Comic Life than with ComicStrip, at the expense of greater complexity.

Monday 2 May 2011


I basically could not get to sleep all night. Hearing rain did not help, as I am still trying to get the concreter to come and improve our waterlogged surrounds by installing paths. Last time he came, back in March, the ground was too wet to begin construction. Then we were away most of April.

Jean continued hauling weeds (or a plant that looks like it may be a weed) out of the garden. I assembled some of the solar garden lights I had been restoring after ants built nests in them. It seems like I have about 17 lights operating out of the original 32. I am charging some more batteries now so more may be added. Part of the reason I did this now was the gardeners cleared heaps of plants from the side garden, and the solar lights can now receive sunlight there.

Bruce and Geri called around to collect my cork collection. They have a friend who makes craft items from corks, and I had a rather large bag of corks.

ANZAPA mailing comments seemed to be coming along well (quantity, not quality) so I have been sticking to doing them most of the day. Finally got the first draft done around 3:30 p.m. so it was time to find something to eat.

Put another eight solar garden lights out this evening, as I had charged another eight AA NiCd batteries during the day. I am now running out of working lights. I would guess many of the batteries will also prove faulty.

iPad 2 on Telstra 3G

Actually, it says Could not activate cellular data network You are not subscribed to a cellular data service OK No, it is not OK. However is the problem something caused by transferring my data from the first iPad to the iPad 2? Or is it that Telstra these days does not activate the cellular connection when you buy a new MicroSIM at the T-Life Shop? Last time the T-Life shop activated the MicroSIM before I left the shop. No idea what they did this time. Since it is a holiday, I can not check it up either.

Removed a dozen apps that were simply iPhone only from the iPad 2. Abbyy, XE Currency, Dominos. Lonley Planet Guides to Dublin, London, Moscow, St Petersburg. PhotoForge (but added the iPad version), Pixamid, Schelandars. TimeOut Sydney, Melbourne.

Magazine of the Day

Analog June 2011

Tuesday 3 May 2011


I was up late, at six thirty, but must have slept well, unlike last night. We had to chase a money machine after the concrete guys arrived. We also stopped at Reece Plumbing to get some plugs for where a sprinkler had to be removed.

Meanwhile, across the way, a recently sold house was getting solar panels installed. They are getting a 26 panel 4 kW system, which is the largest I have seen here. I sure hope that works well for the new owner.

Dropped over and chatted with Allan, Mary, Duncan and Cora after the concreting was done. Got lots of comments about how sunburnt I had managed to get.

Concrete Paths

The concrete guys from SNS Concreting arrived without notice a bit after seven in the morning. We had not expected them, as we had not had a phone call about which day (or even week) they would arrive. However a concrete path on the ground is better than something in the future. We did the walkaround with Garry, and then they got straight into it. It sure does not take the professionals long to do a job that would have taken me ages.

They had the formwork up in all three spots by eleven, and the steel mesh all tied down not much later. The concrete truck would not arrive until just before noon, but they seemed confident of completing it all by the end of the day.

One sprinkler head would be buried. I went to Reece with the sprinkler head and hose, and bought some stop plugs with the correct thread, and some plumbers tape. Sealed off the head that was going to be under the concrete. I think the concrete guys did really well not breaking any irrigation pipes.

The concrete folks were doing finishing and smoothing around 1:30 p.m. The boss went off to get some sugar (to make sugar water) so they could complete the work of arranging the exposed aggregate finish.

The exposed aggregate was not finished until around five. Most of that time was waiting for the concrete to set. I sat around and had some beers with the guys. Learned a bit about concreting. They had been able to fit us in unexpectedly because of essential supplies not delivered to them for another job. They thought they had a good chance at access since we are retired, and so it proved. They say they will be back tomorrow evening to do the acid wash.

The little mini bobcat with the fixed trencher they had here earlier looked great for this size job. I talked to the driver about also fixing the drainage, but he said what I needed for the water drainage between the houses was an excavator. First a turf cutter, and then an excavator. Lay the turf aside, and put it back after the excavator shapes the landscape. Maybe also some topdressing.

Mark the gardener dropped over and saw what we were doing. He later came back and turned off the water valves for the irrigation to 540 to 544. This way the concrete would not get sprayed while it was setting overnight.

Telstra iPad 2 MicroSIM Activation

This was even more of a nightmare than I expected. I loath phones at the best of times. I loath tone dial navigation systems even more. So, naturally, the Telstra MicroSIM activation system did not work. First try, it did not respond to any touch tone input. Second try, it responded, but I could not reach the correct section. By the third try I was threatening to rip the phone out of the wall and shove it in the garbage bin. By the fourth try I was incandescent with rage. I might mention that I have already cancelled my Airlie Beach landline phone because I was so annoyed with it.

Eventually it did work. Transferred me to an actual person at Telstra. A person who got me to say all the numbers I had already entered in the touch tone system while trying to get the SIM enabled. As systems go, the Telstra one really sucks! Next time, I will ask the T-Life store to have the SIM activated before I leave the store. They did that the first time, and it was a far better system. Maybe not better for the store, but far better for me.

Trust in Utilities

I see Sony lost credit card data for 77 million customers. Naturally they did not admit this for some time. Amazon storage went out not long before. The Economist carries on about basic trust in cloud utilities. Compares it with gas or water.

I do not trust internet cloud use. I will not be migrating my computer life to the cloud. I already know internet access (a basic starting point) is unreliable while at home (the ADSL connection goes out every few days). I have no faith that internet hosting companies have backups any better than my own.

However I do not trust gas, water, power or phone system either. There is no gas available where I live. So much for that as a utility. After Cyclone Yasi, the Townsville water supply was within a few hours of running out. That was caused by the power lines being down over a major city. The repair staff worked miracles to get that reconnected within 24 hours. Electric power to my area was out for 93 hours. This in turn dropped the landline phone system (connected via RIM boxes) out within less than twelve hours (the batteries went flat), so the phones were out for 80 hours. The emergency call buzzer system went out when the electricity went out (the antennas were also knocked down). The TV system was out of action (electricity again).

These days I have a generator. Centralised systems are certain to break down. The more major the system, the greater the consequences.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Internet Access

No internet connection via ADSL once again. Since I was connected via my iPad, I have to wonder whether that was using the Telstra mobile data earlier in the morning. Restarted the WiFi connection, in case that was the issue. The Belkin router shows us on, and thinks we are connected. However there is no sign of a name server being available. A numeric traceroute eventually booted the ADSL connection into action. I am not impressed.


Off to the Willows Shoppingtown for all the stuff on our list, after failing to shop properly for food for an entire week. Found everything we needed (and had listed) in Coles. I got The Australian, because they have their literary review on the first Wednesday of the month. By then it was nearly nine, so we went to Lowes. No new shorts in, so I will need to try another store.

Collected mail, for the first time in several days. Put laundry out. Went to Carlton Theatre for the talk by the local police, with the senior sergeant in good form. Had lunch afterwards with Geoff and Margaret. Asked LL manager about the new Australian Tax ruling on GST on sales of Retirement Villages. Got a non-reply, which was about all I expected. Just wanted them to know residents notice some of this stuff.

Transferred the 8GB of photos I took in West Australia to my Mac mini.

Concrete Paths

Looks like straightening up the pop-up irrigation sprays displaced by concreting will be complicated. One looks OK. We washed it and scrubbed at it a bit, in the hope that it will continue to pop up. Another probably can be made to settle at the right level. Not so sure about the last one. That looks difficult, as the pipe connecting it is rather short and hard to get at.

Alas, the concrete folks did not arrive back to do the acid wash of the new paths, as far as I can tell. I am watering the concrete morning and evening, to help it set properly in the tropics. I should continue this for five days, but will be gone by Friday morning.

Thursday 5 May 2011


I was up before five, but it is too dark to work on any of the outside measurements. Or to discover where the drip we hear outside the bedroom comes from. Gutter somewhere I suspect. It was still almost too dark at six. However it turned out to be condensation from the roof dripping down the plastic downpipe and hitting the bend at the bottom. At least it wasn't wearing away the new concrete.

We went to Willows way before eight. Jean had an appointment within walking distance. Soon enough I started getting text messages that the time of her appointment was later. I had sufficient time to walk around Willows three times before buying some raisin toast for breakfast, while I read the paper. Forgot to eat my tablets, and had to do so later.

No luck on gardening implements in BigW, however Jean did well at Coles and the butcher for extra food before we left Willows.

The Mitre10 hardware at Sunland had a cheap, narrow nylon trowel. I thought that might work for clearing a path to get the irrigation sprinkler heads placed correctly, without damaging the flexible pipes. Then I found they had a hand pick with a mattock blade. Probably intended for camping, but much more suited to what I needed to dig out than a full sized mattock. Meanwhile, Jean found some yellow microfibre cloth.

Since it was almost ten by then, we wasted a little time in the Sunland shops. I found Overflow had plastic throwaway cups, which we had needed earlier in the week. Plus they had the cheap little chemical glowtubes that had entertained us at Swancon. I bought a small packet for the next event at Carlyle Gardens.

Meanwhile, Jean found a half dozen of the West Australia Classic Dry White she likes, so we built up our stock. I bought two Jacobs Creek champagne for my party on Saturday. Not a bad shopping expedition, plus I must have walked at least three or four kilometres for exercise, instead of sprawling behind a desk.

Concrete Paths

I pressed more sticks into the soil and placed caution tapes around half the new concrete work. However I have ran out of poles that I can use for that now. Had to search in the scrap wood for more before the mowing contractors reached here today. I pulled a bunch of concrete scraps out of the trench beside the new concrete paths. However so far I can not get the water sprinkler heads down low enough. I need a really narrow trowel to get at them.

Sometime while we were away this morning the concrete folks arrived and did the acid wash they planned to do yesterday afternoon.

After lunch I happened to catch Leigh between appointments. She was not too concerned about the concrete paths burying sprinkler heads, as long as Mark knew what was happening. I dropped in to see Mark to update him, as I had turned the water back on. He was wrestling with the sprinkler system manual. He and the guys turned up soon after I walked home, and turned the sprinkler heads so the water went in the correct direction. Now I just need to correct the height of the sprinklers, so the mowing contractor does not destroy them.

I pulled a heap (by our standards) of left over concrete out of the ground, and the trenches around the new concrete paths. Not sure how you get rid of old concrete, except as fill in the drains.

Friday 6 May 2011

To Airlie Beach

I was up fairly late for driving, and did not leave Townsville until around 5:30 a.m. I refuelled at RiverWay shortly after leaving Carlyle Gardens. As I drove south I could see at least four planets aligned a short distance above the horizon. That was pretty cool. Stopped at Inkerman, but unless Jean is with me, there is no way I can buy eat of their giant truckie breakfasts. I did get some chocolate milk.

It was nearly nine before I reached the Whitsunday Centro shopping centre. Had a long chat with Leading Edge video. I have not seen a lot of DVDs to buy over the current year to date. Retail sales in Airlie Beach still sound very depressed. Does sound as if some miners are buying homes, but not apartments.

Checked Harvey Norman, but saw little that was new. I did my food shopping at Woolworths, however it has been so long since I was home that I could not recall what I still had in the freezer or in stock. Luckily I mostly guessed right. Well, except for somehow managing to buy fruitless hot cross buns (a pointless food item in my view). I also had to refuel Jean's car. As a result, I did not reach home at the Whitsunday Terraces until nearly eleven.

I had a short chat with Allen, the Whitsunday Terraces Resort Manager, and with Rusty. Rusty says he does not like the new lattice dividers, especially the rectangular ones on the top floor. I agree with him entirely, and have said so to the Body Corporate committee. Now that I have seen the result, I utterly loath the new style. It just looks poor, at least on the top floor. I do not want my balcony done that way.

Airlie Beach

I had not managed to unload the car when Jim asked for help with his new D-Link ADSL modem router. His old NetComm modem had died. However despite multiple attempts, I could not get the new modem (or the old one) to actually connect to ADSL. Jim put in support calls to Internet Whitsunday, which automatically connected to Voice2Net. We were at least able to check that all the settings were indeed correct. We finally gave up well after one.

Jim took me to lunch at Capers, in appreciation of my fruitless technical support. I ordered a BLT, as being less than totally massive. The waitress knew Jim, of course. She suggested having the BLT as a wrap, rather than the much more massive hamburger bun. It was a very good suggestion, and far better suited to my light appetite.

I had to hit the money machine before I could do much more. The news agency had a heap of accumulated computer magazines. I must have been away from longer than I imagined, between Townsville and West Australia. I also collected about seven weeks of Whitsunday Times, but was still missing the issue from last week. I never seem to get all the issues. Since the staff know me well, they said they would attempt to get me the missing issue.

The hairdresser had about four people in a queue, so I headed back to the Whitsunday Terraces, and climbed the twelve flights of stairs. Checked a heap of the problems I had been seeing. Some improvements, some alas with no sign of action. I noticed the replaced door had still not been painted inside or out, despite being listed as installed.

The hairdresser had suggested trying after four. I got lucky when I went back down the stairs (checking the premises as I went), and got my haircut.

Airlie Beach Afternoon

Back up the twelve flights of stairs to the apartment, where I used my iPad to check mail, by which time it was after five. Found that Horace had suggested he would be at his bar from five. Rushed down the stairs again to catch up with him. We paced out a potential set of boundaries for the swimming pool safety fence we needed to revise. Horace and I were both on pretty much the same wavelength on that. I was very pleased with that, as the pool was high on my list of items to check. Horace even shouted me a rum, he was so pleased.

When I used my MacBook Air I noticed Jim's modem seemed to be working. I had suggested that might happen. Rushed in to see Jim. Seems the ISP had phoned Jim back. You have to wonder just where the initial fault happened. I doubt the original modem was actually wrong.

Jim plied me with good wine as we chatted about this problem.

Saturday 7 May 2011

Whitsunday Terraces Garbage

I noticed that the garbage truck passed Florin Terrace without collecting rubbish from Whitsunday Terraces. I could see that the rubbish bins had been put out for collection at Endeavour and at Driftwood Terraces.

Airlie Beach Morning

I decided the laundry was first, once I was convinced the weather would be sufficiently fine for the clothes to dry. We took the wet weather with us to West Australia in April, but rain seems to have returned to Airlie Beach once I got back here.

Next was the Airlie Beach markets. Caught up with Glenn and after consulting with Jean, ordered some more Airlie Beach Bum T shirts. Jean had sent an SMS demanding I find her some limes. Luckily one place still had them. Rex tells me that the cockatoos have managed to destroy most of the citrus fruits of late. Rex also says he can not get to the party tonight. I had to leave around ten to hang the laundry out to dry.

I had noticed Graham's unit 62 Whitsunday Terraces was for sale, with an Open Day. Megan from Harcourts real estate was there. Tells me Graham was looking for $400,000. This unit was very recently renovated and as well as being in a high position with great views, also looks splendid inside.

I discovered I had not collected the newspapers. I had totally forgotten about them when visiting the markets. Down the street. Then had to climb the twelve flights of stairs. Half way up I felt moisture. I stepped up the pace, to the extent I could manage at my age. My laundry was not totally soaked, but it certainly was not completely dry either. Took it inside for a while. This cycle repeated several times, without it ever getting dry before rain swept in again. I hoped Pete and Dawn to see if they wanted to come to the party, but they were in the Gold Coast.

What I need is an application connected to the Australian weather radar to warn me when rain is nearby.

Swimming Pool Safety Fence

Horace phoned about midday to suggest I meet someone. This turned out to be Chris, who put in Horace's resort pool, and also the original Whitsunday Terraces top pool. We had to change some of the path of the fence we worked out yesterday, to meet the changed pool safety regulations. After that was all worked out, I emailed details to the Whitsunday Terraces Body Corporate. It was really good that Horace put so much work into solving this problem.


I had a very small party, just Jim, Glenn and Alison. Mind you, an impressive number of empty bottles went out, and we ate pretty much all of both pizza. Solved all the problems of the world, but forgot the solutions.

Sunday 8 May 2011

Whitsunday Terraces Garbage

Opps! Once again the Endeavour and Florin Terraces rubbish bins were not put out for the garbage truck at a little later than seven. I had time to rush back and put the Florin Terrace rubbish bin out before the garbage truck arrived. Allen came through a few hours later and put the empty bin back.

That gave me a chance to chat with Allen about work resulting from the swimming pool safety inspection.

Today at Whitsunday Terraces

I managed to collect the newspaper. Took a different route through the Whitsunday Terraces while walking down and up. Took a bunch of photos of things I thought were an issue, especially the rubbish all through the gardens.

I found from one of the Whitsunday Terraces Lot owners that the tree removal folks were going to return for another day to continue their work. That made me feel a lot better about that work.

Read a heap of newspapers, while checking out the ABC Insiders program, followed by Inside Business. However Meet the Press on channel ten was simply not on at its listed time. No idea why not.

Decided to relax, and watch Crusade (DVDs), while continuing to read the great heap of newspapers. Luckily most of the news did not really annoy me too much.

Private Prisons

It is impossible to justify a private company depriving anyone of their freedom. However governments continue to allow private companies like Serco to operate prisons. If a government court decides to imprison someone, then the government should run their own prisons.

Monday 9 May 2011

Whitsunday Terraces Garbage

I did not see any rubbish bins out at the Whitsunday Terraces. I checked the Florin Terrace bin, and it was empty, so I will give Florin Terrace a pass, but there is no way the restaurant bins would have been empty. This is disappointing.

Airlie Beach

Had breakfast at McDonalds, and read their Courier Mail newspaper. I had been thinking of visiting the brand new Coffee Club, but have no idea how you actually walk into the Port of Airlie marina complex from Airlie Beach. There sure are a lot of empty shops in Airlie Beach at the moment. I am told that business rents are still high.

When I walked back up the twelve flights of steps through the Whitsunday Terraces resort, I could not help noticing that some of the steps looked pretty disgusting, all covered in bird shit. I also noticed that there were a lot of garden water sprinklers that pointed in the wrong directions. The vegetation growth was taking over some balconies. There were also bits of wooden screening under buildings in need of maintenance.

Midmorning and it is raining. I hoped to get some long distance photos to determine which balcony railings needed to be repaired. However the visibility is too low now.

I have been watching the first two DVDs of the strange atmospheric alternative worlds detective series Charlie Jade. That and taking walks around the Whitsunday Terraces to take more notes.

Whitsunday Terraces

I saw Jim to take photos of how he had done his balcony lattice. Basically replaced it with glass in a heavy duty aluminium frame. I liked it, and wanted the same. Just one change needed, to alter the profile to an additional right angle to cap the concrete edge so water could not easily sit between frame and paint.

Had a phone call from John just then about estate matters and blocks of land. Luckily he is sending actual details by email. There seemed a lot to think about, but my gut feeling is he is right about how to go about completing everything. I made a note to do some checking afterwards.

Caught up with both Allan and Neville regarding the pool by reception. Decided to eventually replace the broken lattice with an aluminium frame and glass like Jim used. Showed Neville what Jim had done. His suggestion was to consider a white finish on the aluminium instead of the bronze. Wrote an email to the Body Corporate committee regarding their design.

Michael and Mel invited me to pizza for dinner. Not my fault I am eating lots of pizza.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

TV B Gone

What business is it of any government to provide a TV to anyone, whether pensioner or not? Apart from the almost unwatched, government owned ABC and the even less watched SBS, TV is a commercial property mostly paid for by advertisers. Why is the government paying to glue eyeballs to a TV? Yet it appears pensioners will get a free set top box, to convert analogue TV to being capable of viewing digital TV.

This is just plain waste. There has been plenty of warning that the older TV sets will stop working. Labor is doing this solely to avoid a backlash from the older pensioner demographic.

Then there is the $350 price. An HD set top box costs less than $100. I hope they do not come in pink. A standard set top box is less than $40. How many old analogue TV sets can handle high definition?

Older people who want to view TV will let their friends and neighbours know they no longer have reception. Usually someone will find them an older but working TV or set top box. Usually someone will also get it working for them.

I have certainly got at least a half dozen set top boxes or TVs working for my neighbours in the past two years. Might even be as many as a dozen.

A month after the changeover in each area, send out a survey to full time pensioners with some Centrelink form. Ask who no longer has any working TV. Ask who wants one. Then give those people a voucher to get a cheap (overseas made) TV from a retailer. The retailer will install the set if needed.

You might also ask the same pensioners whether they can still afford their electricity bills, even with the age rebate.

Disclaimer. I do not own a TV set (I do have a VCR, so I can pick up an analogue TV signal to feed a computer monitor). I do not particularly want a TV set, whether analogue or digital, as my space is limited. The TV feed at Whitsunday Terraces is (as far as I know) still entirely analogue. There certainly has not been a replacement of the old signal distribution system. I very much doubt I can receive digital TV without making a change to my equipment. Like maybe getting a TV set now they are cheap. Perhaps also an antenna (not that this is allowed under the body corporate by-laws).

Leaving Airlie Beach

I was awake early, so I packed Jean's car with what little I needed to take away, mostly items that would get stale in the fridge. I wanted to send a few Facebook items or Tweets before leaving (since it was 4 a.m.) however the Telstra 3G data connection was not working on either the iPad or the iPhone.

Both Guthalunga and Inkerman were still closed as I went through in the dark, which was one reason I had refuelled the car when I first reached Airlie Beach. I was able to drop the car off around 7:30 a.m.

Jean and I went to Willows so she could get her walk for exercise, and collect some shopping. Saw all manner of folks I know there. After a couple of laps, I excused myself to get some raisin toast for breakfast, since I had been up for five hours by 8:30 a.m.

Carlyle Gardens

Went to lunch with some books for Pat, but she did not attend. Naturally I forgot the fish plate and other metal mounting plates and workshop naterial for Ray, who was there, as was Dot. We all had the Ploughman's Lunch, which I guess made Noel's job easier.

Saw Leigh regarding the dancing booking at the Carlton Theatre, since Geoff had been worried about it when I saw him at Willows. A plan is forming. We also had a talk about the swimming pool fencing, since I have been looking at similar issues at the Whitsunday Terraces.


We moved a bunch of concrete scraps away from the grass and the drainage trench. I am still edging my way around the water sprinklers. I think I will need a hoe to complete the drainage trench. I need a 1/100 drop, which means nearly 40cm, and I just do not have that much slope to the street drains in any easy manner.

I took out the spirit level and made measurements all over the new concrete. Only the western rear corner slopes the wrong way. I expect water there will simply go away elsewhere.

Budget Premonitions

Read The Australia with increasing disquiet as I noted the Federal Budget speculation. Labor is going to wimp out tonight on tough measures and keep spending, which will leave them nowhere to go with an election budget a few years hence. No wonder Laurie Oakes called both sides political pygmies.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Federal Budget

A disaster. No structural fixes. Wobbly Treasury forecasts. A full on bet on the mining boom continuing. Shuffling of spending without discipline. As usual, the government is setting up more inflation (which hurts working families) in the hope income tax bracket creep raises its collections enough to cover misspending. Plus the real increase in government money comes from the new flood levy and other taxes. The government needed to trim its own spending by $20 billion, and did not even try. It is not an irresponsible budget, but it is just not really going anywhere.

The sensible middle income cuts. Removed the dependent spouse tax offset. Froze high income Family Tax Benefit Part A indexation.

Mid and high income misses. Leaves PBS Health Cards with high income retired (leaving just a means tested PBS safety net would have been responsible, but not a disaster for the ill). Did nothing about negative gearing. Did nothing about Family Tax Benefit B. Did nothing about Family Trusts.


I drove off early to order two cubic metres of 20mm drainage gravel from Bedrock. I would have preferred 10-15mm gravel, but the 7-10mm looked a little too small. Got back and snatched a hasty breakfast before Jean and I set off for retail therapy.

Jean let me get The Australian, and reminded me that after budget night, I would also want the Financial Review.

Refuelled the car, and I got snacks. Then Jean dropped me at Bunnings, where I found a Raven RP60 door bottom seal like Jim used. The wheelbarrows did not look much use for our minor gravel rash. Caught up with Jean at Kathmandu, getting cold weather gear for her future trips. Anaconda and Spotlight were no use to me, but Jean found some curtains for the corridor to her office. We gave up on shopping after collecting her a bottle of Pisco at Dan Murphys.

I went to the Carlyle Gardens restaurant for lunch. Roast lamb. Yum. First time in ages. Came back to await the 1 p.m. gravel delivery.

Gravel Rash

The gravel truck driver phoned well after his delivery time. He had been driving around unable to find us. I gave him instructions (to supplement the ones that should have been on the delivery docket). John pulled up, to tell me the delivery truck had been following him (and to ask about computer mouse).

Two cubic metres of drainage gravel sure look large when it is a massive heap on the driveway. Pebbles slumped into the garden. I took what seemed innumerable buckets of pebbles up the back and put them in the trench along the new concrete paths. The pile in the driveway did not seem to diminish. The pain in my back increased. Finally gave up and treated myself to a very stiff rum and coke.

Thursday 12 May 2011

Gravel Rash

I was awake early, so I started checking the email just after 4 a.m. It was terribly cold. Must have been down around 100C, which for the tropics is terrible. Around 7:30 I started filling the borrowed wheelbarrow with drainage gravel. This is not my favourite pastime.

Came back inside for breakfast sometime, while Jean was off visiting a massage place or a chiropractor. Back to the gravel. Luckily Peter and Joan came around, so I was able to take a break while showing them the new concrete paths.

The lawn mowing contractors came around. They said they could cut right over the gravel, as long as it was lower than the grass. Proceeded to demonstrate this ability. That seems good (they had previously assured me it would work).

By the time I gave up around 11 a.m. I had a fair bit of eastern side ditch filled with drainage gravel. I need to shovel more dirt out of many of the ditches, as I do not yet have the drainage slope I need at the bottom of some of them. I also need to get the irrigation sprinklers clear of earth before I surround the sprinklers with gravel.

Lunch Meetings

I saw Ray when he passed by on his way to see the Computer Club President. Ray asked about connecting an old 84 inch projector TV to a computer. I checked VGA cable lengths at Jaycar, and found they have 5, 10 and 15 metre lengths of VGA cable. Also checked what length VGA Geoff is using in the Carlton Theatre, and found that was about 20 metres.

Caught up with Geoff and Margaret at lunch, so we had our usual impromptu Carlton Theatre meeting. Geoff wants some ceiling fans over the dance floor. There is also the issue of moving the air conditioning controls. I reminded him to invoice for the fold back loudspeakers. I would like to see the accounts brought to as small a balance as possible by the end of the financial year. This is basically me not trusting any receivership situation that may involve lawyers, accountants, or administrators.

Friday 13 May 2011

Freezing Morning

I guess it is unfair to mention freezing, since it does not get down to that in the tropics. However by our standards it was very cold. The kitchen was under 200C, and outside it was down to around 100C. The eastern side sprinklers came on around 6:30 a.m. which eliminated any idea I had of digging more drainage trench out there at that moment.

I took Lyn McConchie books Jean had published to the restaurant for Pat at lunchtime. Also managed to give Ray some fish plates and other metal joiners for the workshop.

I collected some tip vouchers from Jo-ann when I visited Reception.

Dropped in at Geoff and Margaret, since they had the Easy Meals salesman visiting. I had missed the demonstration in the morning at the Carlton Theatre (I was too wrecked from moving gravel). However the store and heat Easy Meals sounded a good idea for our travel, or for me to take when elsewhere.

Happy hour at bar, to relax after all the moving of gravel. Anyone I asked about shovels (them using) seemed to cause deafness in the community.

Gravel Rash

Moved a heap of gravel into the drainage ditches during the morning. I reached the front Eastern corner of the garden. I did have to remove a bunch more concrete spoil and that is piling up without sufficient places in which to dispose of it. That was why I collected tip vouchers. However Mark says I can dispose of it in the general fill pile in the unbuilt section.

Saturday 14 May 2011


Sleep badly, awoke early, drove to Willows to collect the weekend newspapers, and take a walk. Snuck way too many packets of chocolate biscuits into the shopping, since they were 3 for $5, which these days is a considerable savings.

Sunland had an open butcher. However I checked that Overland still had glow sticks. Bought some for a party.

Laundry was ready to go out in the sun.

Had a beer with Allan across the road as the day closed, and the temperatures dropped.

Gravel Rash

Allan was awaiting me with his shovel when we returned from Sunland. He was a great help with the end of the Eastern side of the drainage ditch. Between talking with him and moving wheelbarrows of gravel, it hardly seemed to take any time before that drainage ditch was gravelled.

I made sure to give Allan a six pack of beer, knowing full well that whenever I visited for evening drinks, I would probably be handed a beer if I ran out.

I was sufficiently encouraged to continue with moving the large concrete blocks for the garden wall closer to their final site. I do need some more gravel to go under them, but probably not very much of it. Jean wants the bottom blocks filled with gravel.

Jean cleared away a lot of earth under the sprinkler heads. Also a lot of the concrete debris from the paths. I think we have about 20 bags of rubbish to dispose of on Monday.

Sunday 15 May 2011


I was up late, at six. The rosy glow of the dawn was already obvious. Access to the internet was not.

Internet Access Gone

No connection to the Belkin router via the WiFi. Turned the Mac mini WiFi off and back on, which got me through to the router. However the router did not seem to be connected to the internet on Unknown host, so there was no nameserver access. I did a numeric traceroute to kick start the external network. That finally worked, but all this took ten minutes of wasted time.

Gravel Rash

I spread some more gravel for the foundation of the garden wall. Moved the first layer of concrete blocks into place and levelled them off. After breakfast I put the second layer into place. Later in the day I added gravel into the bases of the bottom row of blocks. They seem reasonably stable now, with all that weight.

I put the rubble into the boot of the car after lunch. I sure hope I have not weighed the back of Jean's car down too much when I go to dump the rubble on Monday.

Electricity Supply

I notice the statutory Australian domestic electricity supply ranges are 216 volts to 253 volts (230V -6%+10% - see AS60038-2000). The grid usually runs at the high end of this range, to allow for the fact that there are line losses at the end of long power line runs. This ensures everyone gets a reasonable voltage.

The electricity supply was formerly 240 volts, and around 90% of premises still run at 240 volts. Most European equipment is specified as being for 220-240 volts, to match their nominal 230 volt electricity supply.

My electricity supply was providing 252 volts after nine, 254 by 10:30, and 255 soon after midday. It gradually reduced through the afternoon, dropping to 251 volts by 6 p.m.

Monday 16 May 2011

Down in the Dumps

I dumped the rubble left over from the concreting and drainage works in the dump area, carefully avoiding the green waste area, as advised by Mark. It must have taken a half hour to get rid of it all. It is a wonder Jean's car did not sag on its springs. Naturally I was covered in cement dust by the time I had it all thrown out. I was pretty pissed off by the time it was done. This whole retirement resort lurk is wearing very thin at the moment.

Crompton Downlights

Yet another Crompton Lighting GU10 fluorescent downlight blown. As usual it is close to impossible to remove the blown globe. I have however discovered that it is not identical to the Crompton downlight sold by Bunnings. This explains why getting the bulb out is subtly different. I am really pissed off about these idiotic lights. It is near impossible to remove the confounded globes (unless you get lucky and have one where the fitting mechanism turns easily).

After struggling with it unsuccessfully (as usual) I have decided that I just do not give a damm about energy saving lights. If I replace it, it will be with something I like, not with something some arsehole in government thinks I should use. This low wattage light globe idea was Malcolm Turnbull's fault, back when he was Minister for the Environment in 2007.

I went back around 1 p.m. and used a considerable amount of force (and some friction cloths) to break the fitting loose. Luckily the replacement bulb worked.

Retail Therapy

Jean was kind enough to drive to Stockland Shopping Centre, despite my bad temper about light fittings. The whole shopping centre seems surrounded by scaffolding with a few cranes tossed in. Luckily parking was not a problem. Also, Lowes Menswear was right near our entry point. Found one pair of the correct shorts, in cotton, in a size I could wear, on their racks, unlike at Willows. The saleswoman at Lowes Stockland was very helpful, and phoned their Castletown store. They reported two pairs, both different colours to the beige I got.

We stopped to check Sanity music. After very little searching for a copy of the old Fantasia animation about ten dollars cheaper than at JB HiFi. Jean also found Bran Neu Dae,to add to our Australian DVDs. I still can not locate Wake in Fright.

Off to Castletown, where again we had no parking problems. The Lowes there turned out to be fairly close to the entrance we used. Collected the two pairs of shorts they had in my size. Quickly checked Sanity, but they did not have Wake in Fright either.

Since the timing worked out, Jean dropped me off at the Reading Cinema so I could watch Source Code. I walked back to Carlyle Gardens from the Reading Cinema, according to Runkeeper that was 2.76km in 27 minutes.

Source Code

This was a ripper of a low key science fiction thriller movie, with very few special effects, no big name actors, but a thoughtful story.

Book of the Day

Rift in the Sky by Julie E Czerneda.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

US Post Office Losses

The US Post Office lost US$2.2 billion in its last quarter. This brings losses to over US$20 billion since 2007, despite cutting costs by US$9 billion. Mail in 2006 was 213 billion items, but by 2009 had declined to 177 billion, with further declines expected. The US Post Office had a US$15 line of Treasury credit from around 1990, which is now exhausted. They are now asking to skip their annual US$5.5 billion retiree health benefit payment in favour of pay as you go.


Retail therapy at no less than four shops, three of them food outlets. They all seemed different regarding which foodstuffs were on special, so we visited IGA, Coles and Woolworths. We also got potting mix and some transparent plastic tube at the local Mitre 10 hardware store. Still got home in plenty of time to hang out the laundry without any sign of nearby rain.

I left some mixing containers for the potting mix and existing soil we had on hand. Jean managed to fill two of the concrete blocks with potting mix and soil. Alas, there appear to be a dozen blocks to fill.

The Internet disappeared just before five, while my computer was sleeping. A numeric traceroute eventually located a Domain Name Server at my ISP, thus proving the problem is not in the house. However it is all running impossibly slow. My external IP number has changed to Finally got my usual speed back about five minutes later.

Tax Brown Coal

If you want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production in Australia, you get the largest reduction by targeting brown coal power stations in the LaTrobe Valley in Victoria. Basically, Hazelwood and Yallorn have to shut down. What do the figures actually show? Emissions from electricity generation were 175Mt in 2000. A 5% reduction by 2020 means electricity needs to fall to 166Mt. At present they are 207Mt. In 2030 they will be 259Mt. That comes from Greg Combet’s Department of Climate Change. Check the figures yourself. The Empress Julia has no clothes.

So what effect would a misnamed carbon tax have?

First, a tax does not limit the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. There is no cap on emissions under a tax. So the major reason for Labor to have a tax rather than an emissions trading scheme is they can not get agreement with the Greens about the level of the cap on carbon dioxide emissions. Nor probably could they agree on what should be excluded (and all sorts of things will be excluded, by special pleading, probably starting with petrol).

Direct regulation (which may be evaded), or a capped emissions trading scheme (which is still basically a rortable indirect regulation) can actually reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Hazelwood produces about 1.4 tonnes per MWh (a black goal station about 0.9 tonnes). Hazelwood gets issues at around $60 a tonne carbon tax ($84 per MWh). Hazelwood operating costs are probably around $16 per MWh (including the brown coal royalty). I think they could still operate cheaper than a modern combined cycle gas turbine power plant, which I believe needs to get an average wholesale price around $40 MWh (I am seeing about $7 per gigajoule for gas). For comparison, German electricity was around €60 MWh. To run up replacement plants looks like an investment approximating $100 billion over the next decade. That is not going to happen. No bank is willing to finance that any more. Just a short while ago, the Commonwealth Bank wrote down its investment in Victorian brown coal power plants to zero value.

The attraction of brown coal is cheap fuel (Victoria has 65 billion tonnes), hence my assumption of Hazelwood having $16 MWh production costs. You basically scrape brown coal up with a bulldozer. A carbon tax hits fuel prices, lowering the value of brown coal station assets. However banks have loaned six or seven billion dollars against the value of these assets. The value of a brown coal power plant that can not operate economically is decidedly negative due to closing costs and site remediation works.

Brown coal power plants basically can not operate intermittently, as they were never designed for this. So they will still run 24/7 and produce emissions all the time, whether they can make first despatch electricity sales or not. The problem is that a carbon tax of below $40 to $60 does not provide a sufficient incentive to install combined cycle gas power generation (which would halve carbon dioxide emissions). A tax as low as $20 may ensure brown coal power generators (and due to increased international prices, even black coal power generators) become uneconomic. Many black coal plants are still government owned, but this is not the case for the eight brown coal generators. They would probably end up breeching their debt covenants to the financiers, and end up in administration, after asset destruction of 20% to 60%. However they are toxic assets. It is entirely possible no-one would be willing to buy them. Bang goes Victoria's entire power generation, without any replacement.

No state government would allow this to happen. So the Victorian taxpayers end up buying the power plants, and running them. The electricity price increases will get real interesting. However before that, there will be brownouts, as some of the power stations stand down in low demand periods. If you live in Victoria, better check how much generating capacity you have at home. You may need it.

Power costs have increased at least 40% in the past four years, mostly for transmission infrastructure. Increased coal and gas prices will drive that up another 30% in the next four years. A carbon tax will probably manage to increase that another 20-30% (depending on the price) over four years (although I am only expecting 10% in the first year - note the price increase due to a carbon tax is less than the price increases from other causes).

Wednesday 18 May 2011

iPhone Battery Dead

Something went totally wrong with my iPhone 4 battery charge overnight. I strongly suspect position related programs pulling up GPS satellite information instead of shutting down when the phone sleeps. In this case, perhaps RunKeeper. I had stopped my walk, and sent the latest walk results up to the website yesterday. But did it really stop the application? Resolved to kill off RunKeeper between uses, rather than let it sit in the background pretending to be inactive.

After about ten minutes of charging, the iPhone 4 rebooted, but came up saying the SIM was locked. Not good, as I have no idea what unlock code is involved. Luckily I still had the scratch card that held the SIM key in the original box. Not much use if I had been travelling.

It is all a sign of the Coming End of Days (Rapture 21 May), as noted in Revelations. Apple's logo is an apple with a bite out of it, portending Eve's Original Sin. The price of the Apple 1 was $666, the Number of the Beast. You receive the Beast in the right hand or forehead. What do you hold in your right hand and bring to the forehead? The iPhone is bringing us a cashless world with its potential wireless use in place of credit cards. Futurist Arthur C Clarke warned against this, by making machines evil in 2001 (although he thought HAL was IBM - note the one letter difference in initials).


I see the water sprinkling system on the Eastern side of the house is operating at 6:30 a.m. I am pretty sure the Western side sprinklers also operate, but am unsure which time or even days.

Internet was out of action when I returned after lunch. IP address was However Name Server service was impossibly slow. Took about ten minutes for service to come back to normal after a numeric traceroute.

I tried to get Duncan's new DVD connected to his TV. They have no connectors in common. I decided there must be some adaptors that came with the TV, and told Duncan what to look for in his cable collection.


1RAR (Royal Australian Regiment) band playing Back in New Orleans at Carlyle Gardens Carlton Theatre. Friends of the 1RAR band news to be available soon, so I signed up with an email address. Two Army Band CDs are available now, so I bought them at the end of the concert.

1RAR band playing their own compositions at Carlton Theatre Carlyle Gardens Townsville. Toys donated at last year 1RAR band concert have gone to children at Tully and other towns devastated by Cyclone Yasi in Queensland. As usual the band is raising funds for Legacy, a charity to assist the families of service people. Despite a small crowd of less than eighty, we raised $370.

The new band trumpet section played The Opener, with many new members of the band displaying their talents. New 1RAR band member Curtis did a solo trumpet of Danny Boy. 1RAR vocal doing Closer Walk With Thee, without instruments. Now they have four singers they are doing more vocals and harmonising. 1RAR closes concert at Carlyle Gardens with the always popular I am Australian.

Residents stayed at the restaurant for lunch, with almost an equal number of band members joining us. Blue made sure band members had different folks to sit with. These mostly young folks are really wonderful. 1RAR band do an heap of community service work, and it is great to see that. I had a bourbon bin Laden (two shots and a splash of water), which was probably a mistake at that hour, but Karen and Allen both thought it an amusing drink recipe.

Afterwards I asked the various former RSM here how many of them resided in Carlyle Gardens. The half dozen mark was quickly reached. They concluded perhaps nine in total. No wonder so many things are well organised.

Thursday 19 May 2011


I noticed a Big Pond van at 545, where new folks are expected soon. There still seems an issue with the Telstra database, as the phone connection goes through the Smith Road RIM, not the direct line on Beck Drive. The very dark lady Telstra tech was having trouble convincing her back office support about this, although the issue is at least two years old. Some of the older techs know whatever magic tricks are involved in getting around this.

Meryl drove up in the golf buggy to let the tech into 545. tells me we should see new neighbours tomorrow, moving in on Monday.

Allen had St Vincent de Paul at the restaurant, with books on sale. I bought a few trade paperbacks for my next trip, and donated the change. I like leaving novels in remote areas, for the next person who seeks something to read.

Geoff and Margaret were at the restaurant, so we lunched together. Geoff had found a magnificent necklace as a gift for Margaret in the St Vinnie gear. Got a lot of things covered, and things seem to be shaping up well for how to operate the Carlton Theatre without burning out volunteers. The chef was missing, so I took pity on Allen and had a ham and salad sandwich instead of a cooked meal. Alan took pity on all of us afterwards and gave us all a free drink.

Sometime during the afternoon I got the last of my six page ANZAPA magazine written and formatted, so I flashed it into PDF and sent it to Jean to print a printing master for tomorrow when we will visit OfficeWorks.

TV Problems

As Jean and I took our afternoon walk and collected mail, Duncan hailed me. I went over and tried to get his DVD and TV to talk. Although Duncan had found a cable adaptor that logically had to be the right one, I could not get it to plug into the TV connector that seemed made for it. I tried a bit of a kluge, just to see if anything worked. Nothing I did persuaded the DVD and TV to connect. I retired defeated.

Around seven, Ken knocked on the door. His Austar set top box was not talking to his TV. He was having problems with a clearly well informed Austar service lady (from his description), since he could not persuade the TV to do what she needed. For a while I thought the setup was going to defeat me too, although Ken tells me I got it working for him on a previous occasion when it would not work. Luckily I eventually realised the TV did not automatically scan its inputs. You had to enter a menu option to enable various inputs to be seen rather than skipped. Seems crazy to me, but that got the whole thing working, although it was eight by then. I suspect Ken will buy me a beer at Happy Hour tomorrow.

Amazon eBooks Outsell Print

Amazon have announced it now sells 105 eBooks for every 100 print books. eBook numbers do not include free eBooks. Also, some print books are not available in an eBook form. It is only four years since Amazon put out their Kindle eInk reader for eBooks. This change is taking place faster than I expected. On the other hand, I am not sure I believe the Amazon announcement, which as usual has no actual sales figures.

It also appears Amazon will include an ePub viewer in their Kindle reader. In the past, Kindle books have been in a proprietary Amazon format based on the somewhat obsolete Mobipocket, and infested with DRM. So you could not read other books on your Kindle. I am not sure how many people simply refuse to use DRM infested books, but I always warn buyers who ask me of these restriction.

It is still likely that Amazon will infest ePub with DRM, probably the crap from Adobe Digital Editions, so that library ePub borrowing works.

Friday 20 May 2011

Internet Access

Internet access was gone when I tried at 6 a.m. I started a numeric traceroute, which slowed right down at the Name Server links. By 6:05 a.m. the connection was running at normal speed. This continued problem is very annoying. My external IP number has changed to I still believe this issue is related to an insufficient pool of IP numbers leading to sleeping computers being left out.


I heard the water sprinkling system operating on the Eastern side of the house at 6:30 a.m. this morning. I still can not decide when the Western side sprinklers operate.

Solar panels are going up on at least two homes just down the street. Mary and Allen, and Duncan and Cora. I believe another four homes may be getting them.

While Ray was at lunch, and we had a chat with Clive and Helen, there was no sign of Pat or Dot. I know Ann was away. So I could not give Pat her extra copy of Tiger Daze.

New neighbours to move in, Bob and Rhonda.

Jean off to get her eyes tested. While she was doing that, I walked to Office Works and got our APA printing done. I was also lucky enough to find some more small lap desks at half the previous price, so I bought one for each of us. Office Works was less than a kilometre from the optical place.

Happy hour at the bar, which managed to last about three hours. As predicted, Ken bought me a beer at the Bunker. Ken also won a gift voucher from Katies (women's fashion) and donated it back. Usually the bunker wins flowers from Krys. I was lucky enough to catch up with a whole bunch of folks, despite the reduced attendance. I did not win one of the prizes, although I bought a bunch of tickets. Probably just as well, with us intending to be away.

Super Hi-Vision

Sharp and NHK demonstrated a prototype 85 inch 103 pixels per inch high resolution display with a 7680 x 4320 pixel resolution. That is 16 times the 1080p high definition TV that is currently considered reasonable. I am not sure what the use is, however I do notice that when seeing a film at the cinema recently, the resolution was fairly poor. Maybe eventually movies will get sharper. How sharp? When you can not tell it is a picture, then it is sharp enough.

Saturday 21 May 2011


I like it that Judgement Day 2011 produces a 503 Error, Service Temporarily Unavailable.


Up early, around 3 a.m. because I can not sleep. Read news on my iPad. Downloaded a few rental movies, and some Apple software. iMovie and Garage Band. Later downloaded Omni Outliner for iPad. OmniGraph Sketcher, which has different abilities to OmniGraffle.

To Willows at eight. Newspapers. Coles for triple points as we stocked up on long term supplies. BigW, and find nothing we wanted. Port sausages for lunch. Mitre10 hardware, to get the (wrong) fluorescent lamp replacement. Egg farm, which we forgot yesterday.

I finally got back to Duncan to connect his DVD player to the TV. Luckily that was reasonable, once I had a copy of the TV and DVD manuals. I showed him how to operate the controls a few times, as they were very unintuitive in my view. I really wish the DVD and TV manufacturers would pay some attention to their terrible user interfaces. The stuff they provide consumers is absolute garbage.


I have disk clutter on my Mac mini. A 320GB hard drive, with more than 304.21GB occupied even after I did a search and destroy of obvious duplicates and old material. Not good. In fact, almost unusable.

In Macintosh OS X, Option Command I gives continued list of disk space occupied as you move through the file system, so we start with 304.21GB. The top level folders are Applications (5.39GB), Developer (2.63GB), Library (6GB), System (4.87), which in total is 18.89GB. Users occupy 277.62GB. Which makes a total occupied of 296.51GB. So we start off with 7.7GB missing in some hidden files (probably virtual memory or something).

My personal space is 172.56GB, while Shared space is 105.05GB, a total of 277.61GB, which is close enough to the total user space.

Shared space includes my 8.85GB of Airlie Beach material, which include 8.79GB of PDFs of scanned plans of the Whitsunday Terraces. That needs archiving. There are 1.6GB of Books. 1.95GB of Movies. The big item is 91.1GB of iTunes Music library, so there is little unaccounted for space. The iTunes Library is the problem. It has to be moved off my home disk.

Looking at my own Home folder, the two large resources are Library - Application Support - Mobile Sync, which occupies 45.96GB. The other large folder is Pictures, at 106.82GB, of which the iPhoto Library is 77.48GB, and the separate Digital Photos cache is 27.86GB. So I need to do something about these also.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Great Disappointment

It was the End of the World. Well, at least my Apple Mac mini decided it was, and locked up overnight. While I could bring the video up, I could not persuade it to see the Bluetooth keyboard or mouse. I eventually powered it down. Pretty much everything left open while it sleeps autosaves anyhow. Well, it is not the end of the world. Opps, sorry about that, for those expecting the rapture.

Actually the amount of attention paid to superstitious crap annoys me. There is no god, no demons, no heaven, no hell. Just get a grip, and get over it.

The water sprinkling system on the Eastern side of the house started operating at 6:30 a.m. Now, if I could only spot the operating times of the sprinklers on the Western side … It looks like the sprinklers towards the back on the Western side operated during the night. There is standing water, and mud under some of the grass. I do not know about the Western front sprinklers.

Just ordered a phone stand, an Oona via Kickstarter. The pledge accounting is via Amazon, who managed to find an account I last used around 2004 (Amazon is not present in Australia). Got email acknowledgements on one of my sacrificial email aliases. I love this idea. Small entrepreneurial groups, crowdsourced pledges of the money needed, and minimal venture capital, to make limited run prototypes. Just wait until we can all get decent 3D printers.

As an aside, How Spam Works, an academic study of Click Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain.

Newspapers Suck on Web

I do not know what sort of speed you need to make newspapers load over the web. For that matter, having consumed four (printed) newspapers this weekend, I do not know why I bothered to check a few others over the web this evening.

The villains included the Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax) with the CSS not loading on several pages, and another page not being fed from their server, The Age (not responding) and the Daily Telegraph. Fairfax basically suck. So do their newspapers. Good guys include 9MSN, Herald Sun ( This is just crap. Making lightweight pages that work in web browsers is not rocket science. If newspapers can not manage to do it, it is either that they do not really want to be on the web, or they are plain outright incompetent.

Another great disappointment is that Meet The Press on Channel 10 no longer seems to screen in country areas. I checked at eight in the morning. I checked at four in the afternoon, when there was a previous repeat last week. No luck. It makes a real nonsense of the Freeview advertising for 16 or so channels, if they all show crap. For example, in a country like Australia where half the people are now overweight or obese, just what is the sense of a MasterChef show? Makes not having a TV seem a better and better decision.

Internet Lost

I lost the internet again, sometime this evening. The WiFi connection to our WiFi hotspot has been lost. I had to physically power down the router to get it to restart.

iPhone 4 Camera Specifications

iPhone 4 camera specifications are 5 megapixels back illuminated 2592x1936 pixels CMOS sensor. The pixels are 1.75 µm. So 5.0 MP, 4.02:3 ratio. This makes a 4.54 x 3.39 mm^2 chip (5.67 mm diagonal) which corresponds to a 35mm film camera crop factor of 7.64 or a 1/3.2" sensor. It has a 3.85mm focal length, and a fixed aperture of f/2.97. This is equivalent in 35mm camera terms to a 30mm (previous iPhones were 37mm) focal length wide angle f/22 camera. Lots of depth of field, but light gathering power is also low (which is one reason to use a back illuminated sensor, as that silicon layout helps increase light detection).

Luckily the iPhone 4 includes autofocus (unlike earlier models), which helps a heap with closer objects.

The thin body of the iPhone does not permit a very long focal length. The cost of a very high quality glass lens probably rules out much wider aperture. If the pixels of the sensor are smaller, noise will increase (each pixel receives very little light already). If the aperture is smaller (to increase sharpness) then even less light is received, and noise increases.

Monday 23 May 2011


I was pleased to notice our new neighbours removal truck arrived reasonably early, after taking a wrong turn somewhere. So they will be moved in soon. More incentive for us to get more done, given it has been two years since most of our stuff arrived.

We headed for Willows, and sought replacement circular fluorescent lights. No luck at all finding any T5 size replacements. Tried Coles, BigW and the bits and pieces store. We already knew the Mitre10 hardware did not stock the kind we wanted. Also looked at garden furniture, hoping for something for the new patio at the front.

Jean dropped me of at the Reading Cinema. They have Thor in 3D on at 10 a.m. First 3D film for me in decades. I kept trying to adjust my vision to get things into focus. Is the problem the 3D? Or is it the cinematography? Or is it the cinema? So far the concept of 3D does little for me. On the other hand, the movie Thor was fun. A bit silly, but fun.

I walked back to Carlyle Gardens from the Reading Cinema. According to Runkeeper, I walked 2.78km in 26m20s. Stopped to get an appointment with the doctor. Collected a form from Reception. Bruce and Geri crept up behind me in their car, and said I was walking at 7 kph.


Omni have a good name for applications. So I decided to try several of their new iPad apps. Bad news for cloud enthusiasts. The web hosted video tutorial for OmniOutliner for iPad tells me Something broke! Please try again later. So I tried OmniGraph Sketcher for iPad. It did not even try to start the video tutorial. Next I tried the first video tutorial for OmniGraffle for iPad. Got this message: Safari can’t open because Mac OS X doesn’t recognise Internet addresses starting with “http:”. The same thing happens with the second tutorial. What in the hell is going on? This sort of crap really encourages me to rely on internet based products of any sort!

Internet Access Problems

I tried to connect to the internet around 4 p.m. No connection. A numeric traceroute did not help. The problem is not the local WiFi connection. Connection came good for a half minute or so, and then failed again. External IP number is now Finally came up again.


We managed to find Jean's T5 replacement fluorescent tube at Beacon Lighting, at least for the 32 Watt version. They were out of the smaller version, but that had not as yet blown.

So we went to Sizzler for lunch around two o'clock. Jean got through about five plates from the salad bar, and I had a petite fillet mignon. Enjoyed it a heap.

Sizzler had Desert waterless urinals, and bragged about saving 98% of the water they would otherwise use.

The drive back was interrupted by attempts to find things. We checked for grab bars in showers at the very helpful disabled centre. We also tried Super AMart and BBQs Galore for patio furniture. Did not find anything of use.


When I tried to use an older chair on the new patio, the plastic arms snapped off, legacy of our tropical climate. The rest of the chair seems intact, but I am unsure it can be repaired.

Beer o'clock, and I joined Allen and Mary's group outside their house. Looks like the new neighbours do not have operating hot water. I have been trying to persuade the sales staff to test these pathetically installed solar hot water systems for the past year. This looks bad to me.

Tuesday 24 May 2011


I was up at five. Jean lurched out a half hour later, and said I could do laundry (she did not seem to be functioning yet). So I started the ultra slow washing machine, which may yet complete the first load around 7:15 a.m.

We headed for Willows after putting the first load of laundry out, and starting a second. Despite the current fine weather forecast, I am not happy with how much cloud cover we have. The second laundry load was just ending when we returned with the last of the food top-up, and The Australian newspaper. The weather now looks even more suspect to me. I hope we can get some of the items in off the line before we go out again mid morning. Despite this, I did a third load of washing.

Having put the third lot of laundry on the line I rushed off with Jean (who was taking another walk for exercise) for my appointment with the doctor, taking with me The Australian. I managed to thoroughly read the first three newspaper sections before I got to my 45 minute late appointment. The doctor told me I needed to see the blood vampires, since the previous tests were 2009. Guess I will see pathology for a (fasting) blood sample tomorrow morning at seven.

I still got to lunch at the restaurant at midday. Jeff and Pat were there. Ray also. John turned up later. No-one liked any of my Rapture jokes. Took some chicken to Jean for supper. The other John was busy with setting up the Biggest Morning Tea (I had already donated, since it was not my sort of event).

I took the missing Lyn McConchie Tiger Daze book to Pat after lunch. Also took some security TriStar (and other) screwdriver bits to Bruce, since he had greater need for them than I. After Jean and I took our 1 km late afternoon walk, I took a WattMeter to Mary across the way. I made sure I was clutching a full wine glass when I wandered across to their relaxed afternoon drinks on the lawn.

Telstra LTE Mobile

Telstra turns on faster service in four cities in a trial at the underused 2G 1800MHz frequency in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. It seems obvious Telstra is rushing to have a commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) data service for higher speed wireless data modems for notebook computers in place in CBD areas by the end of the year.

Wednesday 25 May 2011


I walked over to the new pathology room at the medical centre before it opened at seven. Despite that, I was still number three in the queue. Walked back for breakfast. Then we rushed off to refuel Jean's car, put ANZAPA (three packages) in the mail, and collect tablets from the discount chemist. Back by 8:30 a.m.

Caught up with Geoff and Margaret at lunch. They had helped the Biggest Morning Tea. We mostly talked accounts, and plans for acquiring stuff. I did collect a form from Reception for a new skylight.

Jean made me take a walk with her in the late afternoon. Did better than two kilometres, which was good. The new neighbour was getting a TV antenna installed (seems the fibre optic feed is still dead). I talked with the sparkie about getting more power points. He complained we are always away. I did not have a good answer for this accurate observation.

Macintosh Malware

A new malware attack on Apple Macintosh computers. It is not a computer virus or worm, as it does not self install or self propagate. Basically a phishing Trojan scam that forces a Javascript popup on a Safari (or other web browser) session. The idea is to frighten a naive user into allowing the malware to be installed by an Administrator, and at the same time obtain a credit card authorisation for virus removal. The malware names reported for this Trojan include MacDefender, MacProtector and MacSecurity. There have been previous Trojan, such as Leap-A and the iWork trojan.

The main purpose of this scam is to get you to provide your credit card number. Do not ever do that unless you have personally initiated the transaction (at somewhere reliable like Amazon, or Apple).

You should never run your computer from an Admin account. Run your connections as a regular user. In Safari Preferences - General, at the bottom, ensure that the Open Safe Files after downloading checkbox is not checked.

A further variation (naturally the new malware was reported by an anti-virus maker) installs itself as a local Application, rather than as an Admin Application. Just ensure that the Open Safe Files after downloading checkbox is not checked in Safari.

I hope that Apple's attack vector against this piece of malware will be via the credit card facility. Apple do a lot of business via credit card companies, and should have a lot of influence on shutting down even an overseas credit card facility.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Internet Connection

I found the internet connection was slow to connect at 5 a.m. Browser connections eventually failed. Mail not available. A numeric traceroute got through the router (proving the WiFi worked on Channel 11) which was now assigned an external IP of but took a long time to get through the ISP default gateway and even longer to find the ISP Domain Name Servers which should be but probably used In all it took five minutes to establish a proper connection.

I did remember to renew my domain registration today, and extended it for two years.

Back after the meeting and lunch. The internet connection was down again. IP address was now and finding the Domain Name Server was slow again.

Budget Meeting

I thought that Wendy (on extra cleaning), Ray (on mowing contracts) and Laurie (on getting an extra gardener) all did a good job of explaining the semi-optional cost increases residents need to vote on. Leigh did the introduction, and most of the explaining of the background. I was particularly impressed about separating mowing costs from garden incidentals. Leigh also fielded the questions. Geoff is not available in the afternoon, so I need to go there to run the microphones. Did not get back again until nearly four.

Swiss No Nukes

I see the current Swiss government have decided no more nuclear power plants for Switzerland after 2034. They will be closed as they reach their design lifetime, with the first of five plants (40% of Swiss power generation) going offline in 2019, and the last by 2034. Three nuclear plant approvals were shelved in March, after the Japanese nuclear shutdown. There were rallies against nuclear power by 20,000 people.

Friday 27 May 2011

To Airlie Beach

I noticed the temperature was 110C as I entered Bowhunter Road at 5:15 a.m. By Bowling Green National Park it was 80C. Not what I want in the tropics.

No sign of a shoe rack for outside the door at the Camping and Caravan shop. Pity. Whatever extra things I wanted escaped my memory. Might have been finding a chair for outside (it was a shoulder pad for my bag). BigW was no better, although I notice their TVs seem to be getting larger and larger. Now if only they had decent video connectors for your computer (Display Port or DVI for instance).

Refuelled Jean's car, so I did not need a refill in the early morning.

I happened upon Allen at the Terraces. It seems the management takeover is delayed for two or three weeks. Have the body corporate committee heard anything about this? It seems not. I have a very bad feeling about this.

Whitsunday Times

So, APN News and Media are closing their printing operations in Mackay. Whitsunday Times used to be published locally. Then a bit further away. I wonder where the newspaper is published now? Publishing keeps getting more and more remote from location and distribution.

Not just on regional newspapers. Fairfax now outsource their sub-editors. Not a great idea.

Wood Cutting

I noticed the woodcutters were busy down below Cutlass Terrace. They eventually took out at least a half dozen truck loads of traveller palms. Really opened up that area. Alas, that revealed heaps of rubbish had been left on site over the past few years. A second alas, the area above and below the barbecue and near Portside really needs opening up also. That is probably as much work as was done in total below Cutlass Terrace and in a few other areas.

Saturday 28 May 2011


I wandered around the markets. My favourite food place was at the markets again, so I got my bacon and egg there, along with a lime drink. Caught up with Rex for a while. Parking at the markets looks just about impossible. I am glad I simply walk down the twelve flights of stairs. Caught up with Glenn and Alison as well. Apart from breakfast, nothing at the markets attracted me. I did buy the weekend newspapers.

Wood Cutting

I noticed a half dozen of the wood cutting folks were at Florin Terrace. Tony Vernon took out the remaining limbs in the crowns of the milkwood pines. Then he started on the trunks, to the much lower point as requested by Doug. They hauled away two tall truck loads of trunk, and two truck loads of mulched wood. That took most of the day to remove the trunks down to the lower roof level. These trees should regrow from that point, much more out of our way.

I want about another two days of tree removals, as soon as possible. There are traveller palms and other trees below the barbecue, overhanging Portside, plus another above the barbecue. There are trees around Cutlass Terrace parking that need removal. There are trees overhanging units in Florin Terrace. We have a great chance to remove this stuff before the new managers arrive.


I had my usual party this evening. Had to move to family pizza to cover what was needed. Ron arrived first. Rex and Myra, at the same time as Pete and Dawn. Jim came in. Then Glenn and Alison arrived. I had to keep bringing chairs in from the balcony. All over by around ten. We are all too old to rave all night.

Sunday 29 May 2011

Garbage Collection

Rubbish bins not put out.

Cooking Lesson

I tried the Woolworths brand Select 120 gram Oriental Rice, which only takes about ten minutes to cook. The whole thing would have been much quicker if I had a measuring cup (takes note to find a measuring cup, in case I ever need to cook another meal). The rice seemed to work fine, despite my not having any of the polyunsaturated table spread they wanted me to put in the boiling water. Does anyone have that crap on hand?

What I was testing was the EasyMeals freeze dried Chicken Korma. This worked fine in the microwave. Probably enough for two, with rice. It tasted a bit bland, but should be fine for my purposes. Basically something to add to the cyclone supplies each year. Plus as a hasty meal when we are travelling (and all the cafes in town are closed).

Nothing Doing

I went through the Whitsunday Terraces yet again to take photographs of the trees that have been cut. More important, I took photos of the trees I think needed to be cut.

Wasted a lot of time reading newspapers and getting annoyed. Watched some TV (Insiders and Inside Business). Watched some DVD. The last of Charlie Jade. Still trying to catch up on the many computer magazines that are accumulating.

Monday 30 May 2011

Leaving Airlie Beach

I awoke late, could not seem to get started packing fridge contents into the ice chest, and was not on the road until close to six a.m. Lots of mist in the Whitsunday area slowed travel. Luckily no kangaroos spotted along the road. I did not make any stops, and reached Townsville around 9:15 a.m.

Jean's Garden

Jean has been attacking her garden with enormous energy. She removed all the garden wall blocks I had made into a crude path into the middle of the garden. More impressive, she had moved seriously heavy 400 x 400 x 50 mm concrete paving blocks into a much neater path into the garden. Then she shovelled a heap of the drainage gravel onto the garden bed along the edge of her new path. She also put mulch down.

Tuesday 31 May 2011

Internet Fails

I had no internet connection when I checked the computer at 4:30 a.m. The ADSL modem router was showing no connection via the status page. I told it to connect. On the second try it reported a connection as IP address A numeric traceroute gets through.

Solar Panel Outputs

The solar power inverter shows it has produced 1354 kWh to date, and operated for 4146 hours. The solar power output figures last month (April) showed it generated 1241 kWh in 3806 hours of operation. So the total hours operating in the 31 days of May 2011 were 340 hours, during which it generated 113 kWh. About 3.6 kWh per day, or 332 Watts per operating hour. Remember, this is a nominal 1 kW panel, pointing east, operating in the tropics. Today (fine, sunny and cool) was better than average, with 4.09kWh.

Eric Lindsay's Blog May 2011