Eric Lindsay's Blog October 2011

Saturday 1 October 2011


I had Eggs Benedict for breakfast, as did Jean. Not sure what else we managed to find for food during the convention. The hotel had a reasonable range of snacks and cafe areas.

Conflux 7

The editor guest of honour was Natalie Costa Bir, formerly with Voyager, and involved with their change to experiment with social media on the Internet.

There was another book launch at noon, The Anything Shop by Dawn Meredith, a juvenile.

I also attended the Science in your Fiction panel. I was tired, and took a rest before the Steampunk panel in the afternoon.


The banquet was an astonishing period meal in the Apollo Room at the nearby Hellenic Club. It recreated a meal served on the Hindenburg.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Conflux 7

I attended the artist guest of honour event for Lewis Morley and Marilyn Pride. They always do a great talk, and usually have new stories.

More book launches. A surprising number, even for a book oriented convention.

Conflux Social

Nick had a Canon Eos 550D SLR camera which he really liked. He demonstrated it to Jean, who used to be into photography with decent cameras.

We caught up with Margaret from Sydney over dinner. It had been a long time since I had seen her.

Disco was loud and did not seem terribly well attended. I think many had not returned from dinner when it was scheduled to close fairly early.

Daylight Savings

I notice the southern half of Australia have again embraced the idiocy of daylight savings time. Luckily my iPhone and iPad automatically adjust to their malformed sense of time, according to where they are. I manually reset the dumb electric clock in the hotel room.

Monday 3 October 2011


We discovered we could just order poached eggs for breakfast. Better for us than something more elaborate.

Sit around talking.

Walk to shops, where Jean bought sushi.

Conflux 7

I was able to see Chris and his daughter for lunch. I had a few books for Chris, and wanted to thank him for the Mumblings sent so faithfully for so many years.

We managed to attend the Conflux closing ceremony.

Visit Friends

Bob and Margaret collected us at six, and treated us to a home cooked chicken dinner. That was a nice relaxed meal.

Bob talked about their new Smart car, which was pretty neat as a city vehicle. Bob is still into vehicles, unlike me. I don't think I have owned a car since Bon left the Blue Mountains.

Bob showed us another camera. I think jean might get a decent camera sometime soon.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Leaving Canberra

We were up well before five, prior to our alarms going off. I did not sleep at all well. At the front desk at 5:15 a.m. The taxi arrived promptly at 5:30 a.m. to take us to Canberra airport for our 7:15 a.m. DJ629 flight to Sydney.

We were through security and at the gate lounge by six. The bag drop had no queue, as most people seemed to be early morning commuters. However security had an impressive queue, moving very quickly. Even Jean was scanned quickly.

The food areas in the Canberra airport were warm, however it was freezing when we moved on to Gate 5 to await boarding. All glass and no insulation. We moved back to heated areas when we realised our flight was delayed, with boarding after seven.

Then Virgin Australia double crossed us, boarded early, and sat on the tarmac for ages awaiting advice from Sydney. It seems Sydney was reduced to one runway for part of the early morning, and had told incoming flights not to even take off. We were close to thirty minutes late taking off. The cabin crew managed to hand out snacks despite the thirty minutes flight time. Not at all sure why they serve free snacks on the Canberra route, but I took advantage of it to score another bottle of orange juice.

Sydney Transit

I had a copy of The Australian to read. It is a real tragedy that the only newspaper in Australia with any feel for wide spread news reporting and decent commentary is a right wing Murdoch one. A newspaper that I note could not possibly be making a profit. I had noticed during Conflux that the Canberra Times was now mostly provincial gossip and trend setting junk, just like The Age, and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Our 9:30 a.m. Virgin Australia flight DJ1519 was not even on the departure boards at the incredibly crowded Sydney airport when we arrived at 8:30 a.m. Even the three column departure board in the food court was not sufficiently up to date to get gate numbers up for flights more than ten minutes ahead. There were just so many delayed flights on the board. Luckily it updated while we were considering whether to just walk past every gate until we found the right one. Heaps of flights gone in perhaps 15 minutes.

I had forgotten daylight savings in Sydney. We were scheduled to arrive at Townsville at 11:15 a.m. however the flight was an hour longer than it appeared due to daylight savings.

The taxi queue at Townsville airport was massive. Our bags were late out, so we were half way down the queue. Luckily we managed to jump a maxi taxi to Kirwan when about seven from the head of the queue. Ths did a 75% fare for each drop off, and after allowing for the extra time (we were third drop off) the cost was about the same as normal. Plus the taxi driver knew the area.

Arrived Townsville

It was after midday. I dropped laundry in the washing machine and started it. As soon as we could change into tropical wear, we walked over to the restaurant for lunch. There was certainly very little food in the house.

Power Reading

I took more readings of the electricity power figure now we were home. The inverter was showing 1844kWh up from 1825kWh when we left. The meter was showing 2195kWh imported on Tariff 11, up by 4kWh. Import of electricity on Tariff 33 was now up 2kWh. Exports had increased to 676kWh, up 24kWh since we left.

TV Set

I checked with reception to see if the 32 inch Dick Smith TV set had arrived. I had ordered the set online, but it had not arrived in the week prior to us being away. It had. Jean was able to take her car over to collect it.

Wednesday 5 October 2011


I finally got a good night sleep, and was not awake until well after five. Soon after starting downloads, I also started the laundry that Jean set up last night. That meant we could hang out the laundry at 7:30 and start another load from the recent trip. We hung up the second load at nine, when Jean returned from her shopping expedition.

I also put the new $2 Coles solar garden lights out to charge in bulk for their initial use. The back garden sprinklers promptly started at 6:30 a.m. and soaked them. That will check if they were really waterproof. Some may need some glue for their stands. One may be a dud.

Lunch at the restaurant. Packed Jean's car. Went back to the bar to see how Olive was going with the OktoberFest ticket sales (well over 100). Got a lift back with Jeff.


I was delighted to note 13 films had gone through the transcoding to H.264 since I started soon after we returned after midday Tuesday. Just as well I had put more in the queue last night. At this rate I may be through the C items by tonight.

The transcoding went really well. Thirty one films transcoded since arriving midday yesterday. That was a lot faster than I expected.

Apple iPhone 4s

The significant upgrades are the more capable A5 CPU and more advanced graphics. The iPad 2 showed me how much of a performance difference that makes. It is really worthwhile, despite how it impacts battery life.

The really important upgrade is the world chip for connections. While I have no use for CDMA at all, Apple get significant advantage in having one phone model for the whole world. If I were travelling to the USA as frequently as I once did, I would be very happy. However I have boycotted all USA travel since the rise of the TSA, and that is the only reason I do not rate the world chip connectivity as first item in importance. Apple did however double the HSPA+ speed, which is welcome for those of us who have a network that allows this (Telstra does, and could accept even more speed from the iPhone).

No LTE, the geeks cry in their beer. Hardly any phone operators have a decent LTE system as yet. In Australia, Telstra have just started LTE close to the CDB in a few cities. I live 1200km from the nearest LTE tower. Ask me again mid 2012 and the story will be different. Telstra are probably putting in LTE as much to reduce the strain on their 3G network as for any speed advantages. At the moment they have no phones available to take advantage of LTE (they do have data modems). However a current generation LTE chip in a small phone will absolutely kill battery life. I think the Apple engineers are right to wait and see how the next generation LTE chipsets go.

Apple Cards

A bizarre twist. Apple making a greeting card application for the iPhone. You create the card on the iPhone, from one of 21 designs. Apple will emboss, print, mail and track the card (in the USA) and send a push notification when it arrives. Cost per card sent is US$2.99 in the USA, $4.99 to the rest of the world.

Given the number of people I know who can not cope with having a computer, I can see using this every now and then to send them something. I no longer get around to writing letters at all. Paper mail just wastes too much of my time, finding a printer that works, finding an envelope, finding the right stamps, taking the item to the Post Office. Paper mail sucks. I am fine with letting Apple do that work.

Carlton Theatre

I caught up with Geoff and Margaret at lunch, by pre-arrangement. We had a chat about what items can still be improved in the Carlton Theatre. We took the Carlton Theatre accounts to Leigh, who was able to spare us time for a long chat. There are still some items that Geoff wants to build into the theatre to improve the quality, so we were going to ask for some money to complete them.

Looks like the fluteboard over the doors, and for the doors themselves can be done, finally replacing the ugly black plastic. The shark sound delay circuits are possible, which should be great for large events. The scaffold extender is probably out of range, so reaching some high items is unlikely. However perhaps something could be done as a first step to a portable stand for some of the stage lights. Geoff is investigating whether there are still deals available. We may get lucky.

Thursday 6 October 2011

To Airlie Beach

I left before five. The horizon was well lit a half hour later, so I could well have started driving even earlier.

Reached Centro by 8:15 a.m. Failed to find the bread rolls I wanted at Woolworths, which in turn meant I did not buy ham or cheese or tomato. Woolworth did not have the ice cream I wanted. Substitutes do not appeal. I did find some tools for the construction projects, such as straight cut tin snips. I also found small rice bowls for the kitchen. To my surprise, trade editions of John Birmingham novels were in BigW, so I bought the first two in his new series (the third will not be available for a few months).

Stopped at Coles and got the missing ice cream.

Six trips up the stairs at home to unpack the car. That seemed excessive. Carrying missing tools does that.


I did not manage to find my spare RG6 TV lead with a F56 connector. However I could use the one from the VCR/DVD player. Might be nice to have a splitter on the TV socket in the wall. DoA missing switch. It took ages to find where the power switch was hidden. Making it black on black and hiding it behind the cabinet did not help.

Airlie Beach

A walk along the main road again in the afternoon. I was lucky enough to be able to get a haircut as well.

Jim was arriving home. He stopped in for a G&T, at which point I discovered the bottle in the freezer was very depleted. Had a phone call from Glenn, asking if we would like to join him and his visiting sister at Mangrove Jacks for dinner a little later. Glenn kindly included Jim in the invitation.

Had a rather more entertaining evening than I expected, chatting with Glenn's sister and family at Mangrove Jacks over pizza and wine. Jim produced coupons for most of the meal, which was very kind of him.

Whitsunday Terraces

I arrived at Whitsunday Terraces around ten in the morning. There was someone starting to work on cleaning out the long overdue gutters. Alas, it mostly consisted of ineffectual hand scraping at the garage level gutter, followed by a petrol leaf blower. They left again by eleven. I fear that cleaning may not be sufficient.

I later heard the gutter cleaners would return on Monday, so I hope that happens.

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

I used to import Apple II clones, and repair them, before the Apple clones became illegal. That was really where I started to understand how to design digital electronics. It was also where I learnt something of 6502 assembler (I had already learnt a bit about 8080 and Z80 assembler).

Much later, when working at the University of Technology, they bought an Apple LaserWriter. This was one of the first laser printers available. There was nothing much in the School of Mathematical Sciences that could drive the then expensive laser printer for a while. I learned to write Adobe Postscript page description language, so that I could have fun with the printer, probably the most powerful computer they owned for a brief while.

So a big thank you to Steve Jobs, for a mighty contribution to my technical education.

Friday 7 October 2011

Morning Walk

Breakfast, followed by a walk along the beach path. I saw a flock of about seven plumed whistling ducks on foreshore near the Esplanade. These were the first plumed whistling ducks I have seen in the Whitsundays. They certainly had dirty plumage this time.

Whitsunday Terraces

I see vast improvements in the quality of cleaning around the Whitsunday Terraces resort. The water sprinkling system is obviously back to working in many places. Might still be some fine tuning of the sprinkler timers. The gardens are starting to look better. These are all very encouraging results from the new resident managers.


I have had forty films in the queue since I arrived home on Thursday. The transcoding to H.264 seems to be running quicker than expected. The queue was exhausted sometime late in the evening. I closed Handbrake, and started a new queue for the next day or so.

Body Corporate Meeting

I went to the Whitsunday Terraces Body Corporate committee meeting just before three. There was lots to cover, due to there being a recent Resort Management. Committee members wanted to ensure our expectations were clear. I thought it was one of the most productive committee meetings we have had in perhaps three years. Alas, there are still going to be delays in getting some work done, due to production bottlenecks for balustrades and the like.

To my considerable surprise, Greg put on beer and wine after the lengthy meeting. I was pretty happy about the way the new management is tackling the many problems around the Whitsunday Terraces.

After Meeting Dinner

A number of the Body Corporate committee members headed for Horace's for dinner. New chef, I believe. My pork bellies were not the traditional ones as I expected, but the variation seemed pretty good to me. Presentation was also good. Horace was kind enough to supply several bottles of wine to the committee. We stuck around talking about various issues until rather late.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Airlie Beach

I did not sleep well. Up early puttering around not getting much done until I gave up and walked down the hill to the newsagency at 7 a.m. to buy the weekend newspapers.

Late reading newspapers, and did not walk to the markets until nine. Doug and other Whitsunday Terraces body corporate committee members were doing a walkthrough with the new managers. Seemed they had already identified most problem balustrades.

Got my usual market breakfast, caught up with Glenn, Rex and others.

Jonathan grabbed me, and I signed the petition against the absurd Whitsunday Council schemes to put a giant building on the foreshore. We fought that proposal years ago. Now it is back. That land should never have been using for shops, as it is prone to flooding. It needs to be purchased, and turned into parkland.

Picked up some Gordons gin for the next time Jim visits.

Zombie Apocalypse

I normally do not worry much (no brain, no pain). Especially about a zombie apocalypse, but Queensland police are prepared for a zombie attack, so I could relax yesterday on World Zombie Day. Doubters, eat your brains out. Thanks to Queensland Police Media for a fun test of their web site.

Save Our Foreshore

The pink protest caravan of Save Our Foreshore was at the markets. The Whitsunday Council are promoting two equally unsatisfactory schemes for treatment of the car park area on the foreshore. SOF are against this. I signed their petition.


I had a good roll up for the Saturday evening party, despite several of the ladies recovering and unable to handle steps (or the food). Michael turned up very briefly, and it has been a fair while since I saw him. Peter arrived, without Dawn. Jonathan and Jodie arrived about the same time as Rex, without Myra. Michael was leaving, so he offered Rex his parking spot. It got late, so I took out the phone and was an instant away from dialling Glenn and Alison when they phoned.

It seems having the taxi reception system working from the Gold Coast is working even worse than it working via operators in Mackay.

David arrived, as I had emailed him also. However Jim seemed to be away. So that made eight of us to cope with three pizza and three garlic bread. I need not mention that the bubble stock reduced, although the red wine was not much reduced.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Airlie Beach Drug Scene

I went for a walk in the early morning. A few young people obviously walking for exercise. However the general appearance in Airlie Beach is of a town where there is no civic pride. The streets and sidewalks are littered with discarded food containers and beer bottles. Do the visitors here trash their homes the same way? Luckily in the public foreshore, the council cleanup workers are hard at work removing rubbish and hosing the vomit off.

The streets are mostly empty at this hour. The nightclubs closed an hour or so ago. I had breakfast. As I read the Sunday paper, I noted a lengthy article called Porkies on Pokies about clubs lying about the impact on their profits of attempts to reduce problem gambling. Clubs Queensland blew that. However I recall the drug dealers in alcohol and tobacco also claiming their business would be destroyed by laws intended to reduce tobacco and alcohol use. What I want to know is why in the hell can corporations hide behind the product is legal story when their product is obviously damaging to some users? As a person, I am not permitted to harm other people. Why should a corporation be able to get away with this?


The DVD rip to H.264 transcoding for the past day and a bit was 31 items. It looked like I had one bad rip in the queue.

I also watched a bunch of DVDs. The Princess Bride DVD only run as far as the phase transition. Plus the end of another DVD was fluttering and the audio was stuttering. Maybe the Philips VCR/DVD player is getting flakey. The remote control seems to have issues. However scraping the (apparently clean) battery contacts seems to have helped the remote.

Whitsunday Terraces

I was disappointed that the Florin Terrace rubbish bin was not out this morning, although all the others were. Not much in it, so I can understand not bothering. However the list of duties specified the rubbish goes out daily. This demand was deliberately included in the contract when the contract length was increased. The reasoning was we could not know when a bin contained putrescent material such as prawns or chicken. The only real solution is to ensure all bins with anything in them go out daily.

When I climbed the stairs through the Whitsunday Terraces, I threw rubbish I saw into a plastic bag. I collected a fair bit of garbage, despite the improved appearance of the resort. I am hoping that all the old rubbish can be removed over the next few weeks. Rubbish on the ground just increases the chance of grubs discarding their own rubbish instead of binning it.

I saw Greg using the air broom on Golden Orchid Drive in the late afternoon. The Whitsunday Terraces is improving very rapidly.

Airlie Beach

I remembered to do laundry this morning. Nice weather for drying sheets on the balcony.

Read newspapers, watched movie, put more items in the transcoding queue (another 35, so I hope that ends before Tuesday).


I had an invitation from Jonathan and Jodie to visit, so I walked to their apartment just after five. Got to eat peanuts, a rate treat for me. I refuse to be convinced not to invest in coal mines (the largest export industry in Australia).

Electrical Fault

I had an unexpected visit from Michael and Mel. An electrical fault had put all the power out in their street. Even worse, the fault put high voltage through the house wiring. Two TV sets started smoking, and they do not know how many other items were also destroyed.

Monday 10 October 2011

Airlie Beach Morning

I went for an early morning walk along the foreshore. As I went down Golden Orchid Drive I collected a bunch of rubbish in a plastic bag and disposed of that in the garbage bins. Saw Mark putting out the Whitsunday Terraces bins.

Michael turned up to collect coffee while I was eating breakfast at Maccas. He has to work, and can not get to the various house fixes needed after the power overload. Tough to get all those burnt out electrical appliances replaced quickly.

Still, by the time I returned home, I had done a reasonable walk. Lots of stairs also.


I got another thirty three transcodes to H.264 done in the past day and a bit. That brings the transcoding of science fiction DVDs right up through the R. The transcoding is going faster than I really expected, provided I leave the computer running 24/7.

Retail Therapy

I drove off to Centro shopping centre, with a stop at the Home hardware store to try to find shelf material. I can not see how I can fit the melamine shelves I need into Jean's car. I need shelves longer than 2.1 metres, which means cutting down a 2.4 metre shelf. The Mitre 10 at Centro gave me a list of their melamine shelves. I guess I will need to get them delivered.

At Centro, I went into the hard to reach Harvey Norman (the car park is being reconstructed). My favourite salesman, Vaughn, was back. I got a few small items (AAA batteries, and some more USB memory cards).

Gutter Cleaning

I was delighted when two people turned up with ladders, and implements of destruction, and started cleaning the gutters. This is the first time the gutters in Florin Terraces at the Whitsunday Terraces have been cleaned since at least September 2010, and probably even earlier.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Drive Away

I was driving in the pre-dawn before five o'clock. Not much mist. I drove non-stop, except for the many construction related delays along the Bruce Highway heading north. I can not see any chance of the many repairs being complete before the next rainy season.

Returned her car to Jean around 8:30 a.m. Unpacking did not take long. Organising recycling into the bin did. Lots of cardboard boxes to rip up enough to fit.

Lunch with Pat and Dot, and John turned up later. The $10 sausage meal turned out to include bacon, and was enormous (by my standards).

Even had a short chat with Olive, who still wants me to somehow convince Virgin Australia to expedite my Sydney flight back to Townsville on Melbourne Cup Day. Last year that flight involved an unscheduled diversion to Cairns for repairs, so I am not counting on arriving in Townsville in time.

Carlton Theatre

I also saw and chatted with Geoff and Margaret during lunch. They had noted that the projector lamp in the Carlton Theatre seems to have lost emission. Geoff estimated only 400 hours of use, which is well short of typical (unrealistic) lifespan claims by manufacturers. While OfficeWorks have some projectors on hand, most lack the throw adjustment and keyhole adjustment a theatre projector needs. It is not like we can mount the projector front and centre on the stage. I am also concerned about what happens when analog TV is no longer transmitted. We may need to replace the TV feeds as well.

Wednesday 12 October 2011


It was misty outside as it got lighter. Could not even see the next house. The mist finally burnt off around eight. At which time the temperature started really rising, and the humidity was a decided issue. Townsville can be unpleasant in summer, as is true of all of the equatorial north. It was too hot and humid to go out walking to the restaurant at midday.

Jean kindly drove me off to collect tablets from the discount chemist. Then we returned to Willows, where we walked around Sam's Warehouse. Three small paintbrushes. Nothing artistic involved. I just want to poison the leaves of some onion weed, and the spray nozzle on the plant poison does not work.

By 1:30 p.m. the temperature was above 320C. It was thoroughly unpleasant outside in the sun, and not much better inside. I skipped walking to the restaurant for lunch. I fear this will be a long, hot summer.


When I arrived at Carlyle Gardens yesterday I unpacked my MacBook Pro, and as soon as I could, started transcoding additional science fiction movies. I eventually had 33 films in the queue. Looks like that queue will end mid afternoon. That gets all the S and the T films transcoded.

Unfortunately, the warm weather (300C) seems to be causing the bulky 1.5TB Western Digital Firewire DVD source drive to have cooling issues. It is making a hell of a lot of noise, as it enters its 30th consecutive hour of transcoding.

I wish I could simply transcode direct from a DVD. However the DRM stuff gets in the way, so I have to remove the DRM prior to transcoding. Legitimate ownership makes DVDs less use than downloading an illegal torrent. Talk about movie rights owners shooting themselves in the foot.

Sometime in the night the last eleven of the science fiction films were transcoded. Now to start organising the things into categories.


I walked over to the bar with Jean around five. The usual gang were there. Having skipped lunch, I was interested in trying the pasta that the restaurant was trialling on Wednesday evening. It was pretty good. I also tried some of the German beer they had brought in for the Oktobafest Social Club event on Sunday.

Jeff asked why Social Club events were on Sunday (since he knew of conflicts)? Good question, although lack of other food events on that day might be a factor. For example, the restaurant is open Wednesday through Saturday evening. The next two events of which I am aware are not Sunday, since one is the Melbourne Cup event on the first Tuesday in November (not that my flight will get me back in time), and the other is Australia Day in January.

Jeff also asked for help with a computer graphics problem. Luckily my oldest computer still had appropriate software to assist with that, although it did take some time. Which left time for a beer and conversation while my six year old Apple iMac worked. My new computers do not include optical drives, since optical disks are almost as obsolete as floppy disks.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Software Updates

I had very good performance from the internet connection when I downloaded Apple's latest operating system, OS X 10.7.2 Lion, which was a decent sized update. I was able to update both my MacBook Pro and my MacBook Air well before six a.m.

iCloud was less use. I have not been able to move my Mail or iTunes over from my older Mac mini, nor my address book or calendar. Part of the problem is that the portable computers have insufficient drive space for my photos and my iTunes Library. So having iCloud attempt to help was anything but helpful. Luckily you can tell it not to bother.

Getting an email from Apple just then, telling me iCloud just works did not improve my disposition.

My iPhone perforce has to be synced with the older Mac mini, which is still running OS X 10.6.9 Snow Leopard, iTunes 10.5 and iPhoto 9. However when I tried updating my iPhone 4 to iOS5, an error message popped up saying the iPhone could not be restored. I do not know if this is a Snow Leopard issue, or Apple's servers being overwhelmed.

The second time I tried the iPhone iOS5 upgrade, just after six, the verifying iPhone restore with Apple stayed up for a fair while, and then seemed to start working on the restore. It is now 6:24 a.m. and the restore has commenced. Firmware was updated. The stupid SIM lock came up, and I had to look up the number and add it at 6:34 a.m. I reconnected the new iPhone 4 to iTunes. Now I am awaiting a restore of my data. Now awaiting a reboot of the iPhone. Now restoring apps. This is s l o w!

The restore was done by 7:45 a.m. However then there were 221 sync conflicts, and I do not have the slightest idea why! This update has been a pain so far. I used the conflict resolver to accept that my Mac mini address book was correct. Then I had to resync, because the automatic sync did not start. Now it is syncing all manner of podcasts.

The stupid SIM lock came on again. Now the iPhone wants to know all manner of things that it should have been able to obtain from iTunes. It is probably not being helped by any connection to Apple now working like molasses. It has been spinning for a while claiming to be setting up my Apple ID, something I already had. So far the phone has been out of action for one reason or another for something like three hours. These slow internet connections suck. I could not possibly have done this from my apartment, where I do not have internet except via the cell phone network.

I could not sign in to the Apple ID, as the request timed out. Second try fixed that, although I had to totally restore the iPhone. So I was done by about 8:45 a.m.


Jean officially turned on the air conditioners today. Well, technically she switched the bedroom air conditioner on last night. So the oppresive wet season has started early.

Since we were both wandering around like zombies awaiting an early dawn, I started laundry. Plus I took the box of $2 Coles solar garden lights out the front, and stuck them into the garden. I will see about better placement tonight, when I can see what they look like. That was all done before 6 a.m.

I had the steak at the restaurant for lunch. New chef, and the presentation was pretty good. However the restaurant was pretty much empty.

Dropped in on Geoff and Margaret, to check on the projector situation for the Carlton Theatre. While the existing cables will suit most things, there is a potential there for higher resolution in the future. It would be nice to take advantage of it.

Friday 14 October 2011


I downloaded the iOS5 upgrade to my iPad 2 this morning, starting before six. Luckily today the internet connection was not as heavily impacted by others downloading the Apple upgrades.

We drove to Willows around eight for a walk and shopping. After I took the Woolworths items to Jean's car, I noticed HomeArt had a Rocket Blender. This was the device Jim had suggested we get. Since it was the same price as online, I bought it, and caught up to Jean at her car (she had been shopping in Coles).

Got three dozen eggs to restock and avoid a trip next week, as Jean will loan me her car for my trip home to Airlie Beach next week.

The iPad download was complete by the time we returned from the shopping. That was handy, as I feared the connection might break.

Only Dot was present at the restaurant, where I had pasta again. I enjoyed that. However the weather was too humid to enjoy walking around in the midday sun.

I was not contacted by the social club, so I assume they did not specifically need me to help with the raffles at the bar this evening. I really did not want to go out again.

There was a thunderstorm in the evening, starting around eight, that seemed to hang around overhead. I have been anticipating an early rainy season. I have also been promised that the drainage problem around this house would be fixed prior to the rainy season. We shall see.

Sprinkler System

I heard a shout. Jean pointed to the water sprinkling system at the Western rear end of the house. It had started working around 11 a.m. for what we thought might have been the first time in several months. The pattern of water dispersal is not exactly right, but it is not entirely wrong either.

Saturday 15 October 2011


I was not impressed by the hot, humid weather. Jean turned the air conditioning on, using the excuse that she would exercise more if the living room was cool.

Despite the house being sealed, no less than four flies turned up during and after Jean cooking a turkey leg for lunch. Luckily I have a Jaycar FlyGun on hand, and eventually killed them all. I hate using insecticide while Jean is cooking.

It was the first of the rainy season rainfalls this evening. Steady and soaking throughout the evening. However nothing flooded.


I transcoded the last sixteen existing rips. Then it was time to get all the transcoded items onto one hard drive. During this, I found another bunch of eighteen DVDs that needed to be ripped. I had not even taken the plastic wrap off some of the DVD boxes.

Seems like some of the DVDs I own have heavy copy protection. Bran Neu Dae, Daredevil, Fantasia, The Social Network, StarTrek XI. I doubt the old version of Mac the Ripper 2.6.6 got past that DRM. This particularly annoys me as I do not have a TV set here, and do not have a stand alone DVD player. No wonder so many people use torrents, when it is harder to use a legitimate DVD on your computer than it is is to use an illegal torrent. This difficulty will increase as I increasingly move to computers that do not even have a DVD drive. I doubt any computer I will buy again will have a DVD drive.

Transferring the 101GB of newly ripped DVD files to a computer than can handle the transcoding is taking forever. I started around ten in the evening. However just the file transfer via WiFi will take over half a day. So transcoding will not start until after lunchtime tomorrow.

Cloudy Internet

The internet slowed to a crawl just after eight in the evening. I thought I had lost all connection to it, although trace route showed that was not so. Luckily it eventually recovered somewhat.

The World Wide web has become a electronic flea market populated by lying sales droids. I wonder whether The Cloud will work any better? Certainly not something I would rely upon while the basic connection infrastructure is neither universal nor ready.

Sunday 16 October 2011


I went for a two kilometre walk with Jean around Carlyle Gardens around six. The laundry we started even earlier should be done by the time we have finished breakfast. We even managed a second load of laundry.

I saw the two public affairs programs, Insiders, and Inside Business. Not sure what happened to the Channel Ten Meet the Press, as it was on in the morning, not at 4 p.m. as usual in regional areas. No wonder more and more people download TV from the internet.


I was astonished to find that the 101GB file transfer from last night that I did via our WiFi network did not complete until well after 4 p.m. I ripped one last DVD (20 minutes), and transferred that (45 minutes).

My old Apple iMac G5 (the only computer I have that can still run the old PCC version of Mac the Ripper) is not capable of WiFi faster than 802.11g, so it slows down the 802.11n WiFi network. So either I need to shuffle hard drives between computers, or use Ethernet cables to transfer files. It seems like a better and better idea to extend the Cat 6 Ethernet cabling to more and more access points. Mind you, my recent computers do not even include Ethernet. Everything is wireless.

Still, that put another 16 movies into the transcoding queue for conversion. That means overnight, and part of the next day.

Monday 17 October 2011

Moats Again

I was up before five, awoken by thunder. It started raining around ten. The rain water formed a moat around the house by 11:45 a.m. I took a few more photos. It seems my drainage ditch to the east is insufficient to drain away the water that accumulates. However I never expected instant drainage from that French ditch. What I hope for is to drain the deepest of the water away within a few hours of rain stopping.

The rainfall flooding the eastern side of the house did drain away rapidly once the rain stopped. Took a couple of hours. Alas, to the western side, I simply have large pools of water, and there is no place for the water to drain. At least, not until the long promised drain is put in place by the plumber.


I see there are four item out of sixteen still in the overnight queue. That was at five in the morning. By seven, the queue was down to two films. The final two files were done before nine.

Transferring the new H.264 to their final locations did not take long. Now it was time to gather all the DVD rips in one place, delete any temporary copies, and generally clean up. The main slowdown is that I have to run each ripped DVD to see if the copy protection was removed. That will take ages. For example, I am certain that The Princess Bride did not manage to read the second half of the DVD after the phase transition.

The 1.5TB WD Firewire drive was too full to use, so I started transferring that to a 2TB WD Firewire drive around 9 a.m. It tells me the file transfer will take 14 hours. Until that completes, I can not wipe the old drive contents. That took until after 9 p.m. Then there were little clusters of DVD rips all over the notebook hard drive that also need to be transferred.

Apple Updates

I updated my Mac mini (OS X 10.6.8) with Security Update 2011-006 and Safari 5.1.1 in the hopes that this fixes the way Safari ignores cookie security.

At 6 a.m. I started downloading Apple OS X 10.7 Lion for my Mac mini. Unfortunately the 3.79GB download will take longer than I can spare, so I will doubtless need to pause it part way through. By 7 a.m. about 830MB had downloaded. The download was all complete just after eleven.

I started the Lion install on the Mac mini at 11:46 a.m. It estimated around 40 minutes for the update. The Lion install was pretty much complete by 12:40 p.m.

Looks like my iTunes 10.4.1 is out of date. I hope Apple have not changed too much. I had updated my Mac mini previously, and it did not try to update iTunes.

iBooks lost most of its covers during the update to iOS5. Sync to iTunes with no books selected removed all the books. Then I did another sync, with all the iTunes books selected. That restored all the book covers to each iDevice. Seems like a strange bug, but perhaps Apple did not have 600 ePub books that were not sold by their own store on their test devices.

Tuesday 18 October 2011


I did some tidying up, and then started the next big file transfer. 800GB from the crowded one terabyte drive to the now free 1.5 terabyte drive. That will take about six hours, as a USB to USB transfer. Then it should just be a matter of dragging the last of the DVD rips across from the notebook hard drive.

The checking for actually successful DRM removal will take way longer. probably months. I want to use the six year old Apple iMac for that, as it can handle Firewire hard drives, as well as USB drives.

USB is way too slow for file transfers. The six and nine hour transfers I have encountered show that. Also, you do not want to be always putting material on larger and larger drives. I rather wish I had kept better records of when I bought DVDs. It was from a late start. Now the number of DVDs I buy is absolutely minimal, because I have already bought almost every one I want. Just a matter of fill in gaps in the collection, but some movies never appeared in Australia on DVD.

The problem is the transition from optical media to computer memory. Optical media is on the way out, however no-one who is making money from it wants to hear that.

Many movies will never appear on Blu-Ray, especially the specialist SF I still want. Even if they do, the conversion quality is highly variable. I am not really seeing Blu-Ray is a viable mass market media, although I am sure there will be a continuing niche for it. Personally, I will not buy in Blu-Ray at all, due to the DRM. None of my computers have Blu-Ray, and it seems unlikely they ever will.

Meanwhile, even mobile phone cameras are now capable of 1080p video. So DVD simply does not cut it these days.

Syncing Feeling

I always find syncing a very difficult computer question. Not so bad with two computers. Just take the last amended file as correct. However if you work on a copy of a file in two places, at different times, it is impossible to tell exactly what was changed when. The granularity of files is too great.

Hence databases, where you track change times for each record. Apple's iCal (vCard based) and Address Book are basically SQL databases. Tracking is easier. However when you have multiple copies of the same (or similar) databases, it gets harder.

So I was suspicious. I did a backup. I synched my master computer with iCloud. Then I removed all the calendars in my third computer, and let it sync via iCloud. That seems to have worked.

There is a menu selection for finding and merging duplicate address book cards. But it is too dumb to use. It does not even tell you what it is merging. Luckily you can use a combination of Applescript and command line scripting from Terminal to quickly identify duplicates. The script must be used in terminal as one line.

osascript -e 'tell app "Address Book" to get the name of every person' | perl -pe 's/, /\n/g' | sort | uniq -d

Address Book is scriptable, via Applescript. It gives you a list of everyone as a comma separated list. Perl does some cleanup replacing commas with new lines. Which are sorted. Then you throw away every name that is unique. That gave me eight names. Only three were duplicates. The rest were companies.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

To Airlie Beach

I managed to get away by 5 a.m. The Bruce Highway is still under random repair. I fear the road workers now have no chance of beating the forthcoming wet season. Despite the many traffic delays, I still managed to pull into Centro Shopping Centre, Whitsundays by 8:20 a.m.

Nothing interesting found at Auto Pro, Mitre 10 hardware (the high pressure water cleaners were far larger and more expensive than I hoped), nor EzyVideo. Food shopping at Woolworths (only place open). Nothing at BigW, nor at Harvey Norman. I forgot I wanted to check for a Jason recliner chair at the Burnups furniture shop.

Refuelled at the Woolworth's related Caltex petrol station. They even gave me a discount this time. Not sure why that Woolworths discount card system works some days and fails others.

Five trips up from Jean's car to get all the stuff into the apartment. Luckily it was mostly food or drinks.

Airlie Beach

I was in time to have breakfast in the main street. Went off afterwards and found Glenn at the Markets. There was a large cruise ship anchored out in Pioneer Bay, hence the some of the market sellers were out with their stands. This was an around Australia cruise for retirees, so typically hardly anyone was buying anything.

Collected the accumulated local newspapers at the news agency. Since I had hardly been away this time there was only one! What a relief.

Whitsunday Terraces

I was annoyed at the amount of new rubbish around the bottom path at the Whitsunday Terraces Resort. Some people are real grubs. This makes cleaning the resort even harder for Mark and the staff.

Thursday 20 October 2011


I went for a morning walk after breakfast. It is cool and windy, way too windy. The iPhone weather notifications show rain for the next week. Collected the newspaper.

Whitsunday Terraces

I saw Mark on the footpath wondering why he had seen a rubbish bin at Florin, which was not there when he got back from Endeavour Terrace. That Was because I put in away. On passing reception, I noticed that the new pool fencing is in place.

On the way back through an hour later I collected one large bag of rubbish from Barnacle and Anchor Terraces. Saw Mark busy taking down the old pool fencing. I think it will end up looking pretty acceptable.

Collected yet another bag of rubbish as I passed through Driftwood Terrace. Must find some more plastic bags to shove in my pockets.

Meanwhile the small trench digger, and especially the large tractor and laser leveller at Port of Airlie Marina are making a hideous noise affecting everyone on the hillside to the east of Airlie Beach. That damn stupid marina development has been a pain in the arse for about five years. Port of Airlie Marina construction has essentially destroyed the eastern end of Airlie Beach.


I have to admit it is not transcoding at the moment. It is using Mac the Ripper 2.6.6 (which is really obsolete) on my vintage 2005 Apple iMac to try to rip a bunch of my TV series from DVD to hard drive, in preparation for transcoding.

I had an old one terabyte drive on hand, so that is the target for all this effort. Not likely to get close to filling that drive in the time available. When the drive is close to full, which will probably take a month or so, I can try transcoding to H.264. If the transcoding all looks OK, then I can wipe the drive clean and start again with more DVDs.

Airlie Beach Lies

I was astonished at the lies being spread in Airlie Beach in what seems an attempt to hide from the community a blatant land swap on the foreshore. Naturally the local community are up in arms against this attempt to yet again put a development on the foreshore without letting the local community know that the foreshore development could only work if a land swap happened.

The community was being told it was all about flood control, and a kink in the road. This is just utter bullshit. What the community obviously want is a reduction in the buildings on the foreshore, not an increase. Given the existing commercial property next to Airlie Creek is too close to the creek and is flood prone, it should never have been there in the first place.

If the council would pull their finger out, and make their contribution to that already promised by Commonwealth and State Governments, the road redevelopment could have already been started.

Friday 21 October 2011


I had breakfast in Airlie Beach early in the morning. Had a nice walk along the beachfront.

On the way back through the Whitsunday Terraces I collected a bag full of rubbish from the paths. The people who go through are a bunch of grubs.


I had a small party, just Glenn and Alison, and their guest Wayne. They had been partying so much recently they needed a break, and decided to skip my Saturday party.

Saturday 22 October 2011


I visited the Airlie Beach markets twice this morning, which gave me a decent amount of walking. Elke made my usual breakfast. Saw Glenn, Alison, and their visitor Wayne at their market stall. Never did locate Rex.

Pink caravan of Save our Foreshores. They have once again been forced to protest yet another attempt to do a land swap of precious foreshore land for a tall commercial development. This same block of land keeps popping up with council attempting to alienate it from the community. The foreshore does not belong to the council, and they should keep their hands off it. A commercial development when there are at least forty empty stores in the main street is utterly beyond reason.

Whitsunday Shire Council should leave the road straight (the view is fine). They should start spending the State and Federal funding to get the infrastructure fixed. The council should undertake to buy up the commercial land the supermarket is on, if the owner is willing to sell. That is especially the case now the value of the property has dropped so much. That land is too close to Airlie Creek, and is flood prone. It could be turned into a great entrance statement for the foreshore.

Apple Report

I see Jean has iMessage working. SMS is another costly item that Telstra can no longer overcharge the two of us for.


I had a phone call from Rex, who could not make it. Jonathan, Jodie and Jim turned up. The champagne must have been popular, because the bottle ended empty. More pizza left over at the end of it all.

Lots of complaints about the repeated land grab attempt by council on the foreshore in the centre of Airlie Beach. The damn foreshore land is not something the council should be allowed to give away. I am not at all sure they even have to power to alienate the land. Especially when council seem to keep finding money to buy land for idiotic sports schemes.

Sunday 23 October 2011


I went for a morning walk along the Airlie Beach foreshore. The beach and walking path are very peaceful when hardly anyone is awake after partying. I need to increase the distance I cover on my walks. Had breakfast on the main street.

While climbing up the steps through the Whitsunday Terraces, I collected another plastic bag full of rubbish. Considering I had done the same clean up on the same path only a few days ago, I am disgusted at how many thoughtless people walk through the Whitsunday Terraces and throw rubbish along the path. These grubs have no civic spirit.

Bad TV series of the weekend. The War of the World, which lasted two seasons. Even the optical quality of the DVDs is poor.


I finally got around to adding a door seal to the bottom of the entry door. This was a Raven RP60 model, with a little rubber strip that extends down when the door is actually closed. Luckily it did not take too much adjustment to get the strip to drop a sufficient distance. I sure hope it helps keep leaves and dirt out.

Monday 24 October 2011

Leaving Airlie Beach

I had to leave a day earlier than I hoped. Too much other stuff to do prior to the flight to be able to sit at home.

On the road at 4:45 a.m. Good luck initially with the many repair spots on the road. Brief stop at Home Hill, where it was sufficiently late that I could iMessage Jean to tell her I would be arriving. Cane train shenanigans at Brandon, with the train shunting back away from the flashing red lights. After a couple of minutes most drivers ignored the flashing red lights. Approaching Townsville there were many stops for the road repair folks flagmen. I sent text messages when we were at a stop awaiting the flagmen. All these delays meant the drive took almost four hours.

Retail Therapy

I went with Jean to the airport. We wanted to check the long term parking, as an alternative to the increasingly unreliable taxi service. Looked like there might be sufficient spaces for it to work.

Jaycar, where the new store was still not sufficiently organised to locate some of the items on my list. I did get an interesting and not particularly expensive video adaptor. Mini Display Port to Display Port, HDMI and DVI. I hope it works.

Office Works, where Jean got a 1.5TB hard drive, for use as a Time Machine backup drive. She also found some cheaper microfibre cleaning cloths.


It was apparent that birds had tried to build nests in the gutters. I climbed the ladder and started cleaning out the debris in several spots. The ColourBond metal roof goes so close to the edge of the gutter I can hardly get a gloved hand into the gap. After many hot minutes in the scorching sun throwing out leaves, I was able to clear the western gutter enough to hose out most of what remained.

Jean remains unimpressed by the birds and their antics.

iTunes Broken

I think iTunes 10.5 under Lion OSX 10.7.2 is utterly broken. Nothing I do will let me log into my account. Login fails every time. Despite which, iTunes acknowledges who I am, and shows the balance in my account. Ever since the iCloud stuff started, Apple connections have been absolute shit. I am as furious now with Apple as I was with Microsoft Windows back when I dumped it.

Apple, no fix means no further sales.

Tuesday 25 October 2011


I managed to get all the outstanding Body Corporate emails done last night, and the last of the other letters about the land grab in Airlie Beach done this morning. About the only nice thing to happen early was that Jean had turned the water sprinkler system on after the rain stopped, and it watered her garden on schedule at six this morning. I also sent Ray a bunch of photos of the flooding of the ground around Carlyle Gardens.

We drove to Willows Shoppingtown. Jean failed to find her pillow in BigW. I found some iTunes Gift Cards at BigW. Also bought The Australian as a dead tree edition (which no longer works online). We did manage to take a decent walk in the air conditioning, since Townsville is oppressive these days.

The new pool fencing outside the restaurant seems to be going very well. The holes they dug were at least 40cm deep. They have filled them with concrete, which now has to cure. The new pool fence next to the bar will be glass, which I think is a great choice. The more distant fencing will be metal. But what a waste of time, money and effort caused by this idiotic nanny state government.


I tried yet again to log in to my account on iTunes, so I could redeem my new Apple Gift Cards. iTunes still repeats the login window repeatedly, and refuses to accept the results. I have tried this on two computers now, each of which will let me automatically log in with my AppleID, but not permit me to redeem my Gift Cards. I have no idea what is wrong, but this is getting very close to the limits of my patience with Apple software.

I stopped buying Apple iMacs when I could no longer buy them except with a reflective mirror surface on the display. I can stop buying other Apple gear if the iTunes software keeps giving me problems.

I eventually found that Apple had changed their password policy, and silently failed to accept the password I have been using for years. It had only seven characters in it. Apple iTunes now silently enforces a minimum of eight characters (and other restrictions) passwords. However iTunes did not provide any warning that this was the problem.

The solution is to claim you have lost your password (even though you have not), and then set up a new, stronger password. This is a bug, not a feature. A few more of these and Apple can shove their products. Especially their iTunes product.


I was in Townsville tonight, so I was able to attend the carlyle Gardens Computer Club InfoNite. The well prepared presentation by Bryan Roebuck was about how to buy on eBay using Paypal. To make it more personal, Bryan offered attendees a cheap (under $2) USB SIM card and camera card reader. having a list of who wanted one, he bought the 20 of them live online. I thought this was a great way to present the topic. Bryan promises a future presentation on buying via eBay.

The evening concluded with the usual feeding of the multitudes egg sandwiches and scones and home made cakes. delicious, as always.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Leaving Carlyle Gardens

I went for an early morning walk to deliver the Whitsunday Times newspapers over to Neil. Got as much email done as I could.

We had decided not to take a taxi to the airport, partly because of the numerous issues Townsville taxis had finding Jean's home at Carlyle Gardens. Instead after a small breakfast she drove her car to the long term parking at the airport. There were still empty parking spaces, although not a vast number of them. The cost for a week will be about 25% higher than using taxis, but returning on Melbourne Cup day promises major taxi delays on the return trip.

In Flight

I was surprised at how full the downstairs waiting area was at Townsville airport. Seems some other flight was delayed. I originally thought it might be late fly in fly out workers for the mines, but the clothing was wrong. Also the mine folks are usually real early in the morning.

We had a long wait for the Virgin Australia 737-800 on DJ1520 to Sydney, but at least it was on time for a pre-noon takeoff. Not a full flight, so we had three seats in a row, which made it much more comfortable. The seats are starting to show their age on those aircraft, in terms of seating comfort. Being able to change seats helps.

I loath the new Luke Mangan inflight menu Virgin Atlantic boast about on their flights. Twee bird food seems the main theme. I took an overpriced ($6.90) egg and lettuce sandwich from the airport kiosk instead, despite knowing the bread would not exactly seem fresh. It does not improve my disposition that Virgin no longer have real Coke, but have switched to Pepsi. I pass on that.

Arriving in Sydney

We took the Airport Link service from the airport. At $15 each, it is no cheaper than a taxi, but you avoid the scrum waiting, and avoid issues with the taxi driver not knowing the hotel location. The ticket conveniently has a mud map of the stations on the reverse.

Town Hall has a lift from the platform. An unfortunate number of people do not seem to understand that to exit an underground railway station, you need to go up, not down. Down at Town Hall leads to an impressive multilevel underground parking lot beneath Queen Victoria Building. The same sheepish lot who were pushing the down button eventually returned from their elevator ride, and so we took the one level trip up to the concourse. Which means you still need to find some way to get to the street.

I got completely turned around at Town Hall. Luckily Jean's sense of direction still worked, and we emerged from the stairs (awkward climb with bags) on George Street at the southern end of the station. Walk downtown the long block on George Street to Liverpool Street. We later found we could have used a different exit, and avoided both George Street and the stairs.

Sydney is dirty, noisy, and overcrowded.

Waldorf Apartments

Jean had found us lodgings at the Waldorf Apartments on 57 Liverpool Street. Luckily reception had stayed awaiting our arrival, and buzzed us in around 4 p.m. so we could get our keys and floor access cards. This 23 story building appears to be strata title, with perhaps some live in resident owners.

We had a pleasant one bedroom apartment, with a fairly large open kitchen, including a dishwasher. The bathroom, while compact, had a washer and dryer behind the door. There was also a decent sized balcony overlooking the city noisescape.

The living room had a fold out bed in a lounge, and a matching large armchair, with a lamp table in the corner between these two. There was a low but large coffee table in front of the lounge.

There was a small wooden kitchen table with three chairs adjoining the tall kitchen counter top. This ensured whatever mess you had in the kitchen could not been seen by seated guests. Still in the lounge room, a small hall desk with a chair. The TV was on yet another wooden table, with yet another chair beside that. Despite all this furniture, the lounge room was spacious.

Despite two light fittings in the lounge ceiling, the level of lighting was typical hotel room abysmal. Impossible to read a book (except on self lighted devices such as an iPad). I went out just prior to nine and bought a cheap halogen desk lamp from Woolworths at Town Hall before they closed for the evening.


I was sent off to gather supplies, despite not having the obligatory shopping list. So instead I checked the Greater Union cinema complex in George Street. Totally unable to find a screening schedule, or even what was on. I guess they expect everyone to look it up online. I want to take advantage of their Gold Lounge service while in Sydney.

The underground Coles in World Square was impossibly crowded by our standards. I eventually found milk, orange juice, coke, drinking chocolate. There number of checkout positions was impressive. The sparse quality of the thin plastic carry bag was not. The handle pulled off before I left the store. Luckily I managed to fit most everything into my backpack and another bag I had with me.

LiquorLand Express was not cheap, but was convenient. Full price Evans and Tate Classic for the white, and a Pepperjack Shiraz for the red. I was not sufficiently familiar with some of the specials to want to risk them. Plus by then I was thoroughly frazzled by travel, so I added a bottle of rum.

The young attendant seemed to be equally frazzled and disconnected. Tried to ask me about Flybuys, when I had already handed her a Flybuys card. I mentioned flying in from Townsville. Turned out she had grown up in Townsville. I scored a nice red eco-bag for carrying my bottles.


A kebab for dinner. Too exhausted for more.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Travel Power Board

I want a much better power board handling device for travel. In general, power boards have a cable that is too short. The sockets are too close together for some wall wart power adaptors. There are not sufficient sockets. The entire device is too large.

Solution to cable length. Use a plug in power cable. Specifically an Apple power cable (so you can use that for your Apple computer if need be).

Solution to power socket spacing. Space them further apart. Do'h!

Solution to number of sockets and large device size. Put sockets on both sides of the device (yes, this does drive up construction costs).

Bonus points. Add some USB power outlets, since these are always in short supply.

Additional bonus points. Add high output LED reading light. Remember you need space for constant current power supply and heat sinking.

Late Morning

I needed to be on a train out of Sydney around nine. So Jean and I went out to have breakfast before eight. The hotel cafe Momma's was closed, despite signage in the hotel saying it was open for breakfast. So we walked a few blocks to Mona's. Which was boarded up. I guess they finally gave up trying to make a living there.

Around the corner at the far more expensive Coffee Club, we were contemplating the Eggs Benedict. However next to the price was the kiloJoule count. We had poached egg on toast instead.

Back to the hotel to collect our bags. By now we had little time to get to the Town Hall station. Jean was able to get some sort of discount ticket, and I was able to get an out of peak return ticket at only $6.40. That would work out at about 25 cents a kilometre, which seems fine by me. Luckily the train was not crowded and fairly fast, so we arrived at Parramatta just prior to ten.


I allow twenty minutes for the walk. It took us all of that, but we were still on time. The meeting went on far longer than I had allowed.

We stopped at Westfield to get a very late lunch, as neither of us function well when hungry. Even that was delayed. The escalator to the downstairs food court was out of action. However the directory indicated a food court on Level 5. The lift took forever to arrive. Then it turned out Level 5 was offices only. It took a long while to get back down, to an unsatisfactory food court underground. Jean found sushi, and I eventually found a place that would make me a salad sandwich. I checked Dick Smith while Jean was finishing her lunch.

We gave up on Westfield, and anything else for the afternoon, although I did manage to raid an ATM. I had been thinking of contacting people I know. Just too late and too tired to continue. We caught a train back to Central after three. Jean was so tired she got me to carry her bag as we walked to the hotel.

Sydney Evening

I eventually revived sufficiently after resting to take another walk to attempt to find books. The Dymocks technical bookshop appears thoroughly closed. I reached Hunter Street before deciding seeking more bookshops was just not working. I stopped at Dymocks main store, but their computer section is lacking in both range and timeliness. I did manage to get the missing third season of a TV show in JB HiFi. No luck with any of the movies on my list, but I no longer expect to find most movies.

Jean sent me out to get her a kebab for dinner.

Jean revived later, and we went to Coles to collect breakfast foods, since the breakfast places we wanted to use were closed.

I managed to finish reading the Analog I had brought along, and pass it to Jean. That was a subscription copy that had arrived about six months late. Another problem with print and mail.

Friday 28 October 2011

I Hate Sydney

I hate Sydney. Jean's iPad iWork appointment at the Apple Store was at 8:30. So we planned to walk. The first traffic light a block and a bit away stopped us for longer than we had been walking since leaving the hotel room. Luckily we were able to go into the underground at that point. No more traffic lights until a block away from the Apple Store.

Although motor traffic seems disciplined, in that I did not see any drivers doing crazy things, the same can not be said for pedestrians. They have no concept of walking on the left side of the footpath. This was once part of the Motor Traffic Act in NSW. Now pedestrians go in every direction. This is bad enough. However a large proportion seem to also be staring intently at their phone or other digital device, instead of paying heed to where they are walking. I expect that of three year olds, and I expect their parents to tell children to watch where they are going. A pity no-one seems to be saying this to the people distractedly roaming the streets of Sydney.

So, after leaving Jean at the Apple Store, I went to a bookshop. Three hours after dawn, and Dymocks were not even open. I headed back to the hotel, but went to the third floor of the Galleries near Town Hall to check the bookshop there. They did not plan to open until four hours after dawn. What lunatic makes these decisions? No wonder shopping in bookshops is down. They spend most of their time closed.

Sydney Morning

I wrote up some notes in the hotel until it was time to collect Jean. First the hotel lift ignored me. Someone was obviously overriding the call butters by using a lift key. I know the maids did not have one. Then the traffic lights each impossed about a three minute delay. Luckily the underground walkways mean there were only two traffic lights to negotiate. However the shop in the underground are basically wasted on me.

Lunch with Gerald

We had lunch with Gerald, as previously arranged. This time Mamma's was open, and served a nice lunch. He was looking great. We knew he had lost weight, but it was dramatic, and wonderful to see. I feel guilty about not managing this myself.

Sydney Afternoon

Jean's next iPad appointment at the Apple Store was at 1:30 p.m. While waiting for her, I walked downtown to Capitol Square, and checked all the computer shops. Did not find one thing I wanted.

Had to hike back uptown in a rush to meet Jean when the lesson was over, and carry her bag. We stopped at the York Street computer stores this time. Jean found a Mini Display Port to VGA adaptor she wanted, so that was good.

Saturday 29 October 2011


I took a decent walk after breakfast, and once Jean was settled in for her meeting. I was struck by how many shops were missing. Not empty like in Airlie Beach, where there are forty empty shops in a two block main street. Sydney still seems to have a full shopfront landscape. However there were far more brands attempting to appear upmarket. I have no idea whether their products match their shopfront, but few seemed to cater for a cheapskate like me.

I found the Soul Patterson chemist. I did not find their own brand products, which we once bought regularly. Pity.

OfficeWorks is one store that opens early. I wanted, but could not find, more microfibre glass cleaning cloths. Staff helped. It seems they have given up their own brand for a cheaper branded item. They also had a larger package of three cleaning cloths. I bought both, since they were small.

Not so small was a 2TB hard drive, at under 50 cents a gigabyte. I will need more space for ripping DVDs at Airlie Beach. I should have bought it in Townsville when Jean was getting a drive, but thought I had an adequate amount of storage. I had not realised how far I was going to get on the ripping.

At Wynyard Railway Station I neglected to collect the newspapers upon my return trip. Indeed, newsagents seemed elusive all during our Sydney visit. I eventually collected some weekend newspapers in the second convenience store I visited.

Still no luck at all in seeking out bookshop. Either my memory is playing me false, or most are closed or moved to the suburbs. Certainly Dymocks Technical is closed.

I also managed to get another two pairs of shorts from Lowes before I had to return. Finding walk shorts in the style and size I want in Lowes Townsville is not easy. In Airlie Beach it is impossible.

I managed to forget to arrange to bring a lunch, unlike Jean.

Shopping Again

When I next got a chance to leave, I walked downtown to the University Co-op Bookshop on Broadway. The computer section was disappointing. Despite this, I bought a bunch of the dummies guides for iPad and Lion, since even finding a few decent hints could save more effort than the books are worth. Jean has certainly found the free courses at the Apple Store valuable. A bunch of heavy books will do wonder for my luggage capacity. I also was not impressed with carting them around back.

I finally ducked out again to collect a plain bread roll for lunch, well after three. Jean had managed much better, with some pre-made lunch from the Entertainment Centre concessions before she even went in to her first meeting session.


I did not get to eat my bread roll (with some honey I had in the kitchen) until I got back to the hotel, by which time it was almost four. Jean got out only a few minutes later. She later displayed great energy by going out and buying a cooked chicken for dinner. So I got to have chicken on my second bread roll. By then I lacked the energy to go out again.

Despite an early morning, and being very tired, I did not get to bed until after eleven.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Sydney Arseholes

I think Sydney is packed with arseholes. Particularly the talented but thoughtless clown who did a twenty minute impromptu drum solo for his loud drunken mates outside the nightclub at Liverpool and George Street at 3:15 a.m.

A walk uptown in the afternoon convinced me that I had missed an entire bookcase of iOS books at Dymocks. If I have some space in my bag, I may need to get some more of them.


I saw Contagion at the Greater Union Gold Class cinema in George Street. Alas, my previous seniors Club card had expired, so entry was not cheap. That bit of relaxation also took care of lunch. Contagion seemed to have a lot of name actors taking relatively small parts, and a well devised script. I was surprised at how well it was done. Not what I expected from Hollywood.

Monday 31 October 2011

Sydney Morning

We had breakfast early in a small outdoor cafe near the hotel, on our way to Town Hall station. It was before most workers reached the city.

We checked the trains from Town Hall to the airport. Seems they leave from Platform 6, which is two levels down. There is an elevator to the platform at the Quay end of the station.

I continued on to the Apple Store to note which books I might want to buy online. No space for them in the luggage.


We had a light lunch downstairs at Momma's.

Solar Panel Outputs

These end of month figures are estimated from readings taken the following day, shortly after midday, when we arrived home. There is a day to date energy figure, so they are pretty accurate.

The solar power output figures last month (September) showed it generated 1820 kWH in 5500 hours of operation. New figures at the end of October are 1957 kWh over 5884 hours. So the total hours operating in the 31 days of October 2011 were 384 hours, during which it generated 137 kWh. About 4.42 kWh per day, or 356 Watts per operating hour. This is a nominal 1 kW panel.

Eric Lindsay's Blog October 2011