Eric Lindsay's Blog January 2012

Sunday 1 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I was up early, as usual, but thought there was no point in checking the town on a holiday morning. I helped take boxes to Jean's car before she set off somewhat later than I would have. She reports by iMessage on cops at the Shingley turnoff, and that the cheap fuel stations are closed. She had to buy more expensive petrol at Bowen.

While cleaning and washing the kitchen drawer, I found a nutcracker. Jean had been looking for one some time ago, and finally bought another. I iMessaged her that the missing nutcracker had turned up. Maybe I do not clean up often enough?

Transcode Odyssey5

I had ripped the five DVD Odyssey 5 SF series some time ago, but the rip had duplicated titles, so I held off transcoding that. I did not know which title to transcode. When my StarTrek Voyager transcode finally completed (at two seasons a day, it was after several days), I played the start of the actual Odyssey 5 DVDs. Apple's DVD Player will tell you which title it thinks is playing, if you click the title in the mini controller. I made a list of which the DVD Player thought were the real DVD titles, and put all of these in the transcode queue.

The overnight transcoding was Star Trek, The Next Generation. This was a collectors set (three episodes per DVD) with monthly magazines that came from Britain but was sold in newsagents in Australia with Zone 4 DVDs (except when they made a mistake). The DVD names were an inconsistent jumble, so I started checking the DVD names again on the old iMac G5, and renaming the DVD rips to a consistent if unimaginative scheme (TNG12 followed by TNG13 and so on). I imagine transcoding will take several more days.

Public Transport

Brisbane public transport fares have increased three times in three years. News reports claim a 15% increase this year. Meanwhile it seems use of public transport dropped by 600,000. Well, d'oh, who would have imagined that happening. I feel sorry for the people who have no alternative to public transport. Meanwhile, Greyhound will take me the 270 kilometres between Airlie Beach and Townsville for $46, which is about 20 cents a kilometre. It is about the same as my fuel costs driving a car.

No More Volunteers

Today the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth harmonised their work health and safety (WHS) laws. These laws apply to volunteers.

Not for Profit organisations (NFPs) will be deemed a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) for the purpose of the WHS laws. In contrast to the former legislation, the obligation of a PCBU to ensure the health and safety of various persons is qualified by the words so far as is reasonably practicable.

Volunteers engaged by NFPs are deemed workers for the purpose of the WHS legislation and will owe, and be owed, a duty of care. Persons deemed officers of the NFP will also have a duty under the WHS legislation to exercise due diligence. This duty will exist irrespective of whether the officer is a volunteer, or in a paid position.

I think the risk of being volunteer, especially as an officer, is now an increased risk. So I will no longer volunteer as part of any organisation. I can not afford to be sued. So I no longer act as a committee member of body corporate, or as a committee member of any organisation.

Monday 2 January 2012

Airlie Beach

A brief rain shower at 5:30 a.m. on a day that is scheduled to be fine. I went for a walk along the beachfront, before the sun really got too intense. Got breakfast on the main street, since I was there.

It actually ended up a very pleasant day, never too hot, and with a decent breeze all day. So I did two loads of laundry while the sun was out. I also put up my party flag on the bedroom wall, but I doubt that the fishing line I used will last long.

I saw Jodie and Mark sitting at the restaurant in the afternoon. The restaurant was closed, as usual on Monday even if not a holiday. The Whitsunday Terraces resort was completely full over the break. Sounded like it will continue to be reasonably full for a while during the school holidays. That was great to see, especially when we have such wonderful weather for tourists at the moment.

Red Dog

Red Dog, where the villain is a cat.

Alfred Deakin - A Sketch

Alfred Deakin was the second (and fifth and seventh) Prime Minister of Australia. This reprinted 1923 biography by Walter Murdoch (Rupert Murdoch is his nephew) is a sketch of Deakin's intellectual life and political work in the Victorian parliament prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia. The treatment of Deakin as Prime Minister seems to rely too much on the reader actually recalling that period. It was during Deakin's time that Australia indulged in early welfare schemes such as the age pension, as well as establishing copyright. Deakin also took the lead in addressing political comments to women, as well as to men.

Green Energy Designs

Take the engines out of a cruise liner and run it on the energy of a million hamster balls. Not likely.

NBN Hides Figures

In a wonderful example of full publicity, the NBN discretely released their connection figures on the New Year public holiday. NBN Co confirmed only 2315 premises were connected to the fibre cable network.

The billion dollars of fibre have passed 18,200 premises. However I recall they were going to pass 58,000 premises back in June last year. They were also going to have 35,000 customers in June last year (although the figures were ambiguous). Is anyone taking bets on how they will go on the (also ambiguous) 135,000 customers NBN estimated for June 2012? Or with the 500,000 premises they expect to pass in 2012? Perhaps you would prefer the 2013 election year figures of 1.7 million premises in total, with some 570,000 paid connections?

I wonder how many improved regional internet connections would already exist had the Elders and Optus Opel network been permitted to continue? I am sure it would be fewer than hoped. I am equally sure WiMax would not work as well as hoped (LTE got the nod for mobile). However it would doubtless be more than NBN's 4000 connections.

How come I say 4000 connections, when NBN have only 2300 on fibre? 1700 are on old slow satellite, awaiting two actual NBN satellite launches. The improved satellites will have around 80Gbps capacity, to serve around 400,000 premises in remote areas. Lots of luck if you all want 12Mbps at once (luckily that probably will not happen). Remember that you will also have lousy latency (goes with satellite connections), and you can not get around speed of light limitations to a synchronous orbit. Remote areas were never going to be great under any scheme.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I went for a walk along the beach path in the pre-dawn coolness around five. By the time I returned home a half hour later it was getting lighter (and warmer). Watching the dawn was interrupted by a little cloud cover, and misting of moisture, but enough to make me abandon the balcony and consider breakfast.

UK Music Sales

The good news for music distributors was digital album sales were up 27%. However physical CD album sales (which are still 75% of album sales) were down so far that the total album sales were 6% worse overall. Like Brian Eno, I think selling music albums is like selling whale blubber.

Digital singles were up 10%, but music distributors would prefer you buy the far higher priced albums. A solo artist selling direct can (just) make minimum wage if they can sell 25,000 singles a year via iTunes or Amazon. For a four piece band, you need 100,000 singles sold a year.

LP records still get some niche sales, but cassettes, mini-disk and other such physical formats have essentially disappeared.

Many music labels have been pulled from music streaming companies such as Spotify. The music distributors do not think the payments from streaming services are sufficient compensation for the loss of album sales. Many musicians have documented their low payments from streaming media. Music streaming pays musicians very little, especially compared to other distribution channels. The cost to listen is very low, so it is popular with the public.

I think sales are down because the perceived value of most music is close to zero. The problem is finding worthwhile music in amongst the dreck. Increasingly, it is not worth the effort of looking.

Korea Mobile Goes LTE

I see South Korea will be the first country in which every mobile phone carrier has moved to so called 4th Generation LTE for mobile phone connections. The last carrier to move had been delayed by court orders as it tried to close its remaining 2G CDMA to gain access to that bandwidth for LTE.

I hasten to add that despite every phone carrier claiming LTE is 4th Generation, it is not. As it stands, LTE does not meet the speed requirements of true 4th Generation mobile. Look up what the standards people say, not what the lying phone companies say.

Do I want LTE? At the moment, the LTE chipsets chew way too much power. A phone using them would spend a lot of time on a charger. For a computer, the power drain would probably be acceptable, so LTE is fine in USB connected devices. New lower power chipsets expected this year may change that.

As for mobile phone performance, I do not believe there is much difference between LTE and current HSPA access for things like web browsing. The phone CPU mostly can not keep up with rendering sites anyhow. If you were using the phone for tethering, you would probably prefer LTE. In Australia, it seems apparent that recent Telstra LTE in CBDs is mostly intended to reduce the data load on their NextG HSPA network.

Apple Support Knowledge Base

It looks like Apple web support pages from their knowledge base will fail to work, if you have switched off Javascript. I got pissed off by some Javascript driven advertising, and switched it off. From then on, no Apple knowledge base articles. They give the incorrect error We can't find the article you're looking for. Opps, no, it seems the entire Apple knowledge base is comprehensively broken. Luckily you can look at lots of them via Google's cache.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I was up late, after thankfully falling asleep again after typically awakening in the dark. By the time I was half way through my morning walk along the beach path, the sun was starting to peep over the hills surrounding the flat waterfront of Airlie Beach.

Near the entrance through the Whitsunday Terraces, I found a plastic bag. Since I had forgotten to bring a bag, I used this to collect rubbish along the paths. The top of the car park entry stairs, and Anchor Terrace, were particularly bad, after the long holiday weekends. I easily filled the bag by the time I reached Florin Terrace. Given the Terraces were full over the break, that did not surprise me. Mark will still have plenty to clean up, I am sure.

I had a big glass of water, in a probably futile attempt not to eat all of what remains of the breakfast cereal. At least that succeeded.

Saw Graham downstairs, despite not having noticed his truck move, however he will be off tomorrow. Jason was there, and is moving a lot better now than he was a few days ago. Good to see that.

Internet Activity

Back home, the internet connection from Jim lurched into life after I goosed it with a numeric traceroute. I am certain a lot of the problem is the shortage of IP4 addresses. The address Telco in a Box dynamically assigned Jim's ADSL modem is for external IP, which is notionally at Cranbourne, Victoria.

So I used some web browser geolocation services. Most services picked Melbourne or Sydney, presumably from their database. However W3C Geolocation service determines location by the browser providing GPS location (if available) and signal strengths of visible WiFi announcements (there are two nearby). It did not do bad at all.


I finally completed the transcoding of StarTrek The Next Generation mid afternoon. Well except for DVD43. The third title of that was wrong on the original collectors magazine set. They later sent everyone a correct replacement DVD, however that does not seem to rip correctly.

On the other hand, I am not at all sure what the quality is like on ST-TNG. Until I bought a TV set (my first new TV that was not an older hand me down) I sort of did not have a large screen on which to watch a DVD. However I have been watching the enhanced and remastered USA DVD version of ST-TOS most evenings. That is just startlingly nice. I have a feeling I will be dissatisfied with ST-TNG.

Time Capsule

I set up a Time Capsule router as a Wireless Access Point. Main problem is that it is intended to connect you to the internet. However it assumes you will plug in via Ethernet cable to a cable network or an ADSL modem. I have a modem, but no internet connection. My internet connection is either via my neighbour's WiFi connection, or via the mobile phone system. No ADSL connection, therefore no Ethernet connection.

Luckily Time Capsule lets you tell it to ignore the internet connection (you have to repeat this several times). So I can connect to the Time Capsule WiFi. That was a good start.

The next problem is to do something with this limited setup. I wanted to send the movies I have been ripping to the TV set. So an AppleTV connection seemed the next step.


I was not impressed by having to add passwords for connecting AppleTV to a wireless network via a remote control. It works, but it is tedious. Other than that, setup works fine until you get to the bit about your AppleID. With no actual internet connection, I could not find any way to get past that point. Bummer! This makes the AppleTV absolutely useless.

Home Sharing

I thought I might do an end run around the AppleTV problem by enabling Home Sharing on my MacBook Air. Alas, iTunes insist I already have five computers authorised. Not sure how this happens. I wish I could get a list of which computers are authorised, because I can only find four of them. I tried to deactivate the oldest iMac. I get right to the point where it is contacting the Apple iTunes store. Then it just sits spinning its wheels instead of acknowledging a deactivation. I think I might deactivate all the computers (whichever they are), maybe when Jean is in Antarctica. Not that I seem to be able to log into iTunes to do any of this. Despite iTunes acknowledging who I am and showing my (considerable) account balance.

So I tried my older MacBook Pro. Like the MacBook Air, it will not let me log in to my iTunes account (although it will also let me spend my iTunes credits). Bah, humbug!

Now the MacBook Pro has both WiFi and Ethernet (unlike the MacBook Air). So I logged in to an administrative account. Enabled Sharing for WiFi (which is how I connect to the internet), for other computers that are connecting via Ethernet. Maybe that will let me set up the AppleTV, once the Time Capsule is fooled into having an Ethernet connection via the MacBook Pro.

Thursday 5 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I went to sleep mumbling oaths about how horrible Apple's iTunes was. It was late when I woke up. There were still a handful of items in the transcode queue, so I went for a beach walk. Covered about three kilometres, although with the sun just rising, it soon became warm. I collected another bag full of rubbish to throw out on my way through the Whitsunday Terraces resort.

It was time for the newspapers to arrive, so I walked back down the hill and had breakfast at McDonald's, thus solving the problem of not much breakfast food in the apartment. They had the Courier Mail available, so I was able to read what passes for news in Queensland.

On the way back I got a bread roll for lunch at Brumby's, and a couple of litres of milk at the NightOwl convenience store. That made over five kilometres walked well before eight.

Fought with Apple TV all day, except for a brief visit to reception in yet another failed attempt to catch Mark or Greg. I have decided I need to paint some of the damaged walls where the balustrades were installed.

Mid evening I managed to attack a couple of the Asian kitchen geckos outside near the air conditioner with the Crawly Cruncher insecticide. Alas, although it smells vile, it does not seem to knock the geckos down so I can kill them. Seems I need more direct physical attacks.

Jean paid the bill that arrived today for repairing the air conditioner after the geckos destroyed the main board by being fried. I hate these geckos!

Apple TV

I had better remind the class that there will be a quiz in the morning. The Apple TV running 4.3 firmware (as delivered) is connected via WiFi to the Apple Time Capsule wireless access point called ABB_Time. However the Apple TV needs an internet connection, and the Apple Time Capsule does not have an internet connection. So Time Capsule is connected via Ethernet cable to my old MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro sharing configuration is set to share its internet connection via Ethernet. How does the MacBook Pro get its internet connection? It gets connected via WiFi to an old Airport Express in Jim's apartment. The old Airport Express is connected via Ethernet cable to an Ethernet hub, which is connected to Jim's ADSL modem, connected via the phone line to Telstra's nearest exchange.


After at least an hour of frustration with Apple TV, the AirPlay icon finally popped up on my iPhone 4, but not the iPad 2. All the reports I can find (Apple support documents are still totally out of action) say it appears at the bottom of the display when you swipe the running task bar to the right. It seems you have to switch to sleep mode, but not by using the magnetic cover of the iPad. Then you do a quick double tap on the Home button. I discovered that on my iPhone, not on the iPad. The AirPlay icon then turned up at the top of the iPad display with a volume control.

So I tried some music from my iPad. It turns out the volume is affected by the iPad volume (reasonable), the TV volume (as it passes through, unlike when running TV connections) and also (reasonably) by the amplifier volume. I listened to a half dozen songs on my main speakers, and that seemed to work really well. Then the music cut out mid bar, and nothing I did would restart it.

After powering down and so on, I was able to get music to play. I listened to two albums. Midway through a third album, the music just quit midbar again.

I can not find any way to enable AirPlay mirroring on the iPad 2. The AirPlay icon never appears. I can not run AirPlay from Safari (no AirPlay icon anywhere). I can not display photographs. I am not willing to risk a rental movie at this point. AirPlay basically does not do easily any of the things the Apple web site claims.

The problem with displaying photos seems to be that you need to have selected a specific photo before the AirPlay icon can be displayed. An explanation somewhere would have been helpful.

My evaluation so far is that Apple's AirPlay is simply not ready for use, a year after it was released. Apple shipped a buggy beta derived from AirTunes. So far I think AppleTV is a piece of utter garbage that is way too awkward to ever use. I never again want to use a piece of equipment that demands an internet connection for setting up. After my multiple problems with my Apple iTunes account, I do not really want to ever again use iTunes for anything at all.

This is about the stage I was at with Microsoft Windows XP in 2004, which is when I dumped Microsoft for Apple. I think I am about to dump Apple. I want to take the AppleTV and smash it with a sledge hammer.

AppleTV Streaming

I decided to try streaming an iTunes HD rental movie called The Man from Nowhere from my iPad 2 to the Apple TV. Once I figured which of the eight TV inputs it was connected to. It did better via the Apple TV (firmware 4.3) than I expected after the music tests. Got to 50 minutes and then froze. No idea what is wrong.

I restarted and the HD movie continued. Alas, all the scenes in the movie were very dark, so I was not really able to evaluate the quality of the signal passed through to the TV. A bit later I took a break of about 90 minutes. When the movie restarted this time, the TV set did not pass the audio signal through to the amplifier. The TV sound had been passing through just fine. I have no idea why it suddenly stopped. This combination of Apple TV and multiple media crap is just not ready for day to day use.

Apple TV Software Update

The Apple TV is using software version 4.3(2557). I decided to update the AppleTV software (hope the improvised network connection does not fail) in case the problem has already been corrected. Seems the download will take about a quarter hour.

The Apple update failed to download. Boo, hiss. In attempting to look up why the download failed, I found that the Apple knowledge base is again claiming that none of the articles exist.

AirPlay Mirroring

I can not find any way to enable AirPlay mirroring. The AirPlay icon never appears. It should work on an iPad 2, although I gather you need an iPhone 4s, and mirroring will not work on an iPhone 4. Since the Apple knowledge base support site can not find any of its article, I can not look it up at Apple. I assume the A4 processor in the iPhone 4 does not support HD transmission sufficiently well to suit Apple.

Friday 6 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I took another early morning walk along the beach path, covering more than three kilometres before I returned. I fear the weather may become somewhat too warm for walks soon. However it has remained fine, and tourists are still in the town. Good crowds in fact.

WiFi Speeds

It seems to me that 802.11g and even 802.11n WiFi speeds of 54Mbps are insufficient for video. This especially applies in congested areas where multiple networks compete for limited bandwidth. 802.11b and 802.11g can only basically use channels 1, 6 and 11 in the unlicensed 2.4GHz band without mutual interference. The situation improves somewhat if you use dual band 802.11n into the 5GHz band, but at the expense of shorter range.

If it were easy to get the wires in place, and if all devices still had Ethernet, I would prefer to use fixed Ethernet cable. However even experienced electricians will argue they need only use cheaper Cat5 cable, rather than Cat6. I found that at Carlyle Gardens. The $20 extra for 100 metres of cable is lost in the noise of labour costs. However the difference is your potential top speed is now a gigabit, not 100Mbps.

New Broadcom 802.11ac WiFi chipsets to be released this month include BCM4360, BCM4352, BCM43526 and BCM43516 40nm chips, one of which potentially offers speeds up to 1.3 Gbps. For comparison, the MacBook Air on which I am typing this uses the very capable Broadcom BCM4322 single 65nm chip, whose maximum capability is less than 200 Mbps throughput.

Life is even harder for smaller, power miserly devices such as iPads and iPhones. High speed WiFi is really hard to do well.

Apple TV Update

I found a report this morning that the Apple Store had been down in 13 countries, including Australia. However it was reported to all be operating again. I decided to try the Apple TV software update again.

It took a fair while to download, and the Apple TV device seems to reboot several times. However my Apple TV is now updated from 4.3 to 4.4.4. That lack of updated software may be responsible for many of the setup problems I encountered. I wrote that it felt like a beta. Maybe it was.

At this point, my iPad 2 reported that display mirroring was available (not available for original iPad, or iPhone prior to 4s). Display mirroring seemed to work, at least for a slow moving app like Mail. I think this would be beaut for presentations, and anything where you just want to show larger versions of graphics or photos. Not so good for interaction, except via a physical keyboard for touch typists.


It is the worst economic crisis since WWII, doomsayer announce. They should just get over it. Average income in the U.K. has doubled since 1970 (although distribution may be more skewed), and the average life span has increased by ten years compared to someone born in 1960. 3% of U.K. children died before reaching five, the rate now is a sixth that. The number of people below the world poverty line has halved since 1990, mostly thanks to massive growth China and India. In 1990, twelve million children died worldwide before reaching five. Now eight million die.

What about crime? Despite the newspapers, violent crime is dropping almost everywhere. International terrorism? About a thousand a year (and that includes 9/11). More people get killed on the roads driving to airports.

The global environment remains a major issue. Some politicians are doing more about it, but many figures are misleading. For example, U.K. income per unit of energy consumed doubled from 1980, but much production moved offshore and is no longer counted in U.K. figures. We should be counting the energy cost of imports from China, where emissions are spread over many poor people.


People keep complaining about not having a Thunderbolt (PCIe and DisplayPort in a single cable) to USB3 handler in a port dock. They misunderstand what Thunderbolt can do. It is PCIe in a cable, and it enables entire new methods of computing. USB is great for dumb peripherals, and a disaster for anything that needs to be smart.

USB3 and hard drives are too slow for the future, except for bulk storage. PCIe interfaced solid state RAID drives are what Thunderbolt will make shine for speedy mass storage, and nothing else (except expensive commercial fibre channel) is even close to having that speed. Imagine transferring a HD movie to your computer in seconds, to take with you.

Imagine your new display containing a PCIe graphic card. Your lightweight portable computer suddenly becomes a full graphics workstation when docked. However you can still pick the computer up and take it with you quickly. The built in graphics run slow and cool, when you travel. No need to double up graphics chips, and swap from one portable chip to another. Your display can have a much higher power graphics chip.

How much longer before the whole computer fits in your Thunderbolt equipped phone or tablet? Yet when you dock, all the PCIe equipment you might expect, like massive drives and full power graphics on a giant display, spring to life. Your Bluetooth keyboard and track pad are how you use it. Will most people even have a stand alone computer?

Saturday 7 January 2012


I went out late to attend the Airlie Beach markets. Got my usual bacon and egg breakfast from Elke. Spent much of my time chatting with Rex, who had set up his stall so he could socialise. It soon got hot, so I headed home before nine.

I had started the laundry before leaving, so I was able to hang all of that out to dry in the sunshine. I really must get a second drying rack for the laundry.


I continued transcoding, but I often find it hard to work out which rip relates to which item within a season. The DVDs often list, say, four titles, but then looking at the rip shows three, or five or six. Sometimes a long title is simply a double episode within the season. However sometime it is something like a commentary. It will probably take a long while to get all these straightened out.

Since the old iMac is no longer in use for ripping, I started going through the CDs and DVDs from the computer magazines. While the free software is rarely much use, a lot of the cover disks have free stock photo samples, or free video samples (for non-commercial use at least). Others have extra fonts, or icon sets, or Garage Band loops. So I am putting them on a hard drive, where they will be more use.

That transfer process is what I went through about 15 years ago when the floppy drive disappeared. The last two computers I bought did not have an optical drive. I rather doubt any future computer will have one either.

Village Telco Mesh Potato

I have been wondering how to get internet access into an area where I may not be able to get full co-operation in accessing an ADSL feed. Maybe the answer is something designed for education and providing phone service in third world villages. Village Telco Mesh Potato is a weatherproof wireless access point 802.11b/g that can work from almost any AC mains power (nothing new there), or any DC feed from about 10 volts to 40 volts (a 10 Watt solar panel would be fine). It can also be powered by Power over Ethernet (PoE) and Power over Telephone Line (PoTL). Plus it has an analogue telephony adaptor (I have not seen a wireless access point with an analogue modem since my original Apple AirPort Access Point - the one that looks like a flying saucer).

It is intended to work in a mesh network, like those used by Meraki or OpenMesh, or as a regular WiFi AP client. Software is all open source, Linux, OpenWRT, B.A.T.M.A.N., and Asterisk. It runs an Atheros AR2317 system on a Chip (SoC). Costs $119 one off, if you want to experiment. Each Mesh Potato provides a single fixed telephone line to the end user, and is connected to other Mesh Potatoes via a mesh Wifi network. Mesh Potatoes automatically configure themselves to build a mesh Wifi network. The idea is to spread a simple phone service around a village where wiring is not available.

Sunday 8 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I went for my usual morning walk around 5:30 a.m. Had a chat with a somewhat more energetic walker, and as a result got as far as the Abel Point marina before I returned. That makes close to a four kilometre walk. By six it was starting to get hot and humid.

Just after midday I turned on the air conditioner, for the first time since I arrived. That soon brought the comfort level to a reasonable point. However by four, the sea breeze had started, and there was no longer any need for air conditioning.

BigW DVD Player Dies

The replacement Laser DVD player from BigW I got in December decided to die. Exactly the same symptoms as the previous time. Turns panel readout on when power is applied, puts default image on screen, but none of the controls work, whether via the remote or via the front panel. I can not even turn it on or off from the front panel. The open close switch also does not work. So it basically can not be used.

I will have to return that replacement model to BigW at Townsville as well. This stuffing around with faulty DVD players is a real waste of time. I doubt I will buy any more cheap electrical items from BiGW.

Acer Ultrabook has Thunderbolt

I was delighted to note Acer announce Aspire S5 Ultrabook computer will have Thunderbolt connector. The new model will probably appear mid year.

This may help encourage more Thunderbolt peripherals, which are a little scarce on the ground at the moment. OCZ just announced their Lightfoot Thunderbolt hard drive at CES. Hitachi were working on a Thunderbolt drive. LaCie have a Thunderbolt Little Big Drive. Best of all Promise have a really big Pegasus Thunderbolt drives.

Monday 9 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I headed for the Port of Airlie marina this morning. The side of the Boathouse Apartments towards the water got all the attention. The view from the water is excellent. Plus I like to see boats bobbing around. I have also noticed that some of the tourist ferries are now leaving from their main jetty, which is a lot closer than Abel Point or Shute Harbour.

I was impressed by the little outdoor playground the Boathouse Apartments had for children, near the barbecue. I am not sure how much those almost invulnerable plastic slides and stuff cost, but having one gives another checkmark to resort facilities. In contrast, if we make the downstairs games room into a children's area, we would have big air conditioning bills.

This walk had the advantage that I was headed into the sun before it rose above the surrounding hills, and walking with the sun behind me most of the return trip. I went along the beach path, and then walked through town on the return to keep the sun out of my eyes. Did not reach four kilometres, but got close. As usual, I collected rubbish in the Whitsunday Terraces ground as I walked through.


Before leaving I had checked the continuing transcoding to H.264. Battlestar Galactic season three had completed sometime overnight. I started the first title or two of Season 4 before taking my walk. Season four was easier to relate title numbers on my DVDs to the story listing on the packaging, so I could add titles as I put them in the queue. I have to go back to some previous Battlestar Galactica transcoding, and partially watch them until I get to the actual title. On most of season two, I have five titles, but only four stories listed on the package. Very confusing.

Not actually transcoding, but I have been transferring free stock photos and Garage Band loops, from Mac Format and iCreate CDs and DVDs, to a hard drive. This was another thing where the old iMac G5 (which has a DVD drive) has been handy. I was mostly on iCreate yesterday, and went through around 50 CDs and DVDs. I have about another 50 to go. I think I will have a pile of several hundred CDs and DVD disks to get rid of soon.

Gadget Sales Drop

I see gadget sales for Xmas have dropped in the USA. Down 5.9% for this year, down 6.2% for the same five weeks last year. Not surprising, I hear you say. Frugality and abstinence is the new black, and all that.

However the sales drops are a bit selective. Big drops in camcorders (43%), digital photo frames (38%), GPS navigation (33%), MP3 players and point and shoot cameras (21%). Even BluRay players were down 17%.

However computers and TVs are only down 4%. The significant thing is the big drop items are all in direct competition with new smartphones, which can replace them. Even BluRay is at risk from downloads.

The smartphone ate the stand alone gadgets.

Dropping Glasses

I have dropped (or in some other way broken) several of the new wine glasses we bought. However I have also had my reading glasses fall off my nose several times a day. Mostly I catch them on the way down. With a tile floor, I basically need to catch them every time, or the reading glasses will eventually break.

The local optometrist is probably still away on holidays. So tonight I scrabbled through the tool drawer, and found two small pairs of pliers. Now my glasses stay on my nose a lot better. I suspect I have put a fair few scars on the glasses frame. I sure hope I can find another decent titanium frame. They have been really good at surviving my abuse.

Scratch Phone Glass

One unusual feature of the original Apple iPhone was it had a glass display. Most phones (and computers) used plastic. Corning alumino silicate Gorilla Glass, invented in the 1960's, is not acknowledged, but that is what Apple use. Apple appear to have convinced Corning to put together a production line for a product that formerly did not exist. Lots of gadget makers now use Gorilla Glass. Nowadays there are also several other manufacturers of high hardness glass for phones and other electronic gadgets.

Normal glass typically has a hardness around 6-7 on the Mohs scale, which gives an indication of scratch resistance. There are better measures, but Mohs is easier for ad hoc testing. Gorilla Glass is around 6.8 Mohs (Vickers Hardness tested with a 200g load is 622 kgf per square mm). Brass, as in keys, is around 4 Mohs. Normal steel is 4 and up, with hardened steel (or emerald) 7.5 to 8 Mohs. So most of the stuff in your pockets will not scratch the glass. The exception is grains of sand. If you live near a beach like I do, grains of sand are common.

Hardness means nothing in terms of shatter resistance, so you still must avoid dropping your phone.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I did go for a walk to the main street, but really only to get breakfast. The Courier Mail seemed a bit of a waste of time as a newspaper, but it did remind me see the news agent.

When I collected the newspaper, I also cancelled my subscriptions to iCreate and MacFormat. I wonder if newsagents will survive. They are already my general maybe store, when I can not think which store may have an item, now that general stores have disappeared.

4k Display

I love the idea of high definition displays. Panasonic Corporation has developed a 20-inch 4K2K (3,840 x 2,160 resolution, approx. 8.29 million pixels) IPS Alpha LCD panel, the smallest 4K2K-resolution display. The world’s highest pixel density of 216 pixels per inch (ppi) and the thickness of only 3.5 mm, the thinnest in the world. This would work well in a semi-portable Apple computer. Alas, none of the products Panasonic has displayed made it into commercial products. A pity.

The previous Panasonic high definition 4k displays were much larger. A 150-inch 4K2K (4,096 x 2,160 resolution, approx. 8.84 million pixels) plasma display panel at the 2008 CES. A 103-inch 4K2K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) in 2009. In 2010, Panasonic developed a 58-inch 4K2K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) in collaboration with the NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories.

Facebook Advertising

I hear Facebook have started injecting advertising into users news feeds, and marking them Featured rather than spam like they should. Luckily I gather you can unlike the advertisers. I am pleased I dumped Facebook a fair while ago, due to one of their other privacy attacks.

Computer Magazines

I cancelled my subscriptions to iCreate and MacFormat at the newsagency. I am not finding the time to read them carefully. Sometimes I find no time to read them at all until well after they are received (already months after their publication dates in the U.K.)

More important, the magazines now rarely tell me anything new. In general, I have already seen it on the internet, not just on their sites, but on a dozen others, often including the original sources.

I was also amused to note, in MacFormat 240 for November 2011, that they are to give up their DVD of downloads. They think everyone can get what they want from the internet. One less reason to continue to buy a magazine.

If I had someone to whom to give back issues I would continue buying, just to support magazines. I basically want to remove paper from my life, not stop reading paper.

Wednesday 11 January 2011

Airlie Beach

I took a reasonable walk along the waterfront at the Port of Airlie marina, followed by the beach walk. By 6:30 a.m. it was getting pretty warm again, so I was pleased to get back home.

My last intact sandals are deteriorating rather rapidly, with the sole starting to come off. I hope they will last until I can get to a store that stocks Teva. ShoeBiz left Airlie Beach long ago, and I am not sure they are even at Cannonvale these days. Plus the shoe repair folks also left long ago. Maybe the newsagent has some glue that will last for a few more days? Kathmandu and Anaconda routinely stock Teva, but they are in Townsville.

Plumbers at Carlyle Gardens

I had iMessages from Jean about the plumbers arriving to do the drainage alongside our house. It tuned out that as well as doing the western side, they did the eastern side. I had built a French drain on the eastern side last year to reducing water buildup, but the plumber put in a proper 90mm drain. They had to cut the irrigation pipes to get the drainage in place. They left with the irrigation pipes connected, but the drainage not completed.

ePub Readers

I have been seeking an ePub reader for a Macintosh computer running OS X. There should be no serious issues with this, since any modern web browser can display the contents of ePub. However there seems little in the way of readers available. Especially readers capable for displaying modern ePub.

Azardi from TechPacific.

Barnes and Noble Nook reader.

Sony Reader for Mac.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I took another walk along the waterfront at the Port of Airlie marina, followed by the beach walk. By 6:30 a.m. it was getting pretty humid, although not terribly hot. I put on the air conditioner.

For reasons unclear to me, none of the rubbish bins were out at Whitsunday Terraces. Mark usually has them done in plenty of time. I took out the Florin and Endeavour Terraces garbage bins.

Transcoding continues. I had left a fairly hefty queue overnight, and did not need to add more until after seven.

A sea eagle soared past the balcony in the late afternoon. I have not seen a sea eagle for several years, and feared the Port of Airlie marina construction had restricted their feeding area too much. They generally nest in the trees to the east across Muddy Bay.

Carlyle Gardens Plumbers

I heard about the plumbers again. Jean says the plumbers are back at Carlyle Gardens. This time the plumbers had a concrete cutting machine, and started cutting the curb before eight. They worked on completing the drainage and were off around lunchtime I gather. I sure hope a 90mm drain will suffice.

After the trial by water, Jean tells me there are still issues with how the drains were done. One done right, several not done right, I gather.

Friday 13 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I was so taken aback by the humidity that I had to greatly shorten my early morning walk. The temperature was fine, but the humidity was impossible. I think we are due for a storm. I visited a money machine, just in case, as it had been closed on several other trips past the bank. Bought more milk and a newspaper at the 24/7 Night Owl store. That was enough walking for me in this humidity. I put the air conditioning on as soon as I returned, although only to knock the humidity down.


The transcoding of Sliders continues. Luckily the DVD box includes which episodes are on which DVD, so I can add decent titles. Season three ran overnight and completed early morning. I started the final season after breakfast.

I am really looking forward to being able to get away from physically using DVDs. It seems I have had three faulty DVD players in a row, with one still untested. The Philips VCR/DVD combination is probably not technically faulty, but will not play some DVDs, like my digitally remastered version of Star Trek, The Original Series, so I count that as partly faulty. The BigW Laser HD007 DVD player failed, and was replaced by BigW. Now the replacement Laser HD007 DVD player has also failed, after about eight DVDs.

One annoying factor is that despite not wanting the physical DVDs, I will have to keep them physically. They are stacked on the custom sized bookcases I built, so that I can prove that I own these particular media items. It is a real waste of space and effort.

Computer Sales

I see Gartner have released their 4Q11 figures for computer sales. 92,171,280, down from 93,450,575 in 4Q10, or a decrease of 1.4%. Top of sales were HP, Lenovo, Dell, Acer and Asus. The other manufacturers were well over a third of the total. Apple are not in the top five worldwide, so they are not separated.

Mind you, if you include the 13.5 million iPads Apple probably sold in 4Q11, Apple would look a lot better.

Total USA sales were 17,929,724, against 19,061,005 in 4Q10. In short, sales have decreased 1,131,281 or 5.9%. Gee, that sounds bad for computer makers.

However there is an anomaly. Apple sales in the USA increased from 1,718,400 to 2,074,800, or 356,400, a 20.7% increase. This does not include iPads.

If you exclude Apple, Windows computer sales in the USA decreased from 17,342,605 to 15,854,924, or 1,487,681, or -8.6%. The figures for the decline are even worse than they appear.

Still, you need to recall that worldwide, computer sales were 353 million. The only sort of smart devices overtaking that are smart phones.

Saturday 14 January 2012

Airlie Beach Markets

I walked down to the Airlie Beach markets in the morning. It really was reduced in size. Had a bacon and egg roll from Elka. What I should have done was to have bought some pickles and maybe some chilli plum sauce. Maybe next time. I did get some grain fed rib fillet from Kemp Meats. Had a chat with Rex while he sold coconuts. Got caught in the rain. Talked with heaps of people at the markets. Why no bananas? Must get a pencil portrait done by Adrian for my web site. With the photo recognition available today, I am reluctant to use a photograph.

Reinventing Apple

If you think Apple is a strange company you are right. At least 75% of Apple's product revenue comes from products that did not even exist four years ago. This is like inventing a new start up every few years. However not a little start up. A gigantic one.

The other thing about Apple products is that you could sit every one of them on a decent size table. Most giant corporations have thousand upon thousand of products. In comparison, Apple has a mere handful. That is more than passing strange.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I took a few of the rubbish bins in at Florin and Endeavour. Walked to McDonalds, but all the newspapers had been taken so I went to the newsagent and bought my own instead. Then it rained on me. No idea what happened to the plastic bag I intended to bring with me.

Apple TV

Apple TV (4.4.4) is basically still not ready for prime time. I used an iTunes HD rental of Blue Lagoon as my second test movie. Lucky I did not wait, because the rental period is almost over. Essentially the rental movies do not work at all without internet access (except on the iPad). Jim dropped in and told me he had connected the internet, so I re-established connections.

Blue Lagoon played, for 30 minutes, then stopped. It was easy to restart. It stopped again about 20 minutes from the end, and nothing I did would restart it. About four hours later when I next tried, it played. I can not see AppleTV as ready for any sort of consumer use. It is not a hobby, it is a buggy beta.

While all this was happening, I did get Jim's new Kindle working with his WiFi network. Was rewarded with a glass of Pepperjack wine for that.

Later that evening, I managed to play an entire movie of Jodie Foster in The Brave One via the AppleTV (4.4.4) with absolutely no problems at all. Takes note, was that HD or SD? Just checked, and that was also an HD movie. So just what is going wrong to make the previous trial intermittent?

Until I can get some 90 minute HD movies without DRM, I do not really have a way to tell whether the problem is bandwidth for HD, and iTunes connection issue, or a DRM/HDMI issue. SD movies I have ripped myself have not (so far) given problems.

Apple Power Supply

Jim's Apple power supply was dead, with sparks when he blew the fuses in his apartment on Saturday. Alas, the switchboard is behind a locked door that needs an estate agent with a key. The estate agents were not around during the weekend. Jim had a power lead going under my door, along the walkway, under his door. At least that kept his fridge and other stuff going. Plus the internet connection he helpfully provides to me.

However I am concerned about the Apple power supply design. The very thin leads worry me. Apple have reinforced the feed through into the actual power supply, but the Apple power supplies still have a reputation for blowing up.

What I would really like to see is an additional mag safe connection on the actual power supply. Even if the cable breaks, you would only need to replace the cable, not an entire power supply.

Monday 16 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I was awake early, on a cold (by tropical summer standards) grey wet morning. Checked the transcoding queue, which has another three hours to go.

I went down to the main street for breakfast. Even managed to find a newspaper to read while I had breakfast. Collected a copy of The Australian from the newsagency on my way back. Also chatted with Jodie about the cleanup of the grounds.

There is a cruise liner out in Pioneer Bay, but the weather is not favourable for them to see much in the water. I guess many will be wandering around Airlie Beach, getting drenched by the light rain.

Another walk down to the main street, this time to organise a ticket out of town on a Greyhound bus. The internet connection had been a bit unreliable when I tried that earlier. I have no intention of trying the Greyhound web site via a mobile phone.

Checked my online shopping using a nice little iPhone app called Consume. It can track most freight forwarding companies in Australia, and a substantial number worldwide. Plus it handles heaps of other data from a variety of online sources. I find it very handy.


I have all the transcoding done, except for the (many) buggy rips of StarGate. I wish I had been able to return StarGate, as it looks like a substantial number of the DVDs as supplied are damaged. I decided to leave all the StarGate for now.

Started to pull the transcodes off the drive to their final destination. 287GB in two and a quarter hours. Then another 35GB I had overlooked in 20 minutes. Then it turned out there were the last three Harry Potter movies on DVD, bought on a shopping trip around Xmas, which were not yet transcoded.

I should be able to eventually start checking for whether titles are complete. I suspect not. I still have no good idea how to handle metadata, nor how to add a cover image so that they look pretty.

Internet Fails

I see the internet is again unreachable. A numeric traceroute fails at the Airport Express. Since Jim still does not yet have his electricity on, I assume his ADSL modem is not powered up.

When I checked after breakfast I was again able to get an internet connection, so I guess Jim was able to power stuff up again.

The estate agent arrived soon after I returned from buying my bus ticket. This was her second trip to switch the power back on from where it resides in the other unit. The first time she managed to switch off all the power and lights, instead of switching them on.

The internet disappeared again in the evening. Maybe Jim is organising the multiple power boards again.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Leaving Airlie Beach

A real early start. I had booked the 2:25 a.m. bus out of Airlie Beach. It arrived through the rain at 3:30 a.m. That was not a great start to the day. The cause was an unfortunate fatal accident delaying traffic on the Bruce Highway, so distant that I had not realised it would impact this schedule. There really need to be more than a single lane highway north.

The driver made up time when he could, with only a brief meal stop (most passenger were sleeping). I was able to get a newspaper to read when it became light. Jean collected me from the bus terminal in Townsville around 7:45 a.m.

Carlyle Gardens

I was taken for an inspection of the newly revised drainage system despite the rain. The plumber's staff had returned, and added some concrete to help direct water into the pits for the drains. The major problem now is the levels of the drainage, as some low areas still do not drain. It is however a great improvement over the previous state. At least now water that laps the house has to start flowing elsewhere when it reached that point.

The piles of accumulated mail and the parcel deliveries were astounding. I worked on these from breakfast until lunch, and only dented them.

Jean suggested the restaurant for lunch, but Consume showed another parcel delivery. I walked over to the restaurant to check it was open. It was, so I phoned Jean, and iMessaged her a photo of the menu. I also collected an electrical additions form from the office. We decided we could put a note by the door to leave the parcel. I walked back to the house to collect Jean. Before I reached it, she messaged that the parcel had arrived. So we got to lunch earlier than we feared.

The restaurant had a fair number of people in. The usual crowd I sit with had added an extra table to fit. Jean and I chatted with them for a while until meals arrived. It was good to see them all.

I had a chat with Allan, and organised the date and menu for my birthday party at the restaurant. Now I just need to arrange to get invitations printed. Allan told me of a local printer he is using.

Speaking of printing, I used AirDrop to send Jean a PDF of my ANZAPA contribution, and she printed out a master.

Broken DVD Player

I went to Willows with Jean when she went to the appointment. She checked the location of the local printer, which was in the same area as her appointment. OfficeWorks are cheaper, but further to drive.

I had brought the failed Laser HD007 DVD player with me, and so I returned it to BigW. They gave me yet another replacement. Their staff said they are not seeing any great number of returns for that item, so perhaps I am just unlucky getting two failures in a row.

Wednesday 18 January 2012


I tried buying some albums of classical music from Amazon. Basically the $1.99 Rise of the Masters series of about thirteen albums. Thirteen must be an unlucky number. My web browser seems to know how to log me in to Amazon, but my name does not show up. Then I found I apparently could not just let my web browser download the album, maybe as a zip file.

Instead Amazon wants me to install some sort of downloader. I don't need a downloader. All I need is for Amazon to let me download what I want to buy.

Well, I go a little further this time. Now it says that MP3 downloads are only available within the USA.

Amazon seems like a total failure. I have never bought anything from them previously. If this is typical, I can understand why.

Retail Therapy

I set out with Jean before eight. The Budget Colour Copy shop we checked first did not open until 8:40 a.m. so we proceeded to the discount pharmacy so I could collect another cheap supply of prescription tablets. Back to Willows for a walk.

After one circuit I headed to Budget Colour Copy, and got my birthday invitations printed out. I also had my ANZAPA contributions printed. The lass doing the copying chatted with me (no other customers at that time), partly about issues with Siri on her new iPhone 4s. I was able to make some suggestions about changes to the Contact application data (basically entering relationships) that may help her get better results. The main problem at the time was the Apple computers seemed overloaded.

Back at Willows, Jean had completed five circuits of the building. We drove back to Carlyle Gardens, collecting the mail on the way. I put the birthday invitations in one block of the mail boxes. Many more to go.

Carlyle Gardens

I like to catch up with the happy hour folks at the bar on Wednesday, so Jean and I walked over, despite the humidity. We put the birthday invitations in the mail boxes along the way. Having two of us do it speeded it up nicely, as a mail drop to 370 boxes typically takes an hour.

Olive tried to convince me to return on Australia day to help, but that would be a 600 km return trip. I already have what is in essence one superfluous return trip to Townsville in January. Doing it three times is more than I can countenance. The Social Club are just going to have to find someone else to run the audio. Geoff and I have repeatedly asked for volunteers to learn how to use the equipment.

In turn, I sounded out Olive about replacement of internet connections in Carlyle Square, if the existing internet connection goes missing, as foreshadowed by the computer club.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Leaving Carlyle Gardens

I tried to keep out of the way while Jean prepared for her departure. Ducked into the kitchen for a while during breakfast. We drove off at 7:30 a.m. for the Townsville airport. I dropped Jean at the kerb with her bags. It only took me a few minutes to park her car in short term parking, and return to help her with them.

We were pretty early, so we sat around for a while. Her flight boarded early, and took off on time. A good start.

Did not get lost returning from the airport. I stopped at Willows, did banking for one of Jean's organisations. Did some food shopping for cyclone supplies, since some was on special. Avoided buying ice cream, thus simultaneously demonstrating fortitude and stupidity. There were no witnesses.

I had iMessages from Jean when she reached Brisbane, and later when she reached the Ibis hotel near Sydney Airport by taxi. It seems she managed with the large quantity of bulky luggage, which was very good.

Carlyle Gardens

I was asked to look at the Carlton Theatre. The carpet is a real mess. I doubt it has been cleaned since around Christmas. Maybe the contract cleaner (usually very helpful) is on holidays. The carpet was full of dead bugs. Worse, there were maggots in the carpet. The yoga classes will not like that. It is sad to see such a decline, even though this is the time of year when every bug appears.

I dropped over to the office to hand out birthday invitations, not that they probably have time for lunch. Went to the restaurant for lunch.

Boring Afternoon

I spend some time packing Jean's car. Then repacking it. It is like a 3D jigsaw. I never did manage to fit the bar stool in. Still, I have a heap of paperwork on hand to go through at Airlie Beach.

An Apple Educational Event is due around 3 a.m. No way I am staying up until then, not when I want to leave at 5 a.m. in the morning.

Friday 20 January 2012

Leaving Carlyle Gardens

I was awake about 3:30 a.m. Since I knew the Apple Educational event in New York would have been completed a few hours ago, I checked the online reports from the event. A new iBooks app, able to accept interactive content from iBooks Author, a tool for producing interactive electronic books. Apple are initially aiming at K-12. I think this will massively disrupt the educational book market. iBooks Author is a free download from the Mac App Store, so I downloaded (very slow) and also updated iBook. I think this may be fun.

Still I did eventually have to leave, around five. I think the only device I forgot was to switch off the ADSL modem. Stopped at Inkerman for eggs on toast for breakfast. Stopped alongside the road a few times to answer iMessages from Jean, since she had WiFi access in the Sydney airport Air New Zealand lounge.

Arriving at Airlie Beach

It was stinking hot by six. The car was indicating 280C. However it was not raining. I eventually had to wear sunglasses. Not particularly good time for the trip, with delays for roadworks. It had rained when I pulled into Centro, for the first time in the trip. My shopping in Centro Whitsunday was an utter disaster. I could not find anything in the way of foodstuffs that I thought I might need. So after a while I gave up and drove on home.

My parking spot was gone, but I knew Jason was away, so I grabbed the one he likes for his truck. Seven loads up the stairs. That is 14 flights of stairs. I was exhausted by the time Jean's car was mostly unloaded. The rain stopped, and I unpacked in the steam raised by intermittent strong sunlight.

I switched on the air conditioner power, and started cooling one of the rooms. Retreating to one room did slow down the cleaning efforts.

One thing I need to do is test the second replacement DVD player. So I started that also, with a movie playing in background. I was subsequently infuriated to find that the version of Babylon 5 I had bought had all the chapter titles in French, not English. However I am really just trying to find whether the replacement DVD player is going to break, like the first two.

The cyclone food supply stock was fine, but some items were getting a bit old. I guess I had better eat some of them rather than buy new food.


I hear Acer, Asustek and Lenovo will also be adding Thunderbolt connections to some of their computer models. Intel will probably have additional support in Ivy Bridge and later chip sets, which may encourage further use of Thunderbolt in high end computers.

Thunderbolt is fundamentally different to USB, just as Firewire (IEE1488) was. USB was designed as a master slave system for low speed dumb peripherals like mice, keyboards, printers, and mass storage. USB works fine for that. Firewire is a peer to peer system, designed for intelligence at each end. This makes it cost more, but it can do more. Thunderbolt is also peer to peer. It includes a complete interior computer bus (PCIe) extended externally. It also includes Display Port high speed video.

Saturday 21 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I was up early. Caught up with a few notes, since that makes little noise.

My early morning walk past the Port of Airlie, and then back to their beach, and on through Airlie Beach to Coral Sea Resort was over five kilometres in the hour. A message from Jean arrived while I was in the shower. She is a couple of time zones away, in New Zealand.

The weather forecast for the rest of the week is rain, with today being the best chance of some sunshine. That suggests laundry today, even if only a single load, and even if dried under cover. So I started that laundry running before seven. I should be able to hang the clothes out by 7:30 a.m. since the old Simpson washing machine is not one of those wimpy new European style ones that contemplates moving instead of getting on with the job.

Encouraged by the weather, I ran a second lot of laundry through the washing machine. Now waiting for enough other stuff to dry to let me hang the second load on the drying racks. Normally the amount of sun available would have dried them, but the high humidity is slowing down drying.

Jim dropped in. At his behest I sent another protest letter about the Airlie Beach main street upgrade.

Who fell into a lifeboat? 1) Paris Hilton? 2) An Italian cruise ship captain? 3) Jan Jarratt? 4) Kermit the Frog? Jan Jarratt is the Whitsundays local state member, who just announced the main roads people are buying the land the supermarket is on.

Internet Fails Again

The internet was out of contact yet again. It seems to me that the domain name server from Jim's ISP via Internet in a Box is simply not working. There are alternatives. If I had an internet connection, I would look up an alternative domain name server's IP address. I guess Google's domain name servers are always available on or as an alternative. Except I can not get a connection that way either.

When I returned from seeking breakfast, I tried traceroute (one of Yahoo's sites). I get sendto: No route to host. On the other hand, Jim is back home, so I imagine he powered the ADSL connection down and up again. That seems to sometimes reboot internet access. Not this time. Traceroute does not hang up at the ADSL modem, but it does not get a route.

Internet started again some time after Jim rebooted his ADSL modem. Ran all day. Internet failed again around 7:45 p.m. this evening.

Jean's Progress

Jean sent a few more messages from New Zealand. She found a library with free WiFi while waiting at the tour centre. Mid afternoon she was on the ship. However they did not sail. Bad weather due that evening had delayed them. Now they intend to sail in the morning, after the storm front passes. They will head straight for Ross Sea to miss some following bad weather. No stopping at islands on the way south.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I slept well, which was a bit of a change, and very welcome. No internet, so I switched off WiFi on my Apple iPad, and collected the mail via the Telstra mobile system.

I set off on my walk at a reasonable time. I reached the Eastern end of the Port of Airlie Marina road before the sun was visible from behind the hills. I could not totally avoid the sun while walking to the Marina Beach. Then I had the sun behind me along the beach path, and the lagoon walk, and as far as Coral Sea Resort at the Western end of Airlie Beach. Since the Bicentennial Walkway curves around the shore, I could avoid the sun while walking to the end of Abel Point Marina. Then it was time to return. I stopped for breakfast, having already covered more than five kilometres.

In walking through Whitsunday Terraces resort, just from the car park entrance through three levels of Anchor Terraces, I collected an entire plastic shipping bag of discarded beer bottles. I was able to throw them in the rubbish bin before the garbage truck collected them. Once again the truck is not the single man auto lift, but one that requires a separate bloke as bin collector. Interesting that is done on Sunday, when labour rates are highest.


I see the internet is out of action again this afternoon, in the usual fashion. Happened around 4:30 p.m. I noticed that it was working again around 10 p.m.

802.11ac WiFi

I was expecting WiFi to take a while to settle down to using 802.11n. Apple started using WiFi in 1999 with AirPort, more formally known as 802.11b. Apple started using 802.11g in 2003, calling it Airport Extreme. They went to 802.11n in 2007 - although this was not ratified as a standard until 2009. Apple also started using the 5GHz band (in addition to 2.4GHz) in Time Capsule in 2008. I still probably have a few old WiFi devices that can not go past 802.11g. However it seems Apple may attempt to move rapidly to 802.11ac, or Gigabit WiFi. Broadcom announced chips at CES. Buffalo have demonstrated a base station.

Broken DVD Player

I had a failure of the original Laser HD007 DVD player from BigW. This was one of two I originally bought. For the third time, the DVD player died after around eight DVDs went through it. That is, it will power up, but no controls will work. You can not open the drawer, nor switch the player off, from either the remote or the front panel.

I am not able to determine whether the cause is the number of DVDs, or perhaps some problem via the power line. I do note that I have switched power off to the Dick Smith 42 inch TV set. Perhaps a switching transient from the TV set?

Bluetooth Bag Alarm

A credit card sized Bluetooth connected iPhone alarm to protect your bags, called Secu4Bags alarm. It sounds like a good idea for the forgetful or careless traveller. Free app for the iPhone. The credit card sized Bluetooth alarm is $100.

Monday 23 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I was awake early. I still had the last of a pile of MacFormat DVDs to check through, so I did that on the old iMac G5. Not very much material of use. I got to the November 2011 issue of MacFormat. They have decided not to include cover disks in future. I think that is the right decision, despite my own internet connection issues.

My old sandals were running a hole in my left foot. I especially wrecked my little toe, despite shortening my walk to only a bit over four kilometres. At least i set off early enough that I was on my way back before the sun rose above the hillside. At Port of Airlie Marina I saw a small flock (13) of plumed whistling ducks near the children's playground. On the other side of the marina there was another flock, of at least 17 of the plumed whistling ducks. I continued on past the lagoon before walking up the steps at the Whitsunday Terraces. Despite picking up bottles yesterday, I was able to add more to my rubbish bag this morning.

I drove Jean's car to the Whitsunday Shopping Centre at eight. I still can not find Centrelink (reputed to be somewhere there), nor is it in the centre directory. However Coles was open, so I could at least buy milk and orange juice, and a sticking plaster for my foot. I could not resist the Chocolate Obsession ice cream. I would have bought more stuff if I had been able to locate a shopping basket inside the store. Turned out they were just inside the door, and I had walked past without noticing them. While I had other items on my shopping list, fifteen minutes of shopping goes a long way with me, so I headed home.


I was delighted to find that after a numeric traceroute, the internet started working this morning prior to seven.

The internet went out of action again at 2 p.m. however it seems to have restarted about ten minutes later. Jim probably needed access.

Internet off again around dinner time, and working again just before nine. Up and down, down and up.


I pulled apart the broken Laser HD007 DVD player from BigW so that I could recover the DVD stuck in it when it broke. Just like last time. This DVD crap is getting very old.

So I connected the replacement Laser HD007 DVD player. I will try running that continuously for a while, and see if that also breaks.

Next on the list was updating the Bento database of DVDs. On inspection, it seems I had already completed most of that, just like I have completed a lot of the DVD ripping and transcoding.

I cleared out the small stationery set of drawers. That will at least let me tidy the various pages ripped out of magazines I am throwing out in the recycling.

Apple Power Supply

Jim dropped over late in the afternoon. As I had anticipated, he had been unable to locate a replacement MacBook Pro power supply locally. I had given him a loan of my original T connector MacBook Pro power supply. We tested his older model Apple MacBook Pro with a modern L connector 85 Watt MagSafe power supply I had obtained direct from Apple online. No issues were found, and it was charging fine an hour later. I was a little concerned at reports the L connector power supply was too shallow for some of the older model MacBook Pro, however that seems to no longer be a problem.

Book of the Day

Joe Haldeman's Marsbound, which contained even more Tuckerisms of friends and aquaintance than I recalled. I needed to re-read that because Joe's new novel Earthbound is to hand as my reading treat this week. Marsbound was inscribed for Eric's new digs. Earthbound was inscribed a special issue, printed upside down and then inverted.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I awoke to chattering that seemed to come from young people at Martinique's pool area. Not sure why people need to have active conversations around five. Probably around seven or eight they will be complaining that the garbage truck and tradies doing their work are keeping them awake.

One of those Asian kitchen geckos was in the kitchen. I could hardly see it in the pre-dawn light, but I gave the area a blast with Crawley Cruncher insecticide. I hope the invasive damn pest takes the message to go outside.

The weather was overcast, with lightning storms on the horizon. I can see rain out there as well. The rain was here soon after six, sweeping in almost horizontal through all the open doors from the north and throwing water several metres into all the rooms. Well, it probably had been time to wash the tile floors. At least the rain and wind brought some relief from the earlier heat and humidity. I am glad to did not attempt to wash the windows. The rain goes right to the top, even under the awnings. The rain stopped for a while around ten. Rain again at 1:30 p.m. really pouring down again.

I did not walk down to the town until midday, to collect the newspaper and a bread roll for lunch. Stopped to see how Mark was doing. Not all that great. No sign of Phil doing gardening, nor is Ron doing much. The set of buildings is too large to get away with less than about 20 hours of gardening, probably 10 hours of maintenance by Ron, plus full time outside work by Mark, and a bit of outside contract labour for some of the larger items. Without that, I doubt the resort can be maintained over the wet season. I do not think anyone is happy with this situation.


The internet was out of action again this morning. This is not a WiFi or ADSL modem error. I get 100% packet loss to known active IP numbers such as Yahoo and Google. Jim told me Internet goes out every few hours. Might try to use yet another model ADSL modem. However from the way it fails and recovers, and the many reports of failures from others, I still think the problem is outside the home connection.

At 6:25 a.m. I was getting Destination Host Unreachable. The link is now dying at the little Airport Express WiFi access point. I suspect Jim has powered down the faulty ADSL modem. At 6:35 a.m. I was getting past the ADSL modem, and on to one of the Internet in a Box Domain Name Servers (at In nine hops I was at ( I also tried Yahoo (at

Internet had failed again when I next tried it at 8:30 a.m. It started to come back twenty minutes later. Down again around one, but a numeric traceroute seemed to restart it. Meanwhile, my Command left and right arrow keys have failed to work.

Online University

An online Udacity university with a starting class of 160,000. That is the dream of former Stanford Professor Sebastian Thrum, who looked at how the very popular Khan Academy video lectures were going.

Speaker in LED Light

I like the idea of a Scott sound and light wireless Luminor speaker system in an LED light bulb. You can retrofit them to existing lamps. See the manual.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I was awoken at three by a thunderstorm, that prompted me to close the doors and unplug all the power points. That would seem to argue for setting up the UPS when it gets to a more reasonable hour of the morning. I wanted to test the cheap Belkin UPS I got from Dick Smith in any case. The wind sweeping from the north west had cooled the air, since it was gusting very rapidly.

I drove Jean's car to the Mitre 10 hardware store. Their cash registers were not working, so I could not get the piece of surfaced chipboard board I was contemplating. However one of the helpful staff pointed me to where they had sheets of damaged cover stock available cheap. Also bits of packing wood, rather heavy rough surfaced stuff.

BigW at Centro had cheaper Coke than Woolworths, so I collected a trolley full of stuff there, including A4 printer paper on special. I went back to Woolworths for some fruit for breakfast, and some other foodstuffs. No luck with the liquor, either there or at Whitsunday Shopping Centre (where the liquor shops don't open until ten). I was however shocked at the number of empty specialty shops in the Whitsunday Shopping Centre. I eventually walked down to the expensive Airlie Beach Hotel bottle shop to restock.

I saw Doug when I returned. He is checking the Whitsunday Terraces resort over the next few days. The folks running it seem to have a very good work ethic. However I fear the lack of resources is not something that will be solved, because that takes money that is not coming in. I expressed my pessimistic view that the place will not be a resort in five years. It seems the only thing saving Airlie Beach property is Mackay is so expensive, miners are buying in the Whitsundays.

Jim caught up with me this evening. I got his Airport Express running his Paradigm loudspeakers again, at least from his laptop, only a minor configuration issue. We discussed the way the internet had uncharacteristically continued working all day without intervention. We drank rather a lot of gin during our discussion.

Internet Worked All Day

I ended up sitting in the living room not long after four, because I could not sleep. To my delight, the internet will still working. It was even quicker than yesterday, with a line speed of 1.91 Mbps and a download rate of 238 KB/s at 5 a.m. Of course, it will get congested and slower later in the day. At 2:30 p.m. line speed was 338 kbps, and download rate was 42 KB/s. However the main point is that the connection remained established for an entire day.

Television Conspiracy

When you're young, you look at television and think, There's a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that's not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That's a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It's the truth

Steve Jobs, The Next Insanely Great Thing, interview in Wired Magazine around 1995.

Thursday 26 January 2012

Airlie Beach

I was awoken by rain at 2 a.m. and closed the doors. The rain continued, and was still falling all morning. Too much rain to take my morning walk. At least I had a healthy breakfast, including some of the fruit I bought yesterday.

Jim dropped over at 5:30 p.m. to invite me to dinner at Capers with Gingie and Simon. I think they needed four people to get the free bottle of wine. Gingie and I had the pork belly entree, which is not how I expect pork bellies, but I always like the indulgence. Three bottles of wine later, we had had a great time. Jim and I saw Gingie off home on the last 10:33 p.m. bus of the evening.

Meanwhile, I had decided that I really did need to have a Saturday pre-birthday party. So I will have to email people tomorrow morning.

Computer Issues

I noticed the Command left and right arrow keys had resumed normal behaviour. Can not recall whether I got around to rebooting the MacBook Air or not. However due to the Lion related issues with the Fraise text editor, I have been resorting to TextEdit. Alas, as an xhtml editor, it lacks a lot (like code completion and colouring).

The various movie DVDs on hand are all ripped and transcoded (except a handful of recalcitrant ones). So I set up the old iMac G5 (which still has an optical drive) with an alternate iTunes Library. My intention is to re-rip all my music CDs that include singing as Apple Lossless for use at Airlie Beach. I will worry about how to merge iTunes Libraries later.

I started with The Seekers complete collection, mainly because it should be well enough known to be in the Gracenotes lists of regular music CDs, and I should be able to get cover art easily. I want to see at least a half dozen CDs ripped correctly before I start any of the weirder ones (such as the itinerant musicians who sell their own CDs at the local markets).

Alas, the very first Seekers CD failed to import correctly. The last two songs had problems. The second last truncated silently. The last would not import. Probably as a result, no cover art was available automatically. I tried to get artwork, and got a message it was not available, with an unknown error -609. Anecdotal evidence is this is an error getting artwork, sometimes cured by a reboot. This is not looking good, especially as the internet has decided to slow down too much to use.

I tried importing the missing songs. Read rate was one fifth real time. Not five times, one fifth. About 10 minutes for a song of less than two minutes. The first CD took over four hours. Luckily the next thirty worked a lot better, at least until the internet crashed again.

Internet Dead

The internet was still working, albeit slowly, when I tried it before seven in the morning. That was a good start to the day trapped inside.

Alas, around 4:30 p.m. the internet decided to die again. I could do a numeric traceroute, but nothing worked well from the web browser or iTunes. So this time it seems an impossibly slow connection.

Internet was working again, after some delay, at eleven this evening. I have a suspicion that Jim rebooted his ADSL modem after arriving home.

Airlie Beach

As we headed to the main street of Airlie Beach, we saw three young men pissing again the wall of the Airlie Professional Centre. Jim yelled at them not to piss in public. Instead of being ashamed at their disgusting behaviour, one told us in a bellicose manner that he shouldn't be yelled at.

Well, yes, he should be yelled at. He and his mates were acting like three year olds with poor toilet training. If the police had been around, they may have have been charged.

Every time I walk up that alley way, I see discarded bottles and cans of booze strewn all over. Isn't it past time that the people who litter paid a price for the cleanup?

Friday 27 January 2012

Internet and Ripping

No internet connection at 5 a.m. alas. A numeric traceroute no longer gets past the Airport Express WiFi access point. By 6:30 a numeric traceroute was getting out, so Jim may have rebooted his ADSL modem. However the traceroute takes forever. Still not web connections. Ah, finally came up. The ADSL modem must have been real slow connecting.

I was able to get more of the music CDs ripped. As I suspected, I absolutely need an internet connection to Gracenotes to do the ripping (or I have to do a lot of data entry). Luckily a fair number of my music CDs are already in the Gracenote database. I managed to get to more than 40 albums before the internet dropped out of action at 11:23 a.m.

Connection came back at 11:48 a.m. I continued ripping my music CDs into Apple Lossless. Internet connection dropped out again at 2:23 p.m. Back about 20 minutes later. By the end of the evening I had 81 albums ripped, and three that were not in the Gracenotes database. Alas, the vast number do not have cover art available. I have 25 with cover art out of 81 commercial CDs. Not a very good result.

Airlie Beach

It was no longer raining, so I started doing some laundry, in the hope I could dodge showers when we had the predicted storms today. I was lucky with the weather, and had the laundry dry by midday. In fact, it was dry (but very humid) all day.

Saturday 28 January 2012

Airlie Beach

It was incredibly humid in the morning. I walked to the markets, but although not raining here, it must obviously have been raining lots of other places, as the number of stall holders was much reduced. I did sign the recycling petition at the markets. The woman doing it seems to have her facts together. Had breakfast on the main street.

Saw Doug upon my return.

Saw Doug and the ladies just prior to my party.


I had ripped all the music CDs in one box. Essentially the CDs including singing, which Jean hates. That made 84 CDs, a little over 20GB in Apple Lossless. The last three CDs I did were Baz Hall ones (I had bought them from his wife when he performed at Carlyle Gardens) where there was no song details available for download from Gracenote. So I entered the appropriate metadata before ripping.

The automatic addition of cover art for CoverFlow only managed 20 album covers. A second attempt got this to 24. There is an Amazon Dashboard widget, which I had downloaded previously. This failed to find any more cover art. Each time I sat at the computer during the day (at least while the internet was operating), I searched manually for appropriate cover art. Several of the singers had their own web site, or I used generic photos say for a well known singer where the CD could not be identified. the worst CDs were the compilation albums that I had bought at the big stores like BigW. These did not have cover art, and had very generic paper covers. I am certain most were re-issues of much earlier compilation, just re-bundled for cheap sale.

Saturday Party

My party attracted Jim, Gingie, and unexpectedly Chad and Rose and their two children.

It was great to see Chad and Rose after such a long gap. I had seen Chad a month or so ago in the supermarket, and we had exchanged email addresses. My last memory previously was the eldest child just taking her first step. Now she has just started school.

My big worry was that the apartment has never been made child safe, so innumerable chemicals or tiny items to swallow might be here. I wouldn't even have noticed them. I put some cleaner's spray bottles up out of reach, although I do not know any of them were dangerous. But none of the cupboards have locks or even catches. Still, the children survived. Jim found his old box of coloured pencils, and I found some paper, so to a large extent they entertained themselves, and without damaging themselves beyond one fall that looked nasty. There is pretty much nothing here likely to be damaged, not with tile floors, but these are a bit unforgiving to fall on.

Everyone seemed to have a good time over pizza, wine and orange juice. Lots to say about the controversial land swap in the middle of town.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Internet Access

I noticed the Internet was out of action when I arose late at 6 a.m. A traceroute began working about 15 minutes later, so I assume Jim rebooted his ADSL modem. I managed to download some web pages to read before the internet dropped out yet again.

Another traceroute started working at 8:45 a.m. I started looking at the ripping of CDs again. Internet out of action again by 10:30 a.m. The internet connection started again around 11 a.m. so I fed back some CD information from recently ripped CDs to Gracenote.

Ripping Music

I also found another handful of music CDs. However without internet access, I can not do anything about getting to Gracenote for metadata. So I only rip when I have Internet access.

Why the sudden interest in ripping music? First, pretty much all my music is on CD Digital Audio (Red Book). The life span of CDs is not infinite, and many of these date from the 1990's. Many of the CDs with vocals were bought from the musician at the markets or events, and I probably can not replace them.

Second, optical drives are not something I want to continue to use. Optical drive quality is now pathetic. Audio CDs themselves are very limited. Dithered 16 bit, 44.1kHz LPCM (linear pulse code modulated) is not exactly high quality but it is all I have. Being 16 bit, the dynamic range is limited to 96.7dB. I do not have any 24 bit LPCM audio files.

Third, Apple made Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) open source under the Apache licence in October 2011. Obviously every Apple device handles ALAC, thus making it the most widely used lossless codec. Open sourcing may mean other players will include it. So having CDs stored as ALAC (at around half their original size and now large hard drives are common) is a reasonable way of being able to access the original source. This is not the case for standard based lossy formats such as Advanced Audio Codec (AAC).

Fourth, SNMP monitoring of the bitstream sent to an AppleTV indicates bitrates consistent with the source bitstream. That is, 256 Kbps AAC is transmitted at around 288 Kbps, while audio CD (16 bit LPCM at 44.1kHz is 1411 Kbps) is transmitted at around 1712 Kbps. However while 24 bit LPCM is transmitted at 2560 Kbps, it seems all the Apple devices downgrade it to 16 bit 44.1 Kbps LPCM for sound output.

Airlie Beach

I took the large video stand Jean had made long ago down the stairs to her car. That was a real handful. Just fits in the car. Unless I can remove the front seat, I doubt I can put the additional 2.1 metre lengths of shelving in the car. I took another two loads of recycling to the car by seven. However the extreme humidity just stopped me in my tracks. I put the air conditioning on to reduce the humidity.

Put another two loads of junk in Jean's car. So far almost everything has been recycling material to get rid of in the kerbside recycling at Townsville. Maybe I will eventually actually pack something that is of use?

Kill Hollywood

Y Combinator startup fund is looking for new companies capable of killing Hollywood. Personally, I find the stuff on the Internet on average worse than Hollywood's products. However the best on the Internet is better than the best from Hollywood. If the Internet continues to be more entertaining than Hollywood, then some combination of companies will indeed kill Hollywood. Well, more realistically, make Hollywood as irrelevant as a buggy whip factory. Due to the way Hollywood acts, I do not want to make peace with Hollywood. Burn Hollywood Burn.

Monday 30 January 2012

Leaving Airlie Beach

I had to take another three loads downstairs before I could complete packing Jean's car. Again, mostly stuff to get rid on in recycling. Took a shower, and set off late at 5:30 a.m. No problems with the drive, except for some concern about fuel levels. I used an 8 cent off coupon from Coles when I reached Townsville.

Carlyle Gardens

I collected Jean's mail. Very little of it, and mostly for me. Unpacked Jean's car, with the recycling bin close to hand. The big TV stand was the major problem, but at least this house is level, so i got it inside with less effort.

Took a walk in the heat and humidity to deliver my birthday notices. I do not know how anyone can manage to work outside in the conditions today. By the time I got back all I could manage was go through the mail, and read a few (physical) magazines that had arrived.

Not much on hand to eat, but I had brought left over frozen pizza from my Saturday party, so I zapped that for brunch. Reset clocks that had stopped during the hour and forty minute outage, that was apparently on the stinking hot and humid Sunday. Did a bit of cleaning up.

In the late afternoon (not that the humidity was much lower) I got to work outside on Jean's garden. The ants attacked ferociously. I went around the outside of the house laying down ant sand before returning to the garden and the shrubs. I need larger secateurs. Or maybe a chain saw. However I eventually had a large pile of shrubs and weeds wrapped in a ground sheet for the collection early Tuesday morning. Still lots of weeding needed. I started relocating all the solar lights out of the way of the mowing contractor. I ended up so tired that I had to go to bed early.

Housing Dip into Taxpayer Pockets

I expect QE3 will involve Ben Bernanke buying underwater mortgage bonds, in a last desperate attempt to shore up USA housing prices, and boost consumer and construction spending in a stalled economy. If housing falls more, US consumers will not spend, especially as last year their spending came from running down savings. The USA banks are not short of money. They are short of anyone worthwhile interested in borrowing. Companies are de-leveraging, so spending growth will not come from them. Governments are broke (actually in deficit), so their only source of spending is running the printing presses to inflate the currency, and of course increasing Government fees and taxes (which again reduces private spending). The final result, the US government will be holding the bag as guarantor of underwater mortgage bonds.

Bonus points to anyone who can tell me how this is different to the property market and bank collapse last time? This is just yet another wealth transfer from the taxpayer to the banks. Watch government initiated inflation eat your savings, while the nominal value of your home does not fall, giving a false sense of worth.

Tuesday 31 January 2012

Carlyle Gardens

I was up very late for me, around six. Found another clock showing the wrong time, and adjusted that. The milk I brought with me was stale, so I decided to have breakfast elsewhere. Hasty packing of the washing machine, in case I could get some laundry dry.

Packed the failed DVD player in Jean's car for return to BigW. Walked around Willows, talked with some of the Carlyle Gardens residents who were there. People still do not realise the restaurant is now simply another unsubsidised commercial venture. Returned the DVD player to BigW and got a refund, since this is the third replacement that has failed. Stopped at Coles to get some food supplies, and another fuel discount. I should have split these purchases. Not sure how I managed to spend more than $70 on frivolous snacks and Coke (all of which will keep). I noticed Coles had great vegetable and fruit prices, but I will be gone in two days anyhow. The fruit I brought with me will suffice.

The laundry got a couple of hours hanging on the line. Then I brought a lot of it under shelter while I went to lunch. I guess technically I managed to get it mostly air dried. Although with the current humidity, it is technically dry rather than feeling dry. No chance to try the next two loads of washing.

In the evening, after the Tariff 33 air conditioning went off, I relocated all the solar lights into the garden, out of the way of the mowing contractors. Maybe more grass will get trimmed now. I wish I could remove more weeds, but then the mosquitos started attacking.

Carlyle Gardens Lunch

I got to the regular lunch session. Sue and Dot were there from outside. John was there, as was Ray. Jeff and Pat, Margaret and Geoff were the couples. The chef was away, so Allan did the meals, and they all looked good. I had a beef cuts roll with salad, and very bravely refused chips.

Checked with the office, but Jean's registered letter had not arrived.

Solar Panel Outputs

The solar power output figures last month (December 2011) showed it generated 2265kWh over 6667 hours. The figures for January are 2405kWh over 7060 hours. So the total hours operating in the 31 days of January 2012 were 393 hours, during which it generated 140kWh. About 4.5kWh per day, or 356 Watts per operating hour. This is a nominal 1 kW panel.

Dick Smith Stores

I see Woolworths have finally decided to pull the plug on at least 100 of their 390 Dick Smith electronics stores. These have mostly been selling consumer electronics in recent decades, usually at not particularly competitive prices. Woolworth seemed to have partly turned that around more recently, but I doubt the returns on investment are there in consumer electronics. I hear consumer electronics sales of $1.5 billion, but only $22 million in profits.

Woolworths will attempt to sell the Dick Smith business as a going concern, however I can not really see them getting an acceptable offer. Gerry Harvey got bitten, and is unlikely to bid. JB HiFi expected consolidation, and does not need to speed up its expansion. Who is left?

Shopping centre owners will not like seeing another 100 empty stores. You would hope this feeds into lower rentals. Probably not. I think shopping centres will continue to bluff on rental values.

Home and Away

AB 27, CG 4

Eric Lindsay's Blog January 2012