Eric Lindsay's Blog 2005 November

Tuesday 1 November 2005

Pen tablet computers

This Ars Technica Thinkpad X41 review gives a good idea of why tablet computers are not catching on. Apart from a few weird decisions, like no Firewire and no optical drive, the hardware sounds pretty standard. I hate the very idea of the rotate and twist screen connector, however I have a long history of seeing failed LCD connectors. I know the engineers will claim this time they have it right. I don't believe them. You flex a connector enough, and it will fail.

The problem is software. I can't see anything in the description that grabs me as a must have tablet application that needs a touch screen. A big flat zero. I have touch screens, in my Psion PDAs. That includes a 640 x 480 VGA touch screen Psion 7. I like touch screens. The keyboard is faster, for most things. I am certain there are some applications where mouse and touch are quicker, but mostly only the first few times you do a task. After that, give me a keyboard shortcut anytime.

History of and Macintosh port

I had always been a little confused about just how come there were two Macintosh ports, one the relatively up to date X11 based version very like the Linux version, and the other Edward Peterlin and Patrick Luby's NeoOffice, which actually appears much more a Macintosh application. The dirge of NeoOffice for Macintosh cleared up the history rather well. It also includes an informative discussion about why cross platform development isn't easy, and some of the ways people approached it.

Melbourne Cup Day

Melbourne Cup day, so the country came to a halt briefly in the afternoon. We bought a bottle of sparkling wine so that we had an excuse to come to a halt also. Jean recalled her first experience of a Melbourne Cup almost thirty years ago, as someone from the USA who had never before seen a nation come to a halt for a horse race. Well, at least that puts anti-terrorism laws into some perspective.

Wednesday 2 November 2005

The Merits of Shopping, by an addict (1)

I went with Jean to the airport for the first stage of her long journey to the USA. My plans to do shopping as I drove back seemed like too much trouble. I'll eat at Subway until Jean comes back and insists on me getting real food into the apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces in Airlie Beach.

15th Anniversary of the Web

CERN researcher Tim Berners-Lee set up Worldwideweb, the first web browser, plus the first web server httpd, on his NeXT cube. Berner-Lee book on those days, makes interesting reading. As for that matter so does Ted Nelson's book Computer Lib. I had a big, floppy reprint edition of that with Dream Machines.

Read more in Ars Technica on the invention of the web. Happy birthday web. I wonder what you will be like when you grow up?

Location of photos

I want a digital camera with a GPS included. I want my photos to have GPS locations in the exif metadata. I am not the only one. GPS Photo Linker freeware for Macintosh by Jeffrey Early is aimed at the same need. His program uses camera time settings, compares them with GPS track readings to find the position closest to a given photo. Not exactly what I am after I suspect, but great for hikers and travellers taking photos and using their GPS tracking capabilities at the same time.

My problem is lots of photographs taken way in the past, for which (by one means or another) I often have lat and long figures not taken from a GPS. So there is no tracking data to input. Just written notes.

Thursday 3 November 2005

The Day the Music Companies Died

The US Supreme Court ruled in June that peer to peer file sharing companies were liable for copyright infringements. The music companies killed Napster in 2002. The Australian Federal Court put the Kazaa file sharing software out of business in September. This month the music companies killed off Grokster. So how can I say the music companies will die?

Patent protection lasts 17 years, while copyright is far longer. The US constitution seems to give a greater emphasis on encouraging invention, and less on protecting the financial interests of owners. However the big companies can get laws changed. Sooner of later more and more people will be looking at the intent of copyright laws. Hint, it isn't to ensure that artists make a living, although that is a valuable side effect, any more than the government makes laws to say that farmers or fishermen should be guaranteed a living.

Many are asking just why large music distributing companies can rip off most artists that fall victim to them, lie about their profits (see financial newspapers), lie to artists about their cut (see complaints by Janis Ian, Courtney Love and others), ruin the music produced by artists by pushing the average sound level to within 3dB of the peak levels (see complaints by sound engineers), and generally act like robber barons.

The music distribution companies are as obsolete as buggy whip manufacturers. They know it. They are using their obscene profits in a desperate attempt to get government subsidies to keep their obscene industry alive. The subsidies are digital rights management in every computer, and laws like DMCA to ensure everyone else feels threatened.

There is an easy solution for the consumer. Just say NO. Go and listen to live music. Encourage the local pub or jazz club to get new artists in. Buy CDs that the local band has recorded in the local sound studio. Organise your own performance if you find a musician whose music you enjoy. Get 20 of your friends together to hire a room, or if someone has a large house use that, put money in the pot, and hire the musician to play a gig just for your friends. It is cheaper than you think, and the musician makes more money than they probably do at a pub or bar. Ignore the big companies, let them sink into decline and bankruptcy.

It turns out that others are saying exactly the same thing. Live without the music industry.

Printing Costs

Techbuy sold me five HP ColourJet cartridges for the LJ2550 for A$648.10. Q3692A yellow, Q3961A Cyan and Q3963A Magenta at A$132.70. Two Q3960A black toner cartridges at A$110.85 each. Very expensive business. In fact, it may even be more costly than the printer itself.

Friday 4 November 2005

The Merits of Shopping, by an addict (2)

Don't know why I worried about food shopping. There was still stuff in the fridge at the Whitsunday Terraces. Some of it even looked like it might be food, if you were sufficiently desperate. Plus there are plenty of places where you can eat out at Airlie Beach.

Downloads Boost Music Sales

I don't believe it, but it is what John Davidson reports in the Financial Review. The speaker is JB Hi-Fi chief executive Richard Uechtritz. JB Hi-Fi have around 50 stores in Australia, and mostly run back catalogue music. It seems illegal downloads have increased interest in getting the actual CDs of music not on the music charts. iTunes Music Store also isn't expected to hurt sales of either CDs or other online music. With their A$1.69 price, and lossy format, this makes a whole album via Apple A$16.99. This is less than the price the music pushers want for recent CD releases, but more than many back catalogue CD prices.

Australian Wheat Board

This one is great. The largest bribes to Saddam Hussein's regime in the U.N. Food for Oil program bribe scandal seem to have been paid by a Australian government mandated monopoly seller. Thirteen percent of the world wheat trade, from our 20 million tonne wheat harvests.

Business is fundamentally immoral. That is why we need stricter laws relating to business than we do with individuals. Individuals at least have a conscience, whereas business does not.

FantaSea Fireworks

FantaSea again sponsored the fireworks event at Airlie Beach that leads off the Reef Festival. Alas, it started raining just before the fireworks. In moving my wet cameras under shelter at the Whitsunday Terraces I managed to get 7 minutes of lens cap on the video. Plus the digital camera was not happy about working the next day. As usual, the fireworks were great.

Saturday 5 November 2005

The Merits of Shopping, by an addict (3)

Ran out of milk that wasn't stale, so I had a bacon and egg roll for breakfast. Discovered some old spuds in the cupboard, so I had them for dinner. Somehow I can't figure what sort of a meal you can make of a dozen or so onions. Why do we have so many onions, when Jean tells me to get tomatoes by two and three? I've mostly emptied the fridge, except for things I thought were inedible even before they went old, dried out and mouldy. I guess I'll throw them in the rubbish before they spontaneously generate alien lifeforms.

The Only Person to Enter Parliament With Honest Intent?

Under the chamber of the House of Lords, where James 1 was due to open Parliament, there was a cellar. There the thirteen collaborators had gathered a ton and a half of gunpowder, some 36 barrels. They failed. That was four hundred years ago, and Guy Fawkes Day was celebrated by law as a day of thanksgiving until 1859. Meanwhile, James' son Charles also ruled as an absolute monarch until overthrown and beheaded. England became the Commonwealth Republic, and then a military protectorate under Oliver Cromwell. It didn't last. In 1660 Charles II regained the throne, his son James II took over, and Parliament went to the House of Orange. However there can be no peace until the last Monarch is strangled with the guts of the last Pope and shoved up the arse of the last Emperor. Forget leaders. We don't need them.

Sunday 6 November 2005

Anti Telemarketing Script

Here is how to react to pestering phone marketers What I would really like is something to blast 40,000 volts down the phone line. Although, to be more reasonable, the people who get stuck making these cold calls are simply being exploited by bosses, so it is the business that you need to target. So waste as much of their time as your can. Either they go broke, or they take you off their lists as a bad prospect. Either result is fine.

Australian Web Standards

Australian Web Standards. This is a great checkout of how well major Australian company web sites are written in terms of web standards and access. The answer is most large company web sites in Australia are disgusting.

Monday 7 November 2005

The Merits of Shopping, by an addict (4)

Ran out of orange juice. Now that is serious. What else can you use to wash down your daily tablets? I may have to reconsider this food situation sometime. However I obviously couldn't go shopping, as I was awaiting a delivery of toner for the laser printer. You need to have your priorities right.

Trying CSS for shelter sheds yet again (3)

Pete actually said a little about who they planned to sell shelter sheds to. I should have been pestering him more about what other stuff he was doing, but who has time? I was able to add more web pages to the shelter site, bringing it to about fourteen. This time I added horse covers and farm sheds as small shelters, added airfield hangers, plane hangers and military aviation to aircraft and helicopter hangers. Oh yes, plus marinas, to go with boat sheds and shelters for ship and marine workshops. I checked Pete's horse and hay shed photo, and his small boat photo, and someone has really stuffed up the resolution. They must have been sampled badly. Still, maybe most people won't click on the thumbnails I made when I was trying CSS for shelter sheds yet again (3).

Tuesday 8 November 2005

Zombie Master Prosecuted

Jeanson James Ancheta is accused of being a member of Botmaster Underground, of gaining control of thousands of computers and turning them into zombies. These remote controlled computers are then used to send spam email and other malware over the internet.

This problem mostly occurs because Microsoft put ease of use before security, with predictable results. In automobile terms, Microsoft built a car that is unsafe on any internet. The secondary cause was computer users who don't have the knowledge or interest in setting their computers up correctly for use on the internet. The drivers and their mechanics are negligent, if not actively dangerous drivers. Plus the internet service providers did not actively close down ports that didn't need to be open by default for everyone. The roads did not get attention at accident prone spots.

JJA was indicted on 17 charges, and faces a maximum of 50 years in US jails. I make no secret about wanting spammers killed. Legally if possible, but duelling or assassination is also fine by me (a Russian spammer was assassinated by other Russian criminals). Over the population receiving junk mail, the amount of time collectively wasted is many, many lifetimes. There are probably only 50 major spammers. Killing off even the top ten spammers would eliminate most spam, and serve as a fairly clear warning to those tempted to make that the way they earn a living.

Off Balance

Galvanic vestibular stimulation means sending a low voltage alternating electric current left to right or right to left across the back of the head from the ears. The gadget Nippon Telegraph and Telephone use look like oversized open headphones. Totally confuses your sense of balance by disrupting information from nerves in the inner ear, and keeps you wobbling. Expect it in a non-lethal weapon in the hands of your friendly government, plus an iPod version.

Wednesday 9 November 2005

Printers Do CDs but not PCs

The Lexmark P450 is a small three colour thermal inkjet that prints up to 4x6 photo paper. It reads multiple types of camera cards or connects to Pict Bridge cameras, and displays them on a 60mm (2.5 inch) flip up display. As well as printing 4x6 photos, it will burn a CD of your camera card, or put the pictures on a USB drive. It will slide show your pictures on a TV. Optional Bluetooth adaptor for connecting mobile phones. It is a camera printer, not a computer printer. I like the idea.

One obvious disadvantage is a one piece colour ink cartridge, the same one used by other models, so it may not be able to be refilled. Main disadvantage is this printer does not connect to a PC. Obviously intended for light use, but might be a great idea for a technophobe home photographer.

iTunes Australia Store Prices

Think Secret leaked iTunes music store contract costs for Australia. If their source is accurate, Apple are paying different prices per record label, but typically A$99 cents per single. Albums were A$54.99 to A$11.99. Naturally these prices do not include 10% GST. Apple sell at A$1.69 and A$17.99 for albums, including GST.

Apple can change the retail price, but the labels can't change the wholesale price during the term of the contract. There is also material about what Apple will do about security of the material. Apple keep customer records for two years, and the record companies can use an independent accountant once every twelve months to audit the records, if the need arises.

Given the relatively small market, and the likely costs to Apple to run the thing, the prices to customers seem mostly in line. Stores selling physical CDs generally claim they need a higher margin that that.

The Merits of Shopping, by an addict (5)

I couldn't resist. I went shopping at the BiLo. Some of it was proper food, carrots, celery, kiwifruit (previously Chinese Gooseberries), eggs, tuna (formerly horse mackerel), medium red salmon (which looks pink to me), orange juice (14 varieties to check to find the one that is fresh, not reconstituted, no foreign ingredients, and from Australian farmers), milk. Strawberries, but their life span will be limited (yes, I have chocolate dipping sauce to eat with them - to hell with moderation - I wish I'd found some ice cream). The strawberries turned out to be crap. Picked way before they were mature.

Thursday 10 November 2005

Just Say No To Microsoft by Tony Bove

It has probably been said by a lot of people before, but here is a whole book on the history of the rise and rise of Microsoft. It does mention some of the less than honourable marketing methods used. Plus the book covers the important area of alternatives if you are just sick and tired of fighting Windows problems. It covers potential alternative operating systems, and even more important, applications. You can download chapter four (Slay the Word and You Will be Free) from NoStarch Press to see some of the suggestions for yourself. See Just Say No To Microsoft by Tony Bove

My goal is to provide a road map for using alternatives, or the equivalent of a 12-step method for getting off Microsoft software (as if it were an addiction). Of course, like any addiction or habit, people have to want to stop; this book helps them realize why they would want to stop and what they can use instead. From an interview with XYZ computing.

Green Power a Breeze

Farmers know a cash crop when they see one, and wind farms are a cash crop. The problem is there are no customers for expensive, unreliable power. Victoria has yet again decided to keep filthy brown coal power stations providing electricity. If it were not for government support, wind power in Australia would not have nearly doubled to 380 megawatts last year. Babcock and Brown Wind Partners are involved, as is Australian Gas Light's new A$1.4 billion buy Southern Hydro. Pacific Hydro went for A$788 million to Industry Fund Services, so I'm predicting poor returns for those superannuation funds.

How much government support? The April 2001 Mandatory Renewable Energy Target was 9500 gigawatt hours or 2.5% of capacity by 2010, with the scheme extending until 2020. Retailers can buy certificates from green energy suppliers. If they fall below 2%, retailers pay a fine of A$40 per megawatt hour. So as long as green power isn't more than A$40 a megawatt more than dirty power, at least 2% will be built.

South Australia has already run into problems with wind power, as the 400 MW capacity there is 40% of the typical maximum load, and 13% of peak summer load. However wind farm output can vary as much as 70%, so it is a highly variable input to the power system. Applications for 500MW are already approved, and another 900MW is being considered. If coal generators are let spin down so wind can replace them, South Australian will have massive brown outs whenever the wind drops. Having wind power will increase the cost of electricity, because of the standby capacity that needs to be kept spinning.

Food Colouring

What is it about colours that designers need to look beyond the rainbow? I have here an advertisement for bath mats. It lists sage, plum and latte. These are not colours. These are foods. Designers should get a grip on their imagination, and refer to colours by a hexadecimal designation. or at least stop naming colours after foods.

Friday 11 November 2005

Do Not Buy Sony CDs

Some Sony BMG music pseudo CDs install Digital Rights Management programs from XCP on Windows in a manner that is very hard to remove and destructive as well. Some Sony BMG music pseudo CDs attempt a similar DRM install from SunnComm on Macintosh OSX. Luckily OSX will only install software if you authorise it as Administrator, so never authorise this. The attempts to install kernel extensions called PhoenixNun1.kext and PhoenixNun12.kext.

The Windows version of the Sony DRM has been exploited by the Stinx-E virus, which hides in the Sony DRM code. There is a class law suit against Sony as a result of this. Some DRM pseudo CDs did not play in another computer systems due to errors in the music portion of the Sony pseudo CD.

I can't repeat this often enough. Do not buy anything from Sony, but especially these pseudo CDs. Boycott them until Sony go broke and disappear. Someone else will buy their intellectual property, and may be less stupid about it. If you accidentally buy one of the Sony pseudo CDs, return it to the retailer as unusable.

Here is a blog with a list of virus infected Sony music pseudo CDs (entry 17 Nov 2005). A dated list of copy protected corrupt audio pseudo CDs. Another person who says never buy Sony music. Plus a pair of web pages to search Amazon for copy protected music cds or music CDs that are not copy protected.

Saturday 12 November 2005

Internet Dependent Applications (2)

37 Signals web applications

Good Experience event email website

Free Online Timeclock

Sony have Rectal-cranial inversion

Sony are total arseholes. Buying their own rootkit and virus host, and shipping it on music. What a bunch of arseholes. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Boycott Sony. Let us see them make a loss.

Phone Pests

People don't bother me on my cell phone ever since I took the battery out of it. I try to remember to check for missed calls once every few months. However call centres in India keep phoning my land line to tell me I can save lots of money by getting a new phone from them. Actually, no, I really doubt I can save anything. Your phone bills on a phone without a battery are really pretty low. Jean found a second answering machine, so soon their automatic phone dialler can talk to my answering machine. I'm sure the pair of them will be very happy.

Sunday 13 November 2005

Apple Macintosh has no Programs

This compares to Windows: Viruses and Worms = 140,000; Spyware and Adware programs = 78,000 (; Burrowers = 40 (; 80% of PCs infected with spyware (; Last year (2004) alone: - 500 new Trojans ( - 500 new keyloggers ( - 1,287 new adware apps ( - 7,360 new viruses and worms (

I think that proves pretty comprehensively that Windows is way ahead. By the way, this web site sells bridges, if you happen to need a large bridge.

Monday 14 November 2005

Bus Stop Needed

I wonder why there has to be consultation about a bus stop at the new Paluma Road shopping centre. It is a shopping centre near a backpacker tourist area that also has hundreds of thousands visiting by plane. You think they all hire cards for the half dozen car places in town? Any shopping centre with a Woolworths needs a bus stop. It shouldn't be a matter for discussion.

Tuesday 15 November 2005

Shooting Suspects

At least many city newspapers are complaining bitterly about various unwarranted government anti-terrorist excesses. Look at the Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, executed (7 bullets in the head while they were holding him) by London police at Stockwell Tube station after their bombing. They stalked the wrong man, mistook what he was doing, killed him, and then lied for 24 hours while they tried to do a cover up. Thank goodness there were cameras and witnesses. What a wonderful example of the merits of reasonable killing.

Governments keep going for easy solutions, like passing meaningless laws, harmful laws, and doing security theatre. The hard solutions, infiltrating terrorist organisations and blocking their funding, are way too hard.

Wednesday 16 November 2005

The Largest Lead Pencil in the World

Proserpine Woodturning Group have produced a working 150kg pen, 3.85 metres tall, attempting to get the world record for largest roller pen. I tried looking them up on the internet, but alas, their web site is totally broken. Dry rot? Javascript based site that Google can't parse. Must be something that Homestead web sites do, since I've seen their broken sites previously. Checking the Proserpine Museum, on the Bruce Highway outside Proserpine may work, as may PO Box 492, Proserpine Qld Australia 4800. Try Proserpine Woodturners, with Javascript turned on. Some nice photos of turned wood object from the members.

Thursday 17 November 2005

You Can Take Your Phone And Shove It

The phones in this house ring, but when you answer, there is no-one there. This appears to be because some marketing group is randomly trampling through every phone number seeking someone to talk to. However if none of the poor suckers who couldn't get a better job are ready to talk to the victim, then the automated system just hangs up when you answer. Thus repeated annoying empty phone calls.

The great merit of IP telephony will be cheap calls. Which doesn't mean cheap calls to people you want to talk to. It means cheap calls by spammers. You can take your phone and shove it!

Whitsunday Times

The local Whitsunday Times newspaper goes from being a free paper to one with home delivery to residents and everyone else pays. I suspect this means that it means that we will miss out at the Whitsunday Terraces, despite being well within in the Airlie Beach home delivery area. This had got to cost a fortune in delivery costs. My prediction is the paper goes out of business within two years, or changes its delivery model.

Friday 18 November 2005

Digital Radio - seeking an audience

Haven't I mentioned digital radio previously? New policy in October. Technical roll out within two or three years, if radio interests can be bothered spending the A$400 million they claim the infrastructure would cost. Supplement to analogue radio, with no switch over time listed.

Claimed advantages.

CD quality sound.
What a joke. Has anyone listed to what is served on pop CDs these days?
No signal fade or interference.
Instead it drops out entirely.
Easier tuning. Choose from menu.
Instead of just twisting a dial until you hear something you like.
Small screen.
To distract you in traffic.
Time shifting.
Replaces radio cassettes, where no-one used that facility.

Plus it costs way more than conventional radios. With no incentive for broadcasters or audience to move, I can't see the appeal. After the mess with digital TV, I can certainly understand why the Government has been smart enough to stay right out of it and leave it to the radio industry.

The other neat trick is what to do in country areas. The 20 km range of Eureka 147 digital on VHF Band III doesn't sound much use. Analogue can cover multiples times the area. There is a suggestion Digital Radio Mondiale may be better for remote locations. For the benefit of city readers, that means everywhere except the city.

Meanwhile, some of my American friends swear by satellite radio, by Sirius and XM. Subscriptions cost about $15 a month.

Saturday 19 November 2005

Builder Paul Newton wins Master Builders Award

Local Airlie Beach and Whitsunday builder Paul Newton won the state Master Builders award in November, after winning the regional award in August. The Master Builders award was for Best Commercial Building (Office Accommodation) up to A$2 million. The client was Alan Gascoyne of Neato Employment for their head office in Cannonvale. The award winning architect was James Riddell, who in the interest of full disclosure I mention is my neighbour. Paul Newton was the builder who we contracted to renovate our apartment seven years ago before we moved to Airlie Beach. We have been very happy with the result.

Sunday 20 November 2005

Security Theatre Exposed

Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone actually told the truth about security theatre window dressing. This was at a candid speech to 100 people at an Adelaide Rotary Club lunch on Wednesday. In the fuss about having a plastic knife on a plane, commentators seem not to have taken the point that Vanstone was urging people to keep the threat of terrorism in a proper perspective. She questioned funding boosts to intelligence agencies and ridiculed some anti-terror safety measures. Rightly so, in my opinion.

After the facts about 9/11 came out, I decided I'm never board a US flight without being armed, and said so at the time. I was thinking a bottle of Bundaberg OP would make a good weapon. Bludgeon, cutting weapon, fuel air explosive, and if all else failed, at least you could have a drink.

Vanstone rightly complained about cutting soggy toast with a plastic knife, for the sake of security. She points out you will seize the attention of anyone if you hold a broken wine glass to their throat. I think this betrays Vanstone is more aware of conditions at the pointy end of the plane than back in cattle class, but it is still a valid point. I expect next flight that first class passengers will get stuck with plastic cups like the rest of us. Or paper cups. Then someone will declare paper cuts are a terrorist weapon.

The minister raised these points with the Prime Minister before the recent security spending spree. Her graphic illustration was asking the Prime Minister about ramming an HB pencil through your eyeball. I am awed by the minister's graphic description, at least as reported by the press. It makes great copy. Mind you, an HB pencil is rather soft, so actually one of those really hard 6H pencils would be a better choice for skewering someone's brain. I can now see pencils and pens being added to knitting needles and nail files as absolutely forbidden on flights. Stable doors closed after the horses have started racing. Being dangerous is a matter of training and state of mind, not just a matter of what weapons you have or have not.

The newspaper report did give some more security theatre cost figures. New security measures cost transport operators A$500 million. I can report Proserpine airport got butterfly netting on top of the gate area so you can no longer throw a packet of Jaffas to passengers. Let me see, $400 million for national security. $755 million for spies, air marshals and guards. That should help employment rates.

Monday 21 November 2005

Dining Out

Fran Metcalf did an article on a Roy Morgan survey about dining out. Over three months, 81% did fast food, 74% dined out, 3.4 visits to licenced restaurants, 5.3 visits to cafes with 43% attending cafes. On this basis, they claim cafe society status. Average fine restaurant $68 per person, $44 at good restaurant, $29 at a pub, $18 at a cafe, $10 at fast food. Luxury, luxury I tell you. Now one food place per 700 Queenslanders. No wonder so many restaurants go broke.

They also categorised diners. I am in the reluctants 16%, who eat out infrequently, and opt for fast food when they they have to eat out. Disinterested in special occasion or social element. That covers me. I basically loath eating out. I'd much prefer a sandwich to a restaurant meal.

Tuesday 22 November 2005

Power Out

Power outage 8:15 p.m. 2 seconds at the Whitsunday Terraces. Lots of schoolies reacted. Turns out that Magnums night club was out of action for over two hours, so central Airlie must have gone out. Police describe the scene as anarchy, and said it was a very trying night. Where I live we had 200 schoolies. Whitsunday Terraces Resort management increased the security guards to four, and I think they were basically on all night. Usually we have sporadic visits by one or two. These days there are enough events during the day that the schoolies return ready to party, but most only manage to stay awake until about 11. The ones who arrive on Friday, before events start, usually manage to party until the early morning. After that, the organised events are all there.

Wednesday 23 November 2005

Corruption - Good or Bad? (1)

Seems to depend upon whether you are talking about countries, corporate, or personal.

Using World Economic Forum Growth Competitiveness Index (GCI), it seems one standard deviation decrease in corruption against the international average averages a 30 place improvement in GCI (Australia is 10 out of 117 countries rated, with Taiwan and Singapore at 5 and 6, and China and India at 49 and 50). Open economies showed a direct correlation between lack of corruption and per capita GDP. An open economy with high corruption did not show up well for GDP. Closed economies all ranked high for corruption, but this did not always reflect in their per capita GDP. On the other hand, the best of the open economies did better than the best of the closed economies. Greg Price, AFR, 5 Nov 2005 p63. References: Growth without Governance (Kaufman and Kray, 2002). Corruption and Openness (Neeman, Paserman and Simhon, 2004).

Thursday 24 November 2005

Corruption - Good or Bad? (2)

Martin Gold of Sydney Business School did a research report on investor returns and performance of Australian stocks. The ASX 200 return for the five years to June was just over 50%. If you exclude 18 stocks with poor governance, the ASX 200 return would have been less than 50%. However had you picked companies on the Poor Corporate Governance Index, the ones that didn't do the right things to get the boxes ticked on Stock Exchange rules, the return would be 150%. Even in bad times the PCGI companies did better.

Non-conformance areas include not having an independent chair, chairman and CEO the same, no board nomination committee, and remuneration of directors and executives. So Gold concluded PCGI didn't help investors. It has been noted that family run firms typically outperformed others, which should be of interest to those following Murdoch and Packer.

International Corporate Governance after Sarbanes Oxley, edited by Paul Ali and Greg Gregoriou, from John Wiley and Sons.

Friday 25 November 2005

Corruption - Good or Bad? (3)

Which course gives the best results in Indonesian courts? Claiming innocence and having a media scrum follow your trial? Or claiming someone else (named) did it, revealing you are Muslim and wearing the habib, and allowing or encouraging family to make large payments towards your release?

Saturday 26 November 2005

Digital TV, a dead end

Multi channel free to air TV is not going to happen in Australia. The existing channels will keep doing precisely what they do now. Play to a mass audience on a single channel, and rack up higher advertising changes (and more minutes of advertising per hour). The closest we will get to multiple channels (on the digital TV that is capable of four per station) will be more than one view of the same ball game. How nice!

High definition TV? Here they have actually shown some HDTV. The Sound of Music one week, and The Great Escape a few weeks later. How nice! What a bunch of wankers. TV is already close to utterly useless. Luckily the computer industry will probably undermine them, with downloads. If we all use peer to peer we can watch much better stuff than stupid ball games.

The advertising model for content providers. Forrester Research mention 45 cents per viewer per episode as the advertising revenue. Episodes on iPod are US1.99. Can anyone see a way of totally dumping advertisers here? I wouldn't invest in network TV.

Sunday 27 November 2005

Anti Advertising

Web based applications are in the news. All that neat stuff from Google. Microsoft adding Office Live to complement their programs. So all of them will want money. However who pays money for stuff on the web? Hence they will advertise. I think the next big market will be for even more effective advertising blockers. Not that I see many with animation, plug-ins and Javascript all turned off.

Monday 28 November 2005

Industrial Relations in Queensland

While Labor is screaming about how badly the Federal Government will treat workers, perhaps it should look at its own record. Check how whistleblowing health worker Wendy Erglis was treated by health minister Wendy Edmond, and the government legal machinery under parliamentary privilege (it means private law). It made a very clear statement to potential whistleblowers not to risk their financial future by saying anything about what the government permits to happen.

Tuesday 29 November 2005

Power Out

Power outage 2:03 p.m. for a few seconds at the Whitsunday Terraces. Again at 2:08 for a few seconds. I thought we were still generally doing a lot better than a few years ago.

Renewable Energy Flops Again

Rocky Point co-generation power plant near Beenleigh is likely to be sold off at cents in the dollar. The three year old $60 million dollar sugar cane bagasse and timber waste power plant has had $48 million written off its value. Plus it was also charged with contaminated the environment with wastewater before upgrading treatment facilities. The politicians involved were out of the country, or in Cape York, which is pretty much as good as out of country in terms of tracking down an energy minister. A classic piece of work from the Smart State!

Wednesday 30 November 2005

Better Music Publishers

Internet aware music publishers are finding musicians and offering deals for a few songs, rather than whole albums. They are selling online and via iTunes rather than through record stores. They can promote ten artists for what the major music companies claim to spend on one. Their deals with artists are often for as little as 21 months, with the artists retaining copyright and masters. Very different to the major music labels.