Eric Lindsay's Blog 2007 July

Sunday 1 July 2007

iPhone Sales

Reports are that all 1700 AT&T stores sold out of iPhones by Saturday. Most Apple stores still had stock. Assume sales of at least 50 each, and that is at least 100,000 sold. It wouldn't be that Apple want to pull buyers into their stores to see all the other computer gear? Looked like about 9000 of the iPhones appeared for sale on eBay. Losers.

Activating 100,000 phones in a single day must hit their activation computer setup fairly hard. Can't be a typical cell phone activation load. On the other hand, one analyst claimed 500,000 sales by Sunday night!

Most interesting thing is activation via iTunes. This means that Apple can eventually sell the phones from any store that stocks iPods, and still control the activation. Gives lots more chances for sales in the future.

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are now a legal requirement in residences in Queensland, as part of the government being here to help you. I bought a smoke alarm to put in the Whitsunday Terraces when they were on special at $5.

I can't work out where to position the smoke alarm, due to the list of places where you shouldn't put it. The ceiling is fire rated, so I am not allowed to put mounting holes in the ceiling. Local handyman says double sided sticky tape fails quickly when upside down in the tropics (I thought that would happen).

Obviously the bathrooms and kitchens are right out, due to false alarms. The flyer says 3 metres from bathrooms. However with a small apartment, and open plan kitchens, every part of the apartment is exposed to kitchen smoke. Plus the bedroom is right opposite the bathroom and kitchen, so I can't put it just outside the bedroom. You need to keep the smoke alarm away from windows, fans and air conditioners so air movement doesn't prevent smoke from reaching the alarm. Plus you need to keep it 1.5 metres away from fluorescent lights (all my lights are fluorescent).

At the moment the smoke alarm is sitting on my desk. It works, and is switched on.

The Whitsunday Terraces resort has its own fire alarm system. One loudspeaker is outside my door. They test it each month. We get an alarm every now and then at night. Jean sleeps through them. If they continue, I get up, grab a flashlight, and look for which call button has been smashed by a drunk. The night manager has the advantage of a control panel with indicators, so he reaches the suspect button first. Never had a real alarm.

Being in the tropics, heaters and open fires are uncommon, and that removes a common cause of fires. Seems like there are about 40 fire deaths a year in Australia, and probably 15 lives would be saved by alarms and good fire evacuation procedures.

I think I finally have a good idea about where the government can put their smoke alarm.

Monday 2 July 2007

2006 Census Data

Some 2006 Census data for the Whitsunday area. These from the two local newspapers, because the material on the Census site was too difficult to access. So if you expect accurate figures, you are out of luck.

16955 residents (18323 in 2001). 53.1% male, median age 36 (national 37). 6148 (32.2%) married (7843 in 2001), 5.6% below national average. 1927 (13.8) separated or divorced (1854 in 2001), 2.5% above national average. 38.7% never married, up 6.6% from 2001, and 5.5% above national average.

Median individual weekly income $542 (average in Australia $466). Family income $1166 (average Australia $1171). Average rent $200 (national $190) In Airlie Beach rents were $240. Average monthly mortgage repayment of 1910 people (1250 in 2001) $1300.

8574 private dwellings (7318 in 2001). 2448 renting (2078 in 2001). 2000 owners (2221 in 2001).

Australian citizens 81.8%, 73.6% born in Australia, 4.4% in England, 3.6% NZ. 85.8 speak only English. 6.6% of people were overseas visitors (10.7% in Airlie Beach).

Tuesday 3 July 2007

Pollution Deaths

Unconfirmed reports that air pollution in China causes 350,000 premature deaths a year, with another 300,000 from indoor air quality, and 60,000 from poor water quality. China may have asked the World Bank to cut these figures from a report, as there were fears it might cause social unrest. China is obviously concerned about the economic costs of pollution.

On the other hand, an equivalent figure for 53 European countries was 1.8 million.

Wednesday 4 July 2007


TV commercial for Jason LaZBoy furniture. Doesn't say much, but a trendy type advertisement. However the LaZBoy web site isn't visible from an iPhone. Or from my browser with my standard settings. All proprietary Flash stuff, nothing that relates to web standards. I wish they would fix that (although once you enable Flash, the site looks pretty).

This comment typed while I sit in a 20 year old Lazboy recliner. A new Lazboy Charleston is across the room. I kind of wish I had bought the swivel option, but I want a chair that I can test before I buy, and no-one had a swivel base model on hand. I also couldn't really manage a chair larger than the 755 width and 927 depth of the Charleston in this room. Interestingly, at 1041 high, it is taller than my larger old chair.

Thursday 5 July 2007

Intel Penryn CPU

Penryn is Intel's successor to the Merom core used in the Core2Duo T5000 and T7000 series mobile processors. Since Apple use notebook chipsets in all their computers except the high end Mac Pro desktop, I expect Apple engineers will be keeping a close eye on production release dates. Penryn uses Intel's 45 nanometer process, so you can expect a smaller die (double the transistor density), higher clock speeds (20% faster switching speeds), and lower power consumption (transistor switching power down 30%). Penryn should contain around 410 million transistors as a dual core, 820 million as quad core. Most of the increase will be a larger cache, but the 40+ additional SSE4 instruction set will also be incorporated. Intel's 3 series chipsets will also be available. I am amazed to note they are managing 45 nm with their 193 nm dry lithography process. Clock speeds have already exceeded 3 GHz, and desktop front side bus 1333 MHz.

Most customers won't care. Only gamers, fringe CPU fans and maybe graphics people. Apple engineers will be among the people who care.

Intel had its high-k + metal gate transistor 45 nm process producing test chips last year. Early samples and yields went well, with good compatibility with existing software. Intel's 45 nm static RAM chips use a high-k Hafnium dielectric for the transistor gate, to reduce the leakage current compared to silicon oxide, so they had experience with the new P1266 technology. This leads me to hope for a relatively trouble free die shrink.

Power saving modes are important in Apple computers, whether notebook or desktop. Intel cpus normally offer Halt (C1), Stop Clock (C2) and Deep Sleep (C3). Dual core chips can set each core C state as above independently. They also have Deeper Sleep (C4) and Enhanced Deeper Sleep (DC4). Penryn adds Deep Power Down (C6), which disables clocks, and cache. It saves more power than other power down modes, but takes longer to go back to full speed.

I can really see either a sub notebook, or an even slimmer 24 inch iMac with a Penryn chip in my life toward the end of 2007.

Friday 6 July 2007

Battery Electric Car

Jean's Subaru wouldn't start when she left for her chiropractor appointment. The key remotes had been giving problems for a week or so, which may be unrelated. Showing great presence of mind, Jean begged a lift with another resident who was just leaving. She phoned me, so I walked over to the chiropractor and accompanied her as she slowly walked back up the hill to the Whitsunday Terraces.

RACQ started the car. The AutoPro battery place they suggested said they were not sure the battery was actually dead, when they tested it. They detected a current drain of 0.4 amp, and gave us the name of a couple of auto electricians to check this, before getting a replacement battery. They suggested a run to Proserpine to charge the battery, which we did. Stopped for some shopping and lunch at Centro on the way back, but Jean couldn't face seeing an auto electrician that day.

Saturday 7 July 2007

Battery Electric Car (2)

When Jean tried to drive off for the newspaper, the car was dead again. I guess it could be a dud battery, but having a current drain somewhere also seems likely. We had checked all the lights and so on, without noticing anything left on.

Jean will try getting a booking with an auto electrician for Monday. I guess we will see the RACQ folks again.

I told some of my friends at the market that I figured Jean would buy a new car within two months. I said she didn't tolerate dead batteries real well.

Sunday 8 July 2007

Balcony Garden

Small balconies like at the Whitsunday Terraces are not conductive to growing pot plants, especially when you forget to water them. Productive gardens promote edible gardens, with compact and sustainable pots and plants. The Dr Johns Jumbo Mini Garden looks attractive, but is Brisbane area only.

Monday 9 July 2007

Battery Electric Car

The nice patient RACQ guy who started Jean's Subaru a second time told us that even if there was a battery drain, the car would probably go into a sleep mode a few minutes after it was switched off and the doors locked. We had by then determined that the battery must be at least 4.5 years old, so that wasn't a bad life span. The RACQ guy suggested Reefside Auto Electric at Blue Bay would be able to handle the problem straight away. We went there. They did. Their instruments showed 0.02 amp drain, after they fitted the new battery.

Sometime we must try to find out what the magic number is to get the CD player to work. Neither of us have any idea where that number may be. On the other hand, we also basically never use the radio or CD.

Tuesday 10 July 2007

Electric Fan Heater Blows

We had an electric fan heater plugged into an old power board, since there wasn't space to plug it into a double power point on the wall. Not sure when Jean plugged it into that board, but this evening the power board blew and cut out the circuit breaker after a very short operating period.

The power board was only intended for computer use. It included a low wattage glitch filter that couldn't handle heater currents. Wow, what a smell when the filter melted!

Wednesday 11 July 2007

No ID cards

Australian Big Brother Awards for privacy intrusions, known as The Orwells. Needed more than ever thanks to increasingly intrusive company and government snooping.

I stopped voting for Labor decades ago mostly due to the Australia Card (de factor ID card). I can stop voting for the conservative parties due to the Access Card. Graham Greenleaf did a comparison of Australia Card and Access Card as a national ID card. The Access Card is, if anything, even worse as an ID card. Protection against being asked for the Access Card number are insane. A Commonwealth officer is protected by Crown immunity, even if they shouldn't have asked.

The revised Access Card bill wasn't presented to Parliament in June. However unfortunately this is not the same as the Access Card being dead like it should be.

Meanwhile, if you fall foul of the law, Australian prisoners may have RFID chip tracking them. Typical that it would be a Canberra open plan prison trying it. They will also tag the wardens. This is a wearable system, not an implant. It checks body capacitance to ensure it is on a body.

Thursday 12 July 2007

Show me the science

Daniel C Dennett explains how to create a controversy about scientific results. His example is intelligent design (religious crap against evolution from creationists), however the same approach can be used for global warming denial, or indeed history.

Friday 13 July 2007


Allan Kessing is a retired Customs department official. In 2002 he found criminal activities among Sydney airport baggage handlers, cleaners and security screening people. His report was leaked to The Australian newspaper. It cost the Federal government A$200 million to fix things. Kessing got charged for leaking. Judge James Bennett is said to have told the jury they couldn't take into account the public interest.

I need hardly mention how welcome whistleblowers were in the Queensland Dr Death affair.

This isn't any better than the treatment of whistleblowers in China. All organisations put their own concerns ahead of that of outsiders, even when the outsiders serve an even larger set of concerns.

Delivering Needs

The capitalist system delivers the goods, but do we really need all of them?

Start by distinguishing real needs from false needs. The Spectacular Commodity Society multiplies needs by feeding on itself. The new necessities surround us. Cars, TV, cameras, heaps of kitsch. They have as their major purpose ensuring companies make a packet. People define themselves by their objects. Ton up bikers. Stamp collectors. House wives.

The poverty of everyday life is such that people say they don't know what they would do with themselves were it not for work, or TV, or whatever. What a scene of alienation when life is so boring that a 9 to 5 grind to make someone else a profit is more exciting.

Saturday 14 July 2007


We were late taking our walk from the Whitsunday Terraces this morning. I didn't get to the Airlie Beach market until 8 a.m. By then there were no bananas left. The grower tells me the cold decreased the yield considerably, and they were small, green and hard. It has been months, even years, since I missed getting bananas by arriving late.

Sunday 15 July 2007

Paper Money

Paper money removed all restraints from government forging of money. They had only to run the printing presses to obtain an unlimited supply. The worth of currencies depended on what they would buy on the international market. When gold and non-forgeable currencies were demanded for the differences between imports and exports, shortfalls were quickly seen.

Within each country, government were able to impose paper rubbish by fiat, by making it illegal not to accept their paper. Once done, and with ownership of gold and silver restricted, governments could run deficit budgets. Increase the money supply, let inflation eat away the money assets of their citizens. You see this still in several African and South American countries. In government accounts, inflation is simply a hidden tax on money accumulated by citizens.

Mobile Phones

Over 19 million mobile phone connections! Well over 90% of the population? What are the telcos doing, issuing phones to babies at birth? I hate the damn things.

Monday 16 July 2007


Leaders don't work, whether good or bad. Who caused the most suffering, Hitler or Saint Paul? Leading is bad. Is not leading worse?

Every three or four years, say a dozen or so times in your life, you get to make your mark on a ballot paper. If you think this is democracy you are just plain unobservant.

Our leaders are a bunch of fixers, our politicians their pimps, our businessmen blood sucking sociopaths. Universities teach us how to teach. Our parents hate and fear black, yellow, white, pink, Jews, Muslims, foreigners, the lower classes, the upper classes, and us. Our press feed us lies and misdirection, and love certain politicians and businessmen who advertise. We don't believe our press, but buy it anyhow. The law orders us to obey them all. We don't believe in god, but let the word of god make our laws and frighten children. We don't believe politicians, but act as if we do.

Back when Stanley Milgram produced his frightening study on blind Obedience to Authority I expected more concern. Except for a few thoughtful newspapers, little seemed to happen. The then president of the American Society for Social Psychology even said The experiment should not have been done, because it could easily effect an alteration in the subject's ability to trust adult authorities in the future. Well, yes, and so it should!

Weather Station

I bought one of those cheap weather stations from the Post Office. Large thermometer, rain gauge, weather vane, all on a plastic stick. Maybe I'll get around to taking readings of how low the temperature goes on the balcony at the Whitsunday Terraces.

Tuesday 17 July 2007

Housing Affordability

Rumoured Labor plans to spend A$750 million a year encouraging investors to build low cost rental homes. The aim is 100,000 in ten years, so the subsidy seems to be A$75,000 per home. This in response to a doubling of home costs in the past decade. I wonder whether anyone has noticed that numerous project homes are already available around $100,000? The problem is partly most people want to live where someone else is already living, rather than in greenfield areas (where there is often no work and no facilities). The other problem is state government charges and council charges add tens of thousands of dollars to land costs. Yet another is that regulations (and desire) now prevent you starting with a one bedroom ten square home and expanding it when you can afford more.

Investors are accepting rates of return on property rents of 3% and 4%, or even less, partly because they can negatively gear interest against totally unrelated income. Keating, to his credit, tried to dump negative gearing, and failed.

More than a half million new private occupied dwellings were built in the past five years, according to the Census. Population growth was 1.2%, and household formation 1.5%. In short, fewer people per household. The stock of dwellings was 8,420 thousand. However 10% - 830,000 were not occupied in 2006 (9%, or 718,000 in 2001). While they are not all holiday homes (some are simply not yet sold), that is a whole heap of dwellings unoccupied, at a time when housing space is in short supply. It should be time to rethink how many concessions you want to make for people seeking that second home.

Wednesday 18 July 2007

Ford Engine Plant to Close

The inline six engines that have powered the formerly popular Ford Falcon for decades are to disappear in 2010, along with 600 jobs at the Geelong factory that built them. Smoother than a V6, but harder to fit in a car, the engines occupied extra space that made it harder to fit in vehicles where ever more cabin room was desired. Plus future pollution emission rules may not have been within the range of yet another variation of the engine.

Sales of locally built cars such as the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore have dropped to less than 20% of the Australian market, as manufacturers seek to cater to changing tastes, and the demand for smaller, cheaper cars. Large cars tend to allow greater margins per vehicle than small cars. Plus competition in small cars makes it hard to get large production runs.

Ford USA are having problems coping with the cost of medical coverage for their numerous retired workers. This can not be helping.

Thursday 19 July 2007

Electricity Losses

The long running cold weather and record lows is costing state owned NSW electricity retailer Energy Australia ten million a week. Wholesale prices of electricity futures have blown out to almost twice what it has been in the recent past. However regulated prices prevent it raising the retail price. Except for Queensland, states have under invested in electricity plant, and the shortages are starting to show up. Drought has also stopped hydro electric plants from contributing, and water cooled plants from operating at full output.

Some retailers, such as Energy One and Momentum Energy, have already had to consider dumping their retail customers to survive.

Expect even more state governments to sell off electricity assets, in an attempt to avoid costly upgrades. They will also want to avoid being blamed for electricity price increases, and shortage of supplies.

Solar Hot Water

A new Federal rebate of A$1000 for 220,000 households, to convince voters the government cares about green energy before the election this year. Add National renewable energy certificates of up to A$500, state rebates of up to A$1200, rebates from energy supplies, and rebates from councils. In NSW, up to A$3800 for solar hot water.

Solar hot water is already three times as expensive as alternatives. The price has gone up A$1000 in the past few years, and can be expected to rise again. Rebates are not a greenhouse solution. They are an electoral bribe.

Friday 20 July 2007

Digital Radio Rollout

Australian commercial radio broadcasters say they will adopt DAB+ for digital radio in Australia. DAB+ is the Eureka 147 using advanced audio codec (AAC+). Launch date in some capital cities is January 2009.

The suckers who jumped in and bought DAB radios will probably find they will no longer work when the more advanced (and better quality) AAC+ starts being used. Good reason for not rushing to buy too many new things.

Being in a regional area where the stations seem to broadcast only crap, I still can't see any real need for any radio at all.

Apple Power Adaptors

Apple just changed their Macbook Pro power adaptors to make them smaller, more of a size with the old Powerbook adaptors. Excellent.

Saturday 21 July 2007


The first pages of books of logarithms (younger readers can look them up) are more worn than last pages. Simon Newcomb noted this in 1881. More calculations involve 1 than 8 or 9. The proportion of numbers is such that the first digit D is log10 of 1 + (1/D)

Frank Benford rediscovered this in 1938, and found it applied to all sorts of numbers from nature. 30% begin with 1, 18% with 2, and so on. You do need big samples. You also need to avoid artificial constraints, such as market forces.

Theodore Hill explained this in 1996 with distributions of distributions.

Sunday 22 July 2007


After fuelling Jean's car at Airlie Beach, we drove from the Whitsunday Terraces to Mackay, with the usual stop at Bloomsbury to get chocolate milkshakes at the service station there. I didn't see any of the caged birds I expected to see.

Our first visit to the Mackay Bunnings warehouse hardware store. Very helpful staff, but the desktop sized dishwasher water hose we wanted wasn't ever something we were likely to find. We bought a hose for full size dishwashers, plus a length of plastic tube. Maybe we can kluge something together.

Bunnings have a stupid web site entry point. They want to customise it to visitors, so they ask your location. However, if you have cookies switched off, you just keep getting returned to the site entry. Since I normally don't care enough about any store to change my browser settings to suit them, I'll probably never check their web site.

When we arrived at our destination, Kerry suggested some ways to fit the dishwasher hose. He was dubious about the flexible hose working well enough with hose clamps when both hoses are flexible. He is probably right.

We sat around talking with Kerry and Leanne until it was time to get the taxi off to dinner near the port. I had a great time over a great meal. Probably an excess of wine as well, but it didn't really feel like it.

Monday 23 July 2007

Hip Joint

Jean saw the doctor about her arthritis. Went much as expected. She is scheduled for hip replacement in late August. A bit of wandering around organising some medical paperwork.

We visited OfficeWorks for photocopies. Lots of cheap hard drives there that are tempting. Then a visit to Canelands shopping centre, but we didn't spot anything we wanted, except for kebabs for lunch. The food court seemed sadly depleted, with fewer food outlets, and those mostly fast food. Pity.

We got back home to the Whitsunday Terraces mid afternoon.

Tuesday 24 July 2007

Dr Mohamed Haneef

Arrested leaving Australia on 2 July, and charged with recklessly supporting a terrorist organisation. A year ago Dr Haneef gave a mobile phone SIM card with some unused credit to a second cousin alleged to have been involved in the Glasgow airport car bomb attacks in Britain.

Dr Haneef was held for an exceptionally long time by criminal law standards before being taken before a court. He was to have been released on 16 July on bail of $10,000. However his 457 visa was cancelled by Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews on the basis of his character, so that Dr Haneef could continue to be held at the behest of immigration authorities. Dr Haneef is still innocent under law. The basis for the decision by the minister has not been released.

I note media reports of Dr Haneef's actions, possibly reflecting official leaks, have been consistently shown to be false. We were told he didn't ask for time off before leaving his post. He did ask for emergency leave, to see his wife in India with a new born sick baby. Police claimed Dr Haneef did not explain why he didn't have a return ticket. He did provide an explanation to police. We are told his SIM card was in a car used as a bomb. It wasn't. We were told he lived in a shared flat with two terrorism suspects. That also seems to be false.

This whole thing of political interference in a police investigation stinks. Kevin Andrews should resign. The use of terror laws since they were rushed through has mostly seemed reckless, and the results less than impressive. There are sufficient criminal laws to handle most cases encountered. Terror laws are way over the top in a democratic society. This case mostly hinges on guilt by association. The risk of terrorism in Australia is relatively low. We are killing off freedom in the name of security. I call for the complete removal of recent terror laws. I also call for constitutional protection from the state of the rights via a Bill of Rights for citizens and visitors, since we obviously can't trust the government of the day.

About time to remove the present Federal government of Australia, mostly for being fuckwits. Not that the ALP are any better, and Rudd will prove far worse than Howard. Howard is letting hubris overcome his political caution, while Rudd has always been a control freak. Time also to remove anti-terrorist laws from the reach of Federal Police, since they seem happy to use and abuse whatever tools they are given.

Wednesday 25 July 2007

June iPhone Sales

AT&T quarterly report says they activated 146,000 iPhones in June. Considering most AT&T stores ran out, and sales started 6 p.m. on Friday 29 June, and went through Saturday, for 30 hours that isn't too bad. A lot of revenue. It also doesn't include people who couldn't get a phone and were backordered, or bought through Apple online.

I assumed they would manage over 100,000. Some business analysts seems to be pulling figures from very thin air. One interesting figure is 40% new customers to AT&T, which I imagine makes them happy. Whatever the analysts think, this is probably the fastest take up of a new phone ever.

Word of mouth is that some AT&T stores took around 12 minutes to sell a phone. That means each staff member would manage only 5 per hour. Probably just as well they ran out of stock during the weekend. It wouldn't surprise me if the activation system had a bit of a meltdown initially. 146,000 phones activated in say 28 hours is well over one a second. Word of mouth is early buyers were tending to buy two, which sounds like a lot of gifts and maybe 10,000 attempted eBay sales. I imagine not all of these managed to activate within that first 30 hours.

Word of mouth, and demonstrations by users will probably continue to push sales for a fair while. Seems to me that Apple's figure of 1% of the market sometime in 2008 is very possible.

Personally I would like to see a few more software features. A landscape keyboard for mail, SMS and notes. It needs MMS as well as SMS (people with dumber phones don't have email access, so MMS is your only option). Built in modem, or what US users seem to call Internet tethering (use the phone as a computer modem when you don't have wifi access). Cut and paste. Search facility in mail for contact addresses. Decent calculator would be nice, but not critical. Voice dialling for frequent contacts might be handy. Voice notes might also be handy.

Thursday 26 July 2007

Apple Third Quarter 2007 Results

Despite people like me wondering when a new Apple computer update would appear (I want an excuse before I upgrade), Apple sales went up very well. 1,740,000 Macintosh computers shipped, 150,000 more than the previous quarter. 33% growth over the previous year. 9,815,000 iPods, up 21% on the previous year. I thought iPod sales may have been saturated already in the USA, but it seems not everywhere. It will be interesting to see the effect the iPhone has on iPod sales next quarter, in the USA.

Apple financial results were revenue of US$5.41 billion, net quarterly profit US$818 million, US$0.92c per diluted share. Gross margin was a whopping 36.9%. Previous year quarterly figures were $4.37 billion, profit US$474 million, 54 cents per share, and 30.3% margin. Highest June revenue and profits ever, highest Macintosh sales ever.

Macintosh related business were ~60% of revenue, for a 33% year on year growth. Notebook sales up 42%. This is the bit I am interested in. Despite an old case design, Apple computers simply continue to get more popular. Sure the old design Powerbook and Macbook Pro hasn't changed much, but it still looks better than most notebooks. Plus it takes more than a nice case to sell computers, at least for most people. Seems more people are getting tired of fighting Windows. Notebook sales were 1.13 million (64%), desktops 634,000 (36%).

Claimed iPhone and accessories sales for the 30 hours they were on sale were 270,000, which isn't half bad at all - it totally blows away any other phone first day sales. The difference between AT&T and Apple figures probably comes from Apple sales to AT&T stores being booked as sales, plus various multiple purchases who didn't get all their phones activated within June. Another explanation of slow iPhone activations.

Revenue from iPhone is being booked over an extended 24 month period, so there won't be any sudden boost in sales value listed, but this will be a real nice income stream. Apple aim to sell a million iPhones by 29 September, their final full quarter. Also repeated the 10 million sales aim during 2008. Wonderful to see phone makers get shaken up a little, given what a pain in the arse most mobiles phones are to use. This is a spectacular result, given most phones in the USA are offered cheap with high discounts (or are even free), whereas this one cost you US$600, which US phone users seem to consider is expensive. If they knew what say a Nokia N95 cost here they would perhaps rethink. Apple might eat the low end smart phone market, or they might simply double the size of the market for somewhat smart phones.

I was delighted to note Apple developers just got a newer seed of Leopard than the WWDC version. While Tiger is running perfectly for me, updates with nice features are always welcome.

I can't see the stream of the financial report. Bandwidth in rural Australia is mostly either too pathetic or too expensive to bother trying any streamed video.

Apple said it expects to earn 65 cents per share final quarter, on revenue of US$5.7 billion. Seems to me that means something is costing them heavy money, but it isn't a decline in sales volumes. A decline in margins from 36% to closer to their regular 29%. I suppose it could mean fence sitters (like me) waiting for Leopard, but I don't believe that is a big factor in their sales.

They made a big thing of back to school promotions. Seems to me Apple generally move mature products (with a reasonable margin) like the MacBook in the discount student channel by adding a sweetener like an iPod Nano. Margins would be lower, but not sliced thin. Wouldn't surprise me to see new models of something when the USA school promotions are about to end. Would this knock Apple margins? Seems to me give aways with a discount model would have an effect.

The conference call mentions their new product pipeline is very strong, possible future product transitions, and component price increases. LED displays for several additional models, higher CPU costs perhaps, and much lower margins initially? However to make such a difference for this quarter, the costs must be already biting. LED screens for the 17 inch MacBook Pro? Lots of cash spent on flash memory? New models?

I'm looking for a few new model computers in August or September. I could handle a 27 inch iMac, with a quad processor, for example. However I can't imagine how Apple could get LED displays at that sort of size. I also can't see multitouch on a desktop display. Plus I can't see the sales of one model like an iMac hitting profits so hard. Even if Apple drop the 17 inch, and have only 20 and 24 inch with a price drop, I can't see any change (even new CPU and GPU, larger ram and HD) to the iMac line having a sufficient effect on profits. Got to be something else as well.

I'd like a small touch screen portable computer using Penryn. Tablets basically don't work, but if anyone could get the interface right, it would probably be Apple. Plus Apple computers work fine with Bluetooth keyboards and mice, so you can use a regular keyboard if you need it. Although if both a tablet and an iMac appear, my computer budget is in trouble.

.Mac could use a change. However I can't see Apple taking it in-house. Plus where would the extra costs come in given the number of .Mac subscribers? Would they try doing the equivalent of the many social networking sites or many video sites? Can't see it adding up.

If one transition product is a physically slightly smaller hard drive iPod, I don't think Apple could manage to include enough in it to interest me. However the steady sales of iPods may mean Apple will cut prices to give sales a bit of a kick. Apple seem really good at their pricing, in terms of maximising returns. The iPod just doesn't have enough PDA features to substitute for my ancient PDA, so on longer trips I still end up carrying my Powerbook and an iPod Nano. I am not expecting the iPhone in Australia until mid 2008, and may not be able to use it anyhow. Lousy GSM phone networks coverage in country areas here, except for Telstra, which are pushing 3G.

Friday 27 July 2007

Dr Mohamed Haneef Not Charged

After all the fuss and nonsense from the Federal Police and prosecutor, they finally concluded they didn't have a strong enough case to charge Dr Haneef. Laws that encourage behaviour like this have to go. So do the people who don't see it as nonsense. This isn't the fault of the police, trying to do their job with tools they should never have been given. It is the fault of politicians overturning a long history of strong human rights in favour of reflex behaviour when the word terrorism occurs.

Saturday 28 July 2007

Hidden Curricula

Ivan Illich, in Deschooling Society, and Everett Riemer in School is Dead are blunt in their condemnation of the hidden curricula. The attitudes promoted in schools, as distinct from formal statements of education intent. They seek the quenching of the creative, hence dangerous individual; and the creation of acceptable social units.

Hardly new observations. A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.

Knowledge is seen as something teachers have, and pupils get. Long ago a teacher friend told me her students expected her to have an answer book. It is a pity life doesn't come with an answer book.

Thus schools teach the ability to withstand massive amounts of boredom, to accept no self-control over most of our work and action, to internalise authoritarian assumptions, to be punctual, to do mindless and repetitive tasks, to do others before they do you, to tolerate and accept stupidity and above all to be obedient and compliant to all forms of authority. says Michael Matthews, of Sydney Teachers College. These are the requirements for successful integration into the life and work of our society.

Sunday 29 July 2007

Aluminium Production

Worldwide aluminium production has increased from less than 20 million tonnes in 1990, to over 33 million tonnes. However Australia production of 2 million tonnes has been pretty stable for several years. No new potlines are planned. Plus investment is hardly likely while electricity supply is uncertain. In Australia, aluminium production takes 14% of all electricity consumed, and produces 6% of Australian greenhouse gases, despite a 60% reduction in emissions per tonne of output since 1990. Australia is the largest producer of alumina in the world, at almost 30% of world production.

Monday 30 July 2007

Jatropha bush biofuel

Mention of jatropha bush (Jatropha curcus), native to Central America, as a resilient to pests resistant to drought tropical and subtropical biofuel. Plus it grows on bad land. Lives up to 50 years. Short piece by Ben Macintyre in The Australian. Claimed to produce 2.7 tonnes of oil and 4 tonnes of biomass per hectare. Around 5000 hectares to run a megawatt power plant. The sap is a skin irritant. It is banned in WA as invasive and highly toxic (eating 3 seeds can kill) to humans and animals. Various companies are researching it, according to this reprint from The Times.

What are the odds this eco crap is bullshit?

Tuesday 31 July 2007

Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard

I decided to remove the wired keyboard and mouse (for cleaning), and change my iMac G5 computer over to the Apple Bluetooth wireless keyboard I formerly used at home with my Powerbook. I also installed the Apple Bluetooth Mighty Mouse I'd bought during one of their sales.

To my slight surprise, I did have to install drivers for the Bluetooth Mighty Mouse (I seemed to have drivers only for the more conventional single button Apple Bluetooth mouse). The keyboard and mouse responded well, with no key or pointer lag I could notice. Computer sleep mode could be induced from the keyboard, and the computer would wake via the Bluetooth keyboard.

Next possible problem is battery life. There is a reason Apple supply them with Lithium AA batteries, I am sure.