Eric Lindsay's Blog 2008 September

Monday 1 September 2008

iPhone EXIF data in iPhoto

What a pain. Photos from a geo-location enabled iPhone 3G show me as being located north of the equator, instead of south. They also show the location as west instead of east. What a pain that it gets latitude and longitude wrong. Is this location sign problem in the iPhone or is it in iPhoto?

Tuesday 2 September 2008

iPhone EXIF data in iPhoto (2)

There are a heap of indications in complaints on the web that the incorrect position location information is not a new problem. Something strips the sign from the location, and pay no attention to (or doesn't get) other EXIF indications that position is south or east. Since the programmers are not south of the equator, it does not get seen.

Wednesday 3 September 2008

NextG No Internet Connection

An Apple MacBook Pro with a Telstra NextG ExpressCard 34 card was brought in. This seems to be something like the GlobeTrotter GT Max produced by the Belgium-based Option, one of the leading OEMs for wireless data cards. The ExpressCard 34 card is labelled Telstra Turbo Card. It is orange on the protruding end, and has a NextG painted on it. It was designed by Option, Model GE0202, and was made in Ireland by Option.

I think Maxon Telstra Turbo Manager may also be for the same card. There are Telstra instructions on installing GT Max cards, but these seem to be obsolete and refer to files that don't exist. There is also Option Express device Mac OS X 10.5.x Leopard, which at least comes from the maker, but appears different to the Telstra device.

No internet connection via the wireless card. One problem was the card came from Harvey Norman, and thus had little support. It had been working since I set it up, but had apparently stopped over the past few months.

There were complaints on the web about Telstra 3G cards not working. Whirlpool had complaints in 2007 that Mac crashes with Telstra NextG, relating to Mac OS X 10.4.11, but this does not appear relevant. BigPond wireless broadband connection manager seems to be covering the Option GT ExpressCard. However there are indications Telstra Business do not (no, I have no idea why two different bits of software). MacForums Australia had Telstra Next G Option card stopped working in OS X 10.5, however an attempted fix failed.

Since I was going to be travelling, I decided it might be smarter not to attempt a fix with a deadline in front of me.

Printing Apa zines (1)

Printing my apa magazines is a bit of a problem, since I don't have a printer (long story relating to conspicuous waste for printer cartridges). Jean is willing to print them on her laser printer (and indeed, raided the unused toner from mine). So when I had some printing to do, I sent a PDF to email. For a simple enough print job, it works fine.

The problem is that not having a printer connected, means I also don't have a specific printer driver. My preference is always to target a printer running Adobe Postscript. If Postscript can't handle the complexity of the output, nothing else is likely to. However without a printer, I lack that Postscript option.

Thursday 4 September 2008

Garbage Bins (again)

It didn't look like any of the Whitsunday Terraces garbage bins had been put out again this morning when I checked sometime after 7 a.m.

Port of Airlie Marina

Pile driving continues at the Port of Airlie Marina this morning, anoying anyone staying at the Whitsunday Terraces. This is the pile driving scheduled to end in mid August. However it really does seem like there is relatively little more to go.

I have been told that construction crews will have a beach party on the brand new beach on Friday afternoon. This may indicate they see the end in sight. I wish them luck with the weather, as Airlie Beach has again had unseasonable cloudy skies, and some small amounts of misty rain. Just enough to make me rush the washing inside again.

Printing Apa zines (2)

When I used one of my old Pages template to do a slightly more complex magazine, the printing was pretty much a disaster. Type that was dropped to grey on a shaded background just was not readable. Jean ran one item via Open Office to bring shaded type back to black. However the Open Office conversion just can't handle complex layouts.

However Jean had a Hewlett Packard Postscript LaserJet printer a little distant for a USB connection. In turn, I had an underused Apple Airport Express network box. Plugged the printer and AirPort Express in to power. USB cable from the Airport Express to the printer. The AirPort Utility on my Macintosh picked up the Express. Most of the defaults applied, so the printer was soon up and running wirelessly. More important, I could then use a Postscript printer driver. That fixed up my printing quality problem. Only took about ten minutes to do the whole setup. That beats trying to rearrange an office and connect cables across a floor.

Friday 5 September 2008

To Townsville

We drove off from the Whitsunday Terraces before 9 a.m. for Townsville, stopping for fuel ($1.50 a litre) before we left Airlie Beach. One of the independent fuel stations 2/3rd of the way along had much cheaper fuel. Usual stop at Inkerman for their chicken salad sandwich. We reached Townsville a little after 1 p.m.

Our first stop was one of the hiking stores, seeking a carry bag. Despite an excellent range, none would actually do the job. They did have some Eagle Creek gear, but such stuff is ordered infrequently. Still, it confirms there may be an Australian agent, if I can't find some bag I like elsewhere. Next we tried Camping Galore. They said their other store near Willows had seat cushions and cushions for outdoor furniture. Seems worth checking.

Next was OfficeWorks, to put in apa magazines for copying. A fruitless search for a pocket notebook Jean would like. They had already run out of the 4 GB SD camera cards I had noticed. We wandered around for a while, until my apa printing was complete.

It was late enough to check into the Cedar Lodge motel. We had a noisy upstairs front room. If we try this again we may phone for a booking, rather than go through Wotif. Might get a better room that way. The motel gave us the magic number to access their $15 a day WiFi, but we never did get around to checking that it worked.

Jean was stubborn enough to walk to Stocklands shopping centre, and all through it in the blissful air conditioning. Checked both Dymocks and Angus and Robertson, but did not find any really attractive books at either. This wasn't a book trip in any case. We remembered to collect milk and orange juice for breakfast as we returned. We had noticed breakfast prices at the motel seemed fairly high, but perhaps all motels have to get into that area to cover costs. However it didn't seem worthwhile when we could carry some cereal with us.

We went to Sizzlers for dinner well before 6 p.m. Luckily we had ordered and were seated just before an enormous troop of children and a very few adults entered. Looked like an entire school class, or perhaps a birthday party. We rapidly organised to change tables to someplace away that would leave more room for the entire group. Not that they were not well behaved. The food as usual was fine, and as usual, we overate. So much for losing weight.

Jean had me drive back to the Cedar Lodge motel, so I couldn't have more than a taste of wine at the meal. I was sufficiently tired when I returned that I didn't bother to get a glass of wine then either.

Watched some news I had missed seeing previously on my iPhone, but was falling asleep by 9 p.m.

Alas, it turned out that the motel double bed sagged fairly badly. I didn't get a good night sleep. I ended up getting up in the early a.m. rather than risk trying to rest on the bed and damaging my back.

User Agent String Pain

Sad history of the web browser User Agent String on WebAim blog, by Aaron Andersen. Hilarious, and sadly all true. The basic story is that every web browser is claiming to be pretty much every other major web browser that has ever previously existed. This comes because idiots try to sniff which browser is accessing their site, and make up pages specific to a handful of (mostly obsolete) web browsers.

Saturday 6 September 2008


Since I was awake, I went out early and got the Saturday newspapers at a nearby service station. Also got some munchies.

After breakfast we drove to the Willows shopping centre area. There was the large Dan Gleeson power transmission station there, and a host of retail furniture and other home related businesses past the Reading Cinemas. We checked a few roads, and stopped at Barbecues Galore and Camping Galore on Hervey Range Road at Thuringowa Central.

Luke, a very helpful staff member, showed us where outdoor lounge cushions were stocked. We found one that would probably work well enough on my sun lounge. The store was impressively large and well stocked. Since I had basically been told elsewhere that you could not buy replacement cushions for sun lounges, I bought the one they had. Jean got a smal box for pills from the fishing section.

The staff member Luke also provided a phone number for a local demonstrator of Solar Billy. Barbeques Galore didn't sell the Solar Billy, but this person had been showing them in store in the past. That effort went well past sales.

We drove around the Condon area until 10 a.m., trying to get an idea where various things were located relative to Beck Street and Carlyle Gardens, and relative to Ross River, and Bohle Creek. We also wanted to check potential flood patterns and flood channels.

Carlyle Gardens Retirement Resort Open Day

Carlyle Gardens Retirement Resort Open Day commenced at 10 a.m. Carlyle Gardens is sort of like entering a monastery. There was sufficient well sign posted parking alongside the main building. Signs led us into the large Carlton Theatre, where round tables were set up. We had pre-registered and were given a showbag containing the same brochure we had collected a month previously, along with plans of the various homes. There was also a copy of the Prime Trust magazine. We failed to get a copy of the local resident's newsletter, due to a misunderstanding.

There was a brand new community bus to take us the long way around to the new homes being constructed at Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village. Helen, one of the residents, told us what we were looking at. We were amused that half the bus load seemed to be residents getting a good look at the new construction site. The road through from the existing homes at Carlyle East seemed fairly complete, with the bridge in place. I am not sure when that more convenient road opens. It appeared that the road we took had opened only shortly before. The grand entrance statement for this new section was also brand new.

There were to be three homes displayed, but one was already sold. Luckily, Kirkland and Stirling, the two Carlyle Gardens house designs we most wanted to see were the examples on view. We went back to each a couple of times, checking various parts. It was interesting to note inside the storage space in each garage was a Hills Home Hub for structured wiring. Structured wiring was one item I wanted to see, but did not really expect it in a regional area. The ceiling space manhole was also in the garage.

Back at the Carlton Cinema, we met a bunch of enthusiastic residents while getting stuck into the sausage sizzle. Ellen took us around the Carlyle Gardens facilities around the village square that housed the administration. She pointing out the various social clubs. Crafts room, the neat Buttenshaw library, a well equipped gymnasium, a hairdresser, as well as the bar and Carlyle Gardens restaurant. The swimming pool was directly outside the bar. There was also a decent size bowling green. We met the leader of the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club. Next day one of the fire volunteers told us of the wide range of woodworking and metal fabrication equipment at the workshop. One building near the entrance is scheduled to have a doctor attending frequently at his own rooms. There is a public bus stop at the entrance. Also a mail box for posting letters. A shop is scheduled for the empty block at the corner opposite the Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village entrance.

The only shop that I didn't see nearby was a newsagent.

As expected, neither home design we saw exactly fitted our wishes, but either were potentially viable. We were later in the afternoon able to get A3 size copies of the electrical and dimensional drawings for each design.

We were also lucky enough to catch Peter, the project manager for the new Carlyle Gardens west development. He intended to have optical fibre laid back to the office, and was co-operating with a specialist installer for making a smart community. I am not sure whether residents or Prime Trust appreciate what he is trying to do, and how important this will one day be to future residents.

During the evening we checked the site plan for which direction would work best for sunlight. We decided the large living area to face east for the morning sun. The problem was some designs were right handed, and some were left handed. We needed another visit to sort out which of the homes being built were the model we wanted, plus had a double garage, and had the living room getting the morning sun. We found one that seemed somewhat more isolated, on one side, and not on a main street (not that there is through traffic in what will be a gated community). We decided to check it out further.

I was later to do my own Carlyle Gardens retirement resort website, to record our impressions of Carlyle Gardens, Townsville.

Sunday 7 September 2008

Carlyle Gardens

We used the chart of homes already sold, and marked those of the right sort remaining. We saw Christine in sales and got help figuring which ones were right handed and which were left handed. We also got a copy of the legal documents, so we could have a lawyer check it out. As it happened, almost all the remaining six of the Kirkland Plus home with the double garage were in one back to back block. They all had the living room to the east for the morning sun, with one street having right handed designs, and the ones backing them having left handed designs. The place we had our eye on had its rear to the north, so the patio should get sun. Good for drying clothes. Perhaps not enough surface area for a large solar power system, which disappoints me.

We would have preferred not to buy for another year or two, but the location of the next several phases of development did not seem to have any homes as well positioned.

We took the bus out to the sample home. We also snuck into the construction area to check the frame of the home we were interested in. There was a nice breeze down the open area of the watercourse, and we figured that location had a good chance of catching the breeze. We should get a fair bit of planting by the watercourse, plus the pathway goes along the edge. The mailbox for the block of homes is also very close. The only negative is the usual one of being by a watercourse in flat country. Has sufficient been done that flooding of Carlyle Gardens Retirement Resort, Townsville is unlikely?

Then we checked the sample home some more, plus took photos. The lady there said she had told some other visitors to check out 544, the home we were interested in. She also thought it was in a good location. Opps.

When we got back to the village square, we saw Christine, and put down a $1000 hold. That gives us three days to decide whether to act, if someone else wants to buy in. We also swapped the plans we had been given for a set of the right handed version, to make it easier for us to do our planning. We asked for a variation to have tiling on all the floors (rather than carpet in the bedrooms), and air conditioning extended to the two smaller bedrooms. This means the whole house has air conditioning. Unless something turns up in the legal checks, we are now going to go ahead.

An hour of so later, as we were having the sausage sizzle for lunch, we heard someone else had asked about buying the same home. Just in time.

Skippy the bush kangaroo crossed our path as we were about to leave. So yes, kangaroos do hop down the main street.

Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village gate was 1.3 km from where Becks Road North meets Ross River Road (or maybe it is Harveys Range Road), 2.1 km from the Reading Cinemas, and 2.7 km from the Willows shopping centre, according to the car odometer. I gather Carlyle Gardens Retirement Resort puts on a shopping bus for residents from time to time. The public bus that stops outside Carlyle Gardens takes you Willows shopping centre. Also, it may be possible to cut some of the distance down by taking a back road. Even if not, it is well within my present walking distance, if it is not too hot.

Must admit that I hate the prospect of moving. It is way too much work.

Monday 8 September 2008

Return from Carlyle Gardens

In the night, a vision came to me. Carlyle Garden Gnome. I wonder whether the dot com has been taken?

We left at 8 a.m., when the motel reception was open. The drive home to the Whitsunday Terraces was uneventful, although we were both tired. I went out and got us a roast chicken for lunch. We each found something in our home to discard in the rubbish, as the first step towards getting ready to move.

Rules for Computing Happiness

Alex Payne blogs rules for computing happiness. A little list of worthwhile heuristics for avoiding computing problems.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

iPhone Billing

The nice lady from the local Telstra shop phoned me. I hardly heard the phone ring, in a bag across the room. She was assured by Telstra that they were aware they needed to fix my billing to match my contract. However part of the change could only take place when the bill was actually issued.

In the meanwhile, I should be able to set my iPhone up with my bonus option of phoning Jean's mobile for up to three minutes free of charge. I guess I will try that after lunch (I am in a much better mode for dealing with phone systems after I eat).

I did however change the ringtone to a strident old fashioned phone (Jean tells me an old USA style). I also put the volume up considerably. If I had the phone in a pocket I would have felt it vibrate, but I mostly carry it in a bag.

I guess I will also check to see whether Telstra's Online billing system will let me actually see my account. It never worked since the very first time, which is not precisely inspiring confidence in Telstra's systems.

Port of Airlie Marina Noise

There was some pile driving today at the Port of Airlie Marina, in Muddy Bay directly below the Whitsunday Terraces, but distant from us (and everyone else). It looks very much as if that may be the last of the pile driving that needs to be done.

That may also be the last of the really loud noise. When they take out the piling across the marina entrance it should not be as noisy. So now we should just have industrial construction noise. Plus the change from a water view to a view of a construction site for anyone at the eastern end of Airlie Beach.

I think it basically fair to say that the noise of the pile driving for the Port of Airlie Marina drove us out of our home at the Whitsunday Terraces.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

iPhone Bonus

I set my iPhone Bonus feature to be able to phone Jean's mobile free for 3 minutes. That was the first test of whether the changes to my phone account were finally starting to work. That one seemed to work OK. It is a relief to find one tiny item working correctly on my Telstra phone plan. perhaps the accounts have also been fixed?

Thursday 11 September 2008

iPhone Test

I went to McDonalds early in the morning, and tried connecting to the Telstra WiFi hotspot. Last time I did not get a one time SMS code to use the the HotSpot for free.

This time within a second or so of entering my mobile number, I had received by SMS the six digit one time access code. My test of the web via the HotSpot worked just fine. That is the second test of whether Telstra now has the account working.


We finally had to admit defeat and go shopping for food. What remained in the Whitsunday Terraces apartment was too unbalanced to make many meals. I imagine we will continue this conflict between having sufficient on hand, and not wanting to overstock, for the the next few months. We have several trips planned, and the possibility of moving at the end of the year.

We dropped into the Whitsunday Community Services. Rod said there would actually be some interest in electronics kits, CRO, and similar stuff. Or some of the volunteers kept their own sheds stocked with a variety of discards. Seemed good enough to pack some boxes and bags with equipment I am unlikely to use when we move.

Friday 12 September 2008

Discarding A Life

I had wasted a lot of time the previous day putting aside old power cords, computer and telephone cables, power supplies, a scanner, a CRO, and so on. We took that to the Whitsunday Community Services centre, and left it with one of the volunteers. I hope someone can make use of it, even if it is mostly some of the electronics enthusiasts in the volunteers.

I also threw an even greater quantity of stuff out in the rubbish. We have made sure the rubbish bin has been full each day this week.

Saturday 13 September 2008

Local State Member

Jan Jarratt, the local Labor State member of Parliament, was at the Airlie Beach markets setting up a stall. I said I didn't think there was an election coming up (it is not due for about a year). On the other hand, with NSW and WA Labor in trouble, maybe Jan was feeling a greater than usual need for some community consultation. I thanked her for speaking out against the QER shale oil proposal. We had a bit of a conversation about nanotech. Jan is hopeful of better solar cells (I guess she is thinking of the titanium dioxide or similar experiments). We agreed the hadron collider had not destroyed the world (seems like a good result to me). I asked if constituents were already complaining about the grey goop problem (the idea that out of control nanomytes could eat the world).

Alas, my attempt to add her photo to my iPhone address book came a cropper when the iPhone crashed trying to take the photo. I don't think I can blame that one on a politician. That was a stuff up by Apple. I wish their first release software had a heap more beta testing. Their culture of secrecy really hurts first release reliability, since no-one can test all the ways the average punter can operate a gadget.

Sunday 14 September 2008

Garbage Bins (again)

The garbage bins at the Whitsunday Terraces did not go out, despite being full. We returned from getting the paper around 7:30 a.m., too late (we thought) to put them out. A minute or so later the garbage truck arrived.

Monday 15 September 2008


Deciding to move does help in making decisions to throw things out. Heaps of things kept because they were marginally of use, or because someone may find them handy, all headed for the garbage bins. The trouble is, the more you chuck out, the harder the rest becomes, as some is genuinely good stuff, just underused.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

iTunes 8

I decided to upgrade iTunes to Version 8. There were not sufficient complaints to be seriously worried about it stuffing up. However it says something about the decline in Apple QC that I would even be considering whether there were too many complaints.

As is usually the case, upgrading iTunes also meant an upgrade to QuickTime, Apple's media handler.

iPhone Update

Having iTunes 8 allowed me to update my iPhone 3G to firmware 2.1. This is the bug fix version, that is intended to fix a number of past problems. We shall see.


Yet again the Whitsunday Terraces garbage was not put out, despite some bins being full.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Telstra Account

So I decided to check my Telstra phone account to see if it was still incorrect. This is the account I set up for web access a few weeks ago, discovered the billing for my iPhone was wrong, and then could never again access.

I tried login. No luck. I have dozens of other accounts that I can log into without any complications, so I do not believe this problem is because I can't manage to enter my account details correctly.

So I told the Telstra web site I couldn't recall my account details. Instead of taking me to the next stage of alternate login messages, it told me that I didn't have an account. Despite being annoying, this may actually be progress.

So I tried to register again for access. This time Telstra tells me that I am already registered! I sent a complaint by email. They automated their response. However sometime in the evening they sent a specific response. They told me what username they had me down as. It was nothing like what I had actually used (are they writing their accounting system in COBOL?)


I emailed a photo to Picasaweb from my 2.1 firmware iPhone. Adding the name of the directory as the subject of the email directs the photo to that directory. This time the latitude and longitude shown in the EXIF data was correct, unlike the previous photos. The previous iPhone photos had me N and W rather than S and E. So handling the GPS data correctly was really worthwhile.

Thursday 18 September 2008

No Garbage

Yet again the garbage didn't go out at the Whitsunday Terraces. Well, except for the test rubbish bin I dragged out. That got emptied by the garbage truck.

Telstra Account

Using my newly revised username, I found that Telstra were still vastly overcharging me for my iPhone. Sigh! However I had been told to expect them to still have it wrong.

We visited the Telstra store at the Centro shopping centre. We were lucky to hit it between customers. The nice folks there went back into action to get the account fixed, by organising a refund of the overcharge. I sure hope that the new Telstra accounting system is finally working.

Friday 19 September 2008

Tiny Travel beds (1)

Emirates First Class private cabin is tiny travel bed. The seat unfolds flat, and even has a massage unit built in. There are two lamps in the wall, one on each side of the sliding door. They even managed to fit a small vase under one of the lamps. There is a narrow desk at the front of the cabin, with a wide screen display in the wall. There is a thin magazine rack below the desk. The side wall opposite the door has another work space, and a private mini bar. It also contains the fold out meal table. Emirates even have a shoe box that doubles as a footrest.

No, I haven't tried one out. I note it merely to steal ideas from the best when I make my own work space.

Saturday 20 September 2008

Tiny Travel beds (2)

The SeatGuru site say an airline bed needs to be more than 20 inches wide, and have a seat pitch of at least 73 inches (185 cm). Why do airlines use obsolete measurements? They need a personal TV, a laptop power point, USB port, an audio jack. Storage space for handbags, shoes, and laptops. Recommended are fold down armrests to make the seat into a 27 inch wide bed. Monitors on various airlines are 22 cm to 43 cm. Shelf for glasses and the like. Mini-bar.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Apple Screen Sharing

Look in System Library CoreServices for an application called Screen Sharing. Drag it to your Applications folder, or into the Dock. If you have the IP number of a machine on your network, you can share its screen (if sharing is enabled).

If you don't know the IP number, or prefer to use Bonjour, change to Terminal and in one line type: defaults write ShowBonjourBrowser_Debug 1

Monday 22 September 2008

Short Selling

If you think a stock you don't own will be worth less soon, you sell the stock at the higher price today (sell short). After the stock has gone down, you buy it cheaper (buy to cover), and make the difference between the selling and the buying price. It would be nice if you could do that with books or cars.

Where do you get the stock to sell? You borrow it from a share broker. So you make money when the stock goes down, unlike normal share buys, where you make money only if it goes up. If however the stock goes up, you may lose lots of money, because you have to pay more to replace the borrowed shares.

Books are identical in the same sense shares are. So, you borrow a brand new book from someone, and you sell it. Then you find some place selling the book cheaper, like a wholesaler, and buy the book cheaper. Then you return an (identical) book to the person you borrowed it from. Is it a crime to sell something you don't own? Not if they are shares.

On the other hand, short selling can be said to help establish a realistic market price for shares. If you can always find a way to buy a book for less that you sold it for, then the book probably is not worth the higher price. Share traders say they help the efficiency of the market.


We checked out the Carlyle Gardens retirement Village contracts with a lawyer. Like us, he had put a lot of work into going through the retirement village contract. He did raise the point about what happens with some of the funding, so I investigated the published accounts of Prime Trust a bit more thoroughly.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Construction Noise

The Port of Airlie Marina construction site below the eastern end of Airlie Beach still makes a considerable amount of noise. Nothing like when they were pile driving, however between trucks dumping rock, and a variety of diggers and bulldozers, it is still noisy. For example, I couldn't hear the 5 p.m. news over the construction noise.

My negative advice to tourists intending a visit to Airlie Beach remains. Stay right away from the eastern end of Airlie Beach, unless you like overlooking a construction zone. Hermitage Drive has the added disadvantage that there are now four construction cranes on Mount Whitsunday, as well as the marina noise. Some resorts lower down Golden Orchid Drive probably miss a lot of the marina noise.

If you are spending the whole day out on the water, these locations like the Whitsunday Terraces are fine. Construction starts at 7 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. It ends around 6 p.m. Sunday is free of construction noise. Saturday afternoons tend to have less. Friday afternoons are also sometimes less noisy.

Carlyle Gardens Gnome

I got stuck into writing Carlyle Gardens Gnome, my new website regarding our pending purchase of the right to reside at Carlyle Gardens Retirement Resort at Townsville. The Carlyle Gardens Gnome website was a convenient place to jot down whatever I found out about how retirement villages worked. Specifically, how the Carlyle Gardens, Townsville, retirement village worked for the residents.

I am extremely tempted to write a web site about wrinkly ranching. It would be even better to have a site on a more Australian term like grazing or graziers, but I can't think of a wrinkly equivalent term that would go with grazier.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Telstra Bill

My Telstra bill arrived. As I anticipated, it was wrong, by over $500. This is the bill the nice folks at the Telstra Shop at the Centro shopping centre had already tried to fix. After I stopped stalking around muttering about ripping their bloody heads off, I phoned Telstra accounts. Lots of voice forwarding. Their computer voice recognition is better than I expected, but the system keeps partially resetting. Eventually the operator got a supervisor to authorise the needed changes. Took about 20 minutes in total, which was less than I expected. When I return, I get to see if the corrections were really made this time.

Thursday 25 September 2008

Fly to Sydney

Depart Whitsunday Coast Airport past Proserpine on Virgin DJ1114 scheduled for 12:45 p.m. Scheduled to arrive at Brisbane 2:10 p.m. I am booked on DJ2476 Brisbane to Sydney at 4 p.m., scheduled to arrive at Sydney at 5:30 p.m.

Taxi to Proserpine airport made large detour. Then backtrack for a missed pickup. Then a sugar cane train blocked the highway. We arrived in sufficient time anyhow. Seat 19c for my flight to Brisbane. Ham sandwich on Virgin Blue flight is cheaper than Proserpine airport. I wish Virgin Blue or Jetstar still had direct flights from Whitsunday Coast to Sydney.

Had an hour in Brisbane domestic terminal. Seat 25a for my flight to Sydney. What can you say about air travel?

Taxi to Park Regis hotel came up William Street, which although direct is probably a mistake. Expensive trip in peak hour.

Had some email responses already this afternoon. Visit Apple Store to admire their glass staircase yet again. Buy new rechargeable camera battery for my Canon TX1 at nearby George's. They took it from a new camera. No wonder their batteries don't work.

Why don't pedestrians walk on the left? Alas, NSW Motor Traffic Act no longer seems to provide regulations for pedestrian traffic, saying to keep left. Woolworths for snacks. Organise to see Graham Stone for lunch noon Friday. Potential UTS visit clashes with prior appointment. Try again to reschedule.

No Sunspots

For the first time in 100 years, a month has passed with no sunspots being visible on the Sun. You normally get a heavy reduction at the start of a new solar cycle. The average over the past 7 months has been 3. Do sunspots have an influence on the weather? The solar wind is also weaker than at any other time humans have measured it. Seems there is much we do not know about the universe.

Friday 26 September 2008


Not much open (except McDonalds) when I went walking at 6 a.m. When I returned from my walk at 7 a.m. Mona's was open, just around the corner from the Park Regis hotel in Pitt Street. Had a nice big breakfast there, all under $8.

I checked JB HiFi, and found new SF TV series I could get on my return. Apple Store was not as crowded as I expected. I collected a few wine glasses before Graham Stone arrived at noon. We had a lunch at Mona's. I should have had the bangers and mash, instead of healthy stuff.

John August phoned later and joined us for some wine and conversation. I had another walk around town later in the evening.

Saturday 27 September 2008


Mona's was closed on Saturday. Bought a copy of The Australian newspaper at Town Hall station. Snacked on leftovers. Walked to UTS for my photo of the day.

John phoned to suggest meeting. David phoned twice to check and report minor Dreamtime trip variations. Walked to Kings Cross. Finally located John at some tables at the markets at El Alimain fountain. Naturally I took a photo as my new iconic Sydney photo. Watched a game of Go, and decided I would do it poorly.

As I left I realised I should locate Jean's former apartment at Potts Point and get a photo. I found the place we used to get our laundry done, and after a little misdirection, found Tusculum Street. I also tried to repeat the park path we used to take to Central. Seemed to be an expressway there. That was enough walking.

I sat around and read some more of the newspaper while I recovered. The later afternoon walk was short. Bunch of shops and another visit to the Apple Store. Apple now seem to be pushing MobileMe a bit more.

Dinner was a crepe at the one of the underground food courts. I sure hope I have enough alarms set for this early morning departure.

Sunday 28 September 2008

West Australian Air Tour

I need to eat something and be at the general aviation area of Bankstown airport before dawn for a very early take off on David Marks Flight Through the Spectacular Land of the Dreamtime Pty Limited air tour of southern and western Australia. This will be my third trip with one of David's groups. Taxi drivers always get the Bankstown airport area wrong, so I needed the map and full directions that David provided. The taxi driver mostly ignored and argued about my nice map showing getting into Tower Road via Henry Lawson Drive near Milperra Road. Seemed to express surprise it was really there.

Usual taxi problems after getting the taxi at 5:20 a.m. At Airtex Aviation, Bankstown around 6, second to arrive. David was on time.

We will be flying in a pair of twin piston engine Piper Navajo Chieftain, each of which is a ten seater aircraft. Twenty people in all, two pilots, tour organiser David, and the 17 passengers.

Problems. Some weight, some headwinds. We needed to drop 140 kg from the luggage. Howeverwe had an original allowance of 11 kg for each of the 17 passengers. Ouch! We tried several time. I left a heap of my 10 kg at Airtex, total luggage now well under 6 kg. Takeoff at 9:40 a.m. instead of 7. Unhappy doesn't half cover this. Just how did this happen?

In air, headwinds are dropping our speed 30 knots, and more.

A very brief fuel stop at Waggs Waggs. We were back in flight by noon, headed for Deniliquin. In flight food service, snacks to Wagga Wagga, sandwich to Deniliquin.

We are still several hours behind schedule, with a lengthy flight ahead. Very quick fuel stop at Deniliquin, and then off to Horsham for our next fuel stop. These one hour flights were not as long a flight as the one to Wagga Wagga, which was around an hour and a half. We should be in Horsham a little before 3 p.m.

The gardener at Horsham was part of the aero club. Told us of Horsham fly-in 19 Oct. Cup of tea for most, and we were ready to leave for the hour plus flight at 3:25 p.m.

My camera battery died (already), and the spare AAs are in the large bag in the luggage compartment. Not a good start.

Fly south west via the Murrumbidgee Irrigation area to The Coorong on the South Australian coast. This narrow ribbon of water is where the long narrow sandspit of the Younghusband Peninsula curves away from the mouth of the Murray River. The long, narrow lagoon runs parallel with the coastal dunes for 140km.

What little is left of the Murray River after its 2500 km journey empties into Lake Alexandrina before passing Goolwa and emerging at the Murray mouth. However the river mouth has been kept open in recent years only by constant dredging. Irrigation extraction dropped Lake Alexandrina below its normal 0.8 metres elevation above sea level, so it is now a half metre below sea level.

The five concrete barrages dating from the 1930's that kept the fresh water from mixing with the salt water from the sea only partially postponed the problem. Now the shoreline of the lakes is retreating. The natural acid sulphate soils formed from decaying vegetation are being exposed to air. When it gets wet again, sulphuric acid forms. This in turn releases heavy metals into the water, turning it into a toxic wasteland.

There is an interesting story on The Murray's Defenders in the Australian Geographic, issue 92 for October 2008.

Next stop Goolwa by the Coorong. We were due for a cruise at 1 p.m. We will not be there until 4:30 even with the time zone change.

We boarded the boat Spirit of the Coorong just after 5. An excellent boat for the tour. A very good commentary. Photos are a problem in the twilight and I was very chilled.

While we got our boat crossing of The Coorong, we were not able to do a sand dune tour with commentary on the area, including the Tanganekald clan of the Ngarrindjeri people. The villages of these people have elections, and a President (called the Rupelle).

The bus driver took us to the Murray mouth as we went to the motel. It was nice to think we reached it, even if we couldn't see a lot.

We stay overnight near The Coorong at Goolwa Central Motel, on the mouth of the Murray River, about 80 km south of Adelaide. Surveyed in 1840, Goolwa was once the main entry port on the Murray, and site of the first railway in South Australia. Goolwa may be a Ngarrindjeri word meaning elbow. It is near the infamous Hindmarsh Island, of Aboriginal secret women's business fame. Almost opposite the motel is River Dolls of Goolwa doll museum, which I mention for some UK fans. That also has teddy bears.

The Goolwa Central Motel had Murphy's pub meal, where I had the Guinness pie ... and an Irish ale. In bed by 10. Alas, awake again by 2:30 a.m. This poor sleeping pattern was to be repeated all trip.

Monday 29 September 2008

Air Tour Day 2 Kangaroo Island

We were at breakfast at 6:45 a.m. for a 7:30 drive from Goolwa to the airport for the flight to Kangaroo Island. We flew over the Coorong for photos and were a little late for our bus tour. The planes were flying us in without luggage. They would return for the luggage and a full load of fuel. No fuel on Kangaroo Island. Plane can not land with passengers and a full fuel load. Bit strange to find fuel so critical on the trip.

Kangaroo Island, about 110 km southwest of Adelaide. It is the third largest island off Australia (after Tasmania and Melville island), at around 4400 square kilometres. It is 150 km long, and up to 57 km wide, and only 13 km from the mainland. The population is a little over 4000. There are numerous wineries. The island is a bee sanctuary, with imports of honey products forbidden, to protect the bees. It is reputed to produce particularly fine honey. About a third of the island is protected in National Parks.

Driving around the island we saw a lot of canola planted. Seal Bay has to be on schedule as tours are timed. We had excellent views of Australian sea lions during our guided walk among sea lions at Seal Bay Conservation Park, home to 500 rare Australian sea lions. Our guide Daniel explained what we were seeing.

Full day driving tour of the south coast and west end of Kangaroo Island. Little Sahara was a range of great sand dunes that took us a fair walk. Almost everyone managed to get to the top of the second high dune. Sand in shoes.

We were shown great views of Vivonne Bay, the only safe south coast harbour. The jetty had been partially destroyed to discourage Japanese invasion. To judge by the tourists it didn't entirely work. Spectacular beach on the other side.

At the Hanson Bay koala walk I managed to photo almost a half dozen koalas. They were well up the trees.

We visited Flinders Chase National Park, with a possibility of seeing Cape Barren geese and Tamar wallabies. Flinders Chase national park was the site for a picnic lunch. Very nice visitors centre, with a nice display. The park is excellent although our driver Richard added greatly to the tour with his commentary.

Remarkable Rocks are a series sculptured and standing above a sea cliff. Crowds of tourists photographing them. I am getting too old to get flat on the ground to get my photo.

We saw Cape du Couedic and the Admiral's Arch. Last place on the tour was Admirals Arch. A giant seaside arch of rock, a short walk from Cape Du Couedic lighthouse. A good boardwalk, and about 50 or so steps. There was also a NZ fur seal colony.

Unfortunately 85% of Flinders Chase were burnt during the December 2007 bushfires.

Visitors Centre was the last stop before the 75 minute drive to our hotel in Kingscote via a different route across the middle of the island.

Overnight stay on Kangaroo Island at Ozone Seafront Hotel, on The Foreshore, Kingscote, which is the largest town. The hotel overlooks Neapean Bay, and the dining area is said to have a great view. A penguin centre is in the basement. A potential short after dinner walk to see fairy penguins, with Park Rangers.

Pacific Sun

Cruise ship Pacific Sun is scheduled to arrive off Airlie Beach today. This is a reminder of home at the Whitsunday Terraces.

Tuesday 30 September 2008

Air Tour Day 3 Bight to Esperance

We intended to fly across the head of the Great Australian Bight, where we may have aerial views of Southern Right whales. We saw considerable numbers of whales when we visited nearby areas a few years ago. We should fly along the Southern Ocean parallel to the Bunda and Baxter cliffs, across Cape Arid National Park. We should overfly the Archipelago of the Recherche, a group of 105 islands, and over 1200 obstacles to shipping.

We intended to overnight at Best Western Hospitality Inn, at 44 The Esplanade at Esperance on the West Australian coastline, about 20 km from the airport. The motel is near the centre of town and overlooks the bay.

I awoke again around 2:30 so I am not doing well for sleep so far this trip.

Today we attempt to fly to Esperance. The weather report yesterday evening was not good. We will also need at least four refuelling stops on the way.

The Ozone Hotel had arranged a 6 a.m. wakeup phone call. I was not expecting that. I had a light breakfast, as most meals will be too large for me. Was all packed with luggage to hand when the bus arrived at 7:30.

Consternation! Dust storm and weather front made it impossible to get far west. Plus no room left on Kangaroo Island if we did want to stay (it is an attractive place). The pilots could not fly around the weather front due to the Woomera exclusion zone, even if there were enough fuel.

We piled the bags in a few rooms we could hold until noon. David is trying to get us space overnight in Ceduna. That at least takes us partway west. The idea is to try to catch up on the schedule by Kalgoorlie. Only a quick tour of Esperance is likely now, at best.

We wandered off around Kingscote, the major town on Kangaroo Island, most of us with cameras. It seemed a very pleasant spot. The Telstra Phone Exchange was one of my photo targets. I also took the opportunity to replace socks and underwear left behind when we left Bankstown. At least I can now avoid laundry until Perth now, if I have to.

We got on the bus to the airport at noon. A bit of fun when David was reminded we did not have lunch. He responded to the challenge. Just as we were about to depart he realized he had paid for morning tea, but had not received it. Off he went to get more food. Everyone fell upon the food.

Straight bus trip to the airport with only a minor delay to photo cannola yet again. At the airport I discovered Budget had an open WiFi network. Must be an accident.

We took off around 1 p.m. for the flight to Port Lincoln for more fuel. Refuelled at Port Lincoln, and were soon on our way to Ceduna to wait out the weather problem. There are only two taxis in town, so it took three tries to get us all from the airport to the Best Western Ceduna Seaside Motel.

Jean and I had stayed in this hotel after crossing the Nullarbor in 2004 in a newly renovated room. That room had the best lighting and the best range of power points of any hotel we stayed in. It turns out their handyman had been renovating rooms two at a time for years. Several of us singles had some of the twelve rooms that had not yet been done. The old rooms were very much dingy and lacking power points.

Took photos from the long, long jetty. Drinks in the bar inevitably followed. We went to dinner at 7:40. We ended dinner around 9:40. Very slow service, but there were a lot of customers. The quantity of food was enormous. As usual I could not eat it all.

Tomorrow we make another attempt to reach Esperance, and catch up on the tour schedule. I was awakened in the early morning, and realised the expected weather change had passed through around five, several hours later than anticipated.

Sun Princess

Cruise ship Sun Princess is scheduled to arrive off Airlie Beach today, one day after Pacific Sun. This is the fourth cruise ship season for the Whitsunday area. A reminder of home.