Eric Lindsay's Blog March 2009

Sunday 1 March 2009

Hotspot Shield for iPhone

Hotspot Shield for iPhone allows you to use a virtual private network (VPN) connection between a WiFi hot spot and the internet. It is obviously intended to help business people secure their communications.

However, if you happen to have an Australian IP address, you could also use it to fake being in the USA. Perhaps to download some application that exists only on the USA iTunes Store. Just a suggestion.

Small Cheap Computers

Netbooks. Psion made the first netBook in 1999, running their very nice Epoc operating system. Psion also Trademarked the term netBook in 1996. Psion Teklogix (or lawyers acting for them) have been sending cease and desist letters to anyone using the term netbook all during 2009. Bloggers have comments on Psion Teklogix netbook trademark. Others even campaign to save the term Netbook for use by people who did not trademark it.

Ultra portable computers. Sub-notebook. Mini-notebook. MID. Tablet computers. Lapbooks. Laptots. Notbooks. Nutbook. Totebook. Webbook.

Psion also made (and have the trademark for) NetPad, which had a nice daylight readable transflexive display.


Packing is the bane of moving house. Jean pushed me towards clearing one half of one closet. This was my half closet that contained my workshop. It was a very compact, and very densely packed workshop. My workshop construction in the closet reached almost to the ceiling, and it had a half dozen very large shelves, as well as glide out work surfaces. There were also around eight large self contained stacking drawers on the shelves. Plus there were the tool racks and peg board surfaces, all with heaps of hooks and tool.

Luckily I had a couple of bookcases into which much of the workshop contents could be put. The shelves all lift straight up and out. However a poor decision during constriction meant that I had to disassemble one spot (only 4 screws) to get sufficient space to lift the last shelf out. Then I could remove the metal cross braces at the back, and remove the two side pieces. The workshop disassembles into the equivalent of an Ikea flat pack.

Brain Rewired

Has the Internet rewired our brains? Lady Greenfield, an Oxford University neurologist, raised the matter, according to this report by Kurt Cagle. There was a lot of defensive Twittering about this.


The garbage truck came, but were the rubbish bins put out at the Whitsunday Terraces? No they were not. Well, except for the Florin Terrace garbage bin I put out. Our contract calls for daily clearance of rubbish.

Monday 2 March 2009

Silly Walks

Silly walks seemed in vogue. At least, silly reasons for walks.

I needed some A3 copies of the new home plans. I knew Jim had a suitable photocopier. The copies were easy. What I did not expect was that Jim would give me a couple of bottles of what appears to be a very nice red wine as a birthday present to Jean and I. That was really nice. I love it when someone with better taste in wine than I have selects the wine.

Post Office

The Airlie Beach Post Office did indeed have a large number of Post Office boxes available. It seemed most people needed their existing box number to remain unchanged more than they needed to have the box at a convenient location. I bought a new Post Office Box 5432, one that actually was still in Airlie Beach.

I am getting this new Post Office Box 5432 because I am pissed off about the underhanded treatment of Airlie Beach post office box holders by Australia Post. This was obviously intended to reduce the number of boxes at the new Airlie Beach Postal agency. It seemed to be intended to force people to use the newly official Cannonvale Post Office, whether the location is convenient or not.

Besides, it is just plain silly that the majority of mail to the Airlie Beach Post Office actually ends up at the Cannonvale Post Office. They now have two sets of boxes at Cannonvale. One set labelled Cannonvale, another set labelled Airlie Beach annex. All this is a building substantially smaller than the Airlie Beach office. I am not even sure how the Post Office employees have space in which to sort mail. Now it may be that Post Office staff have a perpetual harassed appearance, but my gut feeling is that this transformation of the local Post Office is not working particularly well.


Minima and simplicity on the web and elsewhere. On the web, Minimal Sites points to simple looking web sites.

iPhone application Checklist is a very simple checklist. Enter an item via the keyboard. Touch it to toggle a tick mark on or off. Delete with a swipe, in the usual iPhone manner. Edit an entry. You can not drag entries higher or lower, which is sometimes convenient. There is no hierarchical or outline view. However it worked for me for disposable notes, taken as I was travelling.

Now Do This lists one task at a time. Use @group to make multiple task groups. Congratulates you when you reach the last item. Written as a web page, uses Javascript, so no forms or refresh needed. Free web application by Jakob Lodwick and William Cotton.

Moving Days

Money settlement stuff for the house all organised. The financial people phoned the sales people and they agreed a corporate cheque was not the same as a personal cheque, and was much closer to a bank cheque. Obviously I did not manage to elucidate the difference when I attempted to explain. Glad we have that settled. We organised for a 1 p.m. handover on Tuesday. That gave us time to drive to Townsville starting early Tuesday morning.

We wanted to get started on this move while the weather was fine. It seemed Townsville had continuous rain all through February. Since we had encountered fine weather since we returned on Thursday we wanted to get as much done as we could before the rainy season returned.

A little later the sales people phoned back. The project manager wanted some time to check and correct any defects in the house. Better that sort of stuff got done before we started trying to move in. We rescheduled to Thursday. At least that gives more time to pack things.

Tuesday 3 March 2009


What is the point of taking an early morning walk to collect the newspaper, if by the middle of the day you have not commenced reading it? Sure, the walk is probably good for me. I am however increasingly suspicious of the merits of climbing twelve floors in the Whitsunday Terraces in the heat.

Plug Computers

Marvell Plug Computers look just like a slightly oversized wall power plug. Contains a complete Linux plug computer with 512 MB DDR RAM, 512 MB of Flash storage. Connects via Gigabit Ethernet, and has a USB socket for external drives. Perfect for that compact media server or specific application use.

Give Up And Use Tables

Give up and use tables for your web site say some clowns, who claim CSS is too hard.

It seems lots of stuff is too hard for them, including presenting valid code. Consistency is not a strong point. Their XML declaration claims to be using iso-8859-1, however their server is sending the page as UTS-8 (it is the default for XML). They claim to be using XHTML, but their server is sending HTML. That is the big problem with attempting to use XHTML. Unless you do not care whether Internet Explorer can display it, you can not actually use XHTML on the web.

Luckily the give up and use tables site is actually a joke, written when some web designers were feeling frustrated with getting some CSS to actually work. I think a lot of web writers will feel sympathetic about that. It is a neat joke.

Packing Continues

Packing continues to be the bane of my existence (yes, there are worse problems). Over 30 boxes of books packed. However as we try to disassemble the Ikea and Ikea-like bookcases and cupboards, the available floor space decreases very rapidly. If this were not a three room apartment that would not be as much of a problem. However I object to not being able to reach the stove or the fridge without moving something out of the way. Often from top of the stove. Sigh!

We are proceeding to packing items that are going to be needed early. We are also packing items that are fragile. The idea is to take a subset of these in the car when we drive to Townsville on Thursday. If I can recover even a square metre of floor space it would be a help in continuing the packing. We also want a sample bookcase and a sample utility drawer in Townsville, to check what can be fitted where. Measurements were just too close to be sure what would fit where, especially since our measurements were sometimes in the display home, rather than the real one.

Keyboard Batteries

Replacing the three AA lithium batteries in my Apple Bluetooth wireless keyboard was my task for today. I had been ignoring the increasingly frequent pop-up warnings for the past few days. However when my iMac G5 woke from sleep to complain that it did not have a keyboard, I really could not stall any longer.

What is particularly annoying is that when we left for New Zealand at the start of February, I had intended to remove the batteries from my keyboard and mouse. Naturally I forgot this.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Apple iLife and iWork

Apple announced a family pack of iLife, iWork and OS X 5 Leopard. Some bits were not available when we left for New Zealand on 2 February, so I could not put an order in. I placed an order on Friday 27 February, the day after we arrived home. They reached Mascot on Monday 2 March, got to Mackay early Tuesday. Proserpine early today. Just after lunch the TNT agent dropped it to my door. Good!

Why a Family pack? You can put the programs on five computers in a family situation. My main computer is a four year old 20 inch iMac G5 ALS. I still have my first Apple computer, a five year old 15 inch Powerbook G4 that I use mostly for ripping DVDs. With a family pack, I now have a spare valid licence for Leopard for every computer. So none need to be downgraded to an earier operating system when someone else gets them.

Apple Keyboard

Apple Keyboard with USB connector is now the reduced size of the Apple Wireless keyboard. The new keyboard adds the two additional USB ports of the similar full size original slim keyboard that had the numeric pad. The original full width keyboard is still listed.

AirPort Extreme Base Station

AirPort Extreme Wireless Base Station seems to have simultaneous dual band support for 802.11n on 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. New feature is guest networking to the internet, with a separate password for guests, but not access to your internal network. That is a feature seen more on commercial grade base stations. Still has USB printer support, but alas no AirTunes audio support. (US$159)

Time Capsule

Time Capsule also seems to have simultaneous dual band support for 802.11n on 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. Like the Airport Extreme, one new feature is guest networking to the internet, with a separate password for guests, but not access to your internal network. Still has USB printer support. Hard drive sizes remain unchanged at 500GB (US$299) and 1TB (US$499). At least you can add an external USB hard drive, if you are backing up more than a portable computer.

Mac mini

Mac mini now has Nvidia Gforce 9400M graphics and 128MB shared DDR3 memory. This would considerably enhance graphics performance. Processor is 2GHz Core2 Duo. Prices A$1049 (US$599) with 1GB memory and 120GB hard drive, or A$1399 (US$799) for 2GB memory (256MB shared with graphics) and 320GB hard drive. Both models have a R/W DVD burner. Power consumption said to be down 45%, to 13 watts when idle.

Video outputs are MiniDisplayPort and mini DVI (come with a mini DVI to DVI adaptor). Two external displays, up to 1920x1200 via DVI. Up to 2560x1600 via miniDisplayPort to Dual Link DVI adaptor (or a DisplayPort monitor). Five USB ports (one extra), one Firewire 800 port. MacMini Colation already have Mac mini unpacking and interior photos available.

The price seems high, relative to commodity Windows PCs, however it includes a nice equipment set. There are few obvious weaknesses, except that it is using mobile chipsets, so performance will not match desktop systems. For the first time, I could see using a Mac mini to solve some specific computing problem, such as a media computer, or guest computer.

It does not appear to me that the Mac mini includes iLife. I am unsure whether that was the case previously, but think it unlikely. The Apple Remote Control is also not included.

Mac Pro

Quad core Xeon Nehalem CPU, or two quad cores. 3GB (4 DIMM slots, up to 8GB) or 6GB (8 DIMM slots, up to 32GB) of 1066MHz DDR3 ECC (not FB like previous model) memory. 640GB hard drive, expandable to 4@1TB. Nvideo GeForce GT120 with miniDisplayPort and DualLink DVI, plus faster options. Four PCI Express expansion ports. RAID controller available.

Nice specifications, at a high price of A$4499 (US$2499) and A$5899 (US$3299). Xeon workstation chips have still not hit 3GHz. This may be the first commercial computer to offer the Xeon Nehalem workstation CPU. Bleeding edge stuff at the moment (the eight core Xeon is not due until towards the end of the year). Way more processing power than I ever expect to need. With recent desktop Intel Core i7 chips sounding good, I wonder whether Apple need to look harder at desktop chips?


Upgrades to memory, storage and graphics for the iMac, and clock speed of 2.66GHz. Low end 20 inch and 24 inch models at A$1999 (US$1199) and A$2499 (US$1499), each with Nvidia GeForce 9400M. All models have 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 memory, except the 20 inch 1680x1050 pixel, which has 2GB and a 320GB hard drive. Standard hard drive is 640GB, although the top model has 1TB. All models have an 8x R/W DVD burner drive. All 24 inch displays are 1920x1200 pixels.

The mid 24 inch iMac has a 2.93GHz CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GT120 with 256MB of memory, at A$2999 (US$1799). The top 24 inch iMac has a 3.06GHz CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GT130 with 512MB of memory, at A$3699 (US$2199).

I gather in the USA, the low end iMac 24 inch is the cheapest ever, partly due to vampite shared graphics. The drop in Australian dollar relative to the USA dollar has really hurt Apple prices in Australia. I suspect this will show up in poor sales figures. On the prices I calculate, Apple have been more than fair in their currency conversions.

Unfortunately, the displays are all still glossy, with no matte option available. I still take the view that no matte display means no sale.

Recession (1)

Australian economy in decline, as expected. This despite a four percent decrease in Reserve Bank interest rates over only four months. Despite a massive influx of Commonwealth one off payments (around 1% of GDP) to low income recipients who might be expected to spend rather than save.

However look at the big picture. This economic problem, especially in banking, is entirely imported. There are only four major banks in Australia. The so called Four Pillars of our financial system. Of the thousands of global banks, there are now only a dozen banks in the entire world with an AA1 rating, the highest rating for banks. All four of the major Australian banks are in that group of one dozen AA1 rated banks. We did not get caught up in toxic sub-prime loans.

So just why did the Australian currency drop 30% or more against the USA dollar, when it is the USA that stuffed up their financial system?

Thursday 5 March 2009


Uneventful four hour drive to Townsville, stopping to share a sandwich at Inkerman. I did most of the highway driving, leaving Jean the horrors of Townsville traffic. We had left home at 7 a.m. We reached James Cook University just after 11 a.m. Despite knowing there is a main entrance, we never seem to be able to work out precisely how to get there. Jean's parking karma was working full time, and we got a 40 minute visitor parking spot just near the services building.

Jean had told the financial people at JCU we needed to change our cheque collecting date from Tuesday to Thursday. Alas, the manager Jean had talked to was off at a meeting elsewhere. Although the remaining two staff could get all the paperwork done, they could not issue our cheque. The manager was expected back around lunch time. We were early, and in any case our settlement was not scheduled until 1 p.m.

The financial folks phoned up various people to organise a cheque without us waiting. After a while someone at Brisbane figured they could issue, but print the cheque on the remote printer at JCU. That seemed to work. I think we need to bring them a box of chocolates. They could easily have taken the view that you have to wait until the manager returns, like so many businesses do.

Carlyle Gardens

Carlyle Gardens was our next destination. Nice quick drive on the new ring road motorway. Our salesperson saw us wandering towards her office, and hid. No, actually she was happy to do the paperwork straight away, since we were there. Or we could get lunch first. We took care of the paperwork.

Next was the walk through inspection of the new house. As expected, the landscaping is not done yet. However the power was on, and there were no visible defects of workmanship. The air conditioners worked. The fans worked, and turned the correct direction. The stove seemed to turn on, and the dishwasher had obviously been tested. The doors all opened or slid, as did the windows.

There were two missing insect screens, main bathroom and living room near patio, which went on the report. The screen door keys were not going to be available for a while (lock problems). Indeed, even the house keys were not yet available. A power point at the end of the kitchen cupboard was not installed. The venting of air conditioner water and downpipes were ... silly.

We later discovered one of the ceiling air vents did not seem to operate correctly, but that discovery came only when we had our step ladder in the home.

We went to lunch at the Carlyle Gardens Ball and Wicket restaurant. Pickled pork roast, yum. Have not had that in years. Jean had the spatchcock. While we were having lunch, our salesperson brought us our house keys, so we could start moving stuff in. We also met Allan, the restaurant manager.


Garage with an electric door. Our first such electric door garage. Plus it even worked. We started by taking critical measurements of things like window dimensions.

I quickly unpacked the car into the garage. I had been so proud of how much I had packed in the Subaru, having pretty much completely filled it. However looking over the tiny pile it did not look impressive rattling around an empty house. Four boxes, out of 40 I had packed (Jean had at least another 20 boxes packed, and we are probably only half packed). One small bookcase, out of around 40. Two drawer units, out of nearly 20. A small glass top table, folding chair green, folding chair large blue.

Box 4, kitchen gear, seemed to be lost, which upset me greatly. That was the starting box for the kitchen. While unpacking, I eventually discovered it had been double labelled as Box 31. Other boxes moved were 29 bathroom with bathroom stuff, and 30 kitchen glasses. Box 32 had plastic trays of hobby electronic components components and some portable fluorescent lights. That was not so much fragile as that it needed to remain upright (putting 5,000 resistors back in order is not my idea of fun). Plus the only box they would fit in was one I would need later for a computer, so that box needed to make a return trip early.

I also took my historical computing relic, the Applix 1616, plus its grayscale monitor. This was mainly to clear space on an Ikea unit we needed to disassemble.

It is not so much that we had brought anything special with us. Having a mover do the whole job would be easier, and we will be seeking a removalist. We brought things needed for the first few days (toilet paper, soap, a few glasses and some plastic dishes). We also brought things that were fragile, or needed special care. Mostly old electronics of mine, collections of components in drawers from which everything would spill if handled wrong.

The main reasons from bringing stuff was to clear enough floor space at our apartment to be able to continue packing. Plus we wanted to see how certain items would fit. Hence the sample drawers, and the solitary bookcase.

We held some old sheets we had brought up to the windows. As temporary window coverings, they seemed unlikely to make the grade. Too thin. I suggested we look in Spotlight for curtain blockout fabric or curtain linings, as a temporary fix. We do not expect to find curtains and fittings we like all that quick.


Retravision at Domain is an electrical goods store we had checked previously, back around November probably. Jean surged in, and started checking the upside down fridge freezers of above 300 litre and below 500 litre capacity. A salesman turned up just when she wanted to check some capacity figures on one she liked.

Jean quickly added a front loading washing machine, a small microwave stove, a gecko proof electric kettle, and a battery vacuum cleaner to her booty. They could deliver the two large items today or Friday. We probably would have been better to have gone for delivery today, but we were really getting tired by then. So, Friday delivery it was.

We stopped at Willows Shopping Centre to get food for our stay. Milk, orange juice, ham, tomato, cheese, a few bread rolls, some salad, all from Coles. Despite the Itara resort having a full featured kitchen in each self contained apartment, we thought it was unlikely we would want to cook a meal during our stay. I also stopped at Lowes to get three cheap polo shirts and a pair of shorts. The humidity was making me feel a real grub when unloading boxes, so I wanted more than one change of shirt a day.

Cyclone Hamish

Tropical cyclone Hamish forming off the Queensland coast, according to the late news on TV. Way up north, but expected to head to the south east. That was a bit of a complication. If rain gets heavy, we would not be able to get home to the Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach. The Bruce Highway gets blocked during periods of heavy rain.

Carlyle Gardens construction had been delayed all through February by continuous rain. The rain ended only a week ago, when we returned home from New Zealand. Carlyle Gardens certainly could not do much landscaping when their construction site was mud. Especially when all turf would be wet when delivered. Now it seems landscaping will be delayed even longer.

Bourne Shell

Bourne shell described in a long internet with Steve Bourne regarding how he came to write the Bourne shell scripting language. It covers the reasons for changing from the shell that Ken Thompson wrote for Unix. The interview gives a nice insight into the design decisions that went into the Bourne Shell.

An HTML copy of Steve Bourne's own 1978 tutorial on using Bourne Shell is available from Steve Parker. His own tutorial on using Shell and explaining the fundamentals of it is also available.

Friday 6 March 2009


Dawn is the wrong time to get up, so we were awake before dawn. We must have reached the new house only a little after 7 a.m. Mostly we took measurements of rooms. Some measurements did not match what I thought from the plans. However the results were often better for what I wanted to do. We left as soon as shops were likely to be open.

Domain shopping area seemed to contain a splendid range of bed shops. Sleep City had several Australian made ranges in soft, medium and hard. Sounds almost like the three bears. They had several pillow top bed models that suited us, although some were distinctly better than others. However we ended up with a Queen size latex rubber mattress, partly since that was what could be delivered today.

The delivery people do not seem to like latex mattresses, as they are very heavy. However since they have no internal structure, they are not rigid like a box spring mattress. So they are a real handful to move, especially once they escape from their cardboard box.


Curtains for you and me. Except we do not have a clue what to use long term for window coverings at the moment. At Airlie Beach, the nearest neighbour who could see in would need a telescope from across Boathaven Bay. For the past decade, we have had vertical blinds, which I rather like. Jean is less impressed, but that could be because my blinds still work, while her ones have failed.

We were going to tack some sheets to the top of the window framing, as a temporary covering. However the sheets we took were just too thin. I had suggested blackout cloth from Spotlight fabrics. So Jean found the shortcut from Domain straight into Spotlight. After we looked at several $6 to $10 per metre fabrics, I came upon a roll of $3 a metre curtain liner seconds. So we got 20 metres of that ... and a pair of scissors so we could cut it up.

Saturday 7 March 2009

Home Again

Tropical Cyclone Hamish is headed down the coast. We wanted to get home to the Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach before the Bruce Highway flooded. We stopped at our new home at Carlyle Gardens to collect some of the empty boxes so we could continue packing.

Even with this minor side trip we were on the way by 7:30 a.m. We had a good run, and did not encounter rain until the latter part of the drive. Got home to Airlie Beach around 11 a.m.

Recession (2)

Credit squeeze. That is the major reason Australia is importing economic problems from overseas. Sure, the decline in mining income is important, however mining simply does not employ that great a number of people. Plus the mining folks are in country areas, and city folks tend to ignore what happens in country towns.

The former conservative coalition government stopped being a debt junkie. However Australian business and families still spent more than they earned, often on property. This money was mostly borrowed from banks, which in turn borrowed much of it from overseas, because our savings deposits at banks did not cover the amounts desired. Now most of the world banking fraternity have been burnt, they are declining to loan each other money. Having been burnt, banks are fearful of risk.

Our four major banks are among eleven banks worldwide to retain the highest bank rating for debt. Does not matter. As debt becomes due, the loans are not being renewed. However there is very little bad debt in Australia. The regulators remained vigilant here, and we did not have a sub-prime crisis. So there is no bank equity crisis here either.

Australia has an old fashioned credit squeeze. Regional lenders are going out backwards. You can not invest in new facilities, or stock, or whatever, because you can not borrow working capital. Reserve Bank interest rate cuts are being mostly passed on for home building. However they are not being passed on for small business loans. Banks see increased risk in business loans, and are charging a risk premium. So the jobs in construction and industry evaporate.

This is not happening to the same extent in residential property. There you can still borrow. The banks may want a higher deposit, and conservative guidelines to repayment levels, but the interest rates are good.

Even worse for business, there was a lot of gearing up in the investment property world. Now the debts are being called in. But the money just is not there, unless you can sell the property. However in a market short of cash, who will buy? Investment property prices drop. That sure has happened here in Airlie Beach. There are even some places for sale at almost what I think they are worth. The banks are not going to be rushing to foreclose. If they do, they precipitate a major drop in the value of industrial property.

With major population increases, both natural and from immigration, demand for homes is still increasing. We do not have enough homes. So prices will recover, for those with time to wait. Plus rents will end up skyrocketing if home construction growth does not continue. This is very unlike the USA, which appears to have a surplus of homes in many areas.

Sunday 8 March 2009


Wasted much of the day continuing to pack stuff. The boxes of books are a particular pain.

Monday 9 March 2009


Packing continues. I do not have a life any more. All I have is this confounded packing.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Garbage Bins

Garbage bins at the Whitsunday Terraces were once again not put out for collection this morning. Having different staff during the weekend may explain poor rubbish handling on weekends and holidays. However this was neither a weekend nor a holiday. The daily rubbish removal work scheduled in the Resort Management contract is simply not being done as regularly as it should.

I also note that after the passage of Cyclone Hamish, someone cleaned up the fallen leaves everywhere. They also cleaned up stuff spilt on stairwells, some of which had been in place for months before that.

Loading the Car

Loading the car wasted pretty much any time that actually packing boxes did not waste. Way too many trips down the stairs in the heat. Boxes 7, 8, 10, 27, 33, 35, 49, 50, 51, 52.

Wednesday 11 March 2009


Townsville trip once again. I got away from the Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach around 6:45 a.m. Although the weather report indicated I should have a fine day, it was raining when I left. Lucky I had packed the far the previous day. I finally emerged from the rain around 7:20 a.m. Reached the Bowen area at 7:45 a.m. I have no idea how people who say the Bowen cinema is 50 minutes away manage it.

I had to collect some fuel about half way. Stopped at Inkerman to get a carton of milk as a substitute for breakfast. That was around 8:55 a.m. Next stop was Alligator Creek where the garage has a small general store attached. Got a few supplies for the new house. Got away from there at 10:10 a.m. I reached the new house before 11 a.m.


Unloading the car went well, filling the foyer fairly quickly. I soon abandoned the unpacking, and went seeking lunch. The bridge between Carlyle Gardens and The Far Side was still not open, even to pedestrian traffic. Considering the heat, I drove to the Carlyle Gardens administrative building, where I was introduced to Col and Carol, who had also recently moved in. Next was the Carlyle Gardens restaurant. My roast beef even came with a nice glass of red. While waiting, Col and Carol came in, so I invited them to join my table. It was interesting to hear of their three month delay awaiting a Telstra phone. Seems almost a constant theme.

Back at the house, I finally completed the unpacking. This was mostly because the boxes had to return for further loads. I had moved boxes 7 and 8, both containing SF books. The small Dick Smith loudspeakers. Plus an AudioEngine 5. ST-TNG DVDs. Yamaha Sub-woofer. A weather station, router, and various wheels for workshop stuff. The two boxes of Applix floppy disks also went, just to get them off the Ikea. I also took another bunch of fragile plastic parts boxes. A box of generally obsolete electronics parts, like old hubs. Another box of kitchen gear. A big box of computer magazines. The bedside bookcase, so I could take Jean some photos of how it looked in various positions. Plus the wooden table I made from the waterbed parts, so Jean could have it for her room. That actually was not a bad haul to take.


Cutting the curtains was next. Despite my mother being a seamstress, I am certainly no dab hand with a set of shears. However eventually I had a bunch of drapes hacked out.

When Jean said we needed 20 metres, I thought that was more than a sufficiency. However somehow we had both dramatically underestimated the coverage needed for all the windows. Each of the three bedroom needed two drapes, of around 2.2 metres. The dining room needed the same. The lounge windows to the patio needed closer to four drapes. That makes around 12 drapes each exceeding two metres, and we have not even considered the laundry. Twenty metres are certainly not enough. So I did the best I could.

I have to say the quality of thumb tacks has declined since my youth. I seemed to break around one tack in three when hand pressing them into the woodwork to hold up my impromptu curtains. Obviously I did the tacking into the top of the window surrounds, so no sign of the position of the tacks will be seen when we finally find proper blinds.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Moving Things

Spent the morning doing more unpacking, and completed putting in the curtains. Well, curtain substitutes really. It becomes more and more apparent that the wall spaces are inadequate for the quantities of bookcases we shall be bringing with us. My reason for staying this morning, rather than returning to Airlie Beach at dawn, was I had heard there was a residents meeting today.

Residents Meeting

Mike kept the meeting moving along rapidly. Building contractors to be out end of March, start of April. Prime Trust made a $92M loss. Future house building will be 10 or 12 at a time, not 50 to 70 like this one. Looks like 72 homes, with 29 occupied or sold. Sales are up. Christine getting a new sales person to help, probably for next five years. New homes will be at a premium price, around $30,000 extra. Building costs are increasing 1.5% a month. Six new houses running $505K to $530K (they look substantially larger to me).

Defects to be handled. Contractors are turning up at random times, without notice. Sounds like North Queensland to me. Walkways have cracks, opened with angle grinder and mastic applied. Mastic colour does not match. You have a walkway? Awnings need to be colour co-ordinated. That must be in the talk the manager gives new residents. Downpipes are different between builders, with Greens seeming to be liked more.

House design changes, as allowed by the contracts. We have a solar tube skylight over the kitchen, which was not in the exhibition home. It is nice.

Complaints about lights going on and off randomly. Lights flashing in the dark. I know about that one, and it is different to random lighting. Light circuits for electronic fluorescent lights need to have dual pole switch, to cut neutral as well as active. Queensland electricians are not going to wire that way. However electronic ballast fluorescent lights will have one of their capacitors charge from induced voltage in the non-switched line. Then they will do a gas discharge. Our back bedroom light does this about 3 times every 20 minutes. All depends on wiring, and make of light.

Ergon trenching. Be patient. Paint touch up. Why does painter bring only one colour of paint. Termite proofing certificate? Ours is inside the cupboard at the kitchen sink, and also in the electric meter box.

There will be a footbridge. Eventually. Probably not until Stage 3.

Pay TV. Austar. Awaiting ClearSky launch, expected 19 March. 570 to 572 have no TV reception at all. They on one same fibre as the new construction. I still have no clear idea how TV feeds reach us.

Hot water switches. Argument about where they are located. Ours is off at the electric meter box.

Air conditioners sitting in water at some homes. Check footings at bottom of unit. Mike says they should not be mounted on walls. Two of ours are mounted up on walls. I never yet saw an AC installer who did what he was told about installation locations.

Floor waste drainhole not in laundry. For some reason, Queensland regulations do not insist upon it, so builders do not install. Only in bathrooms. I note kitchens do not have an overflow drain either, despite having dish washer plumbed in.

Vans and motorhomes additional parking on hard standing overspill area. No formally handed over. Nominal charge. Replaced by permanent parking but not for at least 18 months. Income from charges goes to the village. No power or water available.

Signage. New signs to come. Private no entry. Plus three directional signs to Carlyle Gardens.

Letter boxes. Need approval for structure, not sought as yet. After contractors leave. Something unofficial to start with. Will be built later.

Centi-meter. Not in some homes. We have ours. It seems to work fine.

Beautification of the drainage ditch that Council own. Council are happy for Prime to take over looking after it, but in their own sweet time. No time span given.

Return to Airlie Beach

Returned to the Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach in the afternoon, starting after 2 p.m. Driving to Airlie Beach is fairly reasonable in the afternoon. You do not encounter the rising sun.

Friday 13 March 2009


Back to the packing. The quantity of stuff getting in the way still exceeds the floor area available for packing. So I will have to make another drive to get rid of some of the stuff in the way, before we can finish packing. Packing remains a pain.

Saturday 14 March 2009


Airlie Beach markets again, dodging rain. At the news agency they showed me a magazine cover that had a George H W Bush photo morphing in five steps into a Barrack Obama photo. The newsagent found this impressive, and seemed a little annoyed that I did not share her enthusiasm. I was surprised to learn that morphing was not a familiar concept to the general public. I obviously spend too much time reading computer items.

At the markets, after doing the shopping, I caught up with Bruce, and Kurt and Ingrid since they were also there. Michael, whose stunning photos mounted on corrugated iron had not sold. I thought they would look great in a bar. Glenn and Alison, where Rex found me, and Steve. No wonder a half hour shopping trip takes hours. Plus I still had to climb the twelve flights of stairs to our apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces.

Fibre to the Home (1)

Carlyle Gardens are saying they have optical fibre to the homes in Stage A of Carlyle West (The Far Side). I had not twigged that their fibre was to the home. I gather the idea is to extend the fibre optic cabling through the entire village eventually. In a few weeks they have an evening presentation by their onsite Project Manager about their future proofing plans for the entire community. I very much want to see this presentation.

Meanwhile, I sent a message regarding this to the Applix group. That eclectic bunch are probably my best chance for finding someone who has knowledge of fibre to the home in small communities. I probably just need an appropriate pointer to the right vendor.

About the only clue I have at the moment is that our new garage contains a Hills Home Hub. So Hills may either be the installers, or a partner with the vendors.

Sunday 15 March 2009

Fibre to the Home (2)

OptiComm, fibre connected communities is a Hills Industries joint venture. They use Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Network (GEPON) infrastructure that fully complies with the IEEE 802.3ah networking standard. They claim 100 mbps broadband to each home. Also telephone, both POTS and VOiP. Also Free to Air and Free to Satellite television. Plus security, surveillance and environmental monitoring. OptiComm brochure covers their community digital lifestyle options.

That sort of sounds like it may be the company doing Carlyle Gardens. The Australian FTTH News blog mentions OptiComm and Internode for housing estates. The best article on Internode fibre to the house was in APC magazine. This includes Simon Hackett's reply to questions.

Internode fibre to the home partners with OptiComm. Plans will start from $49.95 a month for a 25 Mbps Internet service with a five gigabyte (GB) download quota. Home Fibre services will also be available at 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps downstream speeds. See the Internode fibre to the home pricelist. This also mentions that for the higher speed connections, Internode recommend using the Apple Airport Extreme router and wireless access point. This is the only recommended router.

Monday 16 March 2009


Loading the car at Whitsunday Terraces took well over 20 trips fdown two floors. The loading took lots of time, especially as I changed my mind about what would fit where in the car. I especially did not like the full bookcases with DVDs in them, as they were now about as much as I could carry. Making small bookcases seemed such a smart idea when I first started it. However the older I get, the smaller the small bookcase I can carry. Those four shelf ones were at the limit for me, at least when narrow steps are involved.

Loading was not nearly as much of a pain as was packing up each bookcase. Doing boxes full of books was even more of a pain. I really do hate packing stuff.

iPhoto Import Failure

Importing photos fails in iPhoto 09. This is not a good start. I had not put my New Zealand photos (and others) into iPhoto, because I was awaiting the new version. On an iMac G5 ALS, iPhoto 2009 failed to complete the import from a 2GB SD card, using my usual photo card reader on my 24 inch Dell monitor. I tried a different card reader. Claims there is an error writing to disk with my iPhoto library.

Error writing to disk. iPhoto cannot import your photos because there was a problem writing to the volume containing your iPhoto library. No errors showing in Disk Utility. However looks at the Console messages.

16/03/09 11:42:59 PM /Applications/[5743] getattrscore: EINVAL from getattrlist() getting {6440a, 0, 4, 0, 0} at /Volumes/KODAK/.Trashes

16/03/09 11:42:59 PM loginwindow[42] getattrscore: EINVAL from getattrlist() getting {6440a, 0, 4, 0, 0} at /Volumes/KODAK/.Trashes

16/03/09 11:42:59 PM fseventsd[47] disk logger: gzclose() failed (-1/22) removing all old log files in /Volumes/KODAK/.fseventsd

16/03/09 11:42:59 PM fseventsd[47] failed to store the uuid in /Volumes/KODAK/.fseventsd/fseventsd-uuid. unlinking it.

16/03/09 11:42:59 PM fseventsd[47] unmounting: failed to remove log dir /Volumes/KODAK/.fseventsd (Invalid argument)

That does not look to me like an error in the iPhoto Library disk. It looks like something Apple are doing not being compatible with an SD card camera card.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Townsville Again

On the road to Townsville by dawn. Well, 6:15 a.m. I took a few more loads of small stuff down to the car before leaving, making around 25 trips to fill the boot, back seats, and front passenger seat. Highway by 6:45. Bowen around 7:15 (no, I do not understand how people can say it is 45 minutes away). I stopped at Inkerman around 8:15 a.m. to get some Oak chocolate milk as a breakfast substitute. Alligator Creek at 9:20 a.m. where I collected milk and biscuits in case I needed them at the new home. I reached Townsville just before 10 a.m. The car was unpacked into the foyer by around 10:10 a.m. when I phoned Jean to report my arrival. Then off to the Telstra show and tell.

Telstra Lessons

Telstra came to Carlyle Gardens, in bulk. Must have been six or eight sales folks. Gave residents lessons in using their (mostly) 3G phones. Showed them how to do SMS. Gave out tips on phones, and cheaper plan features. Showed how to send photos, do MMS, and send video. Get free weather reports from Telstra. Some nice features in so many phones. Plus so many people who did not know how to use their fancy phones for anything except making phone calls.

Features do not make a phone useful. Being able to use a phone is what makes a phone useful. Which, despite many flaws, brings us to the Apple iPhone.

iPhone 3 Software Preview

Copy, cut and paste finally, plus an undo. About time. I have wanted copy and paste for ages. Putting WiFi tokens from Telstra from their SMS into the Safari web browser has been a real pain. The tokens are obscure, and not easy to recall. You ended up needing a pen and paper to transfer the new password. It basically ended up easier to just use the 3G network, despite the convenient WiFi network in McDonalds.

Landscape wide keyboard in Mail, Notes and MMS. MMS is also new, part of a new Messaging application. A new Voice Memos application. Notes will finally sync. Global Spotlight search. Mail, Notes, iPod, and Calendar have individual searches. Available in the US summer, free for iPhone owners, small charge for iPod Touch.

Tethering will be supported by the iPhone. However some phone companies many still restrict it, or charge extra. That is something I have also really looked forward to. Been too many times when I was stuck with no data connection for my computer, where an iPhone alone just did not cut it for web access.

St Patrick's Day

Giant hamburger for lunch at the Carlyle Gardens Ball and Wicket restaurant turned out to actually be more like a steak sandwich, complete with egg and bacon. It was more than I could eat. I asked restaurant manager Allan about whether tickets were available for the St Patrick's night party (a sneaky ploy on my part to ensure I had a dinner). No tickets.

It seemed moments later Wendy from the Social Club was at my table offering a place at table 20 for $15, with lots of other people from The Far Side. That seemed a good deal to me. After this transaction, I returned to our new home to continue unpacking the mess I had brought until it was time to go back for drinks.

The bridge to the far side was closed. I had no intention of driving. Luckily you could sort of edge around the side of the fence closing the bridge, so the Carlton Theatre was less than ten minutes away. I spotted others entering the (unknown to me) side entrance, so I followed them.

The festivities were great fun. First at the table were the parents of one of the efficient restaurant attendants, so I was able to hear of their history. The dinner was Irish Stew, with social club members assisting the buffet serving. What else? Plus apple slice and custard for sweets after. Nor that I could eat it all.

The entertainment was the Townsville Pipe and Drum band. Amazing the volume three bagpipes and four drums can produce. They did a wonderful job. As did the various residents who continued the entertainment. I walked back home around 9 p.m., assisted by my pocket flashlight when I again crossed the forbidden bridge.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Return to Airlie Beach

Away at 6:10 a.m. for the return trip to Airlie Beach. I made the mistake of stopping for fuel before the Burdekin Bridge. The independent service station was promoting 10% ethanol laced fuel. In theory I approve of renewable resources. However our Subaru dealer had advised against using ethanol fuels (we had asked specifically, so we could use ethanol if it was safe for Jean's car). It was not easy to find a regular unleaded fuel pump at that station. Plus the toilets were padlocked. I really do not need hassles at a service station, even if it saves a dollar or so. The Burdekin bridge had a sign it was closed midday to 3 p.m. on Tuesday 23 March. That is the only highway north, but the girders are really wrecked. We are unlikely to reach it prior to 3 p.m. so we may not have a problem.

So I stopped again at Inkerman, for a breakfast substitute. They were out of Oak chocolate milk, so I had an ice cream for breakfast. Good way of getting a sugar high. Perhaps not a good move while driving.

I got home to the Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach around 10 a.m. in the midst of rain. Luckily no unpacking was needed.

Late in the day, Jean got a phone call from our lawyer. Had we received his letter about our new home contract? Well, no, we were not expecting to need to see him again, as we thought we had signed everything a few weeks back. Now that Airlie Beach mail actually gets sent to Cannonvale, we also do not check the mail very often. At present, once or twice a week for mail. In the future, perhaps monthly.

So Jean drove off and collected the remains of the contract from the Post Office. We made an appointment for Thursday. No great problems, and it was good that he called.

Thought Control

Australian Communications and Media Authority regulator arseholes have added Wikileaks to their Australian secret list of banned web sites. This is presumably because Wikileaks list web sites secretly banned by Denmark. Wikileaks also list Thailand official MICT censorship list, many of them sites critical of their King.

As Wikileaks say, The first rule of censorship is that you cannot talk about censorship. Banned hyperlinks could cost you $11,000 a day, says Asher Moses in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Another web site banned in Australia is a fairly gruesome anti-abortion site which is banned by ACMA, according to WikiLeaks. Details of the complaint at Think of the Children. That sort of banned site is gruesome and disgusting, however it is also fairly obviously making a political statement about abortion. It most certainly does not appear to be a child pornography site.

Reporters without Borders list repressive regimes, and place Australia on a watchlist in their latest Reporters without Borders report on Internet Enemies. Likewise Electronic Frontiers Australia say ACMA censors, Australians protest.

There is a nice selection of posters against Australian internet censorship.

What this country needs is a good old fashioned cobblestone hurling revolution. It is well past time for governments to concentrate on regulating companies (starting with Telstra), and get their hands off regulating the private actions of citizens. Message to that zealous clown Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy (must admit anyone in that poisoned chalice of a portfolio will look bad). If your department try to fine me, blood will stain the wattle.

Freedom on the Wallaby

Henry Lawson, in 1891, around the time of the great Shearer's Strike that led to the foundation of the Labor Party.

Australia's a big country
An' Freedom's humping bluey,
An' Freedom's on the wallaby
Oh! don't you hear 'er cooey?
She's just begun to boomerang,
She'll knock the tyrants silly,
She's goin' to light another fire
And boil another billy.
Our fathers toiled for bitter bread
While loafers thrived beside 'em,
But food to eat and clothes to wear,
Their native land denied 'em.
An' so they left their native land
In spite of their devotion,
An' so they came, or if they stole,
Were sent across the ocean.
Then Freedom couldn't stand the glare
O' Royalty's regalia,
She left the loafers where they were,
An' came out to Australia.
But now across the mighty main
The chains have come ter bind her
She little thought to see again
The wrongs she left behind her.
Our parents toil'd to make a home
Hard grubbin 'twas an' clearin'
They wasn't crowded much with lords
When they was pioneering.
But now that we have made the land
A garden full of promise,
Old Greed must crook 'is dirty hand
And come ter take it from us.
So we must fly a rebel flag,
As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
And join in rebel chorus.
We'll make the tyrants feel the sting
O' those that they would throttle;
They needn't say the fault is ours
If blood should stain the wattle!

Carlyle Gardens Flood

We are basically moving into a construction site at Carlyle Gardens, since the landscaping is not yet done. The photographs I took before I left show how muddy and wet the area behind our house is at the moment, with neither gardens nor lawn. You can see where the sprinkler pipe system has been laid. The area between our house and the next is just a muddy swamp at the moment, before the landscaping is done.

Thursday 19 March 2009


Since I was awake before dawn, I let iTunes download all manner of video podcasts. One was the first of the new season of The Gruen Transfer, from the ABC, about 90MB. Another was the Apple iPhone 3.0 developer video, which was over 700MB. Luckily that was on a fast connection. More important, it was on our overnight quota.

Australia Bans Wikileaks

Australia bans Wikileaks pages. Only specific pages, those listing certain web sites censored by other countries. However secret lists of things you will not look at have no place on the Internet. In particular, a nominally democratic Australian government has no business censoring the internet at all. There are criminal sanctions against some of the sicker stuff on the internet, convictions have been recorded, and that should be sufficient. Naturally this banning was noticed, and is getting attention in the national press, and by Guy Rundle in the political blog Crikey.

Labor representatives must by now be aware that this ill thought out policy of net censorship just exposes them to ridicule. I recall in the 1970's being asked to prevent a speech synthesiser saying naughty words. It did not work then. I have no reason to believe censorship works any better now. Every one knows censoring the internet is technically flawed. Why not take this censorship policy out and shoot it? Most 11 year old school children seem to know how to bypass the censorship using proxies, or they bit-torrent the contents they want. Plus the secret Australian list of banned web sites was bound to be leaked.

Australian government secret ACMA internet censorship blacklist. Once Julian Assange of Wikileaks got interested, the secret list did indeed leak. Most links do appear (from the titles) to be porn sites. Doubtless that will make accessing the list highly attractive to adolescents.

One question is why the list shows over 2300 sites, while the ACMA were claiming a much lower number? Is the list actually accurate. Who knows, it is a secret. I could see a confederation of porn sites getting together their own special banned list, and leaking it to Wikileaks to get publicity. Why is Betfair, a licensed gambling operator in the UK, Australia, and elsewhere on the secret censored list? Why is Dental Distinction, a Samford, Queensland dental practice on the secret Australian censored web site list?

Genocide in Africa

Pope Benedict XVI continues the Roman Catholic tradition of promoting genocide in Africa, started by Pope John Paul. Instead of encouraging the use of condoms in areas with a very high risk of AIDS, the pope once came out against the use of condoms. What planet do these religious leaders come from? These two popes should be seen as promoters of mass slaughter. I fail to understand how Catholics with a conscience can continue to support a church hierarchy that allows dogma to promote a deadly sexually transmitted disease.

Friday 20 March 2009


Loads and loads of last minute packing. I keep finding thing to pack, but have run out of boxes now.

Saturday 21 March 2009


Whitsunday Terraces garbage bins were not put out this morning in the light showers. What rubbish. It was full too.


Spent what seems most of the day packing last minute things. I hate packing. I did make time to visit the market and make farewells with some people. On the other hand, I will be back.

Spotlight Bug Report

Spotlight does not index the content of files with an .xhtml extension, although mdimport shows kMDItemContentType = "public.xhtml"; and kMDItemKind = { "" = "XHTML document"; };

I request /System/Library/Spotlight/RichText.mdimporter/Contents/Info.plist be modified so <key>LSItemContentTypes</key> includes <string>public.xhtml</string> as well as <string>public.html</string> (etc)

I prefer to use the (legitimate) .xhtml extension for some web pages as web browsers (Safari, Opera, Firefox) under OS X then open these files using their XML parser (not their HTML parser), and provide an error message if the file is not well formed.

In addition, Apache servers by default serve .xhtml files correctly as application/xhtml+xml without the need for custom .htaccess files.

That was my note to Apple feedback.

Sunday 22 March 2009


Rubbish was not put out today. The second time in two days there was no garbage put out at Whitsunday Terraces. Not good enough, when daily removal is part of our contract.


This was our last day of packing. We were basically all packed. except for one thing. Every time we turned around, we would find something else that should have been packed, or should have gone with us, or in some reset should be moved. It was a pain.

During the afternoon, I packed the car with stuff to go with us. I managed to neglect stuff like kitchen items. Luckily Jean thought of some of them.

Monday 23 March 2009

Moving Day

Moving day. Packing complete (except for all we forgot). I loaded the car. Transferred files from my almost obsolete main computer to a portable.

John the mover arrived at 9:25 a.m. with his helpers David and Tai. He has estimated 3.5 hours. David felt ill after several hours work in the heat, and had to leave. I certainly felt the effort of the steps from the few small loads I carried down. Packing everything into the truck took until 1:30 p.m. Except for a car luggage pod and one tall stand, everything fitted. That was impressive.


We left in the car at 2:30 p.m. Collected mail at Cannonvale on the way out. A stop at Bowen rest area where I started driving, another at Home Hill for fuel. Travelling to Townsville in the afternoon was nasty, as the sun was in our eyes.

Sunland Shopping centre at the end of the motorway was our last stop. We needed stuff like milk for the next day. We bought a pizza for dinner, and continued on to Carlyle Gardens, arriving around 6:45 p.m.

Unpacking the car was fairly quick. Before even eating the pizza. A far different experience to the packing of the car.

The air conditioning went off after a few minutes. It came back on about a half hour later. The other air conditioners also failed to start. Nothing wrong in the meter box. No circuits tripped. We turned on fans and opened door in the meanwhile.

Looking at the rooms again, I still can not see how to make effective use of the space. Walls are all too short for decent bookcases.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Moving Van

John turned up on our doorstep at 7:30 a.m., rather than several hours later. We had half expected that, and except for not having had breakfast, were ready for him. His daughter was going to help him, but John was alone, with no helpers.

The new place is flat and level, and could take a ramp directly into the garage (in case it rained). Plus except for a few items, everything we own weighs less than 20 kg. Unloading did not require two people, except for a couple of awkwardly large bookcases, and the treadmill. I was able to take most of the light stuff directly to where we wanted to unpack it.

John's daughter arrived just as we unloaded the very last item. Well timed. The unloading was basically complete by 10:30 a.m. The less said about the unpacking the better.


While Jean hid, I went to the Carlyle Gardens Ball & Wicket restaurant around 11 a.m. The roast lamb special came with a glass of wine. Plus they had a surplus of Kilkenny Ale, so I started with an ale.

Reception showed me where the mail folders were. Ergon electricity had acknowledged the charge to us paying. Now we just have to hope that it works. After lunch, the office manager provided direct debit form for our monthly payments. Plus there was a pro-rata fee needed for the first month. That was a good start to the change over address.

Back at the house, I noticed the landscaping earth moving was proceeding rapidly. We seemed to have a truck backing past the back porch every few minutes. It did make everything really dusty, as we were unpacking.

Meet and Greet

Meet and Greet evening at the bar. A social free for all, intended to let new residents learn what clubs and groups were available. It started with the Residents Committee, who represent residents interests. It was followed by the socially active RSL, the only RSL sub-branch at a retirement village (Townsville has a large military contingent). The Social Club, which recommended the Friday night happy hour. Golf Club. The Village bus runs were mentioned, with booking sheets at the Buttenshaw library. Bowls Club. Workshop with woodwork and metal work tools, keys from reception. Paper Tole group. Bingo on Saturday. Machine embroidery. Carlyle Gardens Computer Club, which has its own room. TaiChi class. Paint Puddlers for art enthusiasts. Line dancing. Disaster Management. Lots of card playing groups. Zipper Club, for open heart patients. Yoga. A Singalong.

Facilities included a gym, Carlyle Gardens Computer Club room, Buttenshaw library, a hairdresser. I wrote about a page of notes. There was much mention of looking up numbers in the book, which we have never seen.

Future Proof Carlyle Gardens

Future proofing Carlyle Gardens was the theme of project manager Peter Kirkham's talk at the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club Info night. Stage A of Carlyle West (The Far Side) has optical fibre to the home. Data is distributed via structured wiring through the home from a Hills Home Hub in the garage cupboard. All future homes will also have the same data facility. There will eventually be a fibre cable retrofit for the original Carlyle Gardens homes. This fibre optic cable installed by OptiComm can potentially provide TV, data and phone connections.

Carlyle Gardens are starting with TV. A couple of satellite dishes have appeared outside the administration building. A free to air TV antenna above Peter's office. The head end room of computers behind reception feeds the digital TV signals to the home. In addition, they convert digital to analogue, so older TV sets can also pick up a suitable signal. That means no set top box required by any TV, and no satellite dish nor any TV antenna for any home in future.

Austar claim to be ready to connect their new ClearSky pay TV system on 2 April. SelecTV on 1 May. Peter also mentioned a local TV channel from clubs in the village. Plus CCTV from security cameras at the entrances. Later the possibility of buzzing in visitors via the gates expected at the entrances. Of course, we do not actually have a TV, so this is of limited use to us.

Phones would have Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) available, once the internet is connected. This would permit free calls within the village, and cheaper calls elsewhere. Video calls were also mentioned. Of course, we do not actually use phones either.

High speed internet at up to 100 Mbps is another possibility, however an Internet Service Provider has not yet been selected. I note that Internode has just (27 February) started offering this service over OptiComm fibre at a retirement village outside Brisbane. Here in the regions we may have much poorer data backhaul facilities. Alas, no time frame on when this might be available.

There may eventually also be metered power and water systems, with billing automated via Carlyle Gardens operating as a wholesale distributor. This may allow some savings. Anyone looking at the poor performance of infrastructure support by the Queensland Labor government over the past decade will realise that water and power bills are bound to increase dramatically. Even before the emissions trading scheme the Federal Labor government is promoting adds its incremental costs.

Wednesday 25 March 2009


Our first large food shopping trip, to the nearby IGA at Sunlands. We found that there was a back way in, very recently opened, so there is no need to go onto the busy Harvey Range Road. While the IGA lacked some foodstuffs we normally buy, there was enough that we make a variety of easy meals at home. That was all we were seeking for the moment. There was also a butcher at the small mall, and a Brumby bread shop.

Eating Out

Walked across the bridge too far and over to the Carlyle village square. I returned our direct debit forms to the office, and paid our first month fees by cheque. The helpful receptionist gave me the much mentioned but never before seen Carlyle internal phone book. So except for unpacking, we are getting organised.

At the Carlyle Gardens Ball & Wicket restaurant, the special was a beef and mushroom pie, with a glass of wine. Not bad for $10. I was in a bit of a rush to eat before the midday residents meeting.

Residents Meeting

Residents Meeting at the Carlton Theatre with Mike Bosel from Prime Trust at midday. These seem to be on every two weeks or so, although the next meeting will be in three weeks due to Easter.

Ergon were to bring a tunnelling machine and place wires under the bridge instead of over it. This would then lead to the bridge finally being able to be opened. We all want a bridge opening ceremony, having waited so long. Perhaps hire someone with a horse and sabre to attend.

Mike repeated some of the material Peter had told about future TV access. Wiring to 562 to 570 not complete, as they are on the same circuit as the new homes between us and the entrance. I must check whether we have a TV connection or not.

Pavement mastic comes in a choice of black, white and grey. They use grey, as it does not look as bad as the others, and will weather to a better appearance. They claim. Review that in three months.

The hole in Beck Road at Bowhunter? Council to fill it. And so they did. I think that day.

Houses made by Greens. Joe their fix it person is up from Mackay, organising fixes. Nothing for Finlay so far. Downpipes and water discharge onto paths. The pebble finish around the houses was originally intended to be wider. Peter is told two weeks. Drainage after landscaping, that is coming in. Ceiling vents blocked by fibreglass in some homes. We must check that.

Signage has approvals. Private property no entry to go up. Roundabouts, keep left signs. Gracies signs are doing it.

Letterboxes. A concrete pad, and 80 back to back letter boxes to be installed.

Cleanup of the last six sites, mid to late April.

Bank funding for development of units. Age care facility still planned, and approvals should be forthcoming (shortage in Townsville). The pedestrian bridge from Smith Road will probably not be there until the third stage of building is sold. For example, the theatre at Mackay was only done after the whole development was in. Temporary caravan parking (next 18 months) will not be real secure.

Operation of solar hot water booster switches is still in dispute. They may organise Jo-Ann to give a demonstration.


My sliding drawers are now all in the closet. Plus we started assembling Jean's desk.

Thursday 26 March 2009


Fatigue caught up with me, and I was not up until 6 a.m. I managed to get an Ikea Ivar frame put together in the garage. The low ceiling and height of the garage door rails mean that a 50 centimetre Ikea shelf will not fit along the side wall of the garage. So instead of a contiguous storage system of up to four bays, we have only one storage bay, at the back of the garage.

We have a lot of paper and cardboard from our unpacking in the recycling bin. It is actully almost full. However we have no idea when the recycing is collected. Is it once a week, or monthly, or what? However the red lid regular garbage collection is Thursday. I happend to see it collected last week at around 7 a.m. Today collection was not until midday. No wonder most bins seemed to be out last night. The collection times seem inconsistent so far.

Ergon were going to arrive today, along with a drilling machine to make a tunnel. They were scheduled to finally place the temporary power cable that overhangs our road bridge underground. If they did that, we might finally be able to actually use the bridge across to the rest of Carlyle Gardens. As far as I can tell, there was no sign of Ergon.


Shopping for household supplies was on Jean's schedule for today. She drove to Domain Central, which has an excellent grouping of homeware stores. We had a list of items covering about a half dozen stores, but thought it unlikely we would get to all of the stores.

Bunnings hardware occupied much of the time. This is the first time we have lived in a town with a Bunnings warehouse. We did a lot better than I expected, although we had to ask staff fairly often about the location of items (we can not read the store map without reading glasses).

Two different brooms, very much needed with the constant construction dust here. Seems one is a budget indoor broom, while the other is Sabco Super Swish. They do not appear to come with batteries, so I do not understand their operation.

Fire extinguisher and fire blanket for the kitchen, because we take safety seriously. A garden hose, despite not taking gardens seriously. A shower chair for Jean, that I got to assemble that afternoon. A wireless front door chime. A few white ceramic soap dishes that actually matched the bathrooms. I got a small hanging file box, as I lacked shelf space for standing magazine boxes of papers. Two Australian made plastic drawer sets (Oates Clean stackable SD-002) that would fit in a wardrobe, to better use the otherwise underutilised space in the closet. I will have to get more of these.

Jean got us each a sausage sandwich at the Rotary charity stand outside Bunnings. So we mostly skipped lunch.

I wanted a cable to connect a TV wall socket to a TV substitute. Carlyle Gardens are reputed to be piping TV signals through the Hills Home Hub, and I wanted to check it it was working. Harvey Norman were trying to flog Monster Cable. I will not buy Monster Cable. They brainwash people with junk science. Tried JB HiFi. They reached for the $80 cable. I specified I wanted cheap. They promptly produced an F adaptor to Australian Coax connector at $5.95. While I am not sure why a new Australian home is using US style F connectors instead of Australian style coax, I do not object to that sort of socket. Alas, when I got home, I found that I did not seem to have any lengths of TV coax in my junk box, so next visit I will have to buy a length of coax as well.


Unpacking books occupied us during the afternoon. I had around 25 boxes of books still not unpacked. The autographed science fiction went on two small bookcases in the hall. There they had the least exposure to sunlight. Jean wanted the top of the 10 bookcases in the bedroom. I took the two lower shelves. Alas, I had run out of bookcase space by the time I had the hardcovers and A-D paperback books on five linear metres of shelves.

SF books not yet shelved seem to be around 14 linear metres, a tremendous decline from my collecting days. Unfortunately, I no longer have suitable places for bookshelves to carry it.

Italian Night

Italian Night at the Carlyle Gardens Ball & Wicket restaurant. To my surprise, Jean was willing to attend, so I made a booking. Jean then doubled crossed me by driving there, rather than walking. I was plotting a walk a day, but Jean thinks Bunnings was more than enough walking.

We arrived a bit before 6 p.m. Paid the very reasonable $15 each, and also got a few glasses of red wine from the bar. The food was buffet style. Minestrone soup that was very nice. A couple of different pastas, a red meat sauce and a creamy sauce, some lasagna, a chicken dish I did not try (the portions were too large for me).

Power Outage

When we returned from the restaurant around 7 p.m., the garage door would not open. I tried several times. Jean snatched the opener and tried several times. When I entered the house, the lights were not functioning. I found a torch. I disengaged the electric door opener, and opened the the garage door by hand.

We had just spread out some of the battery powered fluorescent emergency lights when the power came back on. It appeared the whole of Carlyle West, the Far Side, was disconnected. I wonder whether this was some late night thing Ergon energy had managed to do?

Friday 27 March 2009


Domain Central was once again the target of our shopping. Howards Storage World was first. We found a stainless steel dish drainer and drying rack, the same as the one we use at Airlie Beach. I am not convinced that amount of corrosion resistance is needed, but stainless is easier to clean than chrome plating. Also found a soap holder for the kitchen. A set of Made Smart small bin multi-pack storage trays for my bathroom, these being the only ones with appropriate dimensions. In fact, so well did they fit that I must buy another set for some of the other drawers.

I dashed across to JB HiFi and got the Australian coax cable I needed to connect a computer TV converter.

Pillow Talk had a pillow top mattress topper that looked like it might soften the hard latex mattress. Well, perhaps it was just a bulky mattress protector, but it seemed like it might work.

Spotlight next. Towels the target. Jean got some tasteful teal hand towels for the kitchen, plus a blue bathmat. I got a red bath mat, and a few red hand towels. Might not be tasteful, but they did match my towel. The blockout curtain material we had previously used was not visible, so we got a few metres of another seconds for the short windows.

Finally back to Bunnings, where I got a few more of the plastic drawer units. Plus we each got a small waste bin for our bathrooms.

Back at Carlyle Gardens, we collected our mail, and checked the computer room. It looked like Jean might be able to connect her computer to Ethernet there.


Earthworks were the order of the day when we returned home. There was a miniature bobcat prowling the dust. Landscapers were levelling the dirt, and raising even more dust. I had to close my windows against the constant dust. Jean wanted to try to get an internet connection. That was enough of an excuse for us to return to the Carlyle Gardens village square area, and check the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club.

We hoped Jean could connect via her Linux computer. We connected an Ethernet cable to the Ethernet switching hub on the floor. Alas, that did not work. Jean transferred to the official internet connected Windows desktop. At least Gmail works. Soon after she started, we were startled by a strange melody. Turned out that a bag in the room contained a phone, with a different tune representing calls.

I went off to the bar seeking the owner of the abandoned phone, who had recorded a booking for the computer. Did not see her. Reported back to Jean, and then set off for the bar for a cooling ale. The phone owner was there now. Jean did manage to get some email

These events did make all of us wonder why only one computer was connected to the internet. Could be to reduce data charges. We decided to check whether multiple computers could connect. The hub was only connected to two computers that did not share the internet connection. Having a wireless access point would also be desirable. I dropped in to ask Peter the project manager whether changes would be in his area. Not him, but we should advise Leigh, the manager, of changes. At the office, Jo-Ann and Gayle said it was all up to the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club. We decided to talk with them, once we found out what network gear we had on hand. Having a WiFi hotspot seems like a good idea.

Happy Hour Social Night

We made bookings for the buffet meal at the social night. I walked over early, and talked with a few people while awaiting Jean. The meal was a strange mix. Chicken legs, rissoles, left over pasta (from Thursday, I am convinced). Vegetables and gravy.It was very tasty, whatever the origin. There was even an apple crumble and ice cream for dessert. Not bad for $12. Plus the wine was two glasses for $3, which made for a cheap happy hour for us.

I failed to realise that the RSL sub branch were doing a meet and greet of their own, possibly as part of a membership drive. They have a lot of social members at Carlyle Gardens. I should have talked with them further and found out about that.

Saturday 28 March 2009


Sunland shopping centre seemed very sparsely occupied by shoppers, despite it being Saturday morning. I bought the morning newspapers, my first papers since we arrived. So far I have not found a newsagent within easy walking distance.

We still did not know how to get to the Willows Mitre 10 hardware store, but a short walk showed there was an easy way through. Jean found a set of ArcoSteel saucepans, so that was another item off our shopping list. We still lack a large frying pan, but with two small ones on hand, that can wait. I got a Zenith Handy Rail, stick on variety, for my hand towel.

We returned to the IGA and got a few missing food items. It is amazing how many items you need to stock a new house. We continue to find little items that we failed to bring with us.


Our first use of the new washing machine. Since there was no sign of the bobcats and landscaping people, we figured we could get things dry. The new washing machine seemed very peculiar. We could not see how to prevent it heating the water, but could at least restrict it to 30 degrees, which is not that much more than ambient here. It also seemed to me to be much slower than our old washing machine.

Ran out of laundry pegs one short of the load of washing. We had more pegs on our shopping list. I asked Jean to add a hanging peg basket to the list. The temperature and dry wind had everything dry within a few hours. No need for an electric dryer that I can see.

Rocks in Head

Rocks in my head is what I had. I collected some wild rocks from around the building site, and dumped them at the edge of our garden plot. If we want a vegetable garden, we probably need to raise the bed somewhat. I even wandered along the wilderness a bit, looking for similar rocks that had rolled away from the earth fill. It was all way too much work, even in the relative cool of the sunset. However mostly it was pointless, because I have enough rocks to surround a small pot plant, rather than an actual garden.

Earth Hour

Four pages advertising Earth Hour in the Courier Mail? So well meaning people switch off their lights and plasma TV starting at 8:30 this evening. Making a stand on climate change. It is like making a stand on breathing.

Since coal power stations do not shut down, there is more power available for everyone else. So the off peak hot water heaters switch on for an hour. No carbon dioxide reduction at all.

The same tragic result from the latest government emissions trading scheme fiasco. Since individuals do not count, if by heroic effort you manage to reduce your carbon dioxide emissions, that simply leaves more for some industry.

Sunday 29 March 2009

Unpacking Books

Five small short bookcases against the lounge wall, under the air conditioner. My unpacking of science fiction paperbacks into the bedroom had shelved A-D. Now I managed D-V, which was a good result. I figure another five linear meters of bookcases should handle the science fiction.

Alas, none of the non-fiction has a home as yet. My preliminary estimate is around 20 linear metres. There simply is no place for most of it, as we do not have a lot of available wall space.

You can shelve books without wall space. However most such solutions imply a library style layout. Also stable library quality bookshelves.


Gauss seeking was what Joe Cattelano was doing. He had a very neat portable milli gauss meter. He wandered along under the high tension lines along the edge of Carlyle Gardens West. I introduced myself. Turned out that MGF designed the original power distribution grid used at Carlyle Gardens Stage A. Now he was checking the magnetic field produced by the high tension power lines that run along the edge of Carlyle Gardens.

The last six homes built were somewhat closer to these lines than were most of the houses in Carlyle Gardens. Not that Ergon seem to have much to say about allowable limits to exposure. Nor is there any suggestion of risk, especially at under 0.8 milligauss.

Back twenty years ago when I build my own detector from a kit, about the only things that raised any sort of a reading were the backs of TVs and computer monitors, large electric motors, and electric blankets. Last time I saw that kit it was not working. If it appears during the unpacking, I must get it working again.


Light rain around 10:30 p.m. That is the first rain since we arrived, although not the first in March. It was once again very apparent that the exposed dining room window needed an awning, or some protection. Any wind driven rain would come straight in on our books. Luckily all this did was leave scattered raindrop sized craters in the dust outside.

Monday 30 March 2009


Disaster of a shopping trip to Willows. Even finding the car park was a slight adventure. The shopping centre has become a construction site, with expansion, and several new stores. A BigW and a Best and Less to appear late 2009, among others. Several stores seem to be working out of temporary premises, or had just moved. We did a walk around of the mall, just to get an idea of what was there. There was a Darrell Lea chocolate store, which we must attempt to avoid.

In Target we sought eating utensils and a set of plates. We also wanted a large frying pan. No luck at all. Most were only vaguely towards the acceptable scale, if that. We could not even find a tea towel we could agree upon. When Target started turning its music system up, we fled.

Coles was a little better. At least we managed to find some of the food that we lacked. No luck with tea towels. Jean found a packet of clothes pegs, and a Pinnacle hanging peg basket, even made from recycled plastics. However the construction noise was noticeable, with several staff commenting about it driving people away.

Carlyle Gardens

Restaurant walk for me at 11:30, starting with crossing the bridge too far. I mentioned the gauss reading to the Project Office.

I did a quick check of the internet connected computer in the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club rooms, in an attempt to see if there were any complications in connecting more computers to the internet. It seems they leave the computers powered off during the weekend, which is sensible. The Lenovo desktop connected to the internet was painfully slow booting into Windows XP. Looks like they may be getting an Ethernet feed via the structured wiring, from a switching hub in administration. Adding another router may be a little tricky. Might be a job for an Apple Airport Express, rather than say a Netgear router.

At reception I met Mark, the gardener. Alas, he could not tell me when he might get this stretch of homes for gardening. I paid my deposit to get a woodwork workshop key.

Lunch was chicken legs in gravy, with vegetables. Dessert was included, and was an enormous plate of apple crumble and ice cream. I only just managed to eat it all. I washed it all down with a Kilkenny Ale. It was a very substantial lunch by my standards.

Alas, the restaurant now has a sign up saying they will not longer have the bar open on Saturday afternoon. Not enough patrons. I have a bad feeling about how long many of the facilities here at Carlyle Gardens will continue to be provided. This despite the strong roll up on the St Patrick's night.

The workshop proved a large metal shed structure with a band saw, a bench saw, several grinders, some drill presses, three wood turning lathes. There was a welding booth. It certainly seemed a helpful hobby workshop. Rules included closed shoes. I am not sure I even have any closed shoes with me.

I phoned the President of the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club, to ask about extending internet access to the other computers, and to have a wireless hot spot. They certainly did not object to the idea. Now to see about getting hold of a suitable router, Ethernet hub, and wireless access point.

When I returned to the house, a parcel was sitting on the front porch. This was an Australia Post delivery, so it seems at least their delivery person knows where the place is. That was our first mail delivery.

TV Reception?

Moved yet more rocks to make a raised bed surround for our garden area. Lucky it is very small. Not that we have enough rocks.

Got some power boards attached to my desk, for the gadgets. The little electric screwdriver worked well for installing them. Is 13 switched outlets enough for a single desk? No, I had better add some more. Never know when you may want to add another power board.

Pinnacle TV for Mac DVB-T Stick digital TV gadget connected to a USB port on my five year old Apple PowerBook. The TV connection was to the feed coming from the Hills Hub fibre optics. I wanted to find whether we were really connected, but we do not have a TV set for testing.

The Elgato EyeTV Lite v1.0.1 software remained a pain in the proverbial to install. First time failed, and so did the second time, however it worked on the third try. For small values of worked. Full screen TV mode seems to disappear if you use Spaces. Even in the default Window modes, there is a lot of smearing and video loss, also lost audio, plus it does not even get the channel details correct sometimes. This seems to depend somewhat on the channel, with some bad, and others way worse.

Got about 16 digital channels on autoscan, two or three claiming to be in HD (I do not think that resolution should be considered HD). Lots of ABC, lots of SBS. Several ABC radio stations. WIN Channel 9. I never saw any sign of channels 7 or 10. The ABC and WIN were almost good enough to watch, although both had dropouts. I managed to watch the news. SBS was pretty much hopeless. Top Gear was on, but you could not say you could watch it. I shall have to ask some of the residents here what their experience of the TV feed has been.

[Much later I found we did not have a TV feed. The signal the Pinnacle device picked up was just leakage from the fibre optic converter.]

We still can not bring ourselves to talk to Telstra about getting the telephone on, so we can get the Internet.

Tuesday 31 March 2009

Morning Shopping

We almost got collected by another vehicle on the roundabout outside Carlyle Gardens. Blind spot caused by the large side mirror. Jean was taking me to the closest newsagent at Sunland for a copy of The Australian.

Checked the Mitre 10 hardware store for solutions to the drainage across the pebble concrete surrounds of the house. The hardware guy said air conditioning people were using electrical conduit for their plumbing drains. Measure the stuff. Looks like the pipes that lead outside are 22 mm outside diameter (although I can not get to them) feeding into a joint with a 22 mm inside diameter. For the downpipes, he said stick some AG flume on the end of them. Drape that fluming across the path and into the turf (when we have turf). Seems like a plan to me.


Having started on ANZAPA last evening, I continued doing mailing comments during the morning. I did go to the Carlyle Gardens Ball & Wicket restaurant for lunch, and to mail Jean's letter. Continued mailing comments during the afternoon.

No apa word processing templates for Pages. The only ANZAPA template I had was on my old Powerbook, and was ancient. I copied it across and used it, and modified it slightly so it was not totally broken. I hope. Saved it out as a replacement template. Still it was enough to produce an eight PDF which Jean printed on her printer. Jean also did a two page ANZAPA zine, and despite photos, managed to cover more territory than I did. We will get printing done at Office Works tomorrow. I just wish I could recall which other stuff we wanted to buy at Office Works.


The kitchen light hums terrible in the quiet of the evening. This is a circular fluorescent oyster fitting, with an old style ballast. Totally unacceptable to me. I need to find the cause. My bathroom light is the same, and also hums very loud. As far as I can tell, other similar lights do not hum to that extent.

Eric Lindsay's Blog March 2009