Eric Lindsay's Blog April 2009

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Morning and Shopping

Fanzine writing was not something I could face this morning. I think I managed to rip up a heap of cardboard for the recycling bin instead.

On the other hand, the AG flume seems like it may work for diverting water from downpipes away from the pebble finish concrete and onto lawn or gardens. It is pain to get it over the ends of the downpipes, especially when they are wet with overnight condensation.

After rush hour, we drove the Motorway and then Bowen Road to OfficeWorks. They completed the 33 copies of the ANZAPA printing very swiftly. Otherwise the OfficeWorks side was a bit of a waste of time. No furniture that looked suitable. We could not even see the advertised USB sticks I wanted. I got a couple of spare cheap four colour Bic pens, as I am using them a lot now for notes. Got a small desk tidy, in the futile hope characteristics of the name would transfer to my life. Plus four cheap 1 GB USB memory gadgets, for swapping files with other people.

The furniture store next door to OfficeWorks was more interesting. For one thing, they would make some of their stuff in custom sizes. Perhaps this is our solution to nothing fitting our rooms?

We stopped at the Mitre 10 hardware store on the way home. Their conduit seemed to be marked 20 mm and 25 mm diameter, with nothing corresponding with the 22 mm that I measured from the air conditioning drains. Bummer! I need a vernier caliper.


Loyalty tickets are the latest at Carlyle Gardens Ball & Wicket restaurant. One ticket for each $10 or above meal you buy. Some confusion there about what qualified as a meal, with it initially being thought only roasts counted. Collect eight tickets in the month, and go in a draw for a prize.

I sure hope this gets a few more people attending. I have been having lunch at their restaurant every day. We have even been buying our wine and beer there, to encourage the restaurant and bar to stay open.


Fluming installation once the heat went out of the day. It was a bit of a pain. Plus I had to find some rocks to keep the flexible tubing open for water to pass through. Luckily one of our neighbours I had not met came past, so I was easily distracted by conversation.

No luck getting the air conditioner bends off. I will have to find a vernier caliper or something similar to measure the hose diameter correctly.

TV reception via Elgato EyeTV Lite seemed to work much better today in the afternoon. However when I connected the USB TV receiver, the software did not know it had already searched all the channels. I had to run the setup assistant yet again. This software just does not seem to be suitable for daily use. The channels are also mostly just about unusable in the evening.

[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.]

Telstra NextG reception speed was pathetic again this evening. This has been consistent every evening we have been in the flat Riverway and Carlyle Garden area. There is no way you could rely upon Telstra NextG 3G mobile for a fast internet service (or even a slow internet service - too many web pages time out). The network is obviously saturated every evening. The network is fine at 5 a.m. in the morning, so the problem is not at the receiver end.

Thursday 2 April 2009

Glossy Displays

Apple computers use glossy displays. In daylight, in a well lit room in the tropics, I find a glossy display (like in my first generation MacBook Air) almost impossible to use. All I see are reflections. Even with the display backlight at maximum, the reflections overpower black text on the white background of the glossy display. As for dark backgrounds, they are just impossible. There is no position I can find that avoids the reflections, since the whole room is brightly lit by the tropical sun.

I would really, really like to replace my four year old 20 inch iMac G5 ALS. My five year old 15 inch PowerBook is also showing its age. However Apple do not appear to make any model that does not have a glossy display. I have walked into Apple stores several times intent on buying a Macintosh. Each time after looking at the Apple glossy display, I have walked out without buying.

I could buy a MacPro, but a workstation class computer is way more than I need, in performance and especially in size. I could buy a Mac mini, but that has lower performance than a MacBook. It is not in the same class as a top of the line iMac. So until Apple make a non-glossy display desktop computer, I am stuck with obsolete computers.


Waiting for garbage. Instead of telling them we do not want any. One garbage collection a week. One recycling collection every two weeks. Guess who has a recycling bin completely full of cardboard cartons from our move. Guess who could fill the recycling bin with cardboard again pretty much straight away. We do not want to leave until the garbage is collected.

The first garbage collection I noticed here was around 7 a.m. The next around midday. This time the collection was at 10:15 a.m. Not a lot of consistency of timing there, unlike Airlie Beach. We still have no idea when the recycling bin gets collected.

Bobcats are back. Today they have a mini front end loader, which really does beat the same guy with a shovel, like yesterday. The little garden tractor is rushing away with each load. Can not be taking it very far, as they are back soon. Being still in a construction site, the house is getting filled with dust. Plus the noise is pretty disruptive.

Back To Airlie Beach

No sign of the recycling collection, so we went to the Carlyle Gardens restaurant for lunch around 1 p.m. Must avoid the meatloaf; way too much for me to eat. I did ask one of the regulars if they knew what time the recycling truck appeared. They laughed. As we were leaving we noticed a few recycling bins had been emptied. Sure enough, the recycling truck was in The Far Side, and soon came by.

We left a little after 2 p.m. Drove with only a fuel stop. Stopped at the Cannonvale Post Office and collected a week or so of mail. Coles for some food for the weekend. Dumped all the food in the fridge when we got home. It was amazing how much of a mess we had left in the Whitsunday Terraces apartment. Still, at least we could finally get internet access again.

Friday 3 April 2009


Jean had recoiled in horror at the tangle of cables on my computer monitor. Especially since at least half a dozen of them were attached to other gadgets, like the VCR tuner and the DVD player, as well as computers. She decided it was simpler to buy a new monitor, rather than borrow mine from time to time.

A walk for newspapers, and raiding an ATM. I got a haircut. Saw Kurt in the street, and he stopped to chat about his problems with GPS, boat navigation and computers. The change over from RS232 to USB is not going well with some GPS and some map applications. Stopped at the Post Office for stamps for Jean, and a great bundle of 3 kg prepaid mail bags. The Post Office flyer had cheap monitors. Alas, the local Post Office agency did not stock any of them.

A drive to Centro Shopping Centre at Cannonvale. Jean found a suitable computer monitor at Harvey Norman. I saw a tall stool, and thought it perfect for a bar stool. Alas, it was for cashiers, not furniture for sale. They said any office furniture store should have them.

We got lucky at BigW, which had some plates and cutlery that were acceptable enough for the new house. It seems more than slightly weird to leave a city and do your shopping at a much smaller town, but that is how it worked out. The other thing was some wine for our stay, as we had run down all the stocks prior to our move. At least we managed to avoid getting something bad for lunch while at Centro.

Saturday 4 April 2009


I was late to the Airlie Beach markets. Walked to the newsagent, and stayed chatting for a while after collecting the accumulated magazines. Then I stopped for breakfast at MacDonalds.

It turned out my usual breakfast suppliers had returned to the markets. I got Jean's vegetables. Several of the market regulars told me this was their last markets. The dress folks who had asked for computer advice were moving to Cairns. The leather and hand cut Australian gemstones folks were off for another long trip. Glenn was still interstate. I did see Rex for a while. I had not been sure he would have recuperated as yet. Saw Michael at the photographic stand. I must remember to get some of his work to take to Carlyle Gardens. Managed to miss getting bananas from Bruce, as he had run out by the time I stopped by.

So I was late getting back to the Whitsunday Terraces apartment.


More shopping. Coles did not have the cheap office chairs I had seen just prior to our move. I had thought we should get a few of them when I saw them, but we were too busy packing. We had thought availability unlikely.

Puzzles Australia at Cannonvale had new stocks of Wasgij, so I bought two as gifts for our mover and our lawyer, both of whom claim skills in jigsaw puzzles. Number 5, Late Booking. Number 6, Blooming Marvellous. Jean also wanted one, and picked Number 12, Mouth of the River.

Tandy had 3.5 mm plug to 6.5 mm socket (which guarantees I will find the missing adaptor soon). I got a video F connector to Australian Coax cable, to test whether I have a bad cable back at Carlyle Gardens. It was shorter than I wanted. I also put our long cable from Airlie Beach in the bag, just in case.

Met Jean at Target Country. To our considerable surprise they had lots of the Australian movies shown in their recent flyer. So we bought a dozen we thought we may want to see.

We stopped at a little shopping centre a short way up the road. Mackay Office Equipment had exactly the sort of high chair I had seen in Harvey Norman. It was one of their regular office chairs, mounted on a drafting base (a circular foot rail), and with an extended gas lift. Jean was not keen on it, but it looked like I could use it if we do not find anything else suitable. Not that there was room in the car for it at the moment.

No luck with things to subvert at Crazy Clarks. I was also surprised to find the Home hardware store had the timber section door closed, and no staff working there. I think that is a change for Saturday. No luck with the wood anyhow. Jean also failed to find the fry pan she wanted.

Off to Centro again. Jean had decided we needed more cutlery than just four settings, so at BigW we bought an extra set of four, identical to the first. The fry pan we want is not there. The correct brand, in the wrong size is there. Also the lids available are not for the fry pans that are available. That gives hope some BigW will have both. I still need radiata pine to revise some of my bookcases. However as shopping trips went, it worked pretty well.

Sunday 5 April 2009


Like who did not take out the garbage at Whitsunday Terraces during the weekend? The rubbish bins were not emptied on Saturday nor on Sunday. This should not be rocket science. Daily rubbish removal is part of the contract.


Sunday paper, to read while watching the current affairs programs on Sunday morning. That is my idea of a relaxing Sunday. During the advertising breaks, I packed or unpacked boxes, or got things in piles to throw out from the Whitsunday Terraces.

In the afternoon I mixed looking up items on the web, catching up email and social networking, and making up a big pot of spaghetti sauce. Very relaxing. I also pulled apart some old bookcases to salvage the wood for the next set of bookcases. That was not so relaxing.

Monday 6 April 2009


Mitre 10 Hardware had some 20 mm thick, 190 mm wide radiata pine dressed all round. Eight lengths at 1370 mm would just do as bookcase uprights under my high window. You can cut four out of each 5.7 metre length, so that was what I bought. I love a hardware store that has a decent power saw. About A$70, and I still have to put some Estapol polyurethane on them. However that can be my building project over Easter.

The hardware store did not have any 140 mm radiata pine, so the other bookcase remains stalled. However we did find in my wood pile in the balcony shed enough rough timber to prop up the bottom of most of the plastic drawers we put in the closets. The rim of the closet was so high that the bottom drawer could not be opened, unless the drawers were higher.

Putting all that timber in the car means we have reduced the luggage space considerably. Ten trips down the two floors to fill the car so far, and I doubt I will get everything in.

Water Tanks

Whitsunday Shire Council apparently expect all new home builders to waste their money installing a 5000 litre rain water tank. Are they insane?

The Whitsundays have a wet season. This means the rains come in a bunch in summer. A millimetre of rain over a square metre is a litre. So, if you have a 200 square metre roof, 1 mm of rain will produce 200 litres (actually your water diverter will flush a lot of the first millimetre). So 25 mm of rain will fill your 5000 litre tank. If you use 200 litres per person per day, your tank will last 25 days for one person, 13 days for 2, about a week for a family of four. You will have plenty of water during the wet season. During most of the year you will have none.

There is a reason farmers use much larger tanks for their farm house. They actually plan to match tank capacity to rainfall. Farmers tend to keep good rainfall records.

The cost of home water tanks is hundreds or thousands of times the cost of storing the same quantity of water in dams. They do not make economic sense.

Unless maintained correctly, water tanks end up as breeding grounds for disease carrying mosquitoes. Next thing will be fines from public health authorities. Home water tanks are a public health disaster.

Is there anything good about home water tanks? Well, yes. Whitsunday water is so mineral laced that your taps and hot water service get calcified out rapidly. There is no point trying to run a solar hot water system here, as the water will destroy it. Tank water is much kinder to your plumbing.

Hogs Breath

Dinner at Hogs Breath cafe. That was Jean's idea, and rather surprised me. Now they have a smaller slow cooked steak, we can even finish a meal without feeling bloated. We walked there at 6 p.m. Alas, on emerging, there seemed a shortage of taxis at the rank. I seem to recall some flight arrives around this time, so probably half the taxis are at the airport. I walked up the hill to the Whitsunday Terraces to collect Jean's car, and picked up Jean from the bottom of the hill.

Tuesday 7 April 2009


Rubbish yet again not put out at the Whitsunday Terraces. This marks the third day in a row that the daily rubbish removal was missed. The contract clearly calls for daily garbage removal. This is clearly not being supervised.

To Townsville

Packing the car has taken around 18 trips down the two levels to the parking at the Whitsunday Terraces so far. However I am nearly out of bag or box shaped crevices to fill in Jean's Sunbaru. Jean said she had completed her computer work at 8 a.m., so now we can pack up the computers as well.

Eighteen trips in all to fill the car. We left around 9:30 a.m. Jean stopped at Airlie Beach Post Office so she could go in. We also had to stop at the Cannonville Post Office to collect our mail. Another stop at Inkerman for a bite to eat. We reached Carlyle Gardens and were unpacked by around 1:30 p.m.

Carlyle Gardens

Reception had a little internal mail for me, plus bumph from Ergon Energy. I asked when we were likely to have our introduction (and reading of the rules) for Carlyle Gardens. Naturally we read all the lease conditions, but sometimes interpretation of them is different from place to place, so checking expectations seemed worthwhile.

At the bar I ran into Peter, the project manager, and asked him about the little antenna some houses have. This turned out to be a distributed wireless network for the VitalCare emergency call button devices. Which we did not have. Back to reception.

Reception staff were surprised that the sales person did not give us an emergency call gadget. However we got a key in advance of contract completion (so we could organise delivery of new furniture). By the time we completed the contract and moved nearly three weeks later, our salesperson was on holidays. The office manager set one up with our house number, and explained their operation and testing. I phoned the office, and Jean tested the call button from our home when I returned.

Back at the bar, I collected a few bottles of wine for over Easter, when the bar is closed.

Pinnacle and EyeTV

Downloaded the latest ElGato EyeTV Lite 1.1 while at Airlie Beach. So I installed it on my five year old Powerbook G4 to run the Pinnacle TV for Mac DVB-T stick. Software said it had no stations, and that I needed to run setup. Setup failed (yet again) to pick up about a third of the available TV stations, including missing the two of the five free to air stations - 2 and 10). An exhaustive scan takes around 23 minutes, and does (sometimes) pick up the missing stations.

[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.]

However the software requires a new scan every single time you start using it! This is utterly insane. Imagine tuning a TV set for 23 minutes every time you turned it on. No one would put up with that. If that is how EyeTV Lite is designed to work, then it is utterly useless, and so is the Pinnacle TV for Mac DBB-T stick. There should be some way to save the result of your scan of channels.

On the positive side, I did connect my AudioEngine A5 self powered speaker system to the Powerbook. So I have decent sound. Well, I may have a faulty 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm audio lead, or audio socket, so I need to check that further.

Wednesday 8 April 2009


Jean cut out some of the holey curtain material. Enough for her high window, and enough for my high window. I stuck half of mine up with thumbtacks to reduce the amount of sunshine coming into the room. It seems like it will probably work as temporary curtain material. Alas, keeping the curtain out of the way when I open the window is a whole different problem. It is way too short for gathering it to one side.

Ripping cardboard moving boxes up for the recycling was another morning chore. The bin must be a third full again by now.


Address by Les Armstrong, State President of the Association of Residents of Queensland Retirement Villages (ARQRV) at Carlton Theatre at 9 a.m. I walked over for talk. Les was entertaining, and had done this sort of talk lots of times before, although never at Carlyle Gardens, which has some 300 members. Local agent Ernie had membership forms available, to add to the number. There are around 8,000 members, out of perhaps 45,000 village members. Les had given presentations at over 100 retirement villages in the past nine months. The organisation is run from his back porch at the Sunshine Coast, but seems very effective. They take cases to Tribunal, if they think they have a case they can win.

Afterwards I had lunch at the Carlyle Gardens restaurant, and talked with Penney (take your pick which Penney).

Furniture Shopping

Domain Central to look for furniture. We wanted a small dining room table with legs that did not get in the way of people seated around it. However we did not want the uncomfortable chairs that accompany most dining room tables. I wanted some bar stools for the high kitchen bench. We each wanted some sort of small table that would go next to a recliner chair. We wanted that to have space for magazines, books and the like.

We checked AMart, Freedom, Nick Scali and several other furniture stores. We did not find anything that would do the job we wanted at any of these stores. Closest were some cheap looking lamp tables at AMart, and a (too large) dining room table at Nicl Scali. It sure is hard to spend your way out of a recession if you can not find what you want. We concluded most furniture these days is designed for aliens.

We went to Bunnings, mainly to use their toilet. I have no idea where Domain Central has toilets, if indeed they have any. That is a real disincentive to shop at Domain Central. At Bunnings we bought another set of plastic drawers for Jean, and some radiata pine for more bookcases. Plus helpful staff pointed out where we could get recessed flush door handles. I am really sick of sliding cupboard doors that lack handles of any sort.

At the local Mitre 10 hardware store, I picked up some files and some sandpaper I had forgotten at Bunnings. Jean got more food at the IGA. As a furniture shopping expedition, it was a complete waste of time.

Dell Monitor

Dell 27 inch computer monitor. I had ordered one on Monday morning. The Dell website and email seemed to indicate it had been accepted into their system. During the time I was in the talk, I missed a phone call that appeared to be from Dell. Trying to phone them back on that number put me in a voice mail system, so I stopped trying.

I finally found an email from Dell in the spam filter late that evening. They said they could not send a monitor to a PO Box. Well, I know that. I had given them a street address. Sent an email message explaining this to Dell. I hope that is all they need. No acknowledgement, so I hope it did not get lost in their system.

Smart Power Meters

Smart for electricity companies, not for consumers. You can just bet peak power charges will be at the time most families use most power, say arriving home from school or work, and cooking dinner. What we seem to be seeing in NSW is a greatly increased charge for these peak periods, and only very modest reductions for off peak power. My guess is smart power meters with three power zones will increase charges by around 40%.

Smart power meters may trigger consumer changes. Power companies will certainly hope so, as very few new power plants will be built while no-one is sure a coal power plant will make traditional margins.

Thursday 9 April 2009


We stayed home, awaiting the Telstra technician who was to get our phone connection working. He phoned Jean's mobile well before 11 a.m. and confirmed the house was in the new extensions to Carlyle Gardens. The young Telecom technician arrived before 11 a.m. Checked we wanted the phone to work in the kitchen (Telstra only check one point in the house wiring). He checked the wiring was active.

I mentioned the kitchen (and other phone outlets) were fed through a Hills Home Hub. He went with me to look at the hub, and said he had never seen one before in Carlyle Gardens. I suspect this only means that no-one had mentioned them to him.

He left a loopback device connected to the kitchen phone line. Went off back to the entry gate to check which wires we were on, and connect them. Back about ten minutes later to make some line tests via the magic phone numbers that Telstra technicians all seem to have memorised. The line worked, and the number was the one Jean had asked for.

After he packed up, Jean tried the fax. Very strange noise on the line. We connected the Telstra phone again. Same strange noise. I rushed out the door and caught him about to drive off. Explained the strange noise. He said that is the dial tone in this area. Since the phone continues to work, I guess that it right. Us old folks get confused when dial tones change. In fact, I am so confused by phones that I get my iPhone to ring like a good old fashioned hand set. However the changed dial tone actually means the phone had received a message. Since I would never set up a home phone to receive messages, I ignore that sort of thing.

An aside about my 27 inch Dell monitor. Dell listed order received, release to manufacturing, and build complete today.

AirNav Radar Box

AirNav Radar Box was reviewed in November 2008 Silicon Chip, and works if you are near a major airport. The box connects to a Windows personal computer via USB. It has a socket for a 1090 MHz vertical wire antenna. It listens to GPS position data from the aircraft using ADS-B (Automatic dependent surveillance broadcast). It also picks up (delayed by five minutes for security reasons) similar information from thousands of such AirNav Radar Boxes worldwide. It is similar to peer to peer sharing, according to reviewer Ross Tester.

There are central AirNav servers processing up to 10,000 flight messages per second. This is processed and organised to track flights. Australian distributors are Hometech Consulting, PO Box 2110, Wattletree Road LPO, East Malvern, Vic 3145. Price is around A$1000. Fascinating.

Local TV Towers

Finding local TV and radio transmitters is not always easy. The Australian Media and Communications Authority should have a comprehensive list of TV stations, but it is hard to find on their web site. They also have a lengthy PDF list of TV stations by location. These web URLs can change without notice. Last time I found them, they were elsewhere.

Social Evening

Social evening brought forward due to Easter closing of the bar and Carlyle Gardens restaurant. I walked over at five for the Happy Hour, and to claim a table. Chatted to various people who seemed to be separate from other groups.

Jean arrived just before six, and demanded a drink while the bar still had happy hour prices. There being few empty seats we were soon joined by another couple who asked if they could sit with us. They turned out to be Gary and Anne, the caretakers who do the weekend and evening shifts if case of emergency, when the regular staff are away. Jean happened to mention liking the idea of riding a motor cycle. It turned out they were members of the Ulysses Motor Cycle Club (growing old disgracefully). Jean was soon finding out heaps about motor cycles and club activities. I can not wait to see if she becomes a motorcyclist.

The buffet was fine, as previously. I thought things went exceedingly well.

Friday 10 April 2009


Our manual says we have a Clipsal Cent-A-Meter, as reviewed in Silicon Chip on October 2003. However there are subtle differences between the meter and the manual that convince me with have an early model of a U.K. built Cent-A-Meter Owl, as reviewed in Silicon Chip in October 2008.

Bookcases and Lights

All the bookcases need to be different sizes to what they are. Since none of the wall space is similar to our apartment. This is a real pain. I suspect it will take me a long time to build another fleet of bookcases more appropriate to the new surrounds.

One of the fluorescent downlights in my office failed today. The bulb was marked Crompton 11W CGU-11W 5800K GU10 240V 50Hz 80mA N1518 A/10677EA 2008-09. Since we have only been here since 23 March, there is no way such a light globe should have failed so quickly.

As an afterword, the fluorescent downlight fittings are a pathetic design. It is very card to get the retaining right to actually release so that you can get the light out.

Eye TV Lite

Eye TV Lite software needs to be installed and run from an Administrator account. If not, it does not recall which TV stations it is tuned to. I do not understand what ElGato are pulling with this. I have not needed to run any program as Administrator in years. It is an unacceptable security risk, and I will not use any program that is so badly written.

If I want to watch TV (somewhat debatable) I will have to either get a SetTop Box with decent output facilities (component and DVI perhaps, to suit a computer monitor), or get a TV set. I find it difficult to believe a TV set is worthwhile.

Saturday 11 April 2009


Newspaper shop is pathetic. Did not even have a Financial Review. I suppose I am lucky they had a copy of The Australian. I will have to find an alternative. I did get some Hot Cross Buns at the Brumby, so it was not a total waste. The Mitre10 hardware store was opening late, it being Easter, so I could not check whether they stocked 11 Watt fluorescent downlights. However Jean got some extra food for Easter at the IGA. We escaped as soon as we could, in case there was a sudden surge of crowds over Easter.

Unpacking Books

Unpacking books continues ever so slowly. I want the 90 cm high bookcases out in the foyer, where the lower ones just waste too much wall space. I took three of the 90 cm bookcases out to the foyer, and unpacked several boxes of paperbacks into them. Not a great look for the foyer, but not impossibly bad either.

Jean said I could use the deep bookcases dividing the dining room, so I emptied several boxes of larger hardcover books into four of these. I had hidden the full book boxes, so it does not appear I have got anywhere in unpacking so far.

Since I had two 140 mm deep 1.8 metre high pieces radiata pine for uprights, and eight 190 mm deep 1.63 metre high pieces for shelves under the high window, I started rounding the edges that would be visible. It takes forever with a hand file. Surely I have some sort of sander on hand?

Video Monitor

The gadget that allows connection of up to four video sources, and shares them as a web server, was next on my list of things to test. I had the right power packs. Tried connecting it to the Ethernet of the AirPort Extreme Wireless Base Station. It did not seem that the device was actually responding as a web server. I read the manuals on the CD. The software was all Windows based. Perhaps it is not really working at all.

AirPort Extreme Base Station

Apple AirPort Extreme Wireless Base Station is set up to connect us to the Internet. However, since all we have at the moment is a dial up phone line, I had to set it to use its internal dial up modem for the connection. We may well be the only Australian household connecting to the internet from a wireless access point that runs via a dial up modem. That surely is not a common method of connecting. It was lucky I had still held onto that old AirPort with the built in modem.

Sunday 12 April 2009

Solar Hot Water

Not much sun for the past several days. We did manage to get away with another load of washing, however periods of sunshine for drying were almost nil. The solar hot water service is now producing rather wimpy warm water. If we get much more cloud, we may have to switch on the electric booster element.

I can not get the wine glasses sufficiently clean without really hot water. That is enough reason. I also note that having bought six wine glasses in late March, we already have two crack almost totally around the top. I do not recall treating them harshly, so they may be badly formed. They were very cheap.


When we went for our afternoon walk, we noticed a number of nice rocks in the fill near the last homes to be built. We grabbed some for our garden. I sort of plan to grow river pebbles. I think I can keep them from dying.

Monday 13 April 2009


Shopping again sometime mid morning, despite it being during the Easter holiday weekend. We were unsure which, if any, shops would be open. We were also not thrilled with the idea of encountering families while shopping. However we had seen some small table substitutes, in the form of entertainment units, on a previous trip, and feared the sale price would evaporate soon. Plus we had not found anything else equally likely since. Luckily SuperAMart was open, and still had the units on sale. We bought and carried them to the car.

Bunnings hardware looked even more speculative, with the car park full and obviously large crowds. A car pulled out close to the door as we approached, so that solved the parking problem. While checking solar garden lights (the range was so large it daunted us), we chanced upon numerous TV and audio leads in the electrical section. One was what I had listed as wanting from a specialist electrical store. A visit to the stick on hook section provided what we wanted there. Jean asked an attendant about dowels, and was led right to them. I collected a large shopping cart, and loaded it with various widths of 1800 mm long radiata pine dressed all round for shelving. The checkout was busy, but quick. Hard to complain. The wood just fitted in the car.

The Rotary sausage sizzle folks were at the door, so we indulged in a snag sandwich. I noticed a lighting store opposite. We had sought one, but were not sure where it was located. I only wanted a replacement fluorescent downlight for one that had stopped working. On the way through we noticed standing lamps similar to those Jean has long used. Collected one, and then I went back for a second. The second was half price due to a sale. That was pretty handy.

Mini Olympics

Carlyle Gardens had their mini-Olympics, with the bar open from 1 p.m. Naturally I had to support the bar. The various teams seemed to have a good time. I talked to a long time resident (same incomplete building experience we are enjoying). Several couples from The Far Side attended, and I chatted to them in sequence. Found that getting into The Far Side once involved a long convoluted detour via the back of the land. We all still want the bridge open.

The caretaker Gary gave me a loan of a DVD for Jean to view, as promised at our previous meeting. The heavens opened. Well, at least it rained. About 14 mm before I left the bar around 5:30 p.m. There was a sausage sizzle, so I considered myself well fed. Luckily I got a lift back to The Far Side, and did not have to contend with the rain. It rained hard again that evening, from about 10 p.m.

Some Assembly Required

Assembled the lamp. Apart from noisy metal to metal joints, it was easy. The entertainment unit was more involved, with 35 components and a typical modern wordless instruction sheet. However although a little tedious, it was not difficult. I think the entertainment unit looks a lot nicer than putting my stuff on top of a couple of upturned plastic containers.

Tuesday 14 April 2009


Washing the dishes was the exciting event of the morning. The mud surrounding us discouraged an early morning walk.

After nine we set out for the BigW at Stockland shopping centre. Found the 26 cm Arcosteel frypan Jean wanted. Alas, we did not find any lids for it. However we believe we saw lids at BigW Centro, so I can check that during the weekend. Cereal bowls, semi-acceptable glass tumblers, vegetable peelers, more coat hangers. We are gradually furnishing the house with missing things.

With the Pinnacle plus EyeTV Lite combination basically not working as a TV, I looked for a SetTop Box. BigW had a Chinese one branded AWA at under $100, and that claimed to handle High Definition. That seemed a reasonable price point. As well as a HDMI output (ptui), it had video connectors for RGB, VGA, S-Video and Composite. Audio included left and right analog channels, plus S/PDIF coax and optical. So I should be able to connect it to my new monitor (when that arrives) or any of my audio systems (two have optical S/PDIF).

OfficeWorks was next. The plain office table we wanted for our dining room was not on display, but Jean ordered it, for delivery in a few weeks. We remain unaware of why most dining room furniture is designed so only aliens can sit at it comfortably. They also had a tiny student desk on special. It looked like it would fit in a space I had, so I bought it cheaper than the wood to do my own would be. Some assembly required.

Next door to NOW Office furniture. We test sat in pretty much all their plain office chairs. We wanted one with arms, so Jean could more easily rise to her feet. However we did not want outright office chairs. We soon found two BuzFurn Express four leg chrome frame V700 chairs that really suited us. Further testing did not reveal any that were better for us. So we bought these two obsolete models. NOW Office Furniture checked with the manufacturer, to see if others were still in stock, and ordered us an extra two. That took care of the dining room furniture buying, if not the delivery.

Carlyle Gardens Items

Next was Jaycar, where Jean rejected all available clocks (not surprising). I got my vernier caliper, but upgraded to the more reliable stainless model. We also grabbed several 1.83 metre lengths of flexible cable ducting, which was at last available in white. We had been looking for this sort of ducting for years, as our existing length of grey ducting really looks out of place, and the company that sold it long out of business.

By co-incidence, Ray turned up, making insulting comments and generally carrying on. I responded the only thing he had over me was he had not spent as much time in the Crickets Bar yesterday as I had. However I was the person Jaycar gave a free carry bag, so that gave Ray something else to comment on.

Back to Carlyle Gardens, where Jean and I had lunch at the Carlyle Gardens restaurant. Jean was defeated by the giant hamburger. I just managed to eat all my roast lamb. Only item missing was mint sauce. I must ask if the restaurant have any.

Entertainment Unit

Assembling Jean's entertainment unit was probably my task for the afternoon. After having assembled one of them, it did not take a lot of time to do a second.

Wednesday 15 April 2009


Jean assembled her lamp while I was at lunch. Alas, one section of it was flared, and the threads would not engage the next section. We both looked at it for a while, and could see no way to repair it. Has to be returned.

Assembly Required

Assembling the small computer desk was one task for the evening. It took most of the 45 minutes the (wordless) instructions claimed. However as long as you followed which set of screws were which, it was easy enough. It came with a small spanner and an allan key. Seems sturdy enough.

Thursday 16 April 2009


Back to the lamp shop to return the lamp. They gave us a replacement, once they had inspected the problem joint. As expected, Jean quickly assembled the replacement lamp once she got it home. However this returning faulty items is a real waste of our time. I imagine it is a waste of both time and money for retailers and distributors.

Internet Connection

Our ADSL internet connection was ready, according to iiNet. Naturally we were eager to drop dial-up. I hauled out the box containing the new Belkin ADSL2+ modem with wireless 802.11g router. It had been stored for a while, since our move had been later than we once expected.

Used a Macintosh PowerBook to wirelessly set up wireless networking via the router web page at There is no default password, although we always protect routers while doing setup. Then set the username and password for the wine area network connection to iiNet. No connection.

Went through increasingly desperate checks, and never got a connection. Changed all the cables. Reset and restarted, etc. Finally gave up as the hot evening continued. Did we have false advice that the ADSL connection was enabled? Did we have a bad password? Did we have a faulty ADSL modem? No way to be sure.

D-Link Modem

Found an ancient and unsatisfactory D-Link DSL300G ADSL modem. I had a manual, from previous use. Set the username and password. Instant ADSL connection. However one problem with the DSL300G is only a single computer can connect at once. So we now know that the ADSL connection works, that the passwords are right, that the cables all work.

Wireless Internet

I should be able to connect to the DSL300G by using an Apple AirPort Extreme wirless base station. Then I should be able to share the internet connection. Alas, I was not able to manage that at all. By then my five year old PowerBook battery was almost dead. It seemed to be getting increasingly hot (or perhaps that was my temper). I gave up.

Jean carried the DSL300G off to her room, so she could have a fast connection. I reverted to wirelessly connecting to the dial up modem in the old Apple AirPort Extreme.

Friday 17 April 2009

Back to Airlie Beach

Drove the four hour back to Airlie Beach, starting after breakfast. I had a list of things to find and bring back. Plus I had the Belkin ADSL modem to test. Had a relatively good drive back, reaching the Whitsunday area around 1 p.m.

BigW at Centro had the 26 centimetre ArcoSteel frypan lid Jean wanted to suit her new ArcoSteel frypan. There were no ArcoSteel frypans, unlike the Townsville BigW, which had the frypans and no lids. When finally checked, the ArcoSteel lid did not really fit the ArcoSteel frypan. Maybe that is why you do not seem to find both frypans and lids?

At Harvey Norman I found some ADSL filters. For our extension lines, and the unlikely event that somehow my old ADSL splitter and filter was causing problems.

Whitsunday Shopping Centre at Cannonvale to collect mail from the increasingly inconvenient Airlie Beach post office box. I also got milk and orange juice for the weekend. It is amazing how many empty shops are there. I know the leases expired on a bunch, but five empty shops in a row, including Kitsons, and one of the nicer cafes. Plus the photographic store was closed. It looked like a few others were also emptying their stock. I unloaded into the Whitsunday Terraces.

Airlie Beach

Newsagent to collect magazines I had on order, and envelopes for sending out changes of address. Marinos for deli foods for sandwiches. Chemist to see if they have Darrell Lea chocolate bilbies left over from Easter. Check mail at what is left of the Airlie Beach Post Office. Get other items. Plus a Dominos pizza for a very late lunch. They were kind enough to give me an updated discount card that was longer dated than the one I was using. Back up the stairs at the Whitsunday Terraces.


Jim had seen me arrive. He had also been away for a while. That evening we sat around on my balcony at the Whitsunday Terraces consuming too much gin, and talking. He gave me a gift of an Apple PowerMac case. His old Mac had finally died. But the case is just too beautiful to discard, or even recycle. I will see what I can do with it. I am thinking a case for a large array of hard drives, running as a media server.

Saturday 18 April 2009


Lots of newspapers first, since Jean was not there to stop me. All I was after at the markets was bananas for breakfast. However I talked with Bruce (both of them). Cynicism abounded, especially about the financial sector. Told him the Irish had originally named their unit of currency so it rhymed with bank manager.

Now they are back, I had my usual bacon and egg for breakfast. Caught up with Rex. This was the first time this year he had actually brought his stall to the markets. Back up the twelve flights of stairs to the Whitsunday Terraces.

Frameless Photography

Photographer Michael Bowley, of Frameless Fotography (PO Box 864, Airlie Beach Qld 4802) kindly gave me a set of his handmade drink coasters. This had a nicely located twilight photograph of Airlie Beach, showing where we lived at Whitsunday Terraces, nicely framed against the hillsides behind us. Michael said I gave him no-bullshit advice about computers.


Sue delivered our email order around midday to the Whitsunday Terraces. Family size chicken, potato and bacon pies, steak and red wine pies. SBCs for Jean, chicken kiev for me. I froze most of it, so I could take them back to Carlyle Gardens in a cooler.

Clean Up

Cleaning up the Whitsunday Terraces apartment was a close approximation to a disaster. I finally settled on putting aside the things I knew I had to pack into the car. The amount of dusting was very limited. I did get out the vacuum cleaner, but getting it into action was more a promise than anything that removed much dust.

Sunday 19 April 2009


Walk to the newsagent for the Sunday paper, then back up the steps to the Whitsunday Terraces. Watched the current affairs programs on TV, using the computer monitor and the VCR feed.

Sending out changes of address notices by email. Luckily bulk mailings work well, even if rather spam like. I got 82 bounced addresses during the weekend. Found some extra addresses so I resent some. I fear my address book is in sad shape. I do not want to even think about sending out the physical changes of address. I think I have mailed three of them.


Packing the car took about eight trips. Nothing very impressive. However it is hard to balance wood while you go down steps, so loading scrap wood (hopefully for non-scrap purposes) took some time. During the day I managed to kick a pile of wood, and bloodied up two of my toes. Left streaks of blood all over the Whitsunday Terraces apartment, until I noticed and cleaned them up.


Had one third of one of Sue's steak and red wine pies for lunch. Plus way too much ice cream. The pie was just as good as I remembered.


During the afternoon I could no longer put off the attempt to get the Belkin ADSL2+ modem with wireless 802.11g router working. Text on the bottom indicated it was a model F5D7633-au-4A. The Australian Belkin web site had manuals, which I downloaded and read. The Belkin web site listed firmware upgrades as 7.00.5 and 7.00.17. However the router was 7.00.20 of August 30, 2007. I Googled, and found lots of complaints about that model not working.

Naturally the Belkin modem did not connect to the internet. I reset to factory defaults and tried again. I had looked up iiNet (which once sold a Belkin router as their standard router) internet parameters. They used PPPoE, as expected, with LLC. Security protocol was PAP. Handshake protocol modulation was G.DMT for ADSL1.

The crucial points were that pretty much all Australian ISPs have VPI set to 8, and VCI set to 35. Despite the Australian model number, the Belkin router had both settings totally wrong. I fixed both settings. The Belkin worked fine then. Time to pack it up for the trip back to Carlyle Gardens.

Monday 20 April 2009

To Townsville

Waking early was one of the curses of this trip. I was awake before five. Packed the last few items in the car, sans breakfast, and was on the road at 5:30 a.m. Darkness and mist made driving a little slower until I got to the Bruce Highway at 6 a.m. The sky lightened, the mist lifted. I was at Bowen by 6:30, and getting fuel at 7 a.m. At Inkerman I got some chocolate milk as a breakfast substitute, since I was hungry by then.

I noticed Galea's Concrete Creations at Brandon. Maybe we can get something for our garden there. I was pulling into Carlyle Gardens shortly after 9 a.m. Better time than I expected, but all cruise controlled under the speed limit.


Electricity went out at 9:30 a.m. Did not come back until 11:53 a.m. The card Ergon Energy had sent us said it would be out 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Ergon also said they could not promise the times.

A house just up the road had an alarm that comes on when the power is out. This time I walked up the road until I identified exactly which house it was. When I reported it to reception, I found there was already one other report about the problem.

Dell Monitor

Dell 27 inch monitor delivered around 11:30 a.m. No power, could not test it. It did unpack rather easily. The physical adjustments seemed much easier. It offers tilt, a 40 degree swivel, and a 90 mm height adjustment, all in a very neat mechanism. The weight was also much lower than I expected.

Input video connectors, from worst to best, are composite, component, VGA, HDMI, two DVI, DisplayPort. Composite is adequate for analogue TV, VCR or iPod feeds, component will handle DVD. VGA obviously because many low end personal computers still only use the obsolete VGA connector. HDMI is a copy protected media industry connection, keeps morphing the firmware versions, but makes the Dell compatible with many high definition media feeds like set top boxes and BluRay players like Sony Playstation. DVI is an excellent computer connection previously used by most top end computer systems, including Apple. DVI provides a more direct digital connection and can drive higher definition displays than HDMI. DisplayPort is the latest standard for high definition computer connections, and is significantly superior to either HDMI or DVI.

The Dell has a USB feed in via a standard B connector. This provides four powered USB hub ports. There is also an extensive range of camera card connectors. Overall, a very well equipped monitor.

The display has a very wide viewing angle, since it does not use a cheap twisted nematic (TN) display, unlike most computer monitors. My past experience with a 24 inch Dell is these provide good value for money, while recognising they are not a cheap display.

Set Top Box

AWA high definition set top box (STB262) from BigW was unable to find any TV or radio channels when I attempted to set it up with a component video connection to my monitor. Getting the monitor to automatically accept a component connection required the on screen menu on the Dell. Not an easy thing to use with their silly touch controls.

Basically the STB tries to set up the channels. However it always reports that it can not find any. Using the same feed, the Pinnacle TV Stick finds between 9 and 19 channels (and presents them so badly you can not use it). If neither got a signal, it might indicate feed problems, but the Pinnacle does manage to find a signal (badly). It is hard to believe everyone is getting such poor reception, however I have never had a previous set top box, so perhaps they do.

[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.]

The prospect of getting a TV to work seems to be getting more and more remote, instead of more and more likely.

Belkin ADSL Modem Router

The new corrected settings allowed the Belkin F5D7633-au-4A to connect us to the Internet via ADSL. I just had to add the altered name and password for the new service. However that was via Ethernet cable.

Wireless connections did not work. My Apple did not see the Belkin at all. Jean's Ubuntu notebook could see it but not connect. I noticed the Belkin was setting the channel automatically, and was set to 12. As far as I know, you should be using only channels 1 through 11. I set the Belkin to 11 manually. Now we could use it wirelessly on all our computers. I am not impressed by the Belkin firmware. Every problem I had with it was due to firmware settings being outright wrong for Australia.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

Set Top Box

Another attempt to get the AWA SBT262 to tune any TV signal. It seemed possible that in the morning the TV signals might be stronger. No such luck. I packed up the Set Top Box for return to BigW at Stocklands.

[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.]


Willows shopping centre (under reconstruction) for Jean to see travel agent. I bought a belt in Target while waiting. It turned out to be made of reconstituted leather. I think that is a Chinese term for plastic.

Stocklands to return AWA Set Top Box to BigW. They gave me another one as a replacement. NOW office furniture to collect the two extra chairs for our dining room. Office Works where I finally found the cheap 8GB Lexar Firefly USB flash drive for A$30. The Lexar USA web site price is US$45. Jaycar for a few USB SD camera card readers. Small enough to keep in our travel kit, but alas not as small as I hoped. We used up a heap of time on these few errands.


Jean dropped me at reception. The exhibition of heritage items at the Carlton Theatre was very impressive, and seemed well attended. I recognised far too many items as things I recalled from my own youth.

I also talked with the president of the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club about expanding the connection of their computers in their room. Need to talk with the secretary, and their tech folks.

Lots of folks dining at the Carlyle Gardens restaurant. I think every table was occupied, for once. My roast lamb came with mint sauce! Very tasty it was too. Later on I had dessert, ice cream with chocolate sauce, and a topping of Baily's Irish Cream. That went down well.


The landscape people were working on the centre plant area. They said the concreting was continuing about 20-40 metres a day. They were hoping for turf around Monday. The watering system people have also been working over the past few days. I really hope the construction zone aspects will soon be complete. I expressed a hope that the turf would start at the other end of the street. Having moved in long ago, Peter will be very vocal if his is the last house done.

Lost Addresses

Ken phoned. First time I had heard from him in years. This was very unexpected, as I had lost track of his address some considerable time ago. Well, not so much lost track. I had an address and phone number, but both were obsolete, and now wrong. As expected, he was still travelling extensively.

The lengthy call reminded me that Jean's fax machine has the most uncomfortable phone handset I have ever encountered. Jean and I discussed getting some sort of cordless phone handset. We also wanted a phone that works when the power is out, since that seems a frequent occurrence here.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Extract Wood

Extracting wood from my tall stands was a major chore. One stand had to have the content unloaded. Then it needed to be pulled out from the wall. After that I needed to stand on the steps to unscrew the long screws that held the shelf supports in place. I found it awkward holding my hands above my head for so long. The top shelf is way too close to the ceiling, so there was no point in keeping it. I wanted the wood from the supports to hold some drawers off the ground.

Mike's Meeting

Another cheerful volley of complaints. Mike had brought Kim, a director, to hear things. Certainly got an earful. The repairs that had been expected since Mike's previous visit had mostly not been done. People had been visited, and things checked. Just that the tradesmen never arrived to fix them. The pay to view TV contracts were apparently misplaced, and delayed once again. Not that I care very much. The defect repairs had been inspected, however very little had been actually done. That was probably on one builder, as the other builder seemed a separate item. We were promised that the bridge would be open for pedestrian traffic sometime in the next two days.

I talked with Peter about not getting a decent TV signal. He said that I should have a strong signal. Suggested there may be a cable problem with the Hills Home Hub. He could arrange to get it checked.

Set Top Box

Hills Home Hub cables looked great. However there is a general power outlet in the box, with a switch that was on. A plug pack obscured the next switch. That was not on. I traced the wine to a junction, and thence into the wall cavity. Although the Hills Hub manual made no mention of this sort of setup, it seemed likely that it was for a fibre optics to digital converter. I switched it on. Nothing gave out smoke or went bang.

The Pinnacle TV Stick now picked up 24 channels, and had great pictures. So I tried the AWA Set Top Box. That also now rapidly tuned in 24 channels, with pretty good pictures. So how did the TV Stick get a picture from unpowered electronics. My Applix friends say the optical conversion is analogue. Maybe enough output to run a photodiode, and the TV Stick somehow managed to pull an almost useable signal from that. Whatever. The important thing is that it was an input problem, now solved. I phoned Peter to thank him.

Thursday 23 April 2009

Hardware store so Jean could get screws for her drawer support stand. The screws turned out to be identical to ones we already had. D'oh!


Jean needed to visit the travel agent again. Plus there was a chemist, so Jean could get something for her wasp sting. There was also a money machine at Willows, so we used it. We have a fairly trivial list of items we have not yet found. Visiting Target did not help much.

Home Magazines

Newsagent at Willows is much larger than the one at Sunland. I looked for home magazines, mostly to get advertisers addresses. Wasted much of the day reading and scanning them, with not much result at all.

OLED Displays

OLED display for Apple rumours surface again. LG have a half billion dollar deal with Apple for unspecified displays through to 2013, signed in late 2008. SmartHouse say an LG insider says it includes a 15 inch OLED for June release. Same insider claims a 32 inch LG OLED TV for June 2010 at A$4000. Cost predictions for OLED TV are dubious. Previous generation OLED were expect to cost anything from twice to five times more than conventional flat panels.

LG showed 15 inch 1366 x 768 OLED display at CES. This is a 16:9 ratio, not the 16:10 Apple have been using. However the display is 1.4mm thin, and Apple like thin.

Friday 24 April 2009


Nineteen bookshelves painted one side with Estapol polyurethane. Took me forever to set up stands on which to paint, and find suitable plastic drop sheets. I am not a good painter, and object to having to do it at all. I had a few minor problems finding spaces where they boards could stand to dry, but eventually managed it. I was not able to clean up the brush until around 9:30 a.m. Had to cut a Coke can apart as a container for mineral turps, since we had not brought any old glass jars with us for use when painting. We also lack clean up rags.


Wooden superstructures to hold plastic drawers off the ground in my built in closets. If not held up, the plastic drawers hit the lip of the closet so you can not open the lowest drawer. I used left over and repurposed supports from my workshop construction, held together with a strip of thin wood held on with panel pins.

I had extracted two suitable pieces of wood from each stand, early in the morning on the previous few days. Took a while to find panel pins. Luckily after my nail stock proved missing, Jean found some. The simplified design I used seemed to work, and I believe is easier than what we had earlier worked out for Jean.

Another drawer still needs a similar construction, however I have no more suitable wood to hand. Plus one set of drawers is held up by chunks of wood, but needs something nailed to the end to stabilise it.

Gardens Started

Edging continued at a great pace. The concrete guy packed up somewhat after I returned from lunch, but had the last of the kerb in just ahead of the folks spreading topsoil. Shrubs and bushes and flowers planted. They are nearly down as far as our home now. Just two houses to go.

People working on the footpath at the bridge. The concrete ramp off the footpath is in, and now has a pebble finish. The bridge is open to pedestrian traffic, and has been since last night. I even saw several golf buggies zip through during the day.

Saturday 25 April 2009


ANZAC Day celebrations have returned big time to Australia. While remembrance never faltered, the divisions regarding whether we should have been in Vietnam did cause rifts, even within families. Activists made fun of RSL leaders. The parades were not as well attended. Townsville is a military town. You regularly see soldiers around the city. Many where we now live are ex-servicemen. Perhaps I am extrapolating too widely from events here, however I think the capital cities have also been showing a considerable upswing in approval of Australian military history. Politicians on both sides have long been encouraging this trend.

I would have felt out of place at a dawn ceremony, an intruder at a sacred moment for many. I do not have any military connections, nor did I ever seek them. So I remembered my father, who died when I was very young. I remembered my mother, whose War Widows pension made a vast difference to how she could live. I remembered Legacy attempting to help both her and me. I especially remembered a Legacy Librarian organising a City of Sydney library card for me, when I had exhausted their stock of books.


Nineteen shelves had a brush with Estapol. This completes the first coat on what will eventually become bookcases. Either I am getting faster, or I am getting less careful, because I had this painting and cleanup done before 8 a.m.

We drove off midmorning to get the weekend newspapers at Sunland. Jean found a Financial Review for me. Many shops are closed for ANZAC day, as you would expect. Then we did a little drive along Harvey Range Road, and the newly opened section of The Ring Road. On the way back, we drove further along Riverway, to see if there were other shops nearby. Back at Bowhunter, we drove the dirt road so I could look at the sewerage plant. I like checking fundamental infrastructure for wherever I live.

Rocks abound in some rubble piles left over from the civic works. We put a sheet in the car boot. We loaded rocks until the car was well down on its springs (does not take many). I would really like one or two giant rocks for the garden, but I can not lift rocks as large as I want. I figure I can grow a successful garden consisting of jagged quartz rocks, one or two feature granite rocks, with perhaps some commercial river pebbles scattered around. I want it to look like a landscape in miniature. Jean of course wants to add a train track to it.

We returned to the rock pile late that afternoon, and loaded even more rocks into the car.

Sunday 26 April 2009


My early morning was devoted to sanding the boards I had painted the previous morning. It sure takes a lot of time to hand sand wooden shelves. I got all nineteen boards done just before the morning public affairs TV programs started. Alas, another coat of Estapol was out of the question.

Rocks in Head

We returned to the rock pile in the late afternoon. Filled the boot of the car again. I think we may finally have enough rocks to do our rock garden. I would have liked some larger ones as feature rocks, but I can not lift anything larger than what I got.

Computer Club

When I had phoned the secretary of the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club and got his answering machine, I had failed to give my own phone number. My mobile phone tends to capture recent call numbers, and I failed to realise that the Carlyle Gardens phone book still did not include our number (we had given the office our number when we got the phone, and on a second occasion). Or I could give the Tom Lehrer excuse, that although memorising my new number was taking up most of my available time, I had not yet managed to get it correct.

The president of the computer club came driving over, seeking our house. It was the first time he had been to the newly built houses. We had a nice brief chat about possible upgrades of the club room. I gave him our phone number. He rang back a short time later to confirm a Wednesday meeting at 2 p.m. So I shall have to work out a schedule of interesting things that might be done.


During the weekend I wrote FAPA mailing comments. Sometime after dinner I did a PDF, which Jean kindly printed out for me. Should be able to get copies printed at Office Works in the next few days.

The fact that Jean printed it means that I have still not installed a second wireless access point with a USB connection to a printer, so we can print remotely. Real Soon Now!

Monday 27 April 2009


Second coat of Estapol painted on one side of all nineteen of my bookcase boards. This leaves one remaining coat of Estapol on the final side of each board. Alas, I have determined that I am a few shelves short of everything I might build.

ANZAPA mailing comments were next on the queue. Not that the deadline is close, but it is a larger envelope to remove, if I do them. At least I started them.


Nice chat with the head of the nearby security firm who looks after Carlyle Gardens. He has proven his worth by personally catching some people who did a recent break in at the village. I believe police got one. His large dog got the others. They were all sufficiently old to be charged.

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Bookcase Report

Second coat of Estapol on the remaining side of the majority of the shelves for the bookcases. This will let me start building the bookcases as soon as the boards have properly dried. It sure takes a long while to get to that stage. I still have enough Estapol left to do a few more boards. Despite getting up early, it took me until 8 a.m. before I was doing cleanup.


Willows Shopping Centre for banking, and pick up a newspaper. We finally located the correct entrance to be convenient to the stores we wanted. The Carlyle Gardens bus was just leaving as we arrived. They obviously knew the best spots.

OfficeWorks to get my printing done for FAPA. We never did spot any phones there, so our plans to buy some extension phones may need further thought. Jean did find a set of paper drawers for her desk, so that was good.

Jaycar to get a stud and power cable finder. The staff said there were once three models of them, but they no longer had them. That explains why I could not locate them in the Jaycar catalogue. They suggested Bunnings. I was able to get a switch mode regulated 5 volt power supply, to replace the USA supply with my IrDA to Ethernet converter. I also got a 12 volt equivalent, for the modem router wireless access point. The plug pack is running very hot in our temperatures, and with our power at 250 volts instead of the 230-240 volt standard.

Townsville Blinds and Awnings on Charles Street was next. We were not sure where it was, as we had misplaced the address. Maps on my iPhone located it, and gave directions that got us there. The moving map worked fine, with little lag if I kept the iPhone next to the car window.

As expected, the range of awnings and blinds was a little overwhelming. However they are familiar with this resort, having done many of the existing houses. We gathered some ideas of possible blinds and awning. Jean got to look at the mechanisms for some of them. We also got a bit of an idea of the prices.

Travel vaccinations was next for Jean. Not too much of a wait for her appointment. They also seemed to have lots of helpful advice. Jean had me drive back, in case of any adverse reaction.

We had lunch at the Carlyle Gardens restaurant at Carlyle Gardens. The special was crumbed chicken drumsticks, which came with vegetables rather than the salad we had ordered, but we did not mind. The entire meal, with a glass of wine each, came to a total of A$19, which seemed pretty reasonable to me.

OLED MacBook Air

LG will probably make a 15 inch OLED display, 1366 x 768 pixels. This is a 16:9 ratio, whereas Apple have used 16:10. If you calculate out the dimensions of a 15 inch 16:9 display, it comes to about 331 x 185 mm. The MacBook Air is 325 x 227 mm, a massive bezel, and a 288 x 180 mm 13 inch LED backlit LCD display. However OLED does not have a traditional backlight. The LG display is reputed to be 1.4 mm thick.

If you stretched the width of the (machined aluminium) case of the MacBook Air, I believe you could get a 15 inch OLED display model into almost the same form factor as the 13 inch. With OLED displays costing from two to four times LCD displays, you would want to sell it in a computer on which you could charge a premium price. That is the MacBook Air.

Have Apple done this? Naturally they will not say. However I can see using this to add extra differentiation to the Air model. It also demonstrates the usual Apple disregard of pricing models for the depression. I thought it significant the Air did not get the MacBook Pro touchpad update during the last interim upgrade. I think Apple may try for a 15 inch MacBook Air, if anything, even thinner.

Wednesday 29 April 2009

Measure Before Cut

My marks for some of the holes I needed to drill in my bookcase uprights were totally out after about the first four. So at the other end they did not fit. I must have remeasured twice, and still could not see the error. Finally decided mental arithmetic was not a strong point at 6 a.m. and recalculated on paper. Finally got two of the uprights marked for drilling. Decided I would recheck the marks some other day, before drilling.


Food shopping at Willows at 8 a.m. What a bore. Either we can not find much, or else we are using a lot less stuff than usual. I certainly could not find much on the last. Sometimes I could find empty shelves.

Back home, the turf was rapidly approaching us on the block behind us. We could tell it was not being watered enough. Plus quantities of it were being left exposed to the sun at the end of the working day. In the Queensland sun, this does not promise a good future for the grass.


My turn to drive to Bunnings. Black and Decker powered hand saw (contradiction), builders T square gadget, stud finder, wire brushes to remove some mud wasp nests, compost bin gadget, a pack of small solar garden lights to show the edge of the garden path. Another cheap hose, and two lengths of the cheapest soaker hose. We figure we will need them after the turf gets laid around our home. That was a pretty successful bit of shopping.

Wood. 1200 x 455 mm white melamine board, two more 140 mm wide pine DAR 1.8 metres long (most that will fit in the car with passenger). That was so I could do extra thin bookcases for DVDs. Nine 50 mm wide pine DAR 1.8 metres long. That was to make a printer stand in my closet. Yes, I am back to planning to put the printer in the closet due to lack of space. It is annoying to note that once again, the stand will need to be final assembled in situ.

Computer Club Meeting

Had a fruitful meeting with the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club. They have a very nice room for their activities, and have good membership numbers (over 100). It did appear to me that, once I understood their structural and social constraints, I might be able to offer a little technical assistance in a few minor matters. I would also like to find them some donations of equipment. Cue Applix group.

Thursday 30 April 2009

Building Wooden Structures

Estapol one side of my two new shelving pieces. After some considerable confusion finally got the correct quantities into my screw hole positions for the bookcases, and started measuring out where the holes went. 10, 230, 450, 670, 890, 1110, 1330, 1570, 1790 sets up 1.8 metre high bookcases for DVDs (or paperbacks). Under the high windows 10, 280, 550, 820, 1090, 1360 set up 1.37 metre shelving for most computer books, which require a 24 cm spacing.

My tiny electric screwdriver had a bit of a hard time drilling lots of holes. As soon as I can get the electric drill organised, I will change over to that.

Building Site

Turf continues to get closer to our home, as the folks laying the turf continue on from the far end of the street since their Tuesday start. The other side of the block is now mostly completed. Turf is in place down the centre between houses to within about 4 houses of ours. On our street, the turf seems to be about six houses away.

The landscaping team from Carlyle Gardens laid some soaker hoses on a lot of the new turf, which means they did get some water. My own understanding of laying turf in tropical North Queensland is that they need watering several times daily for at least the first four days, and possibly the first ten days. Need extra care with watering for up to a month. So what happens this weekend? What I hope is that the watering system is actually working.

The desert wilderness between us and Carlyle Creek (the drain water and flood control run off area) is getting covered with very long lengths of pipe. The irrigation people are laying the main pipes for the watering system there, and behind the new houses. As a result there are a number of long trenches the back hoe put in the ground. The back hoe operating also managed to find one of the main irrigation pipes a few days ago. This must be about the third he has found this way. They managed to shut off the water fairly quickly. Then they dug a much larger hole, so they could repair the pipe.

We made a barricade of orange safety fabric and garbage bins, as we feared someone would walk or drive into the ditches. While the streets have good lighting, that unfinished area does not have any lighting.


Lunch at the Carlyle Gardens restaurant at Carlyle Gardens has been part of my daily routine over the time we have been at Carlyle Gardens Retirement Resort. So this month I picked up a heap of their loyalty tickets for a $500 prize draw. You needed eight tickets per entry, and I had enough for two entries. Did not win the grand prize, but I did get a bottle of wine as a consolation prize.

I like the idea of having a WiFi hot spot in the restaurant, for connecting to the internet. I mentioned that to staff. After all, McDonalds (who I admit have a very different clientele) have wireless hot spots in all their shops. The manager said I had to talk to the resort manager.

Got a phone call from the restaurant manager later in the day. His computer had never had his name on the email return address. Could I help? He sent me a sample email. You just knew it would be coming from Outlook, which I would never use. Actually I suspect whoever set up the email at their domain used generic mailing names, like manager or restaurant or functions, rather than using individual names. It shows how long people are expected to stay in some jobs.

Eric Lindsay's Blog April 2009