Eric Lindsay's Blog May 2009

Friday 1 May 2009


Early a.m. sanded the two new boards. Then did a second coat of Estapol on the best (least dreadful) looking side of the boards. Naturally the length of the two new boards does not exactly match the length of the five original boards.

Drilled holes a few more of the boards. Real Soon Now I will actually turn some of the interminable boards into some actual bookcases. However I will then find I have so many books that they will not all fit.

Drive to Airlie Beach

After breakfast I drove to Airlie Beach. One stop to look at Galea's Concrete Creations, for garden ornaments. No-one home, so I look photos to show Jean. One stop for fuel. Got to Cannonvale in a bit over three and a half hours, better time than I expected.

BigW for glasses, which do not to my mind seem to precisely match the ones we have. Instead of phoning Jean to ask for a description, I should have sent her a photo of the glasses by email, and then phoned her. I just do not think to use the cell phone facilities that I have on hand in an effective manner. I suspect that sending a photo is the first thing a child would have done.

Cleared the mail at Cannonvale Post Office. We seem to still have a whole mess of addresses to alter. Most of them do not seem to accept address changes via email. Then put things away in my apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach.


Drinks with Jim, while solving the problems of the world, on the balcony of my apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach. At least, a relatively small subset of the problems. Alas, most of these problems refused to stay solved overnight. Also, I think I forgot what the solutions were.

Saturday 2 May 2009


Newspapers in quantity, since Jean was not there to complain. Bananas from Bruce, lettuce, tomatoes, kiwifruit to take to Jean. Talk with Glenn, Rex, Michael and others. Back to the Whitsunday Terraces apartment with backpack of stuff, unload, off to run next errand.

Post Office

Box of surplus X10 remote power line controller gear off to one of the Applix folks. I do not have any computers running RS232, so the serial line timer will not be of use. I also have no lights that can accept a dimmer. I also discovered the 16 button X10 manual controllers draw about 17 watts, which seems high for a remote. However they are great fun to play with.

I recall one of these had a burnt out half watt resistor. I replaced it with a couple of doubled up resistors, but it seems to me lots of their circuitry is at mains potential. Design is probably almost unchanged from the 110 volt models sold in the USA. I suspect they did not go through a sufficient redesign all those years ago.

Having the Post Office agency open on Saturday morning turned out to be pretty handy. I noticed Dan was operating the whole place alone.

Then back to the markets, to socialise with more people.


Yet another protest in Airlie Beach. Kurt and Ingrid were complaining in the Whitsunday Time against the extra large Hungry Jack's advertising sign at Cannonvale. There was a petition at the markets. I thought we got rid of large advertising signs when the McDonald arches were stopped. Deputy Mayor Rogin Taylor tells me there are 11 other larger signs along the Whitsunday Way. Therefore, he says, we should not stop Hungry Jacks. I think we should take out Hungry Jacks. Then we should take out the other 11 signs. Then we should take out every large advertising sign in the shire!

I do not tolerate advertising on the web. I take action to remove it. Why should I tolerate advertising in the real world?

Australian Electoral Office

Changes of postal address (as distinct from residential address) can not be registered on the Australian Electoral Office web site. How 20th Century! I complained on Facebook (to vent steam). Then I complained (via email) to AEO. One of their people emailed back to say it could be done via phone to the local regional office. We shall see.

Sunday 3 May 2009


Lots of magazines on hand still. I need to read around a magazine a day to get ahead of the flood. Well, to catch up on the backlog would be more accurate. If I do not read the scientific and computer magazines soon, they will be obsolete.


Pie delivery expected originally on Saturday was actually today. I knew of it via mobile phone. However did we manage to get things done before we had mobile phones? Especially things that require two or more people to meet at a specific time and location.


To celebrate the official opening of WAVE, Whitsunday Airport will be holding its first ever airshow. Special guests include RAAF Roulettes and their support helicopter, Paul Bennet from MaxxG aerobatics, Dwyer Aviation, Aeropower, Forster Helicopters and Airlie Skydive, with a full static display giving the public a rare opportunity to get up close to aircraft and to meet the pilots and to discover the many sides of aviation.

There were some neat aerobatics by the formation flying Roulettes. They were too fast for my camera gear, but looked real nice.


Ten minutes of fireworks and skyrockets over Airlie Beach around 9 p.m. tonight. I watched that from the balcon of my apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces. I guess that is part of the food and wine festival celebrations. Or maybe everyone is just happy that it is a holiday weekend. It was a fine display, with some very nice skyrockets. Only the flocks of birds seemed to dislike it.

Monday 4 May 2009

Back to Carlyle Gardens

Late leaving Airlie Beach. No need to rush, so I was not driving away until after 8 a.m. I took Jean her exercise ball, still inflated, since there was plenty of space in the car. Now we have ADSL at the retirement community, I also took my iMac. I will use the PowerBook at Airlie Beach.

My big surprise at Inkerman was glass sliding doors on the shop, and the rest area all dug up. They tell me they are going to build a pub! Only taken nine years to get permission.

Marking Up

Marking up bookcases and so on for cutting was my afternoon task. Looks like nine shelves in the 140 mm deep DVD stand. Two 190 mm deep and 450 mm wide. One similar 900 mm wide. All with six shelves. They are large enough for most computer books.That seemed to occupy a heap of what was left of the day.

Tuesday 5 May 2009


Sawing bookcase shelves was the early morning task. First I warmed up the powered hand saw with some lengths of 20 x 40 mm pine, to make a platform for inside my closet. Once again doorway and wall constraints mean I have to do final assembly within the closet. Also with the screws going through only 40 mm of wood for the shelf supports, I can not use my standard 50 mm screws. More stuff (16 screws) to buy at Bunnings or some hardware store.

Bookshelves went a lot easier with the powered hand saw. Only one wrong dimension survived the measure twice process. I made nine of the 140 mm deep shelves, each 600 mm long. The 190 mm deep shelves took until I returned in the afternoon. I made twelve of the 450 mm long shelves. Then six of the 900 mm long shelves. This should let me sit a sound bar speaker system in the bookcase. It needs to be inside the bookcase, to protect it from rain if the high window is left open.


Jean's chiropractic appointment was 11 a.m. way over near Castletown. She found a reasonable path to the place, just arriving on time, despite our 10:35 departure. I went to Castletown. Took ages to get the pedestrian lights to cross the road. Took even longer to find a way to enter the shops on foot (I finally resorted to the underground car park entrance). By then I was so pissed off at Castletown that after getting orange juice, eggs and bananas at Coles, and a newspaper, I stomped off. The traffic lights were just as slow again.

I wanted two items at Dick Smith's. Their flyer of specials this month (just in case). Could not find one. Plus a 3.5 mm audio plug to two RCA audio plugs, on a 2 metre cable. Guess which item was out of stock?


Are Twitter users twits? So far I have not found any use for Twitter or Facebook. What is their funding model? Surely venture capital will not continue forever. How do they make enough money to survive?

Sharing Connections

Organised to see the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club folks today at 3 p.m., to see if we could get more than one computer in their club room to connect to the internet. However there was a Primelife training session for all the staff going on in the room. Did not seem likely that access would be easy. I phoned their President to explain the access problem.


Guest presenter Paul Brown, past President of the Family History Association of NQ, gave a talk on genealogy and family history, is there a difference? Use of the Legacy program, manual in the help, with asides on Family Tree Maker being more complex. Legacy is Microsoft Access based, with a free version good enough to start.

Lots of comments on sources of error is primary data sources. Death Certificates often wrong, with information supplied by persons who may not have accurate information. Marriage Certificates are better. Birth certificates may also be wrong. Paul Brown suggests writing your own history, since you know it best.

Recommended a book, Digital Restoration from Start to Finish, which turned out to be by Ctein. Since I have not (yet) read it, I do not know what his photo restoration skills are like. However I am in awe of Ctein's dye transfer prints of his photographs. Plus he is a nice guy.

The Carlyle Gardens Computer Club at Carlyle Gardens has these Infonites every six weeks or so. The two I have seen have been very different in topic. This one had about 44 people present.

Wednesday 6 May 2009


Hardware buying. We did pretty well at the Mitre 10 hardware store at Sunland. The people there are very helpful, which is good considering we can often not really describe what we are after. This time it was easy. Some door mats (there is still a lot of dirt around the building site). Some garden sprinklers (there are some dead spots on the new turf, and with more watering systems being installed, the watering system is sometimes off at times when it would probably be helpful for it to be on). Watering cans. As apartment dwellers, we did not have much stuff for looking after grounds. Shorter 35 mm screws for my construction for the closet. If only I had checked whether we had a countersink bit!

Computer Club

Carlyle Gardens Computer Club room had a user in it when I met the committee there. We used the time until they did their email to talk about the internet connections that I was suggesting, and get some very helpful history of the club and the equipment they were using. Luckily my Apple PowerBook could easily connect via the Ethernet cable. So no restrictions on which computer was connected. The existing 8 port Ethernet switching hub and cables all seemed to work fine. I had a bit of crawling on the floor to get at the computers. We were able to get the desktop, my Macintosh, and a portable Windows Vista laptop to connect all at once. So that was a nice first step.

The two older Windows XP computers did not connect. However that will almost certainly simply be software settings.


New Zealand based Tomizone promotes shared WiFi networks. An example is Tomizone and hospitality industry. Selecting an ISP may be a problem, however iiNet partner with Tomizone. Becoming a WiFi Hotspot with iiNet. It may not be easy to locate Tomizone WiFi Hot Spots. I notice a Tomizone enabled D-Link wireless access point is available from Dick Smith.

Is it Good to Share? A Case Study of FON and Meraki Approaches to Broadband Provision. From comments on the web, I would not be happy with the Meraki approach, since it may evaporate if Meraki servers are down. Plus their rules change from year to year. FON seems much more in keeping with the sort of thing I want. Worldwide they have over a million access points, I believe. However they do not seem strong in Australia.

Thursday 7 May 2009


Bobcat arrived fairly early, along with a man with a shovel. A medium dump truck brought in a half dozen loads of soil to protect the irrigation pipes. The bobcat moved the very spiked rocks the digger had taken out previously while laying the irrigation pipes. Lots of noise, which masked my drilling.

My bookcases benefited from the noise. Used the Dremel to drill some of the screw holes out to better sizes. Jean's drill was way too heavy for accuracy. However attempting to use a burr bit or a grinder bit to make countersink holes for the screws was not very successful. Jean also searched for the countersunk bit, but we failed to find it. So I did not get nearly as much done as I hoped. Basically only 16 screws positioned correctly by lunch time.

Computer Club

After lunch I checked the second Carlyle Gardens Computer Club machine. Most of the time was connecting up Ethernet cables under desks. As I expected, the software was not set for network connections. I am not sure why the Windows Connection Wizard does not mention the network connection is off. However it is easy to find it in the Control Panel. So, a second Windows computer connected. Now when one is booked, there is still one available. I guess I will see about the third computer over the next few days.


Newspapers face unending losses, say Warren Buffet, and he would not want to own one. Large staff numbers, production costs, distribution problems. Actually for a retired person such as myself, buying a newspaper is almost entirely driven by whether I am near a news agency. When taking a train to work, I could buy a paper at the train station or near the bus stop. If driving, I could buy during the journey (although that was far less likely). Now I have no need to go to a shopping centre most days, so no newspaper. I am not going to subscribe, because I do not want one every day.


Martin Cooper made the first cell phone call in 1973. Cooper’s Law states the number of conversations (voice and data) has doubled every 2.5 years since radio waves were first used over 100 years ago. It is a matter of signal processing, which depends on transistor count.

Jakob Nielsen's Law, network connection speeds for high-end home users would increase 50% per year, or double every 21 months. Metcalfe's law, the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system.

Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, said in 1965 that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit will increase exponentially, doubling approximately every two years. However by Rock's Law the cost of a fabrication plant doubles every four years.

Kryders law says magnetic hard drives improve even faster. My rule of thumb for the past 40 years is a 60% increase in capacity at constant dollar cost every 18 months. Now under 30 cents per gigabyte.

Bell's Law of Computer Classes says a new class each decade. Mainframe, Mini, workstations, web browser client server based, smart cell phones. When will motes arrive?

Friday 8 May 2009

Shock of New

Mobile phones are no longer primarily about phone calls. They are internet appliances. Your clock, calendar, diary, budget, mail, message, camera, voice recorder.

Mobile internet devices (MID). All the value of a smart phone, but in a book size. It will also be your library and newspaper and magazine collection.

Metadata on everything. Music, photos, everything. date, time, location, composer, performer, everything will be in the metadata.


Several small trucks are arriving around 6 a.m. with people to work on the remaining half dozen houses in our street. Concreting for garden surrounds, with the wooden formwork done earlier during the week. Most such garden surrounds are artistically curved, but these ones appear straight. I also gather there will be a stone fill between the houses that are closer together, rather than grass as here.

Irrigation works in the large expanse between the houses and the watercourse are also being done. Major pipes in, and now the trenches filled in.

We Are Not Alone

George Zebrowski lambasts publishers in his Campbell Conference talk in 2006. Bruce Gillespie and Janine Stinson's Steam Engine Time republished it, as I was reminded when I again noticed the dead tree version.

The same source for Richard Curtis on Profit and Loss figures from publishers, and on royalty Statements.

The Board Report

Countersunk bits from the hardware store at 10 a.m., plus some more quick change drill bits. At the newsagent Jean found some garden railway magazines, albeit not Australian. This shopping trip was mostly so we could get some mixing rum for the weekend, something we have not had on hand since we moved.

So I used Jean's large drill to countersink the screw holes for all my boards. Some of the bookcases may need an extra set of screws, but at least I can start assembling bookcases this weekend.

Unless it rains. It has been overcast for the past three days. I am not sure how much longer the solar hot water heater can manage. We have never switched the power on for it.

Wireless Access Point

Leigh said she supported the idea of WiFi access points in the Carlyle Square. Peter has after all been carrying on about it for ages. I was able to take a look at the room into which all the optical fibre equipment has been placed. It has some nice hardware there. I suggested local Federal member Peter Lindsay might be looking for projects pending the Federal election. Having a retirement village wired with fibre optics to the door might look good to a politician, under present circumstances.

I am seeing the wireless access points as a bridge between the restricted present ADSL access, and the future fibre optic access. Modern computers, especially the notebooks that have 70% of the market, have WiFi as standard. However many homes do not have a WiFi access point, even if they have an internet connection. If people do not see what the internet can do for them, they are hardly likely to pay to access it. However the baby boomer generation have often been used to using the internet for almost everything. Many of them, like us, see it as essential.


The sewer guys went along the gardens behind us, with two large trucks, and lots of stout flexible pipes. They were complaining that the landscaping people had put dirt in the sewer pipes. They also expressed uncomplimentary opinions on the quality of the workmanship. Those pump gadgets sure make a heap of noise. The sewer guys were not impressed when it started raining.

Movies Australia Widget

Movies Australia is a Dashboard widget for Macintosh that used to scrape Yahoo for movie times for a particular postcode. It used to work. However the last few times I tried it, it just gave a blank display. I reinstalled, tried changing the name, looked for pieces of it to get rid of. It no longer seems to be available via the Apple web site. I wish I could find any sort of working movie times widget for Australia.

Saturday 9 May 2009

Movie Times

Fandango do not cover anywhere except the USA. MovieApps likewise covered only the USA.

Google came through in great style. If you type the name of the film, and your major town (in this case Townsville), Google's first selection is a link to its own lean scrape of showtimes for today and options for the next few days.

Shelf Support

Built my shelf support. Not too lopsided. I had to assemble it to get the screw holes into the right spots. Then I had to partly disassemble it to get it into the cupboard. Then screw the support back together. Battery screwdrivers are a real blessing. Wonder of wonders, the shelf actually fitted perfectly.

Computer Club

Meeting at the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club with their dealer and tech expert. It was good to confirm their computers were really connected the way I suspected. It also means we should be able to easily extend them to a wireless network, as I had suggested earlier.

Shelf Support Painting

Painting the shelf support frame in the closet was a pain, as expected. Well, more tedious than anything else. Except for one thing. The ancient can of satin white paint was really rusty inside. So rusty that when I tried stirring it, a hole appeared in the bottom. Luckily the paint was so sluggish that it did not puddle much on the paper before I found a baking dish to put it in. I guess I had better complete any painting with that paint real soon now.

The shelf support looks like it was planned to be white. You can not see the sides of the wood that are not painted. Since melamine sheets are almost always white, doing the support in white improves the appearance. I still do not like painting anything.

Sunday 10 May 2009


Six Months with Netbook by Brian Chen concludes too many hardware problems with an MSI Wind. Dell Mini running OS X concludes they are not all that robust. Another failed Dell Mini experiment as a Hackintosh. Some of these are presented via Macintosh sites, so there may be a bias for the full Macintosh experience.

Shelf Support Painting

Second coat of paint on the visible pieces of the shelf support construction. My clearances were so tight that putting the melamine shelf in scraped some paint off. So I had to touch it up. Actually I suspect the pine just warps a lot with the weather. I put my nine plastic drawers underneath the mid level shelf. This gives me all the air space above them for storage. Starting with the HP LaserWriter 2550 colour printer, which previously could not be used for lack of support space with clearance for the paper trays. Real Soon Now I will buy another melamine shelf for the top of the construction.


Walk at 7:30 am. around Carlyle West. Not very long, but at least it was a walk. Then around 4:30 p.m. we went to the original section of Carlyle Gardens, and walked around the third and fourth streets there. This time we were mostly looking at raised garden beds, since there were few window shutters. That was a much longer walk for Jean.

Alarmed and Enraged

Grilled lamb chops, cooked on a never previously used grill in the built in Kleenmaid stove. Since the Kleenmaid distributor has gone broke, it was nice to see that part of the stove worked, since we have no warrantee. However with new grills comes the risk of setting the dripping fats alight.

Both (correctly positioned) smoke alarms came on. Loud! Obnoxious! Eric (Bana) smash! First I had to find the steps. The smoke alarm off button did not work. Try prying the alarm out of the ceiling. Twist, poke, prod. Nothing worked. Rip it out, with wires dangling, and hurl it to the floor. That stopped it.

Luckily the second alarm had a working stop button, or it would have joined the first on the floor. Inspection later showed the off switch consisted of a piece of spring metal that had to be pushed into contact with a length of wire. Cheap design does not start to describe this sort of crap.

Fire Deaths and Smoke Alarms

Queensland has less than 1800 domestic fires in 2008, and 15 fire fatalities. Longer term studies still cover fewer than 100 deaths. Half the fire deaths occur during colder months. Smoking materials are the largest cause of fires. Most fatalities occur when people are likely to be asleep. About a third of the fires involved were intentional, mainly arson or assault, and about a third of these were suicides. However a majority of fires had causes that could not be determined.

Fire and Rescue Service Amendment Act 2006 smoke alarms compulsory in all Queensland residences from 1 July 2007. If a home was built after 1997, it should have had at least one 240 volt (hard-wired) smoke alarms installed at the time it was built. Several notes say this is a requirement under the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

Out of Hot Water

No hot water. Wednesday was the last sunny day. Our back neighbour had no hot water on Saturday. He contacted the custodian, and got an electrician in today to investigate. No power to the electric booster on the solar hot water. Our booster also did not have power. You could tell this because the Earth Leakage Detector for the hot water did not flip off when you press the test button in the meter box. Therefore, no power connected.

I checked the next few (empty) houses. It was clear that none of them had a power connection to their hot water heater element. Of course, you would not really know this as long as you have sunny days, as the evacuated tube solar heater works very well if there is any sun at all. We are after all in the tropics. In the summer, no-one much would notice not having hot water, since the cold water is hot enough.

Monday 11 May 2009


Started assembling the tall 140 mm deep bookcase. It is 1800 high, and the shelves are 600 mm wide. Basically designed for storing DVDs, at least while such optical disks still exist. Thanks to an unkind cut, I am one shelf short of completing it. The radiata pine is not well seasoned, and there are a lot of twisted and warped shelves. There is a limit to how hard you can force things back to square. Lots of interruptions meant I did not complete even the incomplete shelves until late in the afternoon.

Doctor, It Hurts When I Do This

Then stop doing it! Went to see the doctor here. Alas, he was running rather late. I had an 11:30 a.m. appointment, but did not get in until around 12:30 p.m.

I had walked over to reception early, so I could reinforce our phone call about the lack of hot water. I took a portable Earth Leakage Fault relay with me (I use these on all power tools to increase my protection), to demonstrate how I could tell there was no power to the hot water heater. Sometimes the administration folks are a bit suspicious that I might be pulling apart the infrastructure. Perish the thought!

My excuse for visiting the doctor was to get a flu shot. Actually I mostly wanted to check him out for how proactive he might be on looking after my health. I was impressed. However as we got side tracked by starting a medical history, and by phone calls about problems with his new surgery, actually getting a prescription for the flu shot managed to get lost in the shuffle. I do have an order for a fasting blood test, to give him a baseline on my health (or otherwise).

Hot Water

Reception called while I was at Carlyle Square. The project manager was headed out our way to check on problems, including hot water. I rushed back home. No sign of him. Located him down the street. Our problem of no power connection to the electric booster was one of two different problems, the other being a lack of solar heating. I was able to show him how to quickly detect which houses were not connected.

We also had a little talk about WiFi access points for Carlyle Square. He wants me to write up a proposal for his director. Especially initial costs, and ongoing expenses. Plus some way to ensure it is user pays. Costs are easy, user pays is hard.

An electrician passing through to check another house for the solar heat problem dropped by while I was out in the garage working on my bookcases. I explained our solar was working fine, but the power was not connected. He checked and traced our hot water setup, to try to see what was wrong with the other one. Since he was there, he opened up our meter panel. Sure enough, no lead from the tariff 33 junction to the hot water switch. He helpfully installed the missing lead, although that was not what he had visited for. So we now have electric hot water.


Started on a second bookcase, for computer books. This bookcase has 190 mm deep shelves, 900 mm wide. Height is 1.37 metres. I could only manage to get one side of the bookcase done in the time available before the electric screwdriver ran out of battery, for the umpteenth time. I am sure this never happened to Dr Who's sonic screwdriver.

Tuesday 12 May 2009


Budget Day. The largest budget deficit in Australian history. When most of us find we are not receiving as much money, we first of all cut down on what we spend. Perhaps there is a lesson here for governments? The problem comes when we commit to spend money in advance of earning it. Lock up the cheque book.

The government leaks have been apparent over the past few days. All for the sake of softening the public up. They will be the ones paying for it all.

I checked the TV news tonight. It is hard to believe the sort of lightweight crap all the channels produced could ever be regarded as news. No wonder Tv stations are losing viewers and losing advertisers.


Jean had a chiropractor appointment. On the way we stopped at Bunnings at Domain Central. I got an extra board to replace the shelf I stuffed up for my bookcases. A small sheet of melamine for my cupboard construction. Some quad wood to prevent books falling off the back of my bookcases. Screws, little decorative cover caps to match screw heads to the wood (much better match than my previous package), non-slip caster cups for under the bed, more miniature garden lights. Couple of spray bottles. Jean finally got an Allen Key for her chair.

Dick Smith provided a slim line phone, that had large illuminated numerals on the base section. That seemed the correct design to us. I hate phones with the dial on the handset. I got another $15 electric screwdriver. Might help a little in assembling the next few bookcases.

Jean even went to the Carlyle Gardens restaurant for lunch, which was a little unusual. Mind you, we were somewhat late for lunch by then, so it was pretty convenient not to have to cook something.


Deficit A$56 billion, A$219 billion to 2013. A$97 billion new spending over 4 years. The largest government deficit in Australian history, the largest slice of the economy ever. Spending 29% of the GDP. Deficit 5% of GDP. More spent on cash handouts than infrastructure. I want to look at the figures.

Unemployment 1 million, or 8.5% by 2011. Single age pensioners $32.49 a week increase, qualifying age to increase from 65 to 67 starting in 2017. This is an unfunded increase, for a group that are struggling. Private health rebate trimmed, with a surcharge if you do not have health insurance and earn more than A$97,000. Basically despite the tough talk, this is not a slash budget. This is a budget looking for an election. The slashing will have to come after the next election.

Boom growth of over 6% predicted in four years, which is a bullshit claim, since Treasury could not even get this year right. Demographics are against it. Lots of boomers retiring, which itself forces a slowdown. The budget assumes growth higher than we have ever had. Lots of rival politicians on late night public affairs TV disputing each other's figures and motives.

Sharing an Ethernet Connection via WiFi

Sharing the Ethernet connection used by a computer is a zero cost method of providing an ad hoc wireless access point other computers can connect with via WiFi. Example of MacBook Internet sharing setup. Another example of turning a MacBook into a Wireless Access point.

Wednesday 13 May 2009


Rounding the edges of my new board with a file was easy. Removing the gum residue from the sticky labels took about an hour. Despite this, I did manage to get Estapol onto both sides of the shelf length.

Newspapers. Lost the Post Office, but eventually found it and got the forms Jean wanted. Coles for heaps of shopping. I could hardly find anything. Jean apparently did find lots. Changed my credit card address, and found they held phone numbers that were obsolete more than a decade ago.


OfficeWorks phoned Jean's mobile while we were returning with our shopping. Her filing cabinet had arrived, a day earlier than expected. After loading the fridge, we drove to OfficeWorks. One filing cabinet, which is apparently a model that is apparently obsolete. I thought it looked better than the new design. Despite misgivings about the height of the bar stools, we bought the only one they had, and ordered a second one. I thought I would be able to cut down the chrome legs by a few centimetre if the height was just impossible.

Sharing an Ethernet Connection via WiFi

Sharing an Ethernet connection via a wireless access point using an Airport Express internet connection.

Sharing Apple wireless networks is similar to any other Ethernet network, although the software access and terminology sometimes differs. Airport Express can share wireless printing or audio (AirTunes) via Client mode. See in particular Airport Express Frequently asked questions.

You can set up a wireless distribution system. See Using the AirPort Admin Utility to create a WDS network with multiple base stations See this guide to Apple wireless base station capabilities, for links to Airport setup guides for about 15 different models. A guide to Apple AirPort Networks is available to explain the concepts, capabilities, and how to plan your network.


Painting the various odd little pieces of wood for the bookshelves with Estapol is taking forever. It is not helped by the tin of Estapol being almost dead, through multiple skins forming. I was lucky to have been able to salvage as much of it as I did, considering its age.

Painting was often delayed while I read the various Federal Budget reports in the numerous newspapers I bought during our shopping trip. Reading that is a great way to practice grinding your teeth.

Thursday 14 May 2009


Workers arrived around 6 a.m. to continue making the new path between pur street and the bridge. They did pebble concrete edges to the stub of Smith Road yesterday. They they laid more formwork to shape a curved path that joints the road just past our driveway. They were cutting and laying the steel reinforcing mesh before we had breakfast. The concrete truck arrived around 8 a.m., so the walking path has all been laid today.

I completed assembling two bookcases, but have not yet done the backing for them. Along with Estapol on the bookcase back stops, this took most of the morning. Now I am off to the apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces in Airlie Beach for the weekend.

Airlie Beach

Picked up a hitchhiker, Chris, while driving to Airlie Beach. Forgot to collect the mail from the totally inconvenient mail box the Post Office moved to Cannonvale. No parking spaces at the Whitsunday Terraces, thanks to workers trucks occupying more than one parking space. The scaffolding guys were busy erecting a scaffold at the eastern end of Florin Terrace. I have a bad feeling about that scaffolding.

The newsagent had back issues of the local papers put aside for me. Helen at the newsagent was thrilled with her new iMac. I must take her some of the back issues of MacFormat and iCreate next time I visit. Caught up with several people around town. Nothing at the new, convenient Post Office box, as yet. Changed address at the optician, which probably leaves about 487 other places I have not remembered to add to my list. Even managed to have some pie for dinner, instead of forgetting to eat. A large green frog turned up on the balcony, and posed for photos while digesting a grasshopper.

Dead Spin

Australian Recording Industry Association are lamenting another drop in CD sales. Right. Complain because listeners are no longer willing to buy an overpriced album to get one or two songs they want. Go back to singles.

Opps, I forgot. Singles were about five bucks. Downloads well under two bucks. Personally, I would not chance more than about a buck on a song I may never play more than once. Cheapskates simply bit torrent everything. At least, the school kids I see seem to do that. The music recording industry have totally lost the next generation as customers. No wonder profits are dropping. Musicians better go back to live music. At least that is an expanding industry.

The web was invented in March 1987. In the past twelve years the recording industry has ignored the internet, tried to outlaw using it, sued customers, and are now trying to embrace it. The web will kill them instead. That will happen to a heap of industries.

Vouchers for Schools

Vouchers for education might give parents a real choice of schools. Present systems leave parents with little option if they can not afford a private school that does have to satisfy their customers. Of course most Queensland schools do a poor job. No-one in them is accountable for education results. The parents are not even allowed to compare results between schools.

Friday 15 May 2009

Airlie Beach

The newsagent had brand new copies of MacFormat and iCreate for me. Breakfast in town. The chemist shop was being renovated. Got to chat with Martin for a while. Walked back up the stairs to the Whitsunday Terraces.

Managed to forget to collect the mail again. Off to Centro instead. Got some replacement glasses at BigW. Some really bad DVDs, like Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Visit VideoEzy for even more. Harvey Norman had yet another Konica colour printer on special, at a price almost lower than a single colour cartridge for it. Their wireless access points were under $100. Saw our former neighbour Trish there. Realised I had owned her a phone call since about March.

Finally did get to Whitsunday Shopping Centre to collect the mail. Luckily most of it was old stuff where we had already changed the address. Back home, I called the Electoral Office to get them started on changing my PO Box number. They sure have an elaborate system for doing it.

The people on the scaffold removing the paint from the Eastern side of the Whitsunday Terraces were creating a real dust hazard. You could feel the grit in your mouth and nose just walking up the stairs. I kept as much of the apartment closed as I could while the dust was going by.

Sue phoned, to call a day early. Brought over the rump of wagyu beef we had ordered. I should mention the wagyu rump I get is not as intensely marbled as the Japanese Kobe style. I only just had sufficient freezer space for all of it, spread over maybe 25 bags of steak. Naturally I had some for dinner. Really nice meat.

Visited Cyclone Studios, still trying to find why their fancy printer can email drawings to me, but not to them. I still think it is either an ISP file size problem, or a need to alias the printer email address to a real email account.


Non-existent domain names or NXDomains searched for via a web browser are sometimes hijacked by ISPs to point to an advertising page. There may be issues using VPN under such circumstances. NXDomain redirection by ISP may interfere with VPN. Explanation of redirecting domain names elsewhere by one company.

Alcopops and Small Beer

If alcohol abuse is the social problem, and increased taxes reduce use, then why not make the alcohol tax exponential? Not just directly proportional to the alcohol content, but raising at an exponential rate as the alcohol concentration increases. The rich are more likely to drink scotch and so on. The middle classes wine. The poor more likely to drink beer. So an exponential tax on alcohol would hit more directly at the rich, and less directly at the poor. The member for Bundaburg can vote against it. Labor should aim at the return of small beer as a working class drink.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Update Leopard 10.5.7

Updated OS X Leonard 10.5.7 on my MacBook Air. Took from 7:09 a.m. to 7:26 a.m. Not that I kept an eye on it all the time. Rebooted for OS X, and also for the Safari 4 beta update. So far no indications of problems with the update.

Airlie Beach Markets

Newspapers galore. Then to the Airlie Beach markets for bananas, tomatoes, avocados, rock melon, and my breakfast. I saw a heap of the stall holders I know. Rex, Glenn. More protests about the huge Hungry Jack sign on the main road. It also appears to exceed the allowed brightness level for advertising signs. Picked on Deputy Mayor Rogin Taylor about the sign yet again, but he is probably used to that by now. back up the stairs to my Whitsunday Terraces apartment.

Fluoride Error No Problem

No problem for the Bligh Labor government in Queensland. Section 94 of the Water Fluoridation Act prevents any civil law suits by the public. A person does not have any civil right or remedy against a public potable water supplier in relation to the fluoridation of a public potable water supply under this Act. Around 1 May (even the date changes), water containing 30 mg/L of fluoride was released into the water system by the North Pine treatment plant. The maximum allowable fluoride is 1.5 mg/L. Water authorities aim at around 0.8mg/L, so instead of the 20 times overdose often reported, the error was over 30 times the aimed dose.

The fluoride dosage should be related to water flow. However somehow the fluoride input was not stopped when the plant was shut for maintenance (it is now being done manually, yet another possible error source in future). North Pine did not notice the overdose in their water tests. The error was not discovered for two weeks, and it was discovered by Linkwater, outside the North Pine plant.

Little wonder some of us find introducing recycled (sewer) water into the drinking water system unacceptable. The more complex the water supply system, the more machinery in the way, the greater the possibility of errors and problems. Just how much sewerage is acceptable in the drinking water supply?

A shortage of water supply basically means your population is too high for the natural resources of the area. The answer is fewer people in that area.


Which Windows? Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional Edition, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 (and 2005 UR2), Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005, Windows XP Home and Professional N Editions, Windows XP with Service Pack 2, Windows XP Embedded, Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs, and Windows XP Starter Edition.

Then there are the Windows Vista editions. Windows Vista Starter, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Ultimate.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Sync Multiple Computers

FolderShare did not seem to want to download to my MacBook Air. I think the problem was Windows Live ID. Martian SlingShot (US$30) seems to aim more at iTunes, but also does folders. Use it on all your Macintosh for the same price. I think it may be a graphic front end to rsync in the Terminal. Mark/Space Sync Together (US$50) seems aimed at three users and contacts, calendars and bookmarks. Dot Mac also only really synchronises specific items like calendars, contacts and bookmarks. Plus syncing via an internet connection assumes you actually have such a connection everywhere. Spanning Sync seems another Contacts and iCal sync, which works with Google calendar as a primary feature.

You could synchronise via Time Machine. However it takes a fair amount of space and time, because it backs up everything. Synk is another synchronising package. It's ZeroScan feature uses Spotlight information to only sync changed files. Here are AppleScript and rsync scripts to copy AddressBook Contacts and iCal backups.

Rsync is free. ChronoSync (US$40) can synchronise two Macintosh. Synchronize! Pro X is US$100, and offers only a 7 day trial. Unison is intended for Windows and many flavours of Unix, including OS X. It is free and full source code is available.

Manual Syncing

Apple article on how to backup and restore important Mac OS X files, which is unfortunately somewhat dated. Address Book Contacts file. iCal backup files. Email content seems particularly difficult, if you are using POP. Keychain contents. Safari bookmark backups. So far I lack even a decent list of what items to sync (and which to avoid).

Terraces Garbage

Rubbish bins at the Whitsunday Terraces were not put out for the garbage collector on either Saturday or Sunday morning. This despite the management contract calling for removal of rubbish daily. So it seems clear someone on the regular cleaning staff does it Monday to Friday, and Resort Management ignores it during weekends.

Amazon Backpack

This is not Amazon, the online retailer, about which I am writing. Back in my notes on shopping in Wollongong, I wrote of buying an Amazon backpack bag at Tandy. One aspect of the design is lovely. It is a narrow and tall laptop 15.4 inch computer backpack, and so you can walk down aisles of store wearing it without knocking things over. It makes a very handy backpack for my MacBook Air, or even my 15 inch Powerbook. For the ecofreaks, it contains no PVC, and ecoLife reforestation. The label is printed on recycled materials.

However after less than a year, it is also falling to pieces around the edges, despite the lifetime warranty. I should have known the rot had set in when I visited The site is almost entirely Flash, with no navigation. In short, the web site sucks (which is why I did not link to it). So, Amazon backpack, Batch Number 3304, Item No 2647.1 also sucks. Mind you, the worse the backpack looks, the less likely it is to get stolen, so maybe that is an advantage.

Monday 18 May 2009

To Townsville

Since I awoke at five, and had the car mostly packed, I just had to pack an ice chest with wagyu beef and vegetables from the markets for Townsville. I was on the way, driving in darkness around 5:30 a.m. To my surprise the car thermometer reported temperatures down to 12 degrees just before dawn. I may have to start packing a jacket in the car.

A most beautiful sunrise at Bowen, over the sea. One fuel stop on the way. I was pulling off the Townsville Ring Road onto Riverway Drive at 9 a.m. I was home at Carlyle Gardens very soon after.

The concreting crew were doing more garden bed surrounds between our home and the bridge. The landscaping crew were out with the trucks and bobcats, delivering and levelling the new topsoil. The place was a hive of activity. Inspired by all this, I started screwing around with yet another bookcase. However first I had to sandpaper newspaper off where it was stuck to my Estapol from last week. Got one side of the bookcase screwed together before going to the Carlyle Gardens restaurant for lunch.

Clot buster

Heart attacks and strokes are often treated with tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA), which dissolves blood clots. However tPA can also dissolve old clots that have repaired blood vessel leaks. Attaching tPA to red blood cells reduces side effects, by concentrating the clot busting on new clots. It lasts longer and is safer, at least in rats.

Tuesday 19 May 2009


The bobcat arrived at 7 a.m. to work on the landscaping between us and the bridge. I had been working on my computer since 5 a.m. However now I can make some noise myself putting together a bookcase.

I managed to get one side of another bookcase put together during the morning. Unfortunately some of the wood is pretty warped, which makes for some interesting problems in keeping the sides straight.

Wireless Access Point

Carlyle Gardens Computer Club room at about 11:15 a.m. with two Macintosh, and a backpack of parts. A nice long Ethernet cable for positioning a Wireless Access Point. I already had a double adaptor there.

First trial was sharing an Ethernet connection using my Apple PowerBook. Plug it into an Ethernet cable, and ensure it can connect to the internet. Tell the AirPort symbol on the menu bar to create network. Then in System Preferences, share the Ethernet connection with AirPort, and enable Internet Sharing. Ignore lots of warnings, since a WEP connection is not what you could call secure. It works just fine. Wander around with my iPhone (set to Aircraft mode, but with WiFi on) to determine the range. Across the Carlyle Square is possible, but diagonal or within the other rooms fails. About what I expected, given the metal shell on an Apple computer.

Next trial was a small Apple AirPort Express wireless access point. Could not even connect to it. I eventually realised previous settings were interfering. Reset the AirPort Express to factory settings. Plugged it into an Ethernet cable from my computer. Now I could finally use AirPort Utility to set it up as a new wireless access point for the computer club. I decided that it needed WPA security, not WEP, which is too wimpy is school children check it out.

I had to return later that afternoon to connect the AirPort Express straight into a power point. Otherwise it was in a power board that needed to be switched on. As expected, the range of the AirPort Express (usually used in hotel rooms) was not adequate for what the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club needs. However it does show that the concept is just fine.


Dick Smith at Hyde Park Shopping Centre, where I found absolutely nothing I wanted to buy. I was only along because Jean was going to the chiropractor near there. On the way over we dropped into Townsville Awnings to choose another colour for the shade cloth awning to be installed at the back of our home. Our original choice was light coloured, but we selected chocolate colour, to match our brickwork (also chocolate). Both the awning folks and our architect friend had suggested that dark made it easier to see through the things. It will make a much better match to our brickwork. We just had so many colour choices when we were selecting the blinds that we got it wrong. So, for all those folks who follow this sort of thing, we live in a chocolate house.

Sea Levels

If climate change means sea levels rise, then what happens to low lying areas? Holland defends its coastline, and reclaims land from the sea. Poor countries have little choice but to retreat or abandon flooded land, thus producing internal refugees, or possibly whole countries fleeing the sea.

In Australia, the rich can build sea walls. Or even worse, canal estates that bring the sea kilometres inland. Councils with low lying land need to start setting out caveats on conditions of sale. For example, that council will not pay to defend low lying land. Given the influence of property developers on councils, this is unlikely to happen. If a council allow development, and the sea rises, they will get sued. If they forbid development, developers will take them to court for lowering land values. Councils can not win.

Land may be at risk if it is less than two metres above the previous high water mark. Or if it is less than 200 metres from the sea and sits on sand dunes. Or if it is on sediment and near a beach. I think coast land should have a use by date. When the sea gets to it, it reverts to public land, like most coastal high tide land.

Wednesday 20 May 2009


Bunnings for more 20 x 40 mm pine DAR as a structure for a shelf support in Jean's closet. I sometimes think Jean wanted this so she could do some more painting. We had worked out the wood needed (3 DAR each 2.4 metres long). However for one cross piece we could not find any quad, so we got another pine DAR, which is cheaper anyhow. It just means we have a little more left over, and a little more work to do a joint. At first we thought Bunnings were out of melamine shelving in the 445 x 1200 mm size we needed, but there was actually plenty lower on the shelves. Once again, this construction will need to be assembled within the closet.

On the way to Bunnings we searched for the Motor Registry, to change our address. Sure took us long enough to find it, much like the previous time we had visited the Motor Registry. Luckily their queueing system is excellent, and the staff member who helped us was very efficient (despite being interrupted repeatedly by other staff seeking help). On the other hand, if the sample of daytime TV to which we were subjected in the waiting area is typical, I shudder to think just how obnoxious the worst must be.


I walked over to Carlyle Gardens restaurant for lunch. Under instructions, I phoned Jean to tell her the meal was pork roast and vegetables, with a glass of wine, for $12. That tempted her.

Geoff and Margaret hailed me. Geoff had installed the very nice sound system in the theatre. He was looking for more sound system assistants, for when he was away. It sounded interesting, although I do not have much of a background in sound systems. Of course I am also away fairly often.

I did find time to collect the mail, and check that the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club wireless access point I had installed was still working. Jean walked over to the restaurant, and joined me for lunch. It helps that if she walks, I pay for lunch.


My mailing comments must have been written soon after ANZAPA arrived. I had forgotten writing them. So when I added a few pages of notes about Carlyle Gardens, I soon had a six page apa zine ready to send to the printer. We should be near Office Works for copying early next week.

Hydrogen Ice Age

Using hydrogen as a transport fuel will lead to massive hydrogen leaks. Hydrogen is almost impossible to store, and the small molecules can even leak through solid metal. Some predictions are for 15% leakage losses. Atmospheric hydrogen tends to be locked up by soil micro-organisms. These will probably become more prolific, and may affect the ecology of soil.

Hydrogen leakage could boost atmospheric hydrogen greatly above the present 0.5 parts per million. Expect hydrogen to diffuse into the upper layers of the atmosphere, where ultra violet light will combine it with oxygen. Thus it will act as a moisturiser for the normally dry (because of the intense cold) upper atmosphere. This would form cooler and cloudier upper atmosphere layers. This is turn would increase the albedo of the earth, by reflecting more sunshine, and cooling the earth.

Bokashi Compost Bin

We threw out the so called odourless Maze Distribution Bokashi style indoor composter bin we had bought from Bunnings. Instead of composting, the Bokashi bin contents turned out a stinking mess that leaked foul fluid on the floor. We could not stand to clean the thing enough to return it to Bunnings for a refund. Sufficient to say the eco brigade who recommend composting will be totally ignored in future.

Thursday 21 May 2009


We cut up Jean's pieces of wood ready for her to assemble into a stand inside her cupboard. The original cutting plan did not survive contact with the rather warped and knotted wood that was all we could find left at Bunnings. We had enough extra to get all the lengths she needed.

A little earlier I had cut some bookcase backing to length so I could work on my bookcase. The start was somewhat delayed, as the noisy work we expected outside the house was nowhere near as noisy as we had been led to expect.

Shopping for paving blocks for the garden was next. We had seen some garden places along Harvey Range Road on the outskirts of Townsville, and wanted to check them out. Bedrock had a nice range of pavers. There were two other places, not as great a range of pavers, but it all helped us get an idea of what colours might be available. I guess we will try going for some 30 cm square pavers for the path past the window. It might be nicer if we could find some pebble finish pavers, to match the existing garden surround.

We also inspected a range of different decorative concrete blocks, for building a raised bed for the garden. Jean would like to be able to get at some of it without having to get right down in the dirt. I would also find that helpful.

Jean attended the Carlyle Gardens restaurant for lunch, once I phoned her to tell her roast pork was the roast of the day.


Bacteriophages can destroy some bacteria, leading some to physicians suggesting their medical use. However bacteriophages also shuttle genetic material between bacteria. Phage delivery of genetic material can be very dangerous to humans.

Corynebacterium diphtheriae causes diphtheria, but only if a certain bacteriophage infects it. This phage contains the gene for the toxin that triggers diphtheria. The genes for cholera toxin are carried by a bacteriophages that changes Vibrio cholera. There are suspicions that Strepococcus infections are also phage borne, with diseases including rheumatic fever and toxic shock syndrome.

Computer Club

A helpful local dealer brought a new wireless access point to the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club, to replace the one I had loaned them for tests. As expected, my AirPort Express did not really have the range to work in rooms across the square. The more modern 802.11 pre-n wireless access point with three antenna did much better. Had the notebook computer had pre-n, perhaps the combination would have had an even better range. The club decided to buy.

Since the wireless access point also includes a router which includes network address translation, and a switching hub, the dealer suggests we should probably alter the wiring to put the club connections behind the second router. Given the low number of computers to be connected, the four port switching hub would probably suffice. All we should need are a few longer Ethernet cables and a little rewiring.

Wasted Life

Wasted a goodly proportion of the evening doing my accounts. Without managing to actually complete them. Or even catch up on some items. And one account is being stubborn about balancing, with stuff outstanding months ago. That is the peril of ignoring things while you move. I need to move my figures off my ancient Psion NetBook PDA, and onto something a little more modern. Unfortunately, none of the modern bank programs have had the same ease of entry nor speed.

Friday 22 May 2009


Magazines collected for disposal. So far these are mostly MacFormat and Science News, both of them rather old series. Luckily there are people who like to receive each of these. Equally lucky, a lot of the material dates fairly slowly. If you are using a programme that does not change a lot from version to version, old tutorials work just fine.

The Carlyle Gardens Computer Club computer was not connecting to the internet, I was told. I realised what had happened while we were playing with the wireless access point. Easy enough to change, pending finding some longer Ethernet cables to connect the thing the way we decided to go. I should have at least Cat 5 cables in my junk box.

Jean liked the idea of lunch at the Carlyle Gardens restaurant, when I read her the menu. She walked over to join me for lunch. She also walked over for dinner, after the happy hour, since this is the buffet evening. We shared a table with our neighbours (the restaurant had over 160 attending), and chatted with them between raiding the bar and the meal.


Why bother with antiques? If something is really well made I can see it being nice to have. I can see buying antiques in the hope of appreciating prices (I would not do it). However antiques for the sake of having something old? It is mostly hording. Just junk the damn stuff. Junk is all that it is.


What happens when you can not locate an internet address by name? If your ISP has a Domain Name Server that is out of action, you can do something about it. Use OpenDNS to look up the IP number. Their domain name servers are and Read more about their (free) service on their web site.

DeGunking iMac

My Macintosh need a good degunking to remove obsolete programs and downloads. Deleted Espresso web site editor prototype from iMac, since it was past its use by date. Unable to find a preference list to delete.

Saturday 23 May 2009

Electric Vehicle Conversion

A very nice electric car conversion by Eric Tischer, also written up in Wired Magazine. Uses a 2001 VW Passat for the body. Low drag, but the curb weight is high. Uses a Siemens liquid cooled 33 kW (90hp peak) 3 phase motor. This looks like a very well thought out professional conversion, using lead acid batteries.


While I was up around 5 a.m. I did not do much except catch up on Usenet. More rumours of upgrades of the iPhone to version 3, with 32 GB of storage, ram doubled to 256 MB, 600 MHz clock, a 3.2 megapixel camera, video capability (software change), and a compass. Form factor about the same. What I need is tethering.

After breakfast we drove to Willows shopping centre to get the newspapers. To my great regret, there does not appear to be any newsagent within reasonable walking distance, unlike at Airlie Beach. The four newspapers must mass several kilogram. Downloading would be a more reasonable use of resources.

Sound Level Meter

Road noise from the Ring Road at Townsville is a concern to Carlyle Gardens residents. Blue dropped over on his electric tricycle to borrow a couple of my Tandy sound level meters. Not the greatest instruments, but a lot better than just complaining the trucks are too loud. My tests showed they had an excellent frequency response, and could be calibrated to reasonable accuracy in the middle frequencies. Naturally low frequency is more of a problem.

iPhone Sound level Meter

Sound meter from Faber Acoustical looks like a comprehensive sound level meter, with Flat, A and C weighings, slow and impulse noise, tracking peak and maximum, and saving an image to the camera roll. Faber have other more comprehensive signal measurement products. Faber also have dB for measuring and sharing sound and a photo via email or Twitter.

SPL from Andrew Smith of Studio Six Digital. Comprehensive sound level meter, similar in capability to the Faber above. They also have SPL Meter which emulates a traditional analogue decibel meter. They also have a range of audio test applications for iPhone.


Not available as an iPhone application (Apple rejected it). However Eucalyptus - the library to go appears to be visually stunning. It also does the interface right. The downloaded books are from Gutenberg electronic books, but are modified by the Eucalyptus folks, which I gather is James Montgomerie. Apple need to rethink this one.

Sunday 24 May 2009

Life with Bookcases

Watched the Sunday morning public affairs programs on channel 10 and ABC. Channel 9 has been useless since they dropped their Sunday public affairs program. Before the TV shows appeared, I managed to weed our small garden plot and lawn. I am hoping that when the turf gets well settled in place that it will kill off a bunch of the weeds. Finally got around to reading the weekend Financial Review. Meanwhile, I typed some mailing comments on FAPA for August so I could get it printed on Monday.

I also added pine coloured push on plastic screw covers to the three bookcases I had built previously. Used up most of the packet of 100 covers I had bought. They looked a lot closer match to the Estapol painted radiata pine than I expected. Looks like almost all the computer books will fit nicely in those bookcases. All three are 1370 mm high, two have five 450 mm long shelves, and the middle bookcase has five 900 mm long shelves. Since they end just below the high window, I can not really put much on top of them. I completed that just in time for Jean to demand I make nachos for lunch.

During the day, I used a fret saw to cut notches in some of the thin quad wood I had. These were as a back piece for each of the eight shelves of the 600 mm wide 1.8 metre high bookcase I was making for DVDs. It obviously also takes paperback books nicely.

Electricity Supply

Energy Ombudsman List of Electricity and Gas Retailers in Queensland. Can not see Sanctuary in that list. Why not? I keep thinking this installation of solar power system is a way for people to move you from one energy supplier to another. Just like the phone retailers are always trying to trick you into changing phone provider.

DeGunking iMac

Peter Berg's Smultron is normally a great editor for doing HTML for web pages. It has colour coding, and easy closing of tags. It can handle multiple files, group files as projects, and has a powerful multiple file search and replace with grep style options. Unfortunately Smultron started crashing today every time I saved a file. I removed the preference list. I removed the program. I reinstalled it. Smultron 3.5 still crashed whenever I saved a file. Removed it again, including plist. Downloaded Smultron 3.51 and installed it. Still crashed. Gave up and removed Smultron entirely. Now I am searching for another acceptable HTML editor (TextEdit just does not cut it long term).

Dasher Typing Interface

Dasher is a strange graphic interface that attempts to predict the next letter(s) you will type. I could imagine this being a way of helping someone who could not use their hands type. It could even make the basis for a fun spelling game. Worth keeping an eye on how this academic trial goes. You can download a copy to run in your browser, if you would like to experiment.

Monday 25 May 2009

DeGunking iMac

Art Text from BeLight distorts text (many ways) for doing headings, icons and logos and similar. Looks nice, if you do that sort of thing.

Apple Backup, trial version, that only really worked if you had a Dot Mac account.

AppleWorks is a Classic application that was outdated around 2004. Never used it, so I do not need to keep it.

Cashbox is a personal finance program that seems not to have been updated.

NVU was a web page editor I never really got used to. Based on Mozilla Composer, the project was dropped in 2006. Work continues on the Blue Griffon web page editor. There also seems to be Kompozer, a fork of Composer.

CSS Layouts

Collection of CSS layouts for people writing web pages. Choice of mostly fluid, with some pixel constrained left side columns. I should start collecting layouts, rather than writing my own CSS from scratch. Except I was never really attracted to the YUI layouts, although they are a good idea.


Proxy based advertising block that should not give compatibility problems with Safari updates. Free and open source GlimmerBlocker looks like a good starting point for getting rid of a heap of those annoying obtrusive advertising crap on so many web sites. I do not object (much) to well targeted text advertising, but the flashy active ones infuriate me. Good way to lose a potential customer forever.

I also like ClickToFlash, which blocks Flash, unless you specifically click on the Flash content. If Flash disappeared from the web I would be very pleased. It is a resource hogging monster that I loath.

You can also write your own Cascading Style Sheet for your browser to suppress many advertisements. I sure do that. However that does not reduce the bandwidth wasted, since the advertising downloads, but is then discarded. You could also rewrite your hosts file to refuse anything from advertising sites.

Solar Power

Solar power for retirement communities seems the usual middle class welfare thing (big Government subsidies). Sanctuary Energy are targeting retirement communities. They can get multiple orders in a small area, and bring in work crews to do them all in one large job. So they can offer a 1 kW grid interactive solar power system for under the $8000 December 2008 to June 2009 Commonwealth Government subsidy ($8 per watt, up to 1000 Watts). Plus they get the renewable energy certificates to sell, for perhaps another $1000. The buy it yourself price will be more like $12,000 so this is a good deal for residents.

The Rudd government first put up about $150 million and have added $247 million in the budget. Labor must be really desperate to get the Greens on side. Seems a pity not to take advantage of it, especially when it really is a good way to (slightly) reduce electricity usage in peak periods in tropical areas.

I went to the Village Life presentation on the scheme at the Carlyle theatre at 10:30 this morning. The presenter from Village Life covered all my concerns about whether 1 kW Conergy SunEasy would work. Relatively little downside for residents. Doubtless the inverters will fail well before the 25 year warranty solar cells do so. Six 170 Watt Conergy solar panels, about 8 square metres (they are 1580 x 808 mm), and a Sunny Boy 1100 inverter.

Amused that Leigh knew about the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club wireless access point. No-one thought that she had a laptop that automatically detected the WiFi, and offered to connect to it. She asked me about whether it was a problem. I really have to get to work on writing up an explanation of how their network stuff works.

About the only disadvantage was the restaurant ran out of roast lamb (which I love) due to the increased patronage before I got around to ordering. I could not handle pickled pork or mushroom soup (I dislike both). So I had to go home to get lunch, which was dry biscuits and stale cheese, washed down with flat Coke because I would need to drive that afternoon. Bummer!


Jean had to have an eye check up. So we had prepared masters of our apa zines to take to OfficeWorks for copying. While at OfficeWorks we checked up on the second bar stool we had ordered on the 13 May when we collected Jean's file cabinet. Just as well we checked. The bar stool order had not been placed. So they fixed that up for us (we hope). Expect it after we return from Adelaide.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Solar Power

Jean and I walked over to Carlyle Square. I dropped in our papers for the Sanctuary Energy solar power system offer, after standing in a queue that later got much larger. There seem to me relatively few down sides to this particular piece of middle class welfare. Worst case is the solar power system reduces your daytime power use. If you get the 43 cents per kW cash back for excess power, that makes the whole thing even better.

Unfortunately the volunteer was having a little problem with some of the form details, but I caught it before ours could be left altered incorrectly. I think they had to fix up several earlier ones. They sure seemed to have a fair number of forms filled in. I would guess close to 100 applications.

There were plenty of people milling around. The Telstra How to Use Your Mobile Phone seminar was about to start. The people in the Ergon smart controls Air Conditioner trial were having a meeting with Ergon.


Jean was kind enough to drive me to the newsagent for The Australian. While I walked to lunch at the restaurant in plenty of time, I was not happy with the menu choices (interesting, but not to my taste). However first I collected mail at Reception.

Leigh motioned me into her office to check her notebook could connect via WiFi to the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club wireless access point. I was astonished it could even see the signal through all those office walls. However it did not connect. I hope the problem is just the very weak signal. Easy to check by moving closer.

By the time I left I really only had time to have a toasted sandwich for lunch while I chatted with some of the residents before heading for the cinema.

Upon returning to Carlyle Gardens I bought some honey. The lid promptly came off, creating a mess. However I was pleased to see I could get fresh honey.

Star Trek

Rush home from the Carlyle Gardens restaurant, and then Jean gave me a lift to the Reading Cinemas. Just in time for previews. I thoroughly enjoyed the new Star Trek movie. Lots of good special effects, and a much more industrial look to the structures. Good villain, with a reason for being the bad guy, and time travel explaining his advanced mining ship. The set up that this is an alternate Star Trek universe is fine by me. The actors gave appropriate nods to the original series, introducing all the original characters, without you needing to have obsessed about it. OK, the plot was a little thin, but it was not dreadful, something I had feared. I would certainly view a sequel.

If Reading Cinemas had a discount ticket I did not spot it. I gather a local tavern has some sort of a dinner deal, but could not spot it. I walked back to Carlyle Gardens, which took about 20 minutes. The road edge is too dangerous to try walking after dark.


Fallacy of Premature Optimisation by Randall Hyde is an interesting discussion of a quote premature optimization is the root of all evil from Sir Tony Hoare. Seeks a deeper meaning than those folks who throw away code optimisation. Hoare never spoke out against algorithm optimisation in any case.


Ten AppleScripts article by Sharon Machlis in ComputerWorld. A five part web page. The third has an example of targeted backups. There is an example of image manipulation (but sips does it easier).

Apple's Mac OS X Automation links to Applescript examples and tutorials. You should also check Automator downloads for an easier approach. Try this first Applescript tutorialto get started. Or this first chapter on Applescript from a Wiley book. For more, AppleScript for absolute starters will get you started. MacScripter has an AppleScript forum. They also have around 100 tutorials. Microsoft have references to using AppleScript with Microsoft Office.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Airlie Beach

Jean drove most of the way to Airlie Beach. We stopped at Inkerman for a light lunch. Stopped at a roadside farm stall to get fruit and vegetables. Refuelled at Gathalunga. I took over the driving at Bowen. Stopped to collect the mail at the inconveniently relocated Post Office at Cannonvale. Got some milk and orange juice plus other shopping at the Coles. It is my contention that the Airlie Beach Coles is cheaper than Townsville. While collecting the mail from the more convenient mail box at Airlie Beach, we came upon Bob, our solicitor, whose letter we had picked up. So we were able to update our address with him. Had heaps of stuff to collect at the pharmacy. We finally reached our apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces resort.

Jean sent me off to get a fish dinner for her from Neptunes. This time there was too much salt. I suspect a trend to using sea salt is to blame. The potato scollops were not as good as we remember, which should really help our diet next visit.

Jim dropped in, and mentioned he was having to get serious maintenance done on his adjoining Whitsunday Terraces apartment, with both sides needing work. We figured he could probably store his furniture in our apartment while the floors and painting were done. Especially since we are likely to be away most of the time.

Dashboard Widgets

Apple Dashboard Widgets appeared with Tiger (OS X 10.4), activated by a hot key (usually F4). Hover the mouse over a corner of a widget to see if it produces a small i indicating more information or settings when it flips over. There are thousands of Dashboard widgets available for donwload from Apple and sites like Dashboard Widgets. Widgets can include an RSS feed, so they are well suited to information updated online. Safari can open safe files when downloaded (Preferences, General, Open Safe Files) but some people consider Widgets a risk.

Widgets are basically a file folder with the .wdgt extension, used as a container for the HTML, CSS and JavaScript of the Widget, which Webkit runs. Dashboard widgets developers are supported by Apple developers site, which links to many examples and tutorials.

Apple Automator

Apple Automator Action workflows let you automate production of repetitive computer tasks. It uses a drag and drop programming interface using whatever Automator actions are available within your program applications. Apple have over 100 add-on actions on their Apple Automator downloads site. Automator Leopard site has more Automator examples and tutorials. Another site is Automator World has example Automator workflows.

The three columns in Automator are Library, Action, and the workspace. At the far left, the library contains a list of all the programs with Automator actions built in. Click one to see in the Actions column the actions that program contains. Drag actions you want into the workplace to the right. You can Search for Actions that might do what you need, rather than reading each item. You can not get an inappropriate action to connect to an action that can not pass anything to it. You can save as either workflows (while developing) or as Applications or context menu Plug-Ins (when you are satisfied with your workflow). Use the Run AppleScript action to add AppleScript to your workflow. Control click a file in Finder to get to the Automator using that file as a target for a workflow.

Thursday 28 May 2009

Day at Airlie Beach

Doctor appointments at 8 a.m. Jean had been fasting for her blood test, so it is always unwise to be around. I went to McDonalds, a little later than I intended. No newspaper, so I walked to the news agent and got some newspapers. Peter talked briefly. Then I caught up with Sue, who has moved to her parents property north of Bowen. I was lucky to catch her, as we would now have little overlap in Airlie Beach. Rushed breakfast at McDonalds, who now had a Courier Mail available for customers to read.

Rush back to doctor. Get flu shot. They did not say it was not effective against Swine Flue, but I would imagine most people know that from the extensive news coverage. With us scheduled for a trip to Adelaide, I wanted some protection against seasonal flu during flights and at the convention. Rush back to chemist to collect replacement flu jab. Rush back to doctor's reception to replace their supplies. Jean was getting a marvellous walk.

Jean had a chiropractor appointment. I dropped a box of surplus X10 power controllers in the mail to an Applix mailing list member. Our joint walk was all the way back through Airlie to the Port of Airlie Marina display building. Their model was unchanged, as were the wall displays. I had thought that with construction of The Boathouse about to start, they might have had new material. Updated our mailing address. Got some ham at the deli on the way back to the car so we could avoid the stairs to our Whitsunday Terraces apartment. Jean had a really good walk.

AppleScript Folder Actions

If copying important files to a backup device suffices, you can do it manually. However a Folder Action Script may be easier. Set it to copy specified files when a named drive is mounted. Enable Folder Actions by selecting a folder in Finder, and right clicking to get to the Enable Folder Actions selection. This is a system wide selection, I believe. You can get at Folder Scripts from the Configure Folder Scripts right mouse button context menu.

Your AppleScript application directory contains Example Scripts, which in turn contains Folder Actions, and Folder Action Scripts, some of which are mentioned above. If something can be scripted with AppleScript, you can probably turn it into a Folder Action. Apple Folder Actions reference tells you more about Folder Actions.

Friday 29 May 2009


After doing the laundry we went to Centro Shopping Center. No luck with the floor lamps at LEW. Finally got the number of cereal bowls to four, so we do not have to wash them straight after breakfast every day. Jean got tea towels, which were acceptable (but I still hate most tea towels). Ashley was working there, so Jean soon stomped off as we caught up with who was working where. No luck with new DVDs, nor at VideoEzy. Nothing of interest at Harvey Norman (except a quad core notebook computer), although it was interesting to note they stock a hotel room wireless access point, and a network connected USB hub. Although Apple have had both for ages, this is the first time I recall seeing either as standard retail packages in a general electronics chain. Jean collected rum before we left.

Back at the Whitsunday Terraces apartment. After a fine lunch of Wagyu rump, we clipped a clamp on lamp to an old lamp stand. Standing lamp problem solved, for small and somewhat ugly values of solved.

I dropped a box of MacFormat magazines (2004 to 2006) off at the newsagent for one of their staff members who had recently bought an Apple Macintosh and Adobe CS. I had been astonished at how much use the old articles were. I had to take notes about several of the tutorials (and still have some to go). It seemed each issue had at least one Photoshop or Adobe Creative Suite article, so these back issues should fit the use very well. I better go through some of the more recent issues, to bring down in future.

AppleScript Introduction

AppleScript is a weakly typed verbose English like scripting programme language from Apple. It is the basis for Automator. Script Editor is in the AppleScript folder in Applications. Like most program languages, you can use it for simple mathematical calculations like 2 + 2. The typing area is below the tool bar, which contains a Run button. The results appear at the bottom of the window when you click Run or press Command R. The bottom of the window can contain results, or a description of the programme, or an events log.

Set variable to value sets a named variable to the value provided. No need to specify the nature of the variable or initialise it to zero before use. AppleScript will make a sensible selection of variable type. Variables can contain numbers or text strings.

Normally you would prefer results to appear in a dialog window. display dialog "Hello World!" will do that. Remember to quote the text string you wish to appear. You get automatic cancel and OK buttons. To also display the value of variables use & variable. For any additional dialog or variables, proceed them with a & to glue the string and the variable together. You can put text on different lines by using the Enter key within the quotation marks.

AppleScript Input

Input from a user is often required. Set question to "Ask for answer" so you have text in the variable named question. Then display dialog question buttons {"what", "why", "cancel"} The buttons command must have curly brackets after it. However then the available answers are automatically set to OK and cancel, which may not be what you want. The curly brackets can instead surround up to three possible answers, each answer separated by commas, and each answer quoted.

The results area will show the button returned value. set myresult to display dialog question buttons {"what", "why", "cancel"} Then you can set another variable to the button pressed. set finalresult to button returned of myresult and on another line display dialog "Button pressed: " & finalresult

However if want a free form answer from the user to be put into a variable for later use. set myresult to display dialog question default answer "" Then set finalresult to text returned of myresult

For fun, the contents of the variable finalresult can also be spoken by the speech synthesiser in OS X. say finalresult using "kathy" As usual, you can add surrounding text to the spoken result. Any voice in the Speech section of System Preferences can be used. If you do not provide the using keyword, then the default voice synthesis voice will be used.

Saturday 30 May 2009

MacBook Displays Improved

Apple aluminium body MacBook 13 inch displays improved to similar to MacBook Air, according to multiple recent reports. I checked my original model MacBook Air, which has a Samsung display, using the following command in Terminal.

ioreg -lw0 | grep IODisplayEDID | sed "/[^&]*&/s///" | xxd -p -r | strings -6

LTN133AT11 Color LCD is the response to that Terminal command. This is a glossy 13.3 inch Samsung WXGA display, 1280x800 resolution. In System Preferences, under Displays, Open Profile, item 13 on display make and model shows manufacturer is 00000610, model is 00009C7C, and manufacture date is C30A3980.


Newsagent visit for the weekend newspapers. Then to the markets. No bananas (I did not even see Bruce). The lettuces did not look good. Got my usual bacon and egg from Olga. The only thing else I found to buy was a jigsaw puzzle Michael had dye sublimate printed with a photograph of Airlie Beach (including our apartment). I bought that for Jean, who did like it. Glenn seemed distracted by his stall. I nearly forgot to give him some Science News I had in my bag. Alison as still recovering from a cold or flu she had suffered from for two weeks. Rex turned up, although not at his stall, looking tired. Another artery blockage problem for him, side effect from the recent clean out of his arteries. He was unhappy about another trip to Townsville. I must give him Jean's PaintShop Pro software and manuals, since he still uses Microsoft Windows. It sometimes seems everyone I know using Windows spends a substantial time seeking help in getting things fixed and running.

AppleScript Conditional Statements

AppleScript lines can contain if variable = something then condition statements, followed by statements that will be run if the condition is true. This can be optionally followed by an else line, followed by statements to run if the condition is not true, followed by a line with end if, which ends the conditional statements.

Garbage at Whitsunday Terraces

The garbage bins were not taken out at Whitsunday Terraces today. I also had to put the rubbish bins bins out on Thursday as they were not done. I believe they were also missed on Sunday, when I put them out. I wonder whether any of the other residents are noticing this?

Sunday 31 May 2009

Our Day

Awake at 3 a.m. I got up at 4 a.m. since I obviously was not going to get any sleep. Not a good start when we have a 300 km drive before us. Despite having moved home a few months ago, we found a bunch of stuff to take with us. Actually we found a bunch we should throw out.

Jean allowed me to stick around to watch the morning current affairs programs. We left the Whitsunday Terraces around 10:30. Stop at Inkerman for lunch, and to see how their new pub site was going. Well, no change there. It was real windy at Inkerman.

At Carlyle Gardens, the concrete contractor doing the garden edging was hard at work, despite wind. He had two very nice curved surrounds around the spot for the landscaping garden beds. It looked really nice. Had a chat with Gary, who knows something about concreting. He tells me there was a scheduled power outage on Thursday, but not on Friday. The Ergon optical cable has disappeared (presumably underground). This in turn means the bridge is fully open at last.

During our walk along the inside perimeter of Carlyle Gardens, we noticed a whole bunch of folks on the north side holding what looked like a regular block party. Lots of chairs in the open area near one of the mail areas, and a few barbecues running. We were invited to join in, but our walk needed to continue. If anything, Jean speed up.

After our walk (the whole way around Carlyle Gardens) I moved all the larger rocks in our garden more towards the middle of the garden bed. I want to be ready to pull the mulch away, and get the edges of the garden ready for a walkway near our window, an ornamental concrete block wall, and a raised garden bed.

Telstra Stuffs Up

All I wanted to do was change my billing address from one Post Office box number to another. Only because the Post Office had stuffed up their box numbering system during the move to Cannonvale. The obvious place to change your address on the Telstra online accounting system does not actually have any place to actually change the address. You can get to a suitable change of address page via the menu system on the left (it is buried a couple of menus deep).

However when you make the alteration, Telstra offered me a choice of five different addresses (in totally different suburbs) that you may wish to accept, but flat out refuses to allow you to actually change the address correctly. Bit of a database problem there. Actually a major database problem. I have not had any address in the past 11 years that Telstra had correct in their database.

Telstra Stuffs Up Billing

So, I have about $32 of direct dialled calls for the month. However my $30 phone plan says it includes $25 of calls and $5 of data. Did the $25 of calls get subtracted from my calls? No, it did not get subtracted. Looks like the new Telstra billing system does not know how to subtract. Maybe they need the money to pay Sol's departure tax?

My error. When the bill is presented, each call that has a charge has a gross charge, and a reduced charge to allow for its proportion of the $25 of calls. So despite not being immediately obvious to me (perils of reading bills online at midnight) the $25 has been deducted.

On adding the bill, it seems 74 minutes 45 seconds of calls would have cost $57.55, were it not for the $25 of included calls reducing it to $32.55. Had I not held calls exceeding 3 minutes with Jean, there would have been only 12 minutes and 54 seconds of calls. So the obvious solution is run a timer on calls to Jean. Generally, just do not make calls on the mobile phone.

Black Fibre

Normally when I mention black fibre, I mean there is no backhaul facility, and so the fibre optics line has never been lit for telecommunications. In some corners of the USA, it means you hit security department hidden fibre optics line. Being Black means no one has to tell you where they are. But tough if you are a construction company.

Eric Lindsay's Blog May 2009