Eric Lindsay's Blog June 2009

Monday 1 June 2009


My weight is up enough that I am not sure I can fit comfortably into my 20 or 30 year old pair of trousers. However I need something other than shorts for our trip to the cold parts of Australia. Not that clothing was the only thing missing when packing for a trip. Little things, like plastic bags for clothes and very small bags for tablets. All missing somewhere. I hate moving. Things get misplaced, not to be found until months after they are wanted.

The landscape folks arrived fairly early, and went to work on the gardens beds alongside the end houses near the bridge. With the agriculture pipe and the watering system in, and the concrete edging in place, it would not surprise me to see new gardens in by the end of the week. I must ask whether they have a date for the turf as yet. Probably not, as landscaping work on the new houses continues.

I moved a heap of our rocks away from the edges of our garden bed. I want space for a narrow path by the window. About 5 metres long, and maybe 300 mm wide (the foundation is 300 mm wide there already). Plus I want space cleared for an ornamental concrete block retaining wall around the raised garden bed. Maybe three small concrete blocks high. The circumference is about 23.3 metres, which means close to 300 blocks if they are close to 24 cm wide. That is more than a tonne of blocks, and probably 400 kg of gravel and sand as a base. Ouch! That sounds like a lot of work.


Interview with Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, in The Weekend Australian magazine. Seems the Australian government is still pissed off with WikiLeaks for publishing the Australian government's secret blacklist of blocked websites. If the government in Australia would just stop being a pack of arseholes about censorship, there would be no need to leak blacklists. There are sufficient laws to prosecute purveyors of child porn within Australia. Keep your hands off the internet. The internet is going along just fine without help from the government.

Rubber iPhones

Rubber back on new version iPhones is the rumour. I really hope this is wrong. I have had a handful of electronic devices with rubber paint on them. Every single one I can recall has been a disaster. The paint has peeled, or even worse, the body has turned sticky and unusable.

The devices that rubber paint destroyed were a Psion 3 and a Psion 5 whose paint peeled, Lexicomp LC-8620 palmtop from Abstract R&D Inc and Tivoli Audio SongBook radio. I am no longer willing to buy electronic devices with rubberised cases.

iPhone Developer

Developer resources for iPhone programmers listed by The Apple Blog. A nice list of available books and other code resources, with links and mini reviews. Also links to iPhone developer blogs, many with tutorials.

Tuesday 2 June 2009


Off to the hardware store to look at shovels and rakes and implements of destruction. Cheap, but we only really have one wall construction project on which to use them. Which may well be done by a contractor. Then what do we do with them? Decided to worry about garden implements later.

Stockland shopping centre. Look wistfully at Angus and Robertson bookshop, and others. Jean drags me away. Change address at Medicare. Seek a pair of trousers at Lowes so I have one for our trip. Choice seems between looking like a clown (baggy pants), or pants made for a short arse. Jean hates the baggy olive, so it is the short arse pair. Seek stuff sack for Jean's travel pillow. Rebel Sports strike out. BigW have travel packs at the other end of the store to sports bags. No luck. Change address at MediBank. As usual, the database they have does not believe us. Demand visit to Roger David mensware. Helpful staff eventually find me some trousers that actually fit much better and look better. Bought two pairs.

Lunch at Carlyle Gardens restaurant with Jean, who did a heap of walking today. Afterwards I dropped a book on Cascading Style Sheets off with Gary. CSS can be hard to come to grips with. Saw people at the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club and in the restaurant.

We borrowed a shovel and rake from Ray. Real Soon Now I will get to work on doing some earth moving in the garden. Pity I no longer have any excuse to avoid doing that work.

Bligh Labor Government

Dropping the half billion dollar fuel subsidy is sensible. You have to ask why Queensland non-drivers are subsidising fuel costs in Queensland by 8 cents a litre. Yes, the state is large, and transport is expensive. Yes, regional areas and farmers probably benefit from the subsidy. As do the fuel and transport companies. Yes, prices will rise, especially in rural areas. Maybe we should be looking at how far stuff travels before reaching us? However the subsidy has never been fully passed along to users. Just check interstate prices to see. If this gets complaints, wait until you see the price increases that go with an emissions trading scheme.

The for sale sign is up in Queensland. State assets, Port of Brisbane, Abbott Point Coal Terminal, Queensland Motorways, and so on. I fail to see the merit of selling off cash flow positive assets, especially during a financial downturn. However if the assets have not been updated and maintained correctly, perhaps no-one would loan the government enough to keep them working. Hence the fire sale.

Governments always figure they can borrow money when things get tight. However as I have mentioned previously, I think the major impact of the global financial crisis upon Australia is an old fashioned credit crisis.

Use for Korean Nukes

North Korean nuclear weapons should be tested on Marshall, Texas. The town is an evil nest of patent spammers and squatters that enrich only lawyers, and contribute nothing to the state of the art of software. The world would be in a better shape if the town, and especially its court, were gone.

Apple One to One

Apple store is 2200 kilometres away. However I have looked at Apple One to One training. I have recommended people buy from Apple just because of that cheap One to One hour a week training for a year for new Apple users. Now the deal is so popular it has been changed to reduce service. I also gather it was used inappropriately by some people with old Apple computers with obsolete software. You can now buy the four part One to One package only in conjunction with buying a new Apple computer at an Apple owned store or online from Apple.

Personal Setup transfers data from your Apple OS X 10.2 or Windows XP or later computer to your new computer. The old computer must start correctly, and have a working Firewire, Ethernet or USB 2.0. Apple staff will install any hardware purchased, and any Apple software. They will also set up email, contacts, calendars, contacts, bookmarks and similar for the original purchaser (but not for other users of the computer). This is basically what Apple Migration Assistant does.

This Personal Setup seems to me similar to the older Apple Retail Store ProCare priority support. Apple still list that ProCare program, but I wonder whether it will disappear.

During the one year membership, customer can have individual Personal Training sessions, group Personal Project sessions, or group One to One Workshops, or any combination. They cover any of Apple's personal consumer applications. Membership can be renewed twice.

I would also add that Apple have some excellent free online training material for new users. Plus they have Pro Tips for when you know a little more.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

To Adelaide

The taxi had the wrong house number, possibly due to some transcription error. He phoned us to get the correct address. Had no trouble finding the new section of Carlyle Gardens, as his wife delivers mail order catalogues throughout the resort every few months and he assists in dropping them off.

The trip to the Townsville airport by taxi was a little convoluted, once we were past the Domain shopping centre. Fairly quick however outside rush hour. Naturally we were there in plenty of time for Flight DJ1520 at 12:25 p.m. I bought some Byron Bay Cookies for the flight. Security was fast, and the waiting area acceptable. The Virgin 737-700 was horrible, but at least it left on time. The seats (at least 8B) were really uncomfortable compared to the ones we get out of Airlie Beach. I have to believe they were an older model aircraft, with ancient seats.

We changed planes at Sydney for DJ428 to Adelaide at 4:30 p.m. Jean had grabbed a Subway so she was not starving. The aircraft to Adelaide was the same model, and my seat (7D) was slightly better, but still not comfortable. I was unhappy about the flight. We got to our hotel sometime after 6 p.m.


We had 718, a corner room, at the Holiday Inn, 65 Hindley Street, in Adelaide right at the heart of the CBD. I managed to recall I had a Priority Club membership from Holiday Inn, so I had my room nights listed to my account. Not that our hotel bookings are usually anything except chance, or whatever the relevant convention has organised.

We bought a bottle of wine, and got some milk at a convenience store. Between that and leftover cheese and biscuits from the flight, we did not need much of a dinner. Probably too tired to eat. I certainly hardly made any notes on my computer during the whole trip.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Holiday Inn

For lack of a better idea we had a continental breakfast at Sirocco restaurant on the mezzanine floor in the Holiday Inn hotel, overlooking the bar. It was only later we managed to find time to get to a Woolworths and buy cereal and other breakfast foods. We generally do not find much value in hotel breakfasts, since we do not eat giant breakfasts.

We later found the same dinners as Sirocco formal restaurant could be obtained in Sebastyan's Bar on the ground floor. We generally took advantage of this during the actual convention. It was much easier to spot other fans walking past from the nicely open Sebastyan's Bar.

Winery Tour

The Conjecture convention had thoughtfully arranged to organise a winery tour for early arrivals. It was only later we met the organiser, who alas could not attend. Travelling with us were U.K. fans Mark Plummer and Claire Briarly, and an unexpected visitor to Australia, Lilian Edwards. Brian Walls from Sydney came along. There were two younger folks who were not convention attendees. On the outskirts of McLaren Vale we collected David Cake and his companion Karen McKenna. Our bus driver Steve had taken science fiction fans around many years previously, so he knew what would amuse us.

Hugo Wines at Elliott Road, McLaren Flat was our first stop. We bought a 2008 Sauvignon Blanc and 2008 Chardonnay there. I was impressed by both, although they were very different in style. I did not take to the unwooded chardonnay. While there were some nice reds, we simply can not cellar reds long enough to take advantage of them. Hence few comments on, or even tasting, reds.

Shottesbrooke Vineyards, Bagshaws Road, McLaren Flat, had a very nice $30 Bernesh Bray Liqueur Tawney fortified wine we both liked. Blended from ten 1990 to 1999 vintages. We bought a 500 ml bottle to take home. I also liked their $14 Engine Room White

Oscars for lunch. They did a fine feed for us. Due to the number of wineries we were visiting, I did not have wine with lunch. Nor did most of the others.

Leconfield Wines sold us a Syn Cuvee Blanc for $17.50. We drank that sparkling wine during our stay.


Rundle Mall is only a few blocks up the street from the hotel. Dymocks looked a better bookstore than Borders. However I still could not find any books that I actually wanted. All I could do was get some breakfast cereals and the like from a Woolworths.

Eating Out

No fancy food for us. Boulevarde Internet Cafe, just up the street, with Roman Orszanski, plus Mark and Claire. It was interesting talking with them. So I thought we had already had an entire day of convention. The cook at the cafe seemed to have some minor problems with what was ordered. However I decided I liked his choice better than my own.

Friday 5 June 2009

Christie Walk

Roman Orszanski had invited us to see his straw bale home in the urban ecofriendly Christie Walk development. We went on the tram with UK visitors Mark Plummer and Claire Brialy, who had been to Christie Walk previously, and thus led the way. My iPhone was no help with maps, since I thought Roman lived in a PO Box.

Many small gardens and communal gardens. There was a very well done roof garden on one building, with deep soil. A splendid place to sit and look out over the homes in this enclave so close to the heart of Adelaide.

Haigh's Chocolate Factory

Conjecture kindly organised a Haigh's chocolate factory tour, the first of which was led by Roman Orszanski. Two groups travelled by taxi from the Holiday Inn. Roman, and his taxi driver, knew the way. Those of us in the second taxi had the pleasure of saying follow that taxi!

After the Haigh's chocolate factory tour, we were tuned loose in the Haigh's chocolate shop. I managed to restrict myself to a mere three bags of goodies, and a few chocolate baby bilbies. By then it was just after midday. We walked back across the parkland surrounding the CBD. My iPhone showed way too many possible Haigh's chocolate stores, none explicitly identified as the factory.

Shoeless in Adelaide

My ancient and very comfortable Kinney Easy Walker shoes disintegrated. The past ten year mostly on a shelf in the tropics had melted the interior of one heel. Naturally the leather was still in good shape, but not the synthetic sole. Repairs were not practical (I asked). I could not be sure these shoes would even last the rest of this trip.

A long walk up Rundle Mall brought me to family owned Grundy's Shoes, who supplied a replacement pair of shoes. I was impressed that the salesman listened to what I wanted, and brought out a pair that exactly fitted what I asked for. I did try another, more stylish, pair of shoes, but bought the first pair I was shown. The salesman hit the mark exactly.


Conjecture, the 48th National Australian Science Fiction Convention (NatCon), 5 to 8 June 2009, at the Holiday Inn, Adelaide. I was member 131, according to my single sided, hand written badge.

We were soon introduced to the 48th Australian SF NatCon Guest of Honour, Canadian science fiction author Julie Czerneda and her husband Roger. They seemed really nice people. I noticed they attended a heap of panels. In fact, I saw Julie taking water glasses to panel participants, and generally doing gofer things fairly often during the convention.

Since our usual convention pusher, Justin Ackroyd of Slow Glass Books was unpacking and organising his book stall in the NatCon dealer's room, we soon asked him about Julie Czernada's science fiction books. He mentioned various things that impress book sellers. Particularly paperback books being republished as hardcovers. We asked which ones we should buy. Fairly soon we left Justin's book table with every one of Julie Czerneda's science fiction books available from Justin (we missed one, not available here). Plus a few other books. Justin had a big grin on his face. He knows us too well.


For reasons totally unclear to me, the nice con paper bag came from Crumpler. As indeed were the tiny box of matches, and the very strange but science fictional Crumpler Bags on Wheels postcard, listing a hideous website full of Flash at I fail to understand why any business would make a website using Flash, given search engines have problems with it. Since Flash is so badly written (it almost always maxes my CPU), I no longer allow any such website to run on my computer. In short, the customer left the store in disgust

The Crumpler bags also seem suspect. The carry on bag weighs 4.2 kg. Your total allowed carry on luggage weight for airlines in Australia is 7 kg. Most computers weigh more than 2.8 kg, so you have just blown your total weight allowance. The 6.8 kg weight of the largest bag is likewise well over a quarter of your checked luggage allowance. This seems dumb.

Saturday 6 June 2009

Conjecture Morning

Roman Orszanski held a fanzine panel first thing in the morning. I am not sure fans are really up to first thing in the morning panels.

Since there were plenty of breaks, we spent a lot of time chatting socially with people during the convention.

I must mention that throughout the convention there was an activity program for children. I was not the only person musing that at times the children sounded like they had the most interesting items. I particularly liked the ornithopter competitions

The midday Steampunk panel was enlivened by some stunning steampunk costuming by Adelaide NatCon fan guests of honour Steve and Catherine Scholz and other costumers. Very impressive. West Australian technologist David Cake, author Richard Harland and Dirk Flinthart had at the topic.

Conjecture Afternoon

Ian Nichols launched his young adult novel The Whorl and the Pallin in the foyer at 1 p.m. His reading made me wonder whatever had happened to librarians protecting the sensitivity of young eyes and ears. Ian assures me swearing will improve sales, but I don't know. However I was also unsure about the merit of the blow up Tardis that Ian offered as a door prize.

Julie Czernada, Helen Merrick and Lilian Edwards did a splendid job of their 2 p.m. panel, The Academic as Hero. All either were or had been academics, and all seemed to have considered their topic prior to the panel.

Paul Downton, the architect who had designed the ecologically friendly Christie Walk where Roman lives, presented ideas on Cities of the Future. I found that an interesting talk, and was very pleased to have attended. With an architect neighbour, I find their profession a strange blend between art and technology.

I must make mention of the children's stream, which included such a variety of interesting sounding items many adults said they would like to attend. Some of the items today included colour change volcanos, and building ornithopters.

I was far less impressed by Maskabolo that evening, despite splendid local SF author Sean Williams as guest DJ. My tolerance for loud music is such that I could not stand to enter the room for more than brief moments. I should have taken my noise reducing headphones. Just another old timer grumbling about youngsters making too much noise.


The book launch at 5:30 p.m. this evening was Richard Harland's steampunk fantasy Worldshaker ISBN 9781741757095, from Allen and Unwin. Col lives in the mobile juggernaut city Worldshaker, and is chosen to be next Supreme Commander. Read Richard Harland's writing tips online. Seemed a fitting book launch, with much of the convention being about steampunk.

Sunday 7 June 2009

Conjecture Morning

Early morning panels included a podcast talk by Grant Stone, who does a lot of podcasting, organised by Roman Orszanski. Kate Eltham and Angela Slatter did a long panel on getting published.

I was interested in hearing the panel on Climate, Energy and Geo-Engineering by Professor Barry Brook. He provided a most entertain and comprehensive (albeit rushed) summary of the state of climate engineering. He had a lot of detailed slides in his presentation. As befits a science fiction convention, he covered pretty much all the far out schemes I have heard about. His conclusion was we need fast breeder nuclear power, and very soon. This did not go down all that well with some green power enthusiasts.

Barry Brook wrote Nuking green myths for the Australia. Like many of Barry Brook's other articles, An inconvenient solution is available on his Brave New Climate blog.

Barry Brook also appeared together with architect Dr Paul Downton and Dr Juliette Woods in the EcoFutures panel. This was also of considerable interest to me. It was good to see such a fine range of participants available for the panel.

Conjecture Afternoon

Bill Wright and others talked about the Australian Science Fiction Foundation. As roving ambassador, Jean joined the sparse panel.

Guest of honour Julie Czerneda gave interesting description of her science fiction work, her characters, and especially her wide variety of aliens. It was an entertaining interview and presentation.

There was a From Print to Web fanzine workshop. I really did intend to check that out, but it clashed. Dr Juliette Woods presented The Future of Water and the Murray Darling Basin. Since I had visited the Murray Mouth last year I was interested in what Juliette had to say.

Norma K Hemming Award

A new award for excellence in the exploration of race, gender, class and sexuality in science fiction or fantasy produced in Australia. To be launched by the Australian Science Fiction Foundation at Aussiecon 4 in Melbourne, September 2010. Norma K Hemming wrote during the 1950's.

Monday 8 June 2009

Conjecture Last Day

The last day of the convention commenced with a tribute to sadly missed Melbourne fan artist Ian Gunn. There were also demonstrations of tricks with Wii. Lucy Sussex talked on late Victorian utopias. Naturally there was also a chocolate panel, Adelaide being the home of Haigh's chocolates. Australian SF Sean Williams also gave a long talk.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Tim Jones interviews Julie Czerneda

Tim Jones interviews Canadian Science Fiction author Julie Czerneda on his books blog. Julie was International Guest of Honour at ConScription, the New Zealand National Convention for Science Fiction and Fantasy. I noticed this interview after Tim sent me a Twitter follow. Julie was also Guest of Honour at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention at Adelaide.


We took a tram along to the edge of the Adelaide CBD. From there we walked to a model train store that Jean had located in the phone book. For a relatively small store, they certainly had a heap of parts and trains and magazines. They also had a staggering amount of gadgets whose purpose is entirely a mystery to us.


Before we left Adelaide we had a delivery of a large envelope of fanzines, almost certainly from Damian. The very hyperactive doorman delivered it to our room late in the afternoon, soon after we returned. A whole heap of back issues of Corflu fanzines, plus a Banana Wings. That was nice.


I had basically not used my MacBook Air all convention, except for a brief period checking if we had WiFi in the room. So the computer had not been plugged into the power since Tuesday evening last week. Sometime during the week it suspended, as the battery was exhausted. However the Real Time Clock went totally awry, and today thinks it is still Saturday 6 June. My experience with the Intel models of the Macintosh is that their power control and so on is not nearly as effective as the much older PowerBook series. It will correct the time and date once it gets an internet connection.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Back to Carlyle Gardens

I was up before five. We caught a taxi to Adelaide airport around 7:30 a.m. We arrived in plenty of time. However our aircraft did not. Virgin Blue's DJ1391 was due to leave at 9:20. However the aircraft had not even arrived at that time. Nor were we the only delayed flight. The previous flight to Brisbane was still on the ground when we left.

To my considerable surprise Mel from Airlie Beach was at the airport. I had not thought I would see her again. Despite looming recession, she had already got an architect job in Adelaide. Just had to organise her move. I also got to meet her mother for the first time.

The Embraer 190 we were on was a lot more comfortable than the 737-700. Narrow body, with two seats on each side of the aisle. It lacked the video displays and like, but since I never use that crap, I could not care less.

At Brisbane, Virgin Blue DJ375 was also late. Despite our late arrival, we would have been (just) in time for boarding. Instead we were delayed. Did not matter too much, except that when we took the taxi from Townsville airport, we were in peak hour traffic, so the trip was a little slow.


Boinx Mousepose highlights your mouse position for presentations, while dimming the screen into the background. It can be configured to highlight a specific window. It can do a audio presentation. It includes keystroke visualisation, to clearly show which keystrokes were used. It includes AppleScript and speech recognition control.


MarketCircle Billings takes care of invoices for time billing. Handles projects, overdue account statements. Looks very nice for say billing for a web site design, as described. Won an Apple Design Award in 2009.

Thursday 11 June 2009


The landscape folks were around early this morning. Hugh brought around a nice selection of various plants. I told him about our plan for a narrow path and raised bed. He made sure the plants were far enough away for that to work. It sure did not take the other guys long to dig the holes, fertilise, and plant. So, one instant garden this morning. Hugh also offered to help us work out where to place our stones.

Curtains for me

Townsville Blinds and Awnings arrived a little later than than their phone call indicated. The two installers started on the interior blinds and moved very rapidly, despite a few minor problems (drill problems, solved by one returning to the workshop for another set). There were a few moments where problems appeared. Vertical drapes with the wrong colour on the paperwork. However the actual product was correct. One bracket did not survive in its original position, so they had to add another on the very long panel glide in the lounge room.

The narrow wooden venetian blinds on the narrow floor to ceiling windows in the living room looked like a feature, with their nice contrast with the walls. They also made a reasonable match to our many wooden bookcases. The panel glides across the back lounge doors looked a nice match in daylight. We can also see outside through them. We shall have to see what we think at night. These panel glides open from the centre of the doorway. We have four panels on each side.

My bathroom venetian looked better than I expected, probably thanks to taking proprietor Neil's advice on the silver colour. The slimline style suited being mounted inside the window frame. That is the only other venetian blind.

The vertical drapes in my room looked very nice. The installers took out the centre end caps and some of the plastic inside the mounting so the two vertical drapes across my main window could overlap nicely at the centre of the window. The window opens both ways from the centre, so I wanted two separate sets of drapes done so I could open each side independently. Having a vertical drape on the wide, but not very tall, high window on the eastern wall looks a little out of place. However it matches the treatment on the main window, and so seemed the correct choice.


By midday, the two installers were working outside on the awnings on the western side of the house. We had adjustable aluminium shutter awnings on the garage, bedroom and Jean's high window. These each have a winder handle inside the house, so you can easily adjust them to cope with the intense western sun or allow a breeze. Since there is another house next door, this helps with privacy, and it is not like there is a view being blocked. The bathroom and toilet got fixed awnings, as these are substantially cheaper than adjustable.

The south facing back of the house got pull down shade cloth awnings on guide rails. The day after organising the awnings, Jean realised we had picked a colour to suit the interior of the house. What we needed was an exterior colour. Luckily the material we had picked was out of stock, so we were able to change to chocolate, to match the brickwork colour.

For the main window of the back bedroom, the awning was angled slightly out from the house. We had two separate awnings on the back porch, since the porch had a column in the middle. These were both in a vertical guide channel. I think the appearance of them works very well. Much better than our original choice.

We still have no idea what sort of window treatment we want for the rest of the windows on the house. Something to protect against the early morning sun seems likely.


Mail for the past week was something I needed to collect. Less had arrived than I expected, making me wonder whether some crucial item is still at our apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach. What is worse, one was addressed wrongly, making me wonder about the quality of my handwriting to several people. Luckily we now have a bunch of business cards with our new address to hand out. They were sitting (with another parcel) on our front porch when we arrived on Wednesday).

Boot from SD

Apple knowledge base on Secure Digital card slot says you can boot a Macintosh from an SD card on the new model MacBook Pros. Macintosh has a maximum speed of 240 Mbit/s for SD media using the SD card slot. This far exceeds the speed of any SD card of which I have heard. While pre-formatted SD cards are usually FAT32, with the SD limited to 32GB capacity, other file systems can handle larger media. Use Disk Utility to change the default partition table to GUID, and format the SD card as Mac OS Extended. You can then use an SD card as a Macintosh boot drive.

Mouse Battery

My mouse batteries died today. Had to replace both Energiser Lithium in my Apple Bluetooth Mighty Mouse with brand new batteries. I thought I had done so relatively recently. Which is why I make these posts. So I can go back and check exactly when batteries fail. Real Soon Now I will need to add a Google Chart graph of how long the batteries last.

Friday 12 June 2009


Mark Sigal has an interesting blog commenting on technical and finance issues. For example, reactions to Apple wizardry and Steve Jobs, or this followup on the WWDC reactions.

Technical Report on Apple iPhone

Anandtech report on the guts of the Apple iPhone. Specifically the CPU and other support chips. Better ARM 600 MHz CPU, better graphics, twice the memory (256 MB). Better battery life. This is probably the best report for those interested in the technical details of the iPhone 3GS.

Driving Aimlessly

Jean headed off before 9 a.m. to see her travel agent about her tour tickets. I waited to see if the awning folks would arrive. Jean was back by 9:30, before I had even completed the washing up. We set out for OfficeWorks, who had phoned to say our second bar stool had arrived. OfficeWorks were busy, so we grabbed the bar stool as soon as we could and rushed off to Jean's chiropractor appointment.

I walked over to Dick Smith and snooped for a considerable time. Got a large white kitchen clock, which may tick too much for us to actually use it. If so, it can be the garage clock. Also got from their junk table a very small D-Link pocket router and 802.11g wireless access point, model DWL-G730AP, for $10. Much like the one Stephen had shown me at the recent Adelaide NatCon.

BedsRUs had a compact folding bed in a couch sized ottoman. First I had seen that looked like it might fit the space I have in my room. Not exactly the right size, but encouraging further search.

Back to OfficeWorks. They had another of the tiny glass computer desks. Not as cheap as the previous sale, but when I had looked earlier for another one, I had been told it was an obsolete product that would not be stocked in future. I was very pleased to get it.

While we had several other errands, Jean was wrecked. We headed for the Carlyle Gardens restaurant for what turned out to be a meatloaf lunch, before heading home. We noticed the awnings folks had completed the installation job of the last two fixed awnings.

Pay TV

A pleasant young man from Len Dowd Electrical arrived to install a twin lead TV splitter in our main TV outlet. This is apparently so we can enjoy the experience of watching Austar pay TV. While I have no objection to having two TV connectors in the same wall plate, our home also has a structured wiring outlet in the existing TV wall plate. Structured wiring can be connected to either phone or Ethernet. Replacing these with a TV outlet is not very much use to us. We are unlikely to use Pay TV. After all, we do not even have a TV set.

We declined to have the gadget, unless we could keep our structured wiring. The young man went off to consult his boss about installing either a three hole wall plate, or having the TV separate from the structured wiring. I gather all the Green built homes do have separate TV wall plates.

Home Ice Cream

A jingling bell, heard in the distance this afternoon, as I was working changing my bookcases. It was a Home Ice Cream van, which appears to be an Australian owned, family based, Toowoomba franchise company. We had seen this brand once before. This time I was in a mood to buy. I signalled the driver, and rushed for my wallet. It appears they visit this area once a fortnight. Alas, I was none too sure what ice cream they actually had.

Luckily the back of the van lists all the varieties. Insufficient chocolate ice cream was my complaint. Naturally they are aiming more at children than at retirees. We got some chocolate coated ice cream on a stick, at $8.50 a box of six. Plus some very small heart shaped chocolate covered ice creams, box of 20 for $8. So far we have restricted ourselves to one of these each, and that after dinner.

What I think I should have done was ask which were the top variety, which now appears to be the 1.2 litre containers. I would prefer a smaller quantity of something I would really enjoy, rather than a cheaper greater quantity of a less indulgent type. Jean said to listen to the sound of diets being broken.


My new bookcases fit perfectly under my high window, as I designed them. I even allowed some additional space below the window sill. Alas, my new vertical drapes occupy that space, and then some. I needed to take 20 mm off the top of my three newly built bookcases. This afternoon I marked, took out the top shelf, cut, drilled, and countersunk. Put the top shelves back. Just right. The bottom of the vertical drape just touches the top of the bookcases.

The plastic covers to hide the screw heads are in short supply, as our shopping this morning was truncated without visiting Bunnings. I shall have to put the pine coloured covers on only the parts of the bookcases that will be hard to get at once the bookcases are in place. The rest of the covers will have to be added later.

Saturday 13 June 2009


Early in the day I used my borrowed rake to move mulch away from the edges of our garden plot. Then it was time to put more plastic screw covers on more of the bookcases.

Jean needed some food items so we went to the IGA. But first, the hardware store for another packet of the plastic screw covers. The IGA shopping was quick and easy. However the news agency was not open. Loads of newspapers bundled outside, but no sign of staff.

Jean was willing to go to Willows seeking the larger newsagency there. Got all the newspapers I wanted. While there we noticed Lowes were now next to the newsagency (all the stores are moving repeatedly as renovations change the whole shopping centre). I checked for polo shirts with pockets, in case they had any. Got a half dozen polo shirts for under $50, so I was very happy with this shopping trip.


During the day I completed the four bookcases - just hammering plastic screw covers on. So, after three months, I can finally start getting books on bookcases, instead of in boxes on the floor.

I tried to assemble the bar stool we had collected on Friday. Alas, the frame has a welding flaw that stops half the bolts reaching the chair seat. We will have to take it back to OfficeWorks, and go through the process of getting yet another one. Bummer.

Snow Leopard

Apple have a lengthy page listing enhancements to OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, due for release for Intel based Macintosh models in September. With the cheap upgrade price, this is looking better and better. The timing also looks good at taking a little swipe at the next release of Microsoft's cash cow Windows Vista, renamed Windows 7, due in October.

Internet Explorer

Microsoft to make Internet Explorer 8 an optional install for Windows 7 in Europe. The European competition authorities told Microsoft that inclusion breached anti-trust regulations in January 2009. OEMs can put some other browser in the Vista 7 package. These measures follow upon Microsoft being convicted of abusing its operating system monopoly via predatory business practices (having a monopoly is not illegal - abusing a monopoly triggers anti-trust action).

So assume an OEM wants to install Windows on a computer. It would get real interesting if Microsoft's price without IE were higher than the price with IE. But if the same price, someone with money (like Apple or Google) could offer the OEM money to have their browser (Safari or Chrome) included as the default browser in Windows, instead of IE. For that matter, Microsoft could offer an OEM money to include IE.

Given no version of Internet Explorer works with correctly served XHTML (a web standard since 2002), not having any version of IE included in any version of Windows would make things a lot easier for web page developers. You could simply write to the existing web standards, instead of allowing for the hundreds of different bugs in older versions of Internet Explorer.

For myself, I no longer write any web pages with bug fixes for Microsoft Internet Explorer. I write XHTML Strict, according to W3C recommendations, ensure it is well formed, valid according to an XML parser, and serve it correctly (by default on most Apache servers) as xhtml. The fact that Internet Explorer will not display it is entirely due to Microsoft's bugs, not mine. When Microsoft fix their browser bugs, my web pages will display.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Garden Hate

I hate gardens. Way too much work moving mulch away from the sides. Plus I eventually need to level the spaces I cleared. That probably means string and measurements and spirit levels and the like. Then you may need to water them.

I tried attaching our new hose to the tap. First the plastic part did not want to screw on to the tap. Then the part that clips on wanted to leak. Then the hose blew right out of the tap fitting. Next the handheld end leaked. Then the hose blew out of that end. Then I could not adjust the hand held sprinkler to actually sprinkle. Maybe there is a reason that sort of hose costs $7.95?

Two attempts later I had the kinks out of the hose, both ends staying together, and only minor leaks from the hand held part. Plus I actually had watered the plants the landscapers had kindly planted in our garden.


The red giant star Betelgeuse in Orion is 130 parsecs from Earth. This is 427 light years, or 4x1015 kilometres (a 2008 estimate says 640 light years). A long way away for a star to affect our lives, despite the idiocy of astrologers. Betelgeuse is shrinking, perhaps by around 15% since 1993. The potential for Betelgeuse to become a supernova has been studied, but Betelgeuse is unlikely to become a supernova.

Apple Matte Display

I am not the only person explaining why I won’t buy a Mac with glossy screen. I live in the tropics, in a typical brightly lit Queensland home. I work on my Macintosh during the daytime, when my room is very well lit. My matte display iMac (and my 27 inch Dell display) are a delight to use. However my Apple MacBook Air constantly irritates me due to reflections on its glossy display.

Were it not for the glossy display on new model Macintosh, I would have long ago bought a replacement for my four year old iMac G5 ALS. I would also have retired my five year old 15 inch Apple Macintosh Powerbook, which also has a matte display. I seriously considered the expensive 17 inch MacBook Pro with matte display, however it simply is not practical to carry a 17 inch model on light aircraft. The 15 inch MacBook Pro is the sweet spot between inadequate display dimensions, and too large for travel.

Monday 15 June 2009

Busy Day

Off before breakfast to pathology to organise a fasting blood test. Thank goodness they open nice and early. Jean was kind enough to drive.

After breakfast, off to the local bank to pay for some forthcoming travel. No problems I could see with that. Then drive to Townsville blinds and awnings to pay for the neat job they did on Thursday and Friday installing awnings and blinds in this house.

Next stop was OfficeWorks to return the faulty bar stool. Their staff (by this time probably used to us as customers) fell over themselves to correct the problem. No stock, but they refunded, and raised yet another order for yet another bar stool. I guess we will eventually get it. Maybe in early July.

I was able to persuade Jean to visit Bunnings hardware. Having completed four bookcases, I could clearly see I could probably squeeze up to three more thin bookcases into my room. These would be specifically for DVDs and paperback books. While I had not designed the bookcases, I figured 10 pieces of 150 mm wide by 20 mm thick radiata pine. The length of the car constrains me to getting pieces 1.8 metres long. This is a suitable height (much higher and I can not reach the contents). The 1.8 metre lengths cut down nicely to 900 mm, 600 mm, and 450 mm shelves, which should fit the three locations available. That was just under $100 for the wood. I wish I could buy pre-made bookcases in the sizes and materials I want.


I am not sure what was happening at the restaurant today. Neither of our lunches were what we ordered. I had been basically avoiding the pickled silverside for weeks (once every now and then is sufficient for me). As always the wait staff are wonderful about organising replacements. When it arrived, my lasagna was basically partly burnt. Luckily Jean's King Salmon was fine. However I gather the cook was having problems on Friday as well, according to other regular customers. I hope this does not signal some long term problem for him, as the food is generally done in a satisfactory manner.


The sum total of bookcase construction today was peeling 13 sticky labels off the various pieces of wood. I still take this as a start. Alas, the sticky residue from the labels will take far longer to remove. Even if I had enough methylated spirits on hand.

Austar Pay Television

I looked up the Austar pay TV web site, since someone was attempting to install a TV splitter ready for pay TV. So I looked at the channels available. I looked at the payment packages available. What a steaming pile of shit! Why can't I simply select the few channels that I am actually interested in out of the 80 on offer ? Why is there a mandatory pile of channels you can not reject?

Does Austar deliver high definition TV? No, it does not. It delivers standard definition digital television. In short, your fancy HD TV is no better than an old analogue TV in terms of picture quality when watching pay TV. What a crock!

At least there is an easy solution. The same one I have used for the past decade. Ignore pay TV completely. The internet should kill pay TV off sometime in the next decade anyhow.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

I hate Apple glossy displays

I have a four year old Apple (matte) iMac G5 ALS, and a five year old 15 inch 1.25 GHz Apple Macintosh Powerbook. I use the Powerbook more than I use my original model MacBook Air, which is far more powerful than any of my other Macintosh. The cause is the glossy display on the MacBook Air, which I dislike (yes, it looked good in the store). I would have replaced both the iMac and the Macintosh PowerBook in the past year or two had a matte display model of each been available. I live in the tropics, work on my computers in daylight, and my room is open to the breeze and sunlight. The current model displays are more like a MacMirror. A glossy display with distracting reflections simply does not work for me (my partner says she does not see the problem). I could try a 17 inch MacBook Pro, but the size is just too large for aircraft.

It is not just Apple with glossy displays. In a store recently, every notebook computer had a glossy display. Only one Netbook (an old Asus EeePC) had a matte display). However some matte displays are still available elsewhere, especially in larger models.

So I have bought a 27 inch Dell (matte) monitor. I will upgrade both my iMac G5 and my Powerbook to as much memory as they can handle (not much more than I have). I will buy a replacement battery for my Powerbook. When my old models die, I will probably look at dropping OS X on some sort of clone, despite thinking this is unreasonable behaviour. That is all money that Apple could have had, if Apple made matte displays available as an option.

I think it is sad that Apple is losing sales because people like me refuse to buy a glossy MacMirror display. I think it sad I can not buy the display I need. No-one is winning in this situation.

V8 Law Free

No need to heed noise laws, drinking restrictions, nor even waterway protection laws. That is what the Townsville Bulletin says about the Townsville 400 V8 motor race. The Queensland State Labor government conveniently passed legislation so the race organisers get a free pass on complying with the law. This stinks. Why should any commercial organisation get immunity from existing laws?

Queensland State Budget

As expected (because of government leaks about bad news), the Queensland state budget is in deficit, by almost A$2 billion. A history of spending windfall gains on recurring expenditure, instead of showing spending restraint. A history of neglect of infrastructure, leading to no choice but to spend in that area during a recession. Loss of the state AAA credit rating. Queensland Budget not expected to be in credit until 2016. Borrowing will get close to A$100 billion, interest payments peak at over A$5 billion a year.

Premier Bligh says she is protecting hospitals, education and roads. However our hospitals are in crisis, with scandal after scandal. Our schools are turning out some of the worst educated children in Australia (now we actually have nation wide tests for comparison). Our roads are equally a disaster, whether in Brisbane, or, even worse, in rural areas. It would have been better to do the work while the mining royalties were pouring in. Queensland is on a par with Storm Financial and Kleenmaid. Running broke, and not admitting it before the early election.

This state has done stuff all. I left NSW over a decade ago, when I could see the Labor government was going to stuff up the state. Now it has happened again in Queensland. The next step is to leave Australia.

Pirate Party

The Swedish Pirate Party want to reform copyright to a five year life span, reform international pharmaceutical patents, ban digital rights management, and respect privacy. They even managed to get a member into the European Parliament. I love this.

Back in the old Commodore 64 days, there was a cassette based program that copied hard to copy cassette tapes. It had a stern warning about the need to respect copyright provisions, and use it only for the intended purpose of backing up difficult to copy tapes. It is probably a bit of a pity that the tape loader then played a tune. The tune went: Yo ho, yo ho, a pirating we go!


Our attempt to find more model railway magazines for Jean was futile, as it seemed the news agent had cleared the older issues. Jean thinks she may need a subscription. However Woolworths did have coat hangers and ziplock bags, and several minor items like that. Plus Jean found a model railway magazine at the smaller news agency.

The St Vincent De Paul society held a book fest in the auditorium. I managed to restrict my spending to only $20. I had roast lamb at the Carlyle Gardens restaurant for lunch, from what was a wider range than I expected in these financially constrained times. Chatted with Geoff about the audio and how to use it. I need to take his Audio 101 course as soon as our schedules align.

Jean took another walk late in the day, through all the walking paths on the old side of Carlyle Gardens. It always seems a lot longer going that way. We are still hearing a heap of military aircraft during the day, as things get set up for Operation Talisman Sabre.

Wednesday 17 June 2009


We were warned that the crew were coming through and would mow the grass. Since Jean had soaked the weeds out the back last night, I wandered out. Pulling up weeds so the roots are gone seems to me to do a much better job of removing them than moving grass way down to the roots. Especially when the turf is just getting established.

I took some photos of the new gardens just being installed alongside our place. At reception, I took photos of the interior of the cable end room, for a potential presentation on how we get our internet connections. I just need to add a photo of the Kirwan Telephone Exchange.

The Express Post Next Day Delivery envelope that was sent from Sydney on Saturday finally arrived this morning. It is hard to convince people just how slow Next Day Delivery really is outside the capital cities.

Did a medical history to take to my new doctor at Carlyle Gardens. Getting a new prescription for everything was not a problem, as I had taken all the empty pill boxes with me.

Pay TV Sockets

A pleasant young man from Len Dowd Electrical arrived once again to install a twin lead TV splitter in our main TV outlet. This time he brought an extra two hole face plate, so our structured wiring connection could stay in place. Alas, there was a stud where the wiring should have gone. So we ended up with the socket plates spread further along the wall than we had hoped.

It turned out that when he had reported our conversation to his boss, the boss had told him to go back and install multiple plates in all the homes where the structured wiring had been tucked back into the wall.

Thursday 18 June 2009


The bobcat and truck arrived early this morning. This time the bobcat operator moved a bunch of the piles of rubble into the ditch beside the water course. Then it started loading the truck with rubble. Several large truckloads gone already. This leaves the surrounds level, probably awaiting the landscapers and turf.

I took advantage of the bobcat noise to cut one of my pieces of wood down to a suitable length for a table at our apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces overlooking Airlie Beach.

Jean wanted some last minute shopping at Coles during the morning. We got away fairly late for us, but the crowds were mild at the Willows shopping centre. I was pleased to grab extra AA Lithium camera batteries for a future trip.

Lunch at the Carlyle Gardens restaurant. Tried the chocolate mousse. That was pretty good. I just hope it has fewer calories than ice cream.

The residents quarterly meeting was on this evening at 7 p.m. This is the first time I have attended. Well run. No messing about. Still must have taken 90 minutes. The reports seemed concise. Somewhat different to body corporate, due to the different ways retirement villages work. There was some explanation of the accounting. Alas, the budget is not in from the operators. Steep price rises have been foreshadowed. This despite the restriction to CPI for some items.

iPhone software update 3

The Apple iPhone 3G software update was available for download this morning. Since there were not a lot of complaints on the web, I downloaded nice and early. The Apple authentication servers were overloaded, however Apple were not trying to install on the phone until the authentication servers were available. After a few tries, the firmware upgrade to version 3 commenced.

Backup and synching afterwards seemed to take a lot longer than normal. However sometime after 8 a.m. my iPhone was all upgraded. Very first message was from Telstra, telling me I had a (free) MMS marketing message from them. However I seem to need to add my phone number to my settings for MMS to work. I think I will wait until I consider the implications of this before doing anything more. I have no idea of MMS costs, since I have never had a phone that used MMS.

iPhone MMS from Telstra

Right, so I got this multi-media message advertising message from Telstra. My first MMS. It included a little set of a five tiny thumbnails that flicked through over and over again. You could show the first of these thumbnails somewhat larger on the display. However there seemed no way to see a larger version of any of the other four (more interesting but tiny) pictures. Later in what appeared to be a set of messages, there was a web link to a Telstra explanation of MMS. That brought up a Telstra file not found message.

No wonder Apple never wanted to bother with MMS. No wonder Apple tried for two years to ignore MMS. Especially when the phone companies charge a fortune for each MMS. My solution. Use email exclusively for sending photos. Email works.

iPhone Tethering on Telstra

Another thing that does not work (yet) on Telstra is tethering the iPhone to your computer. Telstra do allow this on other mobile phones, so I can not understand their reluctance to enable it for an iPhone. It is not like they will miss a heap of business by being their usual stubborn monopolists.

Telstra have been fighting the Apple iPhone from before it was launched, when their executives and staff were bad mouthing it. The iPhone is the only reason Telstra are getting money from me for a data connection. I basically did not use data previously (I could do it - my SH888 could tether via IrDA to my Psion organiser back in 1999).

Telstra, you need to grow up. You can get over $100 a month from me by supporting an iPhone the way I want it supported. Or one of your competitors can make $10 a month for a pre-paid phone that never makes any calls, except in emergencies.

There is no way I am buying one of Telstra clunky stand alone mobile phone connection gadgets for my computer. I have already had one fight with one of their ExpressCard models, that failed every time the software was updated. So Telstra are not going to get a new data connection from me. I only want tethering for situations where I am not within range of my landline, or can not get free wifi at McDonald's or similar.

Friday 19 June 2009

Drive To Airlie Beach

Up early so I could get started on the drive to Airlie Beach. Hit the Ring Road by 5:30 a.m. Listened to the ABC while driving. They do carry on about crap. Stop at Inkerman for some Oak chocolate milk as a substitute for breakfast. Stop at Guthalunga for fuel. Lots on the radio about the Proserpine Show. Woodchop today, and the fireworks this evening. I was rolling into the Whitsunday Shopping Centre just before 9 a.m.

Collect Airlie Beach PO mail at the Canoonvale Post Office. Ptui! Most mail items were ones where a CoA has already been sent. Like Analog SF magazine, running months behind on delivery. The few remaining seemed to be commercial catalogues that I guess we have not advised. Only three months so far, so we are on track to closing the PO box. This PO Box was moved against our wishes to Cannonvale at the start of the year. We will have it closed by the end of the year.

Got milk and orange juice. Coles was full of specials, especially cans, so I replenished some of the cyclone supplies. Got some goodies also. Alas for my weight loss program. I took all these back to my apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach.

Meanwhile, back at Carlyle Gardens, Jean had to put up with a planned power outage. As our ADSL modem is not connected to a UPS, she had no internet access. So, we now need to put an additional UPS on our shopping list. It has to be one that will restart despite having virtually no load from an ADSL modem.

Airlie Beach

The Post Office at Airlie Beach was closed, as expected. Today is the 97th Proserpine Show Day, and a small number of local businesses are closed. However the real reason the local Post Office is closed is the news agent is moving all his fittings into the old Post Office, so the shop fitters are in. This also meant it was to be closed on Saturday. No stamps for Jean. Luckily she said it was not urgent.

Had a rather late breakfast at McDonalds. It was interesting to note that seven different computers were open and being used by their customers. Seems to me that free WiFi access sure attracts younger customers. I also remembered to collect extra prescription tablets from the local Airlie Beach pharmacy.

The news agent had one lot of international stamps, but not the other two types. I picked up my computer magazine subscriptions, and back issues of the local newspaper. Helen had questions about her new Macintosh. No, you do not need an anti-virus. Without any virus profiles to scan for, what is the point. Just watch out for phishing scams. I had taken another dozen MacFormat magazines to the news agent for her. Must get the CDs together also.

Got the Scissor Sisters to give me a haircut, since there was not a long wait. Checked the DVD sales at the new music shop. Saw Nic at the architect office, to check if the copier printer was sending scans correctly as yet. Did not seem so. Strange support from the people selling these fancy gadgets.

Walked to the Whitsunday Sailing Club to change our postal address and renew our social membership. CoA is fine. Their computer system can not cope with members paying a few days early. Come back in July they say. Seems a strange computer system. Just needs to treat pre-paid memberships as a contingent liability until the end of financial year, I would have thought. However I am retired. I hope I never have to write an accounting program again, no matter how simplistic. I walked back up the stairs to my Whitsunday Terraces apartment.

Home Again

Spent a silly amount of time seeking items on my list of stuff to be taken away. It was like nailing jelly to a tree to find some of it. Did some cleaning, but there is no doubt the Whitsunday Terraces apartment needs a heap more cleaning. I also managed to go through a batch of Science News magazines. Put aside far too many for further notes, but a bunch went in a bag to go to the market.

Checked the Port of Airlie Marina. The Boathouse apartment buildings nearest to us are started. Foundations and concrete block construction well underway. Seemed a fair number of construction workers around the site. There are also a number of structural steel spanworks a little to the side. Some more of the roads in the development are outlined. Looks like the house building blocks near the artificial beach are all ready for sale. Actually I think they may already all be sold.

Saturday 20 June 2009


Started the download of OS X 10.5.8 to my old 1.25 GHz G4 Apple Powerbook. No apparent problems with access. Download speeds were also impressive. So once the download completed, I started my MacBook Air download of OS X 10.5.8 also. That also upgraded just fine, as far as I could tell. One anomaly is that with a new version of Safari, Spotlight search is not finding the application on either. Seems to take Spotlight a while to catch up.


I started the washing machine on the laundry while the computers were downloading. First load of washing completed in time to hang them outside on the balcony of my Whitsunday Terraces apartment before I left for the market. I also cleared out the recyclable bottles down to the street bins. Newsagent for The Australian weekend edition, and the Courier Mail and Financial Review.

Caught up with a bunch of folks at the markets. Also got my bacon and egg breakfast from the market stall. Thanks to Alison, I was just in time to collect some bananas from Bruce. Alison and Glenn both recommended checking ABC2. They mention it was running different programs to ABC1. In particular, on Friday evening, Torchwood and another edgy program. Naturally I can not watch that while at the Whitsunday Terraces, as we only get an analogue TV signal feed. However I could see it at Carlyle Gardens, where I have digital signals only, and a HD SetTop Box.

Rain threatened a little after 9 a.m., so I rushed off. Up the twelve flights of stairs at the Whitsunday Terraces and moved the laundry from the balcony inside. The sheet was already dry. Plus I hung up the second load of laundry while I was home.

Back to the markets, where I caught up with Rex. For him I had a copy of Paint Shop Pro, and some books about using it. He told me of more computer woes. Also one of the solar panel installers had stalled so long on getting paperwork done that Rex had missed the government assistance package for installing a grid connected solar power system. That sounded bad. I can not help but think that a myriad of people will miss the solar power systems. As almost everyone will recognise, grid connected solar power is almost worthless to the householder unless you get it almost for free. Once more up the twelve flights of stairs to the Whitsunday Terraces.

Rest of the day was reading newspapers, and doing a little checking of online stuff. I did do more cleaning, but added more dust to the floor. Since I had brought the small $59 glass desk from OfficeWorks in a flatpack, I started assembling that. I think the quality of this China made item was a little higher than the previous model. However I also think it was much harder to assemble the keyboard shelf sliders correctly.

Sunday 21 June 2009


Those idiots on Channel 10 ran some stupid golf game instead of Meet the Press this morning. At least Channel 2 still have some reasonable public affairs programs on Sunday morning.

Internet Censorship

Iran blocks Internet = BAD!

China blocks internet = BAD!

Australia blocks Internet = ?

Return to Carlyle Gardens

Drove back to Carlyle Gardens starting at 11 a.m. Managed to forget to switch the computer off, so it will just have to sleep. I must make a check list of things that need to be done each time. The drive took me until 2:30 p.m. One stop for fuel, thus explaining the good time.

Jean and I took a long walk around the place as evening drew near. Jean was making great time on the walk. We had helpful advice from other residents. Can't you walk faster than that? Right!


Another Freeview advertisement on commercial TV. I am watching TV on my 27 inch computer monitor, since I do not have a TV set. Let me get this right. You need a high definition TV and a HD set top box? Why?

The five free to air (advertising sponsored) TV channels seem to have one HD channel each. In this country area (Townsville) at least one of the HD channels shows a promo all the time. The others show exactly what the Standard definition TV channels show. Each TV station shows four or five channels, all of which are exactly identical (with the honourable exception of ABC2).

Austar (the only Pay TV available) broadcasts only in Standard Definition. DVDs are better than TV, but are certainly not high definition. Unless you are addicted to a failing format like BluRay, you essentially have nothing to watch that is worth seeing on a HD TV. Just who came up with this HD TV scam?

Monday 22 June 2009


Trying to remove some of the junk from my desk. See Hercules and Augean Stables. Seeking a few rivers. Decided getting rid of a handful of newspapers and doing a few fanzine LoCs probably was enough.

Jean decided the overcast weather was sufficiently cool for a midday walk. That worked well. 365 hailed us, and pointed out he often had fresh reef fish available. Jean liked that idea. Also pointed out that Stan, a former gardener, had done the concrete block retaining walls around his garden. We had hoped to find someone to do a garden wall.

Robyn was looking for us at reception. Peter wanted to do a builders inspection. Robyn organised it for today. Lunch at the Carlyle Gardens restaurant, on lamb hot pot, although Jean originally planned to avoid lunch. Jean completed her walk around the village. There sure are a lot of wallabies around.

Peter visited late in the afternoon. Found a few more things to add to the defects list. We were uncertain of them. Knocked the kitchen power point off the list. Alas, Peter is leaving the project manager job here at the end of the month. I certainly hope that his work towards a greener village site is recognised by Prime Trust.

Tuesday 23 June 2009


Same taxi driver as on our previous trip collected us for the drive to the airport in peak hour. We arrived early, but that was better than cutting the time too close. We had a Jetstar direct to Sydney, on an Airbus with relatively (for commercial aircraft) comfortable seats. No problems with baggage, and we were soon in a kamikaze taxi through the unseasonable warm winter sunlight to the Park Regis in the Sydney CBD. As soon as we settled, we went out to the nearby underground Woolworths for orange juice and milk for our stay.

Jean's plans for dinner at the Coffee Club in Park Street were plunged into disarray. The Coffee Club was closed, with signs up saying the lessor had taken possession. There were indications that a miniature Subway was about to be installed on the other side of the hotel entrance.

I took a bit of a walk along the Pitt Street mall, looking for places to eat. I checked the large bookshop in the Galleries. Alas, this time their science fiction section seemed small, ad their computer books out of date. When it got to dinner time, Jean accompanied me to the food court below Myers. There we circled repeatedly as Jean could not decide what she actually wanted. Settled for kababs, more for lack of a better idea. Also many of the food court places had started closing at 5 p.m. which seemed really silly time to close.

Jean had a meeting someplace, and I was detailed as bodyguard on the train. We were collected at Strathfield railway station. I was able to collect snacks and read a book and email on my iPhone while Jean attended out meeting. Reversed it all to get back to the hotel late in the evening. By then the doors were locked, but our electronic room key opened the outside door.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Morning in Sydney

We had to be up early with breakfast eaten so Jean could get to the US consulate to have some paperwork sighted and certified. No way she would mail originals to someplace even further away. I was running late, caught up with her on the steps. Then stuck around to make sure she got though security to enter the place. Very tedious.

Off to the Apple Shop. Surprised by the tiny little USB keyboard on most of the computers. The helpful staff told me these came out in February, when we were in New Zealand. That would explain why I had missed their appearance. I showed one of the staff some old online manuals on how to build your own computer with soldering iron and discrete components. Those were the days I would prefer to forget. Computers are so much easier now.

When Jean arrived I showed her the new miniature keyboards. As I anticipated, they were exactly what she wanted for her Ubuntu laptop, so she bought one straight away. I got another USB power supply for my iPhone, and later an iPhone dock also.

HobbyCo was not open until late, so Jean could not check model railways. However Galaxy science fiction bookshop was open. We managed to quickly find seven paperbacks we wanted. That was good. After a brief stay at the hotel, I went off to find some cheap leather belts at some of the cheap stores near the hotel. Probably not good, but at five bucks, better than Target prices.


I set off for the movies, Central Computing and the University of Technology. No movies until the afternoon, and the choice was marginal, even for cheap Tuesday. However if I hiked fast enough, I might catch some of the university staff. Had a nice long talk with Tim, head of department. Caught up with Beverly (who had done the Adelaide to Darwin bus trip recently) and Narelle. That was all good.

Hiked hard up George Street past Central Computing again to the cinema. I fancied a Gold Class meal and film at 1:30 p.m. However there was such a queue of school kids that I decided nothing was worth the wait. Got back to the hotel just prior to Jean, but that let me grab an extra key from reception. Walked to the Apple store with Jean, so she could attend their 2 p.m. iTunes and iPod demonstration for mostly older folks.

Dymocks bookshop in George Street had Belmont BN337 A7 sewn bound notebooks, the only store in Australia to stock A7 size notebook as far as I can tell. Jean says OfficeWorks may have them. JB HiFi had the remastered version of Star Trek, The Original Series, all marked Exclusive to JB HiFi, and at a pretty reasonable price compared to all the previous ones I had seen. I bought all three seasons for my collection. I also found the second season of Earth Final Conflict, but have no idea of whether seasons 3 to 5 were released. I took a note of a few other series I may not have.

Back to the Apple Store just before 3 p.m., from whence I escorted Jean to HobbyCo, upstairs in the Queen Victoria Building. HobbyCo sure have a nice range of model railways, and a very extensive railway example layout. We were nearly overwhelmed. Had it not been for the model railway store we visited in Adelaide, I am sure we would have been overwhelmed by it all.

Collapsed back at the hotel. Jean took a nap before her evening excursion on the bus to see one of her friends. I walked her to the bus stop, and then found a very unsatisfactory sandwich for dinner. Much later in the evening I met Jean near where the return bus deposited her (I was on the other corner). The wonders of mobile phones. How did we manage before we had them?

Thursday 25 June 2009


We had the value (current term for cheap) breakfast at Monas, around the corner from the Park Regis. I set off for a morning walk to OfficeWorks. I checked another branch of Lowes, but could not find a track suit in my size in some lightweight fabric. I wanted something lightweight for travel.

Checked my iPhone for directions to OfficeWorks, and found I was just about at the right place. Alas, the $149 1TB hard drive was too large and heavy a package for me to contemplate taking one back home with me in my luggage. There was no sign of the wireless access point router they had advertised cheap. I also could not find any isometric graph paper. I did find a four colour pen I simply had to buy for Jean. It came with purple, light green, pink and light blue inks.

Graham phoned, so I was able to tell him to meet us at midday at the hotel for lunch with Gerald. Meanwhile I rushed off to Central Computing. Alas, while there were some neat things, the only one worth telling Jean about was the mini roll up keyboard. I was just getting some short Ethernet cables when Jean phoned to say Graham had arrived.

I grabbed a bottle of wine while making my way back to the hotel. Found Jean and Graham sitting in the lobby, so we went up to the room and got started on the wine while awaiting Gerald. He was a little late, but mobile phones make co-ordinating easier. We went to Monas for lunch, and Gerald arrived not long after we were seated. I was good to hear how things were going. Alas, he had lost Honey, the very old cat I remembered from visits in the past.

More Sydney

Graham and I talked some more in the hotel room. He tells me of efforts to restart the Futurian Society of Sydney. We made a donation towards that good cause. None of us are sure what to do about preserving collections of science fiction. We mentioned the efforts Bill Wright is putting in with his Meteor foundation.

After Graham left, Jean and I walked (slowly) to Central Computing, where she got the keyboard. She was also able to see the Microsoft Arc wireless mouse, which looks good for portable use (it folds up smaller for packing for travel).

My left leg was giving me problems as we walked slowly back. We stopped at the Map Store, where I was able to get a Hema North Queensland map, covering Mackay up. Should be enough for my Cape York trip. Eventually we left the hotel again seeking food for dinner. Jean found sushi. I found nothing. But I had some left over snacks.

Kodachrome Died

After 74 years, Eastman Kodak retired their first successful film stock. It was less than 1% of their dwindling sales, where digital makes 70% of the profits. Kodak do still produce film, both Ektachrome and Tri-X black and white. Commercial cinemas have not moved over to digital, and many small cinemas may be unable to afford the costs of doing so.

Going digital means the end of faith in photography. Every image is now subject to manipulation, from the processor in the camera, through Photoshop and its ilk, to deliberate distortion. If you did not see it yourself, you can not trust it. While this lesson was always obvious, many of us forgot it when film photographs were still around.

Friday 26 June 2009

Leaving Sydney

As before, we went to Monas for their value breakfast. This was our last day at the Park Regis, so we had a certain amount of repacking to do before breakfast.

I rushed off to the Apple Store to see how crowded they were for the iPhone 3GS launch. They had good crowd control, and some pretty impressive queues. The pre-sold iPhone consignment had been fully subscribed on-line within two hours of being announced. Not bad for something Apple have basically not advertised. I took a few photos of the queue. There was no normal business being conducted in the Apple Store that morning. Recession, what recession?

A walk to Central railway station was next. Jean was not keen on the many, many steps at Town Hall, so she decided to walk from Park Street to Central, with our bags on wheels dragging behind us. To our surprise, the mostly downhill walk was so quick we almost reached the station in time for a train an hour before the one we intended to take.

To Wollongong

The train was a regular double deck interurban, leaving from the country platforms. Central Station was conspicuously short of seating, so we got on the train well ahead of the departure time. No problems during the hour and a half or so of the trip. Only a few places had good coastal scenery, but we each had books to read.

Walk to the Ibis Hotel from Wollongong Railway Station. Our main complication was minor problems identifying which street was best for getting us there to Church and Market Street. Google Maps have the location wrong, so I could not use my iPhone. At one point there may have been a walking path, but we were not sure we would have been able to locate it. Before long we were at reception, and soon enough in our room. Jean signed up for the Ibis hotel loyalty card, at my prompting. Seems harmless, and sometimes you get good deal from hotels that way. They did have a free drink voucher for Jean.

The room was snug. Like many of the Ibis rooms, it was well appointed, and certainly comfortable enough. However there was very little spare space, especially for living out of a suitcase, as distinct from storing a suitcase away. However the Ibis did have a nice, albeit narrow, desk area under the window, with sufficient power points for computer or phone charging.


I set off for a half hour mall walk. Quickly identified a variety of stores that Jean wanted me to find. Naturally I found Dymocks Bookshop and the Angus and Robertson Bookshop. It seemed every major store like Myers or David Jones was having a sale. We rarely want anything they are selling, so I do not look very hard at them. The Woolworths or Coles evaded me, but I was fairly sure it was somewhere on the next street over. I bought Jean some milk at a 7-11 store instead.

Jean later walked the mall with me, and was impressed by the open air market. She got some apples for the next few days, and I got strawberries at her behest. Jean was still seeking comfortable walking shoes that looked businesslike, having failed to find them in the stores in Sydney. On checking the Athletes Foot here, she did find a suitable pair after a lengthy search. While she was getting the fitting checked, I tried the Angus and Robertson Bookshop. I noticed they had a Marbig 31 pocket concertina file. Now I know they really do still exist, I will try someplace closer to home.

We grabbed a glass of wine each in the lobby area while we talked over the events of the day. Dinner at Ibis dining room, for lack of a better idea. They had one item that seemed to me to be just what Jean liked. I just had the fish and chips, which came with an extra glass of wine. That was a lot of wine.

I did not manage to type up near as many notes as I intended, as a result of the wine. I just sat up late reading. About the only place I could read without disturbing Jean was to take the relatively comfortable chair (there was only one) into the bathroom. I could barely get the door closed after taking the chair in there. The entire hotel room is distinctly small. I believe the real estate term is efficient.

Saturday 27 June 2009


Breakfast for Jean at the hotel. I was planning on having breakfast later. Walked Jean to her meeting at the Entertainment Centre down by the shoreline. I headed back to McDonalds for breakfast. However mostly I wanted to use their free WiFi connection for several hours.

Bookshops were next on my list, but luckily for my luggage capacity, nothing took my fancy. Checked the cinema. It seemed amazing how many youngsters were in queues outside the cinema. Way too many people for me, even if some worthwhile film was on. Looked like the cinema had been preparing for school holidays.

Mac1 is a computer store specialising on Apple products. Last year I found some prop up legs from my PowerBook. This year I failed to find anything of much interest to me. I also diverted via Woolworths, as their bottles of wine were less than a single glass of wine at the hotel.

Jean's meeting ended around 3 p.m. so I headed down to the sea shore to meet her. Mobile phones make life much easier when you need to find someone in an enormous crowd spilling from a large building.


We had an invitation from Bob and Jan to an early dinner at an unknown destination. Turned out to be a Chinese and Thai restaurant only a few blocks from our hotel. Jean had to be careful of the food. Of course, with 14 people at the table, it was hard to talk to anyone other than at our end.

Then Jean was off for her evening meetings. I returned to the hotel to catch up on these notes, read another novel, and drink some wine. Perhaps not exactly in that order.

Around 10 p.m. Jean phoned as I was preparing to leave. Her meeting had ended half an hour prior to when we expected. I departed the hotel at a good pace, and power walked down to the shore to escort her back. Just prior to the last traffic light Jean shouted at me as I powered past her. The walk back up the mall was much more leisurely.

Jim Waley Makes News

Many years ago my Sunday morning was structured around watching the Sunday current affairs presented by Jim Waley on Channel 9. Eventually Jim Waley went from the show onto the National Nine News in the evening. Then in 2005 he disappeared. The quality of Sunday dropped, and continued to drop until Channel 9 was not worth watching on Sunday morning. Luckily Channel 10 still has Meet the Press, and the ABC has Insiders and Inside Business on Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, the quality of commercial free to air TV went down so far that I gave away my TV set. If I want to see something being broadcast, I watch it on my computer. It simply is not worth giving all space to a TV set these days.

Jim Waley returns to evening news on a nightly two and half hour show Sky National News on Sky News starting 6 p.m. this Monday. If I had subscription TV, I would be checking it out. Waley mentions he thinks of current affairs as something serious. He also mentions that if he is a bit of a dinosaur, then there are a lot of dinosaurs out there. I agree.

The disappearance of serious commentary on TV is matched by the decline in quality of newspapers. I was shocked at how puerile and trivial the Sydney Morning Herald is these days. I checked it a few times since the hotel in Sydney had free copies.

Sunday 28 June 2009


Jean went to the Ibis restaurant for breakfast. I did not think I would do value to the buffet, so I was holding out for McDonalds. Plus I wanted to use the free WiFi at McDonalds to catch up on some stuff online. Alas, the sign on the Wollongong shopping centre said the opening was at 10 a.m. on Sunday. That rather spoiled all my plans for an early breakfast. I eventually rushed in at 10 a.m. for my WiFi session. Collected all sorts of pages in my Safari browser for reading later.

Jean has her next meeting starting at 11 a.m. Checkout is also 11 a.m. We departed the hotel at 10:30 a.m., having left the bags in the luggage room. I walked down to the shore with Jean, and then continued to Flagstaff Hill to take a few photographs. LCD displays just do not work when you have the sun behind you. I could see neither the camera display, nor the display on my iPhone. I took some photos anyhow, mostly blind to what I was including.

I wandered around Wollongong and the shops until it was 3 p.m. Alas, I forgot that one of the shops I intended to check was Spotlight. I had especially noted it was open on the Sunday. I collected the luggage and waited for Jean at the hotel. We had plenty of time to drag the luggage the few blocks to the Wollongong railway station. Luckily there is a passenger lift that gets you to the other platform. We caught the 4:14 p.m. train, arriving Central around 6 p.m.

Automobile Profits

The problem is automobiles are not making any profits. It makes you wonder why they still manufacture cars in Australia. Ford made a A$274 million loss for 2008, after a A$87 million loss in 2007. General Motors Holden made an A$70 million loss in 2008, while revenue fell from A$6.1 billion in 2007 to A$5.8 billion in 2008. Demand for Holden fell 9% to 68,000 vehicles, while market share slipped below 13%. With Pontiac axed in the USA, Commodore exports (rebadged as Pontiac) is presumably in trouble. In the past four years, Holden has lost A$360 million.

It looks to me as if there is only room for one car manufacturer in Australia. Toyota is the only one of the three remaining that is making a profit. Time for Holden and Ford to die. paying unemployment benefits would be cheaper than wasting taxpayer money propping up a defunct industry. Everyone knows the internal combustion engine can not survive carbon dioxide emission taxes. Get rid of the manufacturers now, so something else can replace them. It will be less disruptive in the long run.


Despite the favourable weather report on my iPhone, it had been raining in Sydney. We caught a taxi from the Country platform, rather than attempt to drag our bags through the water. Once again we were returning to the Park Regis, which had a very favourable Sunday evening rate.

We had the remains of a bottle of wine in my bag, and drank the dregs pretty much as soon as we got in the room. I had bought that bottle in Wollongong a few days ago because the Woolworths had bottles of Eaglehawk wine cheaper than the Ibis charged for a glass.

This time the Coffee Club cafe outside the Park Regis hotel was actually open. We shared a hot sandwich for dinner, and had a decent glass of wine. Then we sat around in the room reading our books until it was time to get some sleep.

Monday 29 June 2009

Leaving Sydney

We had set an alarm for 6:15 a.m. but were already up just before then. Took a taxi to the airport well before 7 a.m. We were through security about an hour prior to our boarding call. This at least gave us plenty of time to get breakfast. Alas, while there were a heap of wiFi networks in the food court, the usual free McDonalds WiFi did not appear to be there. At least, not where we were sitting.

We were on the 9 a.m. Virgin DJ1519 for the two hour plus flight direct to Townsville. Our seats (10a and 10b) were on the left hand side of the 727-700. Alas, we did not have a window, as there was a bulkhead alongside us in row 10. Probably part of the wing root. We need row 5 to 9 for photographing Townsville from the air. Despite this, I attempted to get a few photos of Carlyle Gardens from the air as we descended. Too hard to see with the LCD display on my Canon TX1, so my photos were poor. I also got about 15 seconds of very shaky movie. Without a high speed SD camera card, I doubt I can get more than 640x480 frames from the mjpeg in the movie avi. Not that I know how to extract individual photos from a mjpeg.

iPhone Tethering

There are configuration files for many operators, for those needing to use their iPhone to tether their computer to the internet. I note that Telstra still do not offer this configuration for the iPhone, although it is standard on many mobile phones. Tether configuration files for iPhone.

Access point name (APN) is used to identify a general packet radio service (GPRS) bearer service in the GSM mobile phone network. It defines the the service provided.

Telstra APNs include telstra.wap (for slow walled garden phones needing a proxy service), telstra.internet, telstra.datapack, telstra.iph, telstra.blackberry (for RIM Blackberry phones via RIM servers). Most provide a private IP address via NAT. It seems telstra.iph is the same as telstra.internet, but used so Telstra know an iPhone is in use. Your iPhone may be using teletra.internet, especially if Telstra store staff have had to re-enable connection after correcting a billing issue.


I had time to go to the Carlyle Gardens restaurant for lunch. We had to drive to the IGA to collect some milk. Jean and I took a walk later in the day. Alas, there seemed relatively little change to the state of the gardens. We watered our garden, and we also watered the tree alongside our place, since the leaves on it were sad looking.

Tuesday 30 June 2009


So teachers in Queensland are to get a 12.5% increase in pay over three years, if they accept the offer from the Queensland state government. That 12.5% is public money. The state government is broke. Are the teachers offering to work 12.5% longer? Are the teachers going to educate students 12.5% better? Why are salary increases not based upon productivity increases? What makes anyone so special they deserve more?


We went to Willows so Jean could seek the travel agent for her trip. I found several more cotton polo shirts at Lowes, and got them before they disappeared. Not much luck with lunch at the restaurant, which this time did not have much that I wanted. So I had a toastie and a dessert instead of a main. The landscape people had put dynamic lifter (class name for chicken shit) on one of the pieces of land. They started getting deliveries of turf, which went down near the bridge. That was a great sign.

Eric Lindsay's Blog June 2009