Eric Lindsay's Blog July 2009

Wednesday 1 July 2009


How often are actors depicted getting killed at the movies? I mean, so you can actually count the bodies, not remote mass killings. Movie Body Counts helps you keep track. Lord of the Rings runs up 836 deaths. Kingdom of Heaven has 601 deaths. 300 has 600, which seems a little confusing.

If advertising works by repeated exposure, does repeatedly showing killings increase the chance that some people will emulate movies. If not, why not? I do not think any business organised for profit should be allowed to depict any action that would in real life be illegal. Why does showing nasty actions become acceptable when some business does it for profit? We already know that corporations basically have the same characteristics as sociopaths. Corporations need to be restricted. If associations of people seek the property protection of a corporate structure, then their freedom of action must be severely constrained.


The landscapers were out in force this morning. More plants arrived. More people digging holes into which to place plants. It was all very active. I did manage to pull up some weeds in the garden.

Jean drove us the Stocklands shopping centre, for another attempt at travel goods. First chemist not so good. Woolworths, not bad at all for either of us. Upon our return we also visited the Mitre 10 hardware store, which now had a garden hose holder in stock. Jean got more mounts for putting up photos. I failed to find any incandescent light bulbs to replace the light on the front porch. Made do with a slower starting compact fluorescent light.

The Carlyle Gardens restaurant had roast lamb available. I spoiled my diet with a dessert again. Back home the laying of turf commenced again. The crew place a very large quantity of it. I took photos before and after, as a record. Late in the afternoon Jean and I walked around the old area of Carlyle Gardens, which is a pretty decent walk for Jean.

Press Council

Plans to reduce the size of the Australian Press Council and reduce the scope of its reactions to public complaints are being resisted by public members. Publishers who fund the council have taken advantage of the global financial crisis to press for 33% reduced costs, and cutting the council size from 22 to 12. The publishers provide 10 of the council members. In particular, the publishers want to remove the council advocacy role, and cut the pay of the chair and deputy chair. The Press council is an industry self-regulation body formed in 1976 to adjudicate journalistic standards and ethics.

Thursday 2 July 2009

Web Browser

I updated Firefox on my Macintosh to version 3.5. Checking my blog posts, Firefox 3.5 now does dropped shadows on both text and boxes. So my blog now looks about how it was intended to look. Firefox handles media queries, so my multi-column layout now changes column count according to how wide your display happens to be.

Alas, although Firefox handles media query dynamically, it was not able to render my pages correctly after a dynamic display size change. You had to refresh the page at the new dimensions to get the h1 through h6 items to show correctly. Obvious bug in Firefox?

Queensland Power Prices

Queensland retail power prices were opened to competition in July 2007. Naturally enough, electricity prices from retailers went up in 2008 (around 19%), and will increase again in 2009 (by around 16%). Retailers will claim electricity price increases happen because energy supplies put up their prices.

At least there are some new power stations in Queensland, unlike in some states. Although high quality, low cost coal is the obvious fuel of choice in almost all Queensland power stations, there is a Queensland government requirement to produce electricity from gas. Gas fired power stations produce around 40% of the carbon dioxide emissions of an equivalent coal fired power station. They also typically require far less water for cooling. Unfortunately, gas power plants cost far more to run. You can justify this by running mostly at peak periods, when you can charge more for electricity. With the requirement they provide a high percentage contribution to energy use in Queensland, gas plants tend to run far longer than is economically justified, since they can not compete at base load prices. This feeds into increase electricity costs for everyone.


Lots of landscape people watering the new grass. The new plants are all in the garden alongside us. As usual I took some photographs of the new gardens before I headed to the Carlyle Gardens restaurant for lunch.

We took a walk half way around the grounds in the afternoon. Did not see a lot of people walking around this time. Even the wallabies were somewhat sparse on the ground, although we were walking a little earlier than usual.

Friday 3 July 2009

The Ascent of Money

In the history of the economic world, only one country went through the industrial revolution without importing capital. That country was Britain. Every other country went through their industrial revolution on borrowed money.

One other exception is turning up. China saves so much that they are the only other country funding their own industrial revolution. China even lends the USA money, since the folks in the USA spend rather than saving. Hence lending to people who should never have been able to borrow, because they were penniless wankers who did not deserve a loan.

Eneloop lamp

Fancy looking cordless lamp with a contactless charging system. Mood lighting most of the time. Tilt it to horizontal and you have a flashlight. Coming in September from Sanyo Eneloop lamp, and running from two Eneloop AA batteries. I like the idea.

Phishing and Scams

Came across an anti-scam and scam baiting site targeting 419 scams. You have to wonder how people get caught by such types of scam. Although I have seen physical letters of the same nature circulating decades ago. However the internet makes it easier for the scum to target all sorts of potential victims.

HTML5 Video Support

Firefox supports HTML5 video without plug-ins. However, this is is little use, since the video Firefox support is the Ogg container with Theora video, and Vorbis audio. Basically, no one else supports Orr Theora natively, and it is unlikely they ever will (there may be patent implications if using the code). There has been experimental support for Ogg Theora in Opera web browser. It seems likely that Google's Chrome browser will add Ogg Theora support to its existing H.264 support. The quality of Ogg Theora and H.264 playback are similar under some circumstances. Although it is free, open source and vendor neutral, Ogg Theora is not a standard like H.264.

H.264 is a standard, MPEG-4 Part 10, however H.264 is patent encumbered, and royalties are payable. Mozilla will not use H.264 as they can not obtain a downstream licence, nor are small vendors likely to be able to afford the legalities of using H.264.

H.264 is widely supported in software and hardware. Apple use H.264 as a native video format for Macintosh, and in iPod and iPhone. Apple will not install Ogg Theora by default (you can with some effort install Ogg Theora yourself in QuickTime). Symbian cell phones can support H.264. Games consoles Microsoft XBox and Sony Playstation 3 can use H.264, as can any Blu-Ray player. YouTube downloads can use H.264. Even Adobe support H.264 in Flash containers. There are hints H.264 may be included in Windows 7.

Video from YouTube is unlikely to be of high quality due to compression decisions. You need to keep this in mind when seeking video sources for comparison testing.

Serving HTML 5 Video

Luckily there are detailed articles on how to use the HTML 5 video element for serving to those web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) that support it. Your main constraint is the lack of any common video codec. So you give Firefox Ogg Theora, and everything else gets H.264 mpeg4. There is an example HTML 5 video test page here.


Since Jean had an appointment near Castletown, I went across to the shopping centre so I could get money from the cash machine. Managed to resist buying anything, after looking through Target, the book shop, and the newsagency. Our next stop was OfficeWorks. To our delight, they had our missing bar stool, so we finally had a pair of them.

OfficeWorks also had a D-Link DIR-300 Wireless G Router. This relatively cheap WiFi access point came with a TomiZone sticker. It was only $76, which is a perfectly reasonable price for a wireless access point, although having only 802.11g is a little old. However ever since I arrived at Carlyle Gardens, I have wanted to experiment with a TomiZone router.

Hasty lunch at the Carlyle Gardens restaurant. The mail included an express mail package from David, with last minute details of the Cape York trip. Glad it arrived prior to my leaving. I started writing up details of the trip.

We went to the regular Friday Carlyle Gardens restaurant meal. About 160 attendees. Our table concentrated on visitors to Carlyle Gardens. I liked the steak and kidney pie, and Jean usually likes roast pork. The dessert was a very nice chocolate and custard profiterole. The bar was very busy. Someone managed to drop a glass, and shards of glass went all over the place. We cleaned up some, but Karen had to work hard on sweeping up the last of it.

The entertainment was the Sun City Square and Round Dance Club. They gave a neat display of precision position changes. The dance caller did it to music, and seemed very good. Then it was time for the dancers to encourage some of the attendees to join and learn to dance. They got more people working on it than I expected.

Saturday 4 July 2009


As usual when we went to the news agent on Saturday, I bought enough newspapers to last all day. We had a few minor food items to get while shopping, but that did not take long. The newspapers certainly seemed to occupy a fair bit of my time during the day.

During the day I started writing up the details of my forthcoming trip, so as to reduce the typing while travelling. I had already given reception and security the dates I would be away. At intervals I filed the edges of some boards so that they were not dead right angles when I built bookcases. I think this reduces the risk of splinters.

Classic cartoons

A list of the ten best uses of classical music in cartoon. Complete with what music was used, and comments and description of the cartoon. The Band Concert, Pigs in a Polka, Baton Bunny, Magical Maestro, Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl, A Corny Concerto, The Cat Concerto, The Rabbit of Seville, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, What’s Opera, Doc?

Sunday 5 July 2009


During the morning current affairs programs I packed my bag. I continued taking trip notes during the day. Lots of links, especially to the smaller communities it seemed. Alas, no more work on the bookcases, so four boards have not had rounded edges put on them. We went to the social club BBQ, which was actually a fish and chips spread, with salad, followed by apple pie and custard. This one was raising money for the golf club. As usual I bought $10 of tickets. This time we really scored. A bottle or wine and plate of nibbles, and an electric smoothie maker that Jean thought just the thing for her. I got a packet of peanuts out of the deal. Unfortunately I was not feeling well after the meal. I could not manage to sleep before the trip. Might have managed an hour of sleep before midnight, but not thereafter.

Monday 6 July 2009

AirTour Cairns Day 1

I got up at 4:20 a.m. I had organised a taxi for 5 a.m. The taxi driver sowed me another shortcut to the airport, bypassing Domain shopping in favour of a street without traffic lights, two streets past Domain. My flight to Cairns was Virgin DJ1637 out of Townsville on Monday 6 July at 6:30 a.m., arriving Cairns at 7:25 a.m. It actually was loaded before scheduled departure time, and the comfortable Embraer 170 got airborne early. We arrived at Cairns around 7:10 a.m. I was lucky to get a shared taxi for $10. I left my bag with the Mercure Harbourside hotel.

Walked to the CBD along the walking path along the sea. I was interested to note that at least one large USA warship was still in port. The sailors had gone back on board yesterday. Next stop was the Cairns Central Shopping Centre, built in the old railway station. Read my newspaper there. Alas, I could not bring myself to eat anything, and had to stay close to toilets. Did a bunch of walking around the Cairns CBD, and rushing to toilets. Not good. Sat on the Wharf for a while, reading email on my iPhone. I did find the computer store that sells Apple, but nothing they had grabbed me like my first iPod that I bought from them on a previous trip. I eventually walked back to the hotel around midday.

Tour Group Arrive

Two other Queenslanders are also arriving independently. I said hello to Julie, who was sitting down in the hotel lobby. I could see the Dreamtime schedule, which sort of confirmed identification. The assistant manager was able to give us both our keys shortly before the rest of the party was due to arrive.

The major group of six people on the Dreamtime by Air tour arrived in Cairns on Virgin Blue, at 11:50 a.m. They expected they will reach the Mercure Harbourside around 12:30 p.m. Their timing went pretty well, but it did take some time to get the keys.

Lunch sometime after 1 p.m. at the Mercure Harbourside's Blue Mango Cafe Wine Bar, overlooking Trinity Bay. I shared a pizza with David, however the other meals were all enormous, despite sounding smaller. I owe David a glass of wine. We got away on our tour a little later than initially planned.

We collected Peter, the last person on the tour, from the airport around 3 p.m. We have a tour of the area with our tour driver Cookie. This was a quick look at the sights of Cairns, with heavy emphasis at times on places offering cheap food or similar. I am not impressed by tours that shill for shops, nor were several others.

The highlights were seeing the USA naval ships, like USS Essex, still in port. My taxi driver had thought they had left. There was a considerable crowd around them. That evening I saw one smaller ship sailing away across Trinity Bay. The driver took us out of Cairns to a large hill overlooking the city and Trinity Bay. Viewing was good, with some cloud darkening the landscape. We could see Cairns spread out below. The last stop was the Cairns Botanic Gardens, which were far more extensive than I ever expected, and looked superb. Well worth a far longer visit. The driver obviously had concerns to get away for another tour at 5:15 p.m, so that was our last stop.


The hotel in Cairns is the Mercure Harbourside, 209 The Esplanade (listed by David as 214 Lake Street, since that is the driveway entrance), Cairns. ph 1800 079 131

The Mercure Harbourside website seems to be mostly written in Flash. Using Flash is such a stupid idea. First, no phone does a good job of displaying Flash. Second, Google does not index Flash. Third, Flash is not an internet standard format, it is a proprietary product from Macromedia. Fourth, many people are so infuriated by Flash advertising that we always have Flash turned off in any case. Fifth, everything this hotel has used Flash for (set of photos, navigation) can be done easier without using it. What a mess.

We had time to relax before a very leisurely dinner at 7:15 p.m. at the Mercure's Teshi restaurant. Some Accor outfit gave us free drink cards, which most of us collected in the bar just prior to dinner. We had a very helpful Indian waiter assisting, and wielding a giant pepper grinder with authority. The dinner was agreeable in conversation, but food delivery a bit slow. It was not until 9:30 that we drifted away. I at last got a good night sleep, waking only twice.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Air Tour Port Douglas Day 2

We were originally scheduled to travel north to Port Douglas, and stay there overnight on the first night. Now we will travel to Port Douglas in the morning, on the 8:15 a.m. Quicksilver bus. That takes us north up the coast, through typical North Queensland lush green bush, with sea glimpses and sea vistas from time to time. Some concern about whether our bags will be dropped at our Port Douglas hotel (naturally we can not take them on board the boat). Here are some Port Douglas webcams.

In the morning, a 10 a.m. reef tour on MV Quicksilver 5, a large motor catamaran. We see some of the coastline, before heading to the Great Barrier Reef. This far north, the reef is only 10 or 15 kilometres offshore. Quicksilver 5 docks at a two level pontoon at Agincourt Reef, where marine viewing is available. Since this is a considerable distance north east, the trip takes about 90 minutes. You can snorkel with a marine biologist on staff. Helicopter rides can be organised. Very similar to typical Whitsunday area reef trips, but being closer to shore, turbidity can be higher at Port Douglas.

Barrier Reef

I had a great time snorkelling. I thought I would be best to do the most tiring activity first. I get cold very quickly, with my poor circulation, despite the water temperature being 24 degrees. Alas, in my lycra stinger suit, I gave a very good impression of an ageing Ninja. About all I needed was a cane. I was encumbered by an underwater digital camera I hired, with which I photographed my flippers, my face mask, undersea vistas, but probably very few fish. Real Soon Now I will check the 1 GB memory card they gave me.

The underwater viewing ports on the platform were very well situated with the tide ebbing. I probably took better photos there. Several people thought the semi-submersible cruise was well worthwhile. Jenni did not one, but two SCUBA sessions. I tried photographing her, but have to admit a bunch of people in stinger suits under wet suits wearing goggles look very much alike. I could see it did an excellent job maneuvering along the side of the coral. Nan and Joan, the artistic members of out party, took the $119 helicopter fight of 12 minutes, and were impressed. Had I accompanied them, I would not have had a window, so I declined (I came along to make up numbers, if required). This was after David worked very hard trying to get a further discount on the $149 regular fare. I did have an interesting chat with the helicopter pilot, who was relaxing between flight on the bridge deck.

Luncheon on board MV Quicksilver, and an afternoon return to Port Douglas around 4:30 p.m. There was some comedy at the bus. David went to ask which bus we needed. The Quicksilver staff said 22. David rushed out to advise us. The other Quicksilver staff told him 22 was full, and had just departed. Naturally during this time all of us drifted away for various interesting reasons. David was reduced to herding butterflies. However eventually David herded the butterflies onto the bus, and we settled in at the Best Western Lazy Lizard motel.


After snorkelling we will all probably be pretty tired. The right restaurant may be a challenge, to which I am sure David will rise. And so he did. Recommendation from the Quicksilver staff, try Salsa. Last time we were here in Port Douglas we did not try Salsa, but it did look interesting. Good location also, overlooking the estuary.

I walked about 400 metres towards the main drag of Port Douglas, to a liquor store. I thought by this time I deserved a rum and coke. Only a small bottle, since we will soon enter Aboriginal areas that are alcohol free. Of course, I forgot we were scheduled to attend Salsa around 7:15 p.m. for an 8 p.m. dinner, and would doubtless wait in the bar.

David arranged a bus to take us to Salsa restaurant, on Wharf Street, not too far from where the tourist wharf is. We were even pretty much all ready on time. When we reached the restaurant, they were able to give us a table at once, without waiting until 8 p.m. A menu of foods so fancy that I would not normally have had them, but an excellent choice for showing off the food. I had the slow roasted pork belly entree, which was appropriately small, to suit my appetite. It turned out that pork bellies were the new in food in major cities. Drank too much red wine (attentive wait staff) as we shared two bottles between six of us.

Port Douglas

While several people took a taxi back to the Lazy Lizard, the rest of us walked to Macrossan Street, the main street. There is some interesting old and restored architecture here, especially in some of the pubs. We walked as far as Davidson Street. At that point we probably should have phoned for a taxi. Exhibiting a lot of blind faith in my phone, everyone followed Lesley and I as we walked to the Lazy Lizard motel. It was probably a little over a kilometre, in bright moonlight, along a footpath well separated by trees from the main street into Port Douglas.

The motel address is Best Western Lazy Lizard Motel, 121 Davidson Street, Port Douglas, ph (07) 4099 5900. Alas, this motel is over a kilometre away from the main cafe and tourism strip. However it may well be less noisy than on the main drag. The major advantage for a group like ours is that it is a motel, and not one of the smaller self contained apartments closer to the main street. May have been the only place with sufficient rooms available. One advantage of Port Douglas is that it is a 45 minute drive from the Daintree area, whereas Cairns is at least an extra hour of travel. The Lazy Lizard Motel proved spacious and comfortable. The hosts, Bernie and Lesley Davis, were charming and helpful. This is probably the first motel I have seen with the correct proportion of fridge mini bar space devoted to cash bar items vs guest supplies. I commend them for getting this right.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Air Tour Daintree Day 3

Daintree World Heritage rainforest tour with a guide. This is a full day tour. Starting at 8:30 a.m. we drive through Cape Tribulation National Park with stops to view lowland rainforest. To get started early, we will have a continental breakfast in our rooms, to meet an 8:15 a.m. check out. Confusion over bags.

There is interesting Daintree history from the days when the Kuku Yalangi Aboriginal people travelled and hunted there. Captain James Cook named Cape Tribulation and Mount Sorrow the morning after his ship Endeavour struck Endeavour reef and started taking on water. His crew had to dump cannons and other heavy supplies, as well as trying to seal the hole with a sail.

Our great tour guide was George. He gave a delightful tour commentary. One question, did Cook encounter La Perouse or did Philip do so?

Daintree Tour

Our first stop was a at a small food stand, adjoining a small but interesting art gallery. Strange ice creams, all home made. I recall chilli chocolate, sweet potato, lime and dragonfruit. That was where we collected the makings for lunch.

We had a picnic lunch in the rainforest at their private shelter spot beside a pretty little stream. In the shallows we could see small spotted River Perch swimming. After a BBQ lunch Jennie suggested we use one of the two canoes. Canoe to waterfall (twice) with Jenni.

Along the track we found cassowary droppings, small droppings from the chicks, large from the adult birds. George found the fruits whose seeds were present in the droppings, and showed us how particular seeds got dispersed by the birds. The fruits were vivid blue, and poisonous if opened, however the cassoway could extract nutrient from the outer layer if it swallowed them whole.

We drove to an isolated beach for a walk. This was near the now closed sacred jumping stones area. It was a very pleasant area. Umbrella or fan trees. Boardwalk, which was a decent length walk. After the scenic return drive through the Daintree, we change buses and drive back to Cairns. Delay at ferry.

Our tour driver George Studham was a builder on the Whitsunday Terraces swimming pool, way back. He also worked on most of the tropical island resorts.

Cairns Overnight

After the Daintree tour, we drive back to the original hotel in Cairns, the Mercure Harbourside, 209 The Esplanade (listed by David as 214 Lake Street, as that is the driveway entrance), Cairns. ph 1800 079 131 We expect to arrive at the hotel around 7 p.m after a rather full day. Lamb shank pie for dinner at 8 p.m. at Teshi's Restaurant at the Mercure. We did not get through dinner until 10 p.m.

Thursday 9 July 2009

Air Tour Quinkan Art Sites Day 4

We had an early start scheduled. Once again I failed to sleep well, being awake at 3 a.m. I was ready before six. Had breakfast soon after 6 a.m. rather than the scheduled 6:30 a.m. Luckily the hotel starts breakfast at 6. My digestion was not pleased about the schedule. I was in the lobby at 7 a.m., as were many others in the tour. Bus to Cairns Airport general aviation.

We were divided 5 to 4 between a pair of Aero Commanders piled by Ross and Andy. Soon we were flying at 6000 feet through cloud to the aboriginal township of Laura. Perhaps 75 people in a three kilometre radius, perhaps 125 within 5 kilometres. The Peninsula Development Road is both larger and more advanced than I ever expected, although not yet bitumen as far as Laura. The town of Laura has a good, but limited, road system within it.

Quinkan Art Sites

Fly by tour aircraft north west to small outback town of Laura in scenic hill country. There is a Quinkan and Regional Cultural Centre. A set of photos about Quinkan Reserves comes from JCU and Taipan elders provided the words. Local guides take us on premier tour of Quinkan Galleries painting art sites. These are very significant to the local Kuku Yhaypan Aboriginal people. Tours are limited to 150 visitors per year. There are as many as 1000 galleries over 6000 square kilometres. The art takes its name from spirit figures called Quinkans. There are also large timara spirit figures.

Percy Trezise recorded a number of galleries in the 1960's, accompanied by tribal elders. Xavier Herbert accompanied Percy in 1961 to a number of painting sites.

Our guides were John Farington from the splendid interpretive cultural centre, and George Musgrave's grandson Luis, who was unfortunately suffering from a cold or flu. The cultural centre is hoping for more drivers through the area when the road is completed. Mention was made of an Austin A7 being the first car to the Cape, in 1927.

We had a 35 minutes drive to the art site, on dirt roads. Splendid job of exposing ever more interesting aboriginal art to us, from a roadside teaser, to the five Quinkan galleries.

Sandwich lunch at the cultural centre. We were late leaving town on our planes.


Fly to Cooktown for tour and overnight there. Staying at River of Gold Motel, corner of Hope and Walker Street, Cooktown, ph (07) 4069 5222. This is in the heart of Cooktown, just around the corner from the James Cook museum.

Naturally we were late in to Cooktown. Our non-drinking minister guide Wayne was a natural talker, with a set pitch that covered a lot of data. We spent a lot of time in the cemetery. I was pleased to see the grave of Mary Watson, from Lizard Island. The usual horror of how many children died young in the early days.

We drove through Cooktown, with Wayne pointing to the various notable buildings. Checked the foreshore, by the Endeavour River, which has many indications of the arrival of Cook. The Captain Cook museum is splendid with a large display evoking the masts, moving sails and sounds of a boat at sea. They also have the recovered anchor and a cannon from the Endeavour.

Rush to hotel, laundry shared, grassy hill, bar, dinner. Slept badly after 3 a.m.

Friday 10 July 2009

Air Tour Day 5

Fly westerly over the great dividing range to a small aboriginal community of the Thayorre and Mungkan people called Pormpuraaw which is run by the Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Shire Council.

We were already running a little late. Paul and Samuel took us to see the shell beach near the crocodile farm. You could see one crocodile swimming in the shallows across the water from the beach. Locals said that when it was mating season there were more crocodiles outside the farm trying to get in than there were inside the farm. e saw some wetlands as we travelled.

We are visiting to see the Pormpuraaw Arts & Cultural Centre. While outside the centre, Peter noticed an elderly gentleman with a limp, using the most elaborately shaped waking stick I have seen. He was kind enough to visit with us. He had been injured by a horse fall while a stockman in the 1950's. He showed us some impressive chest surgery scars from the time he was taken to hospital for emergency surgery.

Crocodile Farm

We also visited Edward River crocodile farm, the oldest crocodile farm in Australia. There were a goodly bunch of birds in the wetlands of the crocodile farm. This rundown crocodile farm supplies the crocodiles for the Pormpuraaw crocodile races, the only crocodile race I know of in Australia. Alas, since the Queensland State Government took over, this once impressive heritage and well run crocodile farm infrastructure has been sadly neglected.

The bus that took us back to the airport turned up with a dead goanna on the floor. It had Dunlop Disease, according to the bus driver. Of course by then we were running late.

Later we flew north along interesting coastline to Weipa. We overflew the Arukoon area while on the way. Overfly Rio Tinto's Weipa bauxite mine at around 1 p.m. This gave us superb views of interesting country. Then we turned east to fly over the Iron Range to Lockhart River. This is an alcohol free area, so you can not carry drinks via the airport.

Lockhart River

We will be in Kuuku Ya'u or what we call Sand Beach people territory. Elders recently negotiated Kuuku Ya'u Native Title Rights over parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

We saw the Lockhart River art centre. The University of Queensland have an educational online document called Our Way - Contemporary Art from Lockhart River. This is elaborated in a well illustrated book. We had hoped to see traditional dancing, but the dancers were not available. There were two recent funerals, which tend to draw the locals away from visiting tourists.

The lunch at the CDEP offices where Rod works was superb. Elissa, newly there again this season from Balmain, greeted us. Chef Rikki had it complete with a printed menu (I had expected sandwiches). There were even tiny native figs.

Lockhart River

Lunch Menu

Entree: Fresh locally caught prawns with a Lime and Caper mayonaise

Mains: Apricot glazed Pork Cutlets With garlic and basil green beans

Dessert: Chilled Mini summer Blueberry Puddings

Visit Quintel Beach and its large boulders with elders such as Brian, who may explain the cultural significance. Elder Brian Claudie (like the river) pointed out one tall rock that has a footprint at the top. Brian said we could climb the rock to see, but the task was more than I could try. I am not sure a minister should encourage such reckless climbing, but Brian was a really nice person. Drive along beach to the WWII aircraft wreck of the Condor. It is remarkable that after more than 60 years, there is still so much metal in the shallows along the beach. We also drove to the mouth of the Claudie River, which is massive here, although only narrow ten kilometres inland. Upon our return along the beach we drove past Restoration Island (named by Captain William Bligh after the mutiny on the Bounty), and this was pointed out to us by Brian.

Portland Roads

Staying at Portland House, at Portland Roads, on the east coast of Cape York, 50 km north of the Lockhart River, 550 kilometres north of Cairns. The dirt road had been graded by Council only a month before, and was in good shape. The private rental house here has solar power only for lighting. It adjoins the Iron Range National Park, largest lowland tropical rain forest in Australia. Alas, there is limited accommodation, and 240 volt power was in very short supply (inverter from solar, or a generator when they ran it for the restaurant). I was unable to charge my iPhone or MacBook Air.

The restaurant did a wonderful job. We had a menu choice, but only by specifying what we wanted prior to the trip. Their supply barge comes in once a week, on Monday.


Six of us went spotlighting at night. Brian drove one vehicle, Elissa drove the other. It seemed we drove half way back to Lockhart River. It took at least 30 minutes of driving. It was interesting standing in the middle of the road, at night, with no lights, listening to the forest around the Gordon Creek area. However despite the help of Brian, the elder who drove most of us, we totally failed to spot any animal life.

Luckily the local police were also driving along spotlighting. David showed us a juvenile emerald tree snake. I can not imagine how they spotted it, curled up in a tight ball in a small tree some distance from the side of the road. The snake was bight yellow, with a wonderful pattern on its back. Once the policeman's wife Bridget persuaded the snake to come out of the tree, we were able to let it climb from hand to hand among those of us to wished to handle it. It seemed to like the additional warmth of my bare arm.

Saturday 11 July 2009

Air Tour Punsand Bay Day 6

Visit the Iron Range National Park in the company of Kuuku Ya'u elders, who may explain their view of the rainforest. Drive to the Claudie River mouth for a lunch trip upstream in the community boats to beyond the mangroves. Crocodiles may be visible on the sandy banks, as the river water changes from salt to fresh flows from the Iron Range. Rainforest walk with elders, who may explain cultural sites, plants and identify rainforest bush tucker.

It rained overnight. In the morning it rained somewhat heavier. We waterproofed a few bags to a limited extent, but had to pile all the rest in the troop carrier. This mean you could not get out without moving a stack of bags. Alas the rain put a damper of the creek walk. We had already cancelled the beach visit due to timing issues.

We were late to the Claudie River. Rod had brought along fishing gear. Our boat drivers had disappeared. A third boat appeared, but the engine broke down prior to launch. It took a considerable time to round up boat drivers Leon and John. Rod was the person trying to organise the social butterflies. Elissa drove one of the vehicles. Lorraine came along to act as tour guide, and show us native foods. I recall a candlenut tree, which tastes like macadamia, and can be used as a candle. She did a wonderful job, and was very enthusiastic. She showed us how to make a grass skirt for ceremonies. Told us about dyeing them as well. She was down on some of the dancers at the Laura festival, for dancing things that related to another people.

Another amazing lunch at CDEP. Again with a menu, native flavours, done French style. This time the Aboriginal folks were not there helping.

Lockhart River

Lunch Menu

Entree: Poached chicken legs filled with Native ginger and froi gras

Mains: Local fish en papillote with potatoe Rosemary Rosti and a lime Beurre Blanc

Dessert: Fresh local fruit served with a Basil Sorbet

Top Crossing at the Caludie River, with Rod and Elissa driving. It is amazing how limited the water flow and how narrow the river only such a short distance inland. Our native guide Lorraine again showed us bush tucker and medicinal pants.

We drove to the Bunkers. These are multiple concrete emplacements dating back to WWII. It looked like they were prepared for a frontal attack by the Japanese. There are reputed to be around 20 of these bunkers in the heavily wooded rainforest.

In afternoon fly north over the Iron Range rainforests and along east coast, over the environmentally sensitive area of Shelburne Bay to Bamaga. Pure white silica sand dunes with freshwater lakes at various altitudes. The area was considered for sand mining in the mid 1980's, but the Federal government refused to issue a permit for export to Japanese glass makers. We had some very good low level views of the Shelburne Bay freshwater lakes. Even overflew some tourists on the beach, so I wonder what they made of two planes flashing past down low. Excellent for photography. The pilots left us at Bamega for their flight back to Cairns.

Punsand Bay

After landing at Bamaga, we went via an 11 passenger 4WD vehicle a punishing 30 minutes via corrugated road to Punsand Bay. Andy was the driver, and has been here only a month. Next time we will try putting as much luggage as possible in the rear seats, despite that being less convenient.

We are staying at Punsand Bay Camping Resort, on the north coast, north east of Bamaga. This is a little east of Cable Bay, where the overseas telegraph cable went through in the 1880's. En suite tents at back of Punsand Bay beach at top end of Cape York for 2 nights. A beautiful natural place and has restaurant and bar. This is 5 kilometres as the crow flies west of the northern tip of Cape York. Darwin is the closest capital city (Brisbane is 2160 kilometres away). There are ten kilometre of tropical beach. You can see the sun rise over water and set over water at places on this narrow neck of land.

Punsand Bay had a sea food night. The first course was an enormous quantity of seafood. Tiger prawns, crab, oysters. I try to avoid crustacea and seafood while travelling, since I sometime react badly to them. The second course was barramundi, which I had with chips. They also had crocodile as a mostly cold dish. Their preparation did not leave them as hard to chew as my usual encounters with crocodile. Dessert was chocolate mud cake and ice cream. Most of us sat around drinking wine until around 10 p.m. I finally repaid David the glass of wine I owed him. I also invited he and Lesley to visit and stay at our Airlie Beach apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces.

Sunday 12 July 2009

Air Tour Cape York Day 7

Easy morning. During breakfast, I was able to get a 240 volt feed and thus a partial charge into my MacBook Air. I realised I also needed something in the iPhone, and managed to take it from the red of less than 10% charge to at least half full. That however slowed down charging the MacBook Air.

A 4WD tour with Jeff, a guide from Cape 4WD tours, around the top of Cape York to sites of historical and natural interest. The 4WD had the usual characteristic of launching everyone in the rear seats towards the roof on the rough road. Eleven kilometres back down the track, over Larradinya Creek, past the former site of Lockerbie Station. We had an interesting drive through what David insisted was monsoonal forest. There was a fair bit of 4WD traffic on the dirt track, however it was interesting wandering along the edge of the forest. We came upon a large tree leaning over the road, held up mainly by resting on the fork of another large tree.

We visited Cape York (Pajinka), the northernmost tip of Australia first. The entire land mass of Australia is south of us. Several of us climbed the headland for the views of the many surrounding islands. York Island directly out from the Cape, Eborac island to the east. Back to the far east we could see Albany Island. Wonderful beach for lunch. At the tip of Cape York we took turns taking photographs. We also involved several innocent bystanders in taking group photographs of our nine folks. We needed to make sure we checked the back side of the sign at the tip, but it had only latitude and longitude listed. I was expecting something more interesting.

Upon our return along the beach from the tip we had a morning tea on the wonderful beach, under the shade of some trees. Jeff produced chairs for us. Coconut topped cake, and a mini Tim Tam. That was unexpected. Julie, Jenni and David were the intrepid swimmers, with Lesley wading. After a long walk out from the beach, the swimmers reached water more than knee deep.

Next we drove to the eastern side of the peninsula, opposite Albany Island. Superb picnic lunch on the headland at Somerset, the first European settlement, across from Albany Island. The beach is wonderful, and almost deserted. After lunch we inspected the historic Jardine graves just back of the northern end of the beach. At the southern end of the beach, in the mangroves, there were some structures from the 1860's colony that once filled the headland. There was a fresh water spring at waters edge, with the underground spring refilling the stone lined hole between tides. There was remains of a wharf, or at least stone steps.

We saw the ruins of Somerset on the eastern side. This was a station established by John Jardine (father of Frank Jardine) in 1863. The two sons shot their way through to the station, with the tyrant Frank Jardine claiming 47 confirmed kills. Up the hill, the ruins we saw consisted almost only of three small cannons. It seems much of the remaining structure was destroyed by fire a few decades ago.

Punsand Bay

Drive back through monsoonal forest in the afternoon via the Croc Tent souvenir shop. This has remains of the old Dutchie Holland homestead site nearby (this is not one of the original Jardine homesteads). Return to Punsand Bay Camping Resort, where we stay for the night. We should have a fairly relaxed time this evening at Punsand Bay, and so it proved. We returned about an hour late, and it seemed everyone had managed to grab a beer from the bar and return to their tents before I managed to do so. I was off photographing the helicopter on the beach. Julie and Jenni went swimming again, I gather. We sat around late after the roast dinner, drinking wine and in conversation.

Monday 13 July 2009

Air Tour Bamaga to Seisia Day 8

Mid morning we had a local walk with Jeff, a geologist at the resort. This took us up a slight hill about 700 metres to the ruins of the old telegraph station and post office. Once the site was cleared and cultivated, with good views. However now it is overgrown. There were a number of square concrete columns still in the ground, and square metal building supports in the ground. Jeff identified numerous plants along the way, with much contributed by the enthusiasts in the group.

Alas, we disturbed a paper wasp nest on the way up, and several people got stung, some many times. The nest was so close to the track that a passing 4WD disturbed it on the way down, and a few people got stung again.

Several people went wandering the grounds with Jeff before lunch, looking at trees and plants. Jeff provided great value as a guide. Enthusiastic, and willing to talk extensively about the botany and geology of the area.

The lunch at Pulsand Bay exceeded expectations. The Italian cook used a limited range of ingredients to produce a wonderful puff pastry dish. The salad and cold cuts accompanying it were extensive and more than sufficient.

After lunch at Pulsand Bay, Trevor collected us in the large 4WD. Trevor proved a much more careful driver, so the bounce factor was much reduced. We drove to Barmega, near the airport, where we visited the site of a DC3 wreck. Hints by other visitors lead us to a Beaufort and KittyHawk crash site. The aluminium has withstood the elements remarkably well.

Along the coast to Seisia. We visit several communities that settled the Seisia area from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait. Saibai Island is large but is mostly swampland with some elevated grassland. It is only about 8 kilometres from Papua New Guinea. After WWII, enlisted men returning to Saibai Island suggested the mainland was better for a sustainable community. Saibai Island was flooded soon after by wet season and king tides. The Saibai leader, Bamaga Ginau, led discussions that decided to move the community to the mainland.

Loyalty Beach Resort

Staying in basic donga cabins (made from insulated freight containers) at Loyalty Beach Resort and fishing lodge at New Mapoon, near the Seisia ferry wharf. We need to be ready for the ferry to Thursday Island.

This area provided a wonderful view of the sun setting in the west over the islands. We drank beer from the bar on the beach, and provided a feast for the sandflies. This was followed by a substantial dinner outside the cabins, while a fire flickered on the beach.

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Air Tour Day 9

Morning passenger ferry Strait Magic to Thursday Island at 8 a.m., for the one hour journey, cruising past Possession Island. So named because Captain Cook planted the English flag there on 22 August 1770. Thursday island is the administrative centre of the Torres Strait. The Strait Magic crew played a 15 minute tourist video during the one hour passage. they were also assiduous at pointing out islands and places of interest. As well, they had a repeat of the GPS for the course, displayed on the cabin monitors. The ferry crew also provided the weather forecast (30 degrees, with a U/V danger of 9 - out of 10). Strait Magic is a purpose built aluminium ferry, built in 2000. It is 18 metres long, 5.8 metres wide, and draws 1.3 metres of water. The engines are two 11 litre Cummings, of 480 horsepower.

We cruised away from Red Island Point where Seisia is located, across the Endeavour Straits, to Thursday Island. As you approach Thursday Island, you can see how protected the harbour is by surrounding islands. Thursday Island is the administrative centre. It is also the location of the 50 pilots that control vessels travelling the interior passage of the Great Barrier Reef.

Thursday Island

Thursday Island for a vehicle tour of the sights of Thursday Island during the morning. We have lunch on Thursday Island. Mid afternoon we travel by ferry to Horne Island for the night.

We were met at the wharf by Liberty Seekee, who put our bags in the tour vehicle to get them out of the way. We wandered around Douglas Street, the main commercial street of TI, on our own for about 90 minutes. Douglas Street was named for the Queensland Premier of 1877, who had previously been Chief Magistrate of TI. We were following a map Liberty had supplied. I wandered towards Back Beach, to the ANZAC Memorial Park. I also noted the Outback Spirit folks were accommodated at the Jardine Motel (they were why we could not get sufficient rooms on TI). I was interested to note the differences between various of the churches. One with steeple, freshly painted, is the Catholic Church, and is heritage listed. One with what seemed a crude hand written sign indicating it. There was also a Baha'i church, an offshoot of Babism, in the main street. The town seems thriving, with an Thursday island population of 4000. There was even a newsagency, with copies of The Australian scheduled to arrive around lunchtime.

One of the suburbs of TI was Quarantine, an indication of some of the past administrative functions of TI. I do not recall actually seeing any dedicated quarantine building, although plant quarantine is well indicated by signs. For example, you can not bring plant material from other islands. Another past industry on TI was pearling, indicated by the pearling store in the middle of the main street. I noticed a sign in the window seeking a Hookah diver. At least one of our group made a purchase there, and seemed well pleased. I am however advised that in the past, the shells (for buttons, before plastics crushed the industry in the 1970's) and the meat were larger earners than were the pearls.

While wandering, I saw some brightly coloured shirts in Mona's Bazaar, one of the souvenir stores. I decided I needed to add one to my collection. I was very tempted by one even brighter shirt, however none actually matched pocket or sleeve patterns to the adjoining cloth, the way I think a good shirt should. Still, in tropical shirts, bright outweighs good taste or quality.

Another strange thing to locate on Thursday Island was a shopping bag storer, from Duramax Homeware, and distributed by Yatsal. I like having a plastic bag storer hanging up. However Jean is less impressed by the idea, so there is no point asking if she would sew me one up. So I was rather pleased to find I could buy one. However how come I found just one on Thursday Island, and have never seen one elsewhere?

Thursday Island Tour

Liberty collected us by bus at the Council Chambers and Library building just prior to eleven for his Garrison Town bus tour. The infrastructure is interesting. Electric power comes from a diesel power plant, with 9% of the power coming from two 30 metre wind turbines on a hill overlooking the port. The garbage goes to the much larger nearby Horn Island. Water is supplied by plastic pipeline from Horn Island, which has a 2400 megalitre dam dating from the 1980's.

We inspected graves, many with inscriptions in Sanskrit. There was a large Japanese presence on TI, mostly there for the pearling industry, and these families mostly stayed there after the war. There were some very elaborate grave sites all over Cape York, an indication of the widespread influence of Christian missionaries.

Liberty played us the Ballerina (a pearling lugger) song his late father Richard See Kee wrote. It was very pretty and well sung by his cousin Wayne.

We spent considerable time at Green Hill Fort, near the town, where the underground fortifications have been turned into a museum. The fortifications here date from the Russian scare of the 1890's. Three guns mounted in gun pits overlook the entire area to sea, although they have not been fired in action. The hilltop also provides magnificent views over the surrounding islands.

Thursday Island Windfarm

Thursday Island is not connected to the electricity grid. Power comes from four diesel generators totalling 9.1 megawatt. Power demands range between 1.4 megawatt and 3.6 megawatt, increasing about 4% a year. The fully automated power plant was commissioned by Ergon in 1994. It had a major A$12 million upgrade in 2001.

Unlike most of Queensland, the Cape York area has trade winds, averaging 7.5 metres per second (14 knots) at Thursday Island. Thursday Island wind farm has two Vestas V29 225 kW wind turbines on Milman Hill, commissioned by Ergon for A$2.5 million in August 1997. They are thus somewhat undersized and dated by modern standards, although at the time this was a medium to large installation. These wind turbines provide between 5% and 10% of the electricity needs of Thursday Island's 4000 population. They also save around 300 to 360 tonnes of diesel a year.

The wind turbines are on 30 metre towers. The three blade fibreglass reinforced polyester rotors are 29 metre in diameter. The maximum rotation speed they can sustain is 40.5 rpm. Their starting speed is 3.5 metres per second (6.8 knots), and optimum power is reached at 14 metres per second (27 knots). The maximum operating speed is 25 metres per second (48 knots). Total annual output is said to be 1.22 gigawatt hours at a capacity factor of 31.5%.

Horne Island

We will be staying at Gateway Torres Strait Resort 24 Outie Street, on Horne Island. This is very close to the ferry wharf. We stay overnight on Horn Island for two nights.

Vanessa Seekee took us on a splendid Forgotten Island tour of Horn Island, outside Wasaga village. A knowledgeable former school teacher, she wrote the Garrison Town Tour booklet, and Forgotten Isle tour booklet for Horn Island. She was also obviously responsible for writing up much of the material in the Gateway Torres Strait Resort museum. Near the busy current airport we saw some of the many dispersal pits for WWII aircraft, together with concrete gun emplacements and gun command post. Concrete rot precludes safe entry to some of these areas, however the Seekee family is attempting to preserve these remnants of a once mighty war effort in the area. We saw wreckage of a USA Thunderbolt single engine fighter.

Many of us had time for a swim. Not in the sea, but in the Gateway Torres Strait Resort saltwater swimming pool. I must admit that some people were far more energetic about swimming than others.

Towards sunset we wandered down to the water, and out to the ferry wharf. Normally we try to toast the setting sun with a glass of wine, but restrictions on the wharf prevented that ritual. We saw the resort receptionist (who was also their part time bar tender, bus driver, and repairer of recalcitrant laundry dryers) waiting for the ferry. She told us she works 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. She seemed to love it. Claims she does not need to do housework.

The Gateway Torres Strait Resort were putting on a roast night, so we could graze on what we wanted from the buffet. We certainly seemed to be siting around talking for a considerable period.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Air Tour Day 10

From Horne Island fly across the Coral Sea to the Murray Islands (Mer, Weier and Dower to visit the grave of Eddie Mabo on a jungle clad hillside on Mer. Meet the Meriam people, possibly including the island chairman who hosted the court visit to take evidence in the Mabo case. Visit sites on the island - grass airstrip on a spectacular old volcano.

We had an hour long flight by Islander. We had one more person than could fit in a single plane, so David had organised two of the twin engine, fixed wheel, high wing, short take off and landing Islanders. This mean each of us had one of the bench seats (David sat in the right hand seat with the pilot). This gave us each a window on each side for photography.

Ron and Marie met us at the airfield in a clean air conditioned bus, with appropriate signs about keeping it clean. They subsequently took us around the beautiful Murray Island. I was amused to see that we were greeted at the airfield by an arch that looked like shark teeth. That is a bit of a worry as a welcome sign. That and the gate were about the only structures at the rather short airfield.

Community centre, which Kay kindly showed us around. We had obtained permission to have morning tea there. We were astonished to find such a fine, new building with accommodation for just over 20 people. They also had a food preparation area. David commenced checking what might perhaps be organised for a future stay on the Murray Islands. Most of us encouraged a two day stay, perhaps with a boat visit to the other islands in the group.

We saw a variety of native food plants and healing plants, as well as sugar bananas. The young leaves of the bush with yellow flowers were used raw for treating skin conditions, and also rubbed on for ringworm. We saw paper glue trees. Animal life included a giant bumble bee that could just about make a meal of a songbird. The vivid yellow grasshoppers we saw in several areas are called pim. Ron pointed out that the shape of part of the island is like a dugong, which the Meriam people call peger. We were told these people have lived her at least 3000 years.

Murray Island has a distributed Australian standard 240 volt power network, supplied by Ergon via diesel generators. It also uses diesel power to desalinate their water. They store water in a membrane covered dam of impressive size.

Mabo grave site and memorial was our next stop. This significant historical site is set off the old road around the island, in a small open glade set in the forest. It is a calm and peaceful site, and very attractive. It was his wish that he be buried here. It does seem a pity that he did not live to see the Mabo court case settled in his favour.

Picnic lunch on the beach, under some shade near the school. The setting was very pleasant. the quantity of food overwhelming. Our pilots were here, not managing to catch any fish from the beach at noon. We had plenty of food to share.

Alas, the art centre at the council building across from the school was closed. The keyholder had gone elsewhere. Screen printed T shirts were being made at what looked like a combination workshop and training course. One person was drafting an eight tribes design. David recognised the meaning, and leapt into negotiations to get one made for him. There were eight tribes in the local area, although the population was probably only 500.

School children doing cultural training via traditional songs and dance. The drum was traditional, the guitar perhaps less so. The young children seemed to be really enjoying themselves, as did the teachers.

The island Headman Ron Day very kindly met us at the council chambers. He was wearing ceremonial garb, a great honour for us. He seemed an intelligent and charming man, fluent in three languages (he claimed his English was not good). He talked with David about his misgivings about exploitation, based on a dreadful past experience of a member of the community. The possibility of at least small scale tourism remained open. Ron Day kindly talked for David about the early events of the Mabo case, and allowed David to video the short talk.

We were tight on time when we left. The pilots had even phoned to express their concern. Fly back, starting at 2:30 p.m. The pilots had other charter flights to fly. They did tell us that we had some of the best viewing weather they had seen during the flight. It was certainly as good viewing as I had ever seen.

Horne Island

Return to Horne Island for sunset and to stay the night at Gateway Torres Strait Resort on Horne Island.

The take off at Murray Island is abrupt. Basically you plunge off the side of an extinct volcano. Once again we had stunning views of the reef system. We also overflew several islands with airports. We saw Coconut Island, which seems to have a resort on it. It is very strange to see a small island entirely bisected by an airstrip. We were back on Horn Island around 3:30 p.m. Bridget once again collected us, after a short delay, in a small bus.

Andy, the pilot on our previous several days of charters, was at the Horn Island airport, between charters. We chattered a bit before our bus arrived

This proved to be the evening of the State of Origin football match between NSW and Queensland. The dining doom was decorated with maroon and blue balloons and streamers. There were noisy cheer sections for each side, and much vocal encouragement from 8 p.m. on. We had dinner around 7 p.m. to escape a foreseen crush of sporting attendees that did not fully eventuate. An exciting game with the favourites Queensland losing 16 to 28 to NSW.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Air Tour Last Day

We did not need to leave for the airport until 9 a.m. I was up early, completed reading my junk novel (finally) and left it in the room. I had finished breakfast before 7 a.m. and could write up some more trip notes while I could charge my MacBook Air and my iPhone.

Since Vanessa was taking out the large bus, there was insufficient space for us and our luggage in the small bus. Bridget took David and Lesley to the airport in a ute, together with all our luggage. Then she returned to collect the small bus, and take the rest of us to the Horn Island airport.

Andy the pilot was once again at the Horn Island airport. This time he had a nine minute flight to collect a few people. Again we chattered about flights to the various islands. Seems a lot of the traffic might be taxpayer funded hospital visits and returns.

Leaving Horn Island

We are scheduled to fly with Qantaslink QF2489 Sunstate Dash 8 - 300 aircraft from Horne Island at 10:20 a.m. to Cairns. I was staggered to learn there are three Horn Island to Cairns flights a day. However the Dash 8 can only carry 50 people. On the other hand, the Horn island airport tarmac can not take a much heavier aircraft than the Dash 8. I gather the airport will get reinforcing over the next few years, so as to take heavier planes. It was my impression that the aircraft left the ground with several empty seats, while there were still people at the airport seeking a flight. My suspicion is that the aircraft had already hit its weight limit for that long flight, despite not all seats being full.

The carry on baggage limit for a Dash 8 on this lengthy flight is 4 kilogram. The size limit is 48 cm x 34 cm x 23 cm. This low limit reinforces the merits of lightweight computers when travelling away from major airline routes. You simply can not manage a larger, heavy computer. The terminal staff weigh both our luggage, and also us with our carry on luggage.

I kept writing up these notes while we were in flight to Cairns on the 50 seat Dash 8. At least the Dash has comfortable seats. Alas, leaving an alcohol control area, there was no wine. We expect to set down in Cairns around 12:40 p.m. My flight out to Townsville is at 4:05 p.m. Collecting the luggage will probably take longer than we like.


Alas, the plane arrived a little late in Cairns. Scheduled arrival at Cairns is 12:15 p.m., but our arrival was somewhat later. Then there was the long walk back and forth between tarmac, baggage collection, and departures, and later back past baggage for a taxi.

Our original flights were booked separately. Qantaslink computers were not able to link the flights. This means the luggage had to be collected in Cairns. We were not sure if the airport had holding facilities, or whether we can re-book the luggage for the flights to Sydney, Brisbane and Townsville. Turned out we could all get our boarding passes and hand our luggage in to the airline for our next flight. That was handy.

David quizzed the maxi taxi drivers about places to eat. We were dropped at the Esplanade, but David ended up leading us to the somewhat upmarket wharf. We eventually settled on an Italian place overlooking the marina for lunch. Not bad. I shared a pizza with Ken. All too soon, I had to leave the group for my earlier flight back to Townsville.

Leaving Cairns

Getting a taxi was not easy. My choices were the casino, the somewhat distant Central Shopping area at the old railway station, or the main taxi rank. There was a bit of a scrum at the main taxi rank, however some people were awaiting station wagons or maxi taxis, so I only had to wait about ten minutes.

The Qantas QF2309 Dash 8 flight to Townsville boarded only about five minutes after I went through security. I had time to collect a few computer magazines for the flight. It took about ten minutes (or so it seemed) to hike halfway across the airport tarmac to the plane. On boarding the mostly empty plane, I asked the air hostess how come I was stuck in the back of the plane. She kindly explained that it was the best possible spot.

The back of the plane was indeed the best spot. I had a very pleasant chat with the hostess, who had worked the boats at Airlie Beach. She knew the area well. Alas, the Dash 8 had been landing from the seaward side of Townsville, so I would have no chance of photographing our new home from the air. In compensation, the other hostess, with the bottle of red wine, filled my glass (well, small plastic tumbler) about three times during the flight. They asked what the savoury scrolls on the Horn Island leg had been like. I expressed my disappointment. They have no way to heat them, and that particular food choice just does not cut it. The cheese and biscuits (with enough wine) made a better match to the Dash 8 culinary capabilities. Of course, they had only 40 minutes to do all this.

Caught a taxi home from the Townsville airport, after a ten minute wait. A nice Indian TAFE student with about a month of taxi experience was the driver. However he knew the general area, and I was able to talk him in on the finer details of getting me home.

I contemplated the fridge at home for a fleeting moment. Then I walked over to the Carlyle Gardens restaurant, and had their fish of the day. It sure was a lot easier than making a meal from whatever scraps were around.

Friday 17 July 2009


The gardens looked way better than I expected in the morning light. Our own unattended garden did not actually have anything dead. The weeds especially were flourishing, so I watered them, just to help the weeds continue to grow. Actually I pulled up anything I could identify as a weed. The newly laid turf was a splendid green, despite the landscapers leaving the day after the grass was laid. The watering systems must be working. The community gardens out the back seem to also be growing higher. I am surprised.

I needed to make an early shopping trip for milk and orange juice, and other items that need fridge space. I did not really check the fridge, since I will try to clear out anything that it close to a use by date, or needs using. Time enough to make a proper shopping list then. With a bit of luck, Jean will be back by then, and decide what is needed.

Naturally I had lunch at the Carlyle Gardens restaurant, when I walked to reception to collect the mail. Far less mail than I thought might have accumulated. I was anticipating some parcels, although I had not ordered anything.

During the afternoon I found the tools and attacked the outside wall. Installed a Neta aluminium hose hanger near the garden tap towards the rear of the house. This let me get the garden house out of the laundry. Jean had undoubtedly dragged the hose into laundry so it was not on the back porch while we were away. However the plastics in the hose outgas something that smells noxious to me.


It was freezing today. Well, not freezing in real terms. Just freezing in tropical terms. Must have been down to about 12 degrees. I found my tracksuit and wore that and a pair of fleece slippers. Might have prevented me getting chilled, had I not found By Schism Rent a bit too enthralling (especially compared to TV) that I sat up reading until close to 2 a.m. Then I slept poorly.

Saturday 18 July 2009


The newsagent at Willows Shopping Centre had all the regular news papers I get on a Saturday. Target were useless for tracksuits. However they seemed to have a bunch of CD music at very good prices. Maybe some other trip. I also checked the Lowes, and got another cheap cotton track suit top and track pants. I figure this weather means I need a second pair of something comfortable and warmer than shorts and T shirt.

On the way home I remembered to visit a hardware store to get some hacksaw blades. I am sure I will need them for cutting down the metal legs of the two bar stools that are just that little bit too tall for our kitchen. Now if I can just figure a decent way to measure how much to cut off each leg, given that both stools wobble at the moment.

Energy Use

My Owl Cent-A-Meter is indicating we are using 48 cents of electricity per hour. This is something approaching 4 kW, and that should be flatly impossible. My computer uses less than 100 watts. Even the 27 inch monitor is not an enormous energy sink. I should not be using more than 300-400 watts, even with the lights on. I took a torch out and checked the meter. For some reason the hot water heater booster power was on. However the tariff 33 meter was not moving, so the hot water was not operating. The regular tariff 11 meter was turning, but not whizzing around. I think somehow the Owl transmitter current sensor circuitry is confused. Possibly it has low batteries, although the receiver is not indicating a low battery reading from the sensor.

D-Link Pocket Router

I connected the cheap, portable wireless router and wireless access point via Ethernet to my main router. The D-Link DWL-G730AP 802.11g pocket router and access point only cost me A$10, disposed of by Dick Smith. This is the same one Stephen mentioned to me during a convention. It brought up a default wireless access point straight away. My iMac and my iPhone both connected without problems. The default access point is unsecured, but that can be changed. Alas, the only encryption available is WEP, in 64 bit or 128 bit styles. WEP encryption is too weak to use in any hostile environment, as they can be broken in minutes, however WPA is not available. This made a good start for my wireless network testing.

Sunday 19 July 2009

Smoke Alarm

Finally got around to soldering the messed up wires in the damaged smoke alarm. When I replaced it in the ceiling, with the 240 volt contacts in place, the green light came on, so that is good enough for a repair. I sure hope we never again manage to get anything smoking on the grill. I really hate smoke alarms.

These arsehole nanny state regulations really piss me off, especially when they cost me money, and result in dubious protection. Mains powered smoke detectors are not cheap, costing between A$100 and A$200. In addition, they need to be wired into new houses in Queensland by a qualified electrician. There are about 14 home fires a year involving a fatality. A quarter start due to smoking (we are non-smokers). About ten percent involve candles (we do not use candles). Most involve rental property (we do not rent). The victims are often young children (we do not have children). We live in a tropical climate where the use of heaters is highly unlikely.

I am not against taking precautions against the most likely causes of fires. For us, this would be accidental kitchen fires. Basically we do not always pay enough attention to cooking. So we have a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket in each of our kitchens.

Backup Drive Disappears

My backup drive disappeared. Finally noticed this evening that no backups have been done since late last evening. I was having a backup problem at the time, which is pretty unusual. A power down of the hard drive seemed to revive it, and drop it back into the USB port. The question now is whether something else in Time Machine is having problems with the backup drive, which dates back to 8 February 2008. For example, I am not sure why Time Machine is currently taking so long preparing to do the backup.

Well, Time Machine (actually the backup demon) finally found everything that it wanted to save. The Time Machine backup proceeded to completion without any further problems.

Light Hums

I have complained previously about the hum the circular kitchen fluorescent light makes. The similar circular fluorescent light in the en suite also hums. It sounded so loud in the quiet of the night that I got my sound level meter. Even close to the light it registers less than 50 dB. However it certainly is sufficiently noisy to annoy me. I wonder what can be done to make a circular fluorescent less noisy?

Monday 20 July 2009


I filed rounded corners along the edges of the last four lengths of radiata pine shelving. These narrow 140 mm deep shelves are intended for bookcases for paperbacks and DVDs. The entire ten pieces on hand are now ready for a coat of Estapol finish, if any of the Estapol is still of use. Meanwhile, I also ensured the countersunk holes in the two uprights that already have Estapol on them are all of appropriate size. I think I have sufficient shelves on hand to make one more bookcase for the corner by the big window. That should allow me to get the DVDs out of the entry hallway.

Mark, the head gardener, was listening to the water running in one of the drains. I went over and told him it had been running for months. He did not seem impressed by this news. I think either the builders or the landscapers should have fixed this months ago. It is certainly not the first time this water leak has been brought to the attention of the appropriate people, like the landscapers.

I took a bottle of mint sauce with me to lunch. Roast lamb was on the menu. Several people seemed to like my foresight. So I mentioned mint sauce and apple sauce to Penney and to Allen. I sort of hope Dan in the kitchen will start stocking appropriate sauces to go with their nice roast dinners. But if not, I can easily carry my own.

I also caught up with Christine, from the sales staff. Made a plea for a cleanup of dirt and debris on the streets. The reason I made this plea now was that Saturday is an Open Day for sales. If anything is likely to be done, it will happen just prior to Open Days. Sneaky, yes. But appealing to someone with an interest in getting things looking better seems like a better pattern than just whining about things.

I managed to catch up with Kevin, the secretary of the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club, and return the extra key to the computer room to him. One less thing that I am responsible for, so that is good. Although I must find out why the WiFi network is not switched on.


Why would anyone want to watch a movie promoting an obnoxious, lying, obscene twit like Sacha Baron Cohen? It seems people other than me have come to the same conclusion. Unfortunately some of them panned the movie only after seeing it. I pan it on the basis of the publicity I have not managed to avoid.


The end of 2009 will also see the end of the W3C XHTML2 working group. In short, XHTML is not going anywhere past XHTML 1.1, so Microsoft have managed to destroy XHTML on the web (by not supporting it). Since technical XHTML (served correctly as the MIME type application/xhtml+xml) is a long standing web standard (since 2002), I will continue to use XHTML. For one thing, using XHTML eliminates working around a whole heap of other Internet Explorer bugs. This is because correctly served XHTML eliminates Internet Explorer entirely (due to Microsoft's long standard XHTML bug).

I have no idea what the myriad people (about a third of web pages) writing pseudo XHTML pages served as HTML think they are doing. Technically, they are writing disfunctional HTML. Then they rely upon browser error handling to display a result. That makes no sense to me. If you want to write a universally available web page, to current standards, then you need to use HTML 4.01 Strict, not XHTML or HTML 5.

Tuesday 21 July 2009


When I drove off to collect The Australian newspaper, I could not help but notice several police and a police car parked under the Ring Road bridge. They were carefully using radar to check drivers on Beck Drive were keeping within the speed limit. Upon my return, several cars, including mine, were pulled over for registration, driving licence and breathalyser checks. Did not take very long, and I am pleased to see police being proactive about this near a retirement village.

At home I checked the large tin of Estapol. It is thickening rapidly, but I thought I might still be able to use it. I was able to paint a coat on one side of each of the ten boards I have. Later, in the late afternoon, I was able to do a second coat today. However the tin of Estapol will not last much longer. I am already stretching it with mineral turps to get the second coat on.

I also pulled apart a few of the small bookcases to rescue shelves for the first tall bookcase I want to complete. Since these already have a finish on the wood, I merely need to drill the shelves and assemble them.

No lunch at the restaurant. I did not really want any of the choices available. Plus the table with my usual lunch companions was already full. I also had some chilli on hand, that needed eating.


RDFa or Resource Description Framework - in - attributes has the potential to improve the semantics of web pages, by including metadata in attributes. For example, using the rel (relationship) attribute in links. However the extensions, such as using Dublin Core metadata in the contents, are not exactly standard as yet.

Just Like Books, Only Worse

Another way an e-Book is worse than a printed book. Amazon delete ebooks from Kindle readers. Seems the eBook editions were released without approval of some publisher. So Amazon remotely recalled them. I admit that they credited their customers with the cost. However who would want a reading device that can remotely remove books you have bought and paid for? Another stone to cast at DRM. In a last piece of delicious irony, the books involved were George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm!

Wednesday 22 July 2009


Exhausted all my supplies of Estapol coating the wooden shelves. I have three shelves remaining to have a first coat one side. Plus all ten require a second coat on one side. It seems I will need to buy yet more Estapol.

Visited Coles seeking vast quantities of foodstuffs while they had their 10% discount for seniors. Not crowded at all. Many signs pointing to value pricing. However I could hardly find anything on or off my list that I actually wanted. Ended up with a shopping trolley with only five items in it. Managed to forget to buy Coke. That was a real waste of time.

Thursday 23 July 2009


I had planned to leave today, however I only managed to get four hours sleep. So no long drives for me today. Bumbled about the house, doing laundry and cleaning things up.

Assembled the second wine rack, with the assistance of a large rubber mallet! It is a bit finicky about just how you line up each joint of the metal supports. Not difficult, but you have to do them in the right order. Only then do you bash the wood onto them with the mallet.

Tried the new Dlink DIR-300 wireless access point I bought at OfficeWorks. It is covered with big stickers saying install the Wizard first. That is not one of the options when you do not have a Windows computer. However the default setup connected just fine, and my Macintosh could find and use the new unsecured wireless network. Unlike the portable D-Link, this allows WPA security. Next step will be to see if will work as a Tomizone shared network.


I have never been comfortable with movie cameras. However as I was lending my Canon MV700i video camera, I thought I had better import any tapes on hand into my old Apple iMac G5 ALS. First problem. Where on earth had the strange camera compatible Firewire (IEEE1394) 400 cable, with the weird miniature end for the camera. Despite this being the only way to import movies, Canon does not supply a suitable Firewire cable.

First import. Thirteen minutes of very shaky fireworks, badly captured at night. Must be one or more of the Airlie Beach fireworks evenings which I had photographed from the balcony of the Whitsunday Terraces.

Looks like the next tape starts with several minutes of fireworks taken with the lens cap on the camera. This is really shaping up well. Fireworks, floats, boats, cockatoos, ocean liner, fireworks, markets, Airlie Beach, Tiger Moth. A little over an hour.

Tiger Moth, cockatoos, twin rotor helicopter, helicopter and Port of Airlie Marina, Tiger Moth, more marina, helicopters, cockatoos on balcony rail, Tiger Moth, iRobot, fireworks. About an hour. These all seem to be taken from the balcony of our apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces.

More videos to be described here.

Friday 24 July 2009

To Airlie Beach

Since I was awake at 4:30, I completed minor packing and at 5 a.m. drove to Airlie Beach. One fuel stop, at 7 a.m. Now the government 8.2 cent fuel subsidy has gone, the fuel bill ran over $50. Nearly got caught a little low on fuel, since that garage lists 6 a.m. as an opening hour, but now does not open until 7 a.m. Might be refuelling elsewhere next time. I like having at least a 200 km reserve, given how far it is between clusters of fuel stations.

The Woolworths at Centro Cannonvale was open when I reached it around 8:20 a.m. Got essentials like milk. However noting else I wanted was open. Continued to the other Cannonvale shopping centre, and got some chocolate biscuits on sale at Coles. The Cannonvale post office still had a lot of mail for us, so we need to continue changing addresses.

Airlie Beach

The Port of Airlie Marina has now provided us with our own giant personal crane, right in front of our apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces. The construction of the Boathouse apartments seems to be preceding fairly rapidly. While there was a lot of construction noise, it was not like when they were doing pile driving. On looking more carefully, I discovered a large digger below the Whitsunday Terraces swimming pool. This seemed to be clearing out the last of the foundations of the derelict shed that was on the land below us. I hope this clean up is in response to Council requests, and not preparation for another building.

I walked down the twelve stories to the main street. Smaller amount of mail at the Airlie Beach Post Office. The nice folks there go and grab it and hand it to you, without asking. Also had two computer magazines, and about five of the local Whitsunday Times newspapers. Collected some DVD mailing envelopes. Later discovered I still had some mailers, with stamps, left over from a previous mailing of DVDs. Had breakfast at McDonalds. Collected my prescription tablets from the chemist shop. Wandered through the village main street for a while. Then it was time to climb the twelve flights of stairs to my apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces resort.

Saturday 25 July 2009

Garbage Meeting

First thing I noticed this morning was that the rubbish bins had not been put out for collection at the Whitsunday Terraces. This despite one garbage bin already being full, and a second rubbish bin being partly full. Speaking of rubbish, I collected three newspapers for my reading enjoyment. I also noted the Port of Airlie Marina construction was continuing half day Saturday.

Fewer people in the streets and at the markets than I expected. Some of my friends were off in England. Others were reported not to have been seen at the markets for several weeks. I had hoped to loan a video camera to a relatively regular attendee. I had to leave the markets early as I was expecting a general meeting of the Whitsunday Terraces body corporate.

Although an emergency body corporate meeting was foreshadowed in body corporate papers, what actually happened was a committee meeting only. The committee decided they had permission from previous body corporate meetings to go ahead with the replacement of some of the handrails at the Whitsunday Terraces. Only the supplier, the price, the installer and the range of work had changed. This replacement sage has been going on for years now. As a consequence of the committee decision, the emergency general meeting in Brisbane (why Brisbane) in August is no longer required. Personally I am really pleased to find this essential work will finally go ahead.

Incompatible You

Why do companies and governments insist on doing things wrong on the internet? They creep into the 20th Century, and ignore the 21st Century. They invoke proprietary formats, and ignore standards. They make life hard for anyone attempting to use the internet with text readers or other aids for those with disabilities.

Local Directories, a phone book company, sent a listings form so you update your phone number. That is fine. However the web site to which they direct you simply does not work. This is because much of it is written in Macromedia Flash, a proprietary language that requires a custom plug in for a web browser. Not all web browsers have such a plug in. In glaring at this form, I also noticed they managed to send it out so late that it was already past the closing date for new entries. So, straight into the trash with it.

Westwick Farrow do What's New in Electronics magazine. To change your address online, you need to know what email address you used when you subscribed. However if you never gave them an email address, it seems you can not change your address online. I notice this subscription expires next month. I will not renew it.

Incompatible Tax You

Despite my using the paper TaxPack last year, the Australian Taxation Office sent a package replacing the household delivery of the paper TaxPack. It contains a Windows XP and Vista DVD copy of a program you are presumably intended to install on a computer. I can just see the merits of installing a government authorised program onto a computer, and handing over installation passwords. I do not trust any government that far.

I have already seen one installation of this e-tax package fail, at theCarlyle Gardens Computer Club. After some cursory checking for faults, I suggested changing to paper. It is simply too dangerous to put such a computer package, complete with personal details, on a publicly available computer with little security.

Windows is a very common computer operating system, however it is also proprietary, and neither universal nor well respected. My own portable computer does not use Windows, and does not have a DVD. Nor does my phone. It seems to me the Taxation Office would have been better advised to write a suitable secure web site, following accepted international standards. Then pretty much any computer could use it. Plus people with reading difficulties could use it. I believe handicapped access is a legal requirement in Australia.

Conditions in China

Following the death of a Foxcomm employee, Fake Steve Jobs did an entry about factory conditions in China. We all know that there's no fucking way in the world we should have microwave ovens and refrigerators and TV sets and everything else at the prices we're paying for them. Some very nice home truths from Mr Lyons, about the West outsourcing manufacturing to Mordor. If you do not like outsourcing, try making your own toaster, from scratch, like designer Thomas Thwaites did.

Sunday 26 July 2009


McDonald's for breakfast, and read their copy of the Sunday Courier Mail. That worked well. Bad news, but not on the doorstep. No washing up. Walked back up the twelve flights of stairs to my apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces resort. Watched the various Sunday public affairs programs, which after Meet the Press basically means the ABC.

Took my shopping list and drove to the shopping centre. Home Hardware had water based Estapol at $50, or the other Estapol at $30. So I bought a $2 paintbrush. To hell with recycling. No suitable DVDs at Video Ezy. I had Hardly Normal on my shopping list, because they had a hot sale on. It was really hot. The fire brigade and police had the store behind police lines, and you could smell the burnt offerings from the rest of the shopping centre.

Too tired to drive to Townsville, so I decided to stay at my apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces in Airlie Beach. I managed to get a fair bit of reading done. All the Analogs. The computer magazines. Several books. At this rate I might even get the place cleared out in a reasonable time.

Bold Plans

Manhattan Airport is a plan to use Central Park as an airport for Manhattan. Reduce traffic, make access to an international airport easy. A plan whose time is now.

On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, you may want to check the Virtual Apollo Guidance Computer for Dummies.

Closer to home, avoid fixing a battery short this way. Or making a power lead converter this way. You may also like to avoid birds while flying. Or get stronger planes.

iPhone Forensics

Anyone serious about securing data on an iPhone should probably read this account of iPhone Forensics, by Andrew Hoog and Kyle Gaffaney. They list the type of forensic information they seek, and evaluate a number of forensic tools. If you have criminal level information, do not rely upon a seized iPhone to keep it secure.

Monday 27 July 2009

To Townsville

I awoke fairly late, after a decent sleep. By the time I had taken a shower and packed the last item in the car it was nearly 6 a.m. There was far too much mist as I headed out the back way for the highway. However I managed to recall I had a radio, so I listened to the news as I steered. You do not actually drive an automatic car with cruise control. I look forward to fully automated cars, with self steering. It could hardly be more risky than some of the drivers on the road.

Finally stopped for fuel and a drink at Inkerman. They had their new pub foundations in on Friday. they told me the concrete people were going to arrive today, and pour the slab for the floor. Naturally I took another photo.

I pulled into Carlyle Gardens around 9:20 a.m. My packing had not been organised, so my unpacking was equally disorganised. However eventually everything was put into piles that were somewhat organised. For very low values of organised.

No Free Lunch

Gold Coast theme parks SeaWorld and MovieWorld have decided to ban lunch. At least, they have banned taking your own lunch. Instead, you can buy their $13 hamburgers. I think this grubby price grab sucks. Luckily, adding these two companies to my shit list is easy. I would probably never visit them, but now I am certain I would never visit them. Let them eat cake ... I hope they choke on it.

Tuesday 28 July 2009


I wasted time on the internet between about 5:45 a.m. and when I had breakfast. What I needed to do was continue painting Estapol on my radiata pine boards. By the time I had cleaned up after the painting, it was 9 a.m.

My shopping trip did not go all that well. I managed to resist food indulgences, but only after checking each shop, just in case. Could not find a track suit for travel. Got The Australian, which was on my list, but that was pretty minor. The hardware store did not have any 8 mm castors, which I wanted for my small glass desk. However they did point out that NQ Castors and Wheels at Garbutt specialised in wheels. That gives me a chance.

Off to lunch at midday. Diverted to collect our unexpected third prize in one of the numerous charity drives here, a hand made bag that Jean may enjoy. Took mint sauce to the Carlyle Gardens restaurant, on a guess. They were serving roast lamb, so that worked well. It would work even better if they start stocking sauces for the roasts. The restaurant manager likes the idea, so I am hopeful.

Carefully inspected the pieces for the automated weather station. While I could put it together, it really looks like some decisions need to be made about what goes into the garden before I can install the external components (wind speed and self draining water measurements) onto a support infrastructure. This is a bit of a pain, as I would prefer playing with gadgets.

iPhone Software Development

Quick overview of what you need to know to move to iPhone programme development from Matt Gemmell. Looks like a good place for experienced C programmers to get started, if you want to be coding that afternoon.

Apart from the Cocoa development environment, you will also need to come to grips with Objective C, which can be thought of as an extension to Standard C. The iPhone development documents assume you are already competent in C.

If you have less esoteric aspirations, designing iPhone web application content guides you though how an iPhone web browser differs from more traditional browsers. For example, the concept of hover and mouse events is lost. Plus fingers are less precise than a mouse, so link density can be a problem, especially in menus. Overall, use standard and separate HTML, CSS and Javascript. Validate. Avoid framesets. While generally good, the Apple advice on best web development is in error in several places, especially relating to XHTML. For that matter, so are most of the text books.

Wednesday 29 July 2009


Since the radiata pine boards were dry after painting with Estapol, I marked them up for cutting. After cutting out nine 600 mm shelves, I drilled the uprights, and countersunk the screw holes. Some countersinking may need to be expanded. Alas, the shorter shelves I had recovered from other bookcases vary in length. I think I will need to do a very small amount of trimming of five of them.

Thursday 30 July 2009

Home Wiring (TV)

I checked the wiring in the home. There are three TV outlets in total. In the front bedroom and back bedroom, and in the lounge room. There is no TV antenna. The actual free to air digital TV feed (and also a converted analogue feed for older TV sets) comes through the fibre optic cable to the home. The feed comes from Carlyle Gardens administration area several streets away. This will also be the location for any Pay to View TV feed.

There is a powered optical to coax converter in the garage wall. The passive video splitter in the Hills Home Hub in the garage has four outlets, one unused. However there is a chunk of unterminated coax cable near it. That makes me wonder just where the unused cable goes to? Probably the only way to tell would be to climb in the roof and start looking for a coil of coax cable. I really do need a decent ladder.

Not that we even have a TV set. The obvious way to watch TV is on a computer monitor, via a cheap set top box. That in turn means you need to treat sound as a separate item. My own preference is to use powered loudspeakers, which are also what I use for computer sound. This totally avoids expensive receivers and amplifiers. With digital radio coming, and since I do not listen to radio, an FM receiver amplifier makes little sense to me.

Structured Home Wiring

There are two patch boxes in the Hills Home Hub, connected to twisted pair wiring throughout the house. The wiring can be used for either plain old telephone service or Ethernet for a computer. Each patch box can accept up to 8 RJ45 straight through patch cables. The uppermost patch box has labels for Line 1, Line 2, Kitchen, Lounge, Bed 1 (side wall), Bed 1 (front wall), Study (right hand), Study (left hand). Bedroom 1 (actually an office) is at the front of the house. Study is at the rear of the house.

The lower patch box has wiring only to sockets 7 and 8. Although not labelled, socket 7 goes to the rear wall of the back bedroom (study), and socket 8 goes to the middle bedroom. It took about an hour running back and forth, switching patch cables, and plugging phones into wall sockets, to determine what really went where. I keep looking at the empty six connections, and wondering which rooms still have an urgent (or even trivial) need for additional wiring.

Apple App Store Fails Developers

Race to the price bottom kills App Store for professional software developers, says Layton Duncan of Polar Bear Farm. Several developers have given up on the iPhone App store as a viable market. Others have modified their business model to allow them to make a profit on junk 99 cent games. I checked Polar Bear Farm. Telegraph is voice messaging. I just can not see the point of that. Record is a recorder with sync capabilities and other nice feature. I can not recall ever using any of the free recording applications. Notepad is an improvement over the existing note taking. Again, never a big seller to me. Search is something the iPhone really did need, but a partial solution is now included. NiceList is yet another list application. I just used the Notes features. Convert is in a very crowded field of applications. No idea if it is startlingly good or not. Face Match doing recognition sounds pretty neat, and I would be impressed if it works. However you need to tie into Facebook to do so. Tweet Push is for Twitter enthusiasts, which I am not.

Must admit that these days I do not bother to check the App Store at all. Can't find the programs I want (and that I know must exist). No decent way to tell if an application is crap or fantastic. You can take a chance on a dollar application, but not on a multi dollar application (I own several, but only after seeing reviews or trying free versions or watching a video of how it works).


Spend far too much of the morning continuing writing material for an apa, just as I did last night. That always takes way more time than I expect. It also never gets done on the one day, or even two days.

Far too late in the afternoon I started drilling and screwing together one of the bookcases. But first, I had to make the 450 mm shelves somewhat closer together in length. Thank goodness for powered hand saws. Then I noticed that the very nice set of 600 mm shelves I made were actually ... well, wrong. The first bookcase I needed was one with 450 mm shelves (using wood from old bookcases).

The second bookcase was to be one with 900 mm shelves. Opps! Finally noticed that I had 5 old shelves that were around 900 mm. Realised I had obviously intended to use these at the start of the process. Evened up these 900 mm shelves also. However I will need several extra set of 900 mm shelves.

As for the 600 mm shelves, I do have a location for them. However that is the least needed of the bookcases. It is also the one that is probably in the worst and most noticeable location. I also do not have the uprights made for this bookcase. So it goes.

Friday 31 July 2009


Finally got around to uploading the 1800 photos I took at Cape York into the computer. While copying from the camera cards does not take long, it does take a fair while to load that number into iPhoto. So that was a fine time to go shopping.

The shopping did not go well. I had milk and sugar on the list. I bought ten frivolous items, and included the milk (but not the sugar). Mostly it was confectionary I now need to hide from Jean when she returns on Monday. That was not a good move. I did buy panel pins for the bookcases. However I had not counted the number of screws I needed for the bookcase. Now it looks like I will run out of them also.

During the morning I screwed together the second side of the 450 mm wide bookcase. Between visitors, starting late and just being slack, it was lunchtime before I had assembled the first bookcase. I have still not put the strips across the back to prevent items exiting the rear of the shelves.

Much later in the afternoon I started on the first side of the bookcase with 900 mm shelves. Of course, I only had the five old shelves, rather than the nine that I will need. Plus I will run out of screws soon.

Power Cheap

Electricity rates are still lower if you use more power on Tariff 21. The Queensland Labor government were going to remove this tariff back in 2005. If governments are not serious about reducing carbon dioxide emissions, why should anyone else take it seriously?

Home Phone Wiring

Phones in Australia from the 1960's were connected using 600 series connectors, using a 605 plug and a 610 connector. A special case was the 611 socket for Mode 3 connections to dial up modems, fax machines and alarm systems. The incoming line is connected using pair one. Pair two is used as the outgoing line to other devices. If the mode 3 device is unplugged, the switch contacts maintain line connection to the other devices. Typical examples of Mode 3 (4 and 5) phone wiring for 600 series sockets.

These days the phone connectors in Australia have changed to the miniature USA style RJ11 (commonly called RJ12 - up to 6 wires) and increasingly to RJ45 (up to 8 wires). So we have a Mode 3 socket in the Hills Home Hub. Hills say use a central ADSL filter for your ADSL modem connection.

We have to install an ADSL filter or splitter. How do filters work? See the obsolete Customer End Splitter Information for ADSL/POTS Spectrum Sharing, and also Splitter Specification for ADSL/POTS Spectrum Sharing explain Telstra's view of how this should be done. ADSL CPE Equipment lists the vanishingly small and obsolete Telstra certified connection equipment. The Australian standard is AS/ACIF S041:2005. Try this useful list of ADSL filter questions and this list of ADSL filter questions for answers to problems encountered.

Eric Lindsay's Blog July 2009