Eric Lindsay's Blog September 2009

Tuesday 1 September 2009


I always try to buy the Tuesday Australia, since it contains the information technology pages. Not that newspapers compete all that well against the internet in disseminating technical information these days. If I were to be a bit more proactive about setting up agents to collect and filter RSS feeds, I can clearly see I would not need to buy a newspaper.

There was a Legacy table staffed by volunteers (hi Blue) at the Sunland shopping centre. Legacy supports the dependants of deceased military personnel. They had sold their only $50 badge, so I got Jean and I $20 badges instead. It seems there are a few dozen Legacy wards in Townsville, and still thousands of widows throughout Queensland.

My attempts to help Leigh get her PDA to sync took a considerable time. While the manual did not indicate there was much filtering of entries, it turned out multiple possible sync sources existed. One was obviously obsolete, and probably should be deleted. However I could not tell which of the other two were current. Not many small organisations run an Exchange server locally. However my main concern is that syncing typically works badly enough with only a single source and a single PDA. Once you have multiple possible sources, disaster is usually close in my limited experience. Personally I always designate one location as the master list, treat others as read only, and let the master override all other nominal sources. But that is just my conservative nature. I am assured by competent database administrators that they have not just record level but field level syncing down to a fine art. Maybe!

File Systems

An excellent lengthy article on the history, politics and especially the underlying technologies of recent file systems from 2007 in a short history of btrfs, by Valerie Aurora (formerly Henson), who also worked on ZFS. If you are into file system minutia, and think B-trees are neat, this is interesting stuff. More at The Btrfs file system by Dr. Oliver Diedrich.

With so many geeks keen on virtualisation, there is also interest in FreeBSD jail, or Solaris Containers and other methods of establishing semi-autonomous areas for super-users to play, without handing them the keys to the kingdom.


I congratulated Allen on his takeover of the Carlyle Gardens restaurant. It is obvious that he and his partner will be making a serious attempt to make the restaurant pay, and be more accessible to residents. He does have a new specials menu out for September.

Joan Lanfranchi Calamari Chips and salad special with a complimentary glass of bubble for $15 on Monday. The Tuesday special was chef's pasta and garlic bread, with a glass of red for $15. World schnitzel day special with chips and garden salad for $12 on Wednesday. Something different from Adelaide on Thursdays, with a home made pie floater with mushy peas for $13.50. Friday is back to seafood basket with chips for $15.

Wednesday 2 September 2009


Microsoft are launching their Zune HD media player in a few weeks. The hardware technology looks pretty reasonable, with an OLED touch display. It is no use to us, because lots of Microsoft technology does not work with Ubuntu, Linux or Macintosh. Also Microsoft do not sell the Zune in Australia, as far as I can tell.

However the rumours are already out that as well as lunching this new model, Microsoft are dropping their hard drive model Zunes. Plus Zune's general marketing manager, Chris Stephenson, appears to have left the company just prior to the launch.

Come to think of it, Microsoft (like Sony with PS3) went through a long patch of selling XBox games players for less than the hardware cost (in the hope of making money selling games). They promoted a home theatre computer (HTPC) that was technically fine, but only geeks seemed to be interested. They have been promoting tablet computers since about 2002. Tablets seem to have caught on in niche markets, but shows no sign of displacing notebooks. You have to feel a bit sorry for Microsoft.

Book Publishing

Bookseller's margin ranges between 37% discount and 50%. Wholesalers low single digit spreads. Publisher can't count just printing costs, there are returns and warehousing. Stand-alone edition costs are in the 15% range, but the biggest problem with trade publishing is returns can run as high as 40%.

So, on a $50 list price book in a bookshop, $25 to publisher. However the publisher pays $4 for printing, $5 for inventory and obsolescence, neither of which exist for ebooks. The publisher pays $3 for royalties, $5 for selling and marketing, $5 for overhead and warehousing, $1 for co-op, $2 for editorial and marketing. Another book publishing cost breakdown is repeated in Book Cost Analysis – Cost of Physical Book Publishing, with additional comments.

There there is Calculating a fair price for e-books, which comes up with a list price 30% to 50% below that of a physical book.

Yamaha YSP-800 Soundbar

My Yamaha YSP-800 sound projector seems to have died sometime between when I last used it and when I tried to set it up. There seem to be about 400 screws involved in getting into the guts of the thing. I also bet the power supply tests everything to a fair thee well, and that the tests have failed. Without a schematic or any details of what they are doing, it is probably a throw away.

This would not be quite so infuriating had I not designed a bookcase to specifically have a shelf for the Yamaha. Now I need to totally revise how I handle the locations of a sound system. Not sure as yet which sound system.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Apps Store

I find using the Apple Apps Store to find programs is frustrating and a real time waster. So I tend not to look, even when I know what sort of item I am seeking. Luckily there is now an alternative in Uquery, the App Store search engine. This is a web site that searches the iTunes Store. Nice and fast, with good grouping. It seems there may be issues with international stores, but Uquery makes a good start on finding iPhone programs.

Apple Power Adaptor

Various models of Apple Macintosh use power adaptor sensing techniques to determine which different power adaptor is being used, since all the plugs and sockets are identical. This legacy document indicates which voltage divider output is used for which of the older RCA type adaptor connectors.

Panoramic photos

A long time ago I used a set of 8 photos taken at Airlie Beach. Lots of fish eye, because half the photo was sea, and half much closer land. Also, the brightness was different to sea.

I tried Calico, v1.3 from Kekus Digital. It says it is based on the AutoStitch scale invariant feature transform from University of British Columbia. This stitched all 8 photos together with no problems apart from some colour differences from photo to photo.

Next I tried Double Take from Henrik Dalgaard of EchoOne Software in Denmark. This also did a fine job. It is a little easier to use, as it can manage semi-automatic cropping.

Carlyle Gardens Satellite Photo

Google have found some very up to date satellite photos of this area of Townsville and Condon. As a result, there are now some very nice high definition photos of all of Carlyle Gardens. In this Google maps photo you can clearly see the Carlyle Square (and the bowling green) to the right. You can also see the new construction and undeveloped roads to the top left. Our home is in the new section.

Friday 4 September 2009


We were late leaving Carlyle Gardens by my standards, but eventually got on the road around 7 a.m. An uneventful drive as far as Ayr. Some of the ladies at Carlyle Gardens had told me of a good dressmaking and fabric shop in Ayr, located behind the Woolworths store. This did not appear open when we peered through the door, but as I was about to get back in the car, someone came out and invited us to enter. About 45 minutes later I had four lengths of bright tropical cotton material that Jean judged acceptable for shirts. I also had an enormous bill. However that is one of the more successful shopping expeditions to find shirt material. I think we once found five lengths at Spotlight.

We refuelled both body and car at Inkerman. Bacon and eggs for us. We sat listening to farmers gossip over their even heartier breakfasts. Their new pub still consists of only the concrete slab and a handful of metal support columns, looking practically identical to what I saw three weeks ago. A 31 October deadline in country construction still seems unlikely to me. I took a photograph in my continuing series anyhow.

We found that Harvey Norman had moved to the very new shopping area next to Centro Cannonvale. They had opened only that morning, in a great rush for the Fathers Day sales. They had a heap of hard drives at a decent price. Jean looked at a notebook computer, for when she needed to run Windows. probably too expensive to be worthwhile, when she can dual boot anyhow, if she really needs Windows. Besides, all the new notebooks come with Windows Vista, and she has no interest in Vista.

Not a lot of mail still arriving at the old Post Office box number. Alas, some of what was arriving was stuff where the people concerned had long been notified of the change of address. I have had to repeat address changes multiple times, and government and business seems as bad as individuals at getting the change correct.

The construction noise at the Port of Airlie marina is still noticeable. We had two cranes (one giant) and a concrete pouring device outside our balcony at the Whitsunday Terraces resort. The rapidity with which construction of the walls for the Boathouse apartments in continuing is impressive.

iPhone Applications

ShopShop is a simple shopping list application for the iPhone. Multiple lists, which can be named and coloured. Drag items where you want them. Tap to check items off. Crosses items off when through with them. As well as that, it is free (Paypal donations encouraged.)


I had invited our neighbour Jim to visit for dinner at our apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces resort. We had a beef and red wine pie that needed disposing of, and it was a three person size. Jim brought a very nice bottle of Saltram red wine, a Pepperjack 2007 Shiraz from the Barossa. That went down well. Jean would not let us talk computers, which was fine. I sent Jim an email answering one of his two questions. Alas, the answer to his serious problem of his fancy copier connection still eludes me. Plus the manual I probably need is on a CD, and even the two 100 plus page paper manuals put me to sleep.

Saturday 5 September 2009

Airlie Beach Markets

I made two visits to the Airlie Beach local markets. Picked up three newspapers and another magazine, which pretty much filled my backpack. By the time I had bananas and Jean's shopping list of fruit and vegetables, I was carrying a couple of bags of shopping as well. Saw Rex, Steve and Glenn. I ran away from the markets around 9 a.m. to get the shopping home.

Took Steve the Cannon MV600 video camera, so he can film his various song and dance routines. Took a bunch of magazines and books to Glenn, for light reading or his stall. On the way back home up the twelve flights of stairs to the Whitsunday Terraces, I had to collect international stamps, bread rolls, ham and cheese, milk, all at the other end of town. No wonder it all takes a while.

Jean wanted a walk in the late afternoon, despite the peril of the steps. We found that the new bridge over Airlie Creek was now open. It has only taken the council since November last year. That opening must have happened in the morning. There was still no way to get to the new beach that Port of Airlie Marina are making. We bought grilled wild barramundi from Neptune's Seafoods for dinner.

Sunday 6 September 2009

Spotlight, QuickLook and XHTML

I was delighted to note that QuickLook in Snow Leopard now displays xhtml files with the .xhtml extension as web pages, just like they should be displayed. In addition, Spotlight indexes in Snow Leopard now include .xhtml files, so I can finally check the contents of my blog pages direct from Spotlight, instead of using grep. I had put in enhancement requests for both of these, since they were a simple thing to add. Very pleased that Apple saw the logic of it.

Snow Leopard and MacBook Air Power Consumption

Power consumption of my MacBook Air (model a) under Snow Leopard is simply pathetic. System Profiler is showing a power draw of over 2100 mA, which is way higher than I think it should be with very little running. Even when virtually nothing, the power draw exceeds 17000 mA. This means the battery capacity is around two hours, not the five hours that was once in sight. The left hand corner, where the CPU is, it way hot to the touch. Despite Activity Monitor showing 95% idle time, the fan is at 6200 rpm. Most of the body is cool, but the CPU is showing over 63 degrees. Something is just plain wrong since I installed Snow Leopard.

I started using my MacBook Air just after six a.m. I was away for breakfast, shower, etc. So it was not being driven very hard. At 8:25 a.m. my battery is in the red. Got to 8:45 a.m. before I hit the battery reserve warning with 6% battery remaining.

Removing Software

I have no idea when or why I installed CodeWeavers CrossOver, or CrossOver Games, but I did not like them running at login. I know EyeTV has issues, especially with its helper running at login. Indeed, I think it may need an upgrade for Snow Leopard. Removed all traces of these applications.

Changes to OS X 10.6 for Developers

Developers guide to what is new in Mac OS X v10.6 covers what programmers would want to know about the changes. This article covers system, frameworks and applications. Cache management, Grand Central dispatch and dispatch queues for threads, 64 bit issues. Improved shutdown and clean flags.

A number of changes in frameworks. There is a separate guide to concurrency. File system expects use of URLs as pointer to files to reduce translations between different methods. QuickTime X changes. OpenCL support. The display gamma has been changed to 2.2 to match Windows from the former printing oriented 1.8. There is an extensive list of pointers to framework changes.

Application changes include Exchange support, faster JavaScript, DOM Query Selector API changes, an improved Web Inspector which includes a JavaScript debugger.

Monday 7 September 2009


Jean headed downtown in the car without having had breakfast to see her doctor. I followed on foot after getting the laundry out on on the balcony to dry. When I caught up to Jean she said wanted to get a haircut, and we would also visit Centro. I went off and had breakfast while she saw the hairdresser. Interested to note that the Courier Mail is pressing the issue of Queensland doctors causing harm due to chronic tiredness from long shifts. Official view seems to be a tired doctor is better than no doctor.

The phone store at Centro set Jean up with another contract for her mobile phone. They seem confident she can move her SIM to my iPhone whenever she wants. We will see.

We returned via Harvey Norman, but found nothing of all that much interest to us in the store. The Father's Day sales were over. They sure did have an extensive range of routers and ADSL modems, many fancier (and at higher prices) than I had seen for a while.

MacBook Air Battery Life

Yesterday I calibrated the battery in my MacBook Air (model A), after having very poor battery life following the Snow Leopard update. This afternoon when I tried it, my System Profiler was listing battery consumption starting at less than 1400 mA, and one reading under 900 mA. This is half the readings I had when I was concerned about these items. So my suspicion is that something I ran normally started to chew battery power, but was not registering as taking much CPU. No idea what it may have been, so far.

I brought up Dashboard, where iStat Pro shows that the fan was running at 2500 rpm, not 6200 rpm. However battery life started plunging somewhat while in Dashboard. System Profiler was still showing a power draw of around 930 mA, which is pretty reasonable. I started this battery test before 1 p.m.

After over four hours, my MacBook Air (rev A) hit the 20% battery mark at 5 p.m. This is looking seriously like almost a five hour battery life at the moment. That is a little better than I have encountered previously. Reached 5:40 p.m. before I plugged in the power. That was just short of five hours of web surfing and writing notes. That seems just fine.


The plumber from Ideal Plumbing arrived when he said he would. Yippee! With only a little skill and luck, he will replace the leaking cistern in my bathroom, and I will not have to turn stopcocks on and off whenever we are here at the Whitsunday Terraces in Airlie Beach. And so it proved in the hour he spent here. Short pause while he took a plastic cistern from the truck. He also replaced the leaking tap (Jean opened up the access to the water shut off valve). Plus he adjusted the flow to the hot water heater Ideal had replaced earlier this year, so Jean's hot water taps have stopped spitting. So, one more item off the To Do list.

I dunno why anyone (KRudd) thinks there is a need to spend stimulus money on the buildings trades. It is close to impossible to get a tradesman out to do work in North Queensland. Offering cash, and not needing a receipt may work.

Smultron Weird

Smultron, the free and open source text editor I have used for writing web pages, is no longer being updated by Peter Berg. The source code is all there, so that may not be the end of it. However I am seeing slightly anomalous results when using Smultron in Snow Leopard. I think it is time to find myself another text editor for doing web pages.

Which editor? Barebones are often recommended. They make a very good free editor called Text Wrangler, and their BBEdit is like Text Wrangler on steroids, especially for writing code. However it feels to me like something from a 1990's Apple package. I want something that feels like an Apple editor.

Coding Monkeys SubEthaEdit is looking interesting, as did Panic's Coda, which used the same SubEthaEdit editor. I also downloaded MacRabbit's Espresso editor, which unfortunately makes a new window for everything. Alas, within an hour, before even properly getting started with a trial edit, I had managed to crash every one of them. This is not going well.

Maybe I actually need an editor that knows how to handle XHTML, such as SEEdit Pro 1.6.0 or Jonathan Deutsch's Tumult HyperEdit.

Tuesday 8 September 2009


Once again the rubbish bins at the Whitsunday Terraceswere ignored, not out on the street at 7 a.m. when I went seeking a newspaper. It looked to me as if they were also not out on Monday. Some garbage bins from the Whitsunday Terraces further down the street were outside. I don't know why it seems so hard to get staff to do the work the contract calls for.

Type Fonts for Web

Computers do not have the same type families or fonts. So web browsers can not always display what you expect. Fine examples of web safe fonts that look good. See also more examples of web fonts and a nice discussion of the font problem. As an aside, the only reasonable way to specify a font is via a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS).

Apple make a wide variety of type fonts available on a Macintosh. Microsoft supply many fonts on Windows, including some excellent recent web fonts. Many fonts can be seen on the web. However the overlap of web safe fonts for all computers is small.

MacBook Air Problem

The display on my MacBook Air (Rev A) is now very strange. Unreadable up at the top line where the menus should be. Looks like either a display connector failure, or else a video memory failure. Video memory on this model is integrated into main memory. However if you bring up a new program or new window, that overwrites the bad display (the glitch returns as soon as the window moves). I wonder whether this is hardware or a Snow Leopard glitch? Force quitting Finder did not fix it. I decided to try a reboot, to see if it looks like hardware or software.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Return to Carlyle Gardens

We somehow managed to get packed (five trips down the steps) and on the road by 6:30 a.m. Jean was driving, which suits me fine, despite being used to making the entire drive alone. We were on the highway at 7 a.m. We stopped at Inkerman for another of their bacon and egg breakfasts. This time it was even more enormous. I swear I had three eggs on the two slices of thick toast, and a whole grilled tomato along with the salad. We got away from Inkerman after 9 a.m. Did not reach Carlyle Gardens and unpack until after 11 a.m.

Are Corporations Sociopaths?

If an individual acted the way most corporations do, we would consider them to be sociopaths. Why then do corporations do so? It is not as if the directors or staff are themselves sociopaths. How Corporate Law Inhibits Social Responsibility , by Robert Hinkley, explains that in most legal jurisdictions, the requirement that directors and officers act in the interest of the corporation links all the actions of the corporation to making profit. It means shareholders can sue directors and officers who act contrary to that. Hinkley suggests amending the law to include but not at the expense of the environment, human rights, the public safety, the communities in which the corporation operates or the dignity of its employees.

Carlyle Gardens Meeting

A meeting especially for residents of the latest stage of construction at Carlyle Gardens. Peter Clarke, a director of Prime Trust, was the main speaker, however the resort manager Leigh also sat in and contributed.

Mail boxes were to go in near the Ergon electrical easement opposite 516. Joe from Green Homes was organising it. Same design as the other letter boxes in the village, but slightly larger letter boxes. Marking of the ground already happening. I wonder when the concrete slab gets poured. Peter obviously hoped it was today.

Lots of complaints about the lack of street signs, with taxi problems cited. Leigh said things would be done. Unfortunately, although the current UBD street directory shows the streets in the original Carlyle Gardens, none of the electronic maps show any interior streets (they are private, not council). However these days taxis (and others) use the electronic maps that do not reflect reality.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Apple iPod Updates

An Apple event about iPod music player line refreshes. I thought the hardware upgrades were boring. Nothing wrong with the product line, just a little more features in a product category that may have already saturated its music market.

iPod Classic (A$329, formerly A$339) got a capacity increase from 120GB to 160GB. This brings the capacity back to what it was prior to Apple dropping the double platter hard drive two years back. Of interest only to those wanting to store a massive music collection on a fragile, portable hard drive. I wonder what proportion of buyers are in that category? The folks who really want bigger drives tend to be noisy.

iPod Shuffle with new colours and 2 GB and 4 GB models (A$79 and A$109, formerly A$129) got a stainless steel model, at an even higher price (A$139). Interesting move, especially if it sells. Apple may be testing their fabrication ability. Personally I have always found stainless steel to be a real pain to machine.

iPod Nano (A$199 for 8 GB) got a 640 x 480 video camera, probably to compete with low end phones with camera, or maybe Flip style cameras. The iPod nano is so thin a still camera is unlikely with current technology. Crap video with no autofocus is easier, and if mostly served online via YouTube and the like, the lack of quality is not going to be noticed. Now has a built in microphone, unlike the iPod Touch. I suspect that is a good move for the likely younger audience. Has the Nike exercise type stuff for outdoor types, and a pedometer. Has an FM radio, at a time when radio is changing to digital (although with different standards everywhere). If the demographic is where I think (not my generation, except to give away as gifts) then the additions will work just fine.

Apple said they had sold 100 million iPod Nano. That is a lot of sales. Adding a video camera will do no harm whatsoever.

Apple Games

Much ado about very little. There is no comparison between a fully ramped up games playing machine like a Sony PS3 or Microsoft XBox 360, and a portable music player. That said, since I do not play games, I never would have bought a games machine. It is possible (although unlikely) that I would buy some simple cheap game. If five minute games are all most people want, then it gets harder and harder to justify the investment in expensive games for the games enthusiasts.

One question is whether the many (very) casual game players will buy more than the (relatively) few games enthusiasts? On the other hand, most all the games enthusiasts I know seem to steal most of the games they play. The younger ones also manage to fall victim to malware, and break computers at a rapid pace. While I think Sony and Microsoft are both (finally) earning a profit on their games consoles, they had a lot of years of losses. I think Apple are on a real winner here as a casual games platform in a converged device.

Power Outage

The electricity supply was out of action at Carlyle Gardens in the new section (Carlyle West) from around 1:30 p.m. until about 2:42 p.m. The Ergon recorded message acknowledged the outage, but did not have a cause nor a repair time. Jean reports my UPS was able to hold up my external hard drive for around 40 minutes. Sure sounds like I need a much extended hold time on the UPS.

Apple iPod Touch Upgrades

iPod Touch got more memory and lower prices, which really counts as an improvement, but not anything major. Smallest model comes with 8 GB (A$268, formerly A$329). I can not see a 16 GB iPod Touch any longer. Looks to me like the 8 GB is a last year model with a price drop to grab the demographic that just would not pay the original price. I suspect it has the lowest margin for Apple of any iPod.

Two new models, 32 GB (A$399, formerly A$549) and 64 GB memory (A$549). Seems the two larger memory models have upgraded 3Gs style CPU and graphics hardware. So basically you double your memory and get better performance at the same price on the new models. No iPhone type camera, GPS, compass or the like. Not having GPS or compass seems reasonable, since WiFi has very limited coverage for dragging in maps. However a microphone (and decent loudspeaker) plus a camera would have really improved the appeal. I also suspect the thin case makes selection of a decent digital camera a challenge. It would have been easy enough to shove a crap video camera into the body, since Apple managed that with the iPod nano. However that would be silly in a premium product.

At the moment, Apple seem unable to tell the cellular phone companies where to shove their influence. Given you can buy an iPhone direct from Apple in many countries, with no phone contract, I am sure Apple are watching direct sales of iPhones closely. However the price of an iPhone is approximately twice that of an iPod Touch. Margins on the phone are probably great. Margins on the iPod Touch, maybe not so great. So why make the iPod Touch too enticing, when you can sell a slightly updated model next year.

I suspect a premium price iPod touch with microphone, loudspeaker and decent camera is approaching, especially once exclusive contracts with cellular phone companies are not as important. Add Bluetooth networking, and you have a nice combination package, without a new phone contract. However that extra equipment argues for a larger device. After all, the iPhone (12mm) is 50% thicker than the iPod Touch (8mm). Who else is seeing games tablet lite here?

Defects Update

Leigh passed by this morning, with the guy who did the street signage in the other side of Carlyle Gardens. That suggests some timely action on signs, which is a very good response to an issue raised yesterday.

Peter, the director, was very visible during the day (and the evening) making his way around the new areas looking at problems. He came and asked about our defects list during the afternoon. Basically if we get the various missing screen installed, and the screen door problems solved, we would be happy. Not that there are not other issues, but they are not defects as such.

Peter was also wandering around at night looking at the unlit path to the bridge. We usually remember to carry a flashlight, but walking there after dark can be an issue. I suspect we will see bollard lights along the path eventually.

Friday 11 September 2009

Addonics MFR

I had an old multifunction recorder. Addonics MFR had good reviews in 2003. This is a clunky combination of DVD player, CD recorder, and multi function memory card reader, in a battery powered package. Way back then, it was a neat way to transfer your camera memory cards and similar (typically 16 MB or so, perhaps 50 photos) onto a much larger storage media, namely a CD-R.

Jean had tried to use it as a DVD input to her computer. No action. I could not persuade my computer to see it. I thought it was dead, but managed to hit upon the correct combination to make it at least play a music CD. We will see what else will work, once I charge the battery. Wonder what happened to the Addonics MFR instructions? Everything else is in its case.

Well, the battery still appears to be dead, and not even accepting a charge. However the Addonics MFR is now showing a CD on my iMac when I connect via USB. I guess this is looking OK. I suspect however that the DVD read is set to only accept Zone 1 (USA) DVDs.

Powerware 3110 UPS

I connected the old Powerware 3110 UPS to the mains. I wanted it to keep running the ADSL modem and wireless access point when we have a power outage. Just sits there with the red light on and beeps continuously. That UPS may have been removed from service due to a prior fault. I shall have to disassemble it, and try replacing the battery. Opps, it seems the UPS fault condition is something that can not occur. No output connected, and voltage is within range, so that is some other fault than a dead battery.

After an overnight, with the UPS switched off but plugged in, the battery casing was still warm. Now however the Powerware 3110 UPS was showing a green light. This is starting to look a little more hopeful.

Snow Leopard Enhancements

Spotlight now indexes .xhtml files as if they were html. Quicklook in Snow Leopard now displays .xhtml files as web pages. I had requested that long ago.

Image Capture allows specific opening behaviour for different model cameras. You can also launch, a utility that downloads photos to AutoImport in your Pictures folder.

Text Clippings have long let you drag selected text to the desktop (stuffing them in a snippet folder works better). However until Snow Leopard, you could not look at them in Quicklook.

Snow Leopard lets you put the date in the menu bar, without any fancy changes. Strangely, it does not provide control over the appearance, which is something it certainly should be able to do.

Services menu is much improved, now showing only relevant entries. Use the Keyboard pane of System Preferences to get access to changes.

Saturday 12 September 2009

Smoke Alarm

We were rudely jolted awake this morning at 5:15 a.m. when the smoke alarm in the hall deciding to give a demonstration of how it operates for a few ear piercing moments. An adrenaline jolt before breakfast is just what you need. We have no idea why the smoke alarm triggered. No smoke we could detect, and nothing happening in the house. This official nanny state crap is pissing me off. That is the second smoke alarm trigger this year, although at least the first was in response to actual smoke. I really hate smoke alarms.

GMail Broken

GMail seems to be broken again. Starts, loads, and then blank screens. Is it that it does not like my browser? Is it simply not working. Who knows. The more I use the various cloud based services, the less impressed I become. You end up with one horribly large single point of failure.

Our Daily Bread

Nanny state orders bread to be fortified with folic acid, a move hoped to drop the spina bifida incidence of 300-400 a year by 14%. Will the folic acid supplement ensure pregnant women meet the required 400 micrograms a day? Probably not. Meanwhile everyone who eats commercial bread will be getting drug supplements. There used to be a fairly effective folate advertising campaign aimed at young women.

Bakers will also be required to add iodised salt to bread. Many Australian foods are mineral deficient, due to the nature of Australian soils. So our daily bread becomes the new route for pharmacotherapy. What next, tranquilizer to treat tension in the mean streets, sex suppressant in case people are child sex abusers, and appetite suppressant because some people are overweight?

Sunday 13 September 2009


Moved more small rocks from the garden bed to the far size of our driveway this morning before 7 a.m., while it was still cool. The very large rocks can wait until I have moved all the small ones. Not looking forward to moving more of the garden bed. You also have to realise that so far we have not grown a single plant. The ones we have came from the original landscapers.

Carlyle Gardens Web Site

I started getting serious about updating my Carlyle Gardens web site. It had started with notes of our visits to Carlyle Gardens while we were investigating moving here. Had a few disjointed notes from when I found items elsewhere on the web. However with the Carlyle Chronicle newsletter from resort management as victim of the global financial crisis (like many news publications) I thought I would look at expanding my Carlyle Gardens oriented web site.

Comics - The New eBook

In Why Comic Book Sales Suck, Mike Gold says, despite Wertham, the decline from 48 pages to 32 pages in 1948 was where the rot began. Retailers made no more profit, rack space was as high, books made more money, so comics hit the floor instead of the racks. Sales went to direct subscriptions, and relatively few specialist comic book shops.

Fast forward 60 years. The Apple iTunes Store and App Store specialises in selling small items over the internet. Now they have the album multimedia packages. Almost perfect for a comic derived multimedia publication.

Social Club BBQ

The Carlyle Gardens Social and Activities Club held their monthly BBQ tonight. I went over to Crickets Bar around five p.m. to socialise and have a drink before the barbecue. Jean phoned just as I reached the bar, to order her drink.

Monday 14 September 2009


Moved yet more rocks from the garden before 7 a.m. Pretty much all the small rocks are now moved, leaving only the excessively large rocks. So a bit later I sat inside in a nice easy chair, and counted the large rocks. Looks horribly like there are a dozen of them.

GMail Blank

GMail just displays a blank page when I attempt to view it in Safari. If you can manage to get to the Basic HTML then the page is visible. So far I have not found an appropriate answer to what is going wrong (checked using a Google search, which is a bit ironic). Guess I better find a way to bypass GMail in future. That is a pity, because GMail is handy for filtering junk mail.

PopUp Malware

The New York Times served pop up malware from its advertising server. Their article What to Do If You Saw an ‘Antivirus’ Pop-Up Ad. The Times Company says it was the victim of someone who posed as a legitimate advertiser, then switched to distributing the fake virus warnings. Here is Anatomy of a Malware Ad on, which explains the nature of an iframe attack using Javascript.

Personally, I think iframes should never have been included in HTML. Luckily, you can block iframes with NoScript if you use Firefox web browser instead of Internet Explorer. While there is a place for Javascript, the web would be a lot safer were it switched off for most casual web browsing.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Apple TV

As I expected, the price of the AppleTV dropped overnight. To be more accurate, the 40GB model was discontinued. Can you even buy a 40GB PATA hard drive these days? The 160GB model price was dropped to the price of the 40GB model (A$329). The Apple TV has not had a lot of support from Apple. It uses obsolete, relatively expensive hardware (an old, slow Intel CPU, a PATA hard drive rather than SATA) that runs too hot. Plus the OS is still essentially Tiger, so is two revisions old. It may even be that Apple will drop it entirely, or replace it with something designed with newer components. However I figure this may be my last chance to pick up a classic Apple TV for experimenting with.

I had just been on the verge of getting a Mac mini, as a media centre experiment. Especially with the Roku Soundbridge apparently not available in Australia. I still can not see an Apple TV updated with an ARM SoC so soon despite the Apple purchase of P.A. Semi in April 2008. However an Intel dual core Atom CPU and Ion or NVidia 9400M graphics would be a lot of hardware cost, so that would not drop the price, as needed to compete with games subsidised Sony Playstation 3 and Microsoft XBox 360. I can not see an ARM revision until well into 2010. However a current Apple TV (A$329) is less than a third the price of a Mac mini (A$1049). I have to admit you would use each entirely different.


Move the dozen large rocks out of the garden bed and onto the driveway. Luckily I could roll them most of the way. I sure could not lift them and carry them all the way.

I went over to the bar early (yeah, yeah) to install the WiFi network. I went with an Ethernet hub (so no software was involved) and Ethernet cables. That way the computer in the office would work over the internet as long as the hub had power. The wireless access link fired up. Mostly went well, except Internet Explorer under Windows on the desktop could not see the WiFi access point via the Ethernet cable. I had to set up the wireless access point by using my iPhone WiFi. Seemed to work fine with WPA security.

Information session meeting at 10:30 to let residents know about the line items in the resort budget that exceed CPI. There were about nine line items to consider. Most were CPI plus a bit, or could be partly attributed to the increased number of homes in the village. There were several items right out of sight. The LLP accountants and the Residents' Committee blamed some of these (electricity) on subsidies from the prior owners now showing in the budget. Others were increased scope (cleaning of Carlyle Square). Although there were suggestions from the floor for cost cutting measures, many had been tried, while others seemed to me unlikely to bring much benefit. I do believe if you have enthusiastic staff, enough experience, plus the right support, they can be more productive than contractors. However getting the right mixture is by no means certain. The vote on the line items takes place later.

Apple TV

Why look for an alternative to a regular television? Let's face it, viewing TV is like trolling through a sewer seeking something you can salvage, all for the benefit of advertisers. The only reasonable future for media is to supply interesting content people want. Hint, not everyone wants porn, even if it can be produced cheaply by unskilled actors with awesome tits or pricks.

Telstra Forced to Separate

The Government is really pulling the rug out from under Telstra, with suggested regulation to encourage Telstra to commence structural separation. Telstra should never have been privatised by the Liberals. It should have been converted into a wholesale arm and a retail arm in the first place.

Wednesday 16 September 2009


Since the ground around our front garden was damp from where Jean had watered last evening, I was able to dig a ditch fairly easily. Still one edge that was not watered, so I will leave that for tomorrow morning.

Back of envelope calculations show I probably need 210 concrete blocks for a three block high raised bed for the garden. A pallet weighs a little more than a ton, and has around 190 concrete blocks. That and a little less than half a cubic meter of sand should be enough to start the job.

I started cutting the legs off the second bar stool finally. Luckily I now have a power hand saw, so I decided to use that rather than a hack saw. Got two legs cut down before I went to lunch. There sure was a lot of noise and vibration. I was not really managing to hold the bar stool down where I needed it.

ISP Act on Malware

eSecurity Code to protect Australians online. The Internet Industry Association draft industry code is available for comment. Personally I would not mind seeing ISPs cut malware infected computers off from the internet. Especially if they are hosting botnet spam malware.

Apple TV

My Apple TV was delivered around 12:20, after a fast transit from Sydney on Tuesday, taking less than 24 hours for the entire journey. Usual fine packaging job.

Thursday 17 September 2009

Dual Core ARM

ARM announces 2GHz capable Cortex-A9 Dual Core Processor implementation for the TSMC 40nm-G process. The Cortex-A9 power-optimized hard macro implementation delivers its peak performance of 4000 DMIPS while consuming less than 250mW per CPU when selected from typical silicon. Suitable for thermally constrained applications such as set-top boxes, DTVs, printers. This immediate provoked additional speculation of an ARM Cortex chip for an Apple tablet device, despite such a device being a rumour. This is not the first speculation about ARM and Apple Tablet as this detailed article from the same source shows. Everyone is jumping on the Apple tablet using ARM bandwagon, whether it makes sense or not.

Apple have already demonstrated dual target architectures in their software development kit, with PPC and then Intel. Now they have dropped PPC, adding ARM to Intel may not be intimidating for independent software developers. Well, except for Adobe and Microsoft, who seem totally unable to cope.

Power Lines Crackling

I could hear a very low crackling noise. Went outside to find a light misting rain was falling. However the crackling noise seemed to be coming from the high tension power lines that go past some distance away. Probably the result of months of dust on the lines making a nice conductive film with the moisture. After a while it stopped, and I was distracted by my wireless connection disappearing.

Comics the New eBook

Purely speculation, but given the publicity in tech areas, I could not help checking out an iTunes LP, Tyrese Gibson's MEYHEM! Comic Book and single. This turned out to consist of a 400 MB download, with lots of additional material regarding the making of the album. I wonder if my wireless access point ran too hot on that download?

Free WiFi Fails

Google's free WiFi experiment is a failure with all residents in Mountain View having access. Access is slow. Now the advertising side may be working for Google, as this five year experiment hits year three. The WiFi access points are mounted on 500 light poles, and cost Google $18,000 a year ($36 per node, per year). The WiFi network covers 12 square miles and serves between 16,000 and 19,000 users at a time, transporting almost 600GB of user data every day; twice as much as it did two years ago, despite an increased user count of just 27 per cent since then.

My take is that outside provision of communal facilities tend to fail, partly because there is no restraint on big users, partly because there is little incentive to build sufficient capacity. All you can eat restaurants end up filled with gluttons, while food quality plummets. Margaret Thatcher got it right. The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money.

1RAR band at Carlyle Gardens

The 1RAR (military) band came to Carlyle Gardens, as they have done for the past three years. At 10:30 a.m. they presented a concert to residents, with a gold coin donation suggested. 1RAR are not allowed to accept money, but had designated Legacy as the charity they supported. Over $500 was raised for the charity, and presented to a representative of Legacy at the performance.

The program included a wide range of music, ranging from Mozart to much more recent, mostly with a jazz tilt to the performance. I recognised The Beatles, Blood Sweat and Tears and others popular when I was younger. The vocalist with the band did a fine job with her performances, as did the featured instruments. Looked like the band had four trumpets, four trombones, about six bassoons, a clarinet, drums, a xylophone, and an electric bass guitar. They brought their own sound mixing equipment.

Afterwards the soldiers joined with residents for lunch at Carlyle Gardens Ball & Wicket restaurant. We had three members of the band at our table. They were delightful company.

Friday 18 September 2009


Once again I did not sleep all that well. Plus being attacked by mosquitoes was not to my liking. So by 5 a.m. I was at the computer, reading the news. My GMail is still not working (GMail now just displays a blank screen except when on Basic HTML). So I stopped having my email redirected to GMail, good spam filters or not. so far I am less than impressed with the idea of relying on cloud computing.

Once it was a little lighter outside, I took out a spade and dug more of the little trench around our garden edge. Jean had watered the area the previous evening, so it was a heap easier to do the shovelling.

We went to Sams Warehouse. Much more (cheap) stuff there than we expected. Broom for the garage, small purple trash bin and other purple stuff for Jean, pack of powerboards for my WiFi project, taking care of a little list of items. Then it was off to Bunnings. We found an acceptable mosquito zapper that we will try out. Last was Spotlight, where we failed to find acceptable tropical cotton, but did get buttons for some previous cotton purchases. On the way back we diverted to the egg factory to get another dozen eggs.

Google and Books

Google have been digitising the books of the world (and making extracts available under fair use provisions of the bastardised US copyright system). They have fought court cases against attempts to stop the digitisation of out of print books. Google have purchased the open source reCaptcha, a technology that assists working out the meaning of words that can not be read using optical character recognition. As well, Google have a deal with On Demand and Espresso Book Machine for availability of books by instant printing.

This seems to have little to do with the alien abduction of the letter o from the Google logo. A subsequent crop circle variation of the logo had the same flying saucer and a missing l. However reCaptcha involves letters. Inquiring minds must be feeling anal.

General Purpose

Computers are general purpose machines. However smart phones are taking that a heap further, so much so we hardly need to consider them as phones. More like pocket personal computers with a connection to a phone carrier. These are not the business computers you may recall from twenty years ago. The internet changed all that.

These general purpose pocket computers are already damaging sales of larger computers, of dumb phones, of CDs, of other music players including iPods, of PDAs, of point and shoot cameras, of small video cameras, of voice recorders, of games machines, of GPS systems, of maps, of wrist watches, of portable DVD players, of eBooks, magazines and newspapers, of USB memory sticks, of remote controls, the list just keeps expanding. It is not that dedicated devices are not better in many ways. They are better. However they are not so much better that loading up on dedicated devices is always worthwhile. As well, pocket computers have a synergy between components, especially location based services. Photos are geolocated, and then transmitted to an online photo gallery or social networking site. Maps not only tell you where you are, but also provide addresses and phone numbers of nearby businesses.

My iPhone has replaced a swag of stuff I used to contemplate carrying. No watch, no camera, no voice recorder, no cassette player. If my iPhone was a little better at micropayments, it would become more important to carry the phone than my wallet.

Saturday 19 September 2009


We got the newspapers and some orange juice at Willows Shoppingtown. Then we went to the Weir School to try to find the greengrocer selling from a truck. Looked like we should have gone there first, maybe before 8 a.m. They range of fruit and vegetables available was limited, but under other circumstances, would have been of use. Especially if we went to a supermarket afterwards.

I cut down the last two legs of the second bar stool. While not really level, it is a whole lot more level than when it was manufactured. The height we have now suits both Jean and I a lot better. Mind you, we now have so much junk on the kitchen counter that we could hardly use it as a breakfast bat in any case.

Synchronising Usenet

Many news readers use a standard file called .newsrc to record which news articles you have read. If you save this file after each session, you can transfer it to another version of the news reader on a different computer. That way what you read stays consistent from computer to computer.

MT-NewsWatcher has an option to share group lists or .newsrc files, using ftp to a remote computer. You do need to ensure you use the same news server each time (the numbering for news files is different on each server). MT-NewsWatcher can also do this sharing automatically. When you first install MT-NewsWatcher in another computer, copy the NewsWatcher preference file to the new computer prior to starting the application. Then set the special menu to download the .newsrc file your original copy saved.

Synchronising a news reader on an iPhone? Check back later. So far I have not purchased an iPhone news reader such as NewsTap, however that comes with a Mac application for syncing a .newsrc.

Synchronising Things

Cultured Code's Things getting things done application is pretty nice. Plus it has great synchronising capabilities with the iPhone version of Things. However if you have a portable computer, there is no explicit synchronising capability. Luckily you can simply copy the database from your user Library, Application Support, Cultured Code, Things directory. The background is in a Things backup and restore FAQ.

As usual when syncing multiple machines, there are a bunch of gotchas if you overwrite newer files with older. So you need to ensure that you are aware of what is happening. What would be really nice would be an Apple sponsored method of synchronising preference and database files between multiple computers.

Sunday 20 September 2009


I widened the ditch next to the window to 50 cm. That should be enough to accept pavers for a walking path, as well as some hollow concrete blocks as pseudo plant pots. Now we just have to get around to ordering the sand, the pavers, and the garden wall blocks that we need.

Video Tutorials

Apple have a bunch of video tutorials on their web site. However there are also third party online tutorials. For example, Don McAllister's Screen Casts Online do video tutorials as screencasts on a wide variety of Macintosh topics. Software such as Apple Design Award winner 2008 ScreenFlow (US$99) or Screenium eases the task of capturing screen actions.

LendLease Primelife

Lend Lease bought Babcock & Brown Communities Trust, changing its name to Lend Lease Primelife Group. Got a 43% stake in the listed trust, one of Australia's largest owners of retirement villages, in a $175 million deal. There were issues with Primelife before it was taken over.

Lend Lease acquires 13 retirement properties from Prime Trust. Nine Aged Care facilities and four Retirement Villages, at a cost of S$76 million. Prime Retirement and Lend Lease Prime Life have also settled all legal disputes between them over the management of 12 other retirement villages. Lend Lease has offered to purchase management rights for these for $42.5 million to $45 million. The offer expires June 30, 2010.

Lend Lease Primelife receives bank debt waiver, over an interest coverage covenant breach for the period ended June 30. It will reduce its debt facility by $175 million to $350 million.

Google Out Of Reach

Google is off the internet. Search engine front end is gone. Mail access is gone. Luckily I had already stopped diverting email to GMail, after the problems of the past several days. That was so unusual that I restarted my wireless access connection, Then I logged into the router and checked that it thought it was still connected. Several other web sites were up and running. Luckily Google restarted a few minutes later. However I wonder what managed to make it fall over? There have been several previous cases of Gmail falling over, some involving outages exceeding an hour. DNS problems blamed, from what I can see.

Monday 21 September 2009

Uniform Type Identifiers

Apple drop legacy creator codes as sort of foreshadowed when OS X Tiger added Uniform Type Identifiers in 2005. Uniform Type Identifiers have been promoted to Apple developers for some considerable time (they saw limited use in Panther). The interesting thing is that it appears that Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) has dropped support for creator codes, without mentioning it. I gather some users are annoyed.

Updating Programs

To my considerable surprise, there is an updated Smultron beta for Snow Leopard available for download. While I am looking to avoid using Smultron now Peter Berg is no longer looking after it, so far I have not found a suitable replacement. So I do most things in TextEdit, and a few things involving multiple files in Smultron. My (brief) tests of Coda, SubEthaEdit and a few other commercial text editors resulted in them crashing, which left me less than impressed.

Web Bookmarks

My bookmarks for web pages are totally out of control. I had tried WebnoteHappy, which is a really nice bookmark organiser. It integrates with whichever web browser you are using at the time. Adding a bookmark from the browser is no trouble. The tag system is very versatile. Luis did a fine job of it. He even lets you keep using it when it is expired (for ten minute sessions). Plus he makes available a WebnoteHappy Lite feature reduced version for free. It works great. When you remember to use it. I kept forgetting to use it when searching. Maybe I would do better if I kept it open in a different Space?

So I thought I would have a look at AllBookmarks from Agile Web Solutions, the folks who make 1Password. This application adds another item to your menu bar.


I am trying to decide whether to use Filemaker's Bento as my personal database. Technically I really only need flat files, like I used for years. Actually what I used was mainly a bunch of text file and a grep style search. Some with a bit of a shell script surrounding them. Then I used the exceptionally fine Data application of Psion organisers. However now I would like to move to using a Macintosh and an iPhone or iPod Touch. The great advantage of Bento is there is an iPhone version.

However Bento uses an Sqlite3 database. Maybe I should compare Macintosh sqlite3 database editors? Looks like Sqlite have an extensive list of SQL editors.

I could try Base, which offers creating, designing, editing and browsing SQLite 3 databases. It exports tables to SQL, delimited text, XML or Microsoft Excel-compatible formats. However purchase is via PayPal, and I will not provide PayPal with a credit card number.

Then there is the matter of getting the database into the iPhone. The iPhone has support for sqlite. iPhone SQLite Database Basics and iPhone SQLite Database Basics - Part 2 has many hints for using Sqlite. However you need to be an iPhone developer to get access to examples on the Apple developer's web site.

Accept Headers in HTTP

Some browsers are less than helpful in their HTTP negotiations. Unacceptable Browser HTTP Accept Headers (Yes, You Safari and Internet Explorer) by Kris Jordan of New Media Campaigns. He was not too keen on the response. WebKit Team Admits Error, Downplays Importance. Naturally there is a Webkit bug report, which is slightly different to a much earlier bug report. Not that this is half as bad as Internet Explorer.

Tuesday 22 September 2009


Had to catch two spiders in Jean's bathroom and throw them out of the house. This involved the ever present search for an empty glass jar, and the quest for a piece of cardboard. And all before 6 a.m.

The ecosystem here is totally disrupted by the entire estate being built up with fill to ensure it was above the flood plain. We went through plagues of tiny locusts, and then two varieties of spiders.

Connected World

The Belkin ADSL modem and wireless access point was out of action again this morning. It had also failed yesterday morning while I was using it. Seems a pathetically unreliable piece of equipment, compared with the Netgear we use at Airlie Beach.

Facebook had been eating Jean's status reports. Last night I could go back through my posts as far as January, when I joined Facebook. This morning I pasted a small piece in, and was told I was not allowed more than about 400 characters. Yesterday I composed several items far longer than that.

Installing Software

Apple Macintosh computers using OS X typically install software from either a Disk Image or a zip file. Double click a Disk Image (.dmg file) and it typically opens a Finder view that illustrates dragging the program (.app file) into the Applications folder. Double clicking a zip file unzips (expands) the program, which you can generally then drag to the application folder. However programs will mostly run just fine from wherever they are when you click them. New users may well get confused by the Disk Image. It sits in the Finder sidebar like another hard drive or like a CD. Typically you would be expected to close it when you are through using it. If you did copy the program elsewhere, you would not need the Disk Image again.

The Potion Factory organised their zipped program The Hit List so that if it runs from outside the Applications folder, it asks if you would like it to move itself to Applications. This was to avoid people dragging the program to Applications while it was running (Cocoa gets confused). They also released the source code for self moving applications as LetsMove.

Intel i7 Quad Core Mobile CPU

Intel i7 laptop review lists power consumption of the mid-range quad-core 1.73GHz i7-820QM. That 45nm (32nm is due early 2010) CPU pulls more than 70 watts! However the turbo boost shuts down unused cores, and boosts clock speed to up to 3.06GHz if one core is being used.

On the other hand, battery life suffers. Run flat out and you will not get one hour from a 4800mAH battery. if you manage to idle everything you will get over three hours, which is astonishing for a quad core. This would be the laptop for gamers. I can not see these going into any portable Apple computer, due to the thermal limits. However I do wonder whether an iMac could handle 70 watts?

Handwriting Is Dead

Handwriting is as dead as doing arithmetic with Roman numerals. In a time constrained world, it is often write once, read never. Illegible does not start to describe most doctor's scripts.

True, once upon a time, hand writing was legible. Slave labour copying books using capital letters. But economics favoured cursive, which changed from readable italics, to unreadable cursive. Business analysing character from your writing fell out of use.

Does it really matter? A century ago an educated person was expected to know some ancient Greek and a fair amount of Latin. Now, who cares?

Software development for iPhone

The iPhone Development Story by Mike Ash, as at a year or so ago. This year, Mike Ash reports The iPhone Development Story: One Year Later. The result, he has given up developing for the iPhone. Some of the comments do say the process (and the SDK) have improved. Not the only developer to give up on iPhone, as Manton Reece (Wii Transfer) notes in his blog.

In Solar Hot Water

Apricus kindly had Michael Axisa do a midday talk about their solar hot water systems, many of which were installed here, but unfortunately not always installed totally correctly by tradesmen here who were not familiar with them. That cleared up a number of questions about just how these top class Apricus solar hot water systems were intended to work. In particular, the situation with the recommendation in the manual they always be connected to mains power for the electric booster. This was something I thought totally unnecessary. Basically it is another Queensland government piece of nanny state interference.

So when Michael from Apricus and Mike from Cranbrook Solar at Townsville came around, I asked about the thermostat that had been adjusted by an electrician back in April or early May. As I suspected, the setting was wrong. The recommended tank temperature was 70 degrees Celsius, not 50. So I am expecting some aggressive hot water at the kitchen sink in the future.

Apple Bluetooth Keyboard Batteries Replaced

The Lithium batteries in my Apple Bluetooth keyboard gave out, so I had to replace the batteries this evening. This note is used for tracking battery life and replacement periods. Unfortunately the keyboard now drives the batteries so low I can not use them in anything else.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Garden Upgrade

The gardeners were putting down a decent thickness of mulch over a couple of the nearby garden beds. The original chip mulch from the landscapers was not thick enough to stop weeds. The gardeners had pulled an poisoned a bunch of weeds in previous weeks. One item the wallabies liked to eat, and that we thought was a weed, turned out to be a tomato plant. Mark pulled it up anyhow.

I enquired about the automatic watering system. Mark said no power. Somewhat later in the day, Jean saw a power truck and some power people clustered around a controller box on a pole. Late in the evening I saw the sprinkler system in the garden near Garry was in operation, which I had not seen in ages.

Andrew, a local garden and handyman, arrived this afternoon (as promised) to check out the jobs we wanted to have done. Looks like we will get him to organise some concreting around our garden and elsewhere. Plus fit the garden edging blocks we want. Jean figured that was a whole heap simpler than doing it ourselves, and far more likely to be done in a timely manner. He was not impressed by the couch grass used on the lawns, and claimed buffalo would be a better choice (many residents say that). We already had one piece of advice from him that stopped us turning the garden into grass by accident.

Dust Storms

Andrew pointed out the gathering of dust from the worst dust storms in 70 years. They had closed Sydney airport during the day. Street corner vendors in Sydney were out selling industrial dust masks from milk crates. High altitude dust from South Australia and Western NSW made the sun look like the moon when we took our afternoon walk. Due to get worse tomorrow here, but start clearing up down south.

Thursday 24 September 2009


I went outside early to check the garden alongside our house. There was water in the gutter near the path. There also seemed to be dampness behind our house. It seemed to me it was possible that the garden bed had been watered sometime in the night.

During the morning, the people who installed the irrigation systems were working on how well the sprinkler system was operating. The coverage looked pretty good to me, with good patterns on the sprinkler heads that were operating. From the digging going on, we imagine some of the sprinkler heads were not operating.

We got permission from Leigh to do the little bit of concreting needed to align the concrete house pad without all the bothersome little indentations that stop us having a clear route along the sides of the house. Leigh did indicate that this might be done by Prime Trust, at some time. I doubt we will wait for their maybe action.

Friday 25 September 2009


I was awake early, so I got started on the drive to Airlie Beach just before 5 a.m. Refuelled at Inkerman. The pub there now has some framing for the walls. Got to Centro Cannonvale about 8:20 a.m. Susan spotted me there, and told me I would have a meat delivery on Saturday. Saw one of the newsagent folks. Saw BigW staff and caught up. Since BiGW was not open yet, I organised to get some 1.8 metre lengths of 35 mm x 42 mm timber, plus a bunch of 18 mm x 45 mm. This should let me build some fake Ikea shelf support units for the garage. I got them all to my apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces in Airlie Beach an hour or so later.

Power Outage

The power was out once again at Carlyle Gardens, according to Jean. The power failed around 12:10. Did not come back again until 1:42 p.m. Jean tells me that this time the UPS kept running, so the ADSL modem and wireless access point kept running. Jean is using a portable, so the battery in that kept her working.

Saturday 26 September 2009


I did my usual walk around the Sirlie Beach markets early in the morning. caught up with a number of people. However the vegetable place I use was not there today, so I did not manage to get Jean her beans.

Got a delivery of a large amount of meat and prepared meals during the early afternoon at my apartment in the Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach. I love shopping via the internet. Although in this case Jean did the shopping by email.


I had another party on the balcony of my apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces in Airlie Beach. Everyone seems to appreciate the view from the balcony. Beef, red Wine and Sweet Potato pie. Then cooked the Lamb, Mushroom and Rosemary. That seemed to go well.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Dealing with Spam

The spammers have been way too active of late. Since I formerly diverted pretty much all spam exposed email addresses to Google, I mostly do not notice this. However with Gmail no longer working correctly on my web browser except in basic mode, I stopped redirecting. The trouble is, now my own filters need to deal with the spam. So it is back to redirecting the potential spam to Gmail, where I will probably check it at most once a week.

So I did a survey of recent spam. Sixteen to fijagh, and another three to a similar address, which I have not used in a long time (since 2005). Well, anyone who can not manage to keep up with my annual CoE can just wait for a reply. Fifteen to applemac, used only for Apple related items. So sometime, somewhere, someone in the Apple community managed to leak that address. naughty, naughty. Now you will all get new, personalised, addresses. Nine to eric, too easy to guess, long ago given up due to spam. Two with undisclosed addresses (an undisclosed address is usually a straight discard by the filters). Three to webmaster, and one to postmaster, both required addresses according to the RFC. Looks like some spammers may filter their lists.

So, back to redirecting a bunch of email addresses that mostly get spammed to Gmail. I will have to convince people who use those addresses to change to more up to dater email addresses.

Monday 28 September 2009


I did not manage to complete my packing and get away from my apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach until after 6 a.m. The sky was a dirty dusty mess. I made good time, and got back to Carlyle around 9:30 a.m.

The folks who did the screen doors phoned. They could come and check the problem doors soon. So they measured our garage for a security door. They will also fix the security doors that are rubbing on the frames. They also took measurements of the missing window screens. That seems to be going well.

Solar Power

The Sanctum Energy presentation on solar power was 25 May. We put an application in for a 1 kW solar power plant on 26 May. So did perhaps 300 other people in Carlyle Gardens. The government ran out of money around 28 June, but all our applications were said to be in. However only about 8 applications were approved, last we heard. So how long do we really have before the plant needs to be working? Is it really six months from approval?

Sound Pressure

The European nanny state will attempt to limit default sound levels of personal music players and mobile phones, to protect hearing. The default standard is expected to be proposed over the next 18 months. It is expected users will be able to override the sound levels, after a warning.

The Europa press release on this uses an invalid URL, so I will not link to it. The earlier public health warning on earphone sound pressures and hearing loss does have an decent URL, and explains the background well.

Two Billion Apps Downloaded

Apple announced over 2 billion downloads of the 85,000 Apple iPhone and iPod Touch applications in the Apple App Store. Seems to show that a closed economy, even one with many known flaws, can still be very popular.

Not that it does any good. The Telstra store in the local Willows shopping centre has never had an iPhone 3Gs. They had precisely one old model iPhone 3G available when I asked them. No change there. The iPhone is in incredible short supply in country Australia.


MacRumors advertising managed to get past my simple CSS based advertising block by using Javascript to generate the advertising URL for insertion. I also recently encountered a Javascript driven popup (at a legitimate but hijacked site) that tried to infect my computer via a phishing attack. So for the moment I have switched Javascript off. So long, Web 2.0.

It used to be a lot easier. Most obnoxious advertising was in Flash, and Click2Flash blocked all Flash from starting. I would have blocked Flash even if no-one used it for advertising, since Adobe wrote it so badly it chews all my CPU when it runs.

Tuesday 29 September 2009


Jean could not find the source of the smoke she saw during the weekend, despite driving along Riverway in an attempt to find it. At Sam's Warehouse we could not find a nail rake. Jean would not let me tarry to grab bunches of the $2 DVDs of bad SF for my collection. I have no idea when I will get the garden soil distributed without a rake. At least getting to the bank and collecting a newspaper were not beyond us.

Considerable numbers of little yard machines were dodging around this side of Carlyle Gardens. No idea what they were doing. Nor even which people were doing this.

We checked the location of the new mail boxes. Progress still consists of a spray painted mark on the ground, and nothing else. No disturbance of the earth to indicate a start to construction, at least as yet.

The new neighbours across the way must be moving in. At least, a large moving van was disgorging a heap of stuff when we returned from our shopping trip. Look like teenage helpers were along, but for all I know that could be moving company staff.

Late in the evening our security guy asked me about the campervan and trailer the new neighbours have outside their home. Turned out he had not been told of the new arrivals.

Bento 3

Coming soon from Filemaker is Bento 3 personal database, which adds iPhoto integration to your database work. So far Filemaker do not have it on their web site, which still shows Bento 2. I did eventually track it down on the USA Apple online store. The Australian Apple online store also does not have Bento 3 as yet.

Adds iPhoto links. Store more information about photos and link them to contacts, projects, events and other information stored in Bento. New grid view, for a more graphic approach to viewing data. Encrypted fields and password login. Share with other Bento users over WiFi. File lists with thumbnails. Simple text field for lists. New templates.

Wednesday 30 September 2009

Access to iPhone Number

An application developer can obtain access to your iPhone telephone number, as this proof of concept shows (in French, scroll down for English). This means an unscrupulous developer could use an application to obtain a list of the phone numbers of all of their own users. This would probably be legal for your own number, as you would be considered to have a business relationship with that developer (by virtue of downloading their application). However since the API makes all your address book available (for sharing contact information), there are risks.

I believe Apple should place a warning on the download page of all applications that make use of the appropriate iPhone SDK API. This would warn concerned potential customers away from these applications.

DVD Shopping

Jean let me briefly visit Sam's Warehouse while we were doing our shopping run. In a matter of minutes I managed to gather up 16 DVD movies that appeared to be vaguely related to science fiction, all of them at $2 each. At that price, I do not anticipate much quality.

Eric Lindsay's Blog September 2009