Eric Lindsay's Blog September 2010

Wednesday 1 September 2010

To Melbourne

We were prepared to leave early, which was just as well, as our 7:30 a.m. taxi arrived ten minutes early. Our 9:15 a.m. DJ1888 Townsville to Canberra flight left on time, on an Embraer 170. I watched the movie Mumford on my iPad during the two and a half hour flight, arriving at midday.

Canberra had a better gate lounge than I recalled from my last visit. Even food facilities. We had grabbed some lunch snacks. Not my fault they brought out chocolate chip muffins just as I planned to order something sensible. We even found a Canberra fan in the lounge. However with both Sydney and Brisbane arrivals delayed, it maybe that some other fans have missed this connection.

The 1 p.m. flight DJ268 on from Canberra to Melbourne in a larger Embraer 190 took well under an hour, and we were in a taxi to the Crown Plaza hotel near the Convention centre by the river by two thirty.

Crown Plaza

The Crown Plaza was very efficient. Our bags reached the room before we did. In reception we saw local Craig McBride, John Harvey from England. Rich Coad from USA.

In the downstairs Bridge room where we collected membership badges (but not convention bags) we saw ANZAPA members Pat and Roger Sims from Florida, and local Alan Stewart. We also saw Murray Moore from Canada. Arthur Cruttenden from U.K. Worldcons generally are reasonably international. This might explain how we took so long to reach our room.

We went shopping with Adelaide ANZAPA fan Roman Orszanski, who had already discovered the local shops. He had news of a group doing the calculations for how to run power without emissions, with budget and using existing technology. We went a block or two past his hotel to a very large IGA, where we got a staggeringly heavy load of groceries to cover breakfast and some stuff for lunches and dinners when nothing else happened, or when we had left things too late for a meal.


I went to the bar with Amy Thompson, who had a high tech ankle brace. We are all showing our age, alas. Jean joined us a short time late after I phoned her, and was very impressed by this ankle brace. Bar bites for us, instead of a proper meal, as we sat and talked over a glass or two of beer or wine. Mike Ward and Karen Schaffer came along. It was great for us all to be able to catch up over more beer and another round of bar bites.

To Hilton with our little group and others. It seemed some U.N. group were still doing the last of their use of the exhibition hall and convention facility.

Return to the Crowne Plaza from the Hilton Hotel with a group of fans. At least there was no rain. Plus I got to see two different paths between the two convention venues. Justin Ackroyd, our pusher from Slow Glass Books (whose website does not appear to work at all), says book sales are poor. He borrowed my phone to call home. No real indications he is an E.T.

Joe Siclari was in foyer, so he and Justin went off to the food court near the casino.

I stayed talking with a large group in the bar. Sue-ann Barber and Trevor? The bar shut down by about ten thirty.

In bar until eleven thirty. Gave up and read news feeds prior to going to bed half an hour after midnight.

Thursday 2 September 2010

First Contact with Aussiecon 4

Did not arise until eight, despite it being a beautiful day outside. So far at least. Took overly heavy bags over to the upstairs fan table area for Jean. On the way through the vast, almost new Melbourne Convention Centre, we were able to collect our Aussiecon 4 show bags, which at least were a handy cloth shoulder bag from Voyager Books of Eos and Harper Collins fame.

I was pleased to collect the Aussiecon 4 Pocket Program Book that Alan Stewart edited, even if a large pocket was required for its 200 A6 size pages. Unfortunately it was partly a work of fiction, like many pocket programs. Plus the length guaranteed many of us did not read all of it until after the convention (no, I know of no solution to that problem).

What we publish Who ultimately decides which novels get published, and which do not? What are the factors at play in determining what kinds of books come out, when they come out, how long or short they are, and what formats they are published in? We present an insight into the publishing industry, and an explanation as to why your favourite author's novel has come out late, early, or in A-format paperback, or why it hasn't come out at all. Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Toni Weisskopf, Ginjer Buchanan, Alex Adsett Friday 1100 Room P3

Designer planet: Averting climate change with geoengineering Greg Benford Friday 1200 Room 217

There were a few authors I knew from the old days. Chatted briefly with George R R Martin, and later with Paris. Caught up with Greg Benford at various times, mostly before or after his numerous panels.

Aussiecon Panels

The future of privacy As information technology and the Internet makes it easier for people to find and share information, personal privacy has become one of the greatest concerns for the developed world in the 21st century. How will the challenge of privacy affect us over the next 50 years? It is an inalienable right that must be protected at all costs, or is privacy simply a hang-over from the past - a luxury that future society will not be able to afford? Jeanette Auer, Andrew A. Adams, Charles Stross, PRK Friday 1300 Room 203

I ran into Ken Ozanne, back in Australia after many trips abroad. I had not seen him in ages. We headed off, and ended up at the wrong panel! Had to rush off to find a different one.

From print to pixels: Paper comics to webcomics The webcomic has become an overwhelmingly popular venue for writers and artists to present stories free from the influence of publishers, and limitations to genre and content. Some comic creators have even made the shift from print to webcomic, utilising a new digital distribution model for their product - but what are the risks and the rewards? Yamara, Girl Genius, Elfquest and other titles lead a discussion on the future of comics - both online and off. Foz Meadows, Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio, Howard Tayler Friday 1600 Room 211

Military SF revisited Military SF is a popular genre with a strong fan base, but some accuse it of simply glorifying conflict: science fiction as ‘war pornography’. How do you differentiate good military SF from the bad? Is there a responsible way to present science fiction warfare, and what can it tell us about warfare in the real world? Why is military conflict such an enduring concept in SF? A look at the best - and the worst - of military SF. Toni Weisskopf, Howard Tayler, Jean Johnson Friday 1700 Room 217

Aussiecon at con newsletter, Voice of the Echidna, had eleven single sheet issues. It provided some handy pointers, mostly to hospitality suites.

Aussiecon Evening

Book launch at the Hilton, so noisy I could not hear the speech. But the books all sold, unless Justin still has some. Talked with Karen Schaffer.

Bid parties and like in Corporate area, with maple oriented items supplied by Montreal Talked with David Russell and Les Petterson.

Perry in Crowne Plaza bar, relaxing towards midnight with Michael J Hall, John Harvey, Julian Warner

Friday 3 September 2010

Aussiecon Morning

Another beautiful day, with no sign yet of the threatened rain. Hope that continues.

Saw Con co-chair Perry Middlemiss handle the traditional 10 a.m Gripe session.

What we Publish was one of the sessions in the large ground floor rooms. Toni from Baen, Patrick Nielsen Hayden from Tor, Ginger Buchanan representing Penguin USA such as Ace and New American Library. Influence of independent booksellers in Australia. We poll the readers for what size bookshelves they have, and then we screw them up. PNH. Mass Market Paperback, stripped copy not returned. Trade paperback, not stripped and returned. Baen ARC authors resist, until they see the cheque.

Lunch with Lewis and Marilyn at food court across lane from Hilton.

Aussiecon Panels

Greg Benford on bioengineering.

Mark Loney says Chinese not taking much Oz coal after all check this.

Military sf


Mark Olson

Aussiecon Day

Roger Sims gives me a copy of Fantasy Scope, Vol IV, number one. A record length between issues of a fanzine at 46 years.

Walk back to Crown Plaza hotel with Pat and Roger after six

We have a supporting membership for the New Zealand bid for the 78th World Science Fiction Convention in 2020. I gather the rapidity with which this Worldcon bid came together came as a bit of a shock to the New Zealanders.

London in 2014 Worldcon bid party for the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in the Corporate Lounge upstairs at 9 p.m. They served whisky and Pimms, with some first class whiskey (in small nips). I think we put A$50 into their party fund.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Aussiecon Panels

Copyright in the 21st Century In recent years the debate over copyright law has become increasingly vigorous, with some people defending the existing law, others demanding amendments or promoting alternative ‘creative commons rights’, some wilfully resisting copyright altogether and others insisting the current copyright laws aren’t protective enough. A team of panelists run through a number of scenarios, providing a glimpse into the many possibly futures of copyright in the coming century. Cory Doctorow, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Ian Nichols, Bill Sutton, Andrew A. Adams (mod) Saturday 1000 Room 203

Murray Moore seemed to be organising the Faneds Feast, at 11:30 a.m. at registration, for a group march to a food outlet for lunch. I took a bunch of photographs, but waiting for fans to decide where to eat is not one of my favourite pastimes.

The future is overtaking us Science fiction used to be a means of extrapolating today's technology and society, and predicting the future. More and more often, however, our ideas of the future simply aren't turning true. What happens when the real world starts advancing faster than the imaginations of science fiction writers? Kim Stanley Robinson, John Scalzi, Mike Scott, Norman Cates Saturday 1200 Room P3

Aussiecon Events

Did the future just arrive?: The e-book and the publishing industry After years of slowly growing in popularity and profile, the e-book is now a significant medium for the distribution and sale of science fiction and fantasy. As with all new media, however, the e-book brings with it its own special set of challenges. How can publishers adjust to selling their books online rather than through physical distribution? How has the relationship changed now that readers, authors and publishers can connect more directly online? Where does this leave the brick-and-mortar bookshop? Cory Doctorow, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Alisa Krasnostein, Kate Eltham Saturday 1300 Room P3

Robert Silverberg tells me most of his books have long been available as ebooks (Fictionwise has 89 I believe). A new unified set of most of his fiction will be available as ebooks shortly. Alas, with Barnes and Noble selling them, many seem infested with Digital Rights Management software which makes them annoyingly restrictive on the ebook readers I want to use.

1400 Kim Stanley Robinson Guest of Honour Speech, a self interview.

Meteor Incorporated, Bill Wright's attempt to preserve at risk science fiction collections and history, had its third annual meeting in Room 215 at 3 p.m. Meteor is still in the fund raising stage, thanks to the global financial crisis. Donations are tax deductible for Australians.

Shaping the world: The possibilities of geoengineering Geoengineering refers to the deliberate engineering of the planet, most often as a means of averting catastrophic climate change. What sort of things would we be likely to do if the world’s governments pursued a geoengineered solution? What could you do to a planet through geoengineering - and what would be the potential risks? Kim Stanley Robinson, Tom Wigley, Greg Benford Saturday 1600 Room P3

The Fermi Paradox The great physicist Enrico Fermi asked Where are the aliens? Why didn’t they get here long ago? This is a huge puzzle since the universe is so old that it is difficult to understand why they have not already visited Earth, or at least made their presence known out in space. This is the Fermi Paradox. Have we made any progress untangling it? James Benford, Gord Sellar, Dirk Flinthart, Alastair Reynolds Saturday 1700 Room 219

Evening at Aussiecon


London in 2014 Worldcon bid party downstairs in Bridge Room 1 at 9 p.m. They served Pimms, plus some first class whiskey (in small nips). Some of the fine whiskey was donated by individuals such as Jack Bell.

Sunday 5 September 2010


ANZAPA and Basenjis' fan Garry Dalrymple incautiously approached Jean as she was lurching towards the convention centre. Got told to go away, which is Jean's normally reaction to everyone first thing in the morning (for large values of first thing). I got Garry to walk with me, since I am cheerful and talk first thing in the morning (which does not go down well with Jean).

The problems with first contact First contact - the initial meeting between two interplanetary civilisations - is one of the lasting tropes of SF. Sometimes advanced aliens contact humanity, and sometimes space-faring humans are doing the contacting. But once contact has happened, what is the moral dimension? Should an advanced race hide itself from us for fear of stunting our natural growth? Or is it immoral to leave individuals in primitive poverty in the hope that they might one day develop their own culture? Can advanced peoples colonise a planet inhabited by primitives and live in peace with them? Are there any useful object lessons from our own history? Sean McMullen, Dave Freer, Mark Olson Sunday 1000 Room 207

Climate change and Utopia In the last thirty years utopia has gone from a nice idea to a survival strategy. In the coming era of climate change we will not be able to muddle through in our current system, because the bio-physical base of our existence will not support it. Social change is therefore inevitable; and the work of all the sciences together now suggest an emerging plan for change in a positive direction, and a resulting sustainable civilization. Enacting that plan will be both the history of the twenty-first century and the best utopia yet. The talk will explicate this argument. Kim Stanley Robinson Sunday 1100 Room P3


The race to the Red Planet Ever since the Apollo moon landings, it always seemed Mars was the next target for human space exploration. It's been 41 years and we still haven’t been there. As the debate over a human mission to Mars continues, we ask the questions: should we go? What is stopping us? What will we need to do, and consider, to make a human mission to the red planet a success? Kim Stanley Robinson, David D. Levine, James Benford Sunday 1300 Room P3

Objects in space: The giant artefact in science fiction Science fiction regularly deals with the big dumb object, the strange alien monolith that is discovered on a distant planet, or which floats ominously into our solar system. What is the appeal of the giant alien object, and why does it inspire it so many science fiction stories and novels? Alastair Reynolds, Alan Stewart, Mark Olson Sunday 1700 Room P3

Aussiecon Awards

The 2010 Hugo Awards ceremony were well run, I am told. With a few exceptions in minor categories, I had not seen or read the nominees, nor did I know of the authors. So I skipped the Hugo ceremony.

My general feeling is that science fiction long ago walked away from my tastes and towards fantasy. That basically was when I mostly stopped buying fiction. My response on the convention side is there is a long standing and legitimate World Fantasy Convention, and the World Science Fiction convention is not it. To me, science fiction and fantasy are two (generally) separate genres, just as horror and thrillers are separate. So I have not attended a World Science Fiction Convention (except in Australia) since perhaps Chicago in 1982.

I do not recall ever seeing monthly Clarkesworld online fiction and non-fiction magazine, which by now has reached its 48th issue, having started around October 2006. Cheryl Morgan was there to collect a Hugo as non-fiction editor at Clarkesworld. Nor have I heard Tony Smith's Starship Sofa, the audio science fiction magazine, now up to 153 issues. I had not realised that Frederik Pohl was doing The Way The Future Blogs. It would have been totally inappropriate for me to have voted, under these circumstances..

While looking online, I also noticed very active critic Cheryl Morgan has a new magazine Salon Futura, which seems to be shaping up well on its first online issue. I had problems downloading the ePub version (or perhaps it was just that Stanza could not cope with displaying it), and suspect a possible MIME issue (way too many web servers and/or web browsers check the start of the file, and decide an ePub should perhaps be a zip, or a txt) instead of it being served as application/epub+zip.

Kevin Standlee, a long time Worldcon activist, and friend of Cheryl, also made various comments about the politics of some events at Worldcon.

Monday 6 September 2010

Aussiecon Panels

The bioethics of terraforming Let's say we colonise Mars, and develop the technology to terraform its environment and create a warmer, breathable atmosphere for humans to breathe. Let's also so that we discover bacterial life on Mars - life that cannot exist if the planet's atmosphere changes. Do we have a responsibility to leave Mars intact, or simply try to save the bacteria the best we can. What are the bioethics of terraforming worlds? Kim Stanley Robinson, Gregory Benford, David D. Levine Monday 1000 Room P1

How do I run electronic paper through my Hektograph? Okay. So you've encountered all these people who publish fanzines. Find out how and why they do it. How has the Internet changed the process and why are people scanning moldering mounds of old paper? Bruce Gillespie, Stephen Davies, Mike Scott, Guy H Lillian, Mark Plummer, Juan J. Sanmiguel Monday 1100 Room 217

Climate change: Possible futures for planet Earth Climate change is real -- there's no serious question about that, but just about everything else you read about it is open to dispute by serious, knowledgeable people. Is it actually bad? (It's change, but is change necessarily bad?) It will cause habitat change, (But how much and how serious?) It will cause changes to the weather. (But for better or for worse?) Assuming it can be stopped or slowed, which approaches are most likely to work? A discussion of what we know, as well as what we don't. Kim Stanley Robinson, Sam Scheiner, Sean McMullen, Tiki Swain, Grace Dugan Monday 1200 Room P1

Aussiecon Panels

Apas: Where old fans go to die? Before Twitter, before Facebook, before discussion groups, there were Amateur Press Associations. Fandom stole the idea from the mainstream and ran with it. Find out why some fans are still involved and why Bruce Gillespie has to exhort the members of ANZAPA to write less. Marc Ortlieb, Alan Stewart, Jeanne Mealy, Bruce Gillespie Monday 1300 Room 217

e-Fandom Instant communication has changed the face of fandom. No longer tied to the vagaries of mimeograph machines and snail mail, fandom has become more immediate and less parochial. Or has it? Was it still a Proud and Lonely thing to be a Fan in the 1990s and 2000s? Tim Bolgeo, Edwina Harvey, Erika Lacey Monday 1400 Room 217

1600 Closing Ceremonies (MCEC Plenary 2)


Despite my not having done a fanzine in a decade, except for APAS, various people were kind enough to give me fanzines during the convention. James Allen seems to have revived Kalien for the convention. As usual he seems to fail to say who it is from, nor does he give an email address. Some things do not change.

Alan Stewart kindly gave me a copy of WOOF #35 at Aussiecon 4. Phil Wlodarczyk did the cover. Alan seems to have collated and done his own Ytterbium Oxide. As if often the case, he included some interesting Metro tickets. During the con, I remembered to give Alan the Moscow subway ticket I had brought back. Roger Hill contributed Report from Hoople #109, in which he reports he is retiring after 40 years of teaching physics. Dean Gahlon contributed Tales from the Frozen North. He managed to do his zine after arriving at the con. Well done. Dean wrote on bringing a Nook eBook reader to Australia, picking that because it handles ePub. I don't believe I even got to the newsletter office to check on anything, let alone WOOF. During most of Aussiecon 4, I felt about as dissociated from fandom as I have ever felt.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

iPod Touch vs iPhone 4

Is the new Apple iPod Touch as good as the iPhone 4? Not even close. The new iPod does have the high definition Retina display (960 x 640), however it is standard TFT, not the beautiful IPS display version used by the iPhone 4. The iPod Touch does have two cameras, however the regular camera is a mere megapixel (to provide 960 x 640), not the five megapixel one as used in the iPhone 4. The iPod Touch has the 256 MB of RAM used in almost all iOS devices, not the doubled 512 MB RAM used by the iPhone 4. In short, Apple engineered it to be built down to a price. There is no GPS chip built into the iPod Touch (unlike the iPhone 4 and 3G enabled iPad). There is no vibration device to warn you of Face Time video calls. The battery is 3.44Whr vs 5.25Whr on the iPhone.

Leaving Melbourne

We had most of the day in Melbourne. We took a walk to the CBD, where as I recall we bought Haigh chocolates. So much for exercise. We spent some extra money to keep our hotel room past the usual checkout time.

Our JQ918 flight from Melbourne to Townsville was not until 5:15 p.m. and not due in Townsville until 8:10 p.m. Not too long a wait for luggage or taxi, although we were not in the first group away. We were at Carlyle Gardens by nine. It seemed like we never managed to get anything done any place we live.

Bloody MS Word

To save myself some work I cut and pasted some Aussiecon program description from the PDF on their web site into my own notes about the convention. So, it looks like MS Word managed to incorporate their smart quotes into the thing (as well as the USA spelling checker). Now I have to go through and find all the smart quotes, and change them to web standard default of UTF8. Bah, humbug!

Wednesday 8 September 2010


This place is basically bereft of food. We were back from overseas only a few days before leaving again, so nothing much was restocked. In particular, no milk on hand for breakfast.

We started a load of laundry, since we seemed to have several loads worth sitting on the laundry floor. While some was from the Aussiecon 4 trip, a lot seemed to be left over from when we were last travelling. It looks like we may have to spread four loads of laundry over two days before we catch up. I can not imagine how we managed that over the course of a week long trip.

String Quartet

The Public Trustee presented a string quartet from Queensland Symphony Orchestra at Carlton Theatre for a half hour concert of popular classical music this morning, shortly after 9:30 a.m. This was a very pleasant musical interlude in a day when I expected to be taking boring notes all day. The quartet started with the third Brandenberg Concerto.

I went over to the Carlton Theatre at nine to see if I could help put out chairs. Geoff and Margaret had already taken care of everything, as usual. The Public Trustee is one of the sponsors of the Orchestra, who had been in Townsville for a full performance. Their head office gave them little notice, and we had even less, so attendance was low. Had their publicity people been able to circulate to other retirement villages, we could have probably had bus loads here. Maybe also get the restaurant to run a morning tea. As it was, the Public Trustee handed out little red show bags of material about what they could do for estates.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Apple Orders

I ordered some stuff from Apple, since Jean at least would be in one fixed place for a while. A Twelve South BookArc stand, to keep my MacBook Pro vertical on the desk when I am using it as a desktop system. A very compact universal voltage Apple AA battery charger. This is impossibly compact compared to the vast majority of most such devices. It also switches off rather neatly, to reduce parasitic power drain. I also ordered an Apple Magic Pad Bluetooth wireless touch pad.

Friday 10 September 2010

Oxford English Dictionary Dead

I have been saying for some time that the printed book is dead. The Oxford English Dictionary will never again appear in print. The internet has killed it. The third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary will appear only in electronic format. The printed book will vanish fast, especially reference works.

Saturday 11 September 2010

Ban High Frequency Trading

I can not see there is a liquidity problem in the markets that requires high frequency trading as a solution. It does not help entrepreneurs. This siphoning of profits via arbitrage does nothing for the production of goods and services. People who want to gamble should be at a race track, not in the stock market. In the stock market, high frequency trading is nothing but a scam.

Just stop trading taking place at a pace faster than once a day, probably local midnight. Or price on an hour average of prices. Add a small charge or tax for each transaction. Tax profits at a rate inversely proportional to how long stock is held, with a really high rate (say 99%) on short term transactions. Charge a flat fee on revoked puts and calls. Treat trades where stock is not held as fraud.

Sunday 12 September 2010

Al Gore Invented the Internet

Well, no, that is not what Al Gore claimed. During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet. Read this item by the real inventors of the internet, Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, as to the very real support that Congressman Gore gave to the concept of the internet for the 1970's on. This included genuine political support through the 1980's when the internet really started to expand.

Fun Race

Today was the annual Whitsunday Sailing Club Fun Race, and party at Airlie Beach. Live bands all weekend (luckily the band stopped at midnight). Major sponsors include Mount Gay Rum, Hahn SuperDry and XXX Gold beer. Guess we can figure out who this is aimed at. The thousand buck Miss Figurehead prize is also an indicator. I gather there were around 100 entrants (up from 86 last year), but well short of the almost 400 in the past. I would have had a good view from my balcony at the Whitsunday Terraces.

Monday 13 September 2010

National BroadBand Network Transparency

Telstra's largest shareholder, the Future Fund, has complained the nine billion dollar (plus) Australian National Broadband Network deal back in June to use Telstra ducts and conduits lacks transparency. I wonder what reaffirmed Communications Minister Stephen Conroy will say if Telstra shareholders reject the deal when the details are finally released? At the moment Conroy is blaming the election for holding up release of details for eight weeks.

Eighteen months after being announced, seventy customers are using NBN. Which is a lot better than the previous Liberal proposal worked. About half the residents in the test areas signed up for optical network terminals (a box on the outside of their house). So far about A$38 million have been spent on the test sites. The total Tasmanian cost looks like around A$700 million, for potentially around 200,000 households.

Gadget Delivery

I heard a truck pull up. Rushed out, joyful about a delivery for me. Turned out to be Jean's Amway delivery. She was sleeping through this whole thing, so I put the large box on her office chair. Luckily only a half hour or so later, my own much smaller delivery arrived from Apple via TNT Courier.

A very compact universal voltage Apple AA battery charger, with a very low vampire power draw. It comes with the usual Apple removable power plug. It also comes with six high capacity (unbranded) Sanyo Eneloop NiMH batteries. Apple must be so pissed off that they have to put safety warnings on a battery. The first two batteries charged fine (according to the green coloured LED). The second two caused a flashing amber error, so I put them aside. The third set of two batteries started charging fine, according to the amber LED, and completed. So I tried the second set of batteries again, and this time they charged.

A Twelve South BookArc stand. It comes with three different silicon rubber inserts to adjust the steel to suit different computer models.

Today is also the tenth anniversary of the day Apple first released its operating system OS X as a public beta. It was derived from NeXT Step 4.2, a BSD based Mach kernel used by NeXT from 1988.

Hobby Workshop Meeting

I attended the Hobby workshop meeting, since I had an (unused) key to the workshop. They certainly had a lot of talking going on about what to do about raising money. It also took a long while.

Took note of property prices in the Whitsunday Times. Apartment prices in Airlie Beach have crashed over the past few years. It is overbuilt for the likely tourist trade, but mostly it is overpriced for realistic rents. Plus the cost of getting work done around resorts is too high to keep them in top shape. This is apparent at the Whitsunday Terraces.

Tuesday 14 September 2010


I was up at five. Read a bunch of news feeds using my iPad, before setting the computer to downloading podcasts.

As soon as it was sufficiently light, I went out to the garden to start working on the patio I want. I removed the top row of concrete blocks, putting them along the house out of the way. Then I had to pull up the pavers from their temporary placement. The pile of pavers was about shoulder height by the time I completed that. That seemed enough work for one morning.

After a shower, I started the laundry. According to OzWeather, we are due for rain all the rest of the week, so this seemed the best day to get laundry out of the way.

Apple Magic Trackpad

I received a new Apple Magic Trackpad via TNT Courier. The batteries are already installed, so you simply need to use the Bluetooth System Preferences to pair the trackpad with your computing device.

Housing Bubble

The Commonwealth Bank has been trying to convince overseas investors that there is no Australian housing price bubble. There are several factors which insulate Australian banks from defaults, the major one being banks have recourse against defaulting borrowers. That is, even if your home is sold to cover a default, you still personally owe anything not covered by the sale price. This is unlike banking practice in many USA states.

Unfortunately, figures showing comparisons of Australian housing prices to income are not as favourable as the bank states. In particular, their coastal city comparison of house price to income is comparing apples to oranges. All comparison figures except Australia come from Demographia. The Australian figures come from UBS. If you actually use Demographia figures for Australia, the house price to income ratios are worse than the other countries, not better.

Even worse, non-bank lender Mortgage House raised its loan to value ratio to 99%. It seems some financial people figure they will get a government bailout. Governments created a moral hazard with bailouts. Major bank Westpac went from 87% to 92%. ANZ went from 95% to 97% for existing customers, from 90% to 92% for new customers. Luckily banks in Australia are fairly well regulated. The major reason Australian house prices have not crashed more is increasing demand (partly from high immigration) still exceeds available supply in many areas.

Some organisations are lending desperate homebuyers more than a property is worth in a bid to keep the market rising. Governments are throwing more risk at the market with First Homebuyers Grants that just force up prices.

Wednesday 15 September 2010


I went out early to rake more dirt from my construction site in the garden. Soon decided it would have to wait until I had some place to put the additional dirt. How convenient! Not that the formerly predicted rain was apparent. It looked fine all morning.

We drove to Domain central to visit Bunnings. Jean wanted more sets of drawers to try to bring her bedroom closets into better order. I wanted a big green wheely bin so I could finally take the rest of Jean's mulch out of the recycling bin. Luckily this week we were able to use our neighbour's recycling bin, so at least we got rid of most of the accumulated papers and bottles.

RetraVision did not stock air conditioner filters. However a helpful staff member gave Jean addresses for air conditioning stockists who would have filters. I checked out bread makers. The fanciest model had a fruit tipper, so you could automate fruit bread. I want to check loaf sizes, as making large loaves of bread means they become instant fat pills. Then we thought of the steam cleaner for the floors that was on our semi-permanent list. We looked at several models, and bought one that looked more like a vacuum cleaner, also able to do windows and the like.

Spotlight had some new fabrics, and Jean had a $40 off coupon. We bought two more lengths of material for tropical shirts. Both will be challenging. One because the pattern is large. The other because it consists of panels, and only 2.2 metres were available.

We even managed to stop at the BWS as we returned, as jean was out of white wine. I got some sausages, and a bread roll. Perils of entering a shopping area while hungry.

Music and Copyright

I have been seeking copyright free sources of classic music. International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) is making music scores available. See their wiki for more on the Petrucci Music Library, which has a lot of classical music. Another music source is Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in the Netherlands.


I need reminders (although I should probably just rely upon my iPhone). I decided to check out Alarms, from Stefan Fürst at Media Atelier. After one upgrade of the beta, my Mac mini decided not to respond to my keyboard after being in Sleep mode. I had to do a reboot, something I have not needed in months. This may be (and probably is) unrelated to a specific application. More likely to be some system update gone wrong.

Thursday 16 September 2010


I was up at five, using my iPad to read news feeds. As soon as it got sufficiently light, I raked my construction site yet again. I will need to get a decent spirit level to get that anything near level. Took the large empty pots outside so I could fill them with the surplus dirt. However the main thing was to empty the mulch out of the recycling bin into the new wheely bin we bought yesterday. That sure seemed to take a heap of shovelling. I also cleaned and washed the recycling bin, so we can start using it again this week.

Went to brag to Jean of my efforts. Go away! She had just accidentally deleted something, and needed to undo it while she recalled what had happened.

We went food shopping, and managed to return by nine. I also filled the boot and back of Jean's car with junk for Sue's Trash and Treasure thing on Friday.

After I ordered lunch, I pulled about 90 chairs into rows for the Resident's Meeting tonight. Chairman Ray wants about 160 or so chairs, but he has a working party coming at three. They can get out the heavy tables, and a few more trolleys of chairs.

Apps To Overtake Music in iTunes

I notice that it appears likely that application downloads will overtake music downloads from the Apple itunes Store, according to Asymco. App downloads are already half that of music, and apps are trending up far faster. The factors that confuse the figures are that there are multiple sources for music in MP3 format, plus many more free applications are downloaded than paid applications, although paid applications are probably three quarters of those in the iTunes Store (average payment perhaps 29 cents). So revenue to sellers of music may be far higher, since every iTunes music download is paid for (average perhaps 99 cents).

Not that Apple probably care all that much about sales figures from each. Sure, they make a cut from sales. However Apple make most of their money from hardware sales.

Resident's Meeting

Quarterly meeting of the Residents this evening at seven. Dry meeting likely, so I got a glass of wine from the bar as soon as I read the meeting agenda.

Not much change, and everyone (including our manager) seems to be told so little that I wish I had a mushroom shirt to wear to meetings. The surveyors we had seen are probably for the age care unit, but no-one knows for sure. Might be for the park, or even for Stage B. Prime Trust, the resort owners, did not manage to raise enough to get the management rights back from Lend Lease. So our manager and full time office assistant still work for Lend Lease. On the other hand, the office will get a full time receptionist again, after a year without a replacement for our sadly missed office manager. The office also has a copy of the new quantity surveyor report, which we could check out.

Several of us stayed back a few minutes to restack chairs, and take the long tables out of the storeroom. Still managed to get to the bar for a beer before I walked home.

Friday 17 September 2010

Trash and Treasure

I drove Jean's car to the back of the Carlton Theatre just prior to seven. The way the tables were arranged did not suit me. Luckily Allan was there, and did not disagree, so we started organising the tables as two rows of five down the middle, and a row closer to each wall. This gave us two nice large areas for customers. Geoff soon arrived, and it became apparent we each had much the same idea of how to make the layout work. Sue, the organiser, turned up a little later. Took a fair number of trips to unload Jean's car. Then back home for breakfast.

I walked over to the Trash and Treasure just before ten. Of the 21 tables we had out, about 18 were occupied. Managed to sell a few items to other participants before we were even officially open. There was a three wheel bike, so I phoned Jean to come over. She was tempted, but there were problems. Mary from across the road ended up taking the bicycle. I sold or gave away maybe another a half dozen items before I decided to head for the restaurant for lunch at midday. Allan at the next stall got rid of another few items while I was away. Despite a closing time of three, most people had cleared their tables and were gone soon after one. We probably need a much shorter time period, such as ten to lunch. I donated the proceeds ($29) to the Carlton Theatre, which ended up with over $100 in all.

Although a reasonable social event, as a means of disposing of surplus stuff, it did not really work. Jean got onto FreeCycle that evening, and may have managed to dispose of several larger items. I threw a bunch into the rubbish bin.

LandLine Phones

I see the Nielsen report Call My Cell: Wireless Substitution in the United States, September 2008 says 16.4% of US families had abandoned their $40 a month landline phones by the end of 2007. By June 2008, this was 17.1%, up from 4.2% in 2003, and is thought to be growing by 3-4% a year. These are mostly low income and younger families, however the trend is moving towards older and higher income groups.

A recent 2010 Citi Investment Report from analyst Jason Bazinet, nearly 30-percent of all U.S. households have now disconnected their landlines/ This was up from 25-percent just one year ago.

In Australia, Telstra retail landlines dropped 4.6% in 2009/10 FY, equivalent to 326,000 lines cancelled.

Happy Hour

I went off to the happy hour at the bar. This was particularly so as I thought the Trash and Treasure a failed way to get rid of much junk (no matter how social the event). I will probably just throw more stuff into the rubbish bin in future, including books. Luckily Jean contacted FreeCycle, so perhaps someone will come and take away some trash.

Had a good time at the happy hour. Won Jean a Woolworth's voucher, and a fish shop voucher in the social club prize draw. Krys was showing off her black eyes (result of an operation only three days ago).

Saturday 18 September 2010


I was up at 4 a.m. and reading stuff on the computer. When it was sufficiently light, I did more moving around of dirt for my patio. Got rid of some soil into the pots. I need to get something that works well as a level, or nothing will ever be completed.

We went to Willows at eight for the newspapers, and for a walk. Back within a half hour or so. The clouds today kept the temperature down fairly well through the rest of the day.

The first of the FreeCycle people arrived at ten. Took away the Perfect Pullup exercise gadget. The second FreeCycle person arrived a few hours later, and took the fax machine and the computer desk. That is a good start.

I tried cleaning the mirrors on my cupboards. Internal evidence suggests I have never done this. My first choice of cleaner was not entirely a success. Yes, they are cleaner … but. I tried one with a spray on window cleaner. I think I need a soft cloth rather than a tissue for the rubdown.

Having found my pack of adjustable wrenches, I upended the long out of action folding bicycle, and tried to remove the tyre. It does not have quick release hubs. Took about ten minutes to figure the combination of actions that would release the wheel. Took another ten minutes to remove the tyre with the plastic tyre levers. Do you think I can find the leak? No!

Apple Keyboard

My Apple Bluetooth keyboard just died. Replaced the alkaline batteries with the NiMH Eneloop batteries that came with my new Apple battery recharger. It will be interesting to see how long these last. The System Preferences thinks I am down to 58% capacity, with fully charged batteries. NiMH has reasonable capacity, however due to their different chemistry, the nominal battery voltage is 1.2 volts rather than 1.5 volts. The reporting software can not tell the difference between a discharged alkaline and a fully charged NiMH.

Sunday 19 September 2010

No Video

I had no video on my Dell display. My keyboard would not toggle my Mac mini back into sleep. Bringing up a TV signal on the Component input showed that the Dell display was working fine. I finally had to reboot the Apple, so I could get a video signal out.

New items on the Mac mini include drivers for an Apple TrackPad, and a new Alarms software update. I think I will have to drop using the Alarms.

Re-established all my Safari windows from my last session, of which there must have been hundreds of open web sites. TextEdit spontaneously re-established my previous files, something I am sure it did not do formerly.


I was supposed to go to a breakfast at a neighbour's place (they won the breakfast meat tray). Worked on ANZAPA on my computer right through until I realised it was too late to attend. We put out laundry (twice). It rained at midday, but we mostly managed to get laundry in again before they got wet.

Monday 20 September 2010


A meeting with Leigh at ten. Geoff and Margaret had all the paperwork. Not many changes from last time. A little more accomplished, and much the same things stalled, awaiting other people. We did decide to do an article explaining the Carlton Theatre Group, to put in the Carlyle Chronicle next month. Leigh also let me go ahead with my private survey of how many people may feel a need for T switch induction loop hearing aid support. We certainly do not want people deciding this is some sort of official idea for extra services, when it is not.

It rained. A little here. A lot further south. Airlie Beach was cut off. The Bruce Highway south of Proserpine was cut. Mackay had over 200 mm of rain. This is very early in the season for that much water. Seems to be reverting to the sudden showers pattern I recall from long ago.

Apple Mac mini crash

I found my Bluetooth keyboard, mouse and Magic TrackPad all unresponsive when I returned from my meeting. However the keyboard must have worked sufficient to awake the computer from Sleep (my error - the USB on the monitor actually sent the Wake Up event). I finally had to (again) do a power reboot of my computer. I could not find any relevant error messages in the Console logs. This is very annoying. Must be related to one of the recent updates. But which one?

Restarted an incredible number of Safari windows, to restore my worksite. Luckily that is almost totally automatic (except you have to press a mouse button once).

A Fairer Tax on Wine

Taxes on wine are totally unfair. True, you have the usual 10% GST tax. However before that GST tax is applied, you also have a wholesale sales tax of 29% on the wholesale value of the wine. That 29% is the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET), introduced when the GST came in. Since the tax is on value, cheap plonk are not hit near as hard as expensive wines.

However this is not the way taxes are applied to beer or spirits. The Ken Henry Tax review noted this anomaly. Beer and spirits are charged on the volume of alcohol they contain. This is generally held to be a way of charging for the harm alcohol does in the community. The volumetric tax on alcohol in beer is $41 per litre. This would mean a cask of cheap plonk would go from maybe $15 to maybe $40. A $20 bottle of wine might go up a dollar or so. An expensive bottle of wine would drop in price.

But wait, there is more! The Democrats (remember when they were around) negotiated a deal to exempt small wine producers by a rebate on the Wine Equalisation Tax. So if you dump the WET, hundreds of small wine producers abruptly find their wines are no longer economical to produce. Talk about a great way to save watering excessive grape vines. No wonder no government talks about that. It is about time wine swilling socialists started paying proper taxes for their wine. Why should beer drinkers be slugged more?

Tuesday 21 September 2010


We went to Willows for some food shopping. Jean wanted to get $30 of stuff at BigW first, to add points from the $30 at Woolworths and from BWS she had already bought. We found a book, failed to find much else. I was checking the DVDs for items to fill out the amount when Jean decided she could not stand the obnoxious music BigW were pumping through the store. We put the book back and left.

Jean headed to Coles for food shopping. I drew her attention to 2011 diaries at the QBD, so she told me to buy her one. Then I managed to get to Woolworths, the Newsagent, out to the car, back to TLife for a refresh for my iPad 3G. Caught up to Jean just as she was phoning me. I took the trolley of food out to the car (with a side trip to Darrell Lea chocolates) while Jean checked Millers fashions.

Just after we had unloaded the car, Geoff and Margaret pulled up. I had not realised they had the same model car as Jean, and were only 18 different in number plate. We decided to get a few photos for an article about Carlton Theatre Group for the Carlyle Chronicle. I sent my revised version off to Leigh, before catching up with Geoff and Margaret at the Carlton Theatre to take some photographs of them with the industrial vacuum cleaner for future publicity.

Government 2.0 Videos

I found some interesting video from the O'Reilly Government 2.0 conferences. Eleven minutes of Jules Polonetsky on The Future of Privacy.

On efficient societies, The Internet of Things from IBM is about smart things making an interconnected planet. Not a video, but about Why Things Matter, is about networked objects.

Wednesday 22 September 2010


We had lots of excess download capacity in off peak hours. On Jean's old iiNet ADSL, that means 2 a.m. to midday. So I tried getting more downloads in the early morning. So far they mostly seem to be in Freezone anyhow.

Retail therapy. It is so hot and humid we can not stand being in the house. To stay would involve air conditioning. So we went to OfficeWorks. We got our ANZAPA contributions printed, as well as my hearing loop survey. For an extra two dollars, OfficeWorks chopped the survey into three strips. Saved me a heap of work. I bought a small Life computer travel lap desk (35 x 26 x 3.5 cm) for my notebook.

Jean got bored at Jaycar, but not before we found her a combined thermometer and hygrometer. I got a Digitech QM1594 multimeter, which has the usual voltage, current, resistance and capacitance. It also has frequency, duty cycle, temperature (plus a probe), humidity, decibels and lux.

Jean walked to the restaurant with me, lured by the prospect of chicken and avocado salad. Since we wanted to talk, we had to shoo John away. Luckily Ray arrived and sat with John, so he was not by himself for long.

Back home, and Jean seems to have switched on air conditioning in two rooms already. I have a bad feeling about summer. Meanwhile, the water people arrived to check the sewerage pump across the way. They brought their large crane truck, so they may be planning on lifting the whole pump out.

Transmission Tower Repair

Instant vertigo, no kidding, as technicians free climb a transmission tower to repair an antenna.

Unrelated, but still up in the air. Carrier pigeons delivery video over 180 kilometres faster than rural broadband internet can manage it. Goes back to something we used to say about never underestimating the bandwidth of a station wagon full of CDs.

Thursday 23 September 2010

T Switch Hearing Aid Survey

I went for a wander around Carlyle Gardens putting my T switch hearing aid survey forms into mail boxes. If I do not get much response, then I will not continue my efforts to determine if an induction loop can be successfully installed in some village facilities.

At the same time having done my first flyer drop ever, I feel very conflicted about doing a survey via letter boxes, even for what I believe is a good cause. As I discovered when I started doing my letter box drop, a lot of people have No Junk Mail stickers on their letter boxes. Is my survey form junk mail? It is not from Australia Post. However the cost of postage would mean my survey would never be done via Australia Post. I will have enough costs building test equipment, without adding postage to my costs of photocopying.

It certainly is not appropriate for a non-official activity like mine to be put in say, the Carlyle Chronicle. Doing so might lead some people to believe there was a real chance of immediate action by Prime Trust or someone to install such a facility. I talked this over with Leigh, our Resort Manager, when I sought permission to do the survey.

Bad Printer

I am told by Jean that her Hewlett Packard LJ2550 colour laser printer deigned to power up. She could finally remove the jammed toner cartridge from it, after several months. However it appears my identical HP LJ2550 printer has recovered enough to print colour pages … provided you do not want more than 30 copies per day. Thirty colour copies per day is better than none at all. Jean started printing her photo contribution to ANZAPA.

The other issue is that the weather here has heated up, and is around 28 degrees, plus the humidity seems to be around 80%. This may also have some influence on the printer. But the basic problem is these printers just do not do the job for which they were purchased.

Friday 24 September 2010

ADSL2 from Kirwan

I have long held the view that I would never be able to obtain an ADSL2 connection. The connection at Condon is in the telephone area of the Kirwan exchange. The Kirwan exchange was enabled for ADSL2+ around 2008, however Telstra do not make ADSL2+ available to third party retailers of internet connections, unless such retailers have their own DSLAM equipment in the exchange. ISPs basically do not install their own DSLAM in country exchanges.

I make the wiring distance between Condon and Kirwan exchange 4 and 5 kilometres, too far for ADSL2. I figure the connection would never do much better than 4000 kbps. So Jean has ADSL1 via iiNet. See ADSL performance in 2009, and compare to this explanation of ADSL performance vs distance.

Bob from down the street (same estate, same wiring) just sent me an image of an ADSL speed test, showing him exceeding 15,000 kbps using BigPond. That is well up in ADSL2 territory. So how did he manage it?

Happy Hour

I won more prizes at the happy hour raffles at the bar this evening. Some flowers, and a tin of liquorice allsorts (and some cans of soft drink). For some reason my weight has increased. Hear from one more person about hearing aids and hearing loops. That still makes only four, which is not exactly something I could use to push for more help with installing a hearing loop.

Saturday 25 September 2010


I think Willows Shoppingtown is a pain. I had a short shopping list. The newsagent usually works, unless the Financial Review newspaper delivery driver can not find the building (surprisingly frequently it seems). This time all is OK, and I retreat with $9.40 of newspapers. Over to Sam's Club. Not all that surprisingly, they do not have the table and chair set their fellow merchant Crazy Clark's are advertising. Bummer.

BigW hardware section do not have the plastic coated right angle screw hooks I want for hanging stuff in the wardrobe. Nor do they have something I can convert into a stand for hard drives. I leave. Then I recalled BigW advertised an eBook reader. Return to search for it. No luck in consumer electronics, nothing near the iPods, not in office supplies. The book section has never heard of eBook readers. My ten minutes of tolerance for what BigW play as music is up. I leave in disgust.

Woolworths have everything on Jean's food shopping list. The scan it yourself section manages to get my Rewards card twice when the packet of strawberries self destructs. I need a better sequence for getting stuff at supermarkets. Something that passes me through the scanners with elegance. That seems unlikely.

I drive to the hardware store, and pick up a packet of plastic coated right angle screw hooks in the wrong colour. Near enough. Then I recall I want a bread roll for dinner. That ws not on my shopping list.

FreeCycle and the Train

Some Freecycle folks turned up, to collect the block out curtain material that we had left over from our first year. Bit of a comedy for them to first find us, but eventually we sighted each other.

It turned out that Mark had made electric trikes and other electric vehicles. Showed me some nifty videos (most of which are at the previous YouTube link). Also electric trains for the garden. I had to call Jean out to hear about that!

I do not do well with bikes. Bought folding bike. Tire went flat when inflated. Bike tool kit did not fit nuts on bike. Bought big adjustable wrenches. Took tube out. Could not find leak under water. Bought new tube. It deflates overnight (still can not find leak). Decided bicycles are not for me. Plus the folding bike will not fold enough to fit in garbage bin.

Affordable Broadband

I see the Alliance for Affordable Broadband open letter about NBN 3.0 has been published in Computerworld. Basically a bunch of wireless and pipe providers saying we do not want NBN to gore our ox. However they do want affordable backhaul. Don't we all? They basically suggest 4G wireless can fill the gaps. This is bullshit. For one thing, wireless typically has lousy latency. You might also notice fixed line downloads exceed wireless downloads ten to one at present. However they are right that governments typically do a lousy job on a cost benefit basis.

Computerworld replies to Alliance for Affordable Broadband NBN 3.0. At least they agree affordable backhaul is needed. Basically the response is a bunch of mostly decent questions that are not answered.

However the Labor National Broadband Network simply can not economically roll out optical fibre to the home. There is no business case for it that makes any sense. 90% of home Internet use is not all that speed sensitive, even if downloading video. Only streaming video and IPTV need more than ADSL2+ speeds. If there is a genuine business case for video, then why are the TV distribution companies not deploying cable these days? The answer is it does not earn its keep.

Sunday 26 September 2010

iTunes and Ping

I guess Apple decided they wanted to have a social networking component to their iTunes Store. They named it Ping (same as the Unix utility). It also seems some people who have installed iTunes 10 are unhappy about Ping.

Disable the iTunes Ping button next to songs says OS X Daily. They also explain how to Disable the iTunes Ping sidebar. Alter the look, to change the iTunes 10 close/minimize/maximize buttons back to horizontal. Also Disable the iTunes arrow store button within iTunes or Make the iTunes arrow buttons go to your iTunes Library instead of the iTunes Store. Others write on removing Ping from iTunes 10.0.1.

Monday 27 September 2010


I had been straightening out the main hose for the garden watering system on Jean's back patio. I had laid a 15 metre hose along the side of the house. Now I fitted the main water pipe from the cheap Neta home irrigation garden spray kit into the garden. Despite claiming to be 20 metres, I was way short of the amount of hose I needed. So I laid the hose across the middle of the garden, as planned. Took it along the front, beneath the edge of the concrete block wall. Some more hose would be needed for the plants closest to the house. Put a block on the end of the pipe. Fitted the hose fitting supplied. Which turned out not to match the end of the hose. Luckily Jean had a different fitting, which did match. Did a bit of a pressure check, and declared it ready for fitting the spray gadgets. Sometime when I am there, when it is cool.

Later we decided that it would be better to buy a 20 metre hose, and have the garden connected to that at the original location we picked. Needed a run to Bunnings to find a suitable length of hose (we had to get 30 metres, so I need to cut it to length).

Meanwhile, my original Teva sandals from IBM finally fell apart, after a decade and a half if not longer. The whole sole fell off. Guess I will try to get it glued back on, as they are still in reasonable condition for working in a garden.

Next thing on the list is completing my tax return. Every time I try that, I fall asleep. Happened last night when I tried filling in the last form. I have been carrying that confounded thing around with me for what feels like months.

Shopping and Lunch

We drove off early to Domain Central, to avoid doing things like manuals and tax returns. Bunnings worked fine, except for the sausage sizzle in ambush out the front. Got duct tape. Jean got the wire basket to replace the wrong depth one she had managed to get previously. Got ant sand. Got a 30 metre hose, because we could not find a 20 metre one.

Despite a flyer saying it would be open with a salad lunch, the restaurant was closed as usual on Monday. I was not the only person who noticed. I did however get permission to investigate further WiFi networking around the area.

I installed the new hose to the garden, cut it to length, and put various bits of garden plumbing in place. Luckily it did not take too long. No idea where pliers are, so I can not clamp the joints at the moment. Someday I need to pressure test it, and put in sprinkler heads.

Tuesday 28 September 2010


I notice both towel hooks have fallen down … again. Time to give up on the stupid self stick command type plastic hooks, and figure some way to drill through tile without cracking it.

I spent the early hour installing sprinkler heads on the home irrigation pipes I put through Jean's garden yesterday. I have one corner sprinkler in the wrong spot (plant gets in the way), and I need to install one extra 180 degree head, plus some adjustment to the angle of the sprinklers. The first test went brilliantly. Within five minutes of starting the sprinklers, it started raining, thus avoiding any need for sprinklers for the rest of the day.

More retail therapy. Extra 20 metres of irrigation hose (no smaller length available), to replace the length that is way too short. Wall plugs, and screw hooks, so we can nail our geckos to the wall.

Late in the afternoon I added the hose extension to the garden irrigation system. Not sure where to put the last few sprinkler heads as yet. I added a timer and filter to the tap.

Jean helped me position things as I screwed a gecko to the wall outside the front door. Whoever says white wall plugs require a 5mm drill bit is being a pain. 4.5mm would have been better. However one gecko is up, nailed to the wall. Jean says she will try sealing the next few geckos with waterproofing over the weekend.

We also screwed a brass dragon door knocker high up in the middle of the front door. That was one I saw at Cindy Smith's table in the Aussiecon 4 dealers room. Jean saw it independently, and liked the same one I had intended to suggest to her. Glad that did not take forever to install somewhere. I once had some of Cindy's dragons spelling out my house number at Faulconbridge.

I should have gone to the computer club meeting tonight. Completely forgot it was on (well, I thought it was on Thursday, to be accurate).

MiGear eBook Reader at BigW

It turned out BigW had only one MiGear eBook reader at $98, which explains why I could not find them. Five more were expected sometime. Looks like a 7 inch 800 x 480 limited colour TFT display. Claims to support pdf, txt, ePub, chm, rtf, mobi and html. No DRM capability (but who is insane enough to buy DRM files?) Music playing covers MP3 WMA APE FLAC AAC OGG WAV AC3, which is a handy range. 2GB of memory, or use Micro SD cards to expand memory. The box lists only Windows compatibility. Looks like it is 700EHD made by Aizu Technology of Guangdong in China using the Rockchip RK 2729 SDK. Displays BMP/ JPG/ GIF/ PNG. Does not appear to have a video capability, although other models claim RM RMVB MPEG MPG 3GP MP4 AVI VOB FLV WMV, but the price is fine.

Wednesday 29 September 2010


I took an early morning walk to inspect the Telstra wiring boxes. I do not recall there originally being two mounted on their own concrete pads. One Telstra box had two doors, like a CMUX cabinet. These boxes certainly appeared large enough to contain both a Remote Integrated Multiplexer (RIM) and a Customer Multiplexer (CMUX). So the question is whether Telstra are running fibre optics to the CMUX, and whether it is STM1 (155mbit) backhaul instead of IMA (8mbit). Whirlpool say Telstra have been installing mini CMUX in the streets for ages. They call them Above Ground Housing Assemblies. I did locate a Telstra wholesale Excel file listing Minimux locations, but that is far too dated.

National Broadband Network

I came across this submission to NBN Greenfields Consultation Paper. ClubCOM Utilities Pty Ltd note: In early 2008 we were preparing costs for a development in Airlie Beach Qld and we were quoted $10,000,000 to establish a Fibre backhaul; obviously we did not accept that quote. The cost of a Microwave link to the closest access point in Mackay was approximately $250,000. The development in Airlie Beach was probably LinksLiving Whitsundays Springs at Spyglass Hill.

Solar Billy

I finally got around to phoning Cranbrook Solar about the Solar Billy. I had seen one they had donated as a prize to the Carlyle Gardens Garden Competition (that wording is correct). It turned out they had been distributing the Solar Billy for four years. Who knew. I had searched high and low for someone who had it available.

I asked about getting one. They had several of the Solar Billy on hand. Even better, they were going to be visiting Carlyle Gardens. It arrived a bit before midday. So now I can be pretty sure Jean can have a hot cup of tea after any disaster that does not involve clouds!

Andy Porter Phoned

I thought Andy Porter had already left for New York, but I was wrong. Had a phone call from him this evening, from the Leisure Inn in Sydney. I had thought that place just a little too distant from the places we visit in Sydney, and had advised Andy of this. However their prices are good. Way better than the slightly more central place we will be staying at the end of October. It was great to hear from Andy.

Back a whole heap of years, in the early 1970's, Andy and his Science Fiction Chronicle were responsible for publicising the Australian bid for the World Science Fiction Convention, Aussiecon, which Melbourne first held in 1975. It took until 2010 before Andy could attend a Worldcon in Australia, and that was Aussiecon 4. Andy mentioned his apartment, I think somewhere there he must have one of those portraits mentioned by Oscar Wilde. he sure does not look his age.

Thursday 30 September 2010

Internet Access

I could not get on the internet this morning. Had to power down the Belkin ADSL router for a few minutes yet again. I am still seeking a well regarded ADSL router, with a decent capacity for blocking web sites (from advertisers).

Australian internet connections is results of a survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


Early in the morning we drove to the garbage dump. We had some tip tickets I got from the office yesterday, and they expire today. Took the metal bits of the replaced bumper of Jean's car. Took three different Roomba vacuum models that had failed. Took Jean's Hewlett Packard LaserJet L2550 colour laser printer. Dumped them all.

Speaking of rubbish, I finally put my tax return in an envelope so I can mail it.

According to my electricity accounts, I had 76 kWh of feed in solar electricity to the power system, over 47 days, since the feed in meter was supplied in August. This provided $33.44 of cost reduction for our electricity (solar feed in @44 cents kWh).

Eric Lindsay's Blog September 2010