Eric Lindsay's Blog December 2010

Thursday 1 December 2010

Telstra Support

Does Telstra support Network Controlled Fast Dormancy. This Nokia Siemens technology cuts back on power use by smartphones. It appears that Apple iPhone has started supporting Nokia Siemens Network Controlled Fast Dormancy since iOS 4.2.1. The iPhone has always had a reputation of putting a strain on a phone network by being chatty. Network Controlled Fast Dormancy should improve response speed and the battery life.

Phones normally have to make repeated power hungry signals back and forth to the network when they want awake and do something. However if awake, they drain power more than when asleep. It takes about two and a half seconds for a phone to change from a power efficient sleep mode to handling network data. Also, the networks do not want the phone sitting and begging for data all the time, as they have other phones wanting a data channel. Getting the right balance between sleep and signals is tricky. Report are that Apple blew it on iOS 3.0, with far too much signalling taking place. Although AT&T were blamed, it seems Apple made major contributing to the network congestion on AT&T.


I went for my usual 2 km walk in the morning. I finally got my original MacBook Air all packaged up with all the cables, and gave it to Jean. After breakfast we had to visit Willows for the Australian Literary Supplement, and to get vegetables, so that involved another walk.

Jean wanted modifications to a power pack so it would fit her power board. Then there was sawing of a wooden plank so she could put a computer on her newly repaired treadmill.

Heather phoned to ask for air conditioning help. I arranged to visit sometime in the afternoon.

At lunch (pizza) with John, I was approached by Dawn about internet access. After a bit of conversation I suggested she see the Computer Club for a few more lessons, and try out their internet access before getting more involved. I am not sure there are any really inexpensive ways to get internet access.

Went home, tried working on web page stuff, but had to leave again within a half hour for a doctor's appointment. Jean phoned to say she got in only a quarter hour late for her 2 p.m. appointment. Since I was scheduled at 2:30 p.m. for the same doctor, I thought I might be lucky. It was an hour wait. I managed to read 111 pages into another novel. My doctor noticed some damage to my forehead, and wants to do a biopsy. I scheduled that for Monday.

Visited Heather. Her air conditioning certainly seems out of action. Does not seem to be responding to the actual temperature, although the remote control is operating otherwise.

Heather phoned soon after I left. Her unpacking had reached the CD and tuner unpacking stage. Wanted to know how to install them. There used to be a guy who installed that sort of thing. I gave what details I could recall.

At the time Heather called, Gary was banging on the back door. Asked Jean if she wanted to put in her plants. She was trying to start dinner (never a good time to catch Jean). But she wanted her plants … err … planted. By the time I returned from checking Heather's music gear, Gary had moved three plants in the garden, planted two of Jean's plants and was wondering what Jean wanted done with two more. I don't know how Gary does it. If I look at a plant sideways it dies. If all goes well that will thicken up the hedge between our two back patios.


I see $4 million trials of Telehealth will commence in Armidale and Kiama in NSW when the National Broadband Network is rolled out next year. Independent Tony Windsor is the Federal Member for New England, where Armidale is a major town. It is also the site of the University of New England, so you could argue this makes it appropriate for trials of communications and medicine.

The trials will focus on high-quality telehealth services for older Australians with chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, living in Armidale and Kiama. Services will be delivered to the home, via the NBN. This is intended to reduce hospital and doctor waiting time. It would allow doctors to remotely monitor patients, as well as view them on high quality video conferencing.

Since I am not seeing much take up of existing internet access amongst the elderly, I wonder why this should be different under the NBN? Apart from problems dealing with technology, another major factor for retired folks seems to be monthly costs of access. Only anecdotal, but I know several older folks who have been given computers by children or grandchildren. However unless they get help learning to use them, the devices sit unused on a desk, and internet access never gets a look in.

Thursday 2 December 2010


I arose well before four. Too hot and sticky. We had been running the main air conditioning after we returned home yesterday, it being the first day of summer. We started laundry at five, with the doors closed to keep the (fairly quiet) washing machine from disturbing neighbours. With rain for the past week, and rain predicted for the next week, we had run out of some clothes.

Jean wanted a shopping trip for potting mix, so that is what we did. Had to visit the chemist also.

Around 10:30 I heard the distinctive sound of a raindrop on the aluminium awnings. I rushed outside and started taking in the clothes, which were getting close to being dry enough.

Naturally by the time we walked over to the restaurant for lunch, it was sunny again. Way too sunny. Plus after rain, the humidity was way too high. I did not enjoy that walk at all. The restaurant was crowded with the yoga people, but we were able to get ploughman's lunch.

My replacement Apple MacBook Air arrived. Naturally we were away at the time (the tracking web site still showed it as being in Sydney, not Townsville). They dropped it off at reception, so Jean drove me over to collect it.

The Residents Meeting was tonight. I walked over a little after six. I did not get away until after nine. I sure hope the various people asking questions got sufficient answers to satisfy them. The voting for the new committee was also held this evening.

Remove Zombies from Internet

I am delighted to see ISPs sign up to voluntary anti-zombie code. The Internet Industry Association (IIA) has government support for the voluntary code to help fix infected computers. This will help remove zombie computers from internet access. You can read the internet industry code of practice. Many major ISPs are signed up, including Telstra, Primus and iiNet. Although the government has been concerned about cyber security, there is no government regulation of zombie computers. This is a voluntary code for ISPs.

Mind you, it would have been more impressive if the iCode folks had managed to avoid incorrectly coding the link to their sitemap on the front page of their site (fix the spelling of search).

Friday 3 December 2010

Paperless Office

I need to get rid of a bunch of paper out of the office. However I may need a record of some of it. This means a fast document scanner with a hopper (not a single sheet scanner). Scan to PDF, with searchable text. Decent Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. Some form of indexing, such as Papers, Yep, Paperless, Evernote or DevonThink Pro.

We can discard some good products for philosophical reasons. Evernote is a proprietary format, and there are privacy issues in the cloud. Paperless seems to have been neglected in recent years. DevonThink gulps everything, has good facilities for your own data entry, and accepts OpenMeta tags. I would prefer to organise my own files. DevonThink may be overkill for my limited needs. I basically do not expect to ever need to look up or annotate most of these papers I file. At least, I hope I will not need to.

Papers is aimed directly at scientific and academic paper control. It may be overkill for my more limited needs. However it does have an iPhone and iPad version, for when you travel.


The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M Desktop Scanner for Macintosh has a recommended price of A$875 ex GST. It is a double sided sheet feed scanner, with OCR software. It does not appear to have Twain or any except proprietary drivers. Although it comes with Adobe Acrobat Pro 8 for PDF work, that version does not work with current model Macintosh running Snow Leopard.

Another possible scanner is the Epson WorkForceTM Pro GT-S50 Document Image Scanner, which is another fast double sided scanner. This does include ISIS and Twain drivers.

Writing Web Pages

I have been writing web pages using the Smultron text editor. It has nice colour code support for HTML, and my HTML is typically so plain and simple I do not need anything fancy. Well, except for multiple files open and grep searches. Unfortunately Peter Borg is no longer updating Smultron. It got forked in May by Jean-Francois Moy to Fraise, and slightly updated. Alas, it still fills my log files with errors. However it is going back for a total redesign.

A while ago I tried to use different editors and ran into issues. Panic have Coda. A web editing package of editor, file transfer, subversion for tracking code changes, css, and terminal. I like the idea. However I had found that Coding Monkey's SubEthaEdit kept crashing on me. Now with a new computer, maybe I will try again.

Comments on eBooks

A wonderful essay by Alexander Chee I, Reader, on how pressure of bookcase space drove him to try reading Kindle books in an app on his phone in the subway. Then it was a small step to the seduction of an iPad. He does not mention the next step, the discarding of paper books as you finally get an eBook copy.

The thing is, as Paul Graham discovered, smart phones are now small tablets. They really are. Sure, you can also use them to make phone calls. But they really are a tablet that is too small for me to read without my reading glasses. They are also going to replace a heap of special purpose devices. I wrote back in January how they would (for some of us, sometimes) replace watch, GPS, and they have already displaced music players and cameras.

Saturday 4 December 2010

Software Tools

Since I tend to start by writing a shell script, I need to refer to Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide is an in-depth exploration of the art of shell scripting by Mendel Cooper. I need a reference guide because I hardly write any shell scripts these days. My idea is usually to do the initial work in Bash, until I know what I want to end up with. Then made an AppleScript application of it, if appropriate. You can use Sveinbjorn Thordarson's Platypus to make an application, if you are not able to put a Bash or other script into AppleScript manually.


I started the laundry sometime after five, since we actually had fine weather, despite previous forecasts. I took my morning walk well before six, to avoid getting the sun in my eyes. We were about to hang the laundry out around 7:30 or so, and put another load in the washing machine. We left for Willows at 8:40 or so.

Shopping therapy went well. The greeter at the Telstra TLife store looked blank when I asked about a Parrot AR Drone, but quickly recovered when Jean hinted It's a toy. I had been surprised to find Telstra listed as selling them, but I guess since you control the drone with an Apple iPhone, it is not a bad choice. Shopping was not as good afterwards. Jean caught me in Darrell Lea chocolates. While I remembered to buy newspapers, I managed to forget to buy some bread rolls at Woolworths. Still, we got our walk.

With the weigh in tomorrow, I have been avoiding eating for most of the day, and I am starving!

Wikileak Arseholes

I notice Wikileaks leaked USA diplomatic cables. I guess the first bunch of arseholes are the clowns in the US diplomatic service for their undiplomatic language. The second is a security system that marks so much irrelevant material confidential, but then allows widespread access via Siprnet. The US government should listen to pragmatists like Secretary of Defence Robert Gates on the effects of the Wikileaks cables issue. The biggest arsehole is probably U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, who is sounding increasingly like Senator Joseph (Reds Under The Beds) McCarthy. Meanwhile, the ACLU defends freedom of speech.

Wikileaks used Amazon's web services cloud as one distributor of their blog. Amazon took them down, citing acceptable use policies. Tell me again about why anyone would trust cloud distributed internet services? I don't have much to do with Amazon, but I am now dropping my affiliate status.

Paypal stopped accepting money for Wikileaks, citing acceptable use policy. Luckily this was only one of several methods of donating to Wikileaks. Sigh. It just had to be Paypal, didn't it. So potentially handy. However I am already in dispute with Paypal (no, I am not handing over my credit card details), so I am dumping Paypal as well.

Every DNS stopped domain name service for, citing acceptable use policies. Basically Wikileaks was target of a massive DDoS attack that harmed many EveryDNS client. Seems like we can no longer trust the Domain Name Service to provide pointers to web sites. Better record the IP number of any contentious blog in future. Here is another address of the Cablegate leaks. Here is a longer list of Wikileak mirror sites.

Tableau Software removed Wikileak visualisations published by Wikileaks to Tableau Public. According to author James Ball the visualisations contained no data. They were an indication of the bulk sources of the cables. Here is an example of the Wikileaks cable visualisations, as found in the Google cache. Tableau quoted policies prohibiting use of materials to which you do not have a right to make public. I note that this is not a copyright situation, as USA government material is not copyright. Tableau also removed a statement in Ellie Field's blog entry proudly trumpeting the fact that Wikileaks is using Tableau to show the breadth of the data by subject, country, origin and classification, organization, program and topic. Amazing what people find in a Google cache.

The French government is pressuring French company, OVH SAS, to stop hosting WikiLeaks, according to Industry Minister Eric Besson. I have long thought the French were stuck upstuff wits.

Swiss PostFinance, the banking arm of state-owned Swiss Post, has closed an account used for WikiLeaks donations, on the basis that Assange was not resident in Switzerland. Visa Europe said it had suspended payments to the WikiLeaks website. Mastercard has also refused payments to Wikileaks. However you can still use Visa and Mastercard to donate to the Klu Klux Klan.

It is unlikely Wikileaks has committed a crime. You can donate to Wikileaks, if you can still find Wikileaks on the web.

Sunday 5 December 2010


I went for my morning walk before the sun was over the top of the hill. Did my 40 situps. My weight was down a little for the week, so I can enjoy scrambled eggs for breakfast.

I started setting up my MacBook Air. Decided not to use the automatic file transfer, as my Mac mini is full of junk. I can always use Migration Assistant later if I feel I need to do that.

This was the last day that the public affairs programs Insiders and Inside Business will be showing. Also, Parliament is no longer in session. I may even get some extra work done on Sunday mornings at this rate.

During the day our neighbour a few doors away phoned. I had forgotten I was going to move a heavy stack of tuner and CD player gear (all wired together) for her on Friday, so she could continue her unpacking. Immaculate home. I don't know how people manage that, especially when unpacking.

Had an email reminding me of the FLAP deadline. I had actually written the material, but had not formatted it. Did that, turned it into a PDF, and emailed it in the evening. One more deadline covered, albeit with more effort.

Programs for Macintosh

I looked at Objective developments, who make Little Snitch. This protects against programs sending data out of your computer. It alerts you to which programs attempt to contact anything out there. Most programs that send out data do so for an innocent purpose, but us paranoids need to keep an eye on them. Little Snitch has rules based configuration, supports IPv6, can filter by DNS based rules and domain. It has multi-user support. There is also a network monitor. Costs US$59 for a family version.

Mike Bombich writes the shareware Carbon Copy Cloner, which makes a complete bootable copy of your Macintosh. It has a fair range of additional features compared to Apple's Time Machine backup. The most obvious is being able to boot from your backup with no delay. Every business should be looking at this sort of feature.

Alf Watt writes the open source iStumbler, which reports on the wireless networks around you. More convenient than other searches for Bluetooth, WiFi or Bonjour (mDNS).

Rick Neil makes iPhoto Buddy, to make it easier to swap between iPhoto Libraries.

Brian Webster's Fat Cat Software produce iPhoto Library Manager makes using multiple photo libraries easier. You can use it for free, but the US$20 paid version allows you to split libraries, and then copy photos to different libraries complete with their metadata, comments, keywords, titles and ratings. There is a heap of AppleScript support for iPhoto Library Manager, and thus heaps of AppleScript help for iPhoto Library Manager. Brian also has free programs like Spotlight Browser, which shows the metadata Spotlight has stored for each file.

Templates and Themes

It seems there are now heaps of templates and themes available. Jumsoft Keynote and Numbers photos and templates, plus some for Mail stationary.

Monday 6 December 2010

Wikileaks Cablegate

I like Julian Assange and his Wikileaks cablegate. He is the Austin Powers of journalists. Boycott Amazon and PayPal (and Joe Lieberman). This all reminds me of slogan shouting demonstrators in the 1960's, before we all decided it was a bit of a waste of time. Support freedom of the press. Stop government secrecy. Support free trade, Smuggle! Don't wear that badge through an airport.


I was up around 5 a.m. Went for my 2 km walk, and returned before six. Did 40 situps. After breakfast Jean drove to Willows, where we went for another walk. With all this exercise, no wonder we get nothing done.

Walked to the restaurant for their salad lunch. The weather was stinking hot and humid. Laurie asked me about iPhones not playing in a car. I must check what the car expects as input. Had to rush my meal so I could get to the doctor.

Doctor appointment at midday. I did not see him until almost one. Lie here for 15 minutes while the anaesthetic starts working. He did not get back for half an hour to cut bits out of my forehead and put in three stitches to hold it together. I did not get out until well after two. Sigh. Not that the poor doctor managed to even get lunch. I wonder when the anaesthetic will wear off? At the moment I can not feel my scalp. Seems it started wearing off around 8 p.m. so I fear a headache tonight.

Apple Mighty Mouse Batteries Died

The rechargeable batteries in my Apple wireless Mighty Mouse died again. As usual, this blog post is just a record for statistical purposes. It is no big fuss to recharge NiMH batteries with the tiny Apple charger. The rechargeable batteries do not last as long as the very expensive single use Lithium batteries I used formerly.

My Dell 30 inch display went blank for a period of a few seconds at 9:30 p.m. No reason apparent to me. Too early for screen saving to activate, since I had just been typing. I hope this does not indicate a fault in the Dell 30 inch display or the Mac mini. Had a second identical failure at 10:15 p.m. Third failure at 10:24 p.m. I have pushed the connectors back in place, in case it was loose.


Are you buying education, or an expensive diploma to pass the HR filter? Using the web to turn children into autodidacts asks why not learn from the web? Autodidacticism, self education and self directed learning is not new. The film Slumdog Millionaire was inspired by Sugata Mitra's hole in the wall computers. Children did learn to use them. Sugata Mitra thinks kids can learn by themselves, so long as they are in small groups and have well-posed questions to answer as a self-organized learning environment (SOLE). Interesting point, one internet access for four children, so they have to discuss what they are doing. He thinks one child per computer does not work well enough. Sugata Mitra gave a TED talk.

Education probably should teach you to be a good person, to be a good citizen, and to find and develop your talents so as to enjoy a good life. However what seems to be taught is boredom, conformity and to be a good consumer. Schools start with obedience to authority, conformity of opinion, recording of your results, from which follows sorting into stratified roles, selection out of non-conforming via punishment, and elevation of the leaders.

Tuesday 7 December 2010


I did my 40 situps before my 2 km walk, and again after the walk. All before six. More laundry, since there was a gap in the clouds. Even so, it was nearly eight before that stupid green front loading washing machine completed the load so we could hang them out.

Margaret phoned to say Geoff was in hospital as at Sunday night. At least it was not a heart attack. He was still in for more tests at the Mater on Wednesday. No-one to do the Friday movie.

Jean wanted to get to a $30 purchase in Woolworths, and we had food shopping. Could not find enough books or DVDs to manage that in BigW, so we bought nothing there. We will eventually manage a $30 shop in B&W getting sparkling wine for Xmas. Not sure why we want to get three runs on the board this time. Some shopping promotion I gather.

While having lunch, Allen asked me to look at the microphone setup in the Carlton Theatre. The main portable microphone did not appear to be working at all. No reason apparent to me. I replaced the battery, without any luck. I got the second and third microphone operating and handed them out to the Townsville Garden Club.

The Tariff 33 power to the air conditioners went out on schedule at 6:51 p.m. I have no idea of the timing of the morning outage. It has not been all that hot, something like thirty degrees, but the humidity has been sky high.

Wednesday 8 December 2010


I did forty situps before my two kilometre morning walk, and then another forty situps afterwards. So I was not back to the computer until 6:20 a.m. No wonder I need a drink first thing in the morning. Alas, all I will allow myself is lemon cordial.

It is 7:30 and the humidity is 85%, although the temperature is only 270C. We switched the air conditioning on fairly soon after it started to heat up.

Wikileak Enemies

It seems Paypal will release funds to Wikileaks' fund handler, after freezing the Wikileak account. Paypal Blog was taken off line for hours after a DDoS attack.

Mastercard is recovering from Wikileaks related DDoS attacks, launched by anonymous Wikileaks supporters after Mastercard blocked Wikileak access.

The anonymous attacks against enemies of Wikileaks also took down Visa for a while.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Pay for Internet Access

I see European cellular phone networks are claiming computer and media companies should help pay for infrastructure improvement to cope with increased data use. Cellular phone operators can not cope with increased data. They want internet and web based companies to help provide for the costs.

As long as the pricing of devices does not provide cost signals, what do mobile operators expect? They should be required by law to drop all phone handset subsidies, so that honest price signals are there for the cost of the phones. Then people who really want more costly data hungry smartphones would see the upfront price. Disclosure. I bought my iPhone 3Gs outright from the Apple store, to avoid carrier lock in.

Maybe if phone companies actually priced their charges to cope with congestion and data use? Drop the unlimited data for gluttons, and charge for use within tiered data use bands. However if mobile operators did that honestly, SMS would be essentially free. Phone calls would not cost very much. Data is data. There is no longer any reason at all for a separate charge for SMS, MMS or voice. If that happens, the mobile phone operator business model goes down the gurgler. So the mobile operators do not really want to open that can of worms.

How is charging for data any different to charging for petrol, water or electricity? Especially with Long Term Evolution on the horizon, and fibre optic data only landline networks?


I did forty situps, went for my two kilometre morning walk, and did another forty situps. I was running late, and it was 6:15 a.m. before I got back. Did another forty situps before breakfast. I hope I will soon get to the exercise level I want.

Duncan came asking for tables, something Geoff and I had discussed as we tried to get lighter tables. I did not realise at the time that Duncan had discussed this with Geoff. I sent an email to Geoff and Leigh about this, and promised to see Duncan at lunch.

After breakfast we went to Willows for another walk. While walking we had scouted the stores for items on our wish list, without much luck except for some food.

Spotted a 16 bottle Tempo brand thermo electric wine cooler by the BigW door, at under a hundred dollars. We had been discussing a wine cooler for ages, but had not done anything because we could not see where we could install it. However at that price we decided to take a chance. So it is basically under the end of my desk, and making way too much racket I feel. Been running all day, now has eight bottles in it, and the temperature has fallen to 18 degrees (ambient is something like 28). It seems to run fine, although every now and then the fairly quiet fan noise intrudes in my almost silent room.

Dropped in to see Leigh about tables, which involved a bit of a discussion. We could spare three or four, now we have seventeen lightweight ones.

Jean decided to walk to the restaurant with me for lunch. Had a phone call from Margaret that Geoff was out of hospital, so that was great he was able to return. After lunch Duncan and I took three heavy tables out to his truck for use at TOTS. I took ten light tables out of the store while Margaret and Geoff arranged them in the Carlton Theatre. That was way less effort than during a previous Arts and Crafts event when I took a dozen heavy tables out on my own before Duncan arrived to help. We are on the right track with the lighter tables. Even the social club folks preferred to use them. We had the whole place organised after less than an hour.

The air conditioning went out at 6:51 p.m., which is the standard time for Tariff 33 where I am at the moment.

Nice article on the cost of paper submissions for publication.


I posted a few minor responses to comments on Facebook about the Wikileaks Cablegate issue.

Official USA reaction to Watergate and Cablegate were similar. However the protest is because the Australian government has a duty of care to any Australian citizen arrested overseas. Had high government figures not commented adversely, there would be no reason for a protest about government. The Australian government has clearly been confused about both its role, and the rule of law.

Perhaps more Americans should read the first amendment of their admirable constitution, especially regarding freedom of the press. Wikileaks has posted less than 1000 cables out of more than 250,000 they hold. These cables have all been redacted for names by their major newspaper publishing partners, which include the New York Times and in the U.K. The Guardian. Just what crime do people think has been committed by Wikileaks?

Friday 10 December 2010

Carlton Theatre

I needed to spend half of the day helping with Carlton Theatre events. There is the second Friday of the month film presentation to start at nine. Leigh is doing a Powerpoint presentation at eleven (or whenever the film ends). Plus there is a wake in the afternoon.

Geoff reminded me of where the audio video controls were, which was just as well. Luckily the remote for the video projector was to hand. There is a nice long lead available at the front of the stage for the projector. It only accepts the older VGA video signals, so as business computers move to DisplayPort, DVI and HDMI, there may be connection issues. We have already encountered one business laptop that lacked VGA.

We started with some background music while folks had tea or coffee and biscuits and Christmas cake provided by Margaret. I need to announce their availability and that water is available also. Announced the restaurant, and Leigh's presentation. I only showed one Road Runner cartoon, due to time constraints. Then it was on to Andre Rieu and Christmas Around The World. One attendee later told me it was not the latest version (she has all of them, I gather). We ended up with 68 people attending, including some dozen or so waiting for the information session. Pretty good, I thought.

I thought Leigh's information session for potential new residents worked well. The Residents Committee also had folks attending, and Ray gave a talk as well. Meryl from sales seemed pleased with the morning. I stuck around in case there were other technical issues, so I also learnt where extra power cords and audio cables were. I need to document all that sort of stuff, as a sort of staff training web page. For example, we got caught with an additional equaliser in circuit and making sounds a little muddy.


By the time I woke up, it was too late for me to do a long morning walk.

Spent the morning at the Carlton Theatre. Geoff and Margaret and I had lunch with Ray and Dot at the restaurant when it was all over, but we were a bit late. I thought more people would have attended the restaurant after the movie.

The air conditioning went out at 6:51 p.m. Seems to be consistent, so I guess that is the time it stops each weekday this summer. Tariff 33 power to the air conditioning was back on by 7:26 p.m.

LOIC Leaks

I see hacktivist attacks on Wikileaks opponents are risky for the script kiddies that use LOIC. Their computer IPs can be traced (tracing is far less likely with DDoS attacks via botnets - these mostly work for spammers). Why do I get the impression these anonymous folks doing attacks on Mastercard and Visa and so on are mostly useful idiots. Nothing like having a court system clogged by 10,000 teenagers charged with denial of service attacks for political impact.

Even 2600 Hacker Magazine condemns those immature individuals using methods like LOIC to attack business.

Saturday 11 December 2010


I checked the Carlton Theatre mid walk this morning. I did not think the tables had been put away, but could not see well enough to be sure. However I was too early for the doors to have been opened by our caretaker, so I continued my walk.

Jean and I went to Willows around eight for her walk. At that time, few people were around, despite it being a weekend during school holidays. We only needed to collect milk and newspapers after our walk.

Dropped in at the Carlton Theatre as we headed home. I wanted to put away the tables. Jean wanted to see the office there. Geoff and Margaret had already put most of the tables away. I put the remaining three tables away. That seemed to work well.

Jean's MacBook Air

Jean decided that since the original model 2008 Apple MacBook Air I had passed along was short of space, it would be better to wipe it clean and reinstall the operating system. I had only managed to find her about 55 GB of disk space, despite removing almost everything I could think of. I made two fundamental mistakes. I somehow had it in my head that the drive was 120 GB. I was so fixated on this that I did not even check the drive size in the System Profiler. On that original model MacBook Air, the drive was actually a very tight 80 GB, not the 120 GB of the later model.

My other fundamental mistake was not realising that MacBook Air was actually launched with Leopard, OS X 10.5. So the installation DVD is actually Leopard (10.5), not Snow Leopard (10.6) as I had hoped. In some ways that was not a problem, as Leopard gives you the choice of wiping everything on the hard drive, whereas Snow Leopard always tries to retain existing content. Since the operating system comes on two DVDs, and the MacBook Air has no DVD drive, I had to do a Remote Install. The DVD drive went in my Mac mini, and the MacBook Air connected via our WiFi network. Apart from taking about four hours to complete, the install was painless.

Pat's Birthday

Pat had kindly invited me along to her party, at Satay Mas Chinese restaurant with a buffet bar on Ross River Road out towards Office Works. Pat was organising things at the mail boxes where we were meeting. I wondered where Geoff had gone, until I noticed him wandering along the street towards us with a lady on each arm. Blue was kindly driving the Carlyle Gardens bus, with about 19 residents including his wife. A lot of the neighbours from Stage A were along when we departed at 5:30 p.m. I sat next to John on the bus. We had four large tables at the restaurant, and must have had 40 people along. I think the first time I went there we had a single table. I saw Dot and Sue at another table. I was pleased to see Heather had decided to attend. Ray was resplendent in a colourful Hawaiian shirt. I had tried to outdo others by wearing the colourful butterfly shirt that Jean had made me. I also took my 49 LED flashing badge, to add colour. Even had a talk about that with one of Geoff's workmates as we left the restaurant. We were all home around 8:30 p.m. after a pleasant evening. We were just getting rain as we walked to our respective homes.

Sunday 12 December 2010


I went for my usual two kilometre walk early this morning. Started Jean's MacBook Air downloads before I left. Between newspapers and updating Jean's MacBook Air, I did not manage to get much done during the morning.

It started raining hard around 3 p.m. I do not like John's chances for his party a little later in the early evening. However as it turned out, the rain stopped. When I arrived fashionably late, there were about twenty people on the back porch.

Jean's MacBook Air

I started the download for an update to OS X 10.5.2 on Jean's MacBook Air. After several hours, that brought it up to 10.5.8. I was not sure I had a copy of Snow Leopard for it, but eventually located details of my other computers, which proved they came with Snow Leopard. I had bought a retail copy of Snow Leopard, so that was obviously the one intended for the MacBook Air (my iMac G5 can not go past Leopard). So I used the Remote Disk access facility to bring Jean's MacBook Air up to Snow Leopard, and then did yet another update over the internet.

Next it was time to install both iLife and iWork. I had a family pack of each. These had to be done via the Remote disk as well. By the time all the updates were complete, it was about eleven. Since I only rarely needed to intervene I read the newspapers during the morning.

Learning Javascript

I have to admit that Javascript became more important than I expected, when I dismissed it a decade ago. So now I will probably need to learn at least something about using Javascript. Luckily there are several online books and other Javascript resources.

A history of Javascript by Yahoo's Javascript architect Douglas Crockford as a series of large video lectures. Eloquent Javascript, A Modern Introduction to Programming by Marijn Haverbeke in HTML or PDF. Sams Teach Yourself Javascript in 24 hours by Michael Moncur is from 2002, but looks like a good introduction. W3Schools have a Javascript tutorial, but I have not read it. Wikibooks Javascript is an online guide, not yet complete by worth checking. Sitepoint guides are generally good, so I imagine their Javascript is also. A free ebook on Let's Make a Framework by Alex Young, in both PDF and ePub.

Monday 13 December 2010


I was up before four. Too humid to sleep. Looked through emails from Twitter, and deleted most of them. That left 47 emails since I joined Twitter. Sometime I will figure out which are friends of mine, and make sure I really am following them. Talk about time wasting!

I tried changing the design on my Twitter page. Changing Themes does not seem to do anything at all. Turns out there seem to be empty themes.

I went for my usual two kilometre morning walk, returning just before six, as the sun came over the hill. Did my 40 situps, which I should have done before leaving. This exercise gig is way too much work.

Social networking site Facebook seems to be out of action again. Usually it is Twitter that has failed to work. Either way, the chances of me ever relying upon cloud based computer infrastructure like Google docs and ChromeOS is pretty much zero. It is just the half arsed revival of thin clients, which is a malformed revival of terminals and servers. It was shit back then, and it still seems to be crap.

Went to Willows, and visited the T-Life store when it opened at nine. Although in the first five people into the store, I had to wait a quarter hour to be served. got my $49 3 GB monthly data extension for my iPhone cancelled. The Telstra guy said my new $49 Cap phone plan now includes a gigabyte of data anyway. Seems it once again changed without warning, as it used to be 100 MB or 200 MB a month.

I plan to visit again tomorrow and try to get a data only plan for a NetComm 3G to WiFi gadget I have. However I do not trust the Telstra Siebel accounting system enough to make more than one change per day. I only marginally trust it enough to do more than one change a month!

The nurse took the stitches out of my forehead. It seems what I have is a precursor to skin cancer. Thanks Doc. When I visited last week you described a skin cancer eating out your brain, as a sort of Zombies R Us substitute. I have a prescription for a cream that basically strips the flesh from your bones. Got advised by my doctor to start using it after the Xmas round of parties (or wear a bag over my head).

I set up my iPhone to be able to Tweet via SMS. I sent a tweet to Twitter when I arrived at the restaurant after visiting the doctor. Doing a Tweet via SMS made no more sense than using a web browser. However it did actually work.

Heather phoned about an air conditioner problem. I think her Tariff 33 cut off hours must differ from ours. The test button on the fuse box showed no power when I arrived, but power a few minutes later. Her air conditioner worked when I tried it.


I found this most pithy comment from Meg in The Australian, appended to an article about prison staff going on strike in Queensland.

Let's put seniors in jail and prisoners in nursing homes. This way seniors would have access to showers whenever they want, unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, they would receive money instead of paying it out. They would be constantly monitored in case they had a fall so they would be helped immediately. Simple clothing would be free on request. Private secure rooms for all with flat screen TV, radio and air-con. The criminals would get cold food, be left alone and unsupervised and shower once a week. They would live in a tiny room and pay $900.00 a month with no hope of ever getting out. Justice for all.

Tuesday 14 December 2010


I was up late, and rushed out for my morning walk. When I returned, I updated the operating system on my computers, since download speeds were good.

We tried United Discount Pharmacy along Kern Brothers Road at The Avenues shopping centre. Since two out of three of my prescriptions are cheaper there than via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, I guess we will continue to use it. Despite their web site wanting stupid Flash players. Jean reports that the Woolworths there at The Avenues is larger than at Willows.

Put my old IBM Teva sandals in to the shoe repair Mr Minute at Willows to get the sole put back. I will generally be using them around the garden and lawn, so nothing fancy was needed. Just to avoid tracking garden dirt and muddy water inside. The T-Life store was too busy for me to attempt to get served.

Dot was not at lunch. Flat tyre, and no idea when the service folks would come to rescue her. Ray was there, quoting Chaucer. He gave me a partly hand done Xmas card, with Apples. I need to help Geoff and Margaret with the Carlton Theatre tomorrow. Geoff does not believe a 3D printer can exist.

Telstra did a totally automated voice survey of my T-Life experience via my mobile phone. A curious combination of mostly incompatible technologies.

I put on the first of the face cream to burn away skin cancer. I do not expect to like the results.

USA Postage Restriction

I quote from the Australian Post web site: Due to heightened border protection and increased aviation security measures introduced by the US Government applying to inbound freight, there is likely to be delays of around 48 hours to parcels being sent to the US. These new security measures have increased cost implications associated with screening and transport, and as a result a $9 surcharge will be imposed on all parcels over 453g (16 ounces) destined for the US.

This surcharge has been introduced solely to cover the costs of the revised security arrangements required by the United States, and Australia Post does not profit from the surcharge.

Wednesday 15 December 2010


To T-Life store at Willows for a SIM data card for my NetComm 3G to WiFi adaptor. Telstra data charges on this are absolutely terrible. Especially compared to their iPad and their mobile Cap plans. For example, my regular cap plan has a gigabyte of data associated with it. I suspect I will only do this data adaptor stuff once at these poor prices, unless we find it really useful.

Getting my Teva sandal repaired at the Mr Minute seemed to work better at $20. I hope I get a few more years out of the sandals, using them in the garden and so on. If I wear my usual sandals, I trek dirt through the whole house.

Walked to the Carlton Theatre at 2:30 p.m. to see how Geoff set up the speakers for the carol singers for Sunday night. After the stage microphones with their 48 volt phantom supply were moved, the singers could compete with the piano. That seemed to go well, once Geoff noticed the microphone outlets 3 and 4 were not connected to the mixer.

Walked to the restaurant with Jean for the cold Xmas dinner they were running. Dave had given me a table out of the way, and I sat with Jean and John. Usual cold chicken salad, which was plenty for me. John disposed of my second slice of chicken. I took a few photos of folks who were there, although I had only brought my iPhone. Allen had arranged the Millennium Singers doing Xmas carols, although from where we sat we could not really hear the words. He also had a bunch of lucky ticket prizes. John won a tin of biscuits, Jean won a wine travel book. Seemed to me to go well.

When we got home, I emailed Jean a few photographs from the restaurant scene. It was about then that I worked out I had walked at least 6.5 km during the day, most of it at times when I was exposed to the most intense sunlight. Considering I had intended to keep out of the sun while I was putting goop on skin cancers, I was not doing well.

Short URLs Suck

I see nothing wrong with long, informative URLs. It is not like you normally need to type a URL. You usually simply click on them, so short or long make no difference. When making a URL, you normally write something informative within the link text. If you use a computer, when you hover over a link, your browser will inform you of the address to which it points. If the browser shows the destination is IBM, or Coca Cola, then it may well be.

In contrast, a short URL from one of the shortening service is giving you no information. It may be harmless. It may point to some virus ridden hell hole of a site. You don't know. So the safe thing to do is never click on a shortened URL.

Thursday 16 December 2010


I did my forty situps, and then went for my two kilometre walk. I plucked some weeds from the garden, where they had sprouted mightily in the summer rain. Luckily I managed that before the sun came up. Did another forty situps before breakfast.

Micro USB Phone Chargers

I really do not understand the European idea of having a standard phone charger. I get it that they want to avoid having chargers thrown out when you change phones. However there is already a perfectly good standard way of providing power to phones and many other devices. It is called USB. Not Micro USB. Almost nothing has Micro USB included. Look at the mess you get with cameras with USB B, Mini USB, Micro USB.

Almost every computer has a standard USB A connection on it. You can even get power plugs for travel that have an extra USB outlet along with the mains outlet. Hotels and the like these days often have USB power available. Just specify that every phone charger must include a USB A socket. Include an appropriate cable with each phone. Problem solved. Except for these people too stupid to keep their cable with their phone equipment.

Friday 17 December 2010

Drive to Airlie Beach

I got away before five, but then had to spend time refuelling before I could get to the highway. Being summer, we have light from not long after five. Ran into rainstorms at Townsville, and later at Bowen, but it did not rain at Airlie Beach. I made a quick stop at Inkerman for some chocolate milk to sustain me for the rest of the drive.

I hardly needed anything at Centro shopping centre. A little ham and a tomato, plus some milk that turned out to be almost superfluous. Could not find any DVDs or entertainment worth considering. I am getting pissed off at Gerry Harvey's little war against internet sales from overseas, so I paid little attention while I was in Harvey Normans. As a result, I found nothing of interest.

The newsagent in Airlie Beach had Mac Format and iCreate for me, plus four back issues of the Whitsunday Times. They always do well by me. I spend the rest of the day relaxing at the Whitsunday Terraces.

Xmas Lights

I love this stuff the Applix folks pointed out. General Electric Color Effects G-35 string lights. What is neat is they are three colour LED, and technically each of the 50 bulbs should be individually addressable. Hacking Xmas lights was the result of gadget enthusiasts discovering them. The lights have a three wire 5 volt, ground and data connections, and a simple self clocked serial data interface. It uses a 26 bit frame that addresses each bulb component.

Saturday 18 December 2010


I went to the markets moderately early, having waited until I could hang out the laundry. Rex was not there, nor were Glenn or Alison. My usual breakfast folks had arrived early, been rained upon, pack up and driven off, only to return when the weather improved. No wonder they looked exhausted! I should appreciate their bacon and egg rolls more, given the effort they put in.

I was able to collect The Weekend Australian, The Courier Mail, and the Financial Review when I visited the news agent. They had been short supplied the Courier Mail, and I got the second last one. No idea why that happened, as the supply was way less than their normal numbers.

Body Corporate

I checked lights under the Whitsunday Terraces buildings. It seems it has been a fair time since some were cleaned out. In Florin Terrace one light was out, and another was hanging out of its fitting. However Endeavour Terrace looked a little better than I had thought from the report Chris put out. I think Ron must have already got to some of it.

The amount of plants growing in the gutters was phenomenal. I could only just reach them, on a short set of steps. Pulled all manner of decaying vegetation from the gutter in a futile attempt to get the plants loose from the gutter. I had to shower again to clean up. The neglect at Whitsunday Terraces is disgusting.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Zero Coal

The Queensland Labor Government has dropped Peter Beattie's ZeroGen clean coal carbon capture and storage project after dumping $150 million of tax money into it. The carcase will be given to the Australian Coal Association. The proposed $4.3 billion 530MW clean coal power station for central Queensland will also be dumped.

Other wasted Queensland Labor efforts were the $1.2 billion Tugun water desalination plant, the shutdown $380 million Bundamba water treatment plant, the $313 million Gibson Island water treatment plant, and $265 million for the possibly useful Traveston Dam that was never built.

Monday 20 December 2010

Leaving Airlie Beach

I got away from Airlie Beach before five. Put some fuel in during the drive, to ensure I had sufficient. Bit of mist, and a little rain from time to time. I made pretty good time back to Townsville.

David Brin had an interesting article on the future of free media. He points to Michael Whalen's comments in Apple, Google, NewsCorp and the Future of Content: Interview with Michael Whalen, about something I observed in myself when using the web. If a site slows me down with a login, I just close that page. I am looking at you, New York Times. David Brin sees advertising funded media on the web as a bubble. I think he is correct. Advertising as an ever expanding subsidy is already showing its flaws.

Power Outage

Our electric power went out at 1:28 p.m. during an unexpected tropical downpour with accompanying lightning. As is often the case here, we seemed to have a tiny storm cell directly over this area between Ross River and the Bohle River. It dumped rain like you would not believe, leaving flooded areas outside Carlyle Gardens. Luckily we had started the air conditioners after lunch, so we had dropped the interior temperature and humidity somewhat.

Our local area lost power, yet again. I believe Stage A is connected to the Rasmusson sub station. Over at reception (connected to the Dan Glesson sub station) they still had power, and no reports of power outages at the time I phoned. Ergon had repaired the connection within a half hour, despite continuing rain. Our local UPS worked well, with plenty of time for me to complete some email, and shut down my 30 inch monitor and my low power use Apple Mac mini computer. The old UPS running the ADSL modem and wireless access continued to work fine.

Tuesday 21 December 2010


I did my usual 40 situps, and then my two kilometre walk around. Luckily it was overcast, but I was out before the sun could get above the hill in any case. I started doing mailing comments on ANZAPA, having run into a dead end on some web sites.

I had to stick around until Blue Ribbon pest services arrived. two large vehicles, and two efficient young men who inspected the inside and outside. their paperwork was not as efficient as their inspection, but I gather their office usually does that. They did recommend we stop water from the downpipes from flowing around the house. We have been trying to do that. They also recommended getting rid of wood mulch in the gardens, to reduce the attraction to white ants. That suits me.

Dot was driving at excessive speed (our limit is 20 kph) to collect Pat when I walked to the restaurant. I remonstrated with her over lunch. Gave a present to Leigh, our resort manager, in thanks for her work during the year. The staff here have been great.

Landlines Die

I notice reports that for the first time, a young cohort of USA folks now use cell phones instead of landlines. Yahoo reports More than half age 25-29 only have cell phones. In addition, 27 percent of U.S. households had only cell phones in the first half of this year, up 2 percentage points since the last half of 2009.

The rationale for the Australian National Broadband network is getting weaker and weaker as more people abandon landlines. Now mobile costs are dropping, I would not be surprised to see figures head towards USA levels. The projected figures for landline use in the NBN business projections for the next three years seem highly optimistic to me. Now it may be that vast numbers of people are really interested in having streaming video that NBN would be good at providing. However I can not see that as being an economic asset. Faster porn for farmers hardly seems worthwhile.

Wednesday 22 December 2010


I went for my usual morning walk. We did not do our equally usual Willows visit for Jean's walk. However as far as I can determine, nothing else whatsoever happened today. It was a dead loss.

Thursday 23 December 2010


It rained when I wanted to take my morning walk. However Jean and I wanted to go shopping at Willows ShoppingTown, so I could do some walking there. Normally at this time of year we avoid shopping centres. We are not crowd people. The Darrell Lea chocolate store had a bunch of nicely gift wrapped soft centre chocolates, at about twice what Woolworth charge for a box of chocolates, but they were Australian and looked better to me. So I bought one each for Jo-ann and for Jenna at reception, who have to put up with us cranky inmates at the wrinkly ranch.

Saw an unfortunate incident at Willows with a load of shopping trolleys hitting an elderly lady. The kid collecting the trolleys could not stop them in time with his rope when the lady wandered into his path, totally oblivious to him being behind her. I hope she did not get hurt, but old skin is not real tough.

When Jean and I got back to Carlyle Gardens, Jean went straight past the entrance. Blamed me, although I had warned her of the need to enter. Then I delivered the chocolates, but totally forgot to buy a Lions Xmas cake and some honey at reception. Luckily despite being closed at midday, Jo-ann let us drop in around 3 p.m. to buy them, which was when Jean remembered we had failed to collect them. Jean did not forget to get whipped cream to go with our cake.

Credit Card Police

I notice MasterCard, PayPal and Visa refuse to pass money to a customer they disapprove of, in this case WikiLeaks. I further note that WikiLeaks have not been charged with any crime, not even by the notoriously intolerant USA.

In Australia, the Federal Police have already decided that there are no charges able to be laid WikiLeaks, despite loud mouthed disapproval of WikiLeaks by the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, one of the two political pygmies leading Australia astray. In short, WikiLeaks have not broken any Australian law none whatsoever. Go pick on someone who has.

Now I see RIAA, MPAA recruit MasterCard to help them police the Internet. I have a message for MasterCard. Get the fuck out of police business, and do not pretend to act as a court. You are just another arsehole business damaging customers by spreading credit risk to people who may not be able to afford excessive credit.

I no longer have a MasterCard, and never will again. If your online business relies exclusively on MasterCard, PayPal or Visa to accept payments, you will not be able to accept any payment from me.

Friday 24 December 2010

Internet Threat to Retail

I see straight talking millionaire retailer Gerry Harvey says internet threatens Harvey Norman retail. Access Economics estimates that online purchases totalled between $19 billion and $24bn in 2009, or around 3 per cent of total retail sales. Access also say 50% to 80% of online sales are to local business, not overseas.

Now Gerry Harvey wants overseas internet sales to be charged GST, despite catching such sales probably being uneconomic for Customs. Myer, Target and Just Group also claim foreign sales should be subject to GST. If Gerry Harvey had pulled his finger out and had more than a piss weak sales brochure on his Harvey Norman web site a decade ago, he might have been one of the companies benefiting from internet sales. As it is, I can buy online in Australia from Deals Direct much cheaper than Harvey Norman. if he wants to do something useful, Gerry Harvey should try to remove government red tape from the retail scene, and lower the cost of the dead hand of bureaucracy.


We kept running into people from Carlyle Gardens at the Willows shopping mall. Despite arriving at eight, the car park was filling rapidly. No weekend newspapers on Xmas Day, so some were presenting their weekend material early. I wanted Super Juicy Lemon cordial, since I was about to run out. Every sort you could imagine, except that. On the way home we stopped at IGA, where I got Golden Circle lemon cordial. Now Golden Circle is no longer Australian owned (Heinz own it), I am not as keen to buy their products. They traded on the Australian owned labels for ages after Heinz bought them out.

At Willows I greeted the hard working food relief guy from Carlyle Gardens, and introduced him to Jean. I wanted Jean to decide about buying cherries. Later saw him at the Sunland Plaza, and exchanged a few words. Soon after we got home, he came along with a bag of cherries for us. They had been going so fast he feared he would run out before I reached him (he was right). That was great. I had some that evening with chocolate ice cream.

Ray, Pat and Dot were at lunch. I had taken Jean's car, since it was raining something heavy. That is not my usual pattern.

I went to the ensmalled last Happy Hour of the year that evening, just bearing the rain. The RSL did their last presentation. John of the Social Club gave our prizes after Duncan sold tickets. I managed to win Jean yet another Wish Card for the Woolworths Group. John and I talked Ray into deciding that he did indeed need to have Xmas lights on his house, which is where everyone entering the area would see them. John kindly gave me a lift home. I remembered I had a six pack of beer for him for Xmas.

TSA Security Theatre

I see more examples of TSA security theatre exposed by pilot. For example, allowing all manner of ground crew and food service attendants to enter via a swipe card. So did TSA change? No, instead TSA hassled the pilot who had pointed out their idiocy. For a bunch of aircraft and security stories in Salon or see airline pilot Patrick Smith's own air travel blog.

As a former frequent tourist traveller to the USA, I have no intention of ever returning to USA territory until they disband the TSA. I am sick and tired of security theatre. The international tourism industry can disappear for all I care. It is a pity I can no longer visit my many long terms friends in the USA, but maybe it is their turn to come here.

Carlyle Gardens Floods

Once again the cyclone season brought near flooding to houses at Carlyle Gardens. The garden behind us had way too much water that could not escape.

The western rear side of our house had the concrete under water, and the grass between the houses was simply one large lake. There is no place that the water can go, so it piles up against the house.

On the eastern side of our house at Carlyle Gardens, the water forms a lake against the wall of the house, threatening to flood into the air conditioners. This is because the landscaping has left the area where the gardens are higher than our house.

The lowest spot on our house appears to be the south east corner, as this is where the water is deepest. I can not complete my garden patio work, because it would simply flood every time there is rain.

Not that this is the only place that floods. You should see the bowling green at Carlyle Square. That looks more like a swimming pool.

Xmas Day 25 December 2010

Xmas Day

It was raining too heavy when I got up at five for me to take my walk. We have a low all over the place, dumping large amounts of rain. Roads to the north of Townsville are cut. There are no milk supplies entering town.

Sometime in the early morning the low turned into Tropical Cyclone Tasha, a Category 1 crossing the coast between between Gordonvale and Babinda (which are between Cairns and Innisfail) around 5:30 a.m. This is the first cyclone of the season. Being south of the eye, we will get a heap of rain from it in Townsville and as far south as Mackay. The minor cyclone quickly turned back into a low after crossing the coast.

Meanwhile, the fallout from Anthropogenic Global Warming continues in Europe, with Paris and other airports closed due to snow and freezing weather. Wait! What did I say?

Xmas Lunch

We went to the restaurant for their cold cuts Christmas lunch, which promised (and delivered) lots of prawns for Jean. Ordered sparkling wine, and got the nicer variety we had tried elsewhere. Pat had organised a table full, including Bruce, who later played Santa Claus for the children who were visiting. Some at our table were already fragile as a result of pre-Xmas parties.

All manner of people assisted in cleaning up and putting away tables and chairs afterwards. Allan and dave had only one staff member able to attend on the day, but Adam got stuck by the floods that blocked the Bruce Highway.

Lots of additional wine flowed, and I ended up drinking with Jeffrey and his neighbours just up the road. So I did not get much work done on the day, nor during the morning.

Sunday 26 December 2010

Boxing Day

I have no chance of returning to Airlie Beach. The rain that followed the brief low strength Tropical Cyclone Tasha and the associated low is torrential. The Bruce Highway is cut to the north of Townsville at McEvoy Bridge (across the North Johnstone River) north of Innisfail. Ingham is isolated, with floodwater in the CBD. Catchments around town are at 12 metres. More important for my travel plans, the Bruce Highway is flooded at Giru and Home Hill, near Ayre.

Watched the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on TV. Wild Oats got a good start and was leading when the fleet got out to sea. I hope the yachts do not get too battered by the storms tonight.

A momentary power outage at 9:47 p.m. This was well after the last local bit of heavy rain. We were almost expecting an outage on Xmas Day, as that seems traditional here.

Monday 27 December 2010


We went to Willows so we could walk in air conditioned comfort. To our surprise, some shops were open early, but most were not. We were able to confirm there were no postal deliveries. Even the food shops were closed. We got most stuff at IGA, since Sunland seemed less closed than Willows did.

Tuesday 28 December 2010


I think we managed to get two loads of laundry done today. Another walk in the air conditioning at Willows. However on the way out, we found Coles was open and got several dozen bottles of water for the cyclone season. Their cash register operator got the water price wrong, and it took some time to get the machine to accept the correct (600 ml) bottle size. Jean found that Coles had a small stock of giant frozen turkeys (well, size 40 is giant here). So she threw caution to the winds and seized one. I warned her it would be expensive. Turned out the turkey was half price, at around $12, so that was a real triumph for her.

Films Noted Online

I discovered that the old Disney film Fantasia was to be released again in Australia sometime in January. I gather this may be a cleaned up version. Since I have been seeking it for decades, I must keep an eye on it.

I also discovered that the classic 1971 Australian film Wake in Fright had been released again in November 2010, probably by Madman. This is a digitally restored version, originally thought lost. A search in JB HiFi did not reveal any trace of Wake in Flight. Indeed, I thought there was an Australian section, but could not find it before the intolerable music drove me from the JB HiFi store again.

Wednesday 29 December 2010


I did my two sets of morning situps, and my walk. Saw an ambulance just across the bridge, so I hope the festive season did not claim a victim. We drove to Willows for minor shopping, but mostly for a walk in the air conditioning. I managed to find a single small 6 ounce ceramic bowl in BigW (that makes three I have found so far), plus a novel to read during our next trip. The BigW scanner was the one that went crazy this time. No sign of DVDs of Fantasia nor Wake in Fright in BigW, nor did I have any luck in JB HiFi.

Jean cooked her turkey for lunch. I made mashed potatoes, and basically we overate. We later had another slice of fruit cake, and used up the last of the whipped cream. Just as well we did not really eat dinner.

Thursday 30 December 2010


I did my two sets of situps, and went for my early morning walk. Another ambulance, which ambled towards me as I crossed the bridge, and asked for directions. I must mention to Leigh that some ambulance drivers may not have up to date maps of the place. We started the laundry well before six, in the hope of a mostly fine day. It still took until 7:45 before we could hang it all out on the line. I hate these green washing machines.

Went to Willows yet again for a walk in the air conditioning. About all we bought was a packet of three kilogram, mailing envelopes from the Post Office, since we were late enough for them to be open. There sure were a lot of folks from Carlyle Gardens there in the morning. We returned and checked the mail, to find only a copy of Silicon Chip.

Baen eBooks

I ordered some more eBooks from Baen Books. The 66 books Baen released as Webscriptions in 2002 cost me US$177, which is less than $3 an eBook. I had some free duplicates, which brought it down to 41 books, and there will be some I would not normally read, but overall you have to rate that as good value at a little over $4 a book. I only downloaded the ePub versions, but when I revise my eBook collections I may add the HTML versions. Baen make multiple eBook formats available, and none have DRM. I do not buy DRM infested books.

One weirdness I notice is that within the handy zip file of all the books, the unzip gives you a zip file of every book. Since ePub format is already a zip format, this does not exactly save much space.

When I reached the 2003 and 2004 Webscriptions, I realised I already had a lot of the books. I am not sure how I accumulated so many, but Baen Books are generous about their free library. So I went through and selected another 27 of these to download. That cost another US$128. Compare this to the cost of paperback science fiction in Australia.

I had been very remiss in filing my eBooks into iTunes. Even more remiss in downloading covers for them. So far that effort has wasted the entire day. It took until after eleven to complete the task. So far I lack a decent workflow, as each title needs to be renamed correctly. However there are now over 500 ebooks in iTunes and in my ebook collection.

Friday 31 December 2010


I went for my early morning walk, bracketed by two sets of forty situps. I was still back at 6 a.m. At least the Mac mini did not have problems awaking from sleep today, despite having both the old Time Machine drive and the new $129 WD 2TB drive connected. Alas, the router was not connected to the internet (yet again). So I had to reboot it (which I just do remotely these days).

Mall walking at Willows again today. Jean wanted some vegetables. I pounced on cheap Oak brand chocolate milk. Jean found yet another half price frozen turkey, so we got that. Had to freeze the cooked turkey from the previous one, but should keep us in turkey meat for a fair while, at a not bad price either.

There is a cloud that settles over Carlyle Gardens and rains whenever I contemplate going outside. I am not impressed by the end of year greeting.

Noise outside, so Jean sent me to investigate. It was the electricity meter reader. I thought they were eventually going to be able to remote read these fancy meters.

I have changed my email address for science fiction fans again, to fijagh2011. I do this every year. I seem to now have 52 aliases. The old addresses continue to work until the spammers pick them up. Then they get redirected and not looked at very often.

New Year Party

The bar opened for New Year, at least from four until nine. This was thanks to the absent Allan and Dave, as the Social Club did not have an event scheduled. Karen and Crystal did the serving. The bar also sponsored a raffle for attendees. Rain stopped play. No actually the showers stopped before evening, so I was able to walk over under an overcast sky around 4:30 p.m. The storm water remains pretty wide under the bridge. Lots of puddles in the streets, and lots of water draining from the paddock behind the bar. The bowling green was full of water, and there are still three yellow rubber ducks floating in the bowling green.

I chatted with Jeff, Ray and John at the bar. John and I still plot to put LED lights up on Ray's house near the entrance for next Xmas. So far the sales at Willows have not co-operated with surplus LED lights. Ray seems resigned to this well lit fate. I recall seeing Clive and Helen at a large table. Margaret and Ron at another table. I sat down and spoke to Ruth for a while. I had seen her making her slow way to the bar earlier. Our neighbours Holger and Alexis turned up with proper party hats, looking very elegant. To make my lack worse, they had found these in Spotlight, where I got my St Patrick's Day hat, and where I buy loud cotton for tropical shirts. To my regret, not only did I not have a loud shirt but I also forgot my name badge and my flashing lights badge. Neil and Jean thanked me for delivering the Whitsunday Times, when I managed to obtain a bundle from Airlie Beach. Bob led us in singing Auld Lang Syne, but most of us were mindful of damage to the windows and glass wear, and just mouthed the words. I had a long chat with our caretakers Garry and Anne, at the outside tables. The folks at these table always seem to be food fans, and had as usual brought heaps of home made snacks they kindly passed around.

As I recall, Michael and Ruth from up the road, plus John and I, were the last away from the bar, just prior to nine.

Solar Panel Output

I somewhat belatedly checked the readings from the Sonny Boy grid interactive inverter for the end of the year, having been asked about the solar panels at the bar. This inverter is operated from six solar panels with a nominal rating of 1000 Watts total. The solar panels are mounted on the eastern side of the house, rather than the smaller north side roof where they may be more effective.

So far the inverter has recorded 768.6 kWh (E-total), in an operating life of 2413 hours (h-total), so the 1 kW panels after losses are averaging 318 Watts per operating hour or about 3.2 kWh per day. Operating hours of ten hours include very early morning and late afternoon, when not much power is being produced. For example, at 6 a.m. only about 10 Watts is available. The inverter was actually producing output power before 7 a.m. at this time of year, if you have sunlight. The inverter shuts down operations when insufficient electricity is being produced for it to operate.

The solar panels were installed on Wednesday 28 April 2010, although not connected to the electricity meter until at least a month later. Call it 5760 hours install time, so the panels operate (for often small values of operate) around 40% of the day on average in the tropics. The actual feed in meter was not installed until sometime in mid August, so this quarter is the first full feed in account.

This quarter the solar panels fed 135 kWh electricity into the feed in over 92 days. This provided $59.44 in solar feed in rebates against our electricity bills.

Eric Lindsay's Blog December 2010