Eric Lindsay's Blog January 2011

Saturday 1 January 2011


I did my usual situps, walk and another set of situps. It was still well before six. Tried to extract the failed solar light from the rapidly encroaching plants in the garden. The power cable snapped. Opps! Maybe I will end up moving all the solar lights out of the garden where the ants get at them. If I can find a way to mount them neatly under the awnings, I believe it would look nicer. Or maybe I should try a more ambitious set of solar security lights under the awnings.

I told Jean she could get a free copy of RunKeeper Pro for her iPhone. This uses the iPhone GPS to track and map where you walk, and lists the distance and times. While intended for more ambitious walkers than us, free is a good price. After breakfast, Jean and I went to Willows for her walk. The shops were all closed at 8:30 a.m. but some major ones opened at nine. The newsagent opened at nine, so I could get (some of) the weekend newspapers.

Jean said she would not cook the turkey today, because she was getting tired of turkey. So what did she decide we would have for lunch? Turkey bonbons, wrapped in filo pastry.

The rechargeable NiMH AA batteries in my Apple wireless Bluetooth Mighty Mouse failed, so I had to put a fully charged set in. This note is just so I can keep statistics of how long the rechargeable batteries last in each Bluetooth device. Now charging the used batteries in the very tiny Apple charger.

Failed Downlight

I finally got around to replacing the failed compact fluorescent downlight in the dining room. I replaced the original 5000K Crompton with a warmer appearing cool white 4000K Lucci Envirolux 11W GU10 CFL. Luckily for once the cheap downlight fitting actually undid the way it is intended, so replacing the globe was not a drama this time. I have to wonder how our older residents manage with this sort of fitting.

Although only the third CFL to fail in two years, I am not impressed by the longevity of the original Crompton brand 11W CGU compact fluorescent downlights. We only have ten that are used frequently, less than 1500 hours a year. I can not see these downlights getting anywhere near the claimed 8000 hour average for CFL. Old fashioned incandescent light bulbs work much longer in some cases.

Dropped iPhone

I managed to drop my Apple iPhone 4 from the desk to the tiled floor, a distance of perhaps 700mm. This is the first time I have dropped an iPhone. It is sort of like watches, back a couple of decades or so when I wore them. I did not drop them. Luckily the phone landed flat on its face, and nothing appeared to be damaged on casual inspection. Previously I had seen notes that this model is about twice as susceptible to accidental damage than the previous model. Two glass surfaces, front and back, able to shatter. Although it seems tough, the glass is very thin.

The cause of the drop was getting my toe tangled in the charging cable, thus pulling the phone from the desk surface. I used to use a cradle for charging, but with the Dell USB ports often not working, I had stopped using the cradle. The lesson is to tuck the cords away where they can not dangle. I used some stick on cable guides to do that.

Sunday 2 January 2011

Green Car Subsidy Waste

The Rudd government's Green Car Fund in Australia gave $35 million to Toyota in June 2008 which used it to subsidise Toyota Camry hybrid assembly. At the February 2010 release, Toyota planned to sell 10,000 a year.

There are issues with the Camry. It uses an Atkinson cycle engine for fuel efficiency, which means greater bulk for a given power, but despite this is only rated at 6l/100km. The battery pack is old style NiMH, not the smaller Lithium. Boot space is compromised by the battery pack. It is not designed to tow anything, and has not got the heat capacity to do so. Indeed, the Prius also has an overheating issue. Sales of hybrid Camry to private buyers are only a quarter of fleet and government sales, which have not met targets.

This and multiple other multi-billion dollar grants to multinational car companies is basically propping up the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and at most 50,000 car workers to the tune of at least $20,000 a job. One result is a Toyota hybrid Camry that only a little over a thousand private buyers actually bought. This does not seem to have great merit to me.

Electric Cars

I see the UK government have also fallen for the trick of subsidising something people are not willing to buy. UK government launches £5,000 electric car grant scheme, hailed as electric car breakthrough. One vehicle at the moment, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, with the Nissan Leaf to follow.

Spain paid a €6,000 subsidy for electric cars, aiming at selling 2000 of them. By August 2010 a whole 16 had been registered in Spain.

By December 2010, the total number of registered pure electric vehicles in Australia was 112.

If an electric car can not stand on its own merits (and they can not, or they would sell), then a subsidy is robbing the poor to provide brownie points to middle class Green trendies. It is a direct money transfer from the poor to the well off.


I did my usual situps and walk in the early morning. Saw precisely why some of the grass out front is growing really well (thanks Xena). We did laundry nice and early, and looked at the reasonable sky. Hung laundry out.

After breakfast we drove to Willows for Jean's walk, and to check the outside market. By the time we reached there, it was clear that there had been a heap of rain. There were a lot of folks from carlyle Gardens wandering around inside. No sign of the Financial review at the newsagent. Back at Carlyle Gardens, our laundry had been rinsed by rain. First time we have been caught in ages.

Jean cooked the turkey since it was finally unfrozen, so we had turkey for lunch. She had accidentally put it upside down in the oven bag, and that actually worked better for getting moist breast meat. I made mashed potatoes and peas again, while Jean had a sensible salad this time. I am a little reluctant to eat much, as my weight is back to what it was a month ago. Which I guess is not too bad over the Xmas season.


I had a phone call from Jeff, following up his musing from New Year about having a little spontaneous party for a few of the blokes around the village. He was in the middle of three days off work, so he figured he could have a few neighbours in to drink a brew or two. I threw a couple of bags of corn chips and a half dozen cans in a plastic bag. Most of the others had much more organised proper cooler bags for their favourite tipple, but I was pleased to note my snacks were acceptable. I am sure we still have a proper cooler bag somewhere. One of the neighbours could not come, but there were still a half dozen of us, sitting talking and drinking from two to four thirty. It was a pleasant way to occupy a warm afternoon.

Monday 3 January 2011


I did my usual situps and walk, albeit a little later than usual. Since I happened to have a pocket in my T shirt, I started listening to the One Minute Russian lessons I had as a podcast. I hope to at least retain a few bits of the Russian phrases I learned during our Trans Siberian railway trip.

By the time I thought about doing some work in the garden, the sun had broken through the clouds. I am not going to expose my Efudix ravaged face to real sunbeams. They hurt new skin.

When we drove to the mostly empty Willows for Jean's walk, she managed to walk around the entire place three times, or maybe 50 minutes of walking. That was pretty good. Some of the stores were even opening by the time we completed that. Not however Brumbies bread shop. So we drove back via Sunland, where Brumbies was open, so I could get a bread roll for lunch. I think we will be eating left over turkey for a long, long while, since Jean had cooked two 4 kg birds over Xmas and New Year.

Power Readings

I had put new Lithium AA batteries in the outside Cent A Meter electricity transmitter, and its receiver. So we could once again get readings of how much electric power we were drawing in total from the mains. This is more important in the rainy season, when you are more likely to be running air conditioning. However the big peak use is the oven and hotplates. Electric heating really chews power. For example, cooking the turkey peaked our power use at almost 4kW.

With the rainy season heat and (mostly) humidity, we put three air conditioners on when we got home, covering the rooms we are using. That drew about 1.8kW. Meanwhile, at 11 a.m. with overcast, the 1kW solar panels are supplying only 575 Watts. That is about what I would expect.

Carlyle Gardens Gnome

I finally started working again on my Carlyle Gardens Gnome web site. I certainly is about time I gave it some attention. Most of the existing material is from when we first visited Carlyle Gardens, in 2008. To make things easy for myself, I started with a new web page about our move to Carlyle Gardens retirement resort, Townsville. We certainly encountered some events as we tried to reach the point of hiring a removalist.

Tuesday 4 January 2011


I was up late. Rushed off for my morning walk without doing my situps. Rushed to do laundry when I returned. Rushed to do stuff online. Rushed to get ready for our Willows walk. Jean did not like the walking, but she did buy herself a Morton Bay bug for lunch. I stopped to arrange an doctor's appointment.

Saw the regular gang at the restaurant. Pat and Dot had a drink, but did not want the roast chicken meal that was the only dish the restaurant was serving during their shortened trading hours. Geoff and Margaret enjoyed the chicken, as did John and I.

I stuck around chatting with Geoff and Margaret until the Residents Meeting. This was for disclosure of the accounts for the year ending June 2010. A couple of the regular heavies from Lend Lease PrimeLife had attended. I had collected a copy of the figures from Jo-ann at the office earlier in the day before lunch, so I already had numerous notes scribbled on the accounts. Leigh covered many of my questions, and the two questions from the floor filled in another one or two. The best questions were four written questions, some of which were obscure to me, from our neighbour Holger. I thought some of the answers were let through a little easy. I suspect many of us think the real answer was they didn't have the funds, and some things did not get sufficient priority.

I saw the doctor at the Carlyle Medical Centre. He said just what I did not want to hear. Use the horrible Efudix for another week. He dismissed shingles vaccine, which I asked about. I must admit I couldn't exactly see how that would work. If I find anything that suggests it is anything except a manufacturer trying to extend their customer base, I will take that to him next time.

Sometime in the evening I managed to get through yet another year of the body corporate papers for the Whitsunday Terraces. I finally seem to have a pretty good list of additional items to check out when I am next at home there.

Rating Apps

I sent an enhancement request to Apple, for their iTunes program, as used to handle Apps.

It is hard to keep track of which Apps suit you best, leading to an iOS device stuffed with Apps. If the View Options in Apps included a Date last used you could more easily identify neglected Apps, and perhaps replace them with something more suitable. If View Options included a Rating, you could self rate Apps for your own purposes. This might include seeking better Apps to replace low rated Apps.

In addition, Apple might wish to optionally (and with permission) use self ratings as another indicator to other potential purchasers as to which Apps purchasers value highest. The present rating may be biased as Ratings are requested upon deleting an App.

Gerry Harvey Miscalculates

Have you ever tried to buy anything online from Harvey Norman? Not likely, because their web site is basically no use. Now Gerry Harvey is fronting a campaign against overseas retailers avoiding GST. Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes pushed this even earlier, as did billionaire Solomon Lew. One major reason the Government is not interested in charging GST on small overseas items (at present under $1000) is the paperwork may cost more than the tax.

This GST attack misses the target, and the government is right to ignore it (well, they are passing it to the Productivity Commission to bury). Overseas purchases are probably somewhere between $1 and $2 billion, against Australian retail of $250 billion. Tourists overseas spend far more than internet sales. However internet sales will increase, and this is what the retailers fear.

Myer Holdings Ltd, David Jones Ltd, Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd, Target, House, Borders, Angus & Robertson and others are supporting this campaign with newspaper advertising. I am not sure most of their audience even read newspaper advertising (but that is another commerce failure). These dinosaurs are about to get hit by the internet asteroid. However they did remind me to order a few books via the internet direct from the overseas publisher, totally eliminating the retail middleman. So, 32 ebooks for US$75, plus credit card charges. Try competing with that!

Luckily Choice got to the nub of the problem. The big chains should recognise that it's their high prices, limited range and poor customer service that increasingly encourages people to use the internet. So guess what I am going to do? For the rest of the year, I am boycotting all the stores above. I will not enter your store for any reason. I am not the only one to make that decision. You overpriced retailers can get stuffed.

Wednesday 5 January 2011


I went for my walk, did my situps, and started the laundry before six. This time when we did our walk at Willows, we both went hi-tech on records. Jean tried a new pedometer app for her iPhone. I tried RunKeeper Pro, to see if the GPS could get any locations within the indoor Willows complex. According to RunKeeper Pro, I did 4.06km in 41.35 minutes (tell them they are dreaming). The GPS path taken is amusingly inaccurate. Drunkard's walk. It must manage to pick up some GPS readings near entrances and under skylights.

When we got home, we found the temperature was an almost tolerable 28.70C, but the humidity was 74%. So it will be an air conditioning day. I decided not to go to the restaurant today, as one chicken meal goes a long way for me. This didn't help much, because all I could think of at home was a turkey sandwich for lunch. However it did keep me out of the sun, which I really need to do while I am smearing Efudix on my face.

VAT Rate Rises

I see the U.K. VAT rate rises from 17.5% to 20%, sparking calls that someone let the VAT out of the bag. While government claimed the rise is tough but necessary to increase revenue by £13 billion, retailers say sales will drop £2.2 billion. GDP is expected to be 1.9%, down from the previous estimate of 2.2%. Retail taxes typically hit the poor and middle income more than the rich, because the poor spend more of their money on necessities. Hardly anyone can manage to live only on zero taxed foods.

I note the Apple online store raised their prices to include the revised VAT. Apple did the same thing when New Zealand raised their GST from 12.5% to 15%. If goods cost more, typically fewer are sold.

If governments want a tax that is of use, they would put a transaction tax on share trades, and especially derivatives and shorts. It would be just another tax on gambling.

Move To Carlyle Gardens

I started revising my very short web page on our retirement requirements at Carlyle Gardens retirement resort, Townsville. This is part on my plan to update and greatly expand all of my pages about the Carlyle Gardens retirement village in Condon, near Townsville. I figure I will first of all expand anything that only talks about personal experiences, since that is pretty easy. Then gradually add more and more to the pages about the facilities in Carlyle Gardens.

Thursday 6 January 2011


I was awake early, and did my situps and walk early. Once again I used RunKeeper Pro to measure times and distances. As a stand alone application, RunKeeper pro works fine. Once I tried connecting it was another story.

Jean and I went to Willows for her walk three times around the complex. She is testing pedometer applications on her iPhone.

It reached 300C by eleven, so I put my air conditioner on. With the single air conditioner pushing the temperature (and humidity) down, I am drawing 1.18kW. After about 40 minutes, the temperature was down, and the power drain dropped to 0.94kW.

RunKeeper App for iPhone

I had trouble with the extra features of the RunKeeper Pro app for iPhone. I tried setting it up to send to Twitter and Facebook. Although both Twitter and Facebook say they will accept it, the phone seems unable to send an activity through to them. Indeed, the iPhone seems unable to even log into the brand new account I set up with RunKeeper. It seems to work fine as a stand alone GPS tracker in the open. However when I tried to send my activity, RunKeeper Pro would not let me do anything else. It kept trying to send the activity. Exiting and restarting did not help. I could not find any way to save my old activities, since I could not access them to take a screen shot. Deleted RunKeeper Pro.

So I tried the older free version RunKeeper. This is unable to determine my location (although Google Maps got it in seconds). It will not let me put my RunKeeper email address details in until it determines location, but is unable to determine location. During the move to my new phone, it seems my past activity and my account have been lost. Each time I relaunch it, RunKeeper goes back to a futile attempt to determine my location. Deleted with extreme prejudice.

I had another go with an undated version of RunKeeper Pro. Still no way to get to FaceBook or Twitter. Activity does not get resent to RunKeeper. I keep getting Activity Sync Error. My evaluation, Runkeeper Pro syncing is an utter waste of time. Now deleted from iTunes.

Somewhat later when my temper was better, I downloaded and installed all the RunKeeper Pro settings yet again.

Friday 7 January 2011

RunKeeper Pro

I was up a little late, but still managed to get away for my walk before the sun was above the hills. RunKeeper Pro turned itself off after a few seconds, so after deleting the test walk, I started it again and slept the display on my iPhone. These touch sensitive displays can be an issue when the stop button is just as easily touched as the start button. RunKeeper still refuses to have anything to do with Twitter, despite Twitter being set up to receive it. So far RunKeeper has been way more effort than it is worth.

Started the laundry, and got some water before settling in front of the computer. Our internet connection was not operating. I stopped WiFi and reconnected. WiFi as far as the Belkin Router is fine. Logged in to the router and told it to connect. Says that it is connected. Restarted the router remotely. Router WiFi back. Connection to internet is not. Started a ping to Google from the Terminal utility. Get request timeouts on icmp. Started a ping to an IP address (a university server whose number I knew). Still have icmp timeouts. Gave the router more time. Finally started a traceroute to an IP number, in case the DNS system is also out. Traceroute actually starts, gets through iiNet's NextHop, to the Brisbane Pipe network, then AARNet Brisbane and on to AARNet Sydney. In fact, it got to UTS before it timed out. So the general network is working. Try Google again. This time it works. Finally, go back to Mail and collect the adulations from my many fans. Hmm, seems to consist of two pieces of spam.

The first mail was from RunKeeper. I have set a new personal record for the furthest distance! Which is a real achievement for someone who didn't actually move their feet because I was stabbing at icons on an iPhone. The second mail was also from RunKeeper. A new personal record for furthest distance, plus I beat last week and last months (non-existent) distances.

RunKeeper also managed to send both empty accidental activities to Facebook successfully. Did it send the real walk to Facebook? Not a sign of it. So I checked for it on RunKeeper. No indication the actual walk ever reached them. Since the walk was showing in red on the iPhone, I resent it. Now that post shows in my Facebook Home page, but not in my Profile. What is worse, it shows the distance in Miles, not Kilometres, although I have set everything I do to kilometres. Where did these antique mile measurements come from? Finally found a place on the RunKeeper site (that I had changed previously) had reverted to miles. In real measurements that is 2.18 km, taking 9.23 minutes per kilometre, at an average speed of 6.4 km per hour.


I started the laundry early. While helping hang it out, I discovered a spiral spine from a notebook. Shortly after I discovered some totally wadded wet paper, that were the remains of my day to day note of things to be done. There were also a lot of little shreds of paper all over the clothes we hung out.

We did our usual indoor walk at Willows. No point trying RunKeeper in there again, since insufficient GPS signal leaks in. What I need is a combined GPS, gyrocompass and accelerometer based tracking system. However I doubt one exists as yet.

I borrowed Jean's car to drive to the restaurant, since I had to keep my face out of the sun. The usual suspects were there. Dot, Pat, Ray. David was helping Allan at lunch. Was persuaded to have a steak, which was small enough I could actually finish it and was very nice. I talked to Allan about having my birthday party in the restaurant on Wednesday the second. Seemed like it could be made to work.

Jean dropped me back at the bar for the happy hour. I told as many people as I could manage about my birthday, so they do not get startled by the arrival of an invitation in the mail box. Throwing a birthday do is not a great idea, but it is a partial way of saying thank you to some of the people who made Carlyle Gardens a great place to retire. John and I were among the last to leave after the prize draw. John kept saying he could find Xmas lights for Ray for next Xmas, since I had failed to find any at Willows. So I gave him some money to do so. I was also reminded to send folks some photographs of the Xmas Party, so I did that.

Air Conditioning

The folks from the office were working in the restaurant, since their air conditioning was out. The arts and crafts folks also got to the restaurant early, to escape the heat.

There were a swarm of air conditioning folks on the roof. Safety ropes? Never heard of them (and no place to tie off on anyhow). Someone to hold the ladder? Which insane occupational health and safety place comes up with these impossible labour requirements? It was the same during the solar panel install. They will end up with no company being able to employ anyone to do anything. Then 80 year olds will be clambering up ladders at great peril to do things an agile twenty year old can manage easily. Next the government will start getting concerned about the number of old codgers falling off the roof.

Looks like the CE-Bus controls got themselves all upset during the power outage during a storm, and there seems no way to reset them. I believe the air conditioning folks eventually got at least one set of air conditioners to work by by-passing the CE-Bus. I am not convinced some of these high tech systems are worth the effort.

I drove home and looked around until I found a couple of portable fans to take back to the office. The folks in reception were all saying they were OK in the heat. I don't think so.

Saturday 8 January 2011


I took my usual early morning walk. This is the second time RunKeeper Pro seems to have worked correctly in recording the walk on my iPhone, and sending the walk to the RunKeeper web site. It even sent the results to Facebook, which surprised me. However there is still no way to get results to Twitter as promised.

We did our usual walk at Willows, so Jean could exercise. I bought a bag full of newspapers, and took it back out to the car, despite the sunlight. Jean got so far ahead of me it took me an entire circuit of Willows to catch up again. I was also able to get three more tiny 6 ounce bowls in BigW, so that I do not overeat ice cream. Last time I checked in BigW, only one was available (I bought that too). Jean was checking blenders, to replace the one that is stuffed, but the one she wanted had a demo model only, with no boxed ones on the shelves.

John knocked on the door sometime after we returned. He had a giant bag full of three boxes of Xmas lights, as promised, for Ray. Looks like John found 805 lights! In talking, it finally became clear that what he had termed Crazy Clarkes was actually the Overflow store at Sunland. No wonder I was at a loss for what store he meant. He in turn could not understand why I could not figure out where he meant. I will leave it to John to break the good news to Ray on Tuesday. I certainly hope Ray takes it well.

Somehow over the course of the day I managed to do 200 situps. That was my target for the start of the year, so it is not exactly a giant accomplishment. Another thing not managed on time was getting rid of old iCreate magazines. Those I have of the first 25 are now on a pile on the floor. Now to see if I can get to issue 50. I have yet to check the CDs that came with them for items I want to save.

Apple and Verizon Prediction

I see massive USA phone company Verizon is making an announcement on Tuesday, and some Apple executives are expected to be there. You have to wonder a little why Verizon were not able to announce at CES? The computer press is (yet again) predicting the release of a LTE or CDMA iPhone for Verizon. I believe I will go against this very widely held prediction.

There is no chance of a LTE iPhone yet, to suit the LTE network Verizon are starting to build. The network is not sufficiently wide spread. The chips are not sufficiently mature to do a good job. Adding the older CDMA requires a different phone chip, or else a combined chip. I think the combined chips still have power budget issues. In addition, I believe Apple really did have a five year agreement with AT&T, which would not expire until 2012.

I believe the Verizon announcement will be a Verizon compatible version of the Apple iPad. Verizon already sell the iPad with a separate MiFi cellular network to WiFi access point. Apple make the iPad with a separate card containing the GPS and the UMTS and other phone components. I believe Apple will make a new card of the iPad, so Verizon and other CDMA companies can sell a mobile connected iPad. [Late addition. I was wrong. Verizon did get a CDMA iPhone 4.] [I was also right. There is going to be a Verizon compatible iPad.]

Apple are said to be restricting leave for their retail store staff in the end of January early February span. The original iPad was announced late January 2010. I believe Apple will over the next few weeks announce iPad 2, and that will be the first time you could buy a Verizon model.

Apple iPad 2 Design

I see the usual case design leaks, and much speculation about cameras on the iPad 2. It was obvious that the original iPad design had space for a Facetime camera looking at the operator. So the Facetime camera will be added. I am sure it was left out to meet pricing requirements. Remember the iPad launched at a much more aggressive US$499 price than any other manufacturer expected.

Will iPad 2 have a second camera, for regular photographs? It does not make much sense in terms of handling. The iPad is too large for a camera. However a less capable camera than an iPhone could fill the augmented reality niche, as well as handling scanning receipts and papers. So, maybe the sort of cheap camera the iPod Touch has, a 960 x 720 with 720p video. The iPod Touch pricing shows Apple could do it.

The next question is whether Apple can again surprise other manufacturers with a better display than anticipated? They did it with the original iPad by putting in a top of the line IPS display, but with a slightly disappointing 1024 x 768 pixels. Most of the other manufacturers had to settle on a cheaper 7 inch TFT display to get prices below the original iPad. Apple have the best supply line pricing of any company in the world. It is one of the secrets of how they manage to make premium profits. First, there is no chance of a resolution doubling retina display, as 2048 by 1536 is too much for a mobile chip to handle. Four times the iPhone display, to 1920 by 1280 pixels, is only slightly more plausible.

I think there is a 50/50 chance Apple will go for a 1280 x 960 SXGA IPS display, to replace the 1024 x 768 XGA. It would bring the display from a pleasant 132 ppi to 165 ppi, which is even nicer for viewing. The SXVA resolution is exactly double the display resolution of an current generation iPhone or iPod Touch. It could solve a lot of software issues. I believe Apple originally wanted to include a 1280 x 960 display, but could not reach their price and performance points at this resolution. It is a lot of extra pixels to manipulate with a low power chip (twice an iPhone 4). I think the GPU can handle it, but it may hit performance too hard.

Sunday 9 January 2011


I was awake at four, so I updated computers to OS X 10.6.6 while the internet connection was quick. When it got past five, I took my usual morning walk. Since RunKeeper is now indexing these, I will probably not need to track them on my blog. I did note that my weight dropped a little once again, so I think I am finally headed back to the weight I would prefer.

We had a little fruit and then went to Willows for Jean's walk. She has now settled on a pedometer app for her iPhone, and that seems to be giving accurate results. We had no shopping to do.

Had bacon and eggs for breakfast, after a successful weigh in. Alas, we had turkey bonbons from Leonards for dinner, and covered them with cranberry sauce. It just takes a little success to convince us we can eat anything.

I did some notices for my birthday party, ready to get printed at OfficeWorks whenever we can find time to drive there. Also produced eight pages for ANZAPA, well ahead of the deadline, also for printing at OfficeWorks. The Hewlett Packard LaserJet printers here continue to be close to useless, totally unable to cope with humidity. Since I typically print something once every two months, I do not see them fail until I have a print deadline.

Internet Speed Tests

I looked up Australian based Internet speed tests on Google, wanting to see if our recent upgrade had any effect. What a debacle! SpeedTest wants you to have the latest Flash plugin (which is not installed by default in most browsers). OzSpeedTest wants Flash, with iOS does not have. The legacy Javascript test says I get 1063 kbps. ZDNet wants you to watch advertising, but without cookies you can not get past that. CNet's broadband speedtest simply does not work (probably Flash based). Broadband Guide was slow, and eventually showed a blank screen. Broadband Expert never showed where their test was. PC World's test does not work, as it is Flash based. As far as I can tell, everyone has swiped the broadband speed test that Ookla wrote half a decade ago, and just add that to their web pages.

Test My Net Speed works, but is only intended for connections slower than 1500 kbps. It claimed I had 2534 kbps. It autodetected I was in Australia. DSL Reports is overseas, as shown by the latency figures. It reported I had 1602 kbps. It did however offer multiple speed tests, for many browser limitations. ComCen Test My Speed worked fine, giving 2259.9 kbps and 2333.3 kbps.

Monday 10 January 2011


I did my usual walk and situps, and was so early I saw only two other walkers, and a heap of wallabies on the streets. At least this time it was not one sitting in the middle of the road at the bridge, wondering which way it should go. Not that the wallabies pay much attention to me these days.

The router had disconnected from the internet again, so I used its IP number to get into the router. As usual it claimed to be connected. This time I just told it to connect again. Wrote the paragraph above, and checked for a connection. Connected. Seems the connection just takes a little while to wake up after the computers have been asleep all night.

We took a morning walk in Willows again. Jean is now up to 5000 steps. Stopped at Coles for food shopping. The shop shelves are really reduced by the main highway being cut at multiple places down south by floods. Local butchers are OK, since they get local meat supplies, but the chain stores must not. By then it was nine, so we diverted to Sunland. The Overflow store had Xmas lights, at 75% discount. Just like John had told me. I bought two sets of white and two sets of blue LED flashing lights, each string of 300. That gives us some for next Xmas, plus a bunch to add to Ray's place. Our friend Ray will be so overjoyed, when (if) we tell him. Mind you, he might decide he is a former friend after we put up the lights.

Gadgets I Can Not Buy

I see more and more gadgets I would buy, were they only available in stores in Australia. In some cases, all the sales are online, however there is no provision for shipping externally. I hate that.

Wearable's Air Stash is a battery powered wireless Flash drive, media streaming, SD card adaptor. You stick your media on an SD card, and the 43 gram Air Stash shares it over 50 metres as web pages or media via WiFi, 802.11b/g.

EyeFi puts an 802.11 WiFi network connection in your camera SD memory card. Download pictures to your computer or phone as you take them, whenever you are within range of an authorised WiFi network.

Cornfield Electronics TV B Gone does what you would expect. Remotely switches off annoying TV sets in public spaces. helps reduce noise and visual pollution. Now, if only we could switch off billboards.

Electricity Use

I got my electricity account for the three months (92 days) to the end of the year. As usual over the rainy season, air conditioning costs went from zero to more than our other uses of electricity. Out hot water is solar, so that never shows in the accounts unless we have a lot of cloud and switch the booster on. Our regular electricity use was 571kWh, while air conditioning was 627kWh. The money side of the accounts are complicated, as there is also a service fee of $24.85 for being connected. Plus Green Power of $12.00 to cover some renewable energy from the supplier. The solar panel provided 135kWh net surplus into the power grid (at times we were not using as much power), and we got a $59.44 rebate for that, at 44 cents per kWh.

If you add the solar power since the panels were connected to the meter, the surplus electricity exported to the grid comes to 211kWh of electricity credits. Since the panels (but not the meter) were connected to the inverter, the panels produced 768.6kWh.

Tuesday 11 January 2011


I did my usual walk and situps starting before five thirty. The storm of last night had not continued here, although the creek was flowing well.

Jean has taken her car off to the garage for a service. They usually give you a lift back home in their courtesy car. So no walk in Willows today for me. Jean returned remarkably quickly, via taxi.

Jeff and Pat collected me just after midday to go to lunch, instead of Dot collecting me. Sue was back from Europe. Ray had already learned he would be the recipient of many Xmas lights for next Xmas.

Internet Problems

No internet connection, not even as far as my router, early this morning when I woke up my computer. I switched my WiFi connection off and on, and that restarted the WiFi connection. Logged into the newly accessible router and told it to connect to ADSL (despite it saying it was already connected). When I checked a minute or so later, that ADSL connection had also awoken.

The router was out again when I work my computer again at around 9 a.m. Same fix worked. I wonder if it is a router problem, or an iiNet or Telstra issue? Telstra provide iiNet with the ADSL access I am using. I used What Is My Address to find what dynamic IP number iiNet in Brisbane had assigned via DHCP. At 9:30 a.m. the IP number was Now I find myself wondering whether the shrinking IPv4 number pool has reached the point where you do not retain your assigned IP number for more than an hour or so. Since I will sleep the computer when I go to lunch, I can check IP numbers again after I return. It was still, although Jean tells me that sometimes there was a pause of a minute or two before she got an internet response over the lunch time. Guess I will check again tomorrow.

Google Remove Video Support from Chrome Web Browser (1)

Google are to remove ISO standard MPEG4 H.264 video support from their Chrome web browser. Google will use their own WebM video, which is not mentioned in HTML5 video support. I know of no hardware support for WebM in anything, so this means software decoding, and software encoding. Firefox is likely to continue to support Ogg Theora, as does Opera. Internet Explorer 9 supports H.264, as does Safari. There are now two semi-reasonable ways to provide video. H.264 in a Flash container, displayed by the proprietary Flash plugin, or patent encumbered H.264 by itself. There are two idiotic idealistic open source ways to supply video. The unsatisfactory performing Ogg Theora, or the possibly patent encumbered WebM (wait for the patent dispute).

Since my hardware encoders only support H.264, I will continue to supply video in H.264 via the <video> tag. If you want to view my videos, use an appropriate web browser, or add an appropriate plugin.

So the video codec standards wars get worse, instead of better. Are you Google guys insane?

Wonderful comment from Microsoft about Google dropping H.264, in terms of supporting Esperanto and Klingon instead of English. Incidentally, Microsoft supply a Firefox H.264 plugin that lets Firefox use H.264 Windows Media Player support in Windows 7.

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Apple iPhone for Verizon CDMA

I was wrong about Verizon getting a custom iPad first. They really did get a CDMA phone, just as half the USA had been asking for. However the chipset is the old style CDMA. So, if you are using voice, you can not use data (unlike the GSM models of the past several years).

The Verizon release does have sweeteners for USA users, such as tethering up to five devices. AT&T did not allow tethering in the USA until last June. In most countries, including Australia, tethering is allowed (after some delay by some phone companies). So my question is, if you are tethering and using some device like a computer, will the Verizon phone still be able to indicate it has received a voice call? I gather it will, and you can suspend your data session to answer the call.

Google Remove Video Support from Chrome Web Browser (2)

Slashdot user suv4x4 summarised it.

On one side of the ring: H.264. Solid native support on the default browser of Windows - IE9. Solid native support on the default browser of OSX - Safari. Solid support on the rest of the browsers via the ubiquitous (95%+) and well known by the public Flash player. Native support on mobiles. Formally approved standard by ISO and IEC. Guaranteed free distribution on the web for free content, minor free for paid content. Vast amounts of existing H.264 content, widely used in video editing apps, broadcasting, recording motion cameras and so on.

On the other side of the ring: WebM. No native support on the default browser of Windows - IE9. No native support on the default browser of OSX - Safari. Solid native support on the rest of the browsers. Spotty support on only some mobiles (don't expect it on Apple devices, Microsoft is on the fence). Not formally approved standard by anybody, just an open code dump at this point. Free to use, but questionable future if challenged by MPEG LA and others. Almost no existing WebM content, spotty or missing support in video editing apps, not used in broadcasting, not used in motion cameras and so on.

My reaction, Google is an advertising agency. Google can go get stuffed. If you are looking for a web search engine, Blekko Beta is looking good so far.


I did my usual morning walk, but very slowly. I pulled a muscle in my back sometime yesterday, and found almost everything painful. We went to Willows for Jean's walk, and bought some groceries. Shelves are fairly short on some supplies, but there did not seem to be panic buying.

Drove to the Carlton Theatre at 9:30 for the wake being held for Joe Nash. I did not really know him, but Joe and his wife Peg had been introduced to us when we first arrived by their daughter Penny. At that time, Penny worked in the restaurant, and really did a great job. She really made us welcome in the village. We saw Joe and Peg a few times at Carlyle Gardens events. It was interesting hearing the long background on Joe, and how he knew so many Air Force folks. I thought it a fine and fitting wake.

As seems standard here, the ladies who brought plates provided an enormous quantity of fine food for everyone present. I stayed to help move chairs and tables away. Stayed later to have lunch at the restaurant, although I could only manage a hamburger.

Jeff collected me at four to go to the bar. A little group of us sat there telling stories. Well, mostly preventing Ray from telling his stories, if truth be known. I handed out some birthday invitations.

Thursday 13 January 2011

App Store Generic says Microsoft

I see TechFlash reports Microsoft says Apple can not claim app store name. Microsoft has filed a motion asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deny Apple's application for a trademark on the term App Store, arguing that the term is a generic one, and that other companies should be free to use the same name.

This is of course totally different to the use of such totally computer specific terms as Windows, Word and Office. Microsoft would never sue someone who called something something like Windows, because it is so generic. Oh wait, they did! Microsoft sues Lindows. So start calling it the Apple app store in future. Just like when you talk of a Microsoft product, the name is Microsoft Windows, and Microsoft Office.


A lazy start. No walk, because I was not up until six, and did not want to be out in the morning sun. However it clouded up enough to make laundry a risk. We drove off and refuelled Jean's car, in case fuel supplies become constrained when I need to take it to Airlie Beach.

The discount chemist at The Avenues was still discounting, so I got tablets there. I also set a repeating email alarm event to remind me to restock tablets each month. When Pharmaceutical Benefits prices for prescription drugs exceed the market price, it is most certainly time to avoid such government schemes. Before the government helps you even more.

Bunnings hardware had garage door insulation (foam and foil) at $99. I suspect the Reflecta brand I was looking at in their catalogue at $149 is somewhat better. I was also able to inspect the Earthwool insulation. The sales guy said it was not irritating the way most fibreglass insulation is. Now I need to check whether our rafter width is 430mm or 590mm, so I know which type to order. I am now thinking R2.0, to add to the existing R1 plus.

Beacon Lighting had the CFL downlights bulbs, so I bought another replacement, so we had one on hand. They tell me there is no sign of replacements for circular fluorescent tubes. I want to replace the humming ballast in our kitchen and bathroom. I wish someone would make an LED circular fluorescent tube replacement.

Got my birthday invitations printed at OfficeWorks (but forget to get them guillotined), along with replies to an ANZAPA mailing. Jean bought herself an under $200 ten inch Notebook computer from eMachines.

Had a look at the new menu for the restaurant, and had a nice chat with Meryl, Anne, and Ruth and Allen about various things.

Internet access was down again. When it came back, our IP number was Not even close to the previous IP number.

I worked on more pages for my Carlyle Gardens web site.

Brisbane Flooding

I suspect the best aerial photos of floods in Brisbane is these ones taken today. They come from Australian online mapping company Nearmaps. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Nearmap CEO Simon Crowther said the images, taken on Thursday with high resolution cameras attached to two Cessna planes, are five times as detailed as those seen on Google Maps. These Nearmap folks seem to have a very reasonable outlook on personal and community use of their maps. Nearmap are certainly visible on Twitter.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman warned about Brisbane flooding in October 2009. The Courier Mail published flood maps.

We wanted to see what damage was visible near the Marque Hotel in Brisbane, since we were booked there for our conference at the nearby University. I have a feeling we may not be making the trip after all. No point in having 700 conference attendees clutter up some place trying to salvage their city.

Friday 14 January 2011


I started the laundry real early, since the sky was clear. I had a truncated walk, stopping at every cluster of mail boxes to distribute my birthday flyers. Ran out two mail boxes before the end of the eastern side of Carlyle Gardens, so I collected more flyers from home. At home, I started cutting up more flyers. We were able to put the laundry out to dry around 7:30 a.m. and start another load washing.

When we left for Willows, I put flyers in the western side mail boxes. Jean truncated her walk at Willows, since we were late. Collected some fresh fruit and vegetables. The somewhat more bare than usual shelves at Coles were even more apparent. Saw Ruth headed for the shops after a long time away. I suggested she may not find as much as she wanted. The money machine refused to serve me with what I wanted. Had to accept a far lesser quantity, which it disgorged as twenty dollar notes. Must have been out of other notes.

Jean dropped me at reception on her way to collect fresh eggs. I saw Geoff and Margaret starting to run the morning movie session to hand over the thank you note, and to collect a Watt Meter for my neighbour to borrow. Jean collected me a few minutes later on her way home. First business, hang out more laundry under shelter. Plus get in anything that was close to dry, since the sky looked bad.

While we had stayed connected to the Internet overnight, we had lost the connection when we were away this morning. Told the ADSL Modem to connect again. Our IP number is now

I attended the Happy Hour in the evening. Talked with heaps of people, but won nothing in the raffles. The bar put out sandwiches they had made earlier for a wake, the second this week. One of our neighbours was lacking keys to enter their house, but our caretaker soon opened the door, after I phoned him, so that worked fine.


I see that W3Schools web site instructions are being criticised by multiple web site authors. I have always wondered how W3Schools could rate so highly on Google when many of their instructions are less than totally accurate. Basically, there are many places to learn how to write a web site that do a far better job than W3Schools.

W3Fools lists some resources that they consider are far better than the misleading W3Schools. I agree that there are better instructions for doing web sites at HTML Dog, at browser maker Opera's course on web design, at web browser maker Google's Code University, at SitePoint who also do excellent books. The W3D wiki on learning HTML points to excellent resources, and a list of web elements. It is from the folks who design web standards recommendations. Another web browser maker, Mozilla also provides an HTML and web page course.

Nvidia and Tegra

I wonder why Apple have not worked more on Nvidia's ARM based Tegra SoC? It seemed to me the first Tegra version just got nowhere in terms of design wins. The current version seems aimed squarely at Android tablets and smartphones, very reasonable given how rapidly sales are ramping up.

The ARM dual core Cortex A9 is basically an A8 with more registers and optimised for dual core. Nvidia's Tegra incorporates two Cortex A9 cores, but I am not convinced the single core performance will be all that much better than we have seen elsewhere. I get the impression of 20% increases, which is great but everything else depends on how well your software can take advantage of the multiple cores. Usually software is poor at that.

My big question however is how does it all impact battery life? I could see something like this being great if you have a power budget of 3 to 5 Watts. On battery, that is a big ask.

Saturday 15 January 2011


I had no WiFi connection to the router. Restarted WiFi on the computer. The ADSL modem claims it is connected on IP, which is different to yesterday. Then it was time for my morning walk, before the sun appeared over the top of the hill. We did another load of laundry when I returned. However when hanging it our after breakfast, we were not sufficiently sure of the weather to put it outside, so we hung the sheets on the porch.

Morning walk at Willows, with Jean doing most of four times around the place. We combined that with some fruit and vegetable shopping. I tried the money machine again today, and this time collected the amount I wanted.

I thought I had found another file recovery program. SubRosa's FileSalvage. However it would not work on a file system as old as OS X 10.3.9. I think at this point I have to give up on salvaging those files. Even the programs that initially promised to work on 10.3.9 did not do so.

Things That Go Wrong in the Night

I checked the failed solar powered number on our house before we left. Tri-security screws, so I had to find my set of security bits to take the gadget off the wall. It turned out you could get the battery compartment out anyhow. One of the three rechargeable 1800 mAH NiNH AA batteries had leaked a little, which is pretty unusual. I cleaned the corroded contact, and replaced the batteries with some garden light batteries. I hope that is enough to get the gadget showing our street number at night again. Must remember to check it tonight.

Well, the number worked overnight with replacement batteries. I charged the original NiMH batteries with a charger, and tested them after a few hours. Two batteries appear to be working. Not surprisingly, the battery that leaked does not hold a charge.

Laser Printer Still Stuffed

Meanwhile, Jean has been attempting to print with my Hewlett Packard LaserJet 2550. This likes our climate so much that the printing rate can not exceed about a page an hour. Not per minute. Per hour. Any more often and one or more colours fail to print. Jean has taken to dropping in to my room once an hour to try one more page. I think she needs about 120 pages.

If it were not that we still have a full set of very expensive toner cartridges, that HP printer would be taken to the dump and thrown out. Just like we threw out Jean's identical model that failed even earlier. The sooner no-one wants printed paper from me the better.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Apple iPad Resolution

I see numerous Apple rumour sites saying the next iPad this year will have double the resolution. That is, will increase from the current 1024 x 768 XGA to 2048 x 1536 pixel QXGA, or a resolution of around 266 pixels per inch. They are also banging on about retina display resolution. Similar high resolution displays are available in prototype. 2048 x 1536 is not twice the pixels. It is four times as many pixels to manipulate. That still seems unlikely to me. There are both economic and performance issues.

This 2048 x 1536 SXGA is a higher pixel count than most laptop computer displays. While many laptops are built down to a price, Apple and some other high end vendors do make expensive computers. You need to get to a 15 inch model at well over $1000 before you get pixel counts up near 2000 across the display. For example, an IBM 15 inch QXGA display replacement is around $500. The original estimated price of an iPad display was $80, to Apple in very large quantity (and $144 as a spare part). I would guess around $300 to Apple for a quad resolution display today. The iPad low end model is selling for under $500. The pricing does not fit.

The current Apple iOS devices use a PowerVR SGX535 GPU from Imagination Technologies for their graphics. There are hints in the developer software that Apple may move to Imagination Technologies' next-generation GPU SGX543 architecture. The original version running at 200 MHz can deliver 28 million polygons per second and a filtrate of 500 million pixels. At the same clock, the newer SGX543 can deliver 35 million polygons per second and a filtrate of 1 billion pixels per second. Now, maybe you will have a substantially faster clock, or even dual core the new GPU, but the GPU is still probably stuck at 65nm. You would be hoping for another mask shrink to help reduce power drain, but as far as I can see, that is not available until the end of the year.

Why would you want to go for such a high resolution? Games. Game players are willing to pay big for graphics. But are they prepared to pay big for an iPad? Not when both Playstation and XBox perform reasonably well (they have ten times the graphics power) at reasonable prices (and a full scale games PC with a top of line graphics chip blows either away). However you might notice Nintendo with its cheap Wii graphics is doing very well in the casual games market.

Another reason for going to such a high resolution is to blow away the competition. Apple did this once with the first iPad. Everyone planning a tablet computer in 2010 was positioning to compete with a $999 Apple iPad. Apple launched it at $499, including an IPS display. If Apple launch iPad 2 with quadruple the pixel count, no-one will have anything that can match Apple yet again, at any sort of sane price. The competition will be back at the drawing boards for another year.

I am still sticking to my prediction of a 50% chance of an iPad 2 update to 1280 x 960 pixels (and 50% chance of the iPad remaining unchanged at 1024 x 768 pixels).

Apple iPad Processor

I do not believe the technology is mature enough yet for a 2048 by 1536 portable computer with a decent battery life. I would have thought you would need double the pixel rate likely to be available from the GPU to handle such a high pixel count display. Handling four times the pixels means you need additional processing power, which impacts battery life.

Apple will probably also still be stuck with a single ARM Cortex A8 CPU core at 45nm (only Intel currently have 32nm). I see no chance for a dual core 32 nm ARM Cortex A9 CPU until very late in the year, perhaps for iPad 3 in 2012. I suppose there is a marginal chance of a 32nm dual core being available for iPhone 5, but I doubt it.

Maybe Apple will dual core the CPU, and go to the ARM A9 design. You can think of the A9 as an advanced A8 customised for multiple core operation. Several companies are planning on using this style of CPU. Being still stuck at 45nm feature size, that would still hit the battery life. This battery hit is being seen in several other tablet contenders. There is speculation that good multi threading by iOS and applications could help reduce power use on a dual core CPU, but software typically trails hardware.

If it were just a matter of sheer processing grunt, Apple could go to an Intel Atom (I am sure they have been running prototypes all along), but they can not retain battery life then. I am not sure mobile, battery conserving hardware can manage much better at present.

One way out of town speculation does strike me. Intel have 32nm processors, and used to licence ARM for their StrongARM chips (sold to Marvell). Intel have been known to act as a chip foundry under some circumstances. Is it possible that Apple could have persuaded Intel to produce a run of ARM CPUs for the next iPad? Perhaps pending Intel's Atom CPU hitting the power performance Apple want. This speculation is exceedingly unlikely.


First thing was laundry, then my fast two kilometre walk. This time, as well as sending my walk statistics to Facebook, RunKeeper somehow decided that it could now send my walk statistics to Twitter! About time! I did my weigh in for the week. Bad news. Back to what I weighed in November. Only then did I start using the computer. We postponed breakfast, and drove to Willows Shoppingtown early for Jean's walk. This time she managed to walk around the whole shopping complex four times, which should be well over three kilometres. When we got home, we had a bacon and egg breakfast, since we obviously deserved it. Who cares about what the scales said?

Why are we using IP address tonight? Totally different to yesterday morning.

While I was in the mood for checking why house numbers were not lit, I checked Mary's light. Looked like one battery was dead there also, with two way under charged. I am charging all three batteries overnight for her, in case the dead battery comes good.

Google's Spam Sandwich

I have noticed Google is no longer as effective in throwing out spam web search results. The spammers are spending more time bypassing Google's algorithms than Google can spend removing spam. Not so bad when you are searching for scientific or technical results, but looking for products is a wasteland of spam. Danny Sullivan's Search Engine Land notes Google's problems with spam.

Personally I am not pissed off at Google as yet (except with regard to dropping H.264 in Chrome), but I can see that happening. For the first time, I started checking how to stop Google being my default search engine in Safari. I have been using Blekko for searches and even, Ghod help me, Microsoft's Bing search engine, from time to time. See the Spam clock for a description of how bad spam has become.

Rip off content outranks the original all too often. Marco Arment of Instapaper complained about Google search results. We need a better Google.

Monday 17 January 2011


I was up before five, and had completed my morning walk before six. After breakfast we went to Willows, where Jean again outdid herself by walking four times around the interior. We made a donation to the Salvation Army flood relief fund, since Woolworths were dollar matching all donations. I even found some lemon cordial to replace my exhausted stock on the depleted shelves.

Since we were into avoidance behaviour, we went to Jaycar. Got a kit for making a hearing aid T coil receiver. Bought Jean a purple helicopter, as you do. Before we left Jaycar we recalled we needed replacement NiNH batteries for the house light.

Back at Carlyle Gardens, we had a salad lunch at the restaurant. Allen showed us his new lower cost menu. I hope it will be a success.

I tried changing the batteries in Mary's house number light. It was not working tonight. So maybe that dead battery was really dead, despite seeming OK after I charged it. Back to the drawing board tomorrow.

Facebook Borks Privacy Again

I see Facebook allows apps to access your address and phone number. Who wants SMS spamming, or emails from strange apps?

The easiest solution, if continuing to use Facebook, is to prevent information leaks by telling Facebook nothing even mildly important. Get a throw away email address before you sign on (or change to a throw away address now). Do not fill in any personal details. Do not say where you live. Lie about your date of birth. Your friends can figure out if you are really you if you simply use a real photograph.

The real problem is that you may have friends who are not aware of the need for internet security. Some will do silly things like uploading their address book to Facebook or Google or any of the other handy web based companies making money out of advertising.

If Facebook want to act as a data collection site, ask them to pay you to use it. Allowing apps access to customer data seems to have little to do with networks of friends. However when you get down to it, the owners of Facebook see the people who sign up as suckers and losers, to be fleeced. Facebook will continue to push privacy breaches until they get a strong kickback. They they will ease up a little.

I am also stunned by the value Goldman Sachs placed upon Facebook. I can not see their financial model. Sooner or later the advertising sponsored web will be seen to be a tulip bubble ready to burst.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs Medical Leave

I imagine Apple shares will be hit by news that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking a medical leave of absence. As with Steve Jobs previous medical leave, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will take charge while Jobs is away. The Apple executive team is very strong, although it is probably fair to say none have the charisma Steve Jobs displays during Apple product launches, with the well known reality distortion field. The term is said to come from the original Star Trek, possibly referring to Mudd's Women.

The timing of the medical leave is interesting. The US market is closed for holidays. One day before the release of Apple financials for the quarter, which will include the holiday sales. Despite the depressed US economy, I expect Apple will show some very good results. So the shares will go down offmarket, and then mostly come back with the earnings call. Not much movement from Friday by the end of the day after the earnings call.

AAPL closed at $85.33 on 14 January 14, 2009, the day Steve Jobs last took a medical leave of absence. Under Tim Cook, it reached $163.39 on 31 July, 2009. Since NASDAC went up about 33%, this 90% Apple increase could be counted more like 60%. That is not too shabby at all. Since the Apple share price is driven by emotion and manipulation, it is often priced poorly.

Battery Replacement Keyboard

My keyboard locked up at 18% battery, on the rechargeable NiMH AA batteries I use. So I had to replace the keyboard batteries with a freshly charged set. This post is simply a statistical holder for my figures on keyboard, mouse and trackpad battery life.

Tuesday 18 January 2011


I managed fifty situps before I went for my morning walk. Put the air conditioning on in my room when I got up, in a possibly futile attempt to persuade the HP colour laser printer to do more than one colour print per hour. After breakfast we drove to Willows for Jean's walk. Around the whole shopping centre four times. At least I was able to get a copy of The Australian.

I had another try at fixing some of the solar powered illuminated house number signs. Think I have the method right now. Except while two lights are repaired, one neighbour's light still does not work.

I went to lunch at the restaurant, only to find we had to shift table. We had seven there. Dot, Sue, Jeff and Pat, John, and Ray. That was a pretty good roll up. I had the steak. I suspect I will not be eating this evening, in sympathy with Jean.

I need to get her car back in plenty of time, so that Jean could head off for her dental appointment. She did not get back from the dentist until nearly six. She headed straight for a meal of some horrible rice muck. Nothing much in the house that I felt like at the time, so I didn't get dinner. Somehow this seems unfair.

My external IP address is now I do not know when that changed. Maybe after the midday pause when the internet just went away for several minutes? A traceroute then was taking about 30 seconds per skip.

Linux Conference

Jean tells me she has decided not to go to the Australian Linux Conference in Brisbane the weekend after next. The organisers say the conference is going ahead, despite the extensive flooding in Brisbane. However they are not sure they can use their original University riverside location. We had bookings for a hotel nearby, so we could walk instead of having to hire a car to drive. We also had very inconvenient airline bookings. Jean would fly from Brisbane, but as I had to drive to Airlie Beach for a body corporate meeting this weekend, I would have had to fly from Proserpine. Getting around a flood damaged city trying to get power connected did not seem a good idea.

Apple Cash Reserves

I expect some comments at the earnings call about the huge pile of cash Apple have accumulated. Apple have over $59 billion in cash and negotiable instruments on hand, not earning vast sums. I expect them to add to the pile. The amount is so large that Apple's Price Earnings ratio (PE) of 23 should be adjusted to a PE of 15 to allow for the cash. Investors are going to be asking that various things be done with the cash. Typically pension funds ask for dividends (d'oh, Apple were not paying dividends when you bought). Smaller investors ask for share buybacks (waste of money). Analysts ask when Apple will buy someone else (they do, but not large enough to make a difference to the cash pile).

Seems to me Apple (no longer Apple Computer) have a long term plan to move the company away from low margin computer sales, to higher margin areas. In some cases, they will have to make various bet the company calls about what to do, over very short time spans. Over the past five years, they have made two major changes (music players, and iPhone), so their profits are no longer mostly from computers.

Basically every time Apple has relied upon anyone else, things have gone bad. Chip makers and hardware partners (Motorola, IBM, now Intel), software partners (Microsoft, and Adobe), or investors. The Apple executives and probably the board will probably continue to be very strong on autonomy. That means having the cash to manoeuvre for up to five years of losses. Autonomy shows up in steps like discarding floppy drives, and now hard drives, dissing Adobe Flash, and forcing Cocoa even on major software partners. They have their own operating system, unlike most other computer or phone makers. Now that is moving further, with their own chip design teams.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Apple Tablet Market

I see IDC have announced their new Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker. It is interesting how far some of these market research firms seem to be off the pace. They were carefully tracking low cost netbook style computers, and making pronouncements about their effects. Did they bother to note that the prices of crappy netbooks (and notebooks that attempt to compete) are low? Jean bought another netbook the other day, because it was under $200. They are impulse buys. The sale margins are so low that the seller loses money if you need to come back to have something fixed. The manufacturer margins are absolute crap.

Meanwhile, Apple a year ago announced the iPad internet appliance at aggressive prices. A tablet computer making better than 30% margins. But it was not a netbook or a notebook, so it did not count for the market research places. If they had counted it as a $500 computer with a 30% margin, starting about six months ago, Apple would be the largest selling computer manufacturer in the USA. The iPad has only been selling for eight months, and production still can not fill demand. Yet it is excluded from the computer market. Sort of like excluding the Model T Ford from the horse and buggy market because there is no horse.

The iPad prices and specifications were so aggressive that so far there is only one tablet on the market that goes close to matching specification and price. There are a bunch of cheap junk devices, and one or two decent (but more expensive) efforts. Other manufacturers were basically caught flat footed, despite Microsoft attempting to push tablet computers for over a decade. Having an aggressive competitor pushes the market along to better products, which is really nice for the consumer.

It also took the market research firms ages to notice that Apple had around 90% of the market for computers selling for over $1000. That is, the computers with decent profit margins.


I went for a very short walk, wearing sandals I have not broken in. Usually Teva sandals do just fine from the box, but these leather look ones seem to irritate my skin. So only one kilometre today.

Jean is headed for the more distant Stocklands shopping centre, to hand in some forms. She did not expect me to go along, and I did not do so. The thought of parents with children doing last minute school shopping was enough to put me right off a shopping centre. Even the lure of an Angus and Robertson bookshop was not sufficient inducement.

I finally found a corrosion spot on the battery holder for Mary's illuminated house number sign. I sure hope cleaning that up gets the sign working again at night. So far all three I have repaired have the same fault. The battery that is upside down leaks eventually.

I thought I would be alone at lunch. Then Geoff and Margaret turned up. Like many other residents, they are getting ready for their New Zealand cruise. A little later Ray turned up.

The external IP address assigned to us now seems to be I wish I could get a fixed IP number on a residential ISP account, instead of needing a far more expensive business account. This crap of ever changing Network Address Translations is annoying me. I could run some of my low bandwidth web sites from home if I had a fixed IP number. I sure hope we all change over to IPv6 soon.

Has Google Left the WebM Building Yet?

Google support for its newly purchased WebM video format it is promoting for the web should remain really solid forever. Just like Google support for Buzz, Dodgeball, GOOG-411, Google Answers, Google Video DRM, Jaiku, Knol, Orkut, Nexus One, Wave, Writely. Google are a wanking bunch of advertising surrender monkeys.

Canon Laser Shot LBP5050n Printer

I bought a Canon Laser Shot LBP5050n at Harvey Norman a while ago, when it became apparent that the last Hewlett Packard Colour Laser Jet we had was utter crap. The signs (and the salesman) said the Canon printed with Macintosh. That does not turn out to be exactly the case. The printer comes with a printed quick install flyer with no text. The CD with the printer is Windows only. Even the manual requires Windows to install the .exe. Is Canon insane?

So I checked more. Apple do not support this Canon Laser Shot LBP5050n printer, according to their lists. Canon list some LBP5050n CAPT printer drivers for Macintosh and Linux, but not for my most recent version of OS X10.6.6. The Canon NETSpot app does not appear to work with my version of Snow Leopard, so I can not use that to get an IP address to add manually to my printer list.

There are indications the Canon drivers may work under OS X 10.5, to give you access to the Canon NETSpot utility. So I may be able to use my obsolete iMac to set up the printer.

My router does not see the printer to provide an IP address via DHCP. Without an IP address, I can not get Bonjour to find the printer. Why can't the router see the printer? It should have a direct Ethernet connection.

Category 5 Ethernet Wiring

At least the Ethernet wiring to the printer should work. However after trying four different cables, two at each end, it is looking as if the structured CAT5 wiring from our Hills Home Hub to the lounge wall socket may be faulty. We have probably only tested that socket with a phone, not with Ethernet (the other nearby printer uses WiFi).

I tried to go online to check more details of what might be wrong. No internet connection now. So I did a traceroute to, only to find that although that works, Google itself is no longer responding at all. I wonder what is scheduled to go wrong next? Luckily I know other search engines.

I had a Jaycar Network Cable Tracer so I was able to check that the CAT5 wire went to the right spot. However I need a Multi-Network Cable Tester with Pin out Indicator or something to test the actual wires. Twenty years ago I would have crawled under ducts and through ceilings to check them visually. Now I prefer to plug in a gadget.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Apple Revenue

At the launch announcement, some analysts predicted poor sales of the then new Apple iPad. Sales of Apple iPad during CY2010: 14.8 million. There were 7.33 million sold in the last quarter. You might notice Apple sold three times as many iPads as they did computers. My own end of the year prediction was 6 million, if they could get production that high. I am glad I was not pessimistic. However I never thought sales would catch on so quick, until I used an iPad. Total iOS devices sold 160 million, over iPod Touch, iPhones (90 million) and iPad.

Xmas quarter revenue was $26.74 billion, profits $6 billion, up 71% and 78% from previous year figures of $15.68 billion and $3.38 billion. Gross margin was down from 40.9% to 38.5%. International sales made up 62% of revenue. 4.13 million Macs sold, up 23%. They even say sales were pushed by recent releases of higher cost MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models. 16.24 million iPhones, up 86%, for sales of $10.74 billion. Demand outstripped supply of iPhones and iPads.

I also see Apple have again used some of its cash pile in the past half year to enter a two year $3.9 billion deal with three companies for (unspecified) component prepayment and capital expenditure. I was thinking their long cycle batteries, IPS displays, and solid state memory drives. However we've identified another area means that it is all part of one components. I have to go for a high resolution display deal. The last time Apple did that, in 2005, they just about cornered the Flash memory market. Another possibility is an early mask shrink of ARM to 32nm and on down through 22nm to 14nm. ARM and IBM are co-operating, and Samsung (who supplied Apple's A4 chip) is a partner. Monopsony deals can great. The Australian Government should do more to use their monopsony under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

I can see the problem from here, as can many commentators. Apple is dead.

IceCool Service

I drove off from Townsville around 5 a.m. After an hour and a half I stopped at Inkerman to refuel, despite the higher cost. I knew the next few fuel stops would not yet be open. Had a phone call when I was just past Bowen, but there was no place to pull off the road to take the call.

When I arrived at Centro Whitsunday just after eight to do my shopping I checked my phone log. Not only a missed call from a number I did not have in my contacts, but also an SMS. It was the Whitsunday IceCool air conditioning serviceman. I had told their call handler I would be available Thursday afternoon and Friday, rather than Thursday morning. But I figured I would be much better grabbing the service now, even if it was a few hours earlier than I expected. I forgot the shopping, and headed home, where the IceCool serviceman had already arrived at the Whitsunday Terraces.

The nice young IceCool serviceman spend the next several hours doing whatever it is air conditioning servicemen do to multiple outlet air conditioners. He cleaned all the filters rather more thoroughly than I ever had. The interior units were all opened up to bare coils. He also blew out the drains, once another serviceman had brought him a working CO2 cylinder. The plastic surround of the main unit outside was not fastened down. He taped it, to help prevent the rattle on start up. That service should keep us happy for a while longer. Since the second remote control seemed to be damaged, I ordered a new one.

Got lucky again with the haircut when I walked down the main street, and did not have to wait for an appointment. With the cropped hair, the heavily trimmed beard, and bruises all over my forehead, I looked truly villainous.

Picked up ham at the deli, milk and tomatoes at the Four Square. Not that I expected to starve, with various meetings scheduled. Dropped in to see how the packing of Jim's office was going. Sure is bare now.

The replacement newsagency had kept back issues of the Whitsunday Times on hand for me, most of the issues from when I had been absent. Luckily I did not have to go to the newspaper office to collect a coupon book as a local resident. The newsagency had a sign up sheet for locals. There were also copies of iCreate and MacFormat magazines, from my subscriptions.

Whitsunday Terraces

I had a couple of lists of items from past Whitsunday Terraces Body Corporate annual general meetings when I went on my personal walk around to inspect the Whitsunday Terraces, where I have lived (for low values of lived) on and off for over a decade. I was utterly disgusted at what I found. Items scheduled for attention months and in some cases even years ago not yet done. The paths in some areas were filthy, as were the handrails. This made such a contrast when a contractor with a gurney had obviously attended to some paths in the past week.

The formerly attractive gardens at the Whitsunday Terraces also had been basically neglected for a long period. They were now showing signs of recovery, again due to a much more recent gardening contractor. However that does not fix the trees that have been allowed to become unsafe, nor the plants climbing columns and building walls. A gardener usually clips that sort of thing before the wet season, since the gardens always get a little out of control during the rainy season. Garbage, empty bottles, food wrapper scraps were apparent on the ground. The gardener used to get most of those during his regular walk around.

The gutters at the Whitsunday Terraces are an absolute disgrace, with whole shrubs growing in them. Some of this stems from a failure to trim errant branches of trees. There was rubbish outside units, rubbish on balconies. All outside the terms of the By-Laws. I started taking notes of problems, while being aware that this only applied to external items. I was not seeing any of the problems within the actual units.

Dinner at Horace's Terraces Restaurant with Doug, Reg and Val from the Body Corporate committee. It should have been the regular trivia night for Horace, who was trying the new recipe lamb cutlets. The lamb cutlets that Ben cooked up for me were great.

Friday 21 January 2011

Whitsunday Terraces Report

I went on a walk around the Whitsunday Terraces with Doug, Reg and Val from the committee. This took us from nine until 1:30 p.m. I added to my copious problem list notes all the extra items that others spotted. The trees were worse than expected. While parts of the gardens were being done, there seemed little sense of purpose in some decisions. Pest plants dropping berries and seed pods were everywhere now, where they did not need to be. The pages of my list were unfortunately awash with red ink by the time we gave up. Had we not each had other commitments, we could have taken more time and added additional items to the maintenance and repair list.

Settling in Again

During the afternoon I typed up some of the notes I had taken. Self defence. I could hardly read my scribblings. However using an iPad to type is not as quick (for me) as using a proper computer keyboard.

I also managed to do some cleaning of the apartment. This even included washing the outside of the door, which was starting to look like it was being attacked by mildew. I noticed many doors in the complex looking that way, indicating the Whitsunday Terraces Resort Managers were not getting regular external door cleaning done. With over 140 doors, it is a problem.

Dining Out

Michael and his companion arrived sometime, so I was able to have a bit of a chat. It was good to catch up a lot more on what had been happening around Airlie Beach.

However I had organised to have dinner at Mangrove Jacks with some of the committee. As well as Doug, Reg and Val, we had Ted along. Val brought John, our much liked former gardener at the Whitsunday Terraces. Marlene, a former (and I hope future) committee member was also able to come to dinner.

Saturday 22 January 2011


I made a very quick trip down the stairs to the Market. Caught up with a bunch of the regulars. Missed an even greater number. Most of these found out I had been at the markets, and phoned me while we were in our meetings.

A quick visit to the newsagent to collect the weekend newspapers. Luckily I had already collected all the other accumulated magazines and local newspapers. Then up the twelve flights of stairs again, mentally noting (and instantly forgetting) other problems along the path. I had time for a quick shower before the Meeting.

Committee Meeting

We had the committee meeting from nine until well after midday. It did not get off to a good start, but I was actually happier about how the various presentations went than I expected. We can at least see potential solutions to a number of issues. Others may require give and take that I am not sure exists. Naturally I can not be specific, except to say the problems do not exist in the committee itself. We get along fine.


I had my usual Saturday evening party. Several people had managed to contact me, so we had Doug and Ted from the committee, along with Marlene who like Jim is also local. My usual visitors Glenn and Alison were there. Rex and Myra managed to make it. Also Peter and Dawn. I thought that was a pretty good roll up. I had to borrow extra chairs, but we had wonderful weather so we could sit on the balcony and watch the moon rise and reflect in the water.

Sunday 23 January 2011

More Walk Arounds

Walk around by Doug and Ted with the manager, who is sure coping a lot of information in a rush. I hope this all works out, as co-operation will be a lot easier than confrontation. More writing up of issues during the afternoon, but I was finding myself too tired to do much more.

Monday 24 January 2011

Leaving Airlie Beach

I drove off from Airlie Beach just prior to five. Service stations did not look very active, but I had enough fuel on board. Before Bowen, a number of kangaroos were eating on the grass verges along the Bruce Highway. I was glad none jumped out in front of the car. At Giru a kangaroo hopped across the road, despite traffic in both direction. Luckily it did not get hit. I did not stop until I reached Townsville.

Basically I wasted most of the day attempting to figure out which things needed to be done at the Whitsunday Terraces. I wish I could write in a manner that I can understand. Typing notes is like starting with handwriting from a doctor.

Printer Problems Continue

A download called seems to contain a Mac OS X package called a NETSpot Device Installer dmg. This opened a RemoteUI to the Canon print. Unfortunately the service links to Canon for network firmware are dead. Not sure how much use this is without working printer driver.

Tuesday 25 January 2011


I went for my usual morning walk, however instead of going around the village, I went up and down the nearest streets. Still boring as anything. However Runkeeper collected more altitude data on the streets.

We refuelled the car, using the expiring eight cent discount coupon we had from Coles. Made us a little late for our walk at Willows. After three circuits we bought more food in Coles. I discovered Chocolate Obsession ice cream was on sale, but Jean suggested I not buy any. Weakened by having eaten far too much at the Terraces, I agreed. Jean got a bug, since the shops would be closed tomorrow for the holiday.

I finally managed to do some Carlton Theatre stuff I should have done yesterday. Heaps of people at lunch. Dot, Sue, Pat, Jeff, Ray, John. Jo-ann and Leigh were eating with Gayle, who I had not seen back here for ages. I asked Leigh for permission to harass Ray some more with Xmas lights, strung from his house to a street light. Received permission too, to co-conspirator John's astonishment. I may have phrased my request more diplomatically. Ray foolishly thought we might forget the Xmas lights for his home. Not with 2005 of them in the closet.

Birthday Treat

I see that the internet is now scheduled to run out of IP addresses on my birthday. Well, I guess technically, to run out of the pool of IPv4 addresses able to be handed out. It is the sort of Year 2000 bug of the internet.

Gawker Media Stuffups

I imagine most people by now know that Gawker Media are basically a bunch of low talent slimeball bloggers who think nothing of breaking the law in pursuit of a story. This was particularly obvious when some arsehole at Gizmodo bought a stolen prototype iPhone for a story. Then their incompetent crew wrecked the prototype iPhone trying to take it apart.

Now Valleywag (another Gawker Media blog) has decided proper technical reporting involves outing the sexual preferences of people who have made no announcements on anything except technical matters. While not a particularly negative article, there is no need to out people who are reputed to be gay. Either Gawker bloggers can not stick to the point, or Nick Denton of Gawker thinks he needs to push gay power any chance he gets.

I think these pathetic tactics indicate Gawker Media sucks. I rather like the idea of blocking all their blogs at the router, so I never see them again. I certainly will never link to one of their stories ever again.

Wednesday 26 January 2011


I did another walk, this time at the south end of the village. I started at the second last street, and continued until I had covered the northern side of the Carlyle Square. This means I have now walked every street of the village, and Runkeeper on my iPhone has mapped each street. More important, it has also mapped the lowest points in the village.

My ADSL internet connection was again out of action when I returned. WiFi connection was working. My ADSL modem router thought I was connected and assigned as an IP address. I told it to connect again anyhow. After a few minutes that restarted the ADSL connection.

We went for a walk at Willows. When BigW opened, Jean bought an Australian Day hat. I bought a few throw away novels for our next country trip (I like to leave novels on the free bookshelves in country motels and tourist spots). Jean found me some even smaller bread and butter style plates. I am attempting to ensmall my plates and bowls so I can not pile too much food onto them.

Trying Applications

I downloaded James Hoover's Bean, a free word processor for OS X. Basically a simple open source RTF editor, which I had used from time to time previously, instead of TextEdit. No footnotes, no stylesheets, no floating graphics (inline graphics OK). I do not know how come I did not download it again earlier for my newer computer.

I also downloaded WordService, 37 functions to convert, format or speak the currently selected text, to insert data or to show statistics of the selection within all Cocoa applications services menu. PDF 2 RTF service lets any Cocoa rich text editor open Adobe PDF, PostScript (PS) and Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) files as paginated rich text documents. Calc Service calculates the results of a formula and appends the result. XMenu adds a global menu to the right of the menu bar. Can also handle snippets and text modules. ThumbsUp is a drag and drop utility to create thumbnails for web sites. These services all come free from Devon Technologies, whose paid applications handle document management.

Some Unix goodness. Man Viewer shows Macintosh OS X Unix manuals in a slightly more attractive manner. More important, it lists them. Creastoric's Log Leech shows your OS X log files beautifully while you search, sort and filter results, by application if you like.

Australia Day

I think first off a web site showing just how wonderfully the US right wing reacts to their dirty linen being laundered by whistle blowers. People OK With Murdering Assange. Well done. I gave up visiting the USA when the TSA started treating tourists like criminals. I very much doubt I will ever visit the USA again.

Meanwhile in Australia, another great big new tax from the left, for the repairs to flood damaged infrastructure. This levy is not for householders, it is for infrastructure. Not the first time we have seen a special tax. The Howard government did the same to fund the gun buyback. Setting money aside for emergencies is what governments are supposed to do. Large organisations do not take out insurance. They self insure. However to self insure, you do need to set aside surpluses. It is the same idea as the sinking funds that a Body Corporate has to budget for and set aside, with plans forward over a ten year span.

Labor seems only able to spend like drunken sailors. If the spending were better directed, it would not be so contentious. Faulty insulation, that in many cases saves no energy. Overpriced school buildings that have little to do with educational results, sometimes in schools that did not need them. Slinging money to Victorian car companies that are increasingly unable to sell their trashy uncompetitive oversized cars. Cash for clunkers handouts. An uneconomic National Broadband Network that many people will never use. Labor came, they saw, they squandered. There are heaps of places governments on all sides could stop wasting money.

I won't be celebrating Australian Day, this year or probably any other. What I am wondering now is whether there is any other country in the world that has not been treated badly by its politicians. Laurie Oakes was right when he called both sides political pygmies.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Whitsunday Terraces Images

I tried getting some photos of Whitsunday Terraces, to mark trees that might have needed to be removed. Google Maps is utterly useless, once you get beyond obsolete street plans. Never loads images, just spins its wheels. Street View doesn't work either, although it did a few months ago. I think Street View might be because it wants to use Flash or some other horrible plug in. Oh well, Google says it is a free beta, so you can't expect much use from it. Then there is the ever present possibility that the internet is just too slow to actually use anyhow.

Meanwhile, Google Earth loads images, which are dated 2008. Gives great close ups. However for viewing trees, it is not much use. No resemblance too reality in the tropics, where I swear some trees grow up overnight.

I guess I will need to physically go to the site and tie a black ribbon around the trees to cut down. Preferably before the next cyclone flattens them, and the buildings they are next to.

The internet was not working well. Dropping and reconnecting to WiFi got me to the ADSL router. It said it was disconnected, so I told it to connect again. That usually takes a minute or so. Our external IP address was this time. Half an hour later, and the internet is down once again. After lunch I had to kick the ADSL modem, which now showed as the IP number. By 1:40 p.m. internet connection was down again, for a while. The ADSL connection is becoming less and less reliable.


I went for an unusual morning walk. I had to drop my birthday party invitations in the letterboxes around the resort village. So according to Runkeeper, between 5:38 a.m. and 6:35 a.m. I walked 2.5 km, but the actual walking time was 28 minutes. The rest was stuffing flyers in collections of mailboxes (about 80 mailboxes per cluster). So flyer stuffing time was 29 minutes.

We were in avoidance mode this morning. Drive to Bunnings, whose website you can not even enter - when will these idiots learn? I bought fluteboard. We inspected lights for dark corners. Way more available now than there were a few years ago.

Next Howards Storage World to get some wine glass holders to go underneath our kitchen cupboards, like we have at Airlie Beach. They had two varieties on hand, one model a little too large for the cupboard depth. We also tried for some storage for tins, like the rolling storage for softdrink cans, but had no luck.

Located the day surgery so Jean could drop papers off. Then a quick stop at Jaycar for a test gadget. Next was Lister house to drop in more paperwork for Jean. OfficeWorks was next, so Jean could get some copying done. She was quick! I could not resist another two 2TB hard drives.

The RACQ visit to collect maps should have been swift. They persuaded us to transfer from NRMA. However the paperwork took heaps of time. Not that we had been neglecting this step. It was just that twelve years did not seem to be rushing it any. Luckily we were in no rush while the paperwork was attended to.

Jean decided to have lunch at the restaurant with me. As we entered we saw John. It seems the Social Club Australia Day event had raised over $8000 to go direct to one of the flood affected towns. That was great. We both had the salad, which I thought was pretty good. Ray joined us at the table later, and he was trying the crumbed steak. He had donated his vintage bottle of whiskey to the flood appeal fund raising auction.

Battery Life Apple MagicMouse

I finally got a battery life warning from my Apple Magic Mouse. A few minutes later it gave up working entirely. I took this as an opportunity to see what I thought of the Apple Magic Trackpad I also had connected. It seems to work fine, but I am not as yet convinced that even a smooth functioning glass track pad is equivalent to a mouse. So I replaced the flat batteries with some newly recharged AA size NiNH batteries.

Ethernet Wiring

Earlier today we had stopped at Jaycar, where I bought a Multi-Network Cable Tester with Pin out Indicator. This was so I could do more testing of Ethernet cables, and our Category 5e wiring within the house. Technically I could do that with any sort of continuity meter, but custom gadgets make it easier, even if they are hard to justify now I no longer do that professionally.

Tested a few cables I was somewhat suspicious of. No problem. However the Cat 5 cable from the Hills Home Hub to the lounge lacked continuity on contact three. Now I need to find out why. Insulation displacement contacts are something that I have never liked, so that is what I suspect.

CFL Downlight Burns Out

I am most annoyed to note that yet another Crompton CGU-11W 5000K GU10 compact fluorescent downlight has burned out, at around 11:25 this evening. Next question will be whether the globe will be easy to remove, or require dismantling the fitting to pull it from the ceiling (rated 50%). These downlight CFL are used a heap. I would estimate over the past 21 months, about four to five hours a day. So call it around 3000 hours, allowing for days not used. I have had two out of four in this room fail so far. A fair bit short of the claimed 8000 hours life.

I tend to replace them with Lucci Envirolux 11W GU10 CFL, from Beacon Lighting, which is a 4000K cool-white variety. I am not sure I should not seek another hotter replacement, but I find the blue white a bit trying. I am not impressed with the A$16.95 cost of these CFL.

Friday 28 January 2011

Is an Apple iPad a Computer?

I noticed that Microsoft head Steve Ballmer at the D8 conference back in June 2010. Ballmer is a pretty good numbers man, and the interview is a good one. Ballmer dismissed some rivals like iPad and Android. Earlier in the show, Apple head Steve Jobs had claimed PCs (personal computers) were the equivalent of trucks. Jobs seemed to indicate most people probably did not need a truck. Ballmer disagreed. He thought tablets like the Apple iPad are just PCs with a different form factor.

Now I get the distinct impression that market research firms IDC and Gartner are trying real hard to ignore Steve Ballmer, and his idea tablets are PCs. They do not list tablets as PCs. They do list netbooks as PCs. Meanwhile, it looks like Apple's iPad may have dragged down notebook and netbook sales. Which makes you wonder, if an iPad drags down PC sales, why isn't it considered a PC rival?

Canalys ranks Apple third in world, but including its iPad sales as PC shipments. This is a very slippery road. If you include the iPad as a PC, why wouldn't you include the iPhone and the iPod Touch? These use the same operating system as an iPad. They have around the same processing power.


I did a walk around the entire interior perimeter of Carlyle Gardens this morning from around 5:30 a.m. This time I managed to get my pace better than 9 minutes per kilometre, so I am very pleased with that walk. Later Jen and I drove to Willows for her walk in air conditioned comfort. We also did the weekend shopping at Coles. Followed that up with a trip to the Egg Factory for a few dozen giant eggs.

I started on installing the two glass racks we bought yesterday at Howards Storage World. Jean picked positions under the kitchen cupboards over the benchtop. The screws that came with them were too long, but I found a packet of suitable screws. I also installed a Crompton LFD20 DIY Slimline Linkable 20 Watt Fluorescent Fitting that we had brought with us several years ago. This takes Crompton T4 20 Watt 6400K miniature triphosphor fluorescent tubes. It is 620mm long, 44.5mm deep. The mounting kits allows different brackets for top mounting and for side mounting. We directed it away from work areas using the side mounting brackets.

Jean kindly drove me to the restaurant just after five. The temperatures under the clear sky were still extreme. The Social Club gathering seemed somewhat reduced, perhaps by the numerous people who have taken a cruise to New Zealand.

John and I gathered Sandy and Holger in the co-conspirators for putting up Ray's Xmas lights next year. Ray is increasingly hiding.

Cyclone season again. Surprisingly the southern coast of West Australia as far as Bunbury is threatened. Cyclone Anthony has reversed direction, and is now headed for North Queensland by Monday. Plus a cyclone way off the coast may head our way next week. Meanwhile, the outback swelters under record temperatures. Roxby Downs reached 48.50C. The Birdsville Hotel reports 500C.

I started charging all the emergency lights, the phones, plus the large 12 volt battery. I will charge computers tomorrow.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Internet Access

I see that the ADSL internet is once again totally unworkable. Our router is assigned as an IP number. I restarted my WiFi connection to ensure it was not a computer WiFi fault. A traceroute to Google said unknown host, which means my ISP name server was not co-operating in changing names to IP numbers. So I tried a numeric traceroute. This worked incredibly slowly (taking several minutes), although individual hops were showing only a few hundred milliseconds. As usual, after about five minutes, the internet connection started working again, with no indication as to why it had been so slow at 5:30 a.m.


I went to Willows with Jean, where we did her now usual four laps around the air conditioned interior. No shopping needed today, as we had most supplies from yesterday. At the end, I did buy the usual four newspapers from the news agency.

Visited our neighbours Allan and Mary, and set up her Clipsal Cent-A-Meter, for which she had new batteries. That usually takes only a few minutes to pair the transmitter and the receiver. Well, as long as you have a toothpick on you to press the reset button (revealing prior knowledge of this issue).

I cooked up a large pot of spaghetti sauce for lunch. Jean had some real nice lean beef from the butcher. I did not have as much onion and garlic as I wanted, and especially herbs and seasonings, but there was sufficient, especially when I added a heap of whole peppercorns. The chef had to open another bottle of red wine to fortify the dish (and himself). I think it worked out fairly well. I consider spaghetti sauce cyclone supplies, because we freeze it, and can cook it on the BBQ if the power fails.

I took my camera along to the restaurant for Keith's 65th birthday celebration. Meryl had asked me to take photographs, as I have done in the past for the Carlyle Chronicle. I also took photos of the bowling club prize giving. Allan poured way too much rum in my glass partway through the evening. I was doing fairly well at staying steady until then. Hope the photos come out.

Sunday 30 January 2011


I went to Willows with Jean for her usual walk four times around the shopping centre. I did buy three bread rolls at Brumbys, in case we were not able to get out shopping in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Anthony.

We put all the stuff that was outside into the garage so that there was nothing much left to blow around if Tropical Cyclone Anthony veered further north. I took the opportunity to pull up all the solar lamps in the gardens, many of which need cleaning and refurbishing. A remarkable number were full of ants. Since cyclones typically bring rain, I also put more dirt along the sides of the house to raise the level of the grass somewhat, and avoid puddles along the western side of the house.

Internet Access

My connection to the internet keeps going out, doing it again at 10:42 a.m. Traceroute is showing Unknown Host, under circumstances where there should not be any Domain Name Server problems. Looks like the signal is not getting past my ADSL modem, so although it showed as connected, I told it to reconnect. That got a numeric traceroute working. It also got to a Domain Name Server.

ABC seems to be mostly out. Probably their servers are overwhelmed.

Tropical Cyclone Anthony

There was a two o'clock meeting by our village disaster services committee. This is basically to co-ordinate damage reports. Plus the marshals for each of the village areas check to see residents a bit unsteady on their feet get help preparing for Cyclone Anthony. The committee handed out the bright safety gear, the flashlights, and the two way radios. All checked at the start of the cyclone season, and just needing a top up charge. We were all away again within thirty minutes.

One amusing point was when John handed around a track map for the cyclone, and said they expected an update soon. I pulled out my iPhone, grabbed the latest track map (a few minutes old) and took it over to John. He took it around, and paused to say I should have brought something larger as many of us squinted at the display. Next time I will bring my iPad as well.

The track path in the late afternoon is well south of Townsville, which means the destructive winds and rain are also likely to be south. I phoned up various friends at the resort in Airlie Beach, and each was already well prepared.

Eight o'clock, and the air is still here in Townsville. Not a breeze. The sunset was a sullen red haze. South of us, it appears that Cyclone Anthony will go straight through Bowen and the mining port at Abbott Point. Winds south of that, in Airlie Beach and Proserpine, will be fierce, but most of the buildings are sound and should withstand it well. Electricity is out in areas around Airlie Beach and Bowen, according to Tweets from locals.

We basically had an uninterrupted night of sleep, with no wind. About the only change was the cool dry air was replaced by warm humid air overnight. The cyclone warning was cancelled around midnight.

Monday 31 January 2011

ex Tropical Cyclone Anthony

The restaurant and the bar will be closed on Monday, due to the Tropical Cyclone Anthony. As at Saturday evening, they had no idea whether staff could even reach the place. Plus schools will be closed, so children will be at home in any case, and all the usual staff have children to look after.

Basically no effect on Townsville. No rainfall as yet, no river problems. The Pioneer River will rise fast on rainfall further south. Damaging winds may continue inland from the tropical low. Rainfall will continue to contribute to the flood situation.

My friends in Airlie Beach say they did not get much actual damage. The power went out at Airlie Beach from around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday evening [and did not return until after noon today]. [I have a late report from Michael that our apartment door was damaged by a flying branch and can not be locked. The outside air conditioner was also hit. Plus Jim's flower pot was broken. I asked for that outside door to be replaced back in November. Michael went around removing all the lightweight balcony fly screen doors and moving them inside also.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi

That's not a cyclone. This is a cyclone! Following closely the path after TC Anthony. The gigantic Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi has now entered the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Current Tropical Cyclones list at 2 p.m. as a Category 2, and was Category 3 a few hours later, forecast to increase to Category 4. That is the same strength as Cyclone Larry, in which 10,000 homes were damaged around Innisfail. However Yasi is a far larger storm than Larry. At the moment TC Yasi is headed north of Townsville, but south of Innisfail, which means the wind and the rain mainly hits anything south. Estimates are late on Wednesday 2 February for landfall.

We went to Dan Murphy and bought our cyclones supplies. Three half boxes of wine, a case of beer, and a couple of bottles of rum. You can't trust the water supply after a cyclone, you know. On a more serious note, we are always stocked up on cyclone supplies prior to the season.

As a rather late thought, I wandered outside with a camera and snapped photos of the house. Then I went inside and snapped photos of the contents. Seemed a good idea to have some sort of record of what we have, in case of damage.

Tourism Whitsunday advised tourists to avoid the Whitsunday region until 4 February. Hamilton Island, Hayman Island and Long Island will be evacuating guests on Tuesday, with guests warned to leave by Wednesday. Ports from Cairns to Mackay (over 600 km) will be closed.

Apple Crashes

I had to reboot my Apple Mac mini running the latest OS X Snow Leopard for the second time today. The first time every program that attempted to access the file system ended up beach balling instead of working. That seemed to be a memory leakage problem in Safari, which seems to refuse to give up memory. The second time it could not wake from sleep, a continuing problem that makes me hate the thought of portable computers with a battery you can not remove.

Hmm, this was not as much of a problem before I grabbed a new set of Canon printer drivers. I have a bad feeling about that.

Solar Panel Output

I read the power output from the solar panels at the inverter. So far it has generated 923 kWH in 2808 hours of operation. The inverter had recorded 768.6 kWh (E-total), in an operating life of 2413 hours (h-total), as at the solar panel electricity readings at the end of December 2010. So the electricity generated in 395 hours of operation in January 2011 was 154.4 kWH or about 391 Watts per operating hour. It was showing traces of power output for about 12.74 hours a day.

When you have a blackout, the solar panels automatically stop feeding the grid, as a safety measure. I am thinking a generator changeover switch might be in our future. Basically it lets you totally isolate your house from the electricity grid. If you also include a waterproof caravan style power input, then you should be able to plug a generator in, and run a limited range of household appliances. Plus you might be able to keep the solar panels operating. I need to investigate this further.

Eric Lindsay's Blog January 2011