Eric Lindsay's Blog August 2011

Monday 1 August 2011

Apple OSX 10.7 Lion Spaces Problems

In Snow Leopard, I had nine Space, in a two dimensional 3x3 grid, all arranged so I could easily key between them with the ^arrow shortcuts. In Lion, Spaces are a linear array, which does not even wrap around. This is very inefficient for an experienced user.

Lion by default arranges new programs in a vacant space. Luckily you can turn off Automatically rearrange spaces under Mission Control in System Preferences. You can also turn off showing Dashboard in Spaces (Dashboard seems to have side issues itself, when enabled in Spaces).

How do you add new Spaces, now that option is not available in Mission Control? Click Mission Control icon in your Dock. With Mission Control on screen, move your cursor to the top right hand corner of the display. A ghostly + sign will slide out. Click that to add a new Space.

Apple OSX 10.7 Lion Reverse Scrolling

Apple have reversed the direction of scrolling. This will hit habits of a lifetime. Scrolling down now takes the content down, scrolling up now takes the content up. Previously it was as if you were moving a window over content that was fixed in place. Now it is as if you were moving the content direct. This paradigm makes sense when you are using a touch screen. It remains to be seen if it is acceptable when you do not have a touch screen.

If you absolutely hate it, click the Apple symbol (top left of display), open System Preferences from the dropdown menu, navigate to Trackpad, and unclick Scroll Direction. This also changes the mouse actions. You can not change one and not the other (I think that is a bit of a pity, since many people also use Windows but only with a mouse).

No clue that there is additional content below? Click the Apple symbol (top left of display), open System Preferences from the dropdown menu, navigate to General, and change it to leaving scrollbars on always.

Mac mini Sleep

I again had the problem of the Apple Mac mini failing to wake from sleep overnight. Luckily I always save everything before leaving, but it remains annoying that sleep is not totally reliable when using the 30 inch Dell monitor, and leaving the backup USB drive running.


We went to Willows somewhat late. There were advantages to Jean getting some clothes in BigW. Alas, she was not able to find anything that suited in her size. On the other hand, I took advantage of the two $20 iTunes gift cards for $30 deal to get another four cards. I had already grabbed two a few days ago. I also grabbed some junk books, so I had something to read on the train.

While Jean was shopping in Katies (also no luck), I grabbed three DVDs on JB HiFi's buy two get a third free deal.

Jean stopped at Reception upon our return, and I put our diagrams and forms of the electrical wiring changes we wanted into Liz at the office for Leigh to approve.

Captain America

I attended the eleven o'clock session of Captain America at the Reading Cinema. This was the first time I had one of their Reel Club cards, and they credited me with 20 points. Their ice creams are expensive, but I could not cope with pop corn.

Captain America was yet another Marvel comics origins story. Set in WWII, an unrepeatable experiment turns a scrawny but good kid into a super athlete. Set against him is another great super villain, hammed up as marvellously evil by Hugo Weaving as Red Skull. The sets and special effects are great, and although a little thin, the story line is not bad. If done right, I could see this one running to a sequel set in the present.

Jean had been kind enough to drive me to the cinema in her car. I walked back, taking nearly 30 minutes for slightly less than three kilometres. My walking pace continues to slow.


I happened to see Doanh, the electrician, while passing through Reception at about 1:30 p.m. I reminded him that Jean wanted changes made. He said he would be there within a half hour. He was! He sure gets a lot of phone calls while on the job.

Wayne had their second electrician's van outside a house a few doors from Jean's, so I guess Jean's place was pretty convenient. A waterproof outside power point at the new front patio (only a single, as they did not have double on hand). Doanh was going to install it high (easier access), but the easy place to drill through was low. A waist high double power point in my closet (where I keep computers), despite problems running the wire across.

I was shocked to see how poorly the original house wiring was done. I find it difficult to believe a qualified electrician could have done the connections so badly. The screws in the power points were piecing the plastic coating of the wire, rather than making a good metal to metal contact with the wire. I had run a mains safety tester over all the power points in the house before Jean moved in, to ensure all connections went to the correct pins, with no reversed active and neutral, and no earth faults. However the little plug in neon testers do not show this sort of fault.

The lounge power points behind Jean's chair were expanded by two extra double power points. We had them mounted one above the other, to ease the install. A new waist high power point in the laundry wall, so the battery vacuum cleaner can finally move out of the lounge. On the other side of the laundry wall, Jean's office got two double power points, just above desktop level.

The single power point in the kitchen closet was changed to a double, so a wireless access point can go there.


Doanh also pulled the lounge room phone socket wiring out of the old RJ45 socket. Wire three on this was not connected (a phone may have worked, but not a computer). Punching down a freshly exposed set of the eight wires into a new RJ45 socket got that connected, at least to Cat 5 standards.

I wandered out to the garage and stuck an Ethernet line tester into the Hills Home Hub, and brought the remote for the tester into the living room. All eight lines were now showing as good. Doanh seemed a little surprised that I had such test gear on hand. Personally I think this socket was faulty when the house was built. No one tests structured wiring for Ethernet faults, only that a phone works, if that.

Why didn't I do my own wiring? I do not own the house, and it is illegal in Queensland for me to do electrical or communications wiring. Combination of union closed shop, and nanny state. If I did own the house, I would ignore the law and wire it the way I wanted (although that would be NSW 1950's style wiring, done real neat and tied down every 30 cm, where there is no way anything will ever go wrong with it). However when you lease, I think you need to avoid such behaviour.

No Login

I do not want to login to business sites. If I am on your business site, it may be that I am researching something to buy. I do not want a relationship with your business. I do not want to establish an email account. I just want to select some items, check the prices, and postage. Maybe after all that I will want to buy. But if I have to login first, I am gone. Life is too short to waste it on logins to shopfronts.

If you would not ask a potential customer their name and address when they enter a brick and mortar store, then do not ask them when they enter an ecommerce site.

Tuesday 2 August 2011


No driving away for us this morning, just in case the electricians came back. So no newspaper today. I went to the restaurant for lunch. Geoff and Margaret were there, hidden one table away (sneaky, I think, it surely could not be me being inattentive). Sue was back, Dot was there, regular Ray, and John. This time Clare joined us. I had hamburger. I am convinced Jean does not want me to eat hamburger. She says she does not care.

Took a 2 kilometre walk with Jean around Carlyle Gardens around five. Insufficient exercise, but better than none.


I cleaned Jean's laundry floor, since I can still get down and get up from the floor. The cleaning is for low values of clean. Even that took most of the morning before it was done. The disgusting amount of mess that has accumulated while we were away finally overwhelmed me. Since much of the clutter was out of the laundry (so the electricians could install power points) it was partly clear. I pulled out Jean's heavy washing machine and washed the floor behind it.

CFL Blows

A compact fluorescent light bulb in the back of the lounge room was blown. This was one of the Crompton 11 Watt CGU 5800K GU10 CFL globes that was installed originally in Jean's house. That one would be at least two years old, as it is an original model, not the Lucci Envirolux replacements we get from Beacon Lighting.

Wednesday 3 August 2011


Up early. Too much email. Not enough good news.

Did the foyer while Jean was putting her car in for service. Did the kitchen floor while she was returning.

Sent a few more notes to the Applix people, regarding gadgets that are now surplus to anything I am likely to do. I hate throwing out things that actually still work, but having brought heaps here (where there is some space for sorting) I now need to actually go through them and get rid of unused items.

Buzzer test failed. It is a pretty archaic system. Not that I am sure what could efficiently replace it. When I saw reception at lunch, they told me Doanh is seeking the fault.


I hate the Sabco Super Swish mop that Jean left here. I am obviously using it wrong. I can't even find an on button. However I washed the foyer, and later the kitchen. Naturally, having avoided cleaning areas the electricians would need to access, they did not arrive.

The 240 litre recycling bin was so full of paper that I could hardly wheel it out to the footpath. So between us, we must have managed to get rid of a lot of stuff. Thank goodness the usual recycling truck has a hydraulic lift arm.

iMac G5 ALS Status

Started the old iMac updating. That worked well, except for stalling partway through, so I had to restart the update. It turned out that it had OSX 10.5, Leopard. I thought it might have been stuck with Tiger, the previous version of OS X. The hardware all seems to be working. Next step is to find some hard drives (or for preference, find the original backup drive) and make another backup (just in case something escaped previous transfers to newer systems).

Found the original Western Digital backup drive. The drive will not spin up. I wonder how many of the other older hard drives are also faulty?

Back Pain

I have back pain from something I did today. I could not sleep at all, and spent the entire night wandering about in the house seeking some sitting or walking position to reduce the pain. As a result, I am in an absolutely foul mood.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Muscle Pain

I was in agony with back pain pretty much all night. When Jean came out in the morning, she found some chemist brand 10 mg codeine and paracetamol tablets for me. That helped slightly, but only slightly. Jean takes charge, and bullied the Carlyle Medical Centre into getting me in to see the doctor. She also drove me to the medical centre, and later to the pharmacy.

The mostly likely cause was I had pulled the muscle while cleaning Jean's house. However I might have had a recurrence of shingles (no rash), or even a kidney stone (there is a quick chemical test). The doctor gave me a prescription for a much more serious 30mg codeine phosphate and paracetamol tablet. Prescribed valium. I argued against valium. Dr Richard bullied me into accepting that all prescribed drugs can be considered addictive, and that I should get (and use) a valium tablet to help relax the muscle at night. Warned me not to drink, as did the pharmacist when Jean drove me there.

Jean found a cold hot pack in the freezer. Repeated use of it after it went in the microwave actually seemed to be really helping my back. I gave up on Jean's codeine tablets around seven in the evening. Still having trouble, but the pain levels were mostly acceptable. I had one of the super strength codeine tablets (not the two as prescribed) twenty minutes before going to sleep. Had a valium at the same time. That seemed to work.

Garage Door Opener Fails

As we were in a rush leaving to visit the doctor, the garage door opener again failed. It opened, but would not close. Jean locked the security screen door she had installed inside the garage, but had to leave the garage door open. I am now thinking that perhaps some bolts are needed inside the garage to secure the garage door correctly upon failure of the opener.

After seeing the doctor, I reported the door opener to Liz at Reception. They have it listed by McGovern Agencies as a garage door motor replacement on the next failure. That would be at our expense, not their expense. Personally I think it is a logic board failure, but perhaps the entire door control unit is replaced as one piece.

I have no idea how long garage door openers are intended to work. Jean uses the garage door infrequently. I would estimate twice a day (open and close), because most days she does not use her car. Call it 1000 operations a year. I would have thought a garage door opener would by default be designed for around a ten year life, not a two year life.


My hope of going home to Airlie Beach this week were totally destroyed. I doubt I could sit in a vehicle for more than ten minutes. Forget about driving one more than three hours. However I also received email saying the changeover of the Resort Managers is delayed until 9 August. Since I will be on the train to Brisbane then, that reduces the incentive to make a rush trip home to check on progress.

I had a chocolate milk drink, and two small bowls of soup during the whole day. Not a good day at all. Not that this sparse eating seemed to reduce my weight any.

Friday 5 August 2011


I was awake before five, but did not get up until six. I had been warned that valium did not leave you clear headed when you awoke, and that seemed the case. Normally I get up and start using the computer as soon as I awake. Today I really did not seem to get started on anything.

However the overnight rest seemed to have cleared up the back pain from the damaged muscle. I could feel the muscle attempt to go into spasm every now and then through the morning, but basically it failed to reach the real pain threshold. I avoided doing anything that seemed likely to change that status.

Luckily Jean was able to put a folding table out for me in her living room so I could work on a few things without bending over. Packed a small bag for a short trip to Brisbane next week.

Went through various bits of paperwork trying to identify more stuff to discard. What I want to do is to remove everything from the floors and wash the floors, but that might be what destroyed my back, so that is delayed a few more weeks. So far all I have managed to clean and wash is the laundry and the foyer. Most of the time is spent organising and throwing out stuff that should not even be here.

Easy Meals

I was not willing to walk to the restaurant today, in case my back problem recurred. So I had one of the Easy Meals we keep on hand for cyclone and other emergencies. This time it was the Chilli Con Carne. Seemed pretty reasonable, although I added some shredded cheese, and had expired corn chips as a spoon. Jean did not go food shopping today, so she tried the Beef Stroganoff.

Tonight I had the Easy Meals' Beef Stroganoff, heated in the microwave. It was quite acceptable, with a distinct though not very strong flavour, which suits my preferences. The numerous meat chunks were large (a definite plus) but cooked enough to break easily into smaller bits with a fork. The proportion of meat to veg was good: not too much, not too little. The portion size was right for me. Overall a good meal, MUCH better than most microwave meals I've tried. I'll definitely try this one again.

I still have at least two untried varieties of curry Easy Meals at my place, and there must be three or four more plain packets at Jean's place. We will need to buy some more before the next cyclone season.

Saturday 6 August 2011

Garage Door Opener

Once again the garage door opener failed. This is no longer an intermittent fault. It is now a dead door (at least until you reset the unit by powering it down and up again).

Whitsunday Terraces

I found some paperwork that Jean had preserved regarding the Whitsunday Terraces at Airlie Beach. This enabled me to add more material to my web site. Alas, I never write HTML tables, so I essentially had to learn how to construct tables styled with CSS when I wrote about Whitsunday Terraces Lot numbers, and their relationship to the Unit numbers in the resort.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a bug in the Safari browser when you do multiple column layouts using the somewhat experimental CSS3 column-width command with em spacing. This resulted in two columns when my page width reduced to the point that one column was required. No workaround occurs to me as yet. My XHTML is valid and well formed, according to the testers.

World Wide Web 20th Birthday

A happy 20th birthday to the World Wide Web. Tim Berners-Lee proposed MESH, as a system for linking documents over the Internet, twenty years ago today. Sir Tim went on to invent essentially all the ideas needed to make the web. The first web server, the first web browser. The start of HTML. All the earliest experiments with what became the World Wide Web were done on NeXT Computers, a company founded and run by Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple.

Hiroshima Atom Bomb

A not so happy 66 years ago, the USA dropped an atom bomb on Japan, on Hiroshima. Not long after, on 9 August, another atom bomb on Nagasaki. The Japanese war council was meeting when this bombing occurred. Hardly any doubts these bombings were war crimes, deliberately aimed at a predominantly civilian population. Just like many other crimes against civilians during any war. Including the March incendiary attack on Tokyo by B-29 Super Fortresses that may have killed more people than at Hiroshima. Around 60 Japanese cities were attacked with strategic bombing, 25 in the three weeks prior to Hiroshima alone.

However World War II ended on 15 August 1945. Although Germany had been defeated, and it was obvious that Japan would eventually fall, an invasion of the Japanese home islands would have involved massive casualties. The planned invasion involved 700,000 USA troops, more than was involved in invading Europe. The USA could justify revealing and using a mighty weapon to avoid that, since your first loyalty is to your own citizens.

Revisionist historians say perhaps President Truman was aiming these two atom bombs at Stalin. A warning not to press the USA on dividing the spoils of war. That seems unlikely.

However it is entirely possible that, had Russia not entered the war against Japan on 7 August, that Japan might have retained the spirit to fight on against the USA. Japan had hoped to buy off Russia with a surrender of Asian territory to Russia. That may have allowed a negotiated surrender to the USA. After the surprise Russian attack on Japanese forces still in Asia, the choice became a quick surrender to the USA, or a surrender to a joint force.

See Gareth Cook on Why did Japan surrender? The lengthy article explains Tsuyoshi Hasegawa - a highly respected historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara - has marshalled compelling evidence that it was the Soviet entry into the Pacific conflict, not Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that forced Japan’s surrender.

Sunday 7 August 2011


I did not go out at all. Watched some current affairs shows (as I often do on Sunday morning) by enabling TV reception on my monitor.

Missed the last meeting of the Social Club, and thus the election of the new Social Club (if sufficient people nominated for the empty positions). Even if I had not been worried by my back problem, I just could not see a pyjama party as being my sort of event. It will be interesting to see if a social club actually still exists. The most active members of the previous one were often new arrivals.

Threw out more Macintosh computer magazines. Later in the evening I started throwing out history books.

Getting Rid of Books

Getting rid of books was what I typed into Google's search bar. I got 89 million hits! A quoted search dropped that to a mere 100,000 results. It seems I am not the only one intent on decluttering.

Warrina Book Exchange was up for sale, for $55,000 including $40,000 of stock. The business advertisements said there were four book exchanges in Townsville. Another was Jim's Book Exchange in the Flinders Mall, and another at the St Vincent de Paul store. It sure looks like no-one locally is buying used books. Looks like no-one is even interested in donated books.

Books are heavy, and have very little value second hand. This makes finding anyone willing to accept them a problem.

Postage costs in Australia make sending books elsewhere silly, so I think the books will just go in the paper recycling bin.

Monday 8 August 2011


A misty morning. I took some photos with my iPhone in the hope I get good light effects through the mist. Took a photo of the 14 books on history I am throwing out. I hope this is just the beginning of a book purge that should have taken place several years ago.

I missed the workshop meeting. Not that I expect I would have had anything to contribute. While I really like the idea of a men's shed, I found that I never actually attend.

I also found I basically had nothing left to eat. I was expecting to be at Airlie Beach for the weekend. Maybe I should have bought popcorn at the movies after all.


Jean kindly dropped me off at the Reading Cinema at Condon before she went shopping. The ten o'clock session was Hanna. Young girl brought up to be a killer in the sub-arctic wastes by her secret agent father. Eric Bana did a nice job as the resigned and on the run former agent. Kate Blanchard nearly equalled Hugo Weaving (as Red Skull in Captain America) for carpet chewing evil villain(ess). I really liked the scenes where she brushes her gums raw in a luxury apartment. Movies are fun!

Plus the walk back to Jean's place was around 2.9km, so I got some exercise again, after several days of being off my feet. Pity I did not think to get some lunch while I was in a place with heaps of restaurants. It is even more of a pity that I will not be able to do that walk in the summer. Way too hot then. Airlie Beach has a far better climate (and is more compact for walking).

Garage Door Opener

The garage door opener at Jean's place was still stuffed in the morning, despite the garage door service on 1 July. Needs a power down after every use. I am delegated to check with reception about that. I did so after walking back from the movie. Must check with reception again on Monday to see if any message was sent through.

When I tried to close the garage door this afternoon, the garage door opener did not lower the door the whole way. Pressed the button again. The door attempted to run up past its stops as it opened. The door handle rammed the motor unit, broke off the plastic automatic manual changeover switch, and ground to a halt. Shit! The garage door is now comprehensibly stuffed.

Moved Jean's car out of the way (and left it out overnight). Jean found a pair of pliers, a small screwdriver, and a hammer. Neighbour Gary kindly came over (with a can of spray). Pulled the split pin out of the lever connecting the drive chain and the door. Drove the link out of the opener with a screwdriver and hammer so the door was no longer connected to the motor. Then we could manually open and close the garage door.

Found a place in the door track we could jam some screwdrivers in the works. The garage door is now officially locked again. For unorthodox values of locked.

Telstra 3G

Jean came to see me because her iPad (my former iPad) no longer connected to Telstra 3G. As usual, there seems no way to find out why the Telstra connection has failed. The main reason I had a 12 month pre-paid SIM pack for the iPad was so I only had to deal with Telstra once a year. Their connections are great, but the entire accounting system sucks.

Neither of us were able to extract anything sensible from the Telstra myaccount web site. However Jean eventually located some of my blog notes indicating that the twelve month pre-paid SIM card in the original iPad I had given her did not expire until at least November. So the pre-paid SIM card should not be the problem.

Tuesday 9 August 2011


A wonderful red sunrise. Jean wanted to refuel her car before one of the Coles 8 cent off coupons expired. Did that, and were at Willows by about 8:35 a.m.

I looked (and looked) in BigW for a shaver. Finally found a badly organised section in cosmetics. However I am not thrilled with the orange loyalty cards from the Woolworth's group. When I try to refuel Jean's car, the garage at Airlie Beach invariably tells me I have no credit on the card. Even if I have just got through buying a bunch of stuff at BigW or Woolworths at Centro at Cannonvale. So I just do not believe the Woolworths system works. I prefer to get an actual fuel coupon from Coles (although I will not shop in Target for political reasons).

Bought the same shaver cheaper in the specialist ShaverShop in Willows. Got good service, with a comprehensive account of the merits of each model. The sales assistant was very smooth at pushing the Shaver Saver lubricant, so I added that to the buy (they probably make a decent profit on that item). First time I have encountered a perfumed spray oil for shavers. All the old shavers probably need a little attention (the light machine oil that came with them had run out long ago).

Stopped at Reception to escalate our door opener problem. Liz let me talk with the repair folks, so they at least understand what seems to have gone bung. They will try to fix it on Monday.

There had been a phone call. Neither of us ever think of picking up a landline phone to see if there are messages. Since we typically receive about two calls a month, there is usually no point.

Lunch with the usual suspects, plus Geoff and Margaret. The Social Club does not appear to have sufficient volunteers to be formed, so only caretaker operations are being done.

Late back from lunch, as Leigh walked in, and Geoff wanted to talk about some of the Carlton Theatre options. I got back around two.

Cloud Computing

Since I was stuck here I used the surplus offpeak internet capacity and updated every computer in the background to checking email and so on. Most of the mail was spam. No idea how much mail is stuck in Gmail filters. With Apple Safari cookie handling borked, I am unlikely to enable cookies to check Gmail at all for another week or so.

Interestingly the two Mac App Store items I have on my MacBook Air (Twitter, which is probably free, and RealMac Courier (whose purpose I have forgotten) refused to update. Claimed there was an error. This is not making me anxious to rush out and buy programs from the Mac App Store.

The OS X 10.7 Lion install download stalls every now and then. Tells me I have a minute to go, but most of the install is not downloaded. Pausing it for a few seconds and then restarting kicks it along. So far the idea of using the cloud for installs is not resonating with me. The internet is simply not sufficiently reliable.

The Lion App was downloaded by the time we returned from Willows. Took a bit under 30 minutes to install itself on my Apple MacBook Air.


I changed, and rapidly threw the last few items in my carry on bag. The taxi was due at 2:30 p.m. Jean phoned up twice well after that seeking it. Liz from reception phoned, to say a confused taxi driver was on the way. Seems the office has none of the nice maps of CG left.

Reached Townsville Station in plenty of time, as our schedule listed the train departing at four. Actually it was not to leave until 4:35 p.m. Kind railway station staff told us where the carriages would pull up, and they were totally accurate.

We took several walks along the long platform, looking at the nice views across the river. The ornamental metalwork panels along the platform show typical scenes, by not punching small holes in the metal panels where objects are outlined. It seemed an effective display for a train station. Almost impossible to photograph however.

The Sunlander arrived at 4:20 p.m. We were soon organised in twinette 13/14 on Carriage B. Our urbane maitre'd Bernard did a show and tell of the facilities. The carriage even included a full size shower, although our cabin facilities were not en-suite. We did have a clever folding wash basin. Bernard pointed out where the club car and the dining car were, forward of us. The Sunlander left Townsville at 4:47 p.m., a mere twelve minutes late.

I took a few photos during the journey, but we had deliberately left our cameras behind. Our only cameras were the ones in our mobile phones.


I took my book and went to the club car, where Justin the bartender soon provided a rum and coke. You could run a tab, and settle at the end of the journey.

Russell was sitting by a microphone at the end of the carriage, taking requests and playing them on an electric guitar. However he was mostly doing old favourites, suited to his mostly older audience. I somehow expected more train songs.

I bought a bottle of wine, a black shiraz, and Jean joined me in a drink while we sat in the club car prior to dinner. Dinner was at 7:30 p.m. While I returned to the cabin to collect some tablets, wine got spilled on our table. Jean blames the train lurching while Justin the bartender poured.

The musical entertainment continued after dinner. Indeed, it was not until ten that guitarist Russell gave up entertaining us, and there were few left in the club car by then. I seem to recall that was around the time we stopped at Proserpine, gateway to the wonderful coral reef off the Whitsunday coast.

Wednesday 10 August 2011


I did not sleep as well as I hoped. The tracks seemed to have more tracks joining them than I expected. As a result, I had my shower around 6:30 a.m. I think Jean was the first person in the carriage to manage to get a shower. Not that there ever seemed any competition for the facilities.

Breakfast was around the industrial port of Gladstone, starting at 7:30 a.m. I had been sitting in a comfortable chair in the club car reading while awaiting the dining car to open. Breakfast was the typical Australian travel fare of bacon and eggs (I had mine scrambled, for variety).

Listened to Russell playing guitar in the club car after 10:30 a.m. while I continued to read a book. We passed a lot of burnt out woodlands. After the floods earlier in the year, vegetation grew really well. However it has been dry for months, and the wood really burns well.

Books read on the trip were Thomas Greanias' Raising Atlantis, Mark Alpert's Final Theory, and Warren Fahy's Fragment. All obtained at the remainders table in BigW at Willows, Townsville, as light reading for the rail journey. All better science thrillers than I expected. That was good, and good value. Hope the authors made something on them.

Ordered another bottle of wine with lunch, which really was a surplus. Had the chicken salad, which actually contained a monumental amount of chicken. No jokes about railway food. The meals, and the service, were exemplary.


The train arrived at Roma Street Station in Brisbane at 4:22 p.m. We had bulging bags, since the Sunlander class tickets included a complimentary bathrobe and slippers, which we were not expecting. We took a wrong direction, in a quest to avoid steps. We used an escalator to avoid one set of steps. However soon enough we were dragging our bags up Albert Street the short (but steep) distance to the Soho Hotel.

No problems at checkin at the Soho. They have their reception open for at least 12 hours a day. The room was small but reasonably comfortable. Not as small as the single rooms there are. I could have used a more comfortable chair, but there was a second chair at the small desk.

Walked down Wickham Terrace to the Woolworths, so we could get Jean some milk for tea. I bought Coke. For lack of a better idea, we got a footlong Subway to share for dinner. Walked the 1.22 km back up the hill to the Soho.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Brisbane Morning

Up early, reading news on my iPad. Breakfast in the Soho cafe, poached eggs and bacon, with thick toast. Seemed a good start.

The weather forecast for Brisbane on our iPhones changed from Fine to possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Not such a good start, as we had not brought umbrellas (they can cause issues at airport security in carry on bags). Brisbane is one of these cities that act like a small town. Nothing seems to open until at least nine. So we were in no rush, despite being ready early.

We walked down to the MECU offices in the city. This gave us a chance to (finally) get rid of the strange little CUA cheques that had arrived (at Airlie Beach) in the mail several weeks ago, and that had not been thrown out by Reception. The cheques must have been a refund of shares from decades ago when we had CUA accounts. By chance, this was the first anniversary of the office relocation, so we were given slabs of chocolate cake to assist us in celebrating this milestone. First time we have been in an MECU office for … I was going to write decades, but we did visit the University office two years ago, and the former Brisbane one about a decade ago.

Myer Centre Shopping

Myer Centre. Jean rapidly found the Florsheim shoe store for me. As mostly expected, they did not have the Noble model shoe. The well informed saleslady said displaced shoe models were often replaced with a new but similar model after 12-18 months, so it seems worthwhile to check again in a year or so. I must admit my main reason for checking was having found a comfortable Florsheim shoe (by accident), I wanted to ensure I had another pair on hand for when I travel. I do not wear shoes at home, or anywhere in the tropics. I wear sandals.

Rivers at ten. Not intending to look in Rivers, but they had some $8 backpacks. We had bought some of their backpacks ages ago in the Whitsundays store at Cannonvale, and had great use out of them. These backpacks looked like they had all the right design features (mostly water bottle holders) to replace Jean's old blue backpack. Bought two, and scored 80 frequent shopper points. I did have a look at their shoes, and one pair looked good. However I can probably buy from the Cannonvale Rivers store.

Lowes, to check for tropical shorts in a design (appropriate pockets mostly) I like. I have not found them at Townsville, and there is no Lowes in the Whitsundays. No luck, but I got complimented by the salesman on my Hawaiian shirt, which was the frangipani one on a black background that Jean had made for me, with the front and the pocket pattern matching. I asked about their tropical shirts, but despite the salespeople being well aware of the demand for cotton shirts, Lowes will not buy such an expensive fabric. They stick to the synthetics, which I will not wear in a tropical climate.

Not much else interested us at the Myer Centre, especially as we are flying out with only carry on bags. So we left and wandered the streets of Brisbane.

Brisbane Shopping

Dymocks was on our way. We checked their upstairs. A much better range of iOS development books than I expected. However I think it unlikely I will be trying to write any iPhone applications. It would need to be something very specific for there not to be some sort of app already available. I did not see anything that interested me in their science fiction section (but like most such genre shelves, it is now full of fantasy that has no interest for me).

Kathmandu. Jean searched for a long time, but failed to find what she wanted, despite helpful staff. I think she found one item. Afterwards, Jean waited while I ducked into JB HiFi. Found Earth II TV series, but knowing nothing about it (and having hundreds of hours of unwatched shows) decided not to buy it.

We visited Pulp Fiction bookshop, which specialises in science fiction and crime genre fiction. I did not manage to find anything to my taste, but Jean found a few novels by her favourites. After a while, Ron returned to the shop, so we were able to chat with him for a while, between customers. This does not seem a great time to be operating a bookshop, not even if it is a great bookshop.

Lunch at ANZAC Arcade. Jean found sushi. I got mixed sandwiches. However then I found a place selling hot chocolate, and offering two free fresh cinnamon doughnuts with every hot drink. I saved some of my sandwich for later.

Jean delegated me to carry her loot back to the Soho. I did so, and even took a little rest while I was there.

More Shopping

Jean had gone to the collection of hiking shops at the far end of Wickham Street. I walked down the street. It certainly seemed a long way. Got another phone call from Jean telling me she was in Snowgum. She found a woolen garment there, since Snowgum seem to specialise in natural fabrics.

We also tried all the other hiking stores in those few blocks, although these days most of what they sell is outdoor sporting clothing. K2, and Mountain Design. Across the street, Paddy Pallin, and a few more stores. My iPhone GPS claimed we had walked around 3.6 kilometres by the time we struggled up the hill to the Soho. I think Jean failed to find another item in all these stores, but at least she had the opportunity of checking them out.

Jean's Meeting

Jean asked me to walk with her to her late afternoon, early evening event. The late afternoon event was meeting some of Jean's tech writer acquaintances at a bar opposite the decaying but under renovation Brisbane Town Hall. The mostly open air bar and cafe site boasted a giant TV screen above it, but luckily that was not accompanied by equally giant sound.

Friday 12 August 2011

IBM Personal Computer

A happy birthday to the IBM Personal Computer, the Model 5150. Released 30 years ago today at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City on August 12, 1981. With 16 kilobyte (not megabyte) of memory, and a cassette tape connection for storage. A floppy drive could store 160 kilobytes. The black and white monitor was around 11 inches.

IBM sold its PC division to Lenovo in 2005. Even Mark Dean, one of the IBM designers, agrees the PC is dead, with some explanation about future roles.


After breakfast in the Soho cafe, we walked across Albert Street into the beautiful parkland, checking alternative routes to the railway station for the Airtrain to the airport. Decided the steps via the parkland were not the way to go. Way too many steps there.

While there were good signs on the country platform for where the Airtrain left from, the same could not be said for buying a ticket. No ticket seller open on Platform 10. We found a vending machine in the subway tunnel to the other platforms.

After studying the touch screen ticket vending machine, we were not much the wiser. We were fairly sure that we did not want a multiple use Go ticket. Someone else arrived to use the machine. We observed carefully. This at least confirmed which aperture was for accepting currency notes. However when we tried to find the airport, it did not seem to be there under airport. Jean tried the map, but that was too blurry for me to read the stations, even if I had known the colour coding and direction. I finally found the airport under Dom Airport, and couple of screens away from the DEF listing of stations. Not impressed, especially when the ticket said Transfers end at 11. Luckily we did not know exactly what a transfer was (change from bus to train perhaps), and apparently didn't need one in any case.

We continued our last walk through the concrete canyons of Brisbane. It was chilling in the wind rushing past the buildings. I do not think of Brisbane as being cold. We walked as far as the gardens and casino before returning to the Soho. Jean was not liking the long hikes up hills and especially up steps.

Leave Brisbane

Packed our bags at the Soho. We did not make much use of their free WiFi, as both of us have Telstra 3G connections built into our phones and Apple iPads. Set off for the railway station (down some steps) by eleven. A five minute wait for the comfortable train. Less than a half hour ride. Had we been taking heavy luggage that would have been far harder.

A helpful Jetstar desk provided our boarding passes (since the vending machines were not co-operating so many hours prior to the flight). No issues with security, except the gathering of so many bags while Jean was checked. We sat around in comfortable chairs in the Jetstar section of the Brisbane airport for several hours. Jean got herself a foot long Subway, and over a fair period of time managed to eat almost all of it.

I filled in an airport retail survey when asked, and that scored a free voucher for a hot drink, which Jean used. I do not believe we are much use to retailers in airports. Brisbane airport is one of the most comfortable we know. Apart from food, drink, and power points to charge phones or computers, what we mostly want is a comfortable place to sit while we wait. I hardly ever see a retailer in which I have the slightest interest. However that applies almost everywhere, not just at airports.

Flight from Brisbane

The plane was late arriving, so a large crowd rushed on via both sets of stairs. The flight JQ906 to Townsville was totally packed. We had a large boned deaf guy next to us. I was not sure he would even be able to fit his knees into the seat. We were near the back, row 27. Luckily we got in very early and so had space for our carry on bags. The lockers were crammed. I spent the flight reading a John Barnes novel from Jean, pausing only to get a packet of cheese and biscuits to snack on. Just as well I did, as there was not much to eat in Jean's house.

Used the steps again at Townsville. Rushed out to the taxi rank. Must have been 30 people in front of us. While we waited the queue behind us swelled to over a hundred. No taxis. Six taxis arrived in maybe 15 minutes. A maxi taxi touted for multiple hire, including Condon area, so we were able to jump the queue.

A magical mystery tour ensured for most of the next hour. Drop bags off for one person, and pick up someone else from the house. We gathered that the Cowboys vs Bronco game was on this evening. Most of the flights had been full of spectators arriving for the game.

Take a note for any Friday or Saturday arrival in Brisbane. Check football schedule, and do not take an afternoon flight if a big game is on. The hundred and something taxis in Townsville are not sufficient to cope. especially as most are Honda Prius that can really only handle three passengers.

Unpacked, got washing machine loaded and ready to go. Walked to the mail boxes and collected the mail. Boring.

Easy Meals

Jean reports on her microwaved Easy Meals. The Easy Meals Beef Bourguignon had a very good, though mild, flavour and lots of large chunks of beef … really more meat than I like. Next time I will add more vegetables or some pasta or potato and turn it into two meals.

Saturday 13 August 2011


I was up around five. Started running laundry around six. Although I hate those slow water saving washing machines, at least they are quiet enough that you can get away with running them early.

The shopping at Willows went well, although I was basically there to have raisin toast at Muffin Break (the only place that sells light breakfast nice and early). Jean apparently found vast numbers of food products on special, so she restocked her pantry. She phoned me to ask if I wanted chocolate biscuits (I did). I got all the weekend newspapers. Next I tried JB HiFi, where I found a heap of old SF TV series, some even on special. Bought a bag of DVDs, including Earth 2 series seen in Brisbane.

Jean asked me to drive her car. All the walking around in Brisbane had wrecked her right ankle, and she was not sure she would be able to brake in an emergency. I drove her to the egg shop, and got three dozen of the giant eggs.

Put out the laundry, and started a second load. Asked Holger if he wanted the bicycle for spare parts (this was the BigW folding bike for which I could never get a decent replacement inner tube). Otherwise I would dump it at the tip. He suggested advertising it in Carlyle Gardens. I guess I can try that.

Missed the Chinese dinner and thus the farewell at the restaurant for long time chef Noel, and his wife Crystal, who are moving to Charters Towers. I hope they do well there.

Genetically Engineering Fuel

An interesting account of how to approach making liquid fuels that modern vehicles could use. Engineered reversal of the β-oxidation cycle for the synthesis of fuels and chemicals by Clementina Dellomonaco, James M. Clomburg, Elliot N. Miller & Ramon Gonzalez goes into the details of where the problems are in making slightly longer chain carbon fuel molecules, and how you engineer E. coli to work around them. The final goal would be producing oil like fuels from simpler sugars. Keep investing in sugar cane. You need a fuel stock for all these reactions.

Gadgets Wanted

AirStash wireless flash drive and SD card adaptor

Easy Meals

Jean reports on her microwaved Easy Meals. The Chunky Beef and Potato Hotpot had a strong (peppery) flavour, quite nice but a bit more peppery than I prefer. Good big chunks of meat and potato, some tomato in the sauce.

I would choose either of these meals again. Of the three Easy Meals I've tried, all were good and well worth repeating.

Sunday 14 August 2011


I replaced the blown CFL light bulb in Jean's lounge room. Using high friction gripping clothes is the secret of getting those idiotic low emission downlight bulbs out of the ceiling. Regular downlights are probably just as bad, but who in their right senses would stuff a high wattage white hot light bulb into a ceiling space? Oh, right, heaps of people.

Raisin bread for breakfast. My weigh in showed I was heavier than last year. Not much, and it has fluctuated a couple of kilograms all year. Must get back to walking regularly.

Find more books to throw out. I eventually tossed another 17 books into the paper recycling bin. Need to get more active in removing books and paper.

It was time to watch public affairs shows Insiders and Business Inside on ABC TV, while finishing with the weekend newspapers. I set a repeating alarm for Meet the Press, and the Bolt Report, which are both afternoon events in regional Queensland. That was as usual the extent of my TV viewing for the week.

Intel Mobile CPUs

I give up. Just what is the difference between the 32 nm ultra low voltage Sandy Bridge Intel® Core™ i5-2557M Processor (3M Cache, 1.70 GHz) and the Intel® Core™ i7-2677M Processor (4M Cache, 1.80 GHz)? Apart from the 100 MHz clock speed, and the extra megabyte of Level 3 cache? They are obviously designed specifically for ultra thin computers. They both show 17 Watt max TDP, which means they can go in an Apple MacBook Air.

The integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 actually sound reasonable, compared to the Nvidia GeForce 320M in the previous Core2Duo model MacBook Air. The Intel GPU only seems to be giving up about 6%-8% compared to the GeForce 320M.


Apart from stealing a perfectly good name for artificial people, Google's Android software relies heavily upon SUN Microsystems' JAVA language. This uses triggered an opportunistic law suite from Oracle, who bought SUN (and thus JAVA), seemingly aimed at recouping their entire purchase price in one fell swoop.

However the reason for avoiding Android is that JAVA products are just like the much older UCSD Pascal. They save programming expenses. Write once, run anywhere (badly). As far as I can see, that remains the case.

Super Rich

I do not know anyone who is super rich. However someone who is rich says Stop Coddling the Super-Rich. Yes, Warren E Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway says his tax bill last year was $6,938,744, or about 17.4 percent of his taxable income. he notes much lower paid folks in his office paid up to 41%. Maybe the USA should listen to Buffett?

For those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

Monday 15 August 2011

U.K. Government vs Internet

It appears that David Cameron's government is contemplating the same knee jerk reaction to social unrest as many dictatorships like Libya and Syria. If some of the U.K. public are misusing the Internet, or social networking, or Blackberry Messaging, then switch communication off. Didn't Egypt try that? Luckily the Home Office is unlikely to cut off the internet. The San Francisco BART don't seem to get the idea either. Naturally China noticed and comments on Internet freedom in Britain, with wonderful irony. As Glyn Moody says: Alongside its continuing economic and political decline, the moral shut-down of the West is now there for all to see - and mock.

The rioters and looters in Britain are a minority. The proper response is better policing, and community solidarity against louts, not trying to prevent the vast law abiding majority from accessing communications.

Proper punishment? In really offensive cases, you could ask a Sharia court to cut off their middle finger.

There is a protest to David Cameron about Internet access on the Access Now web site. If you care about Internet access, complain now.

Garage Door Opener

I was very pleased to see the nice repair guy from McGovern Agencies arrive at nine. Rather than even attempt to repair the (much attended to) broken garage door opener, he pulled the entire thing loose from the garage.

The new replacement model has a much improved chain guard with a full steel channel along the chain. The previous model had a tube supporting the chain. The new model is also far smaller than the old one.

Apart from getting a new set of remotes, the new model is also less noisy. Both are really nice improvements. Hope it keeps working.


I went out and bought heaps of Jacob Creek champagne, because Jean said she would get extra points on her cards. Personally I am not having much luck with Everyday Rewards cards. Actually I wanted the bubbles mostly for my next party at Airlie Beach.

Had to see Geoff and Margaret this afternoon about some Carlton Theatre improvements. Geoff wants an electronic display board. Fine. He wants me to do it. Ouch!

Cut back some of the ferocious green plant in the garden, so as to give the tall red plants a chance. Note the scientific nomenclature relating to which plant is which. Normally plants I touch die. Not these green things. I think they might be triffids. Tuesday is (I think) the day the lawn mowing folks collect and remove clippings.

Laptops Crap for Schools

I am amused (but not surprised) to see that computers for schools are crap. Kevin Rudd's and Labor's Digital Education Revolution (DER) funding scheme to give computers to students in schools did not work too well in NSW, because the netbooks are slow pieces of shit. Not too bad if you never pushed them, but putting any heavy graphics software (like Adobe) on a netbook showed they were crap. Any decent tech could have told the government that. A 1.66MHz Intel Atom N450 was a bit sus even two years ago. Governments are not very good at this sort of stuff. They should stop wasting money.

Thunderbolt and Light Ridge

Recent Apple Macintosh computers have incorporated Intel's new Thunderbolt (formerly Light Peak) interface technology. It is essentially a carrier for PCI Express, and DisplayPort.

This means multiple 10Gbps I/O channels, far faster than USB or Firewire. Thunderbolt hard drives can sustain sequential read and write rates exceeding 600 MB/s. Flash drives on USB are less than a twentieth this speed. USB3 and eSATA hard drives about an eighth of Thunderbolt speeds. The Intel Light Ridge chip supports four bidirectional 10Gbps channels (20Gbps total per channel) channels and two DisplayPort inputs/outputs. Mind you, I only know of one Thunderbolt hard drive, the Promise Pegasus (although Sonnet will have Thunderbolt drives soon).

The very light weight Apple MacBook Air does not include Light Ridge. Instead it has a small form factor Intel Eagle Ridge Thunderbolt chip. This has only two bidirectional 10Gbps channels (20Gbps total per channel) and one DisplayPort input/output. The Eagle Ridge chip is connected to the CPU on-die PCIe controller. I imagine most cost sensitive laptops that use Light Peak at all will use this Eagle Ridge chip rather than the full power Light Ridge chip.

As an aside, one reason the Apple Thunderbolt cable is expensive (A$55) is that each end of the cable contains electronics to sustain the very high data rate of the Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt connections can run video (via DisplayPort) and multiple extremely fast hard drives simultaneously.

Tuesday 16 August 2011


The nice folks from the lawn mower contractors collected by discarded plant clippings in the morning. Glad that I hustled last night in clipping the stuff. I still think my best (aka easiest) approach to the garden is to cover it in river gravel.

Pork chop at the restaurant. No sign of the people I was supposed to attend a meeting with.

I watered the garden, manually. The garden watering system does not seem to be working at all.

We aim, but not very well without a target.

Advertisers on the internet are basically arseholes. Read about persistent cookies.


I had a call from Liz at the office. She started with the social chitchat, asking how our train trip had gone. Then she moved on to the garage door opener, which was good, because I wanted to remind the office that bills would arrive. It is not like her to beat around the bush like that. Finally Liz reached the VitalCARE emergency call system.

With the VitalCARE system out of action in the new area, someone is arriving tomorrow and Thursday to retune all the transmitters. These are skip transmitters, with the calls being relayed from antenna to antenna. Only about one home in twelve has a transmitter and aerial, and ours is one of them. So they need access to our roof space on Wednesday or Thursday. Naturally we do not mind, which I suspect may not be the case with some residents.

Besides, it gives me a chance to ask Duanh the electrician when they will get a chance to do more stuff in Jean's house.

Google Buys Motorola

Holy shit! Google bought Motorola Mobility for US$12.5 billion. So for three times the money, they got half as many (17,000) patents as in the Nortel consortium buy deal. But it does say that the big play space today is in mobile phones. Now, if only we could retrospectively shoot the arsehole who decided it was a good idea to have software patents …

Retailers Collapse

A story that Harvey Norman warns of retail closures. Well do'h! You retail arseholes brought it on yourselves. (Which reminds me. What sort of stupid dictionary does not include arsehole? Do you think good old fashioned English and Australian insults should not exist? Arseholes!)

Harvey Norman closed its Clive Peeters and Rick Hart brands. In Townsville, family owned John Bradley Retravision recently closed. How sad, Gerry Harvey is going broke selling crap from China at vastly inflated prices. Box moving crap. Maybe retailers should try selling value, instead of overpriced crap? I would rather buy from Kogan.

Wednesday 17 August 2011


I note that Microbee Technology Pty Ltd have announced they will re-launch Australia's own computer. I have no details of what that may mean.

At the same time, the Microbee Software Preservations Society (MSPP has become an official distribution agent for Microbee company owned material.

Energy Intensity

China talks about improving Energy Intensity. This is a measure of units of energy per unit of Gross Domestic Product. China aims to cut carbon dioxide output per unit of GDP by at least 40 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.

Denmark uses a lot of energy per unit of Gross Domestic Product. India about a third as much. Most developed countries (including China) are somewhere in the middle. The USA was around 9MJ per dollar. Bangladesh around 2MJ per dollar.

Obviously very cold countries (like Denmark at around 13MJ per dollar) need to use more heating. Very hot countries need to use more air conditioning. So some of the differences are caused by climate. Russia is high, at over 20MJ per dollar, partly due to a harsh climate, and partly due to massive size of its territory. The more compact a country, the easier it is to obtain a higher energy efficiency (travel distances are shorter). Poorer countries are likely to report far lower energy use than is true, due to unmeasured burning of wood and other statistical failures. For instance, the Bangladesh energy use figures are almost certainly underreported.

Apple Mac mini

I see yet another failure of the USB port on my Apple Mac mini. It can not detect an iPad being plugged in. The USB port does not even supply power. The entire USB system on my Mac mini is a piece of shit. Continually fails.

Then the iTunes Store says there is no connection via the Internet. Yes, that arsehole Belkin router has managed to get disconnected yet again. Luckily I already intend to replace it. However I fear the fault is in the Telstra land line.

Multiple connection attempts fail. Do I go out to the garage and physically disconnect the Belkin? Being lazy, I restart the router remotely. Still not working. I physically power it down, and up again. It claims to be connected on After several minutes, it really does reconnect.

Not that it makes much difference. iTunes connectivity is still borked, even if web browsers are working. Let's shut down iTunes. Nope. iTunes is borked! Reboot iTunes. Still no USB connection. Grab email. Check on my order at the Apple Store. Nope, Apple is updating the store. Why? It is Wednesday evening. Why are they doing an update now?

Right, cloud computing is my future? Not until this internet crap starts working reliably!

Carlton Theatre

I want to install an electronic notice board in the Carlton Theatre. We have a nice spot under the left hand wall mounted speaker. The other side of the wall is in the stage wings, and has power and space for us to mount equipment. The question is, what equipment?

Garden Watering System

Jean had said the garden watering sprinkler was not working on Tuesday. It looked like the two AA batteries had run out of juice. I replaced the batteries, and then went through the long, frustrating array of pushing buttons to set up the watering program again (we are allowed to water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with automatic systems). I set the time for a half hour, which seems sufficient for our small garden and low flow sprinkler heads.

So what happened? The sprinklers worked at 6 p.m. today, twelve hours out of sequence.

Thursday 18 August 2011


I installed the Ghostery web browser extension so I could more easily see how many advertisers are targeting my web access. I had already removed Adobe Flash. I used to block Flash using Click to Flash, but then decided it was better to help slant the statistics towards not even having Flash available. I run a CSS based advertising blocker, as well as banning popups. My general web browsing existence contains very few advertisements. This is as it should be. Living in a remote area of a country with a small population, I am unlikely to even be able to obtain many randomly advertised products.

Belkin Router Disconnects

After working from before 4 a.m. the Belkin Router managed to disconnect from the Internet just after 5 a.m. A remote software restart got it working again.


I was up about 3:30 a.m. Booted the Mac mini that had been having issues last night. Continued working on FLAP. I also ran a sync of Things and Bento with my iPad and iPhone. Plus I ran a sync via iTunes, to get the other applications in sync.

Made sure the rubbish bins were out. The recycle bin is pretty much full again this fortnight, much of it discarded books. Cleaning out the crap is going to take a fair amount of time.

Around seven I started doing laundry. I also disconnected the garden water sprinkler controller, and (this time with the aid of a magnifying glass) changed the time by twelve hours, so as to set the watering times correctly. I will need to see if it waters the garden on Saturday morning.

Evade responsibility, go shopping. Jaycar, AllSafe, OfficeWorks.

The office want me to help with the call system. Just needs someone to check an old Windows XP desktop computer system has a serial port free. They do not want to use a laptop (must remain connected), nor a USB port (too iffy).

Had lunch with our electrician Duanh and the nice chap from VitalCARE.


I found one of the replacement batteries (6V SLA SB-2496) I needed to test the battery powered fluorescent lamps we keep for cyclone season. This means I will be able to test all three lamps. That ran Jaycar out of those batteries. Also bought a bunch of car cigarette lighter sockets for 12 volt battery fans and the like.

Bought a couple of Digitech 600 VA UPS to run the ADSL modem and so on. Our old ones were dead, after many years. Also got an 8 port Gigabit Ethernet switch (YN-8087) so the internet network does not get delayed by different speed devices.

Found Jean a Xenon flange globe (SL-3207 4.7V 400mA) for the little black flashlight that has been sitting in the foyer awaiting disposal for months. I had to measure the original HAM20 4.8V 0.5A globe dimensions with a vernier caliper to find a suitable replacement globe. Glad that I could get that back into use however.

Replacing CFL Downlights

I am trying a FutureBrite GU10-41 5 Watt LED light. This is good for 90-240V AC, according to the box. Comes from Suite 2, 180 Main Road, Speers Point NSW 2284 (PO Box 149, Boolaroo) ph (02) 4958 8588.

Basically I am comparing it with 11 Watt CFL GU10 lamps. We have about 15 of the CFL around the house. The slow startup of CFL, even in the tropics, is a pain. They are even slower in temperate climes, and you might as well forget CFL in cold climates.

The FutureBrite lists as producing 380 lumens, and having a 150 degree beam angle. I have the CoolWhite model, but a bit of paper in the box lists WarmWhite, Daylight, plus Red, Green, Blue and Yellow. Likely price is around $50.

I borrowed the LED GU10 today from AllSafe Energy Efficient Products in Townsville. They should be at our house on Tuesday to install another solar tube skylight, and a solar roof exhaust fan.

Initial impression is that the LED puts out a lot of light for 5 Watts. Especially compared with the 11 watt Crompton CFL initially installed in our house. I will give you light meter readings later on, but just carrying the meter around, I was getting over twice the light from the LED compared to the CFL. On the other hand, I thought the Crompton were less than impressive, and had been replacing them with Envirolux from Beacon Lighting when they blew (about 5 blown in two years, out of 15).

My Digitech Digital Luxmeter is showing almost all the GU10 CFL downlights producing 96 Lux at one metre from the ceiling, on axis. The FutureBrite is producing more than 250 Lux at the same distance. For comparison, a 240 volt no name GU10 Halogen incandescent globe produces more than 900 Lux at a metre. Do not believe Green claims that CFL or LED produce equivalent amounts of light to (higher wattage) incandescent. They do not.

The GU10 CFL downlights (four in my room, two in dining room) produce between 25 and 35 Lux at the surface of different desks in the house. This is about a tenth of the recommended amounts for general non task lighting.


We visited AllSafe energy efficient products. Managing Director Ponie De Wet showed us what the Solar Tube skylights looked like. I want one for my room, since it is a dull room now we have the awnings to protect against the sun. Jean persuaded me to get the smaller model. Plus we checked the solar powered roof space ventilation fan, as an alternative to additional insulation. I ordered each. Install on Tuesday, with luck.

Friday 19 August 2011


I slept better, and was up before six. The weather has changed to trending warm.

Off to discount chemist to fill prescriptions, one at half the cost of the PBS, the other merely slightly cheaper than the subsidise scheme. Willows for food shopping, and incidental snacks for me. Mail to Jean's address is all for me. Takes note to attempt to transfer all remaining mail to electronic delivery.

Walk to Carlton Theatre for Heather Martin's presentation of Queensland Rail travel plans. Lots of nice sounding country events, with enormous discounts for seniors and even more for pensioners. Pity I am not eligible for either.

Walk back. Connect UPS to router and wireless access point. Do more throwing out of boxes. Run out of time.

Walk to restaurant again. Hamburger (again). Pretty good. Usual suspects. Dot, Sue, John, Ray. Geoff and Margaret were also there. Walk back.

Network problem. Followed by computer problem. Followed by attempt to repair the emergency fluorescent lights.

Walk to the pub for Happy Hour. The bowling club are fundraising, in the absence of the Social Club. I believe the RSL do it next week, followed by the Computer Club. Talked with Duncan about funding of facilities in the Carlton Theatre. There seems a lot of misinformation going around. Actually, it seems more than misinformation. I do not understand it.

HP drops webOS

Talk about shooting your foot off. Hewlett Packard, once a byword for stability and reliability, has dropped webOS devices. This means the webOS SmartPhones, and the very recently released (but poor selling) TouchPad are orphans. The TouchPad hardware design is said to be somewhat dated, based on an older design from Palm. I really can not understand releasing a lower specification product, when the major competitor has a very decent model out there.

This seems weird, given HP just silently launched a white TouchPad in France. Some of the hardware specifications on that at least are reputed to be top class.

Hewlett Packard spent heaps buying Palm 16 months ago so that it had its own operating system with which to compete against Apple and other SmartPhone makers. HP is looking at strategic alternatives for its Personal Systems Group, which may even mean following IBM out of the personal computer market.

Hardware is Easy

Folks, hardware is easy. Anyone can design computer hardware. OK, doing a great job of hardware design is not easy, but there are plenty of people who can manage it.

Software is hard. The difference in productivity and creativity between an average programmer and a great programmer is like fifty to one. Doing software right is hard.

Apple is right that if you want to sell great hardware, you have to own the software as well. Buying the software in automatically limits you. The software companies like Microsoft and Google have the same problem. They do not own the direction the hardware takes.

Internet Access Lost

Jean reported that the internet access had been lost. I could not see the Belkin router and wireless access point (WAP) on WiFi. Disconnected router and WAP from the new Digitech UPS, in case the problem was interference. WiFi and Internet both reappear.

Mail is locked in a pinwheel since before lunch. I can not even get a menu up. Attempt to kill off mail using Activity Monitor. That does not work. Do a Force Quit on mail using Activity Monitor.

Time Machine backup not completed from yesterday, still rolling around. Attempt to stop backup from within menu bar. No luck. Backup is jammed. Can not even shut down computer. Eventually kill it at the power button.

Reboot from power down gets mail and backup working. No sign of why I have an issue, but I did not read the logs.

Apple Magic Mouse Batteries

I had to recharge the two AA batteries in my Apple Magic Mouse, after the batteries died. I should soon have sufficient notes of the replacement interval to make a reasonable estimate of likely battery life. These batteries are basically Sharp Eneloop NiMH AA rechargeable. The Apple recharger is the smallest I have ever seen, but it takes about five or six hours to recharge the batteries.

Saturday 20 August 2011


I awoke at two thirty, and could not get back to sleep. So I might just as well be semi-awake at a keyboard as tossing and turning.

The local Mitre 10- hardware store had a matching spray paint in Dune colour for the ColorBond metal roof. We want the new skylight and roof space fan to match the roof. Otherwise Leigh, the Resort Manager, may disapprove.

I tested the last of the three rechargeable fluorescent lanterns. All three work on the replacement 6 volt SLA battery. Now I just have to get two more replacement batteries, and solder them in.

Jean removed insect screens, brushed them with the roller brush, and washed windows. I felt I should wash a few windows as well. You sure can still see a lot of dust and dirt even after doing all that washing.

I typed up mailing comments for FLAP.

Sausages on a bread roll for dinner. What a treat. I am going to figure out how I can add baked bean to that, for a real cordon bleu effort.

Townsville Bookshops

I was surprised to learn that five Townsville bookshops have closed in the past two years. Two years ago it was Angus and Robertson at Willows shopping centre. Dymocks at Stocklands shopping centre closed in May 2010. Bumble Bee bookshop in Flinders Street closed around June 2011. Plus the last two Angus and Robertson closed after the RED Group went into liquidation.

That means no bookshops in Townsville for any of the top four booksellers in Australia, at least as at the start of 2011 (numbers 2 and 4 went into liquidation since the start of the year). Not much good for the future of printed books.

Solar Hot Water

In Winter, our Apricus evacuated tube solar hot water heater works more like a solar warm water heater. Annoying design glitch.

Jeff dropped in collecting information for his survey. Having a solar warm water heater was my complaint. According to the Apricus evacuated tube solar hot water heater manual, this may be working as designed.

Other houses do have real issues, ranging down from the solar hot water not even being connected. I sent a long note (and then a second one) to Ray, who was also doing a solar hot water survey.

Since the cost of running the hot water electric booster is zero (if used less than three hours a week), I switched the electricity on to the Apricus solar hot water from just before three until five this afternoon. Theory says that should boost the temperature above 600C.

Capital vs Labor

Capital these days is cheaper than labor, hence is employed (usually to move work to cheaper countries). Governments run mostly on taxes on labor. Maybe taxes on capital would work better? In this regard, you might note Australia taxes capital higher than most countries. Capital flees elsewhere, but gambles. Taxes on transactions claw money out of stock market gambling. Might be worth trying more often, despite the outraged screams of the financial folks.

The asset base of most Australian families is secured by the value of the home on which they are paying a mortgage. However this is simply Ponzi borrowing. Worthwhile only if you can sell the asset to a bigger sucker later.

Sunday 21 August 2011


Raisin toast for breakfast. I hope having dry bread helps my diet. Surely smothering it in butter would not count? Eggs and bacon for lunch is surely balancing the diet. Actually my weight was down a little for the week, hence I could splurge.

I have now tested all three of the rechargeable fluorescent lamps with the new battery. Real Soon Now I will solder the only battery I could buy into one of the lamps. I might try to glue the plastic covers together a bit also.

Insiders and Inside Business public affairs this morning. Meet the Press and The Bolt Report this afternoon. That is my total TV viewing for the week. Computer monitor can change back to showing computer output.

Jean dragged me along on a two kilometre walk around Carlyle Gardens this evening.

Retail Ripoff

I wonder how there can be Australian retail rip offs when retailers are going bankrupt? John Birmingham thinks there are. Lots of people agree, based on the prices we are asked to pay. Choice: Aussies ripped off by retailers, tells Productivity Commission enquiry on retail.

Apple iMac as Display

It is possible to use last generation (late 2009, mid 2010) Apple 27 inch iMac computers with Mini DisplayPort as displays, but only if you have a computer with Mini DisplayPort output. The iMac will automatically enter Target Display mode when connected. Command F2 toggles Target Display mode.

The mid 2011 iMac does not support Target Display mode over Mini DisplayPort. You need to drive these from a Thunderbolt equipped computer via a Thunderbolt cable.

Monday 22 August 2011


I concentrated on getting crap out of the way of the skylight installers who are scheduled to arrive tomorrow. This is like shovelling out the ocean with a tea strainer.

So far I have managed to accidentally lose heaps more things than I accidentally found again.. However the room is a little more tidy.

Easy Meals

I had one of the Easy Meals for lunch. This time the vegetarian chilli bean and potato. I added some cheese, and had some corn chops with it. Very tasty, and acceptable. My only minor complaint is that the flat pack meals (in boxes) involve a little more effort as you have to cut the remains of the top off completely after you microwave them. At which point they are rather hot. The plastic packs that stand up by themselves are easier, as you cut the top off while cold, and then microwave them while they self stand.

Move iTunes to Another Hard Drive

A first step is to check the Apple web site articles. How to Move Your iTunes Library to Another Hard Drive looks a good start. Connect a 2TB LaCie external drive. Make folder called iTunesMusic. Actually I should have called it iTunesMedia, since that would be more accurate.

Open iTunes, then open iTunes Preferences, and go to the Advanced tab. Check the settings are enabled for Keep the iTunes Folder Organised and Copy files … Change the folder location to the new hard drive.

There are more detailed (but not as pretty) instructions at iTunes for Mac: Moving your iTunes Media folder, as well as a Windows version.

There are heaps of good tips and tricks for iTunes here.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

SolarTube Skylight

I had organised with All-Safe to get a Solatube 290 DS (350 mm Daylighting System) skylight in my office. Simon arrives just prior to eight (no point in starting earlier, as the roof would be damp with overnight condensation). Turned out that there was a difference in the order. They sent a 290mm, with a 160mm dimmer, but we had ordered a 160mm. I wanted more light rather than less, so I was willing to change to the 290mm anyhow. Simon spray painted the roof piece in Dune to match the Colorbond roof.

The order did not include the SolarStar roof space exhaust fan. Not sure what happened there. Simon will come back sometime and install the SolarStar and the dimmer. However Simon did bring me two extra FutureBrite GU10 240 volt LED downlights.

Needs to get a plaster saw blade. Torch lantern was a bit wimpy, and the only battery I had proved to be dead. I have fluorescent lanterns, so I loaned him one of them. We seem to have a bit of an issue with the plaster on the ceiling. One bit is bulging here it should not be. Simon filled it, and will patch the paint on his return.

The SolarTube skylight was all installed well before eleven. Seems like there is now another room where I will be continually reaching for a light switch that does not exist.

Solatube blocks all UVB and UVC radiation, and greater than 95% of UVA. We block everything below 380 nm, and only transmit 20% @ 400nm. UVA is 315 nm to 400 nm. UVB is 280 nm to 315 nm. UVC is 100 nm to 280 nm.

Heat loss performance is claimed to be a U-factor of 2.44 Watts per square metre per degree Kelvin. The lower the better, and that is pretty good. I have been wanting to try a hydrophobic silica aerogel as further insulation, but they are simply not available.

The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient is said to be 0.33 (lowest is 0, full transmission is 1), so this is not bad.


No walks. Well, there was a walk to the restaurant for lunch. Usual mob were there. Except for the new chef, and the owners. Oh well, a cold meat salad is good for you. I had the left over bread roll with left over ham as a late afternoon tea, as I am unlikely to get dinner.


I went to the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club. Took the book on Google SketchUp with me for Clive. This is the annual election meeting, at which the entire former executive and the former committee (plus one) were reinstated. They have been doing a very good job, but say they will not stand again next year.

Time to think about that. However I am now so divergent from the Windows PC paradigm that holds sway that I do not think I would be the right person for any position.

The evening ended with the usual wonderful cooked treats from the ladies. I scoffed scones with jam and cream, followed by egg sandwiches. A lot of egg sandwiches.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Internet Gadgets

I connected the new UPS yet again. When the Belkin router and wireless access point Gnome1 is connected to the UPS, it does not connect via WiFi at all. I tried the surge protected outputs. This time I could connect to the WiFi part of the router. Still no access to the Internet. Not very impressive at all. After several minutes a connection finally came up.

Installed the 8 port Tenda brand Gigabit Ethernet switch I bought at Jaycar, near the Hills Home Hub. Connected it to the Belkin router. Connected the Apple Airport Extreme wireless access point FastGnome in my room via Ethernet. Connected to FastGnome via WiFi. No internet connection.

Connected via WiFi (via FastGnome). It has an external IP address Finally, after a long time, I get the internet connection. About time. The problem still seems to be either the Belkin router, or more likely, the outside ADSL connection via Telstra to iiNet.

Connected an additional Ethernet cable in the Hills Home Hub to the newly repaired structured wiring RJ45 outlet in the lounge room. Moved FastGnome to the lounge room and connected it to the new power points and Ethernet. It came up again just fine there. I hope that it works better now for Jean.


I threw out more cardboard boxes into the recycling. Threw another pile of books into the recycling.

Finished reading John Barnes Directive 51 in his Daybreak sequence. Seems to be heaps of US constitutional politics in there, together with a fine after the disaster novel. Now I want the other book in the same sequence.

Jean walked with me to the restaurant today. Had rack of lamb. Allan did a superb job of the meal, in the absence of his new chef. Took a little longer to cook, but Jean and I each had our iPad on hand. I was also able to talk for a short while with Geoff and Margaret about the Carlton Theatre.


I installed the two new FutureBrite 240 volt GU10 style LED downlights in the downlights closest to my desk in the office. This gives me an instant start light (same as the old incandescents), plus about two and a half times as much light as as the original Crompton 11 Watt compact fluorescent lights (CFL). Alas, it is still about a quarter of the light a real 50 watt halogen produces. But it does use a tenth the power. Certainly brightened up my office.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Travel to Airlie Beach

Awake at 4:30 a.m. Left at 5:10 a.m. A bit dark until well after six. I stopped at Inkerman for some chocolate milk as a breakfast substitute.

Centro at Whitsunday by eight thirty. Can not recall what I wanted to get at BigW, but could not spot anything except some clothes that were not urgent. Woolworths for fresh food supplies, which mostly seemed to consist of many packets of crumpets. Which subsequently went stale before I could eat even two thirds of them. Damn!

Fuel at the Ultra service station. Sure seems to be getting more expensive these days.


There was a Census paper shoved under my door. I do not think that the Whitsunday Terraces is a good place to get Census forms filled in correctly. Although this time, at least I was not actually interstate.

The door number had finally been replaced, so if only the lock was right, I could count the door as finally being repaired. Luckily the deadbolt is solid. Only taken since February to get this replaced.

No sign of the new owner of the Management Rights to the Whitsunday Terraces, but it is a big resort to check out. The on site managers had left for Cairns as a matter of some urgency some day or so ago. This whole takeover really concerns me. It was going wrong even before the new management arrived.

Ron seemed to be busy doing jobs, which is a bit of a change from the previous managers. I was really pleased to see that.

This time I had put a plastic bag in my pocket, so I collected some rubbish from the grounds on my way through Florin Terrace, and threw that in the bin. I resolved to try to bring a bag with me for rubbish each time I go out. There are way too many grubs living in the complex.

Airlie Beach

On the main street, business looked depressed. Had a second breakfast. I tried the hairdresser, but she at least was booked out until the afternoon. Collected the Whitsunday Times, and enough computer magazines to provide reading matter for most of the day. On the way up the stairs, tried again to find the new owner of the Management Rights.

It seems the Whitsundays are in worse shape than even I expected. The 5Star supermarket at Cannonvale has closed. The IGA at Jubilee Pocket has closed. The Caltex garage and family store at the Western end of Airlie Beach has closed. The receivers are in at Meridien Port of Airlie Marina.

Managed to get my hair cut during the afternoon. Lots of bad news, although businesses that are doing a good job seem to be managing.

Watched the second half of the last season of Battlestar Galactica in the evening while attending to email and news on my iPad.

Friday 26 August 2011


When I checked the parking lot lights around five, I noticed the rubbish bins were already outside. The lights also seemed to be working everywhere I checked. Seemed to me that some of the garden watering sprinklers had worked, but that there were large areas where they had not worked at all. The pressures are all wrong.

I think that needs a permanent (if not full time) gardener to get it fixed. Contractors are only going to be doing what they are told, and probably not owning the job. For those gardens, someone needs to own the planning and appearance, jointly with the resort managers.

Still did not manage to find the new Management Rights owner on my walk through in the morning. However I am certain he has more than enough to do at the moment.

Collected some more garbage in the Whitsunday Terraces on my way up the stairs yet again. This clearing the grounds (or at least the parts I walk through) may take longer than I hoped.

Afternoon at Ease

There was a small ocean liner in Pioneer bay. I walked down the stairs and chatted with Glenn at the markets for a while. He enthused about George R R Martin's HBO TV series. I had met George and Paris again at Aussiecon 4. Nice to see him acknowledged as a great writer.

Watched the recent version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Turned into a standard Hollywood thing. Military as bad guys (redeemed at the last), alien protecting the planet from the horrible humans (by killing them all off). Some nice special effects. Like the original 1950's version, it managed to avoid the main punch line of Harry Bates short story Farewell to the Master.

Started watching a TV series called Earth II. Tim Curry guest stars in episode two and for several more. Can you say ham? I am sure he had fun.

There is some horrible low pitched humming noise now that it is past ten p.m. I can not trace it at all, but it is way too loud. I fear it is a defective ceiling fan somewhere downstairs. The noise stopped at 10:23 p.m. Still no idea what it may have been. Noise started again at 10:29 p.m. Stopped one minute later. I really am at a loss.

Saturday 27 August 2011


Checked garbage bins, but Rusty had it all in hand well before seven. Talked with the temporary Reception staff, where things seem to be going well. That was a good sign.

Enjoy Life

I went to the Markets, where despite the radar not showing rain, it actually drizzled badly. I was able to get a bacon and egg roll from my favourite market vendor, who asked to be remembered to Jean. Talked with several folks at the markets, including Glenn. Bought a coin purse for Jean (not near as good as the previous one I found there). It drizzled at the markets, despite nothing showing on the weather radar. No wonder Airlie Beach seemed empty.

Found some cute magnetic bookmarks at one of the market stalls. It is ironic that the perfect bookmark appears when I have an unlimited supply of bookmarks (CG raffle stubs) and when the printed book is about to become obsolete.

Newspapers for the weekend. I seem to be getting slower and slower at reading a weekend of newspapers. Not at all sure it is worth the bother to read news these days. Bad news in the doorstep

Late walk along the street, and checked reception again. Phoned Michael, and actually managed to catch him!

Glenn and Alison arrived a little after five. Michael and Mel dropped in briefly, but seemed to have heaps of other things to do. Peter and Dawn arrived around six. Pizza delivery took a while, so perhaps the town has more folks in it than I expected from the empty streets this morning.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Airlie Beach

Walked down to town for breakfast, and to read a newspaper. It looked dead along the main street. Up the hill, reception was staffed, and things were still going fine there. There is even a reasonable number of guests.

Upon my return I tried putting the luggage pod from the balcony on Jean's Subaru. That did not go well. Can not move the carrier bars to the correct spacing, despite having all the keys on hand. Maybe what I needed was a mallet. I finally put the luggage pod in the boot and back seat. Not much space left inside the car as a result.

Watched the ABC public affairs programs Insiders and Inside Business. Watched some more DVDs of Earth 2, which has darker and darker lighting, so it is almost impossible to view. Had party leftovers for lunch and a late snack.

Started on the door seal mechanism, and this time appear to have sufficient tools on hand. I had a hacksaw, the essential tool for cutting the aluminium strip to length.

Had a message from Jonathan and his wife, who had missed the party yesterday. They may drop in during the evening.

Saw Michael again, who made a very quick visit. Eighty hour weeks would not be my choice. Still no other coxswain for the water activities. Maybe he needs to think more about his storage on land. We are all slaves to our chattels.

Jonathan visited with his wife so the three of us sat around and talked over champagne. It was much like an extension of the party.

Monday 29 August 2011

Airlie Beach

I managed to get the laundry done, and hung out to dry, despite threatening clouds. They mostly got dry by late afternoon, despite the overwhelming humidity.

There was another small ocean liner out in Pioneer Bay. Saw Glenn at the markets. Went to Subway to get him some lunch since he could not easily leave his stall.

Checked with reception, but no sign of Greg. I hope someone in management gets back eventually, as there are some things even good reception staff can not do.

Finished watching Earth 2. Watched a five episode Torchwood arc, Children of Earth. Watched a movie, The Social Network, about Facebook.

These were mostly playing as background noise while I went through the body corporate minutes from 2003 to date. The number of items outstanding is astonishing. I took a bunch of notes, but was still nowhere near finished.

Apple Help

I recall when I got my first Apple, the Help utility was useless. Nothing has changed in Lion. The Help is useless unless you have Internet access. If I had internet access I wouldn't need to try to use help to find out how you got yourself a new Space! Apple may have changed its name and called it Desktops. Either way, Help on anything Finder related seems to only be available if you have an Internet connection.

So much for looking in System Preferences for a way to get Mission Control to make Spaces. It turns out you have to invoke Mission Control (swipe up with three fingers). Then if you hover your mouse in the blank right hand side of the display, a previously invisible plus sign appears. OK, that is intuitive, for really strange values of intuitive. Click that plus for a new Space.

Unsubscribe from Facebook

I blew my top about the intrusiveness of Facebook, and many other web sites. I am sick and tired of tracking cookies, persistent cookies, annoying notifications via email, and a heap of other attacks on privacy.

The Social Network reminded me that Facebook had been emailing me annoying notifications. Went looking for how to turn off the last of the notifications (yet again). No luck. Deleted all the apps that had access to my account. Deleted every other identifying feature left in Facebook (not many). When I have better connectivity, I will start unfriending (which is not even a word) everyone. This will followed by figuring out how to dump my Facebook account. If I can stop visiting a whole continent full of friends because their security system pisses me off, I can certainly drop a social network because they piss me off.

Deleted every Facebook app that had any permissions to do anything whatsoever. That included ones I use all the time like RunKeeper.

Decided that I should unfriend everyone, as a preliminary to finding how to unsubscribe from Facebook. However it may be that I can find some way to just stop Facebook from annoying me without individually getting rid of over 300 subscriptions to acquaintances posts. One click removal is easier for me than 300 click removal.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Away from Airlie Beach

I was up at about half past four, so I packed Jean's car with my mostly empty box and her cooler. Away by five. It was dark until after six, by which time I was past Bowen. No stops on the way, and I was at Carlyle Gardens by 8:20 a.m.

Jean had moved lots of the big concrete pavers into her garden. She also put a bunch of the river pebbles around them. This is starting to look like a plan.

Carlyle Gardens

Wasted a lot of time unpacking, for weird values of unpacking. There was hardly anything in the car except the luggage pod, yet unpacking took ages, rather than the five minutes I expected.

Jean wanted to check the hem length of some pants I had bought long ago, so I had to model several of them. However she does the hard stuff, the sewing machine thing. I had found another cloth for cleaning spectacles, to add to the collection intended to be sewn inside shirt fronts.

We spent a fair bit of time figuring out how to get Jean's new MacBook Air connected to her Dell monitor.

Put up the new hose hanger at the back. The painted aluminium matches the brick wall pretty well. Pity about the hose colour. Put up hooks for the generator power cord to the meter box. Nice to get that outstanding job done. I did that this morning so the drilling noises were lost in the noise from the mowing contractors on this side of the village.

Dropped Jean's garden competition entry in the office. Jo-ann caught me regarding the Open Day tomorrow. Opps, I knew I should have read Geoff's email warning me of events. Seems like their guitarist may bring his own sound gear. Pattie thinks we should have a DVD of a Carlyle Gardens slide show. I have no idea where that might be. A quick search of the sound booth did not reveal it.

Lunch with Dot, Ray and John. Porterhouse steak sandwich, recommended by Dave. It was pretty good.

Unsubscribed from Facebook

Took a little while to find the second screen that lets you unsubscribe from Facebook. You sure could not manage that by accident. The captcha in particular was hard to get past. Seems to include punctuation. I did download an archive of my posts before I unsubscribed. Probably will never get around to reading it.


I have absolutely no idea where there might be a slide show of Carlyle Gardens residents for the Open Day tomorrow. Pattie had made one some time ago, but none of us know where that might be. Not having a TV or a DVD player, I don't make slideshows on optical disks. Actually I never make slide shows at all, since the defaults in a Mac work well enough for watching a handful of photos. I turned a set of autoselected photos into a slideshow, with multiple transitions, and that worked great. However that works only on a Macintosh.

Unfortunately a video projector typically has a lowish resolution, and uses a VGA video connector. That is about three or four generations ago for a Macintosh. These days they have Thunderbolt ports, which are similar to but replaced Mini DisplayPort. Before that they had DVI. Dual Port DVI often has an analogue output as well, so you can get adaptors to VGA. Not that I have such a VGA adaptor.

My old iMac may have a miniVGA port, and I found a miniVGA to standard VGA adaptor. However that iMac was around 2005, so I am not sure how compatible it is with iPhoto 9.

So I selected about 160 photos from the several thousand I had of Carlyle Gardens. Let iPhoto export them to iDVD, let iDVD make whatever it is iDVD does of it with a fast dissolve between each photo, and burnt that to a DVD. File structure looks like a regular DVD movie, but not having a DVD player, I could not test it.

Although OS X 10.7 Lion did not recognise it as a DVD movie, when I started the old DVD Player software manually, that recognised my newly made DVD. It showed a fairly pedestrian slide show, with a fairly plain guitar riff loop for audio. I guess that will have to do for now. No time to attempt more. If it turns out that the DVD player in the theatre can display a DVD full of .jpg images (which I also made), then I wasted my time.

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Open Day

The office staff and exhibitors were putting the final touches to setup for the House and Homewares Expo and Open Day in the Carlton Theatre around eight. They were mostly using the lightweight plastic tables, at least until no more were available.

No access to the restaurant for 4TTT Community Radio, who needed an open line for their live cross. There is a newly discovered phone connection in the small bar in the Carlton Theatre. However what did it connect to? There are hardly any open lines in the Carlyle Gardens administration areas, as they have an ISDN connection. However the bar (like other private businesses in the Carlyle Square) does have open lines. Alas, it turned out the bar line was an extension to the main bar. As soon as the restaurant started getting phone calls, it was no longer any use to the radio station. Might remember it would be probably be OK when the restaurant was closed.

My DVD full of jpeg photos did not work at all in the Panasonic DVD player. After I found the manual, I saw instructions indicating that jpg photos should work. However there seemed a gulf between what the instructions said, and what actually happened in the menu system. Also, I could not actually read the on screen instructions from the control booth.

Luckily the movie DVD video I had made last night did autoplay. Not sure why the auto repeat only worked sometimes. Alas, I never got anything out of the audio track, which was a simple guitar riff.

Jo-ann was later able to find other DVDs, most of which did not work, but two were DVD videos that did work as slide shows. Luckily most of the entertainment was provided by singer and guitarist Buz Hall, so the slide show did mot matter much. I bought a few of the CDs of music that Baz and his wife were selling.

The Golf Club had a sausage sizzle outside in Carlyle Square, alongside the 4TTT radio desk. I am not sure anyone got to the restaurant for their roast beef.

I saw Duanh in Carlyle Square, so I was able to ask when he might get to the rest of our wiring. Asking him had been on my to do list for a week or so. He said next week.


I had an email from political pressure group GetUp, suggesting I support that traitorous arsehole David Hicks. I unsubscribed from GetUp instead.

Solar Panel Outputs

The solar power inverter shows it has produced 1684 kWh to date, and operated for 5155 hours. The solar power output figures last month (July) showed it generated 1558 kWH in 4805 hours of operation. So the total hours operating in the 31 days of August 2011 were 350 hours, during which it generated 126 kWh. About 4 kWh per day, or 360 Watts per operating hour. This is a nominal 1 kW panel.

Airport Extreme Amber

I noticed the Apple Airport Extreme wireless access point and router light was flashing amber. It was rather late to try to fix it. Besides, the WiFi connection to the internet was working just fine, so it did not seem too urgent.


Airlie 5 Carlyle 22 Travel 4

Eric Lindsay's Blog August 2011