Eric Lindsay's Blog September 2012

Saturday 1 September 2012


I was up late, around six. Shopping for food and newspapers at Willows. Got in trouble with ice cream comments. It is not my fault they had it on special. Saw david in Coles. He mentioned taking things to the Carlyle Gardens arts and crafts market. We had managed to collect all the shopping before nine.

After an hour of reading the news, I walked over to the Carlyle Gardens Arts and Crafts market.

Carlyle Gardens Arts and Crafts Market

I walked to the markets, which were on the paths around the inside of Carlyle Square. As expected the Carlyle Gardens Arts and Crafts Market was mostly arts and crafts. A lot of soft fabric creations. A little smaller than I expected, occupying about a quarter of the available walkway length. Still, it seemed lively enough. I said hello to a lot of folks I know by sight, even if I do not always recall their names.

Two woodwork tables, both from people who live in Stage A. I bought a nice wooden box to help tidy my room. At the other table, a set of table mats beautifully done in strips of wood. It is nice to see local craftsmen producing beautiful objects.

I wish I could do woodwork that did not look like a crude mistake.

Tax Return

I thought I had most of the tax return paperwork with me. Also I had collected the tax forms at Airlie Beach newsagent. If I leave the return much longer I will misplace some of the paper. Plus it will be too late by the time I return. So I started doing the tax return tonight. In a remarkably short time I was in a bad mood. One critical piece of information appears to be missing.

Another thing that annoys me is the assertion inside the tax return that you can do it online. Not if you want to use your phone, or your tablet, or your Macintosh. The tax office program only works on Windows computers. Plus who in their right mind would install on their personal computer any program that comes from a government department? There could be anything inside it.

Gay Rights

Gay rights. Australian government a value free zone. Contrast Swann's maiden speech about representing electorate.

Sunday 2 September 2012


I was up around six. Got to the point that I could complete a PDF version of my FLAP mailing comments. When I tried to email them, I found the internet had disappeared. Bah, humbug.

Sent off my short mailing comments to FLAP, before watching the public affairs show Insiders and Inside Business.

Sent off six additional pages to FLAP during the day. The afternoon current affairs viewing was Meet the Press, followed by The Bolt Report.

Towards dusk, Jean and I set off on our afternoon walk. About 50 minutes this time, covering a little over 4 kilometres. Jean is improving a lot.


In a typical Sunday morning effort, the internet had disappeared around eight. I power sequenced the ADSL modem router. Still no connection. It took a second power sequence to bring it up again.

For reasons not clear to me, the Belkin modem router is set to a maximum transfer rate of 1500 kbps. I can not see any way to change that. Also, I can not see the wireless connection from it at all (nor can Jean) on any computer. The Belkin says the wireless connection is working on 802.11b/g.


I sent off my two pages of short mailing comments to Gary for FLAP. I only had to turn them into a pretty print version of what I had already written. Just before lunch, I completed the printable version of six pages of more general natter, and sent that to Gary for FLAP.

During the rest of the afternoon I continued with mailing comments for ANZAPA. When added to the six pages I had prepared for FLAP, that made a 13 page issue. I guess I will try adding another page.

Tasmanian Devils Face Extinction by Immortal Cancer

I like Tasmanian Devils Face Extinction by Immortal Cancer more as a headline than Telomere Dynamics and Homeostasis in a Transmissible Cancer. However it really is pretty dire when a species that fight each other face a cancer that can be transmitted by scratches.

Synchronised Quadrocopters

49 Synchronised Quadrocopters.

Monday 3 September 2012


I lacked a connection to the internet. The Belkin ADSL modem router reported having a connection, but really it did not. Jean meanwhile was getting a connection error from iiNet, saying our password was wrong (it is not wrong). We rebooted everything, and the internet connection came back.

Alas, the Belkin modem still reports a connection speed of 1500 kbps, while we are paying for whatever maximum speed can be attained. We should not be stuck on 1500 kbps.

So I could finally check my email. Which delivered nothing except a piece of phishing spam. How is an NBN going to help here?


I added an extra page to my almost complete contribution to ANZAPA. That brought it to a round fourteen pages. For me, that is a decent sized contribution. Half articles, half mailing comments.

The Brother HL-3045CN printer was not printing. The first time I used it (to print two test pages) I had connected it via a USB port. This time it was connected via USB to the Time Capsule. Once I added it as a new Bonjour printer, it worked fine.

Next time I must connect it directly to Ethernet. That would free up the only USB port on the Time Capsule. I think I was short of Ethernet cables when I put the printer in the closet. However some more Ethernet cables arrived recently. That might help me get information back from the printer. It does not report toner levels at the moment.

I printed 28 copies of 14 pages, or around 400 pages. The Brother HL-3045CN seemed fairly quick at printing. 400 copies would have been about $40 at the local copy shop (the one with the quality problem with their copier).

Later in the day I found an Ethernet cable, and connected the printer direct to the Time capsule via Ethernet. This frees up the USB port for another drive. A self test of the printer works. I still can not see the toner quantity in the utility.

Hugo Awards

I happened to get the beta of Tweetbot for Macintosh working again just about the time the Hugo award winners came out. I have not read one of the winners, have not seem one of the shows, as far as I can recall. I think that basically says I am no longer a science fiction fan.


I took a walk with Jean late this afternoon. We managed to cover 5.1 kilometres inside Carlyle Gardens. Missed walking along only two roads. Jean was keeping up a great pace as she listened to music. We ended by collecting the mail.


I started checking out iPhoto, to see how out of date it was on the Mac mini. Needed to be updated to cope with whatever new version of it I am using. About 90GB of photos involved.

It looks like I still have about a year of photographs to download, maybe 14GB. Some interesting failure modes from the camera cards. However I had managed to extract most of them to USB drives using a different computer a week or so ago. So the photos are actually backed up about three places.

First import, 206 photos. It took me until 10 p.m. to get them all labelled.

Thursday 4 September 2012


I was up before six. So I continued with importing photos into iPhoto. Alas, now that I am pushing the newly updated version, it is crashing every now and then. Not like it at all. Maybe updating my Apple Mac mini to Mountain Lion will help.

While Jean was away having the car serviced, I tried a different ADSL modem. Got distracted by laundry and iPhoto, and never did get it working.


I had imported around 2500 photos, about 14 GB, by the time I went to lunch. Most of the photos were taken during our Outback Spirit Kimberley trip in Juy 2011. Must have had about five crashes in iPhoto. However I have split the photos into events. I have added keywords to all the photos, and descriptions to most of them. It is a start.

It is very obvious that the 38,000 photo in nearly 800 events in iPhoto need some additional attention. I should go through and rate photos, and discard the really bad ones. That will take some time.

The other problem is that the metadata you provide really mostly sticks in the iPhoto database. It does not go along with the photo itself. That is a real weakness.


I tried the old Netgear router. Could not connect to the Internet via it. However I was distracted by starting late, by putting out laundry, and by iPhoto crashes. I probably made some sort of elementary mistake.

Meanwhile, I have located an unused D-Link ADSL modem. Sigh! I wonder how many partly obsolete ADSL modems are sitting around here in boxes gathering dust?


Carbon emissions. Australian government is a value free zone.

Wednesday 5 September 2012


I was up well before six. At eight we went to the chemist to stock up on tablets for our next trip. Next was dropping off the ANZAPA mailing at Willows shopping centre. Jean found herself a very reasonably priced frozen turkey thigh in Coles, so I know what she will be eating the rest of the week.

I have found several more magazines to quickly check and discard. Why do I have these decade old magazines? Something interesting at the time. The quantity of paper in the place is decreasing very slowly.

Next it was off to collect currency for our trip. If only I could organise my packing as well as Jean organises the paperwork.

Went to the pub as usual today, walking over the long way with Jean, who later reported walking five kilometres. Usual suspects at the pub. Ron, Harry, Ian, Jeff, and Ray, who had collected his missing hat. Since I was wearing my beer shirt, I stuck with pots of light beer. The bowling group made a late exodus to the bar after a successful afternoon playing. I had a chat with Kevin about the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club meeting.

After an evening of deleting photos from iPhoto, I had about fifty discarded. Out of 38,000. It seems this scheme is not working very well. Maybe I will move to rating them instead?


I do not see why the Federal government is commissioning education reports. Education is a state responsibility. The Federal government should get out of it. Nothing to do with them. If the Federal government wanted to help the struggling state governments, it would abandon the income tax powers it seized from the states in 1942, and let states set their own income tax levels. That would help even the incredible differences in income and expenditure between state and Federal governments.

Education is a great force for advancement. The better educated a population, the more they can accomplish. However, I see nothing in the plans anyone has proposed to indicate how they will improve education.

Yes, they have plans to spend money. How about plans to improve the quality of the children leaving our schools? How about plans to stop the ones who do not want to learn from disrupting classes. How about plans to prevent teachers needing to act as police?

Nine Sells Magazines

In another media blow, Nine Entertainment has sold all its Australian Consolidated Press magazines to Bauer Media from Germany. This is around 5 magazines, with sales of 90 million a year. The Australian Women's Weekly, Woman's Day, Dolly, Cleo, Zoo Weekly, Madison, People, Picture, Harper's Bazaar, Good Food, Australian Geographic, Grazia and Rolling Stone. I wonder if Bauer will make a profit?

Whose Customer?

I loath lots of businesses. Most correctly believe I am not their customer, so their service to me sucks. TV producers think TV stations are their customers. TV stations think advertisers are their customers. Google thinks advertisers are their customers. Newspapers think advertisers are their customers. Book publishers think bookshops and booksellers are their customers.

There is a common theme here. Mostly advertisers as buyers. As each of these businesses figure a way to make the final user their customer, they will eliminate a lot of middlemen.

Middlemen can be really handy, if they curate experience. If they are just there to sell, I do not want to deal with them.

Meanwhile, I have stopped buying. If I am not your customer, I am not for sale as if I were your customer. As a business, you can go to hell.

Thursday 6 September 2012


I was awake late. The sun was already about to rise. Jean did eggs for breakfast, which held me until I went to the restaurant for lunch. Sat and chatted with Jerry.

A walk with Jean on an overcast afternoon. About 4.5 km covered, but at a slow pace.

Apple Dashboard Widgets

A movies widget. The Fandango Movies dashboard widget only understands USA. However it does not seem to be removed by the Widget Manager. Movies Australia simply does not work at all. Andrew Harrison has done an HTML5 Movie Times Apple Dashboard widget that works in Australia.

Phones as Supercomputers

I see Google Chairman Eric Schmidt at the Motorola event saying They really shouldn't be called cellphones anymore -- they should be called mobile computers. Nice to see that Google understands this, as Motorola launch more Droid RAZR LTE phones with large batteries for longer life.

However back in the very early 1990's, Psion were already making underpowered but very ingenious pocket computers, with a tiny but usable keyboard. Like modern smartphones, Psion used ARM processors, albeit far slower than modern ones. However many people successfully ran their small company in the 1990's with a Psion pocket computer.

The thing Apple got right when they finally returned to making Personal Digital Assistants was to realise that a PDA (under another name) really could substitute for a desktop computer, for some people. It would just take some time and effort to convince the rest of the world.


A new Nokia smartphone announced, running Microsoft's Windows 8 software for mobile phones. It is good to hear there will be increased competition in the market. Both Android and Apple need more competition.

However Nokia made some unfortunate mistakes. The new phone is not available yet, and will not be available for months. Plus Nokia got caught demonstrating a feature of the phone camera by using a full on professional camera instead of the phone camera.

Amazon Kindle (Yawn)

I have never found anything of use from Amazon. Every now and then they send me an advertisement. It usually turns out that piece of music is not sold in Australia. Amazon have no points of presence in Australia, as far as I know.

So the arrival of a new Kindle is a bit of a yawn to me. At least some models ship (in the USA) on first of October, unlike Nokia.

A touchscreen paperwhite display that looks good. Plus they added a light (although I suspect it is actually a sidelight). The dark grey on light grey of eInk has always irked me, so a better display is most welcome. Better displays were always going to arrive eventually. I gather the page turn buttons went away. No details of whether it displays ePub, rather than Amazon's proprietary format. Lack of ePub is a deal killer for me.

There is also a new seven inch Kindle Fire HD tablet, with a 1280 x 800 display. It also has HDMI out, for connecting to a TV. Price is a competitive US$199. However it is probably Android Gingerbread with an Amazon workover. It appears late November 2012.

There is also a similar 8.9 inch Kindle Fire model with an 1920 x 1200 display starting at $299. I gather at least one $499 and up model can connect to USA LTE mobile at a cheap rate ($50 a year for 250MB a month).

Apple putting out retina displays sure pushed high resolution displays along. Lots of cheaper competitors to the iPad are appearing. The Kindle looks about $200 cheaper than a similar specification iPad. So far, most of the other tablets have been less use than the Apple ecosystem. However if the user is only reading books, surfing the web, collecting email, and playing the odd game, it may well be sufficient.

Amazon's business model seems to be to sell their gadgets close to cost. Must hope to make up margin on sale of content. They also include advertising in all their Kindle models. An interesting ploy. I loath advertising.

Friday 7 September 2012


I was up before six. Egg for breakfast again. We went out after nine to collect another dozen eggs from the egg farm.

I worked on finding iPhone apps to remove from my iPhone. The search routine failed to work afterwards.

I walked a kilometre with Jean. Then off to the pub for the Social Club fund raiser.


I see strikes are on the rise, reaching a peak of over 100,000 hours lost in the June quarter, a level not seen since 2004. Most of these seem to be in health, education and related fields where there is still a fairly large union presence.

These are also fields where increasing productivity is very difficult. Much of the work is manual, and not easily automated. However, who pays for the increases?

Euro Sucks

In a fit of dodgy dealing, the European Central Bank will now buy unlimited one to three year bonds from bankrupt governments. ECB claim this is not actually state financing. Bundesbank dissented.

Kick the can a little further along the road. This is bad policy. It does not solve the debt problem. Just postpones it, and makes it worse.

iPhone Search

I lost the Search facility on my iPhone 4. This was after I synched it to a new computer (it was working for several weeks after that). Today I connected the iPhone via USB, and went through in iTunes checking which apps I had loaded. By lunchtime, I had selected seventy that I did not need (I still was only up to the R's) in iTunes. I synched the phone. No issues apparent.

When I left for my walk, the Search facility on iPhone was not finding anything at all. I could not find RunKeeper to use it during my walk.

I used the Reset All Settings option in Settings, General, when I returned around 1:30 p.m. I hope that reset fixes the issue.

Afterwards it was SIM locked. I had to repeat my language and location. Then it wanted to restore from backup, but seemed to hang when I connected it to iTunes.

I am trying a restore, but iTunes wants to get stuff that is already installed from the server. Why? I already have 5.1.1. This will take hours! What a stuff up.

By about 3:30 p.m. the iPhone was showing the Apple icon, as it started the reboot after the firmware restore. I have had to undo the damn SIM lock about three times. Now restoring from the iTunes backup. iPhone appears to be rebooting yet again. Preparing apps to sync. Copying 191 apps. Copying music. Grump!

Another 14 apps removed after I returned from the pub. Sync. What will happen? It took until about 4:30 p.m. but I finally had the iPhone all restored. Reduced apps from 261 to 177, which is better, but nowhere near good enough.

Construction Sector

It has had 27 months of contraction. Apartment building is way down. Although engineering is the strongest, it is well below reasonable levels. How much longer can the Australian economy shrug of these declines?

Saturday 8 September 2012


I was awake and up working well before five. Not a happy result. Started laundry just after six. In between catching up on the news in the papers, I worked on the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club web site.

Web Site

I started working a little more on the web site I want to do for the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club. No chance of getting much done before we have to give up. I am very slow at it. Took half the afternoon time I put into it just to do a favicon and write it up.

Camera Card

I tried my new camera memory card in the actual camera, since the Panasonic said it would handle that sort of card. The camera balked, but after formatting the card, seemed to be happy. The 64GB camera card is set to be ExFAT, which is a Microsoft proprietary format intended specifically for memory cards. According to the camera, I can now take over twelve thousand photos. That should do for a while. I better check it out, and see that the photos are actually stored.

Sunday 9 September 2012


I was up at five. The lengthy downloads of updates I planned from the Mac App Store turned out to be very small. So I sent feedback to Apple asking for file sizes in the Mac App Store.

I skipped breakfast, after my Sunday weigh in. Emailed my proposals to the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club. Watched the usual current affairs programs Insiders, and then Inside Business, while reading the newspaper.

Preview acts as a destructive editor. I must remember that when attempting to add annotations to jpeg files.

Bacon and eggs for lunch, with a glass of champagne.

Jean dragged me off for a walk in the late afternoon. We did over five kilometres, which is not bad.

Apple Robot Factory

In 1984, Apple built a robot factory in Freemont, California. Luckily they released a video of it, or we would know little about it. The 19 March, 1984 InfoWorld said the 160,000 square foot facility cost the company $20-million to design. Apple's goal was to produce one Macintosh every 27 seconds. In 1992, the plant was moved near its distribution centre in Elk Grove, California. Basically, the plant failed to be sufficiently economic. Apple picked a high cost method of production.

Steve Jobs again tried an automated factory for NeXT in 1988. NeXT eventually failed. However this time the NeXT factory had far better supply chain. Parts basically arrived just in time, rather than being stockpiled in large quantities. The plant was also far more flexible.

The Apple automated factory in Freemont was a dud. Here is an analysis of where Apple automated manufacturing went wrong. Here is why Foxconn do manufacturing better. How Apple might improve. Finally, what Foxconn understand about manufacturing makes them flexible. It is not just cheap Chinese labor, although that too is critical.

Open Street Map

I just checked the Open Street Map project for a few areas in Australia I know well. Very, very incomplete, although you can see why that would be so with volunteers with few funds. You simply could not use the maps provided for anything except getting a very rough idea of the area. If Open Street Map is the only source Apple will be using for their Maps in future, we are so stuffed!

Nor could I see any easy way to contribute map data to Open Street Map. If I wanted to geek for a fair while, and buy devices I do not need, it might be better. Easiest way for me would obviously be an iPhone app that simply tracked where I walked or drove. If that exists, the Open Street Map people are not saying. In contrast, I was able to add some information to Google Maps fairly easily (at least after 1 August this year).

So Apple must have some sort of plan to rapidly improve their maps. Things should get interesting when iOS 6 is first released.

Monday 10 September 2012


I was up soon after five, which felt far too early. We put the sheets in the ever so slow ecologically sound washing machine. Watched a glorious dawn, which revealed that although the weather radar said no rain, there actually was a fair bit of cloud. By the time we hung the sheets out to dry, it looked rather suspect. Still, everything was dry by midday, when we took them in rather than risk a passing shower.

Naturally after being cool all morning, the sun came out in the afternoon.

Went for a five kilometre walk with Jean in the late afternoon. A bit slower than usual. We also remembered to collect the mail.


I had been neglecting the deadline for FAPA, because it was in November. However I actually need to get my contribution in the mail in about a week. So I started writing the mailing comments. Not getting much else done, but at least that is rolling along.

Bomb Hazelwood

Reduce Australian greenhouse gas emissions. Have RAAF use Hazelwood and LaTrobe brown coal power stations for bomb target practice.

Farming with Dynamite

As long as we are blowing things up, try Farming with Dynamite. OK, the joke is it is 1910 publicity booklet from du Pont, who sold dynamite. Not that some things are not worth blowing up, including fields. You can stuff your Big Bang Theory. Dynamite is the real way to blow things up. Well, OK, safer to use gelignite.

Tuesday 11 September 2012


I was up late, after sunrise, at around 6:30 a.m. Must have needed the extra sleep. I had felt I needed better sleep.

Lunch at the restaurant with Ray, Dot, and Pat, and eventually Jeff.

Walked with Jean in the late afternoon.


I have been continuing with the mailing comments for FAPA. Have passed the half way mark in writing comments. By lunch, I had all mailing comments done, except on one large fanzine. That one totally stalled me for the rest of the day.

Building Seven

Why did Building 7 collapse?

Wednesday 12 September 2012


I was awake at five, not a particularly good hour when I had gone to sleep late. For some reason emails seems to be coming from everywhere. I do not need all this attention.

Dropped the original iPad into Margaret, and suggested she use it while we were away. Geoff had already solved pretty much all his iPhoto issues. I just showed him one or two more items on that, and in Address Book (not updated to Contacts yet).

Saw Leigh. Her boss is trendy. Good sign for web site.

Walked with Jean in the late afternoon. Diverted to the bar to see Ray and Ian holding it up. Caught up with Jean by using Find Friends to locate her.


I finally completed my mailing comments on FAPA this morning. However I am unsure I have sufficient toner to print them. I did about 300 pages for ANZAPA after getting the printer. The printer surely has sample toner cartridges, good for maybe 700 pages. The printer refuses to tell me how much toner is left.

I decided to print the 40 copies of four pages of mailing comments complete in the afternoon. I have to wait for the first side to cool a fair bit before attempting the reverse. The reverse pages printed. So that was 160 page done.

Next run was 40 copies of six pages. Again, I did the first side of each of sheets. The reverse run worked for the first second side. Printer did one copy of the second reverse side, and stopped with a flashing light. No indication anywhere about what was wrong. After lots of switching the printer on and off, I got another page. Then another eight pages. So that was another 250 pages. Makes the total lifetime print, in black, 710 plus a few self test pages. No sign of any faintness in the print result, as yet.

After leaving the printer alone for several hours, I tried again. Five copies. Later, another five copies. And yet another five. I got 35 copies eventually. Half what I need.

PIGS in Space

@RobTTTrade: Market Cap of Apple Inc. is now more than the entire equity markets of Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece combined.


I moved my iPad from the Mac mini to the MacBook Air for syncing. Better match to travel. Worse for media content (no spare space).

Thursday 13 September 2012

Carlyle Gardens

I was up early. The printer deigned to print another five pages, but then went and sulked about not having toner. I must order more toner for delivery when I get a chance. Luckily Jean was willing to print the remaining 25 pages for me.

Late lunch today, as I wanted to see the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club folks about a web site.


I seem to be having a problem with the configd demon that tries to get networking going nicely. It is chewing 50% of CPU repeatedly. I tend to suspect a problem with access to the network printer.

Decided to reboot everything on the network, including this computer.

Computer Club

I went along as an observer to a meeting of the local Carlyle Gardens Computer Club. These folks have been sustaining this club for over a decade. It is the largest club in Carlyle Gardens, with 120 members. Not bad at all. So I was interested to learn how they managed it.

I also have an ulterior motive. I want to see some focus on the changes to the computing landscape. Especially now a billion smartphones have been sold. I also wanted to talk a little about making a Carlyle Gardens Computer Club web site.

Alas, now they want me to give a presentation about web pages in November.

Lightning Connector

I see a replacement for the connector Apple have used on their iPod and iPhone line for the past decade. The old Apple connector had 30 pins, a partial legacy of it originally providing Firewire, as well as audio line out, and sufficient conductors to support component RGB and VGA video out. However for Windows users, it needed USB.

Over time, as pocket devices became slimmer, the relatively fragile 30 pin connector was no longer slim enough. So it was obviously scheduled to be changed, despite the massive existing third party accessory market. Most of us who looked at it thought perhaps dropping the disused Firewire and a few others could get you down to 19 contacts. No fewer.

The good points about the 8 contact Lightning connector. Much slimmer design. In fact, slimmer than a 3.5mm earphone connector. On the other hand, are exposed contacts a great idea? Can be plugged in either way up. About time - USB is just plain wrong in its connector design, since it is so easy to attempt to plug it in wrong.

Possible problems with Lightning. All digital, no analogue. Analogue really is outdated (although you do need it for earphones, and could presumably collect it there). This is akin to Apple dropping the floppy drive, or the DVD drive. It is a bold move, which could backfire if Apple can not drag its audience along.

So no audio line out. Almost certainly no video to hideous composite, nor the considerably better component (RGB), nor VGA (RGBHV), which alas was still analog. A lot of people doing presentations will find this a problem. Basically, analogue video deserves to die. Computers are all digital. Computer monitors are all digital. TV is all digital (except for ancient CRT versions). Projectors are all digital. Why have a phone convert digital to analogue, only to have a projector convert it back from analogue to digital before displaying it? This makes no sense.

This lack of analogue video is not much of a problem for me. I didn't even have a TV set until this year. When I did get TV, I was already planning on most of the content being delivered via computer (since the TV stations mostly deliver garbage). So I bought an AppleTV for each screen, as well as using existing Airport Express for audio. I also have an external digital to analog converter (DAC) that accepts S/PDIF optical audio from an Apple TV. I am all set up for digital wireless connections.

There is a Lightning to USB 2 cable on sale from Apple for A$25 (and Lightning to Micro USB adaptor for Europe). Obviously this (and other Lightning cables) is only for iPhone 5, iPod Touch 5th generation, and iPod Nano 7th generation. A 20 cm Lightning to 30 pin adaptor cable for A$45 and a Lightning to 30 pin adaptor are coming in October 2012. Both these adaptors will include an active digital to analog converter (DAC) built into their shell.

Unanswered questions about the all digital Lightning connector. Why eight pins? Power, power ground, data+, data-. It is not likely to handle USB3 (I doubt ARM can support USB3 data rates). It is not likely to handle Thunderbolt (power requirements and speed preclude that). What else?


I want to know why the file system check fsck_hfs has suddenly started, and taken 70% or more of my CPU? I do not recall seeing this happen previously. You notice this sort of stuff because the fans suddenly start roaring.

Obviously a file system check will start if you have a new drive. However on a stand alone MacBook Air, just what is it checking? I looked in /var/log to see if there was a fsck_hfs.log, and there was a recent one. So the obvious drive to check is the one on the Time Capsule, connected via WiFi. I do not usually listen to Time Capsule, but it did seem noisier than I recall.

I opened Console. The log file seems full of plist, which indeed mention Time Machine Backup. Earlier the log files say it was checking /dev/rdisk1s2 which is strange, since the internal drive partitions in /dev are rdisk0, as you would expect.

The log file seems to indicate it runs a quick check every day, every hour. Seems from the timing like it might be right after the regular hourly Time Machine backup. These report the filesystem is clean. How weird.

According to the fsck_hfs manual, normally it would quietly run on boot and preens.

Now my fan is still on after almost an hour. Not much CPU activity. Why? Will put the computer to sleep and see if that fixes it. Yes, ten minutes or so of sleep while I did something else made it happy.

Bashed Up

A few day ago an elderly woman in Townsville was bashed up and her car stolen as she tried to carry groceries from her car into her house. Her assailants were five young indigenous folk. The youngest assailant was twelve, the oldest about twenty. Three were females, two were males. Four absconded in the stolen car. The youngest assailant rode away on a bicycle. The relatives of the victim went looking for the car, and found it. The assailants were reported to the police. One had been released a few days prior after similar crimes.

Just why do innocent victims have to put up with this sort of shit?

Friday 13 September 2012

Google Bacon Number

I see that you can now use Google to find the Bacon Number of an actor. Just type into Google Bacon Number, followed by the name of the actor. Lead engineer Yossi Matias said the project showcases the power of their search engine.

I think Google may have been beaten to the idea. The American Mathematical Society have an Erdos collaboration number calculator. Science fiction writers are not left out, with this Asimov collaborator list, and this Asimov collaborator list from 2004.


I took my copies of my apazine along when we drove to Willows. The Post Office does not open until nine. For reasons that I can only see as slightly insane, it is cheaper to send a 500 gram letter to the USA than it is to send a 500 gram parcel. So the 1.2 kilogram of FAPA mailings went as three separate 400 gram letters, rather than a single parcel. That saved me about $10, and meant I did not need to fill in any customs declarations.


I went on a Willows walk with Jean, so I could mail FAPA. Found a colourised version of the 1930's movie of H G Wells The Shape of Things to Come for $5 in BigW. Caught up with Jean in time to pay for the food shopping at Woolworths.

Restaurant for lunch, with Ray, Dot and John there. It was Allan's birthday, so we all cheered. Sheena appeared. We thought she might have been a hologram. But she was real, and back from her visit to Russia.

Off to the pub for the Social Club get together this evening. I wandered around a lot chatting with various people. Bought lottery tickets. Luckily did not win meat trays. Had a great time. Too many curlews complaining on the way back.

Mining Royalties

In this year there may be a few additional mining royalties in Queensland. Maybe half a billion over a few years. Longer term, a lot of mines will be shuttered. No mining royalties for Queensland. No mining resources revenue tax for the Commonwealth. Capital can go on strike. There are other countries that present less sovereign risk (actually it should probably be called political risk). Over the past few years I have rated the risk as 0.5%. Others said I was overestimating it. I now think it even worse.

It is right that governments attempt to provide for the needy. However governments mostly produce little, and thus can contribute little. There are limits to charity. Governments need to be aware of those limits.

Saturday 15 September 2012


I have just realised that if you typo today it spells toady. Not the way I feel about governments these days. Up around 4 a.m. because I could not sleep. Rain poured down for a half hour before five. Everything is still a total mess.

Bit of a walk in Willows as we collected newspapers and some spoons (not enough tea spoons on hand). That stuff at BigW is cheap!

Started writing some notes on an Infonite presentation for the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club.

Apple Finder

I can no longer see my favorites list within Apple Finder in Mountain Lion on my MacBook Air. If ticked within Preferences, the favorites simply untick themselves. Which, given there is no place in Finder for them to appear, is probably not too surprising. When did that start happening? I had to force quit and relaunch Finder to get the normal window back, with Favorites in it.

KeyChain Access

I airdropped a copy of my login.keychain from the keychain folder in my local Library folder (Click Go in Finder, and press option key to make Library visible) on my Mac mini to my MacBook Air. Change the name of the copy to something like mini_login.keychain. Move it into the same location on the other computer. Now you can add it to your KeyChain Access utility. That way if you are missing some password on a travel computer, you can look it up.

Internet Sucks

I am currently downloading mail at 269 bytes a second. Latency is running around 400 mS. OzSpeedTest claims I am getting 500 kbps, but I doubt it. All downloads are now overnight affairs. Internet sucks.

Apple iPhone 5

Sold out within hours.


I plan to spend on either memorable things like travel, or consumer durables, ahead of inflation. Both the USA and Europe are spreading money (mostly to banks) like there is no tomorrow. There is a bit of a disguise to it, by buying bonds or whatever, but basically it is running the (virtual) printing presses. As a result, you can not trust government backed money (not that you ever could long term).

Inflation figures are well within the comfort zone is what commentators say. However with high unemployment and a sluggish economy, that means inflation will roar along with the money printing if there is any sign of recovery. The central banks will react too slow, too late (they are very keen on zero interest rates), and tip the world back into recession. Again.

Tipping money into the economy is not going to work. Companies have been building reserves, but are not going to take big chances on expansion. A lot of companies have the money to expand. Consumers are trying to get out of debt, or keeping their powder dry. If governments wanted to help, they would form development banks, and finance useful, well targeted infrastructure projects (unlike home insulation and BER COLAs). Not helicopter drop money on everyone.

Muslim Protests

I see Behead those who insult Islam on signs at a protest in Sydney, including one held by a youngster probably not old enough to understand the words he held. Like other Australians, I was not involved in that stupid daubed film from a Coptic Christian that sparked these angry protests. Nor do I give a stuff about the Islamic religion, which seems just as foolish to me as every other religion. However publicly saying kill off those who disagree with you in a violent demonstration is a lousy move. It sparks reactions in the rest of the population, who mostly want a peaceful life.

So, let me provide some reaction. Just why is Australia accepting Islamists as immigrants? I am sure there are heaps of them who are nice people, who fit in without causing problems. Indeed, with probably 400,000 Muslims here, most must be good folks. However if a small group of arseholes causes problems, why encourage them? Stop Islamic immigration into Australia. If that means dropping U.N. agreements, just drop the agreements.

Just get rid of pandering to religion anywhere in society. No special provisions or entitlements. No tax free treatment. If people want to spend a day in prayer or fasting or whatever, that is fine, but do not expect anyone else to go out of their way to make it easier. Just dump religion and all these false prophets!

The religious are either deluded, delusional or frauds. I am through being tolerant about people who see a great sky fairy in the bottom of the garden.

Sunday 16 September 2012


I was awake at four, so I soon got up and continued work.

My usual morning. Watching Insiders, followed by Inside Business. Jean slipped over and fell. Luckily it was not serious.

Bacon and eggs, with champagne, for lunch. Over to see Geoff L to try to assist with his new Apple. Luckily he is well on the way to making it perform as he wants. No Java vulnerability there. Hope my tips helped.

Back in time to watch Meet the Press, followed by The Bolt Report.

Another walk around the village with Jean. In a little over an hour we covered over six kilometres. I think we are ready for our trip.

Nothing in the fridge for dinner. Had half a can of chilli beef, with avocado, cheese, and corn chips, washed down with a beer. All this rather late.

Books vs eBooks

I noticed that I had not transferred all my O'Reilly eBooks from my Mac mini to the MacBook Air. So I went to the O'Reilly web site and tried to log in. The Air automatically asked if it could use my Mac mini Keychain, that I had installed as a second Keychain a few days ago. That surprised me. I thought I would have to select it. Then I downloaded the eBooks I had not already transferred to my new iTunes. That way I could be sure I had the latest version.

Looking at the account, I see I have registered 14 O'Reilly print books. I may have bought more, and have given several away. But that was all I could find on my shelves. However in about two years I have bought more than 40 of their eBooks, in DRM free ePub (available also in other formats). I would say there would be a bit of a difference in returns to both author and publisher.

I also notice that most of the many hundreds of eBooks I have are from Baen. Who just happen to sell bundles of DRM free ePub (and other) book formats. Hardly any other science fiction publishers, although many publish books I like. There may be as many as a dozen eBooks direct from iTunes. Most are Apple's own manuals.

Moving iTunes Media

I can not move all my media contents to my new favourite computer, an 11 inch Apple MacBook Air. These solid state drives are fast, but not large. I have around 200GB of apps and audio in iTunes. I have several terabyte of movies I can not really put into iTunes anyhow. I have at least 100 GB in 37,000 photos. No way all of this can fit on a solid state drive. So I am stuck with spinning rust and compromise for a while longer.

Seems I had another thirty books on my O'Reilly account. I moved copies onto my travel computer, so I can put them into iTunes. Less and less happy with iTunes. Mostly the account errors. The program works well enough.

LIFX, the light globe reinvented

I always like a fancy light. So what could be better than LIFX, the light globe reinvented, on Kickstarter. A smart light globe. WiFi enabled, multi colour thanks to RGB LEDs. Controlled over your WiFi network by your iPhone.

Step 1. Replace existing light globes. Step 2. Download the iPhone app. Step 3. There is no step three. You have just started your smart house. No wiring, no retrofitting, no installers. An idea whose time has come.

Monday 17 September 2012


I was awake at three, but managed to sleep some more. Up at 5:30 a.m. Sky covered in cloud, too threatening for laundry. Jean comes out later and says do laundry, regardless of cloud. I start laundry, as you do. Luckily Jean got in the laundry after lunch, about an hour before I would have checked. I suspect the rain would have come otherwise.

Jean has been organising a rail journey on both the great railways in Australia. We fly to Sydney. The Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth. Then fly to Adelaide. The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin. Then fly from Darwin to Townsville.

Apple iPhone 5 Disappoints

Apple's iPhone 5 has merely an two core ARM A7, not the hoped for A15 CPU. Only a single gigabyte of memory. The clock hardly exceeds one gigahertz. What a disappointment! Other rivals have better hardware specifications, more GHz, twice the RAM, four CPU cores not two. Hardware specifications are very important.

Looks at these four core, 1.3GHz to 1.5GHz Android Geekbench benchmarks. They far surpass the Apple iOS benchmarks. Then to find the much heralded Apple iPhone 5 has only TWO core, only a single gigabyte of memory, and has only a 1.02GHz clock! What sort of Geekbench benchmark does the Apple iPhone 5 have?

I doubt it is as good as my 2005 Apple iMac G5 desktop, which is set to 1000 on the Geekbench. Oh, Apple iPhone 5 benchmarks at 1601? Faster than my 2005 Apple iMac G5 desktop computer, faster than 2004 Apple Mac Pro workstation. Faster than any Android phone tested to date.

Apple's iPhone 5 is only the thinest, lightest, Apple smartphone on the market. It is faster than anything else on the market, and has the largest App store. What a disappointment! D'Oh!

Out of Money

I went to a NSW Government web site. Got Bandwidth Limit Exceeded The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later. Maybe the government can not pay its bills?

The Truth About HTML5

A self published polemic in the form of an eBook (multiple formats available - PDF, ePub, mobi) called The Truth About HTML5 from Australian web site developer Luke Stevens. You can also get the ebook from Amazon or iTunes, if you are insane enough to actually want it infested with digital rights management (DRM). Try the introduction and first chapter free.

One review says It is a healthy antidote to all the bullshit out there claiming that HTML5 cures cancer and brings about world peace, and that is the truth. … a great commentary on the good, bad and the ugly of HTML5, says Bruce Lawson of HTML5 Doctor, who also says the author is well informed (while disagreeing with his conclusions).

Interestingly, John Allsopp, who I greatly admire as a web writer, wrote the foreword for the book. In a later notes, he mentions Luke writing an extended essay on the messiness of HTML.

A review of The Truth About HTML5 by Dudley Storey.

This sort of debate is one reason I am holding off on using HTML5 (not that it will be a recommendation for another few years). For the moment, I am sticking with XHTML 1.1, served correctly.

The Dock Is Dead

Awesome advertisement from Jawbone explodes dock.

Explosion at Power Plant

Huge Power Plant Explosion in Ponca City

Tuesday 18 September 2012


I was up at around 5:30 a.m. Off to Willows for newspaper at eight, collecting fuel for her car on the way. Despite buying a newspaper, I have had no time in which to read it.

Lunch at the restaurant with the usual group. Ray, Dot, Pat, Jeff, and John. Dave was playing silly. Bought soup to take home for dinner, as the fridge is nearly empty.

Walked over again after three to find out about the over 40's rock dance. It was a publicity stunt, to appear on YouTube and Facebook. Why should someone over 40 be thrown out of a rock concert?


I have an internet connection, as I can ping places. However I can not get anything through on a web page. Hmm, the common factor is all the links I was trying to follow were through URL shortener. I guess the shortener has broken. That is why URL shorteners are a bad move.

No, the problem seems to be that some web sites are working, and heaps seem to be down. Looks like the Domain Name Server is not operating. Not sure what the problem is. It was OK after about 15 minutes.

USB Issues

I think USB is a deeply flawed standard. No electronic device should have a connector you might be able to plug in upside down. Unless it does not matter which way it plugs in.

In a world of smart devices, a standard that is explicitly master to slave is now looking pretty silly. USB is host (type A connector) to peripheral. That made sense when it was only going to run keyboards, mice, printers and drives. There can be only one host. Sure you can kluge it different (the extra ID connector in Mini and Micro USB), but it would have been better (but maybe not cheaper) if connections were done via multiple masters. Like RS232, or Firewire, or Ethernet.

Then there is the standard connector. USB A (computer) to USB B (printer or whatever). Then camera people started making mini USB (also in A and B), which spread even to devices that did not need anything smaller, like hard drives. Then they made micro USB (also A and B) and put them in phones. Who ever has the correct cable on hand?

USB has a minimal connector set. Power, ground, data+ and data-. Pretty sensible for peripherals. If you do not pull too much power, you can drive the peripheral (like a keyboard or mouse) from the computer power supply. 100mA (500mW) is the limit, unless you negotiate a higher power drain, in which case you can pull 1000mA (5 Watts). Mind you, most power supplies and hubs do not understand how to limit the power. A later change to the standard, suggested by Apple, allowed up to 2100mA by negotiation, for 10 Watts of battery charging. All fairly sensible as bigger devices were charged via USB. The micro USB connectors can not handle that much current.

Wednesday 19 September 2012


I was up at six, and had slept well. Just as well, since I had been exhausted the previous day.

Lunch at the bar, running late. Sheena joined me at the table, so we had a nice chat, mostly about travel. Olive also joined us a little later.


I see the configd demon is once again running wild, and setting the fans running wild. This time I have not been attempting to print via Ethernet. The most likely internet process would be attempting to reach a Time Capsule in another location for backup. I could not see anything that looked interesting in the console logs.

So I killed configd from the Activity Monitor (requires admin permissions). As I expected, a new configd respawned a second later. This instance of configd does not seem to be using excessive CPU. My fans calmed down soon afterwards.

Send feedback to Apple as a bug report (although I am not convinced it is a bug). Two cases of configd running wild (heading up above 50% of CPU) in the past month, thus ramping fans up during otherwise light duty operation. Could not see anything amiss in console logs. I am running a wireless printer (almost always switched off). I have Time Machine backing up over to two Time Capsules, one at home, one at another physical location. Second location has not been accessed for 20 days, so perhaps the missing connection is involved? Solved by killing off configd, since it respawns. If there is a next time I will try to check ps results.

Hand Stylus

I received mail from Jean. Two of Steve King's new Hand Stylus, the mind's cutting edge. I gave the green one to Jean, and retained the red one. This was a reward for my pledge back in May backing the Kickstarter Hand Stylus design that closed on 17 June 2012.

Initial impressions are great. The Hand Stylus comes in a box containing a neat, fitted aluminium case. It makes a great present (I gave one to Jean). Also included were a half dozen spare tips. I am not sure these will be needed quickly, as the stylus tip rotates each time you retract it, to even out wear. For a capacitive touch screen stylus, this has a relatively fine tip, around 4mm. About a quarter the usual area.

Critic Stalled

I wonder why a critic of Islamic fundamentalism is not already giving his speeches in Australia? Dutch MP, Geert Wilders, applied for a visa to visit Australia three weeks ago. It seems Chris Bowen, the Minister for Immigration, is sitting on the application, waiting for the time Wilders has available for his visit to run out. Now I suspect Wilders is bigoted, uses hate for his own political ends, and misinforms and lies in his presentations. However freedom of speech should mean you can express your opinions, no matter how incoherent.

Meanwhile Islamic fundamentalist supporter, Taji Mustafa, was waved through to enter. I gather Australia still has easy travel arrangements with the U.K. but not with Europe. He gave his speeches the same weekend there were violent Islamist demonstrations in Sydney. I believe this was probably a coincidence, and not causally related.

Belief in Allah or God or Jehovah, and delusional prophets claiming to hear them, like Mohammed, Jesus or Moses, is just as incoherent. Everyone is an atheist about some set of gods. So why not go the whole way and disbelieve them all?

I am personally rather partial to the Norse god Thor, who after all has appeared in two movies. I am firmly of the belief that many problems can be solved with a really decent hammer. Alas, I am told appearing in movies is not good evidence that Thor actually exists. I figure films are better evidence than there is for most gods.

However the deluded are entitled to their rants. Just as those of us who do not believe in gods can say such beliefs are garbage, and not listen.

Thursday 20 September 2012


I got to bed after midnight, but was awake before six. The geckos are back. Not good to be awake early. If the damn Asian kitchen geckos would get all the mosquitos I would not object to them as much. Yes I would. Geckos delenda est.

Still not packed, as the weather in Europe sounds cold. Not sure I have sufficient things to cope with cold weather.

Lunch at the restaurant, as there is little food in the house. Brought the cold cuts back for supper.

Duncan caught up with me when Jean returned in the afternoon. He is always helpful, and will water the plants. There seemed a problem with the hose, but after testing the damaged section does not actually seem to leak. No spare hose on hand anyhow. The hose trigger nozzles seem mostly broken by the sunlight. Put an unused nozzle that had never been outside on the thing. Seems to work.

OS X Update

I updated to OS X 10.8.2 on one computer. My MacBook Air keeps getting timeouts on downloading OS X 10.8.2. The download is slow, about 150 MB an hour. Three timeouts now, and less than a third of the way through the download. It did finally complete, and install.

That OS X upgrade opened the way to updating iPhoto to 9.4. This adds some support, mostly for Facebook. Not that I trust Facebook enough to ever use it again.

iOS Update

I started the iOS 6 update for my phone. iTunes promptly told me it would take another 20 hours. We leave in 15 hours. Luckily that time changed to a less horrible four hours fairly soon. I hope they mean it. I also hope the update does not break very much stuff.

Update completed while I was at the Residents Meeting. I had to make a choice of music to transfer, since I now have two much moved over via Home Sharing to fit in an iPhone.

I started a download only of the iOS 6 update for the iPad. It said twelve hours for the 1.11GB. I did not have that long. Left it running overnight.

Residents Meeting

I was unaware of the time of the accounting presentation meeting. Luckily Duncan mentioned it. Pretty much as soon as I walked in to the Carlton Theatre, I was asked if I could get the video projector working. This is the new Epsom high definition model that Geoff had installed. I had never used it. Luckily the remote was in the (open) control room, so I went down to the stage and got it all working for them. John asked for advice on using it, since there is a Golf Club event tomorrow.

I got my paper copy of the accounts. Have to go through them a lot more carefully. However it seems the sale is stalled for a long time. No great issues for residents unless the banks figure they can not get their money back. That might make life interesting.

Friday 21 September 2012

Early Morning

I was up at five, having been awake for several hours in any case. Too dark to get solar panel readings as yet, for an end of month estimate.

We were ready ahead of time, as usual. I gave the excess strawberries to a passing resident driving an electric scooter.

The taxi arrived on time. He told us he had encountered one of the gardeners, who showed him how to reach us. The taxi driver in turn showed us a bunch of shortcuts through back streets. One we knew (but would probably not been as agile catching the light to turn). The other two were ones we have not used. Nice addition to our Townsville navigation tricks. We were at the airport before eight, for boarding at nine. The very full flight actually boarded early, and took off a little early.

iOS 6 Download

My 1.11GB download of iOS 6 for iPad had completed overnight, despite the longer estimated load time. However I can not really take the time to let it run on the iPad.

Solar Panel Readings

I have to take readings today, rather than at the end of the month. Not the sort of thing I could ask Duncan to do.

The totals on the electricity meter were 3900 kWh imported on E1, 3224 kWh imported on E2. Total exports 1310 kWh. June showed Tariff 11 at 3564kWh purchased, Tariff 33 at 3181kWh, and the export of power from the solar panel at 1145kWh since installed. So during the (nearly) three months to 21 September 2012, we used 336kWh on Tariff 11, 43kWh on Tariff 33. We exported 165kWh.

The solar readings were 3263 kWh over 9702 hours. August were 3170kWh over 9467 hours. So in the 20 days, we generated 93kWh over 235 hours. This is 4.65kWh per day or 395 Watts per operating hour.

To Singapore

Off from Townsville early on QF967, a little before 9:20. As we approached Brisbane well before schedule, the first officer announced that air traffic control had told us to hold for 20 minutes. Luckily there were reductions to this time, and we landed pretty much when we should. No trouble with baggage. Dragged it across to the train, and off for the one stop to Brisbane International.

Quick service from a trainee and supervisor at the Singapore Airlines ticket counter. No issues with immigration or security. I am typing this in the Singapore Airlines Silver Kris lounge at Brisbane, having had a small meatball and pasta snack to hold me until dinner, just in case it is late in the flight.

I never did discover where the nice noise reducing headphone plugged in. There seemed to be two sockets down where they are had to see. An 8 pin DIN, and a triangular set of three stereo sockets. The headset had a triangular set of connectors, two 3.5mm and one 2.5mm, but the spacing was such I could not get it to fit the socket.

Jean found the real connector up high on the seat surround, which is far more sensible. Unless you fail to look behind you.

An uneventful but tiring flight. We arrived in Singapore around 8:30 p.m. our time. Found our way to the Silver Kris Lounge. My MacBook Air could not connect to their free 802.11g WiFi network. Always gave an Error 150, and said try again. Nothing I did in the way of forgetting the SilverKris network helped at all. We sat in the lounge until after midnight.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Leaving Singapore

This was the long flight SQ352 code share from Singapore to Copenhagen, taking off at 1:10 a.m. Singapore time (3:10 a.m. our time). We left the lounge around 12:30 a.m. By the time we reached the distant flight, after passing through lounge security, it was well into boarding time.

We basically tried to sleep for as long as possible. We are due to land at 7:40 a.m. local time, so you have to add the six hour time difference to the six and a half hour listed time, to result in a 12:30 flight. I have a lot of trouble sleeping during a flight. This was no different.

The seat controls confused us enough that we had to ask a flight attendant how to get them as flat as they would go. The control turned out to be the large blue button that I thought was an indicator light.

In Flight

We skipped dinner during the flight, since to us that was at 4 a.m. Tried to sleep, and did actually manage to do so for some time.

Had a large full breakfast at 4 a.m. Copenhagen time, which to us was midday. Very confusing. I did enjoy the pancake and blackberry.

We did get the seat displays working, and showing our flight path, so we could contemplate our progress across the middle east and finally Europe. We could also see the lights of large cities spread out below, for part of the time.

Copenhagen Arrival

I have never seen so little fuss in an airport. The only real wait was at immigration control, where a formidable queue had formed. However the four staff were passing passengers through in around 15 seconds. It was utterly amazing. Baggage was swift also.

We took a taxi to the Copenhagen Strand Hotel well before 8 a.m. As expected, since English is taught in school, everyone we met could understand us. Alas, we had failed to change any money to Danish Kroner. However the taxi driver also accepted either credit cards or Euros (which we did have, since most of the trip is in the actual Euro zone - Denmark has an opt-out to changing its currency).

Check in was soon accomplished at the Copenhagen Strand Hotel, as Jean had booked and paid for the hotel earlier. There was an elevator, but 1018 was on the first floor (press 0 in the lift - that one I did not understand). Soon after arrival we found the most convenient flight of stairs, and used them thereafter.

The room was small, but comfortable. It seemed very warm when we arrived, but I had been struggling with both bags. Jean found it seemed to be on some sort of timer.

I never did really understand the round bolsters on the bed, nor correct operation of the two single bed doona supplied for the Queen sized bed. There was a lounge chair, and a more upright chair, together with an adequate writing desk. Three power points above the desk sufficed for our chargers. There was a very small room bar fridge for their mini bar and a few cold drinks. The bathroom fittings mostly seemed hotel standard, so we were able to take a welcome shower soon after starting to unpack.

We were later to discover that the Strand was remarkably close to the tourist centre of town. Beautiful view across a canal (alas, not from most rooms). It was quiet, and service was excellent. Although I do wonder why they never gave more than one small cake of soap. They seemed to replace shampoo and similar, even towels despite not being on the floor, but no new soap.

Meeting Friends

I was delighted to meet Jean's friends Daniel and Sigrid for the first time. We waited for them in the lobby, since they were a little later than midday. They had to make a long journey from Sweden, with an expensive bridge crossing on the train, and then used the Metro from the airport train stop to cut down the walking time.

To the extent that we knew what time it was, it was probably late for lunch for us (we had breakfast around 4 a.m.), and probably an early lunch for our friends. So we set off soon after meeting.

Lunch With Friends

In one direction, perhaps a half kilometre away, was a host of tourist restaurants. We had lunch downstairs at Nyhavn 14, which seemed upmarket Italian style pizza and wine for tourists. Basically it was the first place that seemed to have acceptable food without walking further.

My house special pizza had rather more mushroom than I favour (I favour very little, or none). The wine (we had glasses of different red, and different white) was acceptable, without being outstanding. However the conversation was good, as Jean caught up. Luckily I could pay the 800 Danish Kroner on my credit card, after a small struggle with wireless reception in the cellar.

Early Evening

A walk with Daniel and Sigrid along a shopping street. I realise now that I was actually totally out of touch with the world around me. I had to rush to find a loo in a cafe at one stage. We ended up slightly lost in Denmark, but soon found where we were. I just had to collapse early. Jean had given up mid afternoon, and gone to sleep.

Sunday 23 September 2012


I had a poor night sleep, after 1 a.m. I grabbed email in the hotel lobby around 6 a.m. Sent an email to my FAPA acquaintance Knud, with more details of the hotel. I had been awake on and off since about one, but at least had some sleep during part of the time.

We went to our prepaid breakfast around 7:30 a.m. Just as well we had not arrived a half hour later, as the continental buffet got busy. I had some trouble deciding what to eat, as I am not really used to the extensive style of genuine European buffets. Everything I tried tasted fine, albeit not always what I expected. The orange juice was downright weird and watery, but we think it was an end of jug item.

Walk Around Copenhagen

Knud gave me a variety of interesting early Danish fanzines and fiction publications. An amazing amount of activity for a small country.

Knud was kind enough to give us a guided tour of Copenhagen on Sunday. The threatening weather held off as we explored parts of the city we would never have seen.

The courtyard of a school that had followed the Christian education philosophies of Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig, whose status appears in the grounds. Among other tasks, he introduced a modern translation of Beowulf into the Danish language around 1820.

A bit too much walking for Jean, who was partially out of it for the afternoon and evening.

Meet more Friends

We returned to the Strand hotel with Knud, somewhat later than expected. Jean's friends Daniel and Sigrid arrived a few minutes later, around 1:30. We sat in the hotel lobby drinking wine or beer while waiting to see if Jean would recover enough to walk to a cafe.

We had a late lunch at one of the tourist places a half kilometre away, by the canal.

During the meal Daniel explained dark matter (wow). While there was a lot of stuff that basically meant no-one knows, it was the clearest description I have heard.

Jean was basically collapsed by afternoon, and I was not much better. I kept falling asleep on my feet. At the time I did not realise how incoherent I must have been.

Monday 24 September 2012


A late breakfast in the hotel. A boat trip along the canal starting at 10:30. That was good, as we could relax, but still see the town.

A late pub lunch, close to the hotel.

Apple Work

I had filled the small one gigabyte camera card I had in the camera by the end of the canal boat tour. However I could not recall how to format the replacement card (one of three I had failed to format prior to leaving home). Luckily I had the Panasonic manual on my iPad. Unluckily, it needed a rewrite to explain what it meant. Still, I did eventually find the magic sequence, and did all three cards.

Made a backup of the camera card, on hard drive and on a memory stick. Imported the photos into iPhoto. Labelled them. Added some descriptions. Had issues (as usual) with Faces and Places.

Church Walk

Jean and I took a walk to the impressive church tower with the external stairway. We did not attempt to climb this tower, which was mentioned I understand in Jules Verne.

Tuesday 25 September 2012


I was awake around 3:30 a.m. Better than previous nights. I guess I am gradually adapting to the time change, but it seems to be so slow.

Breakfast in the hotel at the fine Continental buffet. More there than I can eat. I tried the herring again, both marinated and in tomato sauce. I am not convinced it is a treat, but I can see it being attractive in cold weather.

Sunshine appeared far earlier than forecast in our weather app. It said rain until 10 a.m. I went outside at 8:15 a.m., after breakfast. The sun was shining through the clouds, and the streets were drying out. Jean had planned some work, but we were not going to miss going out during sunshine.

A Walk in the Park

A bit of a walk brought us to a fine park. Walk in park, where some military types were practicing their music for a parade. We saw the castle museum where the crown jewels are held. Then back via shopping streets over two hours of walking.


A lunch by the canal at the same place as Sunday.

Souvenir Hunting

I could not find the first, closest store. Found two in the opposite direction.

Trip Advisor Copenhagen Strand

We stayed for four nights in this great location, across the road from a large canal looking across to Christianshavn. We were able to walk to most tourism areas, and were convenient to canal boat tours from Nyhavn. We ate several times with friends at a range of tourist restaurants at Nyhavn, a few blocks away. A Danish friend took us on a walking tour of the town from the hotel, covering about six kilometres in a semi-circle, so it was very convenient.

Our room was small, but adequate. We could get to both sides of the Queen bed. There were two comfortable chairs, and a writing desk. Three power points above the desk, so we could charge several computers and cameras. There were two ceiling lights in the entry, and four wall mounted lights, two by the bed. As usual with hotels, the lights were not really quite sufficient for aged eyes reading fine print (which is why we mostly read on iPads). Rain and jet lag kept us in the hotel more than we liked, so we did spend a lot of time in the room.

I was delighted to find the bathroom floor tiles were heated, although I did not notice that on entry.

The view from the large window was across a wide alley to a business. Sufficient to tell if it was raining, but not really a scenic view. The view from outside the hotel entrance is a splendid canal and historic buildings vista across to Christianshavn.

We made several requests of the hotel, and each was handled well. The last was an extended checkout to 4 p.m., which was agreed to for a reasonable additional cost.

The Continental breakfast buffet had a wide range of ingredients available, however there are no lunch or dinner facilities. Reception does have a small bar attached, in the lobby. I was able to entertain my friends in the lobby, or dining area during the weekend.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Last day in Copenhagen

Breakfast in the hotel. It was very cold outside, and rained all morning. We had organised to stay longer in the hotel with a 4 p.m. checkout.


I update apps on my iPad.


A bit of taxi chaos, as the path needed to get to the train station was very weird. I would have hated to have tried to work that out as a visiting driver.

Train to Amsterdam

We took the overnight train to Amsterdam. I was still totally out of it, and could not find our room. Luckily the conductor helped. The compartment was compact, but I could put all the bags up out of the way, with some effort. We are used to sleeping on train bunks, so we managed reasonably well, despite being awake on and off fairly often.

Thursday 27 September 2012

Train to Amsterdam

A slightly late arrival. The train was late, and actually made changes to its journey. Dropped off people to collect another train to some stops, and cut out some of the journey. Various sections of the train were dropped off during the trip, when these reached their destination.

We did get to see a bit more of the countryside since we had several hours of daylight before reaching Amsterdam.


A bit too much heavy luggage to take through the train station. From the exit of the station we could see the Victoria Hotel, which was located as expected.

Great hotel with lots of space, although we would only have one night. No floor heating in bathroom. However the old style water radiator works quickly.

Amsterdam Old Town

I went for a walk through the maze of old lanes in the Amsterdam old town. Got lost innumerable times in the maze, despite it covering only a few blocks. Jean met one of her Open Source people as prearranged, and got a guided tour.

I think I was still out of it. No idea what happened that evening. Probably pretty early to sleep.

Friday 28 September 2012


A bleak, overcast morning, with promise of improvement later. A splendid, but late, buffet breakfast at the Victoria Hotel.

I set out under the overcast skies to the laundry, with our bags of dirty clothes. I was still early enough that none of the washing machines were being used. However the washing token issuing machine did not accept Euro notes, so I had to first find a place to get €20 converted to coins. Luckily one of the note exchange places was very helpful.

The laundry was started, the washing machine auto-locked. Plus by now an attendant was sweeping the small laundromat out. So I felt I could safely leave for a half hour while the machine did its work.

Next door was a hairdresser. I am not used to them washing your hair before cutting, but the result made me look pretty. This state naturally did not survive even an afternoon.

Although the washing machine was quick, the €1 dryer was slow. The English version of its onboard instructions told me it would take 52 minutes. So I was fairly late taking the folded laundry back to the Victoria Hotel.

Leaving Victoria Hotel

A hasty final packing of our bags, before a pretty civilised midday checkout. We left the bags at the hotel, and went for a walk

Jean had figured she wanted to see one of the palaces at a big square. I had been there previously. However there were opportunities for photos in the improving but still intermittent sunlight. We made a bit of a mistake in going along one of the major tourist streets, rather than using the back alleys. Later we walked much quieter lanes alongside some of the canal. That was more the sort of thing we wanted to see.

A beer at the Victoria Hotel before setting out for the boat. Jean likes light pilsner, and had an Dutch brewed Amstel Light. I made the mistake of ordering an Affligem Triple, which turned out to be a 9% German dark beer. The dark was fine, the 9% a bit excessive.

It was a bit of a trial to drag bags across the square, through the Amsterdam Centraal railway station, and then along the long walkway to the boat location. About a ten to fifteen minute walk if not dragging bags. Way too long with a back pack, Jean's 20 kilogram bag, and her pack riding on top of it. I made a mistake. I could and probably should have taken our main bags to the boat earlier, although our rooms were not available until 3 p.m.


We went on board MS AmaBella luxury river ship after 3 p.m. As soon as we got near the entrance to the dock, a large Amabella crew member came rushing across the road, seized both our bags, and strode purposefully away. Even unladen, we could barely keep up the pace he set.

Formalities were few, and accomplished pleasantly. Passports collected for the Harbour Master. The crew showed us to our spacious cabin, and took our bags there. A greeting kit was already laid out for us, including a daily itinerary. We could indeed have boarded far earlier, and used the lounge facilities.

I had a German Bitburger Drought beer in the bar around five. We basically made a bit of a mistake in not taking our bags to the ship when we first left the hotel. That would have been perfectly suitable.


A lengthy set of early evening lectures mostly by our cruise manager Korana Golubovic. Everyone got a go. The Captain introduced the second Captain (since we often cruise all night), and the Engineer. Then the hotel manager introduced numerous staff. Needs a more extensive list for passengers.

A splendid late dinner followed.

Saturday 29 September 2012

First Morning

A full buffet breakfast that is not as splendid as the first dinner, but more than adequate. The service on board is splendid by our admittedly low standards, and I have no realistic way to say how it compares to other tours. You could also order a range of cooked breakfasts from the Maitre de.

I have trouble (again) with the touch card cabin door lock. Our cabin attendant Milena says the engineer needs to replace the batteries. She also demonstrates how to apply a little body language to the door handles.

I have trouble again a little later with the lock, so Milena called the engineer, who promptly replaces the batteries. The engineer is Hungarian, not Scottish, but seemed very determined that my door lock would work correctly. The engineer was not satisfied with the door lock even after replacing the batteries. He took the lock apart, and tightened everything that had loosened. The lock worked splendidly when I next tried it.

Tour Groups Leave

A large group take a canal cruise. First to buses to get back to the canal boat departure point. Admire the city’s architecture as you cruise in a glass-top boat past 17th century homes, charming churches and 16th century merchant houses. Later, all guests will stop for a photo at Rembrandt’s Windmill, rejoin your ship in Utrecht and cruise along the Rhine River.

We sailed out of Amsterdam around one, the same time as lunch.

During the afternoon we encountered the first of many passages through the lock system that would eventually raise the ship across the continental divide.


A previously announced emergency drill this afternoon. After the alarm, we proceeded from our cabins to the gigantic upper sun deck. Looked for the crew member holding the 100, 200 or 300 signs. Announced our presence, so they could check us off. Collected our floatation devices, and figured out how to put them on. Complained about the bright orange colour, wanted green or purple.

The real problem on these boats is not sinking, it is fire. Luckily smoking among guests is rare. Not so with the crew. There was more smoking in Europe than I ever expected.


A considerably shorter lecture by cruise manager Korana tonight on available activities the following day.

Tonight was the Captain’s Gala Welcome Dinner on board. We soon decided to mostly eat on the port side Bella Cucina restaurant, rather than its starboard side counterpart, the verde Grill. The meals were however actually highly similar, as they shared kitchen and staff.

We returned to our cabin to find a towel swan on the bed.

La Strada Concert

La Strada string ensemble provide a classical musical concert, on violin, guitar and cello. This was over an hour of fine music, with a mix of lively and slower pieces.

F de Curtis Come Back to Sorento, D Shostakovitch Romance, G Rossini's Thieving Magpie overture, G Verdi's overture to La Traviata, Bela Bartok's Hungarian Dances, Chopin's piano Nocturne without the piano, the overture to Rossini's Barber of Seville, a Thomaso Verodi Adcaso?, A Katchaturiam Sabre dance, a fast Spanish piece that sounded like J Rodrigo, and several others I did not know. The last piece was The Skylark.

I bought the two CDs they had available after the concert.

Sunday 30 September 2012

Tour Groups Leave

An early morning stop by the river bank near Düsseldorf.

The two tour groups leave from our stopping place, after an early buffet breakfast.

A smaller group travel and hour and a half to Venlo and explore the spectacular displays on show at the 2012 Floriade Horticultural World Expo. They have time to admire the impressive landscaped gardens and floral exhibitions, but not sufficient to see all of it.

The larger group take a lengthy (1.5 hours) bus drive back to Holland, to Maastricht. This is an historic Dutch city with spectacular medieval architecture and many cultural attractions. It is also famous for the treaty relating to modern Europe. Also, I guess, for passing Andre Rieu's castle.

My feet are cold. Feel frozen.


GPS fails to locate where we are. Seems to think we are wherever the WiFi was a day ago. I could not persuade either Maps nor GPSKit to do much better. Later, as we went through Dusseldorf, I tried again when we were within range of riverside WiFi systems. This time the GPS readings updated. I spent too much time up on deck trying to persuade the GPS to actually work out where it was.

If you do not have cellular, iPhone 4 GPS on iOS 6 suck, while iPad 3 GPS on iOS 5 sucks even worse. The best device at giving positions is my Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 camera, which does eventually figure out where you are (while ruining your battery life). I took to carrying a second fully charged battery whenever leaving the ship.


A towel elephant on the bed. Matches swan from the previous day.

Both bus tour groups eventually continue to Cologne, which we reached on Amabella around two. This arrival was closely followed by a late lunch.

The official activity is a guided walking tour includes a visit to the city’s famously spectacular Gothic cathedral, now also a UNESCO World Heritage site. I gather the stone originally used has issues that result in continuous repairs.


We ignored the guided tour of Cologne. The reception gave us a map showing where they were going. Took a walk through Cologne old town area by ourselves from 3:20 p.m. until around five. Our direction was off a little until we reached the area covered by the map. Once we sighted the spectacular large cathedral Dom (and walked around photographing it) we were all oriented.

We saw the original 4711 Eau De Cologne (devised by Johann Maria Farina) location. It seem incredible that, eight generations later, the same family still produces it.

Then we walked the Hohe Strasse, basically a local shopping street. It being a Sunday, many shops were closed, not that we cared a lot. There seemed an undue number of Roman ruins buried around the city. There are also numerous museums.

The talk by Korana was too long this time. The Chaine des Rottiseurs dinner was too slow. There was dancing to Village People's YMCA in the lounge at 9:45p.m. with Peter playing. It all got too late for me.

Solar Power

The solar power output figures last month (August 2012) showed it generated 3170kWh over 9467 hours. The extrapolated figures for September are around 3313kWh over 9802 hours. So the estimated total hours operating in the 30 days of September 2012 were 335 hours, during which it generated an estimated 143kWh. About 4.76kWh per day, or 426 Watts per operating hour. This is a nominal 1 kW panel, operating with fine conditions for most of the month, and with 9 days of an empty house.

The estimated electricity meter in September showed Tariff 11 at 3910kWh purchased, Tariff 33 at 3227kWh, and the export of power from the solar panel at 1350kWh since installed. I had imported 3564 kWh on E1, exported 1145 kWh on E1/E2, and imported 3181 kWh on E2 as at the end of June 2012. So the electricity meter shows consumption in three months as 346kWh on Tariff 11, 46kWh on Tariff 33 (for air conditioning and hot water), and exported 195kWh of solar power. This is pretty close to the meter readings taken 28 September, of 3907kWH on Tariff 11, and 3226 on Tariff 33.

The electricity accounts for the quarter show the solar panels provided 191 kWh electricity feed in 87 days to 28 September 2012. At 44 cents, this provided a $84.07 solar feed rebate on our electricity bills. We were actually in credit this quarter.

Home and Away

AB 0, CG 21, T 9

Eric Lindsay's Blog September 2012