Eric Lindsay's Blog December 2012

Saturday 1 December 2012

Automated Mine Trucks

A reminder that jobs driving mine trucks are going away. Rio Tinto used some Komatsu automated trucks. Now BHP have announced they will use Komatsu or Caterpillar automated trucks in the Pilbara. The trucks run around the clock. They need human help for loading and unloading, but this is done remotely by operators in Perth. Full automation is inevitable, since it takes almost a dozen operators to run traditional trucks 24/7.

BHP will eventually installed automated portable processing plants these will operate at the mine face, reducing the need for trucks at all.


I was awake around 4:30, which was about when it started getting light. used the computer for a while. At six I set off for the newly refurbished IGA supermarket at Jubilee Pocket, since that opened at six.

That did not work well. I was head down, shading my eyes from the early morning sun. Managed to stroll onto Jubilee Pocket Road instead of Shute Harbour Road. Lost, but only realised it after walking three kilometres. I was sure the store was closer. Walked back, grumbling.

The IGA was promoting new owners, general awesomeness. I bought ham, bacon, cheese, bananas. However I was not all that impressed by the range of products, and even less impressed with prices. For the effort involved, I might as well walk to the much closer 24 hour NightOwl in Airlie Beach.

Bought bread at Brumby's. Bought milk and a single $1 tomato at NightOwl. Collected newspapers. Walked up the horrible hill, and put stuff in the fridge. Way too much effort. Well over 7km walk.


I walked down the hill to the markets. While collecting my bacon and egg roll, I saw Alison, who was collecting breakfast for Glen. I walked with her to his stall. A bit later Rex came along, and I chatted with him. He had a Sony video camera, which seemed to need their strange memory card duo to work.

Somewhat later Jonathan appeared, intent on finding people who had seen Greg Hunt's performances at the public meeting for the new road. I had not been in town at the time.


I notice Windows 7 finally overtook Windows XP in market share around September 2012, with each just over 42% of the market. Apple's OSX 7% share overtook the unpopular Windows Vista. On April 14, 2009, Microsoft retired Mainstream Support for XP, and with it, support for IE6.

By the end of November Windows 8 had 1% share, and Windows XP had finally dropped below 40%.


Since I had brought a package of screws, I put the remaining eight screws into my printer stand. Alas, I did not have an electric screwdriver, so doing it by hand with such longs screws took a while longer than I wanted. I had to stop from time to time to work the kinks out of my fingers and wrist.

Whitsunday Terraces

I notice the estate agents are displaying twin key Unit 62. I happen to know that whole twin key unit was renovated to a very nice standard a few years ago. Great ocean views, as is typical through most of the Whitsunday Terraces. Asking price is $350,000. It will be interesting to see if there is any movement, or whether the market is dead.

Sunday 2 December 2012


I have slow access to Telstra's BigPond ISP via my NetGear DM111P ADSL modem at 5:35 a.m. Ping to Google at is showing an unusable 39% packet loss. Traceroute is having difficulties. Web pages and mail are all failing. Now at nearly 50% timeout on ping. Rebooted my ADSL modem 5:43 a.m. Rearranged wiring and power boards, something I had failed to do when I first arrived. Internet access back at 5:50 a.m.


I went for a walk, but thanks to internet issue, it was after six before I started. A bit warm, when the sun was out, even by then. The beach path is fine. The main street continues to be a mess, especially for shops. I stopped for breakfast and to read the newspaper.

Chatted with Jason, back from road building near Collinsville. Him doing laundry reminded me I could now start laundry (I do not want to disturb neighbours by starting too early).

Watched the public affairs programs Insiders, followed by Inside Business. About the only worthwhile shows on the ABC, as far as I know.

Office Chair Broken

The back of my three year old office chair is breaking. However the rest of the chair is really comfortable. The design of the support for the backrest sucks. It seems to be designed so it allows the backrest to pivot (and then break). Finding a way to solve that looks difficult. I can not even see how it is assembled.

OK, the plastic back of the chair is press fitted into some sockets on the honeycomb plastic back of the chair support. The plastic honeycomb has broken at the top of both spots where the support joins the arms. Basically the bolt mechanism seem pretty heavy duty, but the heavy metal of the support is restricted to far too small an area. It needed to spread the load over maybe 10 or 12 centimetres, not over three or four. So I need to work out an alternative.

Sharing Remote Disc

I need to install my Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M scanner. It comes with a bunch of software on DVD. However my MacBook Air does not have an optical drive. DVD or CD sharing: Using Remote Disc should solve that. Any modern Apple is capable of connecting to a DVD drive on a Windows or Macintosh computer via your WiFi connection. It is basically a file transfer method. If your optical disks are copy protected (like commercial DVDs of movies) you can forget it. All the more reason to always remove copy protection from everything.

Apple Maps

I saw a substantial improvement in Apple Maps for the Carlyle Gardens (Condon, Townsville) area since the new Apple Maps application first appeared. This is one of several test areas I check from time to time, since I know it well.

The satellite photos are about eighteen months old, whereas the Google photos are around three years old. In such a rapidly developing area, that is significant, but probably luck of the draw. However Apple Maps now has one way street sections marked correctly for Beck Drive. In addition, the internal (private) streets within Carlyle Gardens are now correctly labelled. Smith Road still has issues in both Apple Maps and Google Maps, as both seem to think it continues within Carlyle Gardens (Smith Road now end ends at the entrance to Carlyle Gardens - there are houses where it used to be).

My Airlie Beach tourists township test area is still a total mess in Apple Maps. The imagery is so bad you can not even tell there is a town there. Interestingly, Apple Maps have good (but very dated) five to seven year old images up to the edge of the town. In contrast, Google maps have finally updated images to the construction period of the new marina that doubled the area of the town. Google Maps do not have Boathouse Apartments, so it seems the images are at least two years old.

Interest in Debt

I doubt anyone much expects the Reserve Bank not to drop their interest rate on Tuesday by 25 basis points, down to 3%. This will be as low as it has ever been in Australia, matching the drop to emergency levels during the GFC in 2009. Great for borrowers. Not so great otherwise.

So just who has been borrowing last month? Not business. They paid back 0.3%. Personal credit growth was 0.1%. Housing credit growth fell to 4.7% over 12 months, the lowest growth rate since records began in 1977. I mean, at least it is growth.

So just what activity is anyone seeing in the economy going forward? Mining is still massive, and there are projects going forward, but a lot are also stalled. The rest of the economy? I am not so sure.

Monday 3 December 2012


My Telstra Big Pond internet connection on the NetGear DM111P ADSL modem went out of action around 6:40 a.m. 100% to 70% packet loss on Ping. It was working previously this morning. I restarted the NetGear DM111P ADSL modem at 6:45 a.m. Seems to be working again at 6:48 a.m. Internet out again briefly a few minutes later.

Internet out of action around 4:30 p.m. I guess that explains why iMessage does not work. Ping fails. Traceroute fails. Red internet fail light on modem. Power cycled modem at 4:35 p.m. Checked at 4:39 p.m. Ping fails 100%. Modem light is green. Power cycle modem again. Check at 4:45 p.m. Seem to have an internet connection again.

Internet out of action again at 5:15 p.m. Red internet fail light on modem. Power cycled ADSL modem again at 5:17 p.m. Internet connection working again at 5:21 p.m.

ScanSnap Scanner

I first of all checked that I did not already have copies of ScanSnap Manager, ABBYY FineReader, or Cardiris installed. While I thought it very unlikely, I could see a previous install making issues for the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M scanner, especially when doing a remote DVD install.

I put the DVD in my Apple iMac G5 ALS. Asked (and gave) permission to read it remotely. Brought up the readme file, and the 400+ page PDF manual. Started the install, which it says will take about 20 minutes for the 1.4GB of application. Software says it is installed after about 10 minutes. Spotlight says I have a shitload of relevant software installed. All good so far.

Thinks! Better have a glance at the 400+ page ScanSnap manual.


Jean Making Bookings

I notice Jean is making travel bookings for 2013, favouring Qantas, when she can get a deal.

If JetStar and Virgin in Australia want to use Ryanair as a business model, if they think no seat room and no leg room works, we will see how well they go without customers.

Family Power

I could not help noticing Prime Minister Julia Gillard saying she had a plan to save families $250 a year on their power bills. Under a plan to give consumers greater choice and the power to question soaring price rises, which sounds both cool and impossible.

On Friday we find out more about Julia's plan. For people in rural Queensland, I see two problems. There is no choice about who sells you electricity. You have to take Ergon, or nothing. No other company will even try to compete. As a result of price equalisation, densely populated SE Queensland (with low distribution costs) subsidises the rest of the state to the tune of about $640 million. So the effect of Julie's plan will probably be a major increase in electricity prices in rural Queensland. Without that subsidy, electricity prices would probably be impossible for many on low incomes.


A small heap of magazines have gone into recycling. More are up for grabs. Notes taken about most of them, with links to online versions. This stuff seems to be taking forever.

Not a lot of exercise done today. I need to take a longer walk tomorrow.


I see the short message service (SMS) turns 20 today. So the next question was obviously whether it will survive much longer? The telco will always overcharge for it. So the strong incentive is to use a less costly alternative.

Tuesday 4 December 2012


I was awake early, around 4:30 a.m. It felt cold, thanks to a brisk breeze, however the thermometer showed 26°C.

After downloading stuff, I set out for a walk along the beach path and boardwalk around 6:20 a.m. My shins were telling me they did not like this activity, despite being level ground. I turned inland when I reached Cannonvale beach, and then headed for Bunnings, which brought me to the five kilometre mark.

Did not manage to find much I wanted at Bunnings. Casters were much the same price as at Mitre 10, and I would not have been able to carry much in any case. I did find some more of the Mort Bay colour change LED bulbs. I could not resist getting two more.

Off to Whitsunday Shopping Centre. Brumbies for a small pie as a snack. Whole heap of people waiting for Coles to open. Got most of the things I wanted at Coles. I need to be even more careful with my shopping lists.

Caught a taxi home, without any delay. The street changes are stuffing them up. Hearing rumours that the street will not be completed on time. This despite the wet season holding off this year.

Graham phoned me. Luckily I had all my paperwork on hand. However I needed to sign and send off one item. Not that I have any envelopes or stamps here. When on earth did I last use a physical letter?

Saw Rose at the office. Saw Nev, whose crew have been installing new railings at Anchor and Compass Terraces. Great to see it. The committee meeting on on in a few weeks.

Walked down to the newsagent and bought envelopes and a stamp. Mailed my envelope (and one for the newsagent) outside the McDonalds. Checked the BWS for a resupply. Off to Dominos to order a cheap Tuesday pizza for lunch. Got crumpets at Night Owl while I waited. Temperature is extreme when walking.

The End of Telephony

A short article by Charlie Stross. The end of telephony, after an annoying sales call, to an ex-directory number on a Do No Call list. I quote My land line exists for one purpose: to provide ADSL internet access. I think that pretty much covers the case for land lines.

The negative side of a landline telephone is spam. Cheap connections and international spammers means a telephone in the house has negative utility.


I remembered to download app upgrades via iTunes. Over 100 MB in less than a minute when I do it at Airlie Beach (if the internet is working at all). It would have taken at least 20 minutes at Carlyle Gardens.

Heat Wave

A lot of stuff on the news about heat wave conditions. This mostly due to predictions of the hottest December day. It was reasonable here in Airlie Beach, and did not go as hot as predicted elsewhere (although it went close).

The hysteria from governments about global warming caused by carbon burning would sound a lot more realistic if they did not subsidise carbon based fossil fuels by many times what they apply to finding non-fossil energy sources.

Items like the regressive carbon tax would sound more like forward thinking if anyone could show a temperature decrease due to the tax existing. No one seems able to do this.

If a government were serious about reducing carbon intensity, they would be talking about reducing the standard of living, reducing gross domestic product, and reducing the population. None of them do.

OmniGraffle Video Training

A nice set of OmniGraffle for iPad training videos explain how to do diagrams on your iPad.

Smart Re-closers

I need some smart re-closers or earth fault neutralisers for the power circuits in the unit. As long as the circuits are not separated between the twin key units, then you need access to one side with the circuit breakers if the power fails on the other side. Not good if you want to rent one side.

However no-one (including electricians) I talk to seems to know about a smart re-closer or earth fault neutraliser. So I do not fancy my chances of getting an electrician to install them. I would have thought any place installing smart grids would be right on top of smart re-closers. The ones I find are high voltage. However I have an urgent need for household level smart restart of power systems upon removal of a fault.

Wednesday 5 December 2012


I must have slept well. I did not walk until after five. It was already light.

Apple Problems

I do not have a DVD drive on my MacBook Air. However my Fujitsu ScanSnap manual comes on a DVD. So I used remote sharing from my iMac G5 APLS to share the optical drive, and started reading the manual. This morning, I can not connect to the iMac G5 ALS. I did sleep the iMac G5 overnight. Maybe that is the problem?

I can no even connect to the iMac from my MacBook Air by using the standard Connect To dialogue. It totally ignores me.

I went to the iMac (which is running the latest available, but totally obsolete, version of OSX). First I noticed the ScanSnap manual was an app. It appears as a PDF manual in Preview when you click it. I copied the app to my iMac drive, and inspected the packet contents. It contains numerous different language manuals. Copied out just the English version of the manual.

Then I used the iMac to connect to my MacBook Air, and copied the user manual file over. So the problem seems to be the MacBook Air, which is using the latest version of OSX, Mountain Lion. The recent versions of OSX have been both fancy, and unreliable. If Apple want to continue to be recommended, they need to fix this sort of problem.

However I also notice I have not had a Time Machine backup since yesterday morning. Nor can I force one to my Time Capsule. System Preferences got stuck, and I had to use Activity Monitor and Force Quit the System Preferences. This happened twice, so it is something that is wrong. Bah, humbug!

I eventually had to try to reboot. Since even that did not work, I had to power down my MacBook Air. This is just like using Windows XP. Power down every time you have a problem. Where is the advantage of using a Macintosh?

Whitsunday Terraces

I went for a walk through the grounds of the Whitsunday Terraces resort. Before he left, Anders did a lot of work in the gardens, clearing out plants that should not have been there. It made a difference. He was not so keen on clearing rubbish, which was a bit of a disappointment.

On Friday 30 November, Rose got a new groundsman. Wal has made a difference to the amount of rubbish already. Most days a year or two ago I could walk through and have a good chance of filling a plastic shopping bag with discarded rubbish. Not so today. Wal seems to have also tackled a lot of the fallen palm fronds. Although this will take a lot longer. I am very encouraged by this.

Meanwhile, the scaffolding is up under Compass Terrace. Nev's crew have installed pretty much all the new powder coated aluminium railings below Anchor Terrace. They have a substantial amount of Compass Terrace already installed. I imagine they will complete that today, or sometime this week.

I took a closer look at the path between Compass Terrace and Driftwood Terrace. The new concrete fill eliminates steps in that area. This means you can wheel a bag from the Barnacle car park to the bottom level of Driftwood Terrace. It also means that light machinery can take the same path. I first asked about that at least six years ago, when I was on the Body Corporate committee. I am really pleased to see Chad organised it for the committee.

Another major improvement is the old wooden sleeper crib wall below Driftwood, adjoining Compass Terrace. This has been removed, and a new interlock concrete block wall installed. It looks much better.

This was not the only area where sleepers were present, but it was one of the most major. I do hope that eventually all the sleepers can be removed. I think they just attract white ants (termites).

Reserve Bank Interest Rate Cuts

As a retired person who self funds my retirement income, I look at Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) interest rate cuts to 3% with dismay. I look at calls for an even lower interest rate with utter dismay. A lot of my income is from bank Term Deposits, where the interest rate has plunged. If my income plunges, I either eat into my investments, or I cut down on my spending.

A retired person can not risk having too much in equity investments, despite the historically higher yields. The stock market (like the currency markets) is being manipulated by speculators, gamblers, analysts, dark pools, and high speed trading. You simply can not trust the stock market operators, here or (especially) overseas. Especially ones with high speed trading computers connected direct - I am talking about the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) here.

However there are at the moment more people with mortgages than there are self funded retirees. There are at least five million households with employed breadwinners, and about a third have mortgages. There are about a million age pensioner households, with maybe 1.6 people per household. About another million households on some other sort of taxpayer funded benefit. There are probably less than a half million self funded retiree households, also averaging about 1.6 people per household.

The politicians have to cater for the borrowers, not the savers. A large proportion of first home buyers are not prepared to borrow large sums unless buying a dwelling is cash positive compared to renting. Lots of people who are nominally employed are in reality essentially unemployed. Eventually that flows through even into official figures. This is especially the case as small businesses crash.

The official consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate last quarter was about 2%, and for most of 2012 was even lower. However in the few years prior it was more like 3%. Plus the standard package of goods is not particularly realistic for everyone (the ABS are well aware of this, and explain their reasoning). The much higher dollar over recent years makes imports very much cheaper. If you are buying a TV, or even a decent car, you make out like a bandit, and inflation seems low. However you do not buy them every year. The cost of basic, unavoidable services products like water supply, sewerage removal, garbage removal, council rates, electricity, and fresh food is generally going up. It is going up way faster than the official inflation rate. If you were to measure inflation of non-tradeables, it would be something above 4%.

So if your investments bring you returns equal to or lower than inflation, they are losing value. You certainly do not have much surplus to spend. I think this spending strike by self funded retirees is at least a medium chunk of why retailers are hurting, and will continue to hurt. This Xmas, I am buying SFA.

DIY Electric Power

Is DIY electric power economically viable? It all depends on whether you get charged the capital for your grid connection. For fringe areas not already on the grid, it can be cheaper to install off the grid power systems, as this Alternate Technology study shows. If you are already on the grid, it would be pretty hard to justify going off the grid, no matter what happens.

On the other hand, if you manage to cut your capital investment enough, the figures all change. It gets very interesting.

Mobile Takes Over

A post on the Flurry blog says mobile hit a trillion events. In the USA, the four year old mobile app occupies way more time than web browsing, and looks like challenging 60 years of TV viewing. Much of this mobile use is games. This is not just a little disruptive. This is already massively disruptive, and getting more so.

More graphs about the future of digital. An absolutely wonderful array of slides showing the media future as mobile takes over, and old media dies.

DRM Sucks

DRM on books sucks.

Thursday 6 December 2012


I must have slept well. I did not wake until it was almost five, and already light across the sky. The temperatures are still high, showing 27°C even this early. Internet is still working.

I went for a walk in the morning, before it got too hot. Had breakfast at the street, which I should not do. Chatted with folks at newsagent. Chatted with Rose at Reception. Chatted with Wal doing cleanup (is doing good job), chatted with Paul doing asbestos removal (very good), chatted with Nev (railings all completed today). Things really looking up at Whitsunday Terraces.

Lock Broken

A lock I had replaced recently on the screen door has broken. Useless no-name crap. I don't know why I bother getting qualified tradesmen out, when their apprentices end up doing a lot of the work.

Another 15 minutes wasted finding tools, disassembling the lock, and repairing it. The problem is the mechanism is a badly designed heap of cheap shit. Bah, humbug!

Paperless Office

I have taken the next step to the paperless office. I started scanning the old Body Corporate minutes, dating back to 2003. Starting with the oldest, and least use. I do them as a single searchable PDF per set of minutes, not individual PDF per page.

I set the Fujitsu ScanSnap Manager to use the lowest quality black and white, in simplex (single sided). The crappy nature of the original printing means they are not great quality. The automatic OCR to produce an underlying text content of the PDF seems to work better that way. A check with a search for content within the searchable PDFs seems to indicate the OCR is working well enough.

I am manually altering the file names after the scan, to reflect the nature of the contents. e.g. BodyCorpCom200303 or BodyCorpAGM200302 and so on. This is in case the folders in which they are contained ever get changed.

The scanning is taking some time, during which I can do a limited amount of web surfing or other online reading. Faster would be nicer, but to be honest, most time is occupied putting the paper into order, making sure it is complete, and all that. The Fujitsu ScanSnap scan and OCR are really pretty fast. I am very happy with the results so far. By the close of the evening, I had done 2003 to 2007.

Tweet Nonsense

A tweet by Cat West, who says To be clear: Consumers ARE the JOB CREATORS. Employers make money off of Consumers. Labor makes it possible.

To be clear: Entrepreneurs are the job creators. Employers make money by persuading volunteers to pay for what is created. Unthinking Labor can mostly be replaced by machines. Consumers are basically parasites.

Australian Telecommunications

A summary of ACMA figures on internet in Australia, taken from the ACMA annual communications report, with more reports to come.

Mobile services slowed, with a three per cent increase from June 2011 to June 2012 to 30.2 million services. This is way more than the number of people. So lots of folks have multiple mobile connections. Telstra went from 42% to 46%.

Fixed-line telephone services declined by one per cent to 10.44 million. Mobile phone users without a home fixed-line telephone (mobile only) increased by 24 per cent to reach 3.1 million adults.

Internet subscribers increased by 17 per cent to 28.23 million. Again, more connections than people. Data downloaded increased by nearly 52 per cent. 421,147 terabytes during the June quarter of 2012 compared to 277,897 terabytes during the June 2011 quarter. Fixed line subscribers averaged 69.5 gigabytes in the quarter. Wireless broadband 4.2 gigabytes. Mobile phone, under a gigabyte.

See also Ericsson Mobility report.

End of the World

I like this. Julia Gillard and the End of the World. Coming soon. Would the Mayans lie? Would Julie lie?

Friday 7 December 2012


I was up before five, feeling like a disaster. The thermometer is showing above 28°C already. I must have slept well enough, but it does not feel like it.

Mostly what I accomplished was laundry, such a low level task it is hardly worth noting. What I need to do is scanning of documents.

Paperless Office

I scanned all of the Body Corporate material I had for 2008 and 2009. By midday I had located and scanned the missing material from 2010

I have to admit there was more paper for the horror year of 2011 than on any previous. It took a long while to survey it, and put it in decent order. Some pages were double sided, which means I need to change my default settings. I started scanning 2011 after lunch.

By late afternoon I had gone all the way through the 2012 material. Now I just need to scan the various agreements, and that will be all the body corporate committee material.

Made in USA

A news report and announcement by Tim Cook that some Apple computers would be made in USA brings many comments.

Whitsunday Terraces

The big rock that fell down the hill and nearly into the Endeavour carpark a few big storms ago is being towed away. I was a little surprised at the size of the crane needed to hoist it. There was already an anchor point chem welded into the rock, from the previous stabilisation work.

Australia Two

Australia running number two in international Human Development Indicators.

Physical Earning

If I want more stuff, I must either produce it myself (which is pretty limiting), or trade with others who make what I want. I suspect money was not devised as a means of trade. In small groups, with limited outputs, barter works well enough.

I suspect money was devised as a means of producing and repaying credit. That is, not for accounting for money, but to shift value through time. Take a hunter gatherer group. In general, hunted food does not keep. Better to trade a surplus from hunting for a future gathering of grain, or a better spear point from a specialist flint flaker.

If I want to produce a pamphlet or book, I need capital (capitalism) for tooling. In a distant past, a typewriter, a printing press, bookbinding equipment. I used to have a little offset press. It was a real pain to clean and keep running. Bookbinding, which some friends still do, is slow hand work unless you have machinery. I had friends who used letterpress, with moveable type. Despite my (many) complaints about both computers and printers, they are far easier.

These days, internet access and storage space.

I need the knowledge and skills to write a book or pamphlet, or if a publisher, I need to hire someone with those skills.

I need a labour force to print, fold, and distribute the book. To sell, and to collect the money.

What Do You Hate

Do you want to know what Apple will make next? Work out what you want to do frequently, but hate to use. If rethinking the human interface design of the computer systems running it (or adding a computer) can fix it, then Apple might be thinking they should be the ones to build it.

Saturday 8 December 2012


I walked down to the markets, and bought my usual bacon and egg roll as a Saturday treat, as I have for the last decade. As usual, Bruce left me to fill out the order.

For some reason I totally missed seeing Rex. I did have a chat with Glenn, but was too late to catch Alison this time. Not a lot of people around the market this time. Collected the newspapers, and then back up the hill. Way too hot and humid down below on the street. Much nicer at the top of my hill.


So does Chirpify work in Australia? Author David Wolman asks could Twitter be a bookshop? How would you do a Chirpify bookshop? It looks fairly simple. For that matter, what is Chirpify. I have no idea.

Remote Control

I was annoyed that my remote keyboard, mouse and trackpad did not work with my little 11 inch MacBook Air propped up and connected to my 27 inch Thunderbolt monitor at Airlie Beach. It was after the second attempt to connect that I realised I still had Bluetooth switched off on the MacBook Air. It worked straight off after I corrected my error.


My Saturday evening party went well. Rex phoned to say he would be late Pete arrived as I was answering. Then Jonathan and Josie arrived. Glenn and Alison soon after, then Rex. I ordered three pizza, and ended up with an entire pizza in the freezer (unlike last time). Two champagne and two Pepperjack disposed of (with only two drinking red). Rex had orange juice, and revealed a previously unknown liking for tonic water (which I normally have on hand to go with Jim's gin).

Alison wants a Roomba floor cleaning robot. I demonstrated it during the party.

Sunday 9 December 2012


I cleaned up after my party. Not a lot to do really. A bit of washing up. Removing things from the floor so the Roomba gets a clear go at some of it.

This was the last day to see any of the Sunday current affairs shows like Insiders, and Inside Business. So I watched both of these. They all go on Xmas break, and do not return until late January.

Pete Visits

Pete turned up while I was running the Roomba on the second half of the room. Talked about people offering position in internet searches, usually for a fairly high price. He took away the old combination VCR/DVD player I had been using as a set top box for the old analogue TV.


A fine, tense short (14 minute) science fiction thriller, Plurality, directed by Dennis Liu. Check it out in high definition on Vimeo. Amazing it was shot with regular cameras. I wish there was some way to buy a copy, instead of farting around trying to force a download.

Monday 10 December 2012


I was up just after five. Everything aches, so I sort of bumbled around downloading app updates to iTunes. The internet was still working fine, and the near gigabyte of downloads came in nice and quick.

Breakfast on the main street, while I read a newspaper. Then collected The Australian newspaper, and a Australian MacWorld. Got $5 milk and bread special from NightOwl convenience store. Walking up the street is nowhere near as handy as using the stairs.

Cruise liner out in Pioneer Bay, so I visited the markets around lunch time. Chatted with Glenn (and sold a hat for him while he took a break). Bought a Wine flag, so Jean had a flag. Had some gelato, instead of lunch.

I had a chat with Rose, who is having issues with all sorts of things in town. Officialdom is not helping, a theme the gelato guy reinforced. Does not sound great.

Write for Free

I think John Scalzi covered it pretty well. A Note to You, Should You Be Thinking of Asking Me to Write For You For Free. When he is pissed off about something, he sometimes reaches whole new levels of rant.

Libraries Closing

As expected, libraries in the U.K. are closing. A combination of austerity measures after overspending, and a reduction of relevance. This article by Alison Flood says 146 branches closed between 2010 and 2011, with the number stepping up to 201 this year. The UK now has 4,265 libraries, compared with 4,612 two years ago.

I wonder what the figures are in Australia?

Apple Maps Mildura

I was interested to note the newspaper fuss about Apple Maps (new iOS6 version) locating Mildura in the middle of Murray-Sunset National Park. Victorian police were concerned as the inhospitable national park is about 70km away from the actual town.

This is a perfect example of why mapping is so very hard. The park location the Apple map showed as Mildura is in the official Australian gazetteer as the geographic centre of the Mildura administration area. If you care to look at Apple Maps for Australia, you will find numerous examples of towns being placed inaccurately at the geographical centre of their administrative area. This is all directly from data in the official gazetteer of Australia. As a result, a heap of small towns are listed as being in the wrong spot.

You don't believe me? Check Ararat, Bendigo, Glenelg (wrong state), Horsham, Wangaratta, and the non-existent pseudo towns of Bass Coast and South Gippsland. Goulburn is wrong, by about 20km. Check Toowoomba, Queensland, about 48km off. Or Mackay, or Whitsunday. There will be lots of similar examples in Australia, until the gazetteer metadata is cleaned up.

That sort of metadata issue was one reason I gave up on extracting from the gazetteer. I tried adding gazetteer data to a maps application for a Psion pocket organiser about ten years ago. I was a beta tester in heavy correspondence with the person who converted the mapping application. Mostly you could rely upon the data. But every now and then there would be some anomaly that was hard to work out without local knowledge.

How did Google do so well on maps? They worked hard at it, for a long time. A lot of it relates to Google employing 7100 people to fix map data, many on the StreetView photography teams. Another is that Google have been doing this for almost a decade. For reference purposes, if you exclude retail staff, Apple have about 13,000 employees.

Tuesday 11 December 2012


I took an early morning walk to Bunnings via the new botanic gardens path along the foreshore. That was about five kilometres. Bunnings open early, around 6:30 a.m. so it makes a good early morning destination. I bought a cheap ($35) electric drill (not the battery model). Plus solar Xmas garden lights in a pack of 20 for $25. The AAA NiCd batteries cost more than the lights.

Walked back the kilometre to Brumby's at the Whitsunday Shopping Centre to have a small pie for breakfast. Did my food shopping at Coles, restricted by how much I could reasonably carry. Caught a taxi home, and arrived there before nine.


I was home when Jonathan dropped over with a magazine about open source software for Jean. I told him about scanning and using optical character recognition (OCR) in a continued effort to reduce the piles of printed paper on hand.


Pete phoned to see about dropping over in the afternoon. Computer problems, again.


I scanned the first pile of apazines I had put into order from the filing cabinet. Despite a lot of age marking on the paper, they were mostly in reasonably good order. This ended up being 25 copies of my stuff for ANZAPA, dated between 1987 and 1997.

Jean and I had dropped out of ANZAPA due to lack of time for several years from around 1990. We returned after attending the ANZAPACon in Melbourne around 1993.

The scanner even managed some double column issues that were done on a mimeo, and the OCR handled them. That was very encouraging.

Wednesday 12 December 2012


I was up just before five, when the light was just bright enough to work.

A bulldozer is clearing the vegetation along Shute Harbour Road, a sure sign someone is worried about fire risks. It is more than a little breezy out there, something that is saving me from having to close up and switch on air conditioning. My meter is showing wind velocities up to 4.5 metres a second.

The building crew are in the apartment below mine, putting an aluminium cap over the ends of the balcony. The water is getting through to apartments below, after the internal waterproofing failed under the wooden covers. I guess Chad is getting even more proactive about stopping rain leaks through the concrete walls into lower apartments. Nice to see things being attended to.

Chad and the girls dropped in this evening, while delivering access notices to the affected apartments. Nice to see this all being done before the Body Corporate committee meeting on Friday.


I started some more scanning. This time it was the double sided copies of my apazines for FAPA. The first such one was double column, badly stencil duplicated, typewritten using a microelite typewriter. Despite this, the OCR was (eventually) able to extract an actual text from it. Amazing. I completed all of the FAPA magazines I had (1989 to 2004) by midday, a task I had expected would take the entire day.

So after sorting out the re-ordering the FLAP apazines, I started scanning them. It was boring, and I did not get a lot of other stuff done during the day. However I completed the scanning of FLAP from about 1989 on through 2004 in the early evening. That is a whole day faster than I had thought it would happen. The scanner OCR mostly managed even things like bad mimeo copies of paper.

Australian Copyright is Stuffed

I am delighted to see even the Financial Review understands copyright in Australia is totally stuffed, as this article by Dr Rebecca Giblin shows. Copyright in Australia is beyond any hope of redemption. You might as well totally ignore it, because there is no way to obey the law. Politicians, fix this stuff up.

The presumption of illegality in copying is insulting and unconscionable. If some copyright lawyer arsehole (but I repeat myself) takes me on about this, I will disagree with them with a baseball bat. I am sick and tired of stupid media laws, bought off politicians, and the whole media machinery of stitching up their own potential customers.

When Sony ran rootkits on the optical disks, I stopped buying anything from Sony. I am not the only one who stopped recommending Sony. Now Sony are about to go bankrupt. I wonder if the cinemas and DVD sellers in Australia want to try that also. I can stop going to movies. I can stop ever buying another DVD. Just try me, arseholes.

ADFA Internet Security Failure

A breach of computer security at Australian Defence Forces Academy on 15 November exposed identifying data of our future military leaders. Anonymous cracker Darwinaire said it was easy to crack the security. This attack got a mix of names, identification numbers, passwords, email addresses and dates of birth of about 10,000 students and 1900 staff at the university.

Just why in the hell are the computers containing this sort of stuff connected to the internet in the first place?

Thursday 13 December 2012


I was up before five. A few minutes later it started raining, despite a mostly clear sky. Typical tropical summer weather.

Having failed totally to boil eggs the other day (2 out of 3 cracked) I tried poaching them this morning. More utter fail. The whites came away from the yolk instantly. I need to either pay more attention to food (or eat less).

Saw Ted, who tells me the other committee are arriving on Friday morning. Chatted with Chad when I encountered him this afternoon while I was climbing the horrible hill.

Jim knocked on the door to declare happy hour, so I mixed us some gin and tonics. I am careful to stock for these moments.

Dr Who Tardis Computer

A UK company, Scan, offer a PC in a Tardis box. Better photos at The Register. This is an awesome combination of utter stupidity, and nerd coolness.

National Transmission Development Plan

I see the Australian Energy Market Operator National Transmission Development Plan is now available online.

Apple Spending Mystery

I want to know what is Apple silently spending a fortune on? Horace Dediu is absolutely on to something, in graphing how Apple's capital expenditure (as distinct from buying components) over the past three years can not be accounted for by new headquarters, new stores, new data centres. Apple are putting massive money into something big, and a heap of metal milling machinery is not enough to explain it.

Apple has always been interested in vertical integration. They have hardware design, since that is their stronghold. They have software, and thus user experience. They have distribution, via their stores. They have started designing their own chips.

Is this massive cash outlay for Apple to build their own chip plants? They have been using Intel for Mac, but can not always get the type of chips they want. We know they have repeatedly pushed Intel hard about power use vs performance. We know they could not get what they wanted via IBM building PowerPC G5 chips for them (they never reached 3 GHz). We know they could not get what they wanted from Motorola's G4 chips. Are they going to push their ARM based designs (they have a design licence) and other components into areas other companies (like Samsung) can not as easily follow? I think so.

Dell Drops Smartphones

An unexpected change. Dell Quits Smartphone Business Globally, Drops Android, according to Jeff Clarke, head of Dell consumer division at DelWorld conference. They seem not to see a money making opportunity in Android, despite likely turnover. Dell are moving more to Windows Tablets.

Hewlett Packard also want you to use Windows Tablets. It will be interesting to see how this all goes.

Schools Destroy Reading

A youngster can be put off reading, says Agnes Nieuwenhuizen. How our schools are robbing students of the joy of reading. That was certainly the case back when I was at school. I left school loathing poetry, plays, most fiction, music and dance.

Friday 14 December 2012


I was up well before five. This time I managed to poach a couple of eggs for breakfast without too much of a mess. Sometime while I was slaving over a hot stove, a cruise liner parked out in Pioneer Bay. So I imagine there will be a markets this morning.

I wandered down to the markets around lunchtime. Very warm and humid on the main street, without the welcome breeze at higher altitudes. I checked the markets, but few of the people I know were there.

Oil Paintings Online

The complete publicly owned oil paintings of the U/K. are now online. Long term project by the BBC has photographed all the public owned oil paintings in the U.K. and put a searchable archive online. That is all 212,000 of them.

Apple Online Status

A revised Apple System Status online.

ITU Rejected

I was delighted to note the USA rejected ITU interference with Internet. Several other nations followed. Why was Australia not one of them?


I have lost my internet connection at 2:07 p.m. No web, no ping. Back again a minute later, without me changing anything.

Whitsunday Terraces

I attended the 3 p.m. body corporate finance meeting as an observer. It was a very long meeting. The administration and sinking funds are basically fine, but the new insurance costs are a nightmare. The owners are doing it tough getting sufficient return. To avoid a price increase, the fee increase last year was basically CPI. However insurance went up multiples last year. There are limits to what you can manage with accepting higher excesses, which when you run out of insurance companies is the only option left. Insurance was up again this year, enough on its own to justify fee increases of around $500. So fees will have to increase, but reserves will also be run down. It is a mess, and no-one will be happy with the results. Unless the politicians come to the party, body corporates in North Queensland will increasingly be unviable.

Horace bought me a drink in Kiwi's bar afterwards. I also chatted with Doug and several of the other owners. I returned to the apartment at 8:45 p.m.

Email Advertising

I am astonished at the almost hysterical pace of consumer oriented retailers emailing me with their latest advertising offers as we approach Xmas. These are companies I deal with on a semi-regular basis, so having given them an email address, it is not unreasonable they use it in their advertising efforts.

However, some of them need to get a clue. If I have bought a TV recently (like this year), then I probably do not need to be pressed to get another TV. What would I do with it? Now maybe advertising a BluRay player or a TV game would be appropriate (unlikely, but possible). Do you get that, Kogan and BigW?

Saturday 15 December 2012

Guns Don't Kill

Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Guns just make killing quicker, easier, more likely, and require less skill. Any idiot can kill with a gun.

In Australia, conservative Prime Minister John Howard did a gun buyback after a shooting massacre. He got re-elected.


I was up fairly early. Not getting a lot done. The paper all over the floor is looking too daunting. However I did scan one small folder of it, after I managed to get that sorted into order.

Noticed I still had not completed my FLAP mailing, and the deadline was near. Added a few last minute updates, and sent off the six page PDF. Well, one thing done at least.

Now to attend the markets, and get breakfast, and the newspapers. Met Doug on the way down, so I chatted with him while we wandered to the markets. Alas, the people I usually get breakfast from are away. I recall them mentioning that last week. Saw Rex, and Glenn, and Alison, and Jonathan.

Back home without breakfast, but I did collect the newspapers.

Pete dropped in to ask about blogs.


I had a bad start. The paper all over the floor is looking too daunting. However I did scan one small folder of it, after I managed to get that sorted into order. A fair bit later, I managed to scan another small folder.

After a while I came up with a strategy of putting aside anything that did not need to be kept. So I scanned them during the afternoon, and put them in the out pile. That reduces the visibly overwhelming material a little. Plus I am actually getting some of what remains into some sort of order now. I am cautiously optimistic about the mess.

Mobile Phone Frequencies

So our minister for communications, Stephen Conroy, wants to make more money by selling additional 700 MHz radio frequencies (freed by finally moving analogue TV) for mobile phones at a higher price. He wants $3 billion. Basically $1.36 per Mhz per user, which is pretty high. This is the minister who threatened Telstra with not being allowed any new frequencies if they did not do what the minister wanted.

Vodafone Hutchinsons said it was all too expensive anyway, and withdrew from the bidding.

Optus said they were going to have a meeting. Optus are not hurting in the cities, but really can not manage rural expansion unless they get more frequencies. Why bother with rural? Because city folks who need to do rural business will have to sign up with the only operator who has rural spectrum. That would be Telstra. However Optus were clearly not impressed with then pricing. Maybe they will not bid for very much spectrum? Maybe they will also withdraw from the bidding?

Telstra are not saying anything at all. Given Telstra have already been threatened by the minister, that is probably a good idea. However Telstra can probably afford to sit out of the whole thing in rural areas, where they already have spectrum. What they can not do is ignore it in city areas, where their high penetration means they have issues with getting enough bandwidth.

Wouldn't it be funny if no-one bid for the frequencies?

Mass Shootings

I note gun control laws essentially eliminated mass shootings in Australia. Laws were put through by conservative Prime Minister John Howard, with the co-operation of states, pretty much effective 12 days after 1996 Port Arthur shooting. I am sorry to say it, because I used to enjoy visiting, but the USA appears to be full of gun crazies.


Doug, Rex and Myra, Jonathan and later Joey, Dave and Eva, Chad with Ellen and Jasmine in tow. Eva agitated for anchovy on pizza, and that was an outstanding success.

Sunday 16 December 2012


I was up around five. Read some newspapers. Set up some superannuation statements for scanning. Got the laundry ready. Walked down the the newsagency to collect more newspapers, and a Renew magazine. Got to look after the place for a few seconds while the staff briefly attended to back office stuff. Walked back up the hill. Put laundry out to dry.

Doug dropped in.


I was astonished when Jean sent me a link to and entry about Gegenschein, my 1970's fanzine on ZineWiki, which covers independent media. It seems some issues of Gegenschein reached the National Library.


I can not believe how much of a mess the paperwork is. I did manage to extract some small piles of paper, in order. Those I scanned, but that hardly dented the pile.

The main paper pile looks like I shoved everything into it in any order. This is not true, but chronological filing is not the best order for scanning. I went through extracting everything I could manage into the correct sequence, and attempting to make sense of it. Result was I ended up with a headache. Lots of piles, and no scanning.

TV Dumb

I continue to think of television as a lean back media. Something you use when you want to switch your brain off. So I watch with bemusement attempts to add complexity, like internet access, to TVs and players. The remotes are already way too complex for most users. Making them more complex again is not helping.

Most people just want to switch off, veg out, and watch something familiar. The result to date is that 99.9% of everything on TV is utter garbage. The only thing TV has going for it is a (mostly wasted) giant display. Big deal.

Monday 17 December 2012


I was up before five, and going through the news. I managed to get a lot of the paperwork in order during the undisturbed early morning, before my walk.

Spent most of the day reading the news, and scanning old papers.


I set out on my walk a little late, at about 6:20 a.m. It was fairly warm on the skin even at 6:30 a.m. whenever the sun broke through light mist and cloud. Walked along the foreshore, around the new walkway extension at Abel Point, and so to Cannonvale Beach. Turned right and continued to Bunnings.

Bunning were thankfully air conditioned, and they open at 6:30 a.m. The ever helpful local staff directed me to the cheap power tools that had been advertised. I picked up a sheet sander, a jigsaw, and an angle grinder, all three together less than $60. They all have a two year warranty if used for domestic purposes. I figure them to be perfect for light work at a holiday home.

Walked back to the Whitsunday Shopping Centre. A miniature pie (and a drink) at Brumbies. I really did need the drink. Jean had told me Coles had the chocolate obsession ice cream on special, so I bought that. I also collected Australian cherries, and chocolate dipping sauce (it leaked). Caught a taxi home.


I scanned stuff all day. This got off to a very bad start, as the scanner was not working. The Scan to Folder utility simply locked up every time. I eventually had to reboot the computer to solve this. Not at all sure what happened, but I was pretty unhappy about the waste of time.

Because I had to thoroughly organise the material before each scanning session, I got a good sense of how each batch related. This let me organise the material much better. The scanning went pretty well, once started. The high humidity did cause paper feed problems at time. I sometimes had to manually hold onto extra sheets so the sheet feeder got it right. First time I have had that problem.

Instagram Sells

I see Instagram join Facebook in selling your information to advertisers. It takes a perpetual right to use photographs without payment or notification (like most photo galleries). Not unexpected, or even new. It seems not everyone realises that when an internet service is free, it is because you are the product. The free service is selling you to someone. Instagram want to sell you, which is what Facebook (who bought Instagram a few months ago) do all the time. Delete your Instagram account. Put your photos on a website you own.

Search for anything on Google, get spammed by advertisers. You are being sold to advertisers by Google. That is their (very successful) funding model. You are all that they have to sell, and sell you they will.

Tighten up your firewall, block advertisers, dump Flash (and their secret cookies), turn cookies off. My biased view is the internet was a whole lot more accurate before it was infested with advertising arseholes.

Just pay for what you take on the Internet. At least, work out when you are being sold.

Tuesday 18 December 2012


I was up just before five. Sent off some birthday and other email. Walked down to the street for breakfast, and newspapers. I wasted far too much time this trip reading newspapers. I could have wasted more time scanning crap.


I realised I also needed to scan the annual review and advise letters. These are now close to 100 pages of mostly repetitive government mandated bumpf, interspersed with the actual information I want. That was formerly provided in a concise two or three page letter. I had to pull apart the comb binding to run these multiple pages through the scanner. No real problems there.

However when I completed the scanning, I realised that I might just as well extract the government mandated nonsense, and shred it. The actual pages I needed to keep were a minute fraction. I could probably reassemble these into a much smaller collection of paper.

Internet People

A is for Advertiser, or Arsehole, but I repeat myself. B is for Bogon. C is for Confidence trickster, or Commercial advertiser, but again I repeat myself. D is for Devious. E is for Evil. F is for Fuckwit. G is for Ghastly, or Gun Nut, often one and the same. H is for Hell is other people. I is for Insane. Etc.

R2 Real Star Wars Hero

I had not realised that R2D2 was the real hero and spy in Star Wars. So was Chewbacca.

Wednesday 19 December 2012


I was awake well before four. I finally decided I might just as well get up before four, since I was not asleep. I am not overjoyed about this arrangement of handling the day.

Apple Updates

I checked iTunes, since Jean had mentioned some updates. While I swear I updated this very week, there were about 15 app updates. For reasons not clear to me, I could not download these using Apple's bizarre and unreliable automatic system for downloading all updates. I had to click each bloody download individually before they would download.

Hmm, my MacBook Air is getting hot. Checked Activity Monitor. It seems mtmd is chewing a lot of one CPU core. Basically mtmd is operated by root, and prepares local backups. Note that I just downloaded a heap of new apps, plus some updates from the Mac App store. This is normal, and mtmd is often followed by a backup to my current local Time Capsule. The alternate Time Capsule has not been used for about 20 days, as it is 300 km away. Yes, the backup is now operating, with a heap of stuff being backed up.

US Phone Lines Decline

A survey of USA phone connections shows continued decline in landline use. The survey comes from the National Health Interview Survey run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and covers over 20,000 households. They normally ask about how to contact those they interview for follow up interviews. This follow up shows the level of real decline in landline phones in the USA since 2003.

More than one-third of American homes (35.8%) had only wireless telephones (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) during the first half of 2012.In addition, nearly one of every six American homes (15.9%) received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones despite also having a landline telephone. Almost all people in the USA have a phone service (between 1.9% and 2.2% did not from 2003 to date). However in 2003, only 3% used mobile or cellular service as their only phone connection.

Six in 10 adults aged 25–29 (60.1%) lived in households with only wireless telephones. This rate is greater than the rates for adults aged 18–24 (49.5%) or 30–34 (55.1%). The percentage of adults living in households with only wireless telephones decreased as age increased beyond 35 years: 39.1% for those aged 35–44; 25.8% for those aged 45–64; and 10.5% for those aged 65 and over.

More than half of all adults renting their home (58.2%) had only wireless telephones.

Blumberg SJ, Luke JV. Wireless substitution: Early release of estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January–June 2012. National Center for Health Statistics. December 2012. Available from:

A Business Meeting

A business meeting.

Thursday 20 December 2012


I was awake early. At 2 a.m. Again at 3 a.m. and so on. I finally got up at 5 a.m. and downloaded a bunch of stuff. I keep forgetting to shut down the auxiliary hard drive when I disconnect from the Thunderbolt monitor.

Early Greyhound Bus

I was getting things ready to pack when I glanced down at the bus area. A Greyhound bus was already parked near the collection spot. What gives? Checked my online ticket. It says seven o'clock. Checked several clocks. It is 5:50 a.m. Not at all sure what is happening there. A bus arriving over an hour early? Maybe a driver break, now they run three buses rather than four each day.

I walked down to the bus station well before departure time. A bunch of people waiting for an Oz Experience Coaster bus. No sign of anyone in the Greyhound bus. I decided a last pit stop in the toilet block at the nearby park. That worked. Another Greyhound bus had appeared when I emerged. This one had both passengers and a driver.

The bus left only a few minutes late, just after seven. A food break at the service station just past Bowen. The usual fuel stop at Guthalunga. That usually takes about 15 minutes, as the bus tanks hold a lot of diesel.

Jean collected me just after the bus arrived, at 11:30 a.m.


We visited Jaycar, as I had a little list (on my phone). A 900 lumen LED light bulb, this time with a bayonet style base for the hanging ceiling light at Airlie Beach. One differential pressure transducer for fluids (to go with the pump and flow meter). One Tripath 15 Watt digital amplifier kit. One USB3 hard drive adaptor and media centre. One automatic liquid soap dispenser.

Off to Sizzler for lunch. We had thought the whole place would be crowded with Xmas groups, but it was surprisingly not all that busy. Jean had her usual salad bar, while I had my usual 200 gram rump steak. Jean a piece of my steak to go with her salad. That seems to work for us. I cheated and had a beer. The young guy serving us failed to apply our discount, but noticed it immediately, and got someone to help him fix it. It was his first day on the job. I thought he was doing fine in making the correction.

Home. Air conditioning. Except for a brief trip out in the car at three to collect some more eggs from the egg farm. Two dozen jumbo eggs, and a free dozen regular (small) eggs because of our previous buys on Jean's card.

Xmas Lights

I had brought with me a box of 20 colour changing solar garden lights, to celebrate the festive season. I picked these up on special for $25 in Bunnings. That makes it $1.25 per light. I can not even buy a rechargeable AAA battery for $1.25, let alone five pieces of plastic, two screws, a solar cell and an LED, plus the electronics that make it all work.

Shooting Deaths

Shooting deaths show more than a .75 correlation with guns per person. So hundreds of people get shot each week in the USA. What a surprise.

Wind Farm Life Span

I note an analysis of wind farm performance in Denmark and the UK by Dr Gordon Hughes seems to indicate a shorter economic life than usually suggested for onshore wind farms. I have been assuming a major overhaul at 10-15 years for wind turbines, and a working life of around 20-25 years. Wind turbines are a fairly mature technology now, so improvements to this level over the past decade or so seemed reasonable.

The normalised load factor for UK onshore wind farms declines from a peak of about 24% at age 1 to 15% at age 10 and 11% at age 15. The decline onshore in Denmark is a mere 4%, to 18% from a lower base of 22%. This seems to indicate (not unexpected) greater site location problems on the mainland. For offshore wind farms in Denmark the normalised load factor falls from 39% at age 0 to 15% at age 10. Wonderful sites, but probably hard on the wind turbines.

These figures, if confirmed elsewhere, would have a significant effect on the investment potential of wind farms. A working life decrease would also increase the cost of electricity generated by wind farms. You can download the raw data and check yourself.

Mayan Doomsday Friday 21 December 2012

Apocalypse Now

It is the End of the World today, according to Mayan Doomsday idiots. Thank heavens I will not have to continue to write these interminable blog entries. I wonder whether there will be fireworks?

Swan's Surplus

I guess the end of the world must really be that Labor could yet again not manage to get their budget into surplus. Is anyone surprised that these economic spendthrifts can not manage to keep the public wallet from being emptied?

Fiscal conservatives my arse. Labor are great at planning spending. They are great at wasteful spending. They are not so great at setting aside money for their normal expenditures. The Rudd and Gillard governments have been worse than Whitlam. At least he had a bit of style as he pissed our money against a wall.


I remembered to assemble the colour change solar garden lights in the morning, and plant them around the front of the garden. I sure hope they look nice for Xmas.

Off to the local discount pharmacy, so I could collect various prescription tablets. The prices seem to vary every visit. I snuck off and got myself an apple slice at Brumbys, since that store actually has apple slices.

Back at the house, the Indian mynah birds had once again managed to fill the gutter with twigs as they attempted to make a nest. Rain forecast tomorrow. I had the gutter cleaning gear so I climbed up on the ladder and cleaned out the gutter. Took until after nine to do so.

Jean dropped me at the restaurant for lunch. Dot, John and Ray were there. I had a nice turkey and ham meal, very festive. Geoff and Margaret joined us somewhat later.

It was very hot walking home, but I did manage to collect the various shop catalogues from a mail box area. Luckily the air conditioning was on at home.

We went for a walk as the weather cooled off a lot in the early evening, and there was a good breeze (at least at our corner of Carlyle Gardens). We walked around the main road, a two kilometre walk.

Checked out a bunch of the Xmas lights round the streets. They are again impressive, especially 300. Ray had not turned his light on, but he was probably at the Social Club do at the bar.

Carlton Theatre

So the controls for the new fans above the dance floor are not visible within the room. I can understand the aesthetics of hiding all controls, but I think it is a pity. It probably means that the fans will often be left running, just like the air conditioners are often left running (their controls are even more hidden).

Interactive Typography

I was impressed by Tommi Kaikkonen's very nice Interactive Guide to Blog Typography. See how typographic changes can make improvements.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Apocalypse Deferred

So the world did not end last night. It just feels like it should have. Even that vicious clown Wayne Swan failing (yet again) to balance the budget was not enough to tip us over the edge.

Pinhole Solar Cameras

A six month solar exposure using photo paper for solargraphy.


I got up around 5:30 a.m. It was already pretty light. Opening doors did not make much difference to the temperatures.

We went to Willows to collect the ensmalled weekend newspapers, and a little bit of food, including crumpets on special. No sign of the chocolate milk Woolworths were having on special. The Xmas music in Willows was sufficiently obnoxious that we left after a circuit and a half.

Jean put the living room air conditioning on soon after we returned home.

We went for a walk around the village in the early evening, about 2.7km. Still a bit too warm. Afterwards I attacked the Asian kitchen geckos, and discouraged several of them.

Subcompact Publishing

I think Craig Mod was spot on in writing Subcompact Publishing, about simple tools and systems for digital publishing. Go off and read it, if you are interested in the future of publishing. He gives as an example Marco Arment's The Magazine. Available on a one week free trial on iTunes. Try that also.

Sunday 23 December 2012


It seems like it will be a hot day today. I was up before five, and already the house felt warm and stuffy. I opened up all the doors to encourage a breeze through, to no effect.

After breakfast we went to Willows to take a walk in the air conditioning. We made it around four times, despite the Xmas music. One amusing piece, some sort of Aussie Xmas music.

Although many major stores were open, we saw little we were after. One exception, I saw BigW had a cheap water gun. I showed it to Jean. So I guess a $1 water pistol is her Xmas present.

Showers when we emerged. Showers with sunbeams. We put the air conditioning on as soon as we got home. Not so much for relief from the heat as the humidity.

It is raining this afternoon. About time it rained. What happened to the rainy season? It was supposed to start a month or so ago.


I finally got around to starting my main computer, and downloading mail. 232 piece of mail outstanding. Luckily the rules will deal with filing most of it.

Time Machine had not made a backup since 1:16 p.m. yesterday. I have no idea why it failed. Starting it manually just caused it to hang on looking for backup device. It looks to me as if it is grabbing the Time Capsule Backup passwords from the MacMini Keychain, but that is under a different name. According to Finder, I am connecting to Time Capsule as the obsolete account Eric PC. I deleted a bunch of Keychain Access settings in the Mac Mini keychain. Bah, humbug. I should have known it would not be easy to move a Keychain.

iTunes got rather non-responsive when it could not connect to the iTunes Store. I do not know how to break this to Apple, but lack of internet is not exactly an unusual situation outside capital cities. It does not help that even when connected, download rates are only a megabyte or so per minutes. Uploads you might as well forget.

System Preferences is unable to launch. What is wrong with this shitty Apple OSX Mountain Lion? I may try rebooting it (probably needed to solve the Keychain issue). Just like you have to do with Microsoft Windows. Sigh. I rebooted. Even to do that I had to power down the computer, as the menus failed to work.

The Keychain changes, and adding a new login under the correct account seems to have made the Time Capsule backup work again. I guess that is something.

I started Safari, and then reopened the windows from my history.

Internet Fails

I found I lacked an internet connection around 9:20 a.m. Nothing on a ping or traceroute. I heard Jean go out to the garage. She said her UPS made a power fail noise, so perhaps the power did glitch. Internet was still not working when I checked several minutes later. I powered down my Time Capsule, since I was having backup problems also.

I went out to the garage and power cycled the Belkin ADSL modem. It did not get an ADSL connection. After several minutes, I power cycled it again. This time it seemed to come up correctly. So at 9:44 a.m. I have an internet connection again, with ping times around 45 ms.

Fatwa on Xmas

I know exactly how they feel, having walked around Willows while that dreadful Xmas music was being played. The head of Lakemba Mosque, Sheikh Yahya Safi, issued a fatwa to his congregation, not to celebrate Xmas, as they were falsehoods.

Got that right, since anyone who believes in great sky fairies is pretty much off the planet anyhow. However the Christians stole Xmas from some pagan celebration, when the pagans would not give up celebrating. That would probably give most Muslims a clue, but I guess not all of them.


I pulled out a heap of old paperwork going back as far as 1976. If I can ever get it in order, I can start to scan it. This is all a preliminary to dumping all the paper I can manage. Alas, getting paper into order is a major challenge.

Xmas Shopping

I bought Jean a cheap ($1) water pistol at BigW. Saw it by chance when we took our regular morning walk. No real idea why she is so keen on water pistols. It was cheap Chinese shit, badly constructed, and it leaked. Not too surprising at a buck.

That dollar was my total shopping expenditure for Xmas. No Xmas cards, no fancy festive lights, no ham, no turkey, no presents, no nothing.

As long as the Reserve Bank ensure investment interest rates suck, then my spending on transitory stuff will decrease. I am not going out buying cheap Chinese crap as presents. Merry Xmas, Gerry Harvey, to you and to the Australian retail world.

I am betting Australian retail sales are down this Xmas. A low interest rate regime is basically going to discourage anyone over 60 from spending money in shops.

Monday 24 December 2012


I was up at five. Not exactly a fine day, with light rain from time to time. We went to Willows for our walk (four times around) before eight. Many of the stores were open for the pre-Xmas last minute stuff. We did get milk (not sufficiently long dated) and Jean found some blueberries.

I put a box of solar garden lights outside to get some sun. They mostly got rained on.

The weather was cool enough that we did not need air conditioning. The exception was in Jean's office, which does not have good air circulation. It seems from comments by friends in the south of Australia that it was a real hot stinker of a day many places there.

A whole swarm of ants climbing the wall outside the bedroom, near the drainpipe. I used a bunch of surface spray on them.

I put the colour change LED light bulbs into a couple of standing lamps. Placed them at the front of the house, and set the remote controls to cycle through all the available colours (758). That and the colour change garden lights are my concession to Xmas.

It rained fairly heavily late in the evening. Enough to do a good watering job on the garden and lawns at least.


I managed to get another bunch of the old fanzines separated out, and into some sort of order. Trying to work out when they were done is difficult, as they were not well organised in the first place. Still, there are now a bunch of folders strewn on the floor, so it does look like I am getting something done.


An internet failure at 5:44 p.m. I am not sure of the cause. The Belkin ADSL Modem Router seemed to have lost its wired Ethernet connection to the Ethernet Hub, according to its function light. The wireless internet connection from the modem router had failed a long time ago, although it was still showing a function light.

I power cycled the modem router, and the Internet connection was back at 5:47 p.m.

Internet dead at 10 p.m. The failure once again is the Ethernet cable connection between the Belkin ADSL modem router, and the Ethernet hub. The connection light for this low speed connection is off. I power cycled the ADSL modem, and internet came good.

Regular Expression

A Javascript regular expression parser demonstration.

Xmas Tuesday 25 December 2012


No internet first thing in the morning. Jean was using her iPad via Telstra's NextG network. I checked for a ping response. Nothing working.

The problem was once again the Belkin ADSL modem router was no longer providing a wired Ethernet connection to the Tendo Ethernet hub. No real idea why. I will try a different Ethernet connection both ends next time, to determine if the fault is general, or specific to one connector. But it is almost certainly general.

Power sequencing the ADSL modem restarted the internet connection.

Xmas Day

Bah, humbug!


I decided a very light breakfast (chocolate milk) was in order. We found matching shirts to wear to lunch. There might be rather a lot of food at lunch, by my standards. Be prepared, with a very light breakfast.

It was overcast, and the air temperature in the morning is pretty reasonable. No need for air conditioning so far. However the sky seems to be clearing a lot, so I imagine it will be warmer later.

I continued getting the old papers into some semblance of order. Getting stuff into order takes longer than the scanning. So there are folders all over the floor, many with labels. Must do something about that. I think I need another paper box. Looks like about seven boxes to put in the car.

Some welcome emails for Xmas. This means I was able to update my contact details for several people.

We went to the restaurant just before midday. Jean managed to find so prawns she was unable to return to the buffet for more. I had so much I could not eat more. Jeff and I made sure we were the last out around two, keeping to a three year old tradition.

After walking home, I took a drink pack (beer, rum, wine) to Jeff's place. A lot of silly talk. Bruce and Geri appeared around five, and Bruce helped with the little remaining rum. We were all wimps, and gave up partying around nine. By that time, the mosquitoes were eating us alive. It looks like one super large meal today will be sufficient. I sure did not feel like eating when I returned home.

Display Definition

A quote from my Missed Mailings for FLAP 113 apazine in 1999. I'd be delighted if we could get a display screen with anything like the definition of paper. I figure about 300 dots per inch would do (which is nearly a factor of 10 better than present displays and their 90 to the inch). The Apple iPhone delivered that definition.

Boxing Day Wednesday 26 December 2012


I was up late, well after five, and feeling somewhat fragile after the excesses of Xmas. Worse than that, my weight has increased. Started the laundry, since rain is not really forecast today.

Ate the last two crumpets for breakfast. Tried to convince myself that crumpets are sort of a diet. Hid butter and honey from sight of Jean while preparing my crumpets. My conviction crumpets are a diet food is taking some hits from the amount of better and honey that filtered through onto the plate.

I went to Willows with Jean before eight for her food shopping. Mostly vegetables, although it did not really seem that Coles had been able to restock.

We walked around the mall three times before the stores opened at 8:30 a.m. I checked out JB HiFi, but although they had some SF TV series that were new to me, none seemed all that interesting at current prices.

I packed as much stuff as I could into Jean's car, so that I did not need to do so in the heat of the day. Just as well I did.

Hid inside most of the day, apart from getting the laundry in from the line. Air conditioning went on early, due to the humidity. I went outside around three, and the heat was scorching.


I should have plenty of time to meet the apa deadlines at the end of January. However I thought it a good move to actually start work today. That also meant I could leave ANZAPA for Jean to read, if she happened to find time while I was away. I had very rough drafts of some mailing comments a little after ten in the evening.


A quote from my Missed Mailings for FLAP 113 apazine in 1999. I guess it will come as no surprise, given where I live, and our (lower) death rate from gun shots, that I think the US should consider seriously limiting access to guns. Maybe even mostly restricting them to a well regulated militia? I was somewhat shocked at a sf con a fair while back when someone produced their (unloaded) handgun from their car and was showing it around.

Internet Access 1999

A quote from my Missed Mailings for FLAP 113 apazine in 1999. We managed to get a cheaper rate for our Internet access by paying for 100 hours in advance, at $3 a hour. Doesn't give us web space, or news access unfortunately. There are cheaper places, but the only other one that is in this phone area code seems to be amalgamating all their connections (which includes an internet cafe, two libraries and a school) through two standard phone lines back to their out of area head office. Real slow most of the time.

Thursday 27 December 2012


I was awake a little after four. Might as well leave as soon as I cleaned up and put the final few things in Jean's car. On the road at 4:44 a.m. with 56935 km on the clock. It started getting light around five. It started getting even warmer around six. I ate a snack part way down. Arrived at Centro Whitsunday at 7:45, and had to wait a while for the shops to open before I could stock up with food. Refuelled the car before I left Centro, just in case.

I was able to park at the Terraces around 8:30 a.m. Saw Jason organising a fishing trip (weather permitting) as I was hauling the first of four loads of mostly paper from the car upstairs. I sure seem to have a heap of paper.


I started scanning the Carlyle Gardens paperwork, since I want to take that back to Jean. Seems like this will take a fair while to complete. It is three now, and it seems I have hardly dented the first box of paper. Some, like the computer club notices, had to be scanned individually, since they will be reused individually, so that was very slow.

Eventually I started to get a pattern for doing things like the Carlyle Chronicle. There I had to cut the A3 pages apart, so as to fit the scanner.


No internet connection when I arrived. I rebooted the ADSL modem. On the other hand, I had thought I switched all that off prior to leaving. Seems not.


I found an article by Ryan Waggoner about scanning old paperwork. How I filled two dumpsters and went paperless with the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500. He also uses the Fujitsu S1500 scanner that I selected. A bunch of tips about what worked from him.

I may well need to get a better shredder. He used a Fellowes Powershred W-11C Cross-Cut Shredder.

If I continue and scan books, I will also need to get a paper sheet cutter. Something that can cut a few hundred pages at once.

See also Alex Muir's site about How I turned a book into a website, for more about scanning, and especially about turning it into a website.

Friday 28 December 2012


No internet when I got up before six. Connection woke up spontaneously after I ran ping on it.

Internet connection out again at 6:04 a.m. Why? Modem lights are all green. Ping fails. Traceroute fails. A second traceroute works. Connections to internet work.

Internet down again at 6:16 am. ADSL modem lights show green. Power sequenced Netgear ADSL modem at 6:19 a.m. Ping working at 6:21 a.m. Web connection working a few seconds later.

Interesting Sites

A disposable email address from Receiveee.

Web page size. Page weight does matter says Chris Zacharias, who recounts a YouTube experiment with lighter pages. He code-named the project Feather. The average aggregate page latency under Feather had actually INCREASED. I had decreased the total page weight and number of requests to a tenth of what they were previously and somehow the numbers were showing that it was taking LONGER for videos to load on Feather. This could not be possible. The answer was geography. The lighter pages made it possible for people on real slow connections who otherwise could not even try to download to do so. But having a slow connection, their latency sucked.

Radar or GTFO

If you find an Apple bug, Radar or GTFO.

iPhone 5 Form Follows Function

Why Apple make good, boring gadgets. It is a feature, not a bug.

Saturday 29 December 2012


I was up at 5:30, after a late night continuing the scanning. Temperature inside was still 28°C, which seemed excessive. Around eight I headed for the market.

Markets walk. Rex Nev Glenn Alison


I completed scanning the stencil duplicated issues of ANZAPA I had on hand. Late 1970's to late 1980's. Off to the market.

Back from markets. Scan to Folder does not respond. Tried force quit. Still not working. Restarting all the Scan software does not fix the problem.

I tried disconnecting the computer from the Thunderbolt monitor and its USB hub. Scan to Folder still hangs.

I had to switch the computer and everything completely off before the Scan to Folder problem was fixed. Continued scanning ANZAPA. Sometime in the evening I had completed scanning 121 issues of ANZAPA.

Apple iPad Lockout

I saw an interesting article by Mike Cane. There Is Just One Market, Apple Owns It — And Must Be Stopped. I do not follow the logic.

If Apple owns the tablet market, it is via making a superior product. I find it difficult to believe eInk can be regarded as superior, except for some specialist uses (reading fiction in daylight being a potential one).

Owning the iTunes store seems irrelevant. In multiple hundreds (and thousands) of pieces of music, movies, and ebooks, only a handful (less than a dozen of each) were bought through the Apple store. The problem book producers face is most are still unwilling to drop DRM.

You are indeed locked into Apple for iPad applications. So what? You can jailbreak, you can buy an Android tablet, or you can stay with a traditional PC. Plenty of choices. People just do not like those choices.

Fairfax Media

I think Fairfax Media is dead. They sold their best performing New Zealand assets to reduce debt. They still owe over $200 million. The front line city newspaper properties, The Age, and The Sydney Morning Herald, will both drop from broadsheet to tabloid within a few years. Their big presses will close, as th need for them reduces. But who would buy them? Their loss making digital versions will (like The Australian) disappear behind a paywall around the same time. Watch the readers evaporate when that happens. What follows is selling off any remaining assets for scrap. I think Fairfax Media will be dead within three years.

Sunday 30 December 2012


I was awakened by a rain squall around 3:30 a.m. I had to close doors against the rain. Stayed up reading news on my iPad. Started scanning around five.

Various rain squalls through the day had me closing the doors against incoming rain. Temperatures have dropped a bit because of showers, but the humidity is oppressive.


I started scanning Apes, an apa I do not even recall. Maybe out of Adelaide. Dates were through 1979. I did find a note indicating I had done 420 stencils by November that year. I mostly scanned apas, because they are easy. Continued scanning apas throughout the day, in between other work. By five in the afternoon, I had done 4444 sheets in total. This is going pretty well.

During the evening I scanned Gegenschein from issue 51 to about 80. Not sure where physical copies of higher numbers are. Going better than I ever expected.


I had a phone call from Jean. Her iiNet via Telstra internet connection went out last night around 10 p.m. As well, the mobile signal was very weak, and did not seem to be getting through. She finally reverted to making an actual phone call, using her mobile. She thought she might have to use the land line.

I gather the internet (via mobile at least) started working again for Jean sometime after nine.

iiNet Withdraws from Copyright Shambles

I love how iiNet explain their withdrawal from copyright test scheme. They know when something is not going to work. Pity Hollywood fails to hear.

So the rent seeking media barons have an unlimited time government enforced monopoly Just boycott the media idiots, like I do.

Monday 31 December 2012


I was awake late, almost five. Lurched up and did some reading on my iPad, until it was light enough to see to start scanning, around six.

Since it was not raining at the moment, I started taking excess paper down to Jean's car. About four or five trips.

Since I had the decent farm eggs, I made myself a poached egg on toast for breakfast. As expected, it worked fine with the right eggs.

Walked to the newsagent for the morning paper. No sign of the Financial Review. I fear for the future of Fairfax.


I completed scanning the first fifty issues of Gegenschein. Pretty much all the fanzine and apa material I can find is now scanned. Over 800 items, more than a gigabyte of PDFs.

News Agent

I discovered the computers at the news agent were not working. The lone person staffing the place was unable to see some products that needed computer access. She did however say there had been a blackout last night.

My computer had been complaining in the morning about the hard drive being disconnected without being shut down. Not the case, and I had wondered what had happened. Obviously a blackout in the early hours.

I am not familiar with the agency network, however from the abnormal results, it seemed their network had not rebooted correctly. You can sometimes fix that sort of thing by shutting down again. Then you bring up the network connection first, then the server, and then the workstations. I suggested that.

Stuck around to keep an eye on the counter while she did restarts. Luckily she had the appropriate server password on hand. Most of the stuff came up. However it had meant about 45 minutes of Lotto or whatever sales could not be made first thing.

Small country businesses really do need better computer support than they commonly get. Especially in the holiday season. Besides, it is very frustrating for the staff expected to cope with this sort of issue. As well, it takes me a long time to get my paper when stuff happens.


I watched the fireworks on the foreshore of Airlie Beach from my balcony. Rain held off long enough. However the nine o'clock fireworks were fairly wimpy compared to some more prosperous years.

Watched the fireworks in Sydney on channel 9. It seems they do theirs at 10 p.m. in their strange daylight savings time.

Solar Power

The solar power output figures last month (November 2012) showed it generated 3626kWh over 10586 hours. Figures in December are E-total 3785kWh, h-total 10989 hours. So the total hours operating in the 31 days of December 2012 were 403 hours, during which it generated 159kWh. About 5.1kWh per day, or 394 Watts per operating hour. This is a nominal 1 kW panel, operating with fine sunny conditions for most of the month

The Ergon electricity meter in December showed Tariff 11 at 4212kWh purchased, Tariff 33 at 3656kWh, and the export of power from the solar panel at 1633kWh since installed. I had imported 3910 kWh on E1, exported 1350 kWh on E1/E2, and imported 3227 kWh on E2 as at the end of September 2012. So the electricity meter shows consumption in three months as 302kWh on Tariff 11, 429kWh on Tariff 33 (for air conditioning and hot water), and exported 283kWh of solar power.

The electricity accounts for the quarter show the solar panels provided 287kWh electricity feed in 91 days to 28 December 2012. At 44 cents, this provided a $126.28 solar feed rebate on our electricity bills. We are in credit this quarter.

Home and Away

AB 25, CG 6, T 0

Eric Lindsay's Blog December 2012