Eric Lindsay's Blog 2008 November

Saturday 1 November 2008

Human Extinction

Reducing the Risk of Human Extinction by Jason G. Matheny. Evaluates various possibilities for the extinction of human race. It was one thing when only SF authors were doing this. Now it gets into the science journals.


Up late, 7 a.m. Despite traffic noise in Chinatown. To Paddys Markets for bananas for breakfast. Newsagent still not open. After breakfast Jeans heads for her meeting.

This time I was able to locate Galaxy books. Restricted myself to four SF novels. Could not find anything of interest at Abbeys Bookshop, nor electonics at Adelong nor at Jaycar. By then it was raining.

I exited the no longer crowded streets and tried the underground shopping areas. Got as far as Pitt Street Mall. Borders Books had Amit Skngh's book on OS X Internals. I also got a book on Cocoa programming. Had a heavy pack by then, so I returned underground and tried to make my way back to the hotel. Got a block past Town Hall before I was forced to the surface. That was OK.

Gloria Jean had scones with jam and fake cream, so that was lunch. Also got the SMH which now seems a mildly terrible newspaper.

Lost Glasses

Somehow while in Sydney I managed to lose my prescription sunglasses. I had my backpack over packed with science fiction books from Galaxy and computer books from Borders. I guess during the rearranging of contents in the street the glasses case fell out without my noticing. In a weird co-incidence, I had an appointment to get my eyes checked for replacements next Thursday, as the glasses were a pair I had repaired in 2004.

Sunday 2 November 2008


I was starting to feel unwell, to the point that I didn't make any other arrangements to see people while in Sydney. There were a couple of people I had hoped to contact to arrange a meeting.

I did go with Jean to have dinner with Michelle that evening. We walked up from the hotel. Jean had enjoyed a meal at Wagamama with people from her conference earlier in the week. I had accidentally discovered there was a Wagamama on the first floor of the Galleries Victoria building in George Street, near Park Street, and opposite the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) and Town Hall railway. Wasn't able to eat much of the fine food. Weird bathrooms in that building, with sinks that seemed to be an almost flat surface. It was interesting to note the restaurant was very close to an even fancier bookshop on the second floor, the Kinokuniya Bookshop, which was the reason I discovered the restaurant.

Michelle is a car person (compared to us, almost everyone is), and had parked in an underground car park with an exit on York Street. I had no idea this structure went down at least seven levels under the QVB. It seemed you had to drive to the bottom before you could drive back out. Very weird. We had a nightcap at Michelle's room at Citigate Central, near us in Thomas Street. I walked past our hotel to get to the bottle shop to collect a bottle of wine. Her room at Citigate Central was much nicer than the one we had at Aarons. Less weird as well.

I Hate Glossy Display

I had another good look at the new MacBook and MacBook Pro, with the glossy display. When switched off, the MacBook Pro glossy display is a mirror. However when switched off, you can close the lid. The problem is that the glossy display of the MacBook Pro is still a mirror when working. Luckily I have no interest in using a laptop computer at all, except while travelling.

My problem is that the desktop iMac only comes with a glossy display. I have been into an Apple Store several times intent on buying a replacement iMac, however each time I look at the glossy display, I realise I just can not accept it. There are reasons for both glossy and matte displays to exist. For my purposes, and with my sunlit room in the tropics, only a matte display is close to acceptable.

Monday 3 November 2008

Gold Class Cinema

I had planed to visit a Gold Class cinema while I Sydney, having enjoyed that previously. However I felt so off that the prospect of eating just did not appeal.

I don't recall what I managed to do today. Not very much I suspect.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Home Again

I had a mostly sleepless night thanks to catching some respiratory bug, probably from the flight down.

We were ready well before out intended 8 a.m. departure, and were in a taxi to the airport early. Virgin Blue had a very slow moving queue, but after about 25 minutes we were checked in and through security. I am not sure the print your own ticket scheme saves all that much time for check in. The exception would be if you can keep your luggage under 7 kg carry on limit, which I don't see as practical if you intend buying things at your destination. I had reached 13.7 kg thanks to a half dozen new books, and some computer hardware. Besides, lots of essentials like Swiss Army knife or handy tool are not allowed through security.

DJ 221 to Brisbane was due to leave at 10 a.m., but must have been at least 20 minutes late. Not full, so we could spread out comfortably. Not having eaten much the previous day, I had a pizza at Brisbane while we waited for DJ1117 for Proserpine. It was due out at 12:35, but thanks to dropping the cursed Daylight Saving, we had an extra hour. Arrived at Proserpine at 2:15, and we were soon in a taxi headed home to the Whitsunday Terraces.

For some reason I felt better, and set out down the street to collect our mail, and get some milk. By the time I had climbed the 12 flights of stairs back home, I was feeling dreadful. Had another mostly sleepless night.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Books Gone

We managed to drop a bunch of books off at the Historical Museum for their book sale, while we headed for the airport. About 2 linear metres, 120 books, weighing about 60 kg. Now if only I could repeat that frequently!

Mike Visits

We collected our visitor Mike from the Whitsunday Coast airport around 2:15 p.m. Jean managed to scrape the side of her car fitting it into the inadequate space back home. Sat on the balcony at the Whitsunday Terraces in the breeze relaxing over some wine for a while, and then wandered off looking for a meal. Trivia at the Whitsunday Terraces Restaurant, and a little too much music for us. Eventually went to the Sailing Club for a traditional pub roast. Seemed a good scene setter for what to expect around town. I did manage to find out that the water at the outer reef was a bit rough. We all collapsed fairly early, especially our visitor with 40 hours or so of no sleep during his journey.

Thursday 6 November 2008


Mike went off on his first snorkel trip today. A nice easy start with the family operated Illusions. He sailed to Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Island, which a nice spot to get used to snorkelling again. He told us there were only seven people on board the cruise.

Replace Lost Glasses

I was still so wrecked that I had to cancel my appointment to get my eyes checked for new sunglasses. I had scheduled that before I lost my glasses in Sydney, because the glasses were a pair whose hinge mounting I had repaired with Araldite glue sometime back in 2004.

National Broadband Network

Telstra are threatening to avoid the National Broadband Network by not even putting out a bid. Unless, of course, they get a guarantee there will be no structural separation in the future. Bluff, or are they really going to do it?

Meanwhile the current financial crisis makes it less and less likely that the rapidly falling apart Tellia consortium will be able to raise enough funds to actually build a network. So it probably comes down to whether Singtel owned Optus are willing to go ahead.

Telstra pricing seems to have varied (can I have the next envelope please) considerably. A$5.7B (please can I have A$3.1B). Labour said A$8B or A$9B. Then early this year Telstra said maybe A$30B. Then Telstra Chairman Donald McGauchie said A$15B to A$25B. In October Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo said maybe A$10B to A$15B. Does anyone think anyone has a clue what the cost would really be.

Does anyone think Senator Stephen Conroy has any idea what he wants to buy? He picked a stupid speed (12 Mbps is looking slow), and probably a silly technology. FTTN for a country as spread out as Australia? Give me a break. It is only worthwhile in major urban areas. However in most of them, at least half the population can already get ADSL2+ at twice the speed, if they are prepared to pay. Conroy should never have canned the former government Opel consortium plan. It wasn't a great idea, but it was cheaper, and targeted rural people who have no decent network at all. Plus it would have already been showing results by now. Instead we have spin.

However most of the mess started because the former Liberal Government went ahead with the third trache of the Telstra sale, instead of structural separation. Does anyone think any of the telecom folks are not lying to the government? The ACCC should be defining the terms under which the network is built (if it makes any sense to build it at all). Whoever heard of letting a telco set the terms of a contract?

Whichever way it goes it is unlikely to do any good for people in country areas any time soon. If the government is going to put up A$4.7B, then the network should be built first in uneconomic areas. That is, country and rural. There is little chance of these ever getting a fast connection under any other circumstances.

Meanwhile iiNet CEO Michael Malone (a member of the Tellia consortium) is going around saying the project will be a monumental failure. Another item from the same source Broadband network waste of money: iiNet summarises Mr Malone's comments. I agree.

Friday 7 November 2008

Whitehaven Express

With little time before clouds were due, I wanted Mike to see some of the best views in the Whitsundays. The trip today was Whitehaven Express, on the family operated Lindeman Pacific. More people, but that motor boat is a lot quicker. Mike did the Hill Inlet walk on Whitsunday Island, encouraged by reports from others that the view was great. This trip also has probably the best food on Whitehaven Beach, as they have the barbecue site. Plus there was some snorkelling, at a different site.

Bullies Enjoy Others Pain

Brain wave studies show aggressive teens are rewarded by watching pain inflicted on others. Aggressive adolescents showed a specific and very strong activation of the amygdala and ventral striatum (an area that responds to feeling rewarded) when watching pain inflicted on others, which suggested that they enjoyed watching pain. This is according to Jean Decety, a professor in psychology and psychiatry at the University of Chicago. Small study (16 males) using fMRI published in the journal Biological Psychology.

So, bullies enjoy being bullies. No surprise there, whatever the researcher thought (he thought bullies would be indifferent to the suffering of others). I wonder whether this is learnt behaviour or innate?

Saturday 8 November 2008

Glossy Displays

A Note on Anti-Reflective Screens and trade names for glossy displays. Laptop Users Prefer Matte to Glossy according to a survey by Lenovo. There is a comment on glossy vs matte survey results by Ars Technica. 86% of respondents prefer matte.

Apple claim customers prefer glossy displays. This particular potential customer is refusing to replace his iMac until I can buy a non-glossy display. I gave up buying Windows computers in 2004. I can give up Apple computers in 2009.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Odysseus H2O

Our visitor Mike went off on a cruise on a dive boat. This was stopping at several snorkel sites. It turned out one of them was a Blue Pearl Bay again (which I didn't expect - I thought they would stick with Hook Island) however Mike seemed to find this acceptable, as he was now more used to using the snorkel.

Monday 10 November 2008

USA War on Tourism

As long as the United States is conducting a War on Tourism. This article says overseas travel to the USA has plummeted in the past five years. A 17% decline since 2001.

As long as the Homeland Security Theatre continues, this particular traveller will never visit the USA. I used to visit the USA up to twice a year for tourism. Now I won't go to any country that requires me to pass through USA territory. The USA is a wonderful country full of great people, but I am not going to tolerate the USA border stuff.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Internet Censorship

The Australian Government is proceeding with plans to trial censoring the Internet. Despite much technical advice that this is disruptive, and ineffective, Senator Stephen Conroy seems to be ignoring advice. How government tried to gag web censor critics indicates Conroy is trying to shut critics up. Filter advocates need to check their facts by Mark Newton is one item they attempted to get retracted. Or at least, not repeated.

Canberra calls net filter trial remarks the test is to see if the filtering affects speed. Whether it does or not does not matter, since it should never have been done in the first place, technically feasible or not. The trouble is, filtering from a secret list (and it is secret), can be used to attempt to filter any thing. Even criticism of the government (although second targets would probably be euthanasia sites and gambling sites). Child protection groups welcomed the filter trial, of course, and the Government needs the support of two senators of similar mind to pass other legislation.

Net censorship plan backlash says the SMH, claiming there is already a backlash against the network filter scheme. Michael Malone, managing director iiNet, said he would sign up to be involved in the ridiculous trials, to provide the Government with hard numbers demonstrating how stupid it is. They're not listening to the experts, they're not listening to the industry, they're not listening to consumers, so perhaps some hard numbers will actually help said Michael Malone.

Australian Internet filters have backdoor says PC Authority. I am sure school kids will be quick to pass around details of free web proxies that will bypass any nanny state filters. In addition, when the previous government gave away filters for free, hardly anyone bothered to get them. The public doesn't care.

How to complain to politicians post in Slashdot, with relevant addresses.

For myself, I will encourage my ISP to provide a VPN service (at a small premium) to help protect my privacy from internet problems. That this bypasses the Government nanny filters is a fortunate side effect.

Dilbert dealt with nanny filters. Seems to cover the topic.

Display Types

Handy article briefly explaining the differences between IPS, VA and TN displays. My 20 inch iMac G5 and my 24 inch 2405WFP Dell monitor are both the high quality IPS (in plane switching) variety. I paid a bunch of extra money to make sure I got the sort of display I wanted. However many people are unfamiliar with the various computer display technologies.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Reef Visit

Mike made his actual Great Barrier Reef visit to the outer reef using Cruise Whitsunday. This long boat trip took him to a platform moored at Knuckle Reef for his snorkelling.

Future Shock

The shocks of things to come by Karen Dearne is a nice article on potential future technologies in The Australian. Takes a fairly steady view of both potential and problems.

Thursday 13 November 2008

Diesel from Fungus

Rainforest fungus makes diesel says Professor Gary Strobel from Montana State University. Gliocladium roseum lives inside the Ulmo tree in the Patagonian rainforest. G. roseum can make myco-diesel directly from cellulose, the main compound found in plants and paper. This means if the fungus was used to make fuel, a step in the production process could be skipped.

Hogs Breath

We had an excuse to visit Hogs Breath Cafe for dinner, since Mike was here. I enjoyed their steak, as usual. I am still not sufficiently recovered to actually do much except walk around slowly and sit down doing nothing much.

Reef Festival

The Whitsunday Reef Festival commenced today, with a family movie at the lagoon.

Friday 14 November 2008


For the first time I started packing boxes of books for our future move. This is going very slowly. I need hardly mention that packing up a fairly full apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces is rather akin to solving one of those 16 Puzzles, where you have only one empty space into which to move anything, so to pack an item, you have to move other packed items back where they were in the first place.

Reef Festival 92)

Alas, the Reef Festival this evening involved lots of noise (aka music) at Whitsunday Sailing Club. Luckily it didn't continue too late into the night.

Saturday 15 November 2008

Visitor Leaves

Mike went for a walk through the local markets with me, and kindly took excessive bundles of newspaper back to our apartment when he returned early to continue reading a second Charles Strauss novel he had started. I was very pleased to have introduced him to Strauss, but was not the only person to recommend them.

His 1 p.m. taxi was a little late, and we had several false alarms when taxis arrived for Pinnacles, higher on the hill. Since we didn't hear any cries for help, we imagine he headed off home OK from then on. I thought it was a great visit. I just wish I had been well enough to have accompanied him on some of the snorkelling trips.

Reef Festival (3)

Sand sculpting at the beach. A street parade. There was a very nice fireworks display in the evening which I much enjoyed. On the other hand, I only had to sit on my balcony at the Whitsunday Terraces to see the fireworks.

Sunday 16 November 2008

CSS Graphs

Using CSS to create graphs in 8 CSS Techniques for Charting Data. Vertical and horizontal bar graphs, Sparkline example, a scatter plot. There are more examples of CSS graphs and Ajax driven graphs.

I used inline CSS styling of divs a fair while ago to do the construction project completion graphs for the Cyclone Studios Architect web site. These graphs showed which stages of design and construction had been supervised to completion, and also incorporated the approximate value of the project. The graphs change size appropriately when you expand or contract the text size (that was something I could not do with a graphic). They are similar in concept in some ways to a Sparkline, however I was attempting to show multiple variables in a compact chart.

Monday 17 November 2008

To Townsville

We got away from the Whitsunday Terraces before 7 a.m. Luckily despite the many warning lights, Jean's car gave no trouble during the trip. We had been somewhat reluctant to use it for any major trip until repairs were made. Stopped for a sandwich at Inkerman, as usual. We were in Townsville before midday, which for us was excellent time.

First stop was the Credit Union office, to collect our deposit cheque, now that there was an office closer than 1000 km away. This transaction took some discussion, as this was the first corporate cheque they had issued under their new system since being taken over by our credit union. It was also only the second time we had been in any of their offices in the past decade.

We briefly checked the new area of Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village, which was a retirement village construction site. We were encouraged to note our future home at Carlyle Gardens now had a roof and had brick cladding all around. However there were a whole heap of tradies working on the various homes in that and all nearby streets. It sure did not look like a project approaching completion to our inexperienced eyes.

We checked the industrial area near Ross River Road at Condon. Found the Storage King self storage at 2 Regiment Court, Kirwan. Collected paperwork from a very helpful person, and were shown several sizes of storage shed, ranging from 1.5 x 2 metre up. The prices seemed reasonable, with flexible monthly and weekly options. They also had a good range of boxes and packing tapes and similar materials. That was looking good for moving a collection of stuff early, but we still didn't know dates we would need the space.

Checked into the Monte Carlo motel, since it was past check in time by then. Seemed a pretty reasonable place, as we had been told. Actually, it seemed an excellent place to stay for our purposes this trip.

At OfficeWorks we got extra coloured stickers to help identify moving boxes. Plus a heap of sealing tape. I figure on putting coloured stickers on all sides of all boxes, so they can be more easily identified in terms of which room the contents are destined for. Yellow for Urgent, to be taken first. Red for Jean. Blue for me. Orange for kitchen and laundry. Two shades of green for books. I am really not looking forward to moving.

We had an early meal at Sizzler. Due to a freezer breakdown, steaks were not available. We had been thinking salad bar anyway, so that didn't cause any problem. This time they didn't supply any of their mints - maybe that is dinner only. We returned to the motel to rest.

Interesting incident relating to casual clothing in the tropics. I was sitting outside the motel room reading the newspaper. Folks in the next room asked me if I knew how to do up a tie. Their teenage son was going to a school formal, and the father had not worn a tie in 30 years. I guess they came from a country area and this involved a boarding school, since they were staying at a motel. I haven't owned a tie in ten years, and hadn't worn one in 20 years. I couldn't explain how to do a tie. However my hands still remembered how to tie a tie.

Tuesday 18 November 2008


We had organised an early bacon and egg breakfast. We arrived at Key Motors before 8 a.m. and turned Jean's car in for service. No problem with getting the courtesy vehicle, so we could run our other errands.

We checked the Domain RetraVision store, the only place open before 9 a.m. Very helpful staff in several sections, and virtually no customers at that hour.

We checked a number of top load washing machines. The major problem will be finding a model sufficiently small for our minor needs. Failing that, something that adjusts to a small wash should be fine. The sales person also showed us a metal cupboard stand for ensuring a front loading washing machine was at an appropriate height for loading, rather than close to the floor. Although not cheap, this would eliminate one concern I had regarding getting clothes into and out of a front loading washing machine. I can just see bending over awkwardly causing some back problem.

The fridge quest didn't go very far. Once you get over a certain size, you can get freezer at the bottom models like we want. However we do not yet know our kitchen dimensions. We must have seen a half dozen potentially possible models. Looks like that will not be a problem.

Next was Harvey Norman, which have furniture. Harvey Norman had a nice range of beds. These included some that seemed identical to the one we already have. We were shown a Sleep Number bed with air adjusted firmness, that could be tuned to the individual. A helpful salesman, John, gave us some flyers. Look like we may have found a suitable (albeit expensive) mattress.

Off to Carlyle Gardens at 10 a.m., one of the major purposes of our visit apart from car repairs.

Back at the motel, I checked the nearby Rising Sun Honda for motor bikes. The Honda CB400 looks like what I recall a touring and commuter motorcycle to be. However I wasn't expecting six speed gearboxes, inline four engine with water cooling, and fuel injection. Nor four valves per head. Motor bikes seem to have come long way since I last had one.

Off to Spotlight, where we failed to find any material we liked for shirts.

Key Motors phoned us. They had started working on the car problem late. Given we handed it in at 8 a.m. and had a 300 km trip to get service, we were not happy about their scheduling. Not going to be ready for us to collect tonight. We were already planning on staying in Townsville Tuesday night. However repairs sliding another day means we may be stuck with staying in Townsville an extra day, depending on when we could collect it on Wednesday. At least we could keep the courtesy car overnight.

At Harvey Norman we checked for 3G phone network boxes that allowed computers to connect via WiFi. Found one that accepted a 3G PCCard. Given how stuffed those cards are about working, I am not keen on the idea. Found another BigPond one that was self contained. However given how Telstra try to control connections, we have no idea if it will work on our Ubuntu and Macintosh computers.

A Harvey Norman salesman recommended a USB prepaid card. Claimed the various boxes would not allow for sharing the network connection. If so, it can only be because Telstra have locked them down in some horrible manner. Time for more research, possibly via the Applix group.

Carlyle Gardens Visit

Off to Carlyle Gardens Retirement Resort, Townsville. Our usual contact Christine was away on holiday, but said Donna would look after us. Donna was however away sick (there is a terrible flu type thing going around). Sue had not been told we had organised to visit and check progress of our house. So it goes.

Luckily Sue was able to organise us with high visibility jackets to check out construction of the new house at Carlyle Gardens.

There were a lot of homes even further from completion. With at most 30 working days (if working seven day weeks) before handover was scheduled, we really could not see the builder managing to compete the work by the 19 December schedule. If Townsville gets heavy rain, that will probably delay even some interior work. If the schedule slips more than a day or so before Christmas, lots of the tradespeople will be off on holidays. Unlikely to return until mid January, or possibly later. It would not surprise me to find we get a revised handover sometime in January or even February.

Since we are scheduled to be in New Zealand pretty much all February, that probably makes March our earliest moving date. We can not really schedule a mover with no firm ideas of dates.

We decided we would unfortunately need to make a further trip to Townsville in a few more weeks to check progress. It certainly did not seem worthwhile to move small quantities of our stuff to Townsville and into storage until we had some certainty regarding dates.

We did get all our deposit paperwork complete. There was some minor dispute as to whether it was all there. It was, just like we said. We had been through that very carefully, as had our local solicitor. By then Jean was obviously ready to eat, and was getting a little snappy.

A cheerful recent resident told of his trials trying to get Telstra to connect a phone. Ordered in September, and still not available. It sounds like multi month delays to get the phone on. I have a very bad feeling about internet access, which I already regarded as marginal due to the considerable distance to Kirwan telephone exchange.

We had lunch at the Carlyle Gardens restaurant. Quantities of food at lunch were larger than expected. Jean even rejected a restaurant meal that evening, in favour of me collecting a Subway salad.

Carlyle Gardens Construction Progress

Most minor construction at Carlyle Gardens retirement village seemed in order, except for one power point on our plans having disappeared. Of the power points on our original plans, all seemed in place. The three variations we had sighted in the display home and marked did not fare so well. The front bedroom was as we expected, despite the additional point not being on our original plans. Jean's office, the back bedroom, showed no sign of a powerpoint we expected and that Christine had marked on the basis of the open house display home. The outside powerpoint seemed merely marked accidently at a slightly different spot, and no action was needed. It was a little unusual in that it seemed to me that the sparkies would have had to do two wiring drops in any case, since the outside power point was close to the door, and the inside power point near the outer wall (where the washing machine was to be). I imagine someone didn't trust an outside power point being so exposed to weather, even with a waterproof outlet.

The roof was on (except one panel) and ceilings installed. The outside brickwork was all done, as was the interior plaster work. Garage door was not on, but interior and exterior walls and windows were in place, as were doors. It looked like it could be taken to lock up stage within a week.

Basically very little interior fit out had commenced. Floor tiling of the main room was done, but none of the bedrooms had been tiled. It appeared the builder may not have initially noted the tiling variation throughout all the bedrooms. There were boxes of tiles in the front bedroom. No bathroom tiling as yet. No wall tiling. No plumbing fittings. Electrical and structured wiring had been pulled, but not terminated by an electrician. The kitchen and bathroom fittings and furniture were not installed (but the cabinets were on hand).

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Australia in Space

Lost in Space? Setting a new direction for Australia's space science and industry sector is the report of the Senate Economics Committee. The actual pdf of the Lost in Space can be downloaded in one piece.

Thursday 20 November 2008

Let Car Makers Die

The big three car makers in the USA, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, are on life support. For a variety of reasons, it looks increasingly like not one of these companies is commercially viable. I have a modest proposal. Let them die!

Capitalism means taking risks. Sometimes it means bankrupcy. It should not mean privatising the income, and socialising the losses via a taxpayer funded handout. USA car makers took the easy profits from SUVs and small trucks, to the point they were selling more of them than cars. However when fuel costs went up, buyers changed their habits, and the truck makers did not react fast enough. Small cars cost nearly as much to make as large cars, however you can't charge as much for them.

I just noticed an article in Seeking Alpha that said let GM fail. Glad I am not the only one saying this. Main point. Perpetual economic growth is impossible. You can not have a sustainable ecology, and a growth economy. The only choices are whether you have a controlled population decline, or a population crash. I think we will have a population crash.

In Australia, it is very doubtful if Ford and GM Holden would sell enough cars to be viable. If it were not for fleet car buyers, both would have failed long ago. Again, let them die. There is a pressing need for skilled workers all over Australia. Just not in the rust belt car industry, stuck in a state that lacks sufficient water to support its population.

This would also be a perfect time to introduce mandatory CO2 emission levels for automobiles. From 2010, no more than 400 grams per kilometre travelled. Decreasing by 20 grams per year for the next five years. So by 2015, new cars must produce less than 300 grams of CO2 per kilometre travelled. Then drop by 10 grams per year for the next decade. That would make a difference to CO2 emissions. Plus the problem of making such vehicles would be up to overseas car makers.

However the reality is that, if you really want an electric vehicle, you should catch a train. They at least work ...badly.

Power Outage

We had a momentary power outage at 3:29 p.m. at the Whitsunday Terraces. The UPS caught it. Been a while since I had noted the electricity being out, but we do have a thunderstorm prediction for the general area. No rain so far today, and it was sunny enough that we were able to dry two loads of washing on racks on the balcony.


I have started packing our Whitsunday Terraces apartment for our move to Townsville. It is amazing how much stuff you end up with that you never use. Despite which, I find it hard to just throw books away. Books make up 90% of all my packing to date. Make that 95%.

Friday 21 November 2008

Telstra Phones

Telstra have a page on moving your Telstra phone to a new address. I thought there was some time frame in which Telstra would attempt to actually do the move, however it does not seem to say.

The more complex things is installing a Telstra phone in a newly built home. This babbles about trenching contractors, lead in pipe and cabling to the home. Looks like Telstra expect internal wiring to be done when the home is being built, which is fine. However it does not seem clear to me why when building new streets in new suburbs, the phone connections can not be completely installed at the same time.


I attended Alison's birthday party at Mangrove Jacks this evening. Good bunch of people attending. A smaller group of us eventually lurched over to Capers, where we encountered the Portside managers Rose knew. We continued with them to KCs, and later to Portside. Made a rather late (1 a.m.) and alcoholic evening.

Saturday 22 November 2008


We have NE to NW winds, gusting to around 30 knots. Seas are up, and I imagine it is fairly unpleasant out at the reef. The Schoolies are in town, for their get out of School celebrations. If the reef trips are indeed cancelled, this will leave them with the energy to party late, and possibly get themselves into trouble. Luckily the police have put on extra staff, and we will surely have additional security folks on duty at the Whitsunday Terraces.

This whole Schoolies things is a piece of commercial hype. It leaves a certain percentage of the youngsters with problems from foolish behaviour. However most of the kids leaving school are nice folks, just wanting a bit of a party after far harder school years than anything I ever encountered.

Homes with Tails

Homes With Tails - What if You Could Own Your Internet Connection? paper by Tim Wu proposes condo owners jointly own fibre to the doorstep internet connections. The Homes with Tails pdf by Derek Slater and Tim Wu is also available for download from New America Foundation.

I note with interest that Carlyle Gardens, the retirement community in Townsville have been wiring all new homes with Hills Hub structured wiring, and laying optical fibre to each new home. Looks like some people are taking the idea of supplying infrastructure to heart. After all, they also install the roads and so on.

Sunday 23 November 2008

HTML5 Draft

The W3C have released a HTML: The Markup Language - W3C Editor's Draft 20 November 2008 for HTML5. Not that most browsers can handle the suggestions in it as yet. However I am delighted to see the revision effort continues.

Monday 24 November 2008

Moving to Microsoft Windows

My newsagent has a new accounting system for running his orders. Yes, the people doing their system have finally moved to Microsoft Windows ... from MS-DOS. I don't think the folks at the newsagent are all that impressed with the results.


I was seeking plastic sheets to seal bookcases so small bookcases could be moved with a few books in them. It appears the stuff I was thinking of was Corflute or Fluteboard corrugated plastic sheeting, made of polypropylene. Naturally I can't find anyone who actually sells the stuff nearby.

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Recycled Water

Sounds like a Queensland government backdown on recycling sewerage into the general water supply in South East Queensland. Handed the hot sewerage water back to the Water Commission. Maybe there is an early election coming?

Energy Efficiency

Amory Lovins, Energy Scientist says alternative energy is all about efficiency. Amory Lovins was co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute think tank on environment and energy use. He asks what do you need all this energy for? Often you don't need the energy, you need the results of using energy.

Rocky Mountain Institute even have a lightweight energy efficient Hypercar design. Ultralight construction, low-drag design, hybrid-electric drive.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

National Broadband Network

Deadline was today for 12 mbps to 98% of the population. Five bidders. Telstra didn't put in a bid! They sent a letter setting out heaps of terms, and saying if they were given lots of money and lent some more, they would do 90% of the population. Excuse me? I really suspect that 60% of the population could probably already get either ADSL2+ or cable, if they were willing to pay for it. If you fill in some city weak spots (and A$10 billion would help) it wouldn't surprise me if you couldn't get it to 90% mostly better than 12 mbps. Country people lucky to have a phone connection will still be left out of it all.


The government has finally admitted that it will take the budget into deficit. It took about 15 minutes to get the D word out. Turnbull had a good line that Labor deficits are never temporary. I think the conservatives are wrong about this. The Australia economy would probably be headed for recession without some stimulus. $10 billion to pensioners and people who would probably have to spend it is not such a bad idea. Plus government income from business will take a bath next year.

Thursday 27 November 2008

Townsville Storm

Stockland Shopping Centre in Aitkenvale at Townsville was inundated with water and had to be evacuated during severe storms this afternoon. 2,000 homes have lost power. ABC reports torrential falls of almost 150 millimetres recorded. The weather bureau flood reports shows multiple reports of rainfalls of over 100mm all around the Kirwan area. Their Mt Stuart weather radar is out, but the alternative Townsville airport radar shows continued rain.

I wonder what happened at Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village in the middle of their building program of new homes at The Far Side. At least most new homes had the roof on when we visited.

Secret Counterfeit

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a secret treaty to be established by the end of the year. Secret Counterfeiting Treaty Public Must be Made Public, say opponents of the secret treaty which is really about copyright in a global uproar.

The range of possible impacts include requiring ISPs to snoop all communication, confiscation or copying the content of electronic devices like computers and phones at borders, criminalise peer to peer sharing. But who knows the effects. The whole thing is being kept secret.

Friday 28 November 2008

Buy Nothing Day

Today was Buy Nothing Day, a viral campaign by Adbusters to reduce consumerism (and poke some fun at consumerism and the retail industry), now in its 17th year.

Today was also Black Friday, when many USA stores encourage consumers to visit and buy goods on sale. One casual worker at a Walmart sale in Long Island was trampled to death by rampaging consumers. In a ToysRUs, two men fought a duel with guns. What a wonderful world!


I finally collected the replacement prescription sunglasses for the sunglasses I lost in Sydney.

Saturday 29 November 2008

Airlie Beach Markets

It rained! It poured! Luckily I went around the Airlie Beach market and got a few vegetables around 7 a.m. before the heavens opened. I got wet when I continued on to the news agent to collect the Saturday newspapers. By the time I got back to the markets, the rain was easing off. Several of the remaining market stall holders asked me to use my Apple iPhone to check the latest Bowen weather radar pictures from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. That way they could decide if they wanted to escape the incoming weather from Bowen way.


Greenpeace rank Apple as poor on their green crap. I rather wish Apple would tell Greenpeace to stuff their head up their arse. But wait, Greenpeace already have. Greenpeace are eco-terrorists in the vigilante extortion business. Greenpeace are only good for one thing: eat militant vegans, the other white meat.

About the only eco group I loath worse than Greenpeace are PETA at and Peta's guilty secret

Sunday 30 November 2008

XHTML and Microsoft

Microsoft is a W3C member as are other web browser manufacturers like Apple, Mozilla and Opera.

Microsoft support XHTML in, and even list myriad advantages of using XHTML. Well formed, consistent rendering by browsers, accessible standards, extensible language, easier reading by programs and transformation is available. Microsoft even give examples of how can serve application/xhtml+xml

Unfortunately in 2005, Microsoft does not support XHTML in Internet Explorer 7. This is for compatibility reasons with old web sites, and because they could not have done a good job at that stage. Even more unfortunately, IE8 also does not support XHTML in 2009.

XHTML 1.0 became a W3C recommendation on 26 January 2000, while XHTML 1.1 became a W3C recommendation on 31 May 2001. A W3C Recommendation is a specification or set of guidelines that, after extensive consensus-building, has received the endorsement of W3C Members and the Director. W3C recommends the wide deployment of its Recommendations. Note: W3C Recommendations are similar to the standards published by other organizations.

HTML and XHTML Frequently Answered Questions partly covers why I am changing my Carlyle Gardens site to XHTML, served correctly. In particular, note the answers about how a web browser repairs HTML that is not correct.