Eric Lindsay's Blog October 2009

Thursday 1 October 2009

Travel to Canberra

We were up early in preparation for our trip to Canberra. I managed to get ready way before I needed to, as I thought the taxi arrived at 7 a.m. Actually it arrived at 7:30 a.m. But first, we got a phone call from the taxi despatcher. Where were we? By this time the taxi was already in our street, and saw our bags out front. The taxi driver had not been given our actual house number, despite Jean giving it to the person taking the booking. The taxi driver proceeded to give us an amusing monologue regarding the failings and bad habits of taxi despatchers all the way to the Townsville airport.

Our direct Virgin Blue flight on a red Embraer 170 took off on time, and arrived in Canberra about ten minutes early. We were soon in a taxi to The Marque Hotel at 102 Northbourne Avenue, near Civic. Our transit time was sufficiently low that our room was not available at 12:30 p.m. We left the luggage at the hotel, and headed to Civic via Mort Street in beautiful warm Spring weather..


We stopped at Office Works, where Jean bought memory cards, and I bought multi colour pens. Very important, I was also able to get 40 copies of a 6 page FAPA zine printed. We were later to return to Office Works to reprise much of our earlier purchases, in enlarged quantities. Jean helped me find the Post Office in Civic, so I was able to mail my FAPA zine to the USA, at great expense. No wonder paper is giving way to electronic media.

At Civic we had a welcome lunch at the food court, sushi and Ali Baba kabab. I bought a handful of computer books at the large Borders (alas, not precisely the ones I sought). Must locate a Dymocks bookshop, just in case. We found a supermarket type food place, and got enough food to fill the fridge at the hotel room. Mostly stuff I was not thrilled about, although I do not min Jarlsberg and ham. We also sighted a Aldi store, first I have seen. While Jean sat to rest her feet, I checked the Mac 1 store in Canberra Centre. Alas, that Apple store basically looked boring.

As is far too often the case, the Marque Hotel made excuses about not having a second key to the room. While this can work for us under some circumstances, attending a convention with multiple streams is not one of them. We had to be rather forceful before they produced a second key to the room. My reaction to this little hotel ploy is to cross that hotel off my visit list.

Jean sent me out later, and I got a fairly ludicrous quantity of wine, for a five day stay. I am sure others will assist in reducing it. The 2008 Pinot Grigio from King Valey was particularly nice.

When rested we walked back to Civic, for a dinner at the Pancake Parlour. Make that blueberry chocolate pancakes for me. The food was excellent. While eating, the WiFi network in the Pancake Parlour stopped downloading after a few minutes for me. Alas, Jean was not able to connect at all.

Jean realised we needed to contact Bob and Margaret, and attempt to organise a meeting with them. Luckily I was able to phone them, so we arranged for a Monday meeting, after the Dead Dog. Must phone them again to confirm and encourage.

Connections Fail

Jean did not get a WiFi connection at all at the Pancake Parlour. Experiments back at the hotel indicated Jean's WiFi hardware had failed on her Asus, in both Ubuntu and Windows. This is pretty serious as a failure goes, since the most likely cause is a hardware fault. It is less than a year old, and has an extended warranty, so repairs are likely.

I can not manage to persuade The Marque's Azure wireless network to talk to my web browser, so I can not use the hotel network at all. At least I have the fallback of walking to MacDonalds to try their WiFi. So I tried getting my Apple iPhone to tether the computer via Bluetooth. When that failed, I tried tethering via USB. Neither worked. What is more, the tethering profile I had downloaded on 29 June 2009, prior to getting iPhone OS 3.1, seemed to have evaporated. Looks like there are still problems tethering to the Telstra network. Indeed, the entire Bluetooth operation of the iPhone looks suspiciously crippled.

Friday 2 October 2009

Fans Meet

We entered the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Spotting shortages, I hastily grabbed a few glasses to get orange juice. Jean meanwhile greeted Karen, who was looking tired from her efforts at convention organising. Her daughter Tara was with her, and Sabrina, another person who was helping at registration and elsewhere.

While we were finishing a hot breakfast in the somewhat underprepared hotel restaurant, more science fiction fans arrived. This time Ian and Dave, from West Australia. Like us, they had arrived the previous day. I thought they looked a bit to chipper to have taken the red eye from Perth. Dave was launching a book at the convention. Ian was musing on re-launching a book launched several times before. I assured him I already had a copy from the previous convention.

The convention was starting to pull itself together. Dealers just beginning to arrive to set up the Dealers Room. Jean's parcel of books arrived, but another package intended for her table did not. Most of the tables in the dealer's were still empty. Jean did get about four books fairly quickly, some of which were being launched at the convention.

Since Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine was represented, I gave their Canberra representative a cheque for a twelve issue renewal of our subscription. They had on hand issue 41, which we had not been sent as yet. Indeed, issue 42 was almost available, delivery being later that week. We were able to collect issue #41, thus saving them some postage. I suggested Jean talk with them regarding Lulu or Amazon, for overseas subscription fulfilment.

Canberra Shopping Walk

I was seeking a decent Apple store, such as the one on the Australian National University campus. The phone book finally gave up the address, and included maps. We set out for a lengthy walk. When we finally reached the building, it was empty. Signs indicated the computer store had moved. Luckily the location was basically on the way back. This Mac 1 store was much larger than that in the shopping centre, and had a more interesting range. I was able to get an imported BackPack adjustable rest for an iMac. I was pleased with this, as I had seen them reviewed, but did not expect them to be available in Australia.

Being close to the City Walk, we sought the Dymocks book store. While I could get an address, it did not exist on the street. Nor were most properties numbered. Jean persisted, and we found the shop listed on one of the interactive displays inside the giant shopping centre. They had the very iMovie 09 book I wanted (an online acquaintance was co-author). More searching included Angus & Robertson Bookshop.


Garry gave me a flyer for his Bankstown library Freecon to be held 27-29 November 2009. For some reason this included Garry producing a glow in the dark sheep to go on my con badge (it did indeed glow in the dark - I checked later), plus a little star. Garry was noticeable throughout the convention, often taking what appeared to be extensive notes during many panels.


The Conflux6 show bag included a great number of items. A Scouting bumper sticker, flyer and a bookmark. ACT museums and galleries flyer. I know Nick attended a Nick Cave Exhibition at the National Library. Seizure Offline poster with multiple stories. A Canberra newsletter. C Magazine from Canberra Centre. A K J Tayor Dark Griffin book flyer. Centre for Continuing Education second semester course guide, of dubious relevance. Canberra 2009 holiday planner. KRin Pender-Gunn had flyers for a 300 cartoon CD of Ian Gunn's cartoons. Voyager Books had a flyer showing heaps of speculative fiction. A Writer Goes on a Journey is about writing and web 2 social networking.

Opening Ceremony

We attended the Conflux 6 opening ceremony around 6:30 p.m. The theme of the convention was secrets. They had a wide range of Australian writers and editors attending, many as guests. I should add that the Friday had an extensive range of workshops on writing. I am sure many of these would have been excellent for intending authors. The opening ceremony also featured two actors in security costumes, who wanted to check the venue was safe. Just as well they did, as we were later invaded by an impressive tall, skinny alien.

Later in the evening the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild ran their 10th birthday party, which gave an excellent chance to socialise with early attendees, and those recovering from the lengthy workshops. The Guild is organised to assist those aiming for a career as an author. They have also produced eight anthologies of writing.

Saturday 3 October 2009


We attempted to make a fashion statement at breakfast by wearing our two part T shirts. Jean had a shirt modified to read Grumpy Old Women. She had organised to get me a shirt declaring I'm with Grumpy. Alas, no fans were present for the unveiling of these T shirts. While we were getting more of the now more than adequate hot breakfast, we noticed Dave and Ian at another table. Ian had upstaged us with his T shirt. It depicted an irate bird in a tree, with the caption irritable owl syndrome.

I managed to get to a Torchwood panel with Lawrie Brown, Danny Oz, Carol Bott and April Hertzog. Torchwood being a secret organisation fitted the Conflux theme.

Books Bought

We attended Dave Luckett's book launch, where Jean got two autographed copies of his latest humourous steampunk novel, Subversive Activity (from West Australian Vivid Publishing).

Jean was sharing her book selling table with Edwina Harvey, and took the opportunity to get The Whale's Tale (Peggy Bright Books), which featured a fine cover by Eleanor Clarke.

Jenny Blackford came along to provide a hot off the press author's copy of 50 Voices of Disbelief Why We Are Atheists by Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk (Wiley-Blackwell).

The thick X6 (Coeur de Lion), edited by Keith Stevenson, contains six stories by Australian authors. Dowling, Katz, Haines, Lanagan, Jamieson, Sparks.

Almost equally thick was Brisbane Engineer Christian Tamblyn's fantasy novel Dragon of the Second Moon (Sid Harta Publishers).

Jean bought Life Through Cellephane (Eneit Press) by Gillian Polack.

Masques (CSFG Publishing), edited by Gillian Polack and Scott Hopkins. A collection of stories of wearing masks, and hiding who we are.

In Bad Dreams, Volume Two: Where Death Stalks (Eneit Press), edited by Sharyn Lilley.

2012 (Twelfth Planet Press), edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Ben Payne.


I was delighted to see Karen, who was leading various children in craft activities, such as how to make a Dalek.

I attended Designing the Super Villain's Secret Hideout. Many very silly ideas for secret hideouts were discussed by Ian Nicholls, Danny Oz and Nick Stathopoulos. We decided the lack of highly visible secret hideouts was not because they did not exist, but because they were well hidden secrets. The notion that the US Government had not even been able to hide missing Watergate tapes was dismissed as a red herring, as we are all pretty sure secret hideouts exist.

Bill Wright, Sean McMullen and the very active Gillian Polack presented the Norma K Hemming Award details, and encouraged participation rather than secrecy.

The mass book signing seemed to include an enormous range of authors. I believe Jean had contrived to get the every increasing range of books she had mostly signed earlier.

I also attended the launch of Richard Harland's new website on better writing tips. Nice that even a web site launch includes sparkling wine.


Secrets of the Bayou, a southern Gothic banquet, set in Shell Beach, Lake Charles, on 4 April 1883. We guests time travelled to the venue for the barbecue. Gillian did a fascinating booklet to assist us in feeling and appearing at home in that distance period of the past, as we had no desire to disturb the natives.

Sunday 4 October 2009

Nick on books. Jack showing Lewis and Marilyn notes on 3D models of a 16th Century galleon. There was a Real Science in SF panel, followed by a Secrets of Writing Humour panel with Richard Harland and others. This was to be my Richard Harland day. He was author in residence in the Dealers Room, but was short on visitors, so I sat and talked with him, until he had to go to the Where To From Here panel.


Epublishing was the topic of a one hour talk by Guest of Honour, editor Jim Minz from Baen Books. Jim pointed out that what publishers mainly provided was an imprimatur. The term was originally an official license from the Roman Catholic Church to print an ecclesiastical book. In this context, it means a publisher is saying the book is worth your time and money. Sure, there is also editing and printing and distribution, but what the publisher really provides is making a selection of what is worthwhile.

This fits my prejudices pretty well. I have often remarked that I will buy any book that indicates (inside the cover) that David Hartwell was editor. I trust his knowledge and good taste.

Baen does not publish eBooks. It publishes traditional books. It also makes many of its published books available via a different distribution method. That is, electronically. As well, Baen Books forgoes any attempt at using Digital Rights Maintenance (DRM). Books are available in HTML and a variety of open ebook formats. Baen has been massively successful in distributing via its web site. Apart from no DRM, the Baen eBooks are cheaper than paperback, and the authors receive a larger percentage of the sales. Baen are one of the few companies doing eBooks right.


There was a masquerade, which I failed to even notice. Masquerades basically do nothing for me, especially since there is usually loud music present. I did have reports of Bill attending.

I had to run away and hide from the Ninja band with attitude. What they mostly seemed to have was lots of noise. Even being several rooms and several closed doors away barely reduced the noise level to something I could tolerate.

The highlight of the late night entertainment was Cat's slideshow at Nick's birthday party. This had slides of Nick dating back to the really early days. Talking with Ian. To bed at 1:11 a.m.

Monday 5 October 2009


After Jean left the breakfast table, I was joined by Richard and his lovely spouse. A little later Bill wandered along and took an adjoining table, there not being space for four at our window table.


Josh Whedon's Serenity Universe and the US Civil War was covered by Gillian Polack, Mik Bennett and Jane Virgo. I was astonished at the material they added to what was shown on TV and in the film. A real pity that show did not continue.

Twitterati had a panel of Alan Baxter, Rachel Kerr and Nicole Murphy. It was interesting to hear of the wide use of Twitter as a research tool. Since I follow almost no-one and have few followers, I have found Twitter almost useless. However I can see why some people like it. I must admit that I dislike almost all internet social groups in which the identity of the participants is hidden. That was my main objection to Live Journal as well. I do not intend to use a secret decode ring to work out who is writing.

I attended The Next Big Things in SF TV with Conor Bendle, Mik Bennett and Dietmar Ott. I hoped to make up for my lamentable lack of concern with what was about to appear. However it was not exactly that sort of panel. I did find it interesting.

The Transparent Society had one of the foremost Australian authorities on internet privacy, Roger Clarke. Also contributing were Lawrie Brown and Rachel Kerr. This was a very interesting discussion of just how much of our lives are now unhidden. The flip side is that to some extent, this unhiding also applies to the rich, the famous, and our politicians.

The closing ceremony for Conflux 6 was held around 4 p.m. Conflux 7 will be held at the same Marque Hotel, 102 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra, from Friday 30 September to Monday 3 October 2011.

Dinner with Friends

We had dinner next door at the Haig with our old friends Bob and Margaret. While we do manage to see them most times we get to Canberra, we do not get to Canberra very often.

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Back to Townsville

We were up before 6 a.m. Took a little while to organise checkout from The Marque, but I am sure the early hour did not assist any of us. No time for breakfast, alas. The taxi arrived before 7 a.m.

We had problems with security at Canberra. Jean had accidently left her good folding scissors in her carry on. The run around to manage to mail them back to us would have been too hard. When we settled in the boarding lounge, we discovered Canberra airport had no newsagent (nor much food) inside the security area. Not impressed. The much smaller Townsville airport does it better.

We had grabbed seats at the rear of the plane for DJ1887 to Townsville, so we could photograph Carlyle Gardens from the air just prior to landing. The flight took off on time, around 8:25 a.m. The back of the aircraft was a horror zone, infested with screaming children. I have no idea how the parents manage to retain their sanity or temper. At least the flight arrived at Townsville around 10 a.m. (one hour time zone change, due to that idiotic daylight savings in the south).

Our taxi home was uneventful and fast. We could tell the taxi driver exactly how to best get to the new section of Carlyle Gardens. We were unpacking our bags by about 10:30 a.m.


My replacement battery arrived from Epowermac for my old Apple Powerbook G4. The delivery company had left it at reception for me. So, I can hope that this new battery actually shows and works as a new battery. However that has to wait a few weeks until I can get it together with the Powerbook and get an overnight charge into it.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Technology Fails at Carlyle Gardens

No sign whatsoever of watering or irrigation systems working on the gardens and lawns to the East of us. The lawns to the West got a proper sprinkling around 5 a.m., as usual. Jean had set up our sprinkler in the garden across from us last night, so at least the community garden got some water.

A little while after I started watching the evening news at five, the set top box started indicating a loss of signal. I tried powering down all the items involved in the signal change, but none of this brought on a return of the television signal. Either the optical converter at our home has failed, or else the signal loss is earlier in the optical fibre chain. Not impressed. I checked later with a TV enthusiast neighbour. Their connection had also been lost. Hearsay that to several other people. Then a phone call from another neighbour asking if there was a TV problem. Sure seems the problem is general.

Laptop Connection

At lunch Leigh's sister asked me to assist in getting her computer connected to the internet. Although the computer had WiFi, 802.11g, Windows 2000 Pro seemed to lack any facility to connect to WiFi using any encryption apart from the outdated WEP. In particular, it lacked any setting for WPA or WPA2. We took the laptop to the Computer Club Room. It refused to allow an Ethernet connection to take precedence over dial up networking. We found a phone socket. It refused to find a dial tone. We gave up. I have suggested getting a GMail account.

It appears Windows XP can support WPA after service pack 2 and updates. Probably best to update Windows XP to Service Pack 3. I can see no indication Windows 2000 supports WPA. WPA support needs to be in the wireless network adaptor driver. Microsoft recommend WPA, and have directions on setting up Windows networking. Versions of Windows earlier than XP probably will not work. Windows Vista seems to connect easily.

Dell Laptop

Jean's new laptop computer arrived from Dell. Very snazzy, with a sleek exterior, and a subdued merlot colour top. It has touch sensitive illuminated controls for media. The display is dead flat glass from edge to edge, with no seams. Even the box the Dell came in was very tastefully fitted out with form fitting protection when being transported.

Jean started using her large unwanted scroll mouse with the Dell. The mouse glowed red in all sorts of places, which moved it from unwanted to a matching item of geekery.

The display was a glossy mirror. Even in the early evening you could see everything in the room reflecting in it. That simply reinforces my prejudice. I am not buying a computer that acts like a mirror.

The Dell comes with Microsoft's Windows Vista. Instant downgrade. Jean has a certificate to change to Windows 7 when that is available. However she will be installing Linux on the Dell, so what version of Windows is there does not matter a whole lot.

Presentation Secrets

mention of a book, The presentation secrets of Apple's Steve Jobs, pointed me to a series of interviews with the author on How to copy Steve Jobs' presentation perfection. An important point. Jobs works very hard at being good at presenting. While he was always a natural salesman, he is now a far better presenter.

Thursday 8 October 2009

Kindle Coming to Australia

Amazon's Kindle is coming to Australia around 20 October, via the Amazon online store. The eBook reader uses eInk, rather than an LCD display. This provides better battery life, at the expense of a grey on grey display. However it is daylight readable. While I would like to play with an eInk device, read the negative reviews before buying. In particular, Kindle only displays a very, very restricted range of material. It is basically a badly done kluge.


If you use Safari web browser on an Apple Macintosh, the Click to Flash plugin stops Adobe Flash from eating your CPU and ramping up your fans. What Click to Flash is best at is blocking horrible Flash based advertising. As a bonus, the most recent version of Click To Flash also lets you view (or download) YouTube video as H-264 instead of in Flash.

You can also kill a running Flash video with Bash Flash (only on 64 bit Intel Macintosh with Snow Leopard). This is because the plugin runs on a separate core as a separate process, so you do not need to kill Safari to get rid of an annoy Flash page you accidently set running.

Adobe have wanted Flash on the Apple iPhone for ages. Adobe have released a Flash to iPhone compiler that should allow Flash developers to leverage their experience and make stand alone applications for iPhone. Not my first choice of the way to do this. However perhaps it will decrease the CPU eating I associate with Flash on the web. However what I would prefer is that Flash disappear from the web.

Sprinkler System

Our dining room table was wet when we checked it this morning. We had left the window open, as usual now it is warmer. This means that at least one automatic sprinkler system (perhaps the garden) is working on the eastern side of our house. This is good news! Alas, we still do not believe the grass sprinkling system is actually working on the eastern side of the house.

TV Feeds Dead

The television feeds to the new side of Carlyle Gardens that failed around 5 p.m. yesterday are still out of action. I managed to get to talk with the installer Rob, who was checking the problem. He was able to trace the signal to a Scientific Atlanta optical amplifier in the fibre optics cabinet. This fancy, expensive, long warranty gadget had failed after less than a year. I doubt there are more than a half dozen of them in Australia. So a new one has to be shipped from the USA. I was told Tuesday. I find that a little hard to believe, but we will see.


I took home a pack of MYOB Accounting Plus. Not a real lot in the very wimpy setup guide about the best arrangement of accounts for a small business. My best option would be to install all the PDF manuals and read them. However the licence does not allow you to even read the manuals if you are not the owner. Pretty hard to give advice on the install under those circumstances (I grabbed the manuals anyhow). This has not increased my tender feelings for accounting software at all. Especially as it looks like the install would take a fair amount of time , if you hope to do a good job.

Friday 9 October 2009

Computer Plants Close

Dell is closing its four year old desktop PC manufacturing plant in Winston-Salem, N.C. in a cost cutting move. Earlier it closed its Austin, Texas, desktop manufacturing facility. Dell also closed a Canadian call centre, and a long established plant in Ireland in 2008, as part of a plan to reduce its workers by at least 10%. Desktop computer sales are in decline, despite cheaper components than for laptops.

Meanwhile, laptop computer prices are dropping towards netbook levels. The so called netbook computer, low power, low specifications, cramped keyboard, small display, has the advantage of being cheap. However cheap means low profit margins for manufacturers. My own view is that the quality and performance of most netbook computers suck. Luckily they are impulse buys, so throwing them away is not a big deal.

Graphics Chipsets

The graphics chipset scene is fraught. NVidia have had quality control (or design) issues on released chipsets over recent years, with soldering failures that have cost manufacturers a heap. Older NVidia MCP79 chipsets have been used in all Apple computers (except Mac Pro and Servers) since 2008. This Apple solution for Penryn Core 2 Duo CPUs basically ignored integrated Intel graphics, and the Intel Series 4 chipset from the 3 chip Intel Penryn motherboard solution. Basically the processor connected to the Series 4 via the front side bus (FSB). The series 4 provided access to PCIe Graphics and Display, plus DDR memory.

Intel and NVidia continue their legal fight about integrated graphics chipsets. NVidia are not continuing several chipset lines potentially aimed at new Intel Nehalem or Westmere CPUs. Intel aims to cut NVidia out with the 32 nm Westmere chips, by including their own 45 nm integrated graphics with their two chip Intel Series 5 chipset. The processor integrated the memory controller inside the CPU and got rid of the front-side bus. It now includes PCIe Graphics, and DDR3 memory access. The Series 5 chipset includes display and IO, linked by QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) and Direct Media Interface (DMI) buses, for which NVidia has no license. So, there is no place for an NVideo Northbridge chip and integrated graphics.

It is entirely possible computer makers will be left with only mediocre Intel embedded graphics, which suck compared to embedded chipsets from NVidia and ATI (ATI only with AMD CPUs). I am already counting the forthcoming Intel Larrabee graphics as a loser, despite the spec sheets saying all the right things.

War on Newspapers

In an excess of irony, I note the Telegraph newspaper article the internet will devour newspapers, reporting on the lack of a centre to news. Andrew Keen says the Internet is the Blob, a horror nothing can assimilate. Newspaper proprietor Rupert Murdoch intends to fight. So he plans to build a big wall around the content of News Limited material. Sort of like The New York Times. I never link to that, since there is this wall.

Flash on iPhone

Adobe found a way to let developers write in Flash, and convert to an iPhone application. However Flash on iPhone is not similar to iPhone apps, as the Louis Gerbarg article indicates. It will be very interesting to see whether performances improves. It will also be interesting to see how battery life goes. Based only on my experience with Flash on a PPC Macintosh, I find it hard to believe the result will be acceptable. Personally I wish Flash would die.

Saturday 10 October 2009

Livescribe Pulse SmartPen

The ultimate pen for note taking and voice recording, from what this PC World review says. Gizmondo reviewed the Livescribe Pulse SmartPen and liked it. See the brief Livescribe starter guide and the 52 page Livescribe Desktop for Mac OS X User Guide. In addition, VisionObjects sell MyScript for Livescribe, which converts handwriting to text.

Livescribe Pulse SmartPen software available for Macintosh this year. MacWorlds Canada review of Livescribe Pulse Smartpen. Gizmodo report Livescribe Pulse SmartPen beta software Mac compatible in late 2008. MacWorld reviewed Livescribe’s Pulse Smartpen for the Mac, especially the Mac desktop software. OfficeWorks have Lifescribe Pulse SmartPens at A$250.


The garden sprinkling system had watered the dining room table by 5 a.m. I believe at least some of the lawn sprinkling system had worked as well. On the other hand, at least some of the lawn did not seem to get any water.

Willows for shopping, however the newsagent was closed for renovations (as is much in Willows). We did Woolworths, ignoring the Arnotts chocolate biscuits on special. For the first time in Australia, we encountered swipe your own checkouts without staff. These were highly similar to those we had seen long ago in Lacey, but somewhat more advanced. With only a handful of items, we coped just fine.

Wasted a lot of time in Target, but got some purple sheets for Jean. Since I get to bed when it is dark, and rise before it is light, they will not offend me. The Mitre 10 hardware store at Sunland had 19 mm reinforced hose that would fit the air conditioning outlets. Must remove right angle joints (if possible), measure and buy. We also finally got the garden nail rake for spreading soil around our garden. No excuse left for not completing that, alas.

The new neighbours appeared every now and then with a medium sized moving van from a hire company. Declined help unloading, as they had done it all before. We had met them for the first time on Friday, when they came over and introduced themselves while we were taking in the laundry.

Fireworks tonight, around 8:30 p.m. It appeared they were coming from the direction of the open field near the river, just past Sunland shopping centre. I have no idea what the occasion may have been.

Note Taking Tools

A pencil and notebook are old fashioned, but hard to beat for price and ease of use. Try smart markup of notes, using symbols like * (important), ? (more research), () (other to do), and [] (todo checklist) in the margin. Notebooks are also harder to share, and much harder to index and search.

Journler is a daily notebook and entry based information manager. Unfortunately, Philip Dow announced development of Journler has ceased, victim to support demands following its own popular success.

OmniOutliner has styles, multiple column types, accepts attachments or images, sounds, movies, web links, and has heaps of export options. AppleScript support. Inline notes in your outline.

Circus Ponies Notebook clears clutter and assists in organising material. Notebook interface, with pages and tabs. Track tasks, manage clippings.

Mariner Software MacJournal does personal joirnal entries with two levels of security. Supports blogging.

DevonThink smart information assistant accepts scanned material.

Chronos have SoHo Notes for digital note taking.

Synium have NoteMind, which seems to organise notes via a database.

Zengobi Curio seems to be a mind mapping, brainstorming and project management tool.

TuneKit and WebGL

iTunes LP albums and iTunes Extras for movies look good and seem to be standards compliant HTML 4 Strict, CSS and JavaScript, all in a zipped bundle. It has been suggested an iBook reader could revitalise comics. I downloaded Tyrese Gibson's Mayhem, the comic. It used technologies from Sam Herz, one of Apple’s user interface engineers for the iTunes Store, and Barry Munsterteiger, creative director for rich media and Internet technologies. I checked the bundle content. You could play most of it in the Safari web browser, and it was aimed at 1280x720 resolution (which AppleTV can handle). The source showed TuneKit as a JavaScript framework, sort of like SproutCore is a Javascript framework for MobileMe web apps. So, interactive multimedia with open file formats, without proprietary Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight. See some experts on building iPhone apps with web standards using open source development tools like PhoneGap.

eBooks Again

Good eBooks may be so cheap they are a toll, not a purchase. So individual creators can make some money, without publishers, but rarely turn fame into fortune. We know book sales are stagnating, as competition increases. Start moving a few classes of books into interactive devices. Travel, children's books, comics, science and history. O'Reilly are looking at electronic reading.

Sunday 11 October 2009


MT-Newswatcher can no longer access various Macintosh UseNet groups on the internet. This seems to date from around the time iiNet changed their news support (currently GigaNews). Basically a 501 error for certain headers from an attempted XHDR command. I do not think GigaNews supports XHDR correctly, nor can I see why I get a 501 response. I have wasted enough time trying to fix it. I deleted all traces of MT-Newswatcher.

So I tried OSXnews, which is a beta product and perhaps no longer supported. Smultron promptly died! Cause and effect? Can not really see it. OSXnews could not get a group list out of iiNet. So another news reader deleted.

Download Pineapple News, which seems another beta. I can get a list of newsgroups by download from iiNet. However no headers downloads, nor do I get any error messages.

I looked for a free news server, although I doubted they would be available. Another old favourite set of sites disappear along with reading UseNet. There hardly seems any free news sites left, even for text only and the Big 8 groups.

I finally discovered this was a three part problem. iiNet changed to using Gigabyte for their news feed. GigaNews does not supports XHDR correctly (or at least feeds back weird responses). MT-NewsWatcher thinks there is more wrong than there probably is. However if you remove your spam filters from MT-NewsWatcher, you can get it all to work again. At the expense of receiving newsgroups with an untoward amount of spam. No winners here.


David Kaneda's Webkitbits blogs about WebKit, and specifically follows which additional browsers are now based on WebKit. The figures are starting to look pretty astonishing. Everyone probably knows Google's Chrome web browser uses WebKit. I had not realised the GNOME Web Browser, Epiphany, has switched to WebKit from Gecko for its rendering engine. RIM acquired Torch Mobile, developers of a WebKit-based mobile browser. It is now the age of WebKit.


The Social Club had their regular monthly barbecue. This one had an Oktoberfest theme. The bar assisted by getting some Grolsch premium lager beer, which is actually Dutch, but probably close enough. I introduced Jean to David, behind the bar.

We sat with the custodians, Gary and Anne, and a friend of theirs from outside. Met some new residents who came to the original village much the same date we arrived at the new side. Also at the table were a nice couple with some language issues between them. Jean said all her Spanish abandoned her. Also there were Ray and John, who I sometimes see for lunch.

Wendy from the Social Club asked for and received some more committee members. They had been very short of members at the annual meeting. If we were here more often I might have joined, but think it better just to give a hand with furniture moving and so on on the spot, when I attend something.

The Residents Committee (represented by Wendy) also pointed out that Carlyle Gardens was very short staffed at the moment. Jo-Ann is taking care of everything, and will be for two weeks, while Leigh is away. With Robyn no longer with us for reception, and Gayle alas in hospital, Jo-Ann has an impossible task.

Monday 12 October 2009


The concrete pad for the mailboxes has been built at the far edge of The Far Side. As well as the completed slab, they have left several pallets of bricks ready for the next stage of construction of the mailboxes. We took a walk this morning to inspect the progress, and take a few photos.

I raked our garden bed to get the soil a little more evenly distributed. Still looks like a miniature mountain landscape, but slightly less so than previously.

Mark the gardener was over this side trying to see whether the watering system was actually watering the things it should. Somehow the testing never included the closest garden to us, nor the lawn watering system nearest us. I did find three sprinkler heads along the side of our house. However I am convinced there is one more sprinkler still buried near where the walking path joins the road. Mark and his crew did try capping the broken sprinkler head outside 526 that I reported to him on Sunday on the way to Oktoberfest.

I had a 10:50 appointment with Dr Richard Jiang for a Swine Flu immunisation. He did not get to me until 11:50, which was about when I expected. I did manage to read most of a copy of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine while I was waiting.

At reception, Jo-Ann told me that the (large) box with the gadgets to fix the failed optical amplifier in the office had arrived. I decided I should check this.

TV Returns

Jean reminded me I wanted to find out if the optical TV feed was being fixed. The office closes at 4 p.m. but Jo-Ann (the only remaining person of the previous four staff) was kind enough to allow me in. Wendy from the committee was still helping in the office. No sign that Lend Lease Primelife were helping at all. Rodney from Len Dowd Electrical was expected at 5:30 p.m. I wandered off to delivery Whitsunday Times to Neil. Off to the pool next to find Gary, the resident custodian. Gave him my phone number, and he said he would call me when the electrical contractor arrived. The bar was nearby. I organised a social membership of the Carlyle Gardens RSL for Jean and I while I was there. Meanwhile Jean phoned to say her leg had given up working, and therefore she would not be taking a walk this evening. Just contemplating a drink when Gary phoned to say Rodney had arrived. Jo-Ann was printing more copies of the Carlyle Chronicle (after Gary helped decode print options), so I collated and folded them.

At home later in the evening I checked how well the TV signal repair had worked. Seemed pretty good. Did not even need to retune the set top box. Volume was much louder, for unknown reasons.

Microsoft Works

Microsoft have killed Microsoft Works. They are replacing it with a free Starter Edition of Microsoft Office 2010, with Word and Excel. The reduced function free version will be advertising supported, like the online version of Office 2010. OEMs will also install a full edition of Microsoft Office, able to be unlocked using an electronic pay card.

Sponsorship by advertising is mostly about misrepresentation and suppression of comparison and competition. Many people these days realise at a gut level that advertising is a shlock. It is a pity enough still click on advertising to keep the model alive on the internet. That said, it appears the Office 2010 advertising is in a small corner at the bottom right hand side of the page.

Tuesday 13 October 2009


Slept badly, so I got up around 4:30 a.m. and started working on the computer, for lack of a better idea. When it was light enough I raked the garden slightly flatter than before. Not that it changed the rugged grandeur of the soil (nor the number of clumps). While Jean worked on a book with a deadline, I went shopping. My shopping expedition included some sample garden wall concrete blocks. Alas, the large blocks were not available. I also collected a short length of air conditioning pipe, and some 19 mm flexible tubing to carry the condensation away.

Solar Panels

Got our letter approving government support for the installation of 1 kW of solar panels in a grid linked power system. The outfit doing retirement villages had around 8000 applications. So far they have completed around 400. Our deadline for installation is June 2010, after which the subsidy disappears. I hope this gets done on time.

Library Without Books

Welcome to the library. Say goodbye to the books, says Cushing Academy in New England. The school has dumped their traditional library in favour of eBooks. After all, most of the books were not being read.

Traditional readers reacted with disbelief, raving about the spiritual quality of books, or the musty smell of paper. Anything but accept the book may go the way of parchment and scrolls. Which reminds me, why don't the webmasters at Tor make web standard compliant URLs?

Wireless Access Point

I finally got around to adding another wireless access point to the place. This time using the Apple Airport Extreme 802.11n router and wireless access point I bought just before the split frequency model came out. As usual, my iMac could not see the router until I gave up and reset the router. I do not understand why these Apple access points never seem to work until you reset them. Once it was visible, it did not take long to update the firmware and set passwords. I have it in bridge mode. I mostly want it for faster wireless file transfers between 802.11n capable computers such as my MacBook Air, and Jean's new Dell. It will be a fair while before all the 802.11g equipment disappears, especially in iPods and iPhones. I also want to try it with an AppleTV.

Wednesday 14 October 2009


I made up a series of flexible pipe tube fittings to carry air conditioner condensation away from the concrete surrounds of the house. This time I remembered to use washing up gloves to protect my hands from the boiling water I used to soften the plastic tubing.

The council slasher is still working on the drainage ditch dividing the old side of Carlyle Gardens from the most recent construction site. It seems to have been working on that for about three days. Meanwhile, the gardeners have just spread a nice thick layer of mulch on the gardens of the house next door, and the house across the way. Both are newly sold, with the people just moved in.

Holger next door asked about TV leads. Luckily I seemed to have a spare F socket to TV lead adaptor to give him, so I hope that is the right converter. I also showed him where to connect up his fibre optic to TV input connector in the garage, since he is using a TV aerial at the moment.

I installed another hose hanger on the Eastern side of the house, since we now had more garden hoses than hangers (or taps for that matter). We had purchased the extra hose hanger ages ago, but had not managed to find time to install it. These seem no end to little chores about the house. I can see why men would prefer a cave with furniture.

iFrame Video Format

Apple iMovie debuts iFrame H.264 video format (resolution 960x540, 16:9 aspect ratio) with AAC audio, at a quarter Full HD (1920x1080). Sanyo added the resolution to the VPC-HD2000A and VPC-FH1A camera. I hope this will make a nice format for consumer video. Unlike AVCHD, it is not an MPEG transport screen. The MP4 container can only be done after completion of a sequence. It should be able to be used with no transcoding. iFrame sounds like a DVD equivalent format customised to work well with portable media players like iPhone and iPod, perhaps using external presentation. Should also suit AppleTV, as 960x540 default large iMovie resolution, and is the highest 30fps format that is supported on the Apple TV. Plus it would not be a horrible format for use over the web.

While I liked MJPEG (also a series of still photos) at 720p, I have to admit it uses a lot of storage space. It is also tough on my computer (but perhaps something modern will perform much better). In contrast, DV does not use square pixels. HDV uses a transport stream, as does ACHDV. You are looking at interpolated video, not a series of individual frames.

eBooks Stuff Libraries

eBook economics are stuffing libraries. Experimenting with eBooks is fine, if you are just playing around. However electronic formats do not need a physical building. If eBooks have DRM and are locked to specific devices, then libraries end up just loaning eBook readers to clients. In addition, libraries can be charged differential higher prices for their eBooks. Either way, libraries are dead. Only a site licence can save libraries. Maybe publishers will see this, maybe they will not.

Personally, I think book publishers need to move away from DRM. Why would anyone be willing to buy a locked format you can neither loan nor resell? You are renting the book, not buying it. Rentals need to be cheaper than buying. The music publishers finally gave up on DRM. They will not make as much money, but may retain some part of the book industry. Bad luck if you are a bookshop or a printer.

Thursday 15 October 2009

No WebKit on Mobile

Although WebKit is a class act in standards compliance, WebKit standards compliance is variable in mobile web browsers. In particular, according to Quirksmode's The Great WebKit Comparison Table, media query is treated poorly. Media query is not interpreted dynamically after a resize (say due to orientation change). To my chagrin, the Apple iPhone version of Safari is simply wrong in treating position: fixed as position: absolute. The iPhone also treats some selectors as static when another an element is inserted dynamically (not that I would ever write code to do that). This table is a wonderful resource for anyone writing web pages.

Blog Navigation

I have navigation for this blog at the bottom of the page, occupying a fairly small amount of space. However it occurs that making navigation available anywhere would be more what is really needed for navigation. This seems to argue for use of position: fixed to peg navigation to either the top or the bottom of the active viewpoint. The major problem with this is Safari on an iPhone treats position: fixed as position: absolute.


Opinion rave by Derek Powazek. Search Engine Optimization is not a legitimate form of marketing. While overboard relative to some educational SEO outfits, the great majority of the web is polluted by link spamming, not by SEO. To the point where comments are always password protected these days. Usenet is full of spam for web sites. One comment claimed It isn’t just SEOs that are scum, all marketing people are. Raves are fun, but not always totally realistic. Many (most) small businesses are not going to get anywhere with web advertising. See Danny Sullivan's An Open Letter To Derek Powazek On The Value Of SEO.

Search engine optimisation is easy (albeit tedious) if you know a certain amount about web development. Stop making shoddy web sites. Figure which topics you target. Provide relevant content, lots of it. Encourage links. Learn to structure a web site. Keep on doing it, forever. Follow the Google webmaster guidelines. Getting on the first page in Google is easy, if you do that. All my web sites manage it. That is not the same as doing it for a small business.


Summer has arrived. At least, hot weather has arrived. It was 320 Celsius, and the humidity the same at 2 p.m. when I walked back from the restaurant. It feels oppressive. Not long now before we crank up the air conditioning.

Jean's Asus EeePC

I was all set to return Jean's one year old Asus EeePC to Harvey Norman. Luckily Jean just discovered a function key toggle switch that appears to turn her wireless networking on and off. A change to that toggle got her WiFi working again. This is a relief, after finding that it did not work in Canberra. We still do not know when or where it was toggled, nor why it affected both Linux and Windows XP.

Airport Extreme

First off I tried my AppleTV. That didn't get very far, since I did not have any HDMI cables. Makes note to try to find someplace that sells (cheap) HDMI cables.

Since I had a spare 1.8TB hard drive, I decided I would use that to test disk access via the Airport Extreme base station (AEBS) I got working a few days ago. Did not work well. While the Airport Utility can see the hard drive, nothing else does. I have no idea whether I have set something up wrong, or whether there is some bug.

I have version 7.4.2 of the Airport extreme firmware. At least one thread in Apple discussions blames that upgrade for disk problems. When I set up my Airport extreme I was advised to upgrade, as part of the install process. I am not rather sorry I did so.

I think I will rename AEBS and the hard drive, so as to exclude spaces in the names. This is just in case there is a bug in the name handling. Save the configuration file. Reset AEBS to factory defaults. Reload configuration. If that does not work. I will try downgrading to 7.4.1 firmware. However I am not trying all that tonight.

Interesting experiment. Did a Connect to Server, using the AEBS IP address ( While I could not connect as a User, I could connect and see the hard drive as Guest. I have no idea how much use that may be. If Finder Preferences allow Show Connected Servers on Desktop, then the hard drive appears there.

The Western Digital drive consists of two drives set up to appear as one drive. I think my next experiment will need to be with a single drive model.

Electricity Failure

The electric power failed around 11:35 p.m in the evening, and was off for approximately an hour. Our section of Carlyle Gardens does not seem to suffer from many momentary power outages (unlike Airlie Beach until recently). However when power does go out, it is not momentary. It stays out for about an hour. So far I think in six months we have had lengthy failures on about 2% of the days. Not satisfactory in a civilisation that runs on electric power.

Friday 16 October 2009


Up at 5 a.m. On the road around 5:30 a.m. Fuel at Townsville, mainly since it was open and the car was nearly empty. Premium unloaded cost way higher than regular unleaded that I could not find available on any pump. So I only got about 30 litres.

Fog at Ayr. Fuel at Inkerman, where I took another photo of pub which now has windows. Got milk to drink on the trip, since I did not want to stop for breakfast.

I heard some music, left at Carlyle, on the radio. Maybe ABC 100 top music? I liked it, but can not find it when I could finally get online.

Shopping at Centro in the Whitsundays. Checked hardware store, DVD sales, but no luck. Actually about all I managed to get was a bunch of food. Since I was hungry, it was more food than I needed, and often not the best choices. I took that all up to my apartment in the Whitsunday Terraces.

Went shopping for magazines at the news agency in the main street of Airlie Beach. They had several that I get regularly. Got a haircut. Collected my tablets at the chemist. Collected mail at reception (only one item got through). Later went and collected a bread roll for lunch. Each time I had to climb the twelve flights of stairs to my apartment in the Whitsunday Terraces.

Post Office Closes

Told by newsagent staff (while shopping at Centro) that the Airlie Beach Post Office agency was closed, no PO Box access anywhere in Airlie Beach. Collected old mail from our previous PO Box at Cannonvale. Then stood in horrible queue at Cannonvale to try to collect any mail that should have gone to Airlie Beach. I really do not like this situation.

Australia Post is wholly owned by Australian Government. Post Office do not deliver mail to my address. Post Office have legal monopoly on mail under 250 grams, and any rival must by law change at least 4 times as much. I think I will be telling any government agencies that they better use a courier to send me mail in future. I am dumping paying for a PO Box. I have lost the PO Box twice in the past year, without warning, thanks to the Post Office making arbitrary changes. The Post Office can shove their so called service.

In other news, it seems Australia Post are concerned about a reduction of revenue this year. I can not understand how that might happen.

No Party At Airlie Beach

Tried to find friends near lagoon at twilight. Either I had the time or the location wrong. Went back home, since I could no longer see faces. Abandoning social events is common for me.

Music from the foreshore in the evening was so loud I could not hear TV. The music is also distorted and obnoxious. If it were not so hot I would close the doors, but I need the breeze.

Fireworks started at 7:45, and ended at 7:56. I had a nice view from the balcony of my apartment in the Whitsunday Terraces. The last grand burst was really nice. I think Airlie Beach Day and Night Chemist did a good job with their fireworks. The music from the Airlie Beach foreshore (SkyFM?) is still obnoxious.

Saturday 17 October 2009

Today at Airlie Beach

Got a swag of newspapers at the news agency. Saturday market was next. Parking an absolute disaster for stall holders. My usual food place missing (Lions said stay away, I hear). Gotbreakfast. Took newspapers back home and returned to market.

Rex was also missing. Got sunburnt on my legs while I was sitting around chatting. At least my hat protected my face. Speaking of hats, Glen had for sale a hat with a pig image. I know just who would like that.

Got through reading a bunch of newspapers and some magazines during the day, as I relaxed in my apartment at the Whitsunday Terraces resort.

Delivery of nice pies. Beef, red wine and sweet potato. Lamb and mushroom. Also some lamb roast that I hacked into a few chunks. Plus some pre-made chicken dishes for Jean. I froze everything except the pies.

Party tonight. G and A walked over, must have been close to 5 km, and still warm. We ate pies and drank way too much wine. Solved secrets of universe, but forgot them. So it goes.

Apple Powerbook

Removed a bunch of old application material from my Powerbook computer. Took way longer than I expected to hunt down old traces of them. Surprising, since I had thought I had already cleaned out the cruft. Started installing new battery in my Powerbook G4 on Friday. Managed the rundown on the Friday night, with the discharge taking 3.75 hours. Noticed one memory card was no longer showing. Noticed the real time clock must have a faulty battery (the main battery calibration requires that I let the main battery die).

eBooks Again

Google Editions to appear in the first half of next year, initially offering about half a million e-books in partnership with publishers who have digital rights. Buy from Google directly or from other online stores. Google will host the e-books and make them searchable.

Publishers get 63 percent of revenues, Google 37 percent. If bought through other online retailers, publishers would get 45 percent and most of the remaining 55 percent would go to the retailer, with a small share for Google.

Readers will be able to access e-books they have bought through Google on any device including PCs, laptops, netbooks and smartphones like Apple's iPhone through their gmail account, Google said.

Paper book competition also heated up. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced Thursday that its online site,, would charge just $10, with free shipping, for upcoming hardcover releases. A cut of 60 percent or more from the regular cost., the leading online book seller, has responded, also slashing its price to $10.

Sunday 18 October 2009


Collected Sunday paper. Walked up the twelve flights of stairs to my apartment in the Whitsunday Terraces resort. Watched current affairs shows. Read more magazines. Then read another bunch of magazines. Does not seem likely I will read enough to actually catch up. Watched strange movies. Eagle Eye, and Dogma.

Post Office Profits

The government-owned Australia Post corporation suffered a 35.7 per cent fall in annual pre-tax profit, partly due to fewer letters being mailed. Pre-tax profit for 2008/09 of $380.9 million was down on the record high of $592.2 million in 2007/08, evidence of a systemic decline in the mail market. For the first time in six years, the volume of all items sent through the post fell, to 5.3 billion from 5.6 billion in the previous year. Letter volumes fell by 4.1 per cent in the year to 4.9 billion, and revenue, boosted by a five cent increase in the price of postage stamps, increased by just 0.7 per cent to $2.8 billion. Post Office have legal monopoly on mail under 250 grams, and any rival must by law change at least 4 times as much.

Australia Post also said it had met or exceeded all its community service obligations, with 95.5 per cent of domestic letters arriving on time or early. Tax and government charges of $499.5 million were paid through the year, while a total dividend of $222.4 million was paid to the federal government.

Australia Post has lodged a draft notification with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) proposing to increase the basic postage rate by five cents, effective from early 2010.

While we understand no-one likes a price rise, our history shows we only seek an increase to continue providing equitable access to basic letter services for all Australians - no matter where they live. Group manager Letters, Allan Robinson.

Monday 19 October 2009


While I woke up around 4 a.m. I managed to get another little bit of sleep time before packing ready to leave. On the road by 5:15 a.m. No problems with the drive. I refuelled at Inkerman. Another few photos of the new pub building for my collection. had to stop at the musical loo at Brandon, where the tunes have not improved. I reached Carlyle Gardens just prior to 9 a.m.

Time Machine on Network

I posted a while ago about setting up an Airport Extreme with a hard drive connected to its USB port. While you can show it as a network connected drive, Time Machine does not use it. This is strange, since Time Capsule is essentially an Airport Extreme router with an attached hard drive.

Forum comments on network attacked storage for Time Machine soon pointed to hints on how to set up Time Machine on a NAS. Since Time Capsule is reported to have power supply problems, with several accounts on how to repair Time Capsule power supply problems. You might start with Time Capsule fan modification, since the existing fan is not much use.

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Apple Final Quarter Results 2009

Apple Reports Fourth Quarter Results Most Profitable Quarter Ever; Record Mac (3.05 million) and iPhone Sales. Laptop results even higher, at 74% of computer sales, and a 35% increase year over year. Even the average selling price was up.

Apple Prices

Rumours that new model computers will be out from Apple. Possible targets are Mac mini (US$599 A$1049 and US$799 A$1399). These have a 2 GHz Core2Duo. Hard drive is 120 GB and 1 GB of memory, with more expensive model having 320 GB hard drive and 2 GB memory.

iMac is also a potential upgrade model. Prices for 20 inch iMac with 2 GB ram with 320 GB drive are US$1199 (A$1999), with the 24 inch model US$1499 (A$2499) to US$2199 (A$3699). These prices date from when the US dollar was high and the A$ low. They appear more than slightly stupid now. The lower end models come with 2.66 GHz Core2Duo CPUs, and have Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics. Except for the low end, all models have 4 GB ram and 640 GB drive. The high end models have Nvidia GeForce GT120 and 130 graphics.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Apple Remote Control

Apple now has a new aluminium body infra-red remote control for use with its computers and with Apple TV. The new model is compatible with older remotes, but matches the aluminium stye of more recent aluminium body computers. The new remote has the usual wheel, but separate menu and play pause buttons.

I suspect they got rid of the magnet inside the remote, which really only worked with some plastic case iMac models. One interesting point is the remote control is no longer an optional item on the new plastic MacBook. It appears the MacBook lacks the infra red receiver needed to work with the remote control. This has to be a conscious decision by Apple design.

Apple Magic Mouse

Multitouch mouse where the entire surface is touch sensitive. Wireless Bluetooth connections. Handles one and two finger gestures, swiping sideways with two fingers, and all that good stuff. Probably does not handle three finger and four finger gestures, but I switched off the side buttons on my Mighty Mouse anyhow. The name has changed from Mighty Mouse to Magic Mouse. Thank goodness the scroll ball has gone. I love it that Apple hate buttons. I have been waiting for this mouse update ever since the patents emerged. I wonder what battery life is like?

There is also a new Apple Wireless keyboard. It did not seem to get announced by Apple. It uses two AA batteries, not three batteries like the previous model.

Apple MacBook

The new plastic case 13 inch MacBook has LED-backlit display, glass multi-touch trackpad and a 7 hour battery life from the non-removable battery. Hard drive has moved to 250 GB. Looks like Firewire has disappeared again, and it does not have an SD card slot. Price has dropped to A$1299 (US$999), mostly thanks to a stronger Australian dollar.

Seems to have an updated magsafe power cord on the new MacBook, very like the one on the MacBook Air. There is no longer any mention of an infra-red remote control port, and I do not believe it is installed, nor is Front Row mentioned. The longer life battery no longer has any external battery charge indicator.

Apple iMac

iMac has all new models, with larger, higher resolution displays, and optional quad core i5 and i7 processors. 21.5 inch (1920 x 1080) and 27 inch (2560 x 1440) LED backlit display. Apple have dropped 16:10 aspect ratios in favour of 16:9, so these models are wider than ever. While the panels still appear glossy (reflective) only, there are solid hints they are in plane switching (IPS, but may be cheaper E-IPS) style, not twisted nematic (TN) as used in most computers. The 27 inch model can accept VESA mounting with an optional adaptor. Use the 27 inch iMac display as an external DisplayPort display, via an optional adaptor. That option is HDCP compliant, so you could feed it external Blu-Ray videos for display. That sort of makes my 27 inch Dell monitor (which is only 1080P, no LED backlight) less essential. The new iMac also costs less than the 30 inch Apple display with about the same resolution. Now, if only I could get matte displays. Only the low end model has Nvidia 9400M GPU, the rest use ATI Radeon graphics cards. This seems an indication Apple are miffed at Nvidia.

There are now four SO-DIMM memory ports, instead of the previous two memory slots. This allows you to take the memory to 16 GB. Processor upgrades to quad core are probably essentially recently released low end Lynnfield desktop models, not mobile Clarkfields. The i5 (i5-750 - 8M L3 cache, 4 Cores,4 Threads, 2.66 GHz 45nm) lacks hyper-threading. The i7 (i7-860 - 8M L3 cache, 4 Cores, 8 Threads, 2.80 GHz 45nm) is dual-channel memory only (not three channel), as it is a socket LGA 1156 (with a reduced need for a complex P55 Northbridge support chip). I have no idea how Apple engineers got around the TDP problem.

There is an SD card slot under the optical drive. There is also one extra USB port. Power supply for the Firewire 800 port is limited to 7 watts, which is lower than I recall.

Apple Mac mini

The entry level Mac mini has a faster 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor (up from 2 GHz) and 2GB (up from 1 GB) of DDR3 1066 MHz memory, a 160GB (up from 120 GB) hard drive, five USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 800, NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics and a SuperDrive. The next model has 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, and 4GB of memory.

The most interesting option is the top end Mac mini server. Apple removed the optical drive, which is certainly not essential in a server. Apple added a second 2.5 inch hard drive. These can both be 500 GB, thus providing OS X Server with a terabyte of disk space (or 500 Gb with RAID). While I would not mind a second Gigabit Ethernet port, it is not essential (your router can point DHCP at the server). I can see this being a nice hit for a lot of small business setups. I had been contemplating a Mac mini as a home server anyhow. If I had decent upload speeds, I would consider moving my web hosting onsite, for example, and save web hosting fees. Nothing I do requires substantial server speed.

Downside of a Mac mini could still be the power plug. In earlier models, the power plug could be knocked out way too easy. I wonder whether Apple have fixed this?

Time Capsule

Multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technology added to the Airport Express and Time capsule. Basically increases the range of their wireless connection. Firmware change to increase the speed of backup with Time Capsule.

AirPort Extreme Base Station

multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technology added to the Airport Express and Time capsule. Basically increases the range of their wireless connection.


The lawn watering system on the western side of the house sprang into action just before 6 a.m. Jean was outside putting out our sprinkler for the garden, and nearly got sprinkled on. I took the camera and photographed the location of each pop-up sprinkler head. This is so we can find them again when the grass tries to overgrow them. I plan to dig the earth out around them, and protect them from the grass with some large diameter plastic pipe. I was later to hear from the gardener that the controller for the system was not completing the watering for Friday, and was then resetting to miss the other two watering sessions of the week.

Temperatures were in decline, thanks to a lot of breeze. We even took our walk prior to 5 p.m. since the breeze kept everything cool.

Thursday 22 October 2009


Jean drove off with me for my shopping trip. On Tuesday we had gone off with her for her shopping trip, an event I found deeply traumatic. Especially when I was sent off with instructions on what to get at other shops, like Woolworths. Quantities of munchies, like chocolate biscuits, leapt into my shopping basket. I can only ascribe to malnutrition, it being so long after breakfast. At least negotiating the serve yourself checkout worked fairly well, after some hesitancy with the electronic pen. I do not see how artists manage with drawing tablets. Then I had to smuggle my purchases into the car.

My shopping trip started with Jaycar, where Jean found a laptop cooler pad to replace the one she had grabbed from me, whose fans had gradually become noisy. I eventually found the bin of HDMI cables (which I hate with a passion) on sale at 4 for $25. Next was Dick Smith, where Jean found a bunch of add-ons for her Nintendo Wii Fit. So the back of the car was full of Jean's loot when we returned from my shopping expedition.

We did head into deepest Flinders Street, Townsville, site of many empty buildings, and much demolition and construction near the railway station. The Mac Doctors did not really do much Apple computer selling. They specialise in servicing Apple Macintosh computers. They also seemed more than average competent. Nice to know there is such an Apple computer repair outfit in the city.

Apple Advertising

Apple have a patent on presenting advertising as part of their operating system. I can not see Apple actually doing this, since it would cheapen the experience of using the computer. Apple do not even allow the Intel inside stickers most computer makers use. This is entirely apart from the number of people (like me) who already block most advertising. Looks more like a pre-emptive strike against others doing it, or some strange ploy for a tablet.

However, it makes me wonder about OS X on non-Apple hardware. Say Apple have problems enforcing their end user licence, and more outfits appear selling PC hardware and shipping with OS X. Apple could change to selling OS X upgrade, only for Apple computers (enforced by checking for a registered Apple computer). They could sell a much higher price tag stand alone OS X (without support), and that version comes with advertising. No advertising, no run.

Friday 23 October 2009


Jean started the dishwasher, for the first time. We have only lived here since March, so we would not want to rush into using home appliances. So far the Kleenmaid has neither leaked nor blown up, nor is it excessively noisy, so that is a good start. Kleenmaid distributor in Australia went out of business about the time we bought the house, so the dishwasher can not be repaired nor does it have a warranty. (This is the sort of idiotic post I hate on Facebook.)


Eggs were on our mind this morning, so we drove to the Egg Factory to get another couple of dozen giant eggs. That was about the extent of the morning activities. I spent most of the day trying to write mailing comments for apas.

We had dinner at Carlyle Gardens' Ball and Wicket restaurant, who had a buffet meal. Jean even talked with Meryl, who had her husband and a likely new resident along.

Saturday 24 October 2009


I hated driving to the shops this morning. I was an hour later than I intended, at 9 a.m. So there was little parking, especially as construction activities at Willows continued. As well, the State Emergency Services were doing courses in the car park, so another whole chunk of it was pre-empted. This gave me an excuse to park near Sam's warehouse. However I only found two of their $2 DVDs I wanted.

Inside Willows I managed yet again to get through Woolworth's self checkout, this time with bananas I had to weigh, and paying with coins. I think I have now tried most of the options on the self checkout area. I am still a bit slow using it. Brought home about four newspapers, and failed to get through more than two and a half of them by evening.

At least Jean fed me bacon and sausage and eggs for lunch, so I was overly full all afternoon. Our neighbours all returned from their trips today, so I went and introduced myself to the new neighbours across the street.


Now that I had a cable, I connected up my monitor to the AppleTV. A bit of setup later and the pictures were working. However although HDMI cables handle video and audio, the Dell monitor has no loudspeakers. So no sound. It does have an audio passthrough, however I could not find any sound emerging.

I connected my speakers direct to the AppleTV, and sound started working. However I had to disconnect the SetTop Box to get that cable free. So I need to find another 2xRCA plug to 3.5mm stereo plug cable.

Just located a setting on the Dell monitor that let me change audio from 5.1 to 2.0. That seems to have passed the sound through. Unfortunately the sound is total crap. Bloody HDMI crap, I expect. Back to the scheme to just connect the sound directly from the AppleTV with another 2xRCA plug to 3.5mm stereo plug cable.

Transferring files to the AppleTV over WiFi, especially 802.11g, is really slow. Especially when there are over 4747 files, and they occupy about 40 GB. I need to get Ethernet working. However the router which handles the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is in the garage. But the structured wiring in the house has only one Ethernet access point connected in my room. Using self assigned IP numbers will probably only work if I manually configure the numbers. So I need to get two Ethernet wires to the room.

The Bar

We walked around Carlyle Gardens in the afternoon. Jean's shirt read You have read my T shirt. That is enough social interaction for one day. Stopped in the bar for a drink. Caught up with Annie from down the road, who enthused about bowling. Jean also asked about the disaster committee. Turns out Ray is the person to see if you want to volunteer to help in emergencies. We figured there might be a bit of a shortage of volunteers on this side. Our next door neighbours were also there, so we introduced them to Annie.

Jean managed to leave her water bottle, and the irreplaceable string sling for it, in the bar. She noticed it when we got home, and sent me back. I walked back to the bar at a rapid pace, but could not find the sling bag where we had been stting. Was just asking David and Allen behind the bar if it had been handed in when Jean phoned. Annie had brought it back to her. Bugger! So I had another drink before rushing home.

Sunday 25 October 2009


I left my computer awake all night, to allow the AppleTV to sync with iTunes on my computer. WiFi was a bit slow, but that covered transferring about 65 GB of media content. After that, I started transferring my photos from iPhoto. That is proving even slower.

Alas, photos are rather poorly organised on the AppleTV. It pays no attention to events, despite this being the obvious way or organising photos. While it can handle albums to a limited extent, if albums are organised as folders in folders, it shows only the final folders. It does show smart albums. For some strange reason it shows Faces, which seems less use than showing Events. Needs work, in my opinion.

Powerbook G4 Memory

I have lost my memory. More accurately, my Apple Powerbook G4 1.25 GHz from early 2004 has lost access to memory in the lower memory slot. But only sometimes. I can often get a 1GB memory card (especially a new one) to work, if it is the only memory card. But if I have two 1 GB memory cards, the lower slot fails. After long experiments I settled on a 256 MB card in the lower slot, and a 1 GB memory card in the upper slot. That seems stable. I hope that it remains so. Meanwhile, I have a spare 1 GB and a spare (original) 256 MB memory card on hand. Annoying.

Monday 26 October 2009

Mail Boxes

The bricklayers were hard at work on the mail boxes shelter at Carlyle Gardens, for residents of The Far Side. Prior to the weekend they were well underway with one of the brick walls. This morning they had a second wall to waist level. The bricklayers seemed confident the two walls would be up by this evening. I am not sure how long the roof will take, nor when the mail boxes will actually be installed.

WiFi in Range?

Geoff asked me to help check his laptop computer WiFi connection in the room the Carlyle Gardens computer club uses for talks (they overflow the capacity of the computer club room). He was to be the feature speaker on Tuesday, promoted as the Music Man.

As I feared, the signal from across the grounds was very weak. However by moving the computer around we managed to get an almost acceptable signal. Once the computer was set to accept the computer club wireless access point, it continued to join that network even when the connection was a little marginal.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

N Y Times Downsizing

The New York Times will cut 100 newsroom jobs. This is around 8% of newsroom jobs. It did the same in 2008. Employees also had a 5% pay cut this year. The NYTimes has the largest newsroom staff of any newspaper. Copy of the Bill Keller (executive editor) memo about NY Times staff losses in this article.

iSlate Is Late

Just a matter of where you put the spaces and capital letters, to get either iSlate, or Is Late. So far what we know is Tabula Rasa.

There are heaps of tablet computers, including this iTablet. The hardware specifications are just fine for running Windows XP or Windows XP tablet edition. The problem has always been the software. Just what can they do that is of sufficient additional use?

Netbooks sell because they are cheap. Desktops sell because they do every reasonable computing task. Neither makes much profit, so there is little incentive to innovate. Laptops do enough of what desktops do to take most of the desktop market, at a higher price point. However many buyers see netbooks as a laptop replacement. After all, they run almost the same software. An Apple tablet can not compete on price with a netbook nor a laptop, as there is no profit in making such a device. Even if there is a reasonable profit margin, selling cheaper things as substitutes for expensive things means a lower profit. If you are going to sell something that is cheap, it must not be a substitute for something expensive. It must be in addition to something expensive. Or in place of something someone else is selling cheap.

The iphone succeeds because it fits in your pocket and does so many low-end tasks. Emphasis on low-end. Web oriented applications are low end. A tablet that does not cannibalise a MacBook Pro must not compete with high end applications. However if it runs OS X, it may compete. So, leave off the optical drive. Include the things the iPhone does. Port most of iLife (except Garage Band and iDVD). Include TextEdit, but not iWork. Make something that is great around the house, but no substitute for real horsepower.


I spent much of the morning fighting with my 15 inch Apple PowerBook G4. The lower memory card slot was showing all the symptoms of having failed. Google alas showed this was a widespread fault. So despite having two 1GB SODIM memory cards (plus the two original 256MB memory cards), I could only get 1.25GB to work. Sometimes even the 256MG card failed when in the bottom memory slot.

There was a book sale by St Vincent De Paul Society at Carlyle Square at lunch time. I bought a couple of thrillers for $2 each for our upcoming trip. Had they not already been packed up when I had lunch, I may have bought more books. So many people at lunch that we ended up with one of the large round tables, mid air conditioning zones. People were feeling the heat.

Back home, our new neighbour Mary, from across the street, asked for help with her new Samsung computer monitor. The stand would not fit in the base. I could not manage to get it to fit either. Excessive force did not appeal to me when it belonged to someone else. The Good Guys sales guy said it would fit easy. Then changed his mind as to which model it was. Mary decided to take it back and let them fix the base, if it was so easy. I set up the rest of the connections for her computer.

Mary also asked about her new TV, which was showing a poor signal on two channels. Looked like it was locked onto only the analogue channels, rather than the digital. The company had not supplied a manual, and the remote was covered with unlabelled buttons. They were going to send the manual. Not much point in taking that further until the manual arrives.

I did give Mary the details of the regular computer guy and the regular TV install guy that expressly work the retirement village. Must take her over a business card for Peter the computer guy, as well.

During the afternoon I was able to complete the writing of an apazine for ANZAPA. Got to 8 pages before I closed off the PDF. I can get that printed in Sydney at the OfficeWorks.

Computer Club Infonite

The Carlyle Gardens Computer Club had a good attendance for Geoff, the Music Man. Wally started the show with a bunch of videos and slide shows people had sent him. I did like the strip tease that ended with an image of a skeleton.

Geoff started out by praising the use of an iPod, rather than other music players.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Sydney Trip

Jean phoned for a taxi and provided a fully detailed account of how to reach our home. A few minutes later a taxi entered the side entrance, and then failed to spot us and our luggage in the driveway. Jean intercepted the taxi one street over, as he headed for the bridge. As usual, our instructions had not been passed along to the driver.

Despite this, we were early for our 11:25 a.m. Townsville to Sydney Virgin Blue DJ1520 flight. We were in casual dress and sandals, so getting through security was easier. The flight was crowded but uneventful. I read about half of one of the novels I had collected the previous day. We reached Sydney around 2 p.m. which in their warped Daylight Savings zone meant they called it 3 p.m. We collected our luggage and waited in the baggage meeting area.

Craig soon turned up from his Tiger flight from Melbourne. Taxi to our hotel, the BreakFree on George, where we talked for a while. Jean was tired, and still has deadlines for her academic book. Craig and I wandered off into Chinatown. While I found the Dixon Street Food Court, one of the restaurants on Dixon Street seemed a more attractive venue for our Mongolian lamb and sweet and sour pork.

Craig needed to get away in plenty of time for his return flight to Melbourne on Tiger airlines. He tells us they are a bit aggressive about on time arrivals by passengers, thanks to using the checkin staff as gate staff.

Moving Computers

We handed my old Apple Powerbook to Craig, who was taking it to the USA for Andi. Even with the spare battery, the computer fitted in his cabin bag. Craig generally brings things back from the USA for people, rather than taking them over. So he was going to have an additional empty bag anyhow.

The thing that is really amazing is that the cost of a return flight on Tiger from Melbourne to Sydney was not all that different to the cost of mailing the computer to Craig. Somehow the postal service seem to have lost all proportion on charges.

Thursday 29 October 2009

Early Morning

I was up early thanks to street noises, taking notes. Somehow that changed to being a little late in getting ready. We walked towards Town Hall seeking breakfast, without much luck. Eventually we were so close to Monas that I suggested we simply go there. By then it was 7:45 a.m. By eating quickly I was able to rush off a little after 8 a.m.

I got to the Apple Store around 8:13 a.m. Kerrie had just arrived, and was leaning on her walking stick at the entrance, still talking to one of the staff members. I was able to show her around the Apple Store a little (the museum mostly uses computers with Windows installed). I like pointing out the glass staircase, which is one of the neater pieces of engineering in buildings in Sydney. We went upstairs (by lift) to the Genius bar, the only place I knew benches on which to sit. It seems every time we travel to Sydney, it coincides with a time Kerrie is headed elsewhere. Alas, with the NSW State government (like most Labor state governments) in such a financial mess, cultural entities like the museum suffer funding cuts. It happened back in the 1990's with the conservative government. It was happening again. Kerrie also mentioned Nick's art exhibition, which she can not attend until Monday. That seems like a good day for our visit also.

Apple Store Visit

I spent a fair bit of time in the Apple Store checking the matte displays on the MacBook Pro 15 inch and 17 inch models. The glossy displays do have slightly brighter colours, however glossy is so reflective I find it impossible to imagine using them. This visit did confirm that I could easily use either the 15 inch or the 17 inch matte display notebook computers. Both are however rather large for when on a plane flight, the 17 inch particularly so.

The new model 27 inch iMac is a stunning size. Looks wonderful, except for the glossy reflective display. All I saw when I looked at the 27 inch iMac was my own reflection in the background. I can not see any way of working with that mirror display. I do not understand how the people who buy them do manage to work with them.

The iPhone folks on the first floor had a special activation zone, which appears to be a new feature of the store. I asked the about moving my SIM card to a new iPhone, if I purchase it outright. I was assured there were no problems in using an outright purchase iPhone with multiple SIM cards from different phone companies. The Apple representatives did say the old iPhone would not accept Jean's SIM card without Telstra intervention. However they also suggested talking to the Telstra store across the way, who they assured me knew all about iPhone.

Morning in Sydney

After my Apple Store visit, I headed to OfficeWorks, further towards the business end of Sydney. They could book appointments for photocopying, but not until the afternoon. They suggested trying the weekend for photocopying, when business demand was not as heavy. I was so used to the Townsville OfficeWorks doing copying any time that I had neglected the idea of making an appointment. I rescheduled to Saturday.

JB HiFi had several seasons of scifi shows not listed in the database on my iPhone, so I bought them. My SF collection is expanding very well. Now if only I could find time to watch more of them. Then I asked about Dogma, a movie I had seen recently but was not able to find on their shelves. They had it in stock, and one of their staff members found it in boxes under the shelves where I had looked.

I continued to the Victoria Galleries near Town Hall. While there is a giant bookshop there, it seems to me their computer book stock is sadly dated in many cases. I was also unable to locate the science fiction books I had noted from reviews.

Went to Capitol Square, and the numerous small computer shops there. For some reason I found relatively little that seemed new. The various netbooks were often at startlingly low prices (under A$400). There was a much wider range of network addressed storage device. However there are so many potential gotchas with an NAS unit that I would not buy prior to seeing a thorough review. Despite repeat visits to Capitl Square computer shops, I did not find anyone with a mini Display Port to Display Port video cable. Get into the 21st Century guys!


We walked to Central station around midday. As usual, I had minor problems with the ticket machine. Indicators were lacking when you went through the barrier, so determining which platform as appropriate was not immediately obvious. The only indicators I saw outside were well away from the ticket machines.

The train was no worse than any other Sydney train I have taken. Very understandable why the majority of people travel by car, where you are likely to have a comfortable seat. At Parramatta, Jean looked for food in the walkway to the Westfield shopping centre, but settled for a pie. We walked up Church Street, which took us a fair while, until we reached the correct building at North Parramatta.

Karen let us in, and provided some drinks until Graham was ready. We were pleased with the results, me especially. Not much to change, as things were going along fine. We covered some future possibilities, and that was about it.

Strathfield Car Radio was in our path. I was able to get the 3.5 mm stereo plug to two RCA plug cable I wanted. At Burg's Hobbies, we checked out their train material, without finding anything Jean wanted. We continued walking to Westfield shopping in search of ice cream. Jean let me visit Dick Smith when she failed to find ice cream. Then it was on a train back to Sydney.

Evening in Sydney

I had phoned John before we boarded the train. He met us outside the Central Station entrance. While Jean headed back to the hotel, John and I headed to the pub for a cider. He told me of the Futurian Society revival. John had managed to get to three eclipse viewing expeditions, including Turkey and China. Interestingly, he felt safer in Turkey than in China. He is still unsure about whether to attend Worldcon when it returns to Melbourne next year. We compared schedules on our respective phones. John is busy fiddling with vcal and Java for synchronising his scheduling. However he had another meeting to attend.

After returning to the hotel, I found Jean had visited Thai Kee IGA and discovered ice cream, and a packaged meal she could heat on the microwave (the hotel has a self contained kitchen alcove). So I went seeking ice cream in the Paddy's Market building. I discovered no cinema any more, which is a bit of a blow. Took another walk to the larger cinema complex, but there was nothing worth watching. As usual I could not find a paper copy of any schedule, so if the schedule was different during the day, I would not know.

Walked through much of the underground shopping complex up towards the Queen Victoria Building. Even got a sandwich for dinner. Jean was busy working on her book editing when I returned, so it was just as well I kept out of the way.

Friday 30 October 2009

Early Morning in Sydney

Having had little luck with a nearby source for breakfast, we headed downtown this morning. Alas, this proved even more bereft of breakfast places. Twenty minutes later we were back at the hotel, and I was out of time for further searching for breakfast. Although I could walk to the Apple Store in about fifteen minutes, the wait at confounded traffic lights doubles the walk time at least. I hate Sydney as a walking city now. When I got opposite the cinema complex on George Street I ducked underground. The shopping area there extends past Town Hall into the Queen Victoria building. Although longer, that bypasses many traffic lights. I actually reached the Apple Store eight minutes prior to the opening, so I went to MacDonalds for a quick breakfast. At least they have quick service, and a newspaper you can read. MacDonalds also have WiFi, but so does the Apple Store.

Afterwards I checked JB HiFi, but failed to find more movies from my want list. I had neglected to borrow Jean's Dymocks card, so I did not look in there for books. Since I was near York Street, I did check Dick Smith (now closed), and Jaycar. I found a camera dome for a security camera, something I wanted to add to our home at Carlyle Gardens, to reinforce the human security patrol. Got a replacement torch for the one whose batteries had leaked. CX Computers had a tiny S15 three outlet USB expander, with memory card reader for common camera and phone cards. That looked like a good item for my travel kit, especially as Jean had borrowed my previous USB expander I used for travel.

Apple Store Visit

I went straight upstairs to the first floor of the Apple Store. There was no delay in purchasing a 32 GB black iPhone outright. It only takes a minute or two when you are not involving a phone company. Basically the only restraint is they want you to pay via credit card, not cash. Their portable cash register equivalents had heaps of trouble reading my credit card. They eventually swapped card reader plugins to get my card to read. It is amusing to note that these portable sales devices are actually a Windows Mobile device, as are a heap of the business oriented systems in retail shops. I gave them my usual Apple email address, and they emailed the receipt to me, which saves all of us a heap of trouble.

At the doorway of that iPhone and iPod floor, I noticed there was a small stock of the new Apple Magic Mouse. I understood that the magic Mouse would not be available until November, but it appeared a small stock had been delivered the previous day. I had tried the new mouse downstairs the previous day, and liked the way they worked. So I grabbed one, and returned to buy that as well.

The helpful Apple staff advised me I needed a mouse driver upgrade for either Leopard or Snow Leopard (pending release of newer versions of the operating system). Since there was a bench nearby, and no-one much around, I sat down with my MacBook Air, and downloaded the patch (over 60 MB!) and also a bunch of rumour sites to read later.

Apple Rumours

I did notice the Apple Valley Fair store (very close to Apple headquarters) is now trialling an iPod Touch based EasyPay point of sale terminal. I assume this has an add on bar card and credit card reader. Customer reports are that it is much more compact than the existing Windows CE based Symbol terminals. Story is that these new point of sale device will be deployed by Christmas.

I also noticed that there was a new Apple TV 3.0 Software With Redesigned User Interface available. I asked downstairs about that at the only AppleTV on display. Alas, the Apple store has not yet deployed the new software, and was still using version 2.4. I also noticed that the store was full of the new iMacs, and the new MacBook, and much smaller quantities of the MacBook Pro. The store was displaying only one each of the MacPro, the Mac mini, and the Apple TV.

Morning in Sydney

Jean phoned me about breakfast, so I met her in George Street, and accompanied her to Monas where she had breakfast. Monas also had a newspaper I could read, while I had a Coke.

Galaxy provided a small handful of science fiction books, more for Jean than me. With these in our packs, we headed to Queen Victoria Building and HobbyCo. Lots of trains, not much garden railway for Jean. On the way back to the hotel, Jean decided she needed a bus. I hate buses so I walked until I saw what the obstruction to traffic was. An old fashioned union protest parade. I took some snaps with my phone. Naturally under the circumstances I reached the hotel well before the traffic stalled Jean.

Took a long walk, with no lunch, to UTS. Caught up with a remarkable number of the staff I knew there. Walk back to hotel, with another stop at Capitol Square to check the computer shops.

Another long walk for shops, with no luck in finding food I might like. Can not find food. OzTurk saves the day, although I forget what I bought for dinner.

Saturday 31 October 2009

Morning in Sydney

I set out to walk to OfficeWorks around 7:35 a.m., carrying my printing masters for ANZAPA. It took me until 7:57 to reach OfficeWorks. No sign of life inside. I checked their sign said they opened at 8 a.m. Around 8:05 a.m. the doors actually opened. It was another few minutes before anyone was available behind the copying counter. However once available, the staff member got my 35 copies of 8 pages photocopying started (the copy count was why I was not interested in doing it manually). First sample try was single sided, not double sided as I requested. Next try she got the copying right.

I wandered the OfficeWorks store, which had a slightly different range to what I expected at Townsville. Even more of the horrible reflective display computers that look like mirrors. For instance, I did not see a LifeScribe Pulse note taker. I did however find a set of D ring binder dividers with tabs from 1 to 31. Since I never see them in Townsville, I bought them. My printing was ready, as I expected, in much less than the twenty minutes the copying person had estimated. So I was headed back around 8:25 a.m.

Stopped for a newspaper at the first news agent I found. They did not appear to have copies of the Financial Review. However the next newsagent, on George Street, was still not open. In the context of Daylight Saving, I feel that if people want extra time at the end of the day, the obvious solution is to open shop earlier, and close earlier. Just what is wrong with trading 8 to 4 instead or 9 to 5? Being from Queensland, I think time at home in the heat of the late afternoon really sucks. The morning is when the air is cooler and fresh, and exercise is easiest. So I loath Daylight Saving, and would never agree to it.

Jean and I went to OzTurk for breakfast. While we asked for no chips with our meal, the two eggs and heaps of bacon made for an extra large breakfast anyway.

Meeting with Friend

While Jean went off to her meeting, I spent most of the day chatting with Graham about the history of SF fandom in Sydney, and the renewed Futurian Society of Sydney. We went out to Chinatown and Dixon Street for lunch. Same restaurant as with Craig. That was very enjoyable. The only problem is that I did not take notes of some of the names mentioned.

Eric Lindsay's Blog October 2009