Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Bad FF Session

I bet that subject line snapped a few eyes wide open. Today I am talking about the FF known as Firefox.

I updated to version 3.5. Why on earth did they think people wanted their right click menu disabled? It did not take long to correct it, but doesn't everyone use right click menu? It should default to being on and let anyone switch it off if they don't like it.

And FF has gone to a grey screen twice already and I had to restart the computer. My advice, don't upgrade yet.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Basket case Sydney

I haven't finished with Sydney yet. I have a couple more posts about it yet.

In the nineties, Victoria was seen as a terrible place to be. Our population was declining, hard to imagine now, and we were told the state was broke. I never quite believed the hype by conservative forces that led to the election of the conservative Liberal government and its awful policies.

However, while the NSW government is very much on the nose, and deserves to be, I don't see an alternative government in the waiting. (is Rees a slightly more modern Unsworth? Will the next tory leader be like greasy Greiner?)

But like Victoria in the nineties was seen as Sydney or NSW is perhaps being seen now, let me assure you, Sydney is vibrant functioning city. Public transport still runs, streets still get cleaned, people still eat, still go out for food, people laugh, shop assistants don't look like they are about to loose their jobs, the beaches are lovely, the harbour gorgeous. Ok, I saw a particular part of Sydney, but generally I am sure, there is nothing wrong with Sydney and probably NSW that a new government bring in a breath of fresh air could not fix.

Just as a comment aside, it was amusing how every tourist map I saw covered Sydney from no further than the far western edge of the city, but then right through to the eastern shores and of course the North Shore and Manly. Clearly anything west is of no interest to visitors.

What a drive

Sister took Mother to the eye and ear hospital today and I collected Mother and took her home. The trip outbound on City Link and the Monash Freeway is improving. The inbound trip when I was coming home was a nightmare.

Apart from congestion on City Link caused by a bank up of traffic back from the Westgate Bridge, the motorway between between Warrigal Road and Toorak Road is disgrace. Vic Roads is the responsible authority and they have done an appalling job at keeping the road safe.

While some of their speed limits are absurdly low, in other areas they are too high.

Now how do you get rid of a painted white line? I don't know but they do it all the time around town. But on the Monash Freeway they gouge out the bitumen. After they have changed the lanes a few times during construction and moved cats eyes several times, at times it is impossible to work out where the lanes are.

I have driven a quite a few times on the road over the last year but this evening was the worst I have experienced. Twice I lost the lane markings, once ending up in the far right lane from the middle lane. I was concentrating hard but I really don't know how it happened, apart from the faint white lines, removed cats eyes and about three gouged out old lane markings in one lane.

I can only say, thank someone the project is almost finished.

Later update added before publishing. I emailed Vic Roads and received a response as to the immediate plans and summer completion plans by the Monash Alliance!!! I understood someone would be hit by penalty clauses if works went on after July. Perhaps they are allowed to finishing touches later. Regardless, I think I got a bit of a result.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Commo China

Interesting that Senator Barnaby Joyce loves to call China, Communist China. Is Joyce the new DLP? Please don't tell me he is Catholic?

I am somewhat mystified about China locking up one of our citizens. China is getting really bad press world wide. I have some sympathy for the governors of China. It is a huge country, full of many different peoples. How to keep a country of millions cohesive, I do not know. Yes, lots of human rights abuses, corruption, cheating et al.

But when they do stuffs like arbitrarily locking up one of Australia's senior business people, and it is an ongoing subject in the press, I really wonder how smart China is? The slight sympathy I may have felt for China has evaporated.

Anyway, is Australia making a big deal about nothing? I read somewhere that ninety Australians are imprisoned for various offences in a Middle Eastern country.

Blocking Box Junctions

Box Junctions is a term I only came across yesterday.

To briefly explain what they are, they are road intersections where yellow lines are painted from the middle of the intersection to the intersection boundaries in a criss cross pattern. They seem to be found in the UK and Europe. Road laws state that you are not to enter a box intersection unless you can clear the yellow markings.

Look, here is a photo of one prepared earlier.

You can be prosecuted for blocking such an intersection. Maybe a cop will book you or maybe a camera will take a snap of you being naughty.

Blocking intersections is extremely selfish and plays havoc with normal traffic movement. I see it a lot. I just look out our window and see how traffic from Toorak Road to Kingsway block St Kilda Road every night. I experience it when travelling by tram in the evening in the city. One car blocking a tram load of people. It is very seldom that there is any advantage to the driver who blocks an intersection. Some do so because they see some advantage but most do it because they are stupid and probably not worthy of holding a driving licences.

It is not so hard. The traffic is slow or stop start. You get to an intersection and you just make sure the car in front has cleared the intersection and then you can go. I will conceed that if you are behind a high vehicle, it might not be so simple. But if the high vehicle was crossing a railway line, then you would hang back, or maybe not. Drivers are pretty stupid.

I think this concept of yellow painted box intersections is stupid. Ok, yes I am using a lot of 'stupids', but how else can one understand such behaviour?

No, forget about painted yellow lines in intersections. Just don't block any intersection. It ain't too hard.

Clearly Victoria Police have no interest in policing the matter. In the city they are far too busy nabbing jaywalkers and I have seen some nabbed who have not done anything dangerous nor impeded any traffic. I guess it must now be up to technology and some camera installations to stop people blocking up intersections.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Cricket is not to my taste but a few nights last week I fell asleep listening to the first test match coming from Cardiff in Wales. One of the commentators was Henry Blofeld, or Blowers as he is affectionately know. Of course I had heard of him but I knew nothing else about him.

I know a little more now, having looked him up on the net, but after listening to him, I certainly understand why he is somewhat of a legend.

He simply makes the game come alive and makes it interesting and colourful like no other cricket commentator I have ever heard.

This just proves a point that I have often thought. You can take the driest, seemingly boring and un-interesting subject and with the right person at the helm make it gripping viewing or listening.

You should have an opportunity to hear Henry Blofeld in the second Ashes test. Just take five minutes and hear a real professional entertainer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

River Panorama

This is a big photo and not for the feint hearted on dial up. It is a stitched photo taken from Riverland bar at Federation Wharf on the banks of the Yarra River.

From your left you can see the rowing boat sheds of which some are also bars or party venues, then across past the Alexandra Gardens.

The Arts Centre spire is to the left of Hamer Hall, a music venue. Princes Bridge sits below Hamer Hall and above is what used to be the Mobil office building, coverted into apartments over a decade ago.

Next to it is an apartment building, Quay West, and in behind sit the Herald Sun building and I think IBM.

Then we are on to Eureka, Melbourne's tallest building with the Langham Hotel below and out of site, Southgate, the first building constructed as part of the conversion of the Yarra's southern bank from industrial to commercial/business/residential.

Financial service company Price Waterhouse Coopers (could I slip in disgraced here) is to your left of Crown Casino's hotel.

Under the arch of Princes Bridge on your far right of the picture can be seen the footbridge connecting Flinders Street Station to South Bank.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pie crust promise

Brother, Little Jo's 2nd birthday party will be smaller than last year. So pleased you and R offered to have it at your place. Did we? Must have in a weak moment.

I turned out to be bigger than the pay to participate orgy my Malaysian mate has just participated in in Spain. The orgy sounded immense. Girls who like bois who like bois who like girls.......and so forth.

But in the highrise, family, furniture rearranged, much cleaning to impress, friends, pairs of ladies with babies and children, hot food, drinks, hot oven, food, crisps, savs, party pies but home made sausage rolls, sushi and wasabi went wanting and thrown out, cakes, balloons, nuts, lollipops and snowballs, beautiful birthday cake, nice stuffs for the vego girls who wear sensible shoes. Six children under five. Oh, some people have that many as a family and must live in perpetual chaos.

Photos from our Sydney holiday shown around. Dvd playing of Little Jo's first six months. Later swapped for oldest nephew in Glasgow dvd greeting to his younger sister for her 21st. Yes, no underwear under your kilt. Shan't mention we saw the bits when we changed the laddie's nappy some 23 years ago.

A very successful afternoon party. Mother who had fallen off a step ladder while sugar soaping walls received much sympathy, so she was happy. Sis in Law and Tradie Brother's girlfriend did not go the biff. Bone doctor's parents attended and did not socialise, as per norm. Bone Doctor's mystery brother came. Said nothing. Long blonde hair and a long nose. He is useful to feed Sister's cat when she is away.

The highrise looked like a disaster, but thirty minutes of concentrated effor by R and myself, and we had it almost back to normal. Still some sticky finger marks on glass to clean, but that can wait.

Sister offered us $100 to clean our carpet. Stupid. Furniture would have to moved. I never clean under furntiture unless it has to be moved. I have been spot cleaning carpets for thirty years of all sorts of animal, vegetable and mineral stains. I don't need a proffesional to remove stomped in chocolate cake, sticky lollies, spilt milk etc.

Crazy day, but preceded by a walk into town for some supplies for the party and a very nice brunch at Riverview? at Federation Wharf.

Tech Boi

The electronic wall clock was two minutes slow. It does this. Every so often I correct it. I needed it to be accurate this week when I was catching public transport. I pressed what I thought was the button to start correcting it and the clock just showed rubbish on the front.

I stuck a skewer into the reset hole but that did nothing. I removed and replaced the batteries but still just rubbish showing. Had to leave for work.

Take two later. I did all of the above again without a result. Wonder if the batteries are flat?

They were. That is better. Set hour and minutes and year. Set date which should automatically set the day. The day was wrong. Start again. Still the day is wrong. I start to doubt that this really is 2009. Hunt through file of manuals for appliances. Eventually find leaflet manual.

I am doing everything correctly. Ahhhh, have you guessed? Date is American format, that is month first, then date. I can alter the clock from 12 hour to 24 hour clock. I can alter temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit but I cannot change the date format. Odd that I check the clock for the date and know how to read it, but could not remember the different date style when I was setting it.

On to the failed paper shredder. R gave it a decent bash when it stopped and it started working again, but stopped soon after. This is a clue to the problem.

It was plugged in with all the computer power plugs. There are a few of those. How do I know I have the right one? I can't use the machine to check if it has power. Follow the lead carefully and then double check. Remove umpteen screws and there are the workings, an electric motor an nylon cogs. Lever one cog with screwdriver, switch on and it worked. Reassemble, but it again failed. I had noticed large globs of grease near the cogs.

Pull it apart again and spread the grease over the nylon cogs. Presto, it works and is still working. I think the motor is worn, but it will work for a bit longer.

Car Update: My head is being shaved, well machined anyway. The novelty of tram travel to and from work, four trips a day, has worn off. I want my car back. On the upside, I am reading a newspaper per day and some book and catching up with podcasts.

Fractured memories of first Sydney visit

The first time I visited Sydney was in the early 1980s. We drove up the Hume in my Chrysler Valiant.

We stayed one or two nights in Canberra at a modern YMCA. It was ok, but many residents were with social problems.

We saw Lake Burley Griffin, Mount Strongbow Observatory and got lost in the suburb of Belconnen. There was a brand new shopping centre not long opened.

Canberra was very quiet back then. It was early week and we found one place open for dinner. The owner was drunk and flirting outrageously with us. She was good fun. I think she was quite well known in social circles.

Leaving Canberra a huge roll of paper fell off the back of a truck and almost landed on my car. It would have killed us had it hit.

There weren't wonderful freeways, the M5 or the Eastern Distributor. We fought our way along the very grungy Paramatta Road. I suppose we had maps. I can't recall finding our way being a problem. Paramatta Road stretched on forever.

I remember driving along Bondi Road and having to hit the brakes, four wheel drum, very hard to avoid running into a car in front of me. I don't think I made the tyres smoke but it must have been close. I had been distracted by a stunning topless guy with gorgeous legs crossing the road. Whoa, I think I will like Sydney, and I did.

We had booked our accommodation at the NSW Government Tourist Bureau in Melbourne. It was $19 per night with a bathroom shared with a few others on the corner of Campbell Parade and Francis Street, Bondi Beach. It was pretty crappy, but is still there, now a backpackers. We did have nice views though and our own wash basin and kettle. It was enough for us back then. We parked the car in Francis Street and unimaginable now, there were no parking restrictions. Fire escape was very rusted metal and falling apart. I think I would take my chances with a fire.

Bondi had a large number of Maori residents. The Campbell Parade shops were very sleazy looking. It felt like a pretty rough area.

One day we drove to Balmain to see the house where the Bolter lived, my paternal grandmother.

We must have driven over the Harbour Bridge, I would guess going to Manly, as we were stopped by a bridge being raised up to let a boat go pass by. I guess it was the Spit Bridge.

I have a very old photo of the Alamein Fountain, so we must have gone to King's Cross.

Did day trip to the Blue Mountains.

Would The Rocks as a tourist attraction have been around then? I think we went there. I have a photo of me trying to climb a wall beneath some high rise housing commission flats. The wall was very overgrown the last time I saw it.

One night we ate in a quite posh upstairs restaurant in Oxford Street. Total waste on me as I drank too much and ended up throwing up in the basin back at the hotel. Drunk and trying to squash the contents from your stomach down a narrow plug hole. Charming.

We were on a bus and I now know it was following an old tram route near Bondi. It was turning in many back streets. The driver must have taken a wrong turn. We wouldn't have known. The passengers all yelled out to the driver.

Lots of buses showing the destination Dover Heights. None seem to show that now. I think the 380 has been extended from Dover Heights to Watsons Bay?

Sauna in the City, maybe Roman Spa? Another near the bottom of Oxford Street. Another called KKK, dirty and with broken lockers. Which one was King Steam?

Numbers in Oxford, like our Club 80. Opinion in summary: Sydney gays are very free and easy about sex.

Ride on Monorail? Was it built then? Fare $1.20.

City, buses buses buses everywhere, noisy, spewing our black diesel fumes. Queues at bus stops with ticket sellers walking along selling tickets.

Back stage tour of Opera House. Very interesting. Guide quite critical of interior design. Learn about fabric on walls and music, and accoustic clouds.

Return from Sydney via the coast. Tolls to pay near Woollongong?

Stayed one night at beautiful brand new motel with views from our room out over Lakes Entrance. $28 including breakfast.

There is much I have forgotten. Now I keep brief notes.