Saturday, August 09, 2014

Mind the Gap

From Perth in West Australia a co-operative effort by train passengers freed the man's leg from the gap between the train and the platform.

London's Tube system is famous for its "mind the gap" announcements and believe me, there are some monster gaps on The Tube. It is only a slight exaggeration to say you need to take a run up and then jump.

Ch ch ch changes

There has been some changes to Melbourne tram routes, necessitating a re-programming of automatic announcements and destination displays. Automatic announcements first appeared in Melbourne when the Combino trams made by Siemens of Germany began to run on our streets.  It was a female voice with an English accent and they were very inaccurate. A friend quipped, given she is in Munich, she hasn't done a bad job, after all,  how would she know Melbourne streets.

Fro quite some time, the system was switched off. Then it was re-invented with an Australian male voice, but still with lots of errors. It was an improvement but still at times wrong and downright silly.

One example is as the number 16 tram, Melbourne University to Kew, via St Kilda, was a transposing of St Kilda Town Hall, and Chapel Street. Chapel Street was announced and the change to route 78/79 trams for a North Richmond tram was announced at St Kilda Town Hall and St Kilda Town Hall announced at Chapel Street.

With the new programming, this has been fixed, except now we have, "Chapel St, change here for routes 3a, 78, 12 and 96 routes. Lordy, how hard is it to get these things right?

There are still some other silly stuff too, such as after travelling along St Kilda Road for 20 minutes and the tram turns into Fitzroy Street, the next stop is St Kilda Road.

Still on route 16, when the tram arrives at Luna Park, 'this tram will now travel along Acland Street'. It doesn't.  

Then there are the destination displays. The useful Toorak via Lygon Street and City has been replaced by just Toorak, in monster huge letters.

I thought I was seeing things when I saw a 109 tram displaying Port Melbourne but showing a route number 109a. The 'a' normally means an altered route from the normal.  But then I saw another, and then another 109a.

But the piece de resistance must surely be the changing of the destination display when a tram is not picking up passengers is the change from 'Sorry, out of service', to 'Not taking customers'. How absurd that customers and not passengers, is being used for public announcements on trams. Next it will be, sorry, not taking clients. The good old days weren't always so good, but a train, tram or bus showing 'Special' was enough to tell you it wasn't for you.

Friday, August 08, 2014

The Highrise goes hi tech

Well, not really high tech. We struggle to keep up and take from the world of high tech that we think we need.

Telstra cold called me last week and pointed out an alternative phone and internet plan to that we were using. In brief, we would get a T Box, 25 Foxtel channels delivered over the net, for the same plan, that is our home phone is virtually free to use, for $9 less per month. I told the Filipino chappie I was interested and he said he would call back Tuesday to see what I had decided.

Household management was out, but once home and I told him the details, he was very keen. I thought, even if we never use this Foxtel T Box thing, it is still cheaper than what we are now paying. I decided to be proactive and call Telstra to go ahead with the plan. I really got the wrong Filipino chappie though. He seemed to be unable to understand that the Foxtel channels would come via our cable internet and be delivered to our tv from our modem/router to the T Box that would be plugged into our tv, and not the telephone line. He was banging on about filters on the phone line. After what must have been an hour on the phone, mostly on hold. I hung up. He called back. I brusquely told him that I would wait for the call on Tuesday, from the bloke who knew what he was talking about. I was quite cross. There is absolutely no connection between our cable internet and our phone line.

But R was quite keen on the package, so on Saturday I called back. This time I spoke to a Filipina who knew her stuff reasonably well. I insisted she confirm that the signal would come via our cable internet and when she said there would be a charge for the T Box, I insisted she check again. I was right, no charge.

Neither of us are confident that within ten days we will have a T Box that we easily give us Foxtel channels via our internet, but given we are saving $9 a month, it matters not so much. We have never had a great desire for more tv to watch. We can't keep up with what is on free to air.

The $9 saving over the two year contract must be utilised. Our cable modem is 13 years old and the plugged into it wireless delivery router is a few years old. I also ordered a new cable modem/router for $230, suitable for NBN at a later time, Malcolm and the Liberal Party permitting.

R asked if we needed a new tv. No, I replied, well yes, but no not really. I may have slipped and said we could buy a bigger tv with smart connectivity.  R said, look at new tvs on the net. I began to, but after all the Telstra business, I was brain fading. Pixels? Hertz? Smart? Refresh? It was doing my head in. Eventually I said no. We will go the shops and look at them. I did do a price comparison though between a couple of stores and The Good Guys were coming out very well.

So on a lovely sunny Sunday, that is where we went, down the Nepean Highway to The Good Guys. Our old set is 116cm, 46", we were looking at 140cm, 55", but thought why not go for 152cm, 60". We were focused on either a Samsung or LG brand. We checked out the HiSence and TCL too. Then this odd alone Sony tv caught our attention. It was 60", had a lovely static photo of a European city on the screen and while it was at $1680, more than the $1500 we had planned to spend, Sony is a really good brand name.We ummed and ahhed and then went on to Harvey Norman, a little further down the Highway. They seemed more expensive than the The Good Guys, with a couple of exceptions. One salesperson told us that Sony was the only tv that had acceptable sound quality. For the rest, you really needed an extra sound system. Our first digital tv had lousy sound and we had to connect it to the cd player system. The one we are getting rid of now is acceptable.

Back to the Good Guys and we made the deal for $1680, delivered, as it was too large to fit into the car. It was delivered Monday morning. I had to put the feet on it, quite easy, and the set up was painless. All I had to do was select English, change the region to Victoria from NSW and enter the password for the router, so that it can pick up the signal from the internet. It has many apps, a few of which we will use. The You Tube app is terrific and so is the ABC catch up service, IView. Needless to say, there are features and apps that will never be used. We were a bit afraid the 60" screen would too big for the room, but it isn't.

What has surprised me is the improvement in the quality of the picture over four years.

 116cm, 46"

152cm, 60"

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Just another Thursday

It was Mother Day today. As I was not working, I had to go too. Firstly to ABI Brother's to put together his IRobot vacuum cleaner and sort some things out on his computer, such as why it took fifteen minutes to start up and the hard drive to stop doing things. Such as why he had only the left hand side of his web browser. Such as why his top notch printer was not working. I advised him that when using Face Book, if he 'likes' a photo of Angeli Jolie's tits, his friends will see that. I also realised he has two Face Book profiles and I had not been seeing what he was doing on one of them.

The vacuum cleaner was great fun. Although it was supposed to be charged for 24 hours before it was used, we had to get it to the charging point, which means pressing charge on the unit or using the remote control. There were minimal written instructions, but a dvd, which we did not have time to view. We played it by ear and wrongly placed the charge unit. After knocking over the charger, it roamed around the room willy nilly. ABI Brother, how long since you have vacuumed? Look at all the dirt it has picked up so briefly.

I cleared the area around the charger and the unit then found its charging home. From memory, once the dust container is full, or the the battery is getting low, it will return to the charger. I loved watching it roam around the room though, in its state of confusion. I so wish he had a pet cat or dog to see their reactions. Did I once post one? There are plenty of You Tube videos of pets and robot vacuum cleaners.

We then went to Mother's and carried the tv in. R's back had not been good and carrying a tv set him back, it would seem. See tomorrow's post as to why we were carrying a tv, but the upshot is, we gave our old one to Mother. I had printed out Sister's Face Bookpost from last night, with the photos of Little Jo who is now in plaster with her arm broken in two places. I spoke to her tonight, and she is a little despondent. Next week she is to fly to Townsville with Bone Doctor for BD's grandmother's 90th birthday.

As per usual, Mother was all doom and gloom when we arrived but brightened up as the day went on. We had a nice lunch and left her at the hair salon where her hair, which 'is not grey' was showing significant grey. Because she attends the hairdresser often, I don't actually think she knows. We returned to her house and cleaned and polished and then the hairdresser rang to say come and collect her. I continued cleaning while R collected her, including the lounge room lamp shades and wall art work glass. If only Mother would stop smoking inside the house. R brought back cakes for afternoon tea. For some odd reason while I was cleaning, ABI Brother called into the house three times. I don't know why. Mother was home for his last visit. He said as he departed, if you want any more, you can pay for delivery. Ouch. He was in a grumpy mood. He was on sick leave as he has a cold and apparently has stopped drinking alcohol, again.

We took our leave at 4 o'clock. Bye Mum, love you to bits, but you are so painful at times. I think she was quite excited about her new tv and not use the digital recorder to watch digital tv anymore.

PS, one of her two neighbours next door said hello to her in the street. A more butch bull dyke you would not meet. The 'girls' are kind to her and she adores them, especially as they rehouse abandoned dogs.

My attempt at world peace

Not really world peace, but peace between Palestine and Israel. I thought by posting You Tube clips from Jerusalem and Palestine of local people performing to the Pharrell Williams Happy music, a bridge might be built. Common ground might be found. A truce might ensue. Ok, I can't solve the world's problems nor the Middle East's, but it would be a good non partisan gesture.

The Happy clip from made in Jerusalem is terrific. I loved the clips from Palestine too. So many hot guys in the Palestine clips. Yes, so many guys. Where are the women? Some were included individually, but not really with men and certainly not as full participants. 

My plan to have peace between Israel and Palestine as they perform Happy together all quite soured.

Without disrespect to a country I know little about, I checked Bulgaria's effort at a Happy video because Bulgaria is not known for its human rights record, but Bulgaria's clip was very inclusive of women, as are most of the Happy clips from around the world.

I may be gay, but women are part of my world and I have no truck with any place where they aren't included. 

Happy clips from around the world are still at times my bedtime reading. This is Happy in Jerusalem, Happy in Bulgaria, and sadly the non female inclusive Happy in Palestine. (I did look at more than one clip from Palestine, and they were similarly non inclusive).

So as Palestine and Israel shoot at each other, I am afraid Palestine is winning the sympathy vote. TV pictures of dead and injured Palestinian children is quite distressing. Israel must be smarter if they are to win any sort of battle in the wider world public mind. My finger on popular opinion, my mother and my partner, who both pick up their opinions by watching tv news breaks, are saying how disgusting are the actions of 'Benjamin Netanwhatever' are and how could Israel do this, especially to children.

Mind, who would want to live in Palestine, a place where women are so repressed?

I am not sure why I am so driven to be disliked by people who would argue from both sides of the metaphorical fence.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Family similarities

You know how I said a few days ago about our family all crushing cans, passed down from Father?

When I was seven years old, I fell off the monkey bars at school and broke my wrist.

Via the family news stream, aka Face Book, we have just received word that Little Jo has broken her arm in two places, on the day that is Sister's birthday. Now how could she have done that? At seven years old?

Yes, like her uncle did oh so long ago, she fell off the monkey bars.

A Gill Wide

I wasn't aware until Cathy mentioned it in a post, that Maroondah Highway was known as The Three Chain Road. Interesting. I did know Dandenong Road was known as The Great Three Chain Road.

Fortunately my Victorian Authorised News Agency, VANA, school books schooled me well in chains, furlongs, gills, kilderkins, avoirdupois pounds and most importantly inches and liquid ounces, both of which have been a preoccupation of mine at times. Somewhat of a pity that the back of my schoolbooks did not tell me about hectopascals and kilojoules, or perhaps they did and I have forgotten, both of which concern me greatly, our car tyre pressures and our calorie intake. 

I forget most of the old measurements and I am really troubled that Australia has gone so far backwards on the matter of metrics. Now even tv screen sizes have gone back to imperial and it is pointless to go shopping for a tv with a cm screen diameter in mind. The weight of babies is reverting to pounds and ounces from kilograms. Pounds per square inch is an ascendancy over hectopascals when pumping up the car tyres. What gay man doesn't know that 8" is probably a lie. It is a very disturbing trend. It is also quite odd, as Europe uses metric and most, if not all of our Asian neighbours.

Can we say, yes America, we will buy your product, but you need to convert it to metric for us?


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Andrew Highriser is unwell today

Of course the original was Jeffrey Bernard is unwell today.

Monday, August 04, 2014

What is a hofer mummy?

I'm sure you all know what Aldi is, a discount supermarket chain found in many countries of the world. We occasionally shop there, and it is quite cheap. We saw Aldi stores all over Europe and England recently but something puzzled me greatly, which I will get to.

The name comes from the fournders, the late Albrecht brothers and the German word diskont, discount, Al and di. It is of course a German company, actually two companies, each run by one of the late brothers, Aldi North (nord) which operates as Aldi Markt and Aldi South, or Aldi Süd as it operates.

Most of Europe is Aldi North and most of the English speaking world is Aldi South.

This sign is probably as familiar to you as it is to us and as I said, we saw it all over Europe and England.

However, what is going on in Austria, the place without kangaroos? Hofer? Hofer is used by Aldi South for its stores in Austria and Slovenia only. Very odd and the reason seems to be that Aldi took over a small Austrian based supermarket chain and kept the existing name Hofer, rather than change it to Aldi.
I can't believe almost three months have passed since we were were eating strudel in the pleasant early summer sunshine in Vienna, and, it has taken me this long to investigate the Austrian Hofer mystery.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Holding your head high in the face of adversity

Bush Babe, aka Amanda, is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. You may be able to read her latest post without tearing up. I could not. So many, too many, women face this so often. While thinking of Amanda, there are many going through the same treatment without the marvellous support she has.

Sunday Selections

This Sunday the photos are almost all odds and sods. See what River, Elephant's Child and Jackie have posted for Sunday Selections.

Looking downstream from Hamer Hall concourse at Southbank.

Some 'art' in Southgate.

A terrific little nativeish garden right on the edge of Southbank Promenade on the river bank.

R often turns away, "I'm not with him", when I take photos. I simply had to take a photo in this foyer. I forget what the building is, maybe the IBM office tower.

Winter is the best time for traffic watching, when the elm and plane trees are leafless. Traffic is in a mess, as it usually is in the evening.

A lovely façade close to the Highrise in Arnold Street, South Yarra.

Our friend, Brighton Antique Dealer, has been dealing and picked up this stunning piece for a bargain price.

A couple of weeks ago we were in this Commercial Road shop looking for an Asian condiment and I failed to notice anything else but Indian and Asian food. I saw no Euro or US food.

Can clouds ever be boring?

Gladdies are probably my favourite cut flower. No doubt I have showed you red gladdies before, probably in the same place in the same vase.

A rather nice building in Flinders Lane. Lower levels seem to be commercial and higher floors residential.

Tapping Man in the Haighs Chocolate shop in Block Arcade is broken, as the sign says. I took a photo of him when he was working, back here with a bit of an explanation.

The lane known as Degraves Street is closed to traffic and always busy with people brunching in the mornings, especially at weekends. Diners are crazily crushed together at tiny tables. But across Flinders Lane, the street is known as Centre Place and it is less busy. A venue that specialises in crepes also has other food, such as bacon and eggs, or what we recently tried, avocado and lime juice on an English muffin with bacon. They use these cute tourist teaspoons. It is interesting to see where they come from.

From where we were sitting while indulging in our brunch, this shop was to the right of me, with an interesting ceiling.

And this poster was to the left of me. Too hard for you to read. With a photo of some clear felling of native forest, the text says, "The greatest thing you could do is hang yourself from a f******* tree." I assume it is meant, the greatest thing you could do for the environment.