Saturday, January 21, 2017

Who do we trust?

In the early days of WWII, or a bit earlier, an American 'computer' company set up digs in Germany. I expect it used punch cards in a very primitive manner. The information fed into the system included fine detail of German citizens, down to language spoken, native language, Jewish language knowledge, Jewish ancestors and Yiddish language skills. Written information flooded in from all over Germany and it was all put into this primitive computer system. Maybe even information from occupied countries was put into the database.

This collated information database gave Hitler all the information he needed in one database and we all know what then happened.

So who was this company and is it still around? Indeed it is. It is called IBM. That would be the IBM company that thoroughly screwed up Australia's last census and had to shut its online census site down for weeks from around 8pm on census night, just as people finished dinner and then went online to do their democratic duty. It was not a cyber attack from overseas but just the sheer incompetence of IBM. A few weeks later, I did eventually fill my census in with a lot of nonsense as a reaction to the scarily bizarre census experience, and that our data will be retained with our names. It seems I am now an unmarried hetrosexual without relatives. somewhat of a contrast to my last census data, where I was a gay man in a defacto relationship with many relatives.

Of course if you were a homosexual in Germany in 1939, that would have gone into the database too and many suffered a similar fate to the Jews of Europe.

So, a company that complicity worked with Hitler and sorted and collated the information he needed for the Holocaust to happen, and without doubt knew how and why the information was needed, is now a big and 'moral' company in the US. And our Australian government entrusted IBM with our census? Disgrace! That IBM was allowed to flourish in the US is a disgrace.

Trust IBM with your data? I don't.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A day to remember

In the bigger picture, it was not massive loss of life, not a terrorist attack, but it was nasty day today in Melbourne when someone ran amok in a motorcar and deliberately mowed down people in a car free city mall. Three were killed and many injured, as the car driver did not steer down the centre of the road on the tram tracks where it would have been quite clear, but along the side of the mall where people walked. Many had time to dodge or run into shopfronts, but some did not.

I was in town yesterday, my day off, on my own as it was Mother Day for R. I brunched in Centre Place and wandered about town for a bit before setting off by tram and train to Malvern to see a friend in hospital. It was about 22 degrees, the sun was shining and the sky was blue, and a cool breeze was gently blowing. There were hoards of people setting off for the Australian Open tennis. There was a sense of joie de vivre in the air. Everyone seemed happy, including myself, who does at times moan on about what is wrong with our city, but I felt quite good about it yesterday.

I crossed Bourke Street Mall yesterday, where the awful crime occurred today. People being in the wrong place at the wrong time when a crime is committed always troubles me, but what happened today in one of the safest and cheeriest streets in the whole world does an awful lot more than just trouble me.

From what I have learnt about the alleged perpetrator, he has a long criminal history in spite of not being very old and I suspect the question will soon arise, well why wasn't he in gaol? Indeed, why wasn't he in gaol or at least detained?

My sympathy goes out to those who are bereaved and those injured. This just should not have happened in olde Melbourne Town.

Free mathematician required

The self watering pot for our tomatoes cost $30 and I suppose another $10 for potting mix and the two seedlings, total of $40.

We have had three ripe tomatoes from the plants, each weighing 15 grams, so a total of 45 grams, or 0.0045 kilos.

So, how much per kilo have the tomatoes cost? Obviously the price will go down as we harvest more but I think they will be very expensive tomatoes.

Warm and fluffy or.....

Damn, the alligator video was shown on tv news here, so everyone has now seen it. Is it real? It is not the shape I imagined alligators to be, quite different to our crocodiles.

Well, you will have to make do with some cute fluffy kittens then if you've seen the alligator, if the video works. It is the first time I have tried to put a non YT video in a post.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Connected to the NBN - the verdict

While the day of connection went painlessly, subsequently things became quite difficult. I changed the given password at the TPG website and so managed to stop our internet. That was the worst and took the most time. The call centre, in the Philippines I think, were ever helpful and patient about our non working internet. Had I told them at the beginning that I had changed the password at the TPG website at the beginning, it would have been resolved much faster. How was I to know that was the cause of internet ceasing? It seems you have to change your modem password too.

Then our phone that could only make outgoing calls stopped working altogether. R was a little distressed as he thought his fave sister would call for the New Year. Sure, enough, she sent an FB message, has your phone been disconnected? The Brother Friends called to wish us happy NY, and they received the same message. More time spent on the phone and then a call back from techs that porting your home number can take a five working days. R was not impressed. An email arrived that told us all had been completed for the change over. Not so, but I was prepared to wait, and hey, no Mother in my ear for a week. R insisted I call back to TPG about our non working phone, but it seems even in the Philippines they celebrate New Year's Day, and the call centre was closed.

I called again the next day and as I was going through the process over my mobile phone, (I always made sure they called me) suddenly the lass said, (paraphrasing) 'eureka, I will call you back'. She did, half an hour later on the home phone and it was working fine and has continued to do so.

With the password having been reset to factory setting, R still wanted to change it to our own. Predictably, changing the password at TPG again broke our internet, but I was a little more knowledgeable and the matter was quickly fixed after a short call.

Should you have to go through all this rigamarole? No, of course not. Is the end result good, yes, and I pleased we have done it and are saving $50 a month and have a superior service.  While web browsing is only marginally faster, downloads of files is much faster and uploading, say when you upload photos to your blog or Flickr, it is gobsmackingly fast compared to Telstra's service.

In the small print below the graphs, how annoying that our own, former government owned, telecommunications company uses the American date format. I suspect this local speed test is a bought off the shelf USA product and slightly adapted.

Anyway, bite the bullet and do connect if the NBN service is available to you. You will have to do it at some point anyway. If you are as I was, a rusted on Telstra faithful, it is very liberating to be free of the shackles of Telstra. Oops, my modest shareholding in Telstra has dropped in value again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A bit of environmental outrage

The Netherlands is now running all of its electric trains using wind power to generate the electricity. Believe me, as I have seen them, there are a lot of wind turbines in Netherlands coastal waters. Australia should be generating all of our power with wind, wave, hydro and what Australia is known for and has in abundance, sunlight.

Because onshore gas production has been banned in the State of Victoria, a little scare campaign has been underway by those with vested interests in increasing the price for natural gas we pay. Apparently because of a 'gas shortage' we will have to start freighting gas from Queensland and it will cost a lot more. Phewy. Our gas comes from Bass Strait off the Victorian coast. When I was but a lad, I remember hearing that there was enough gas under the seabed in Bass Strait to last us thousands of years.

I should have saved the name of the author of this little gem. Whether true or not, I do not know, but politicians and those who lord it over us wonder why the public is fed up and cynical.

There's a neat political game going with France and Czech Republic selling reliable base power to Germany and Austria while the latter two can promote their own "green" energy policies - including opposition to nuclear power - and look nice and virtuous (while cooking their dinner using nuclear power from the country next door). Two countries get money, the other two get political kudos. Everybody is happy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tasteful Restraint?

Where is the most ornate old theatre foyer in Australia. I think Victor may have discovered  a strong contender and I would be interested if anyone can mention a more ornate theatre foyer in Australia. Note, I don't use the word beautiful. That is in the eye of the beholder. Art Deco is more my style. I remember being very impressed by Sydney's State Theatre where we watched a film soon after the theatre was restored to its former glory in about 1983.

While it is not longer used as a theatre, the foyer is.....well, Victor has the information on The Regent Theatre in Brisbane and some terrific photos.

Here is a tease photo.

Monday, January 16, 2017

ABC Fail

I remember Stan Grant from his commercial tv current affairs show. We used to call him Grand Stunt. As a commercial current affairs host, he was fine and par for the course for such shows.

He is now a fill in summer presenter on our ABC TV current affairs show 730. Photo from the National Press Club of Australia. Not bad looking for an older man.

Once 730 settles back to its normality in the new year I understand he will be a Friday night presenter for a replacement programme and also oversee ABC coverage of indigenous matters, he being of aboriginal heritage no doubt makes him well qualified for that role. 

But after watching him on our screens for a week, I do not like him as presenter of 730. He is not ABC. I cannot define the qualities that make an ABC presenter, but I know he does not have them and am a lifelong watcher, listener and supporter of ABC news and current affairs.

And it rather infuriates me that ABC TV has a wealth of tv female journalistic talent there for the taking who could host a current affairs show but instead it employs someone who recently worked for Rupert at Sky News and has the lack of credibility of someone who has worked at such a conservative and biased news organisation.

No, he is not suitable for our taxpayer funded ABC. End of story. Which managerial tosser thought he was a good idea?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Selections

Joining in with River and others for Sunday Selections. As per usual, mine are random left over photos not used elsewhere.

A tuk tuk front in a cheap Asian eatery. The photo didn't come out very well.

I think this was taken with my phone. I think it was Batemans Bay where we stayed for one night on our Spring road trip. It too is not a good photo. Something went wrong with the bridge as we arrived and caused a terrible traffic jam.

This photo is about two months old. The white building seen behind the cranes is Edgewater Towers in St Kilda. The building under construction has now blocked our view, as did the one on left did significantly. You have no right to a view, as a former Mayor of the City of Port Phillip told us. Fortunately our main view from the lounge room cannot be blocked.

London's Serpentine has a temporary arts pavilion built each year and so now does Melbourne in the Queen Victoria Gardens. I think this is the third. Each year I wonder about the under usage of a temporary building that takes ages to construct and no doubt costs a bomb.

These beds, also in QV Gardens, used to be planted with wonderfully colourful annuals. Look at them now. Boring as the proverbial bat droppings. A bit weird, but the annual flower beds were replaced with these sorts of plants from a donation by Naomi Milgrom, of the Sussan and Sportsgirl retail shops. Why?

These lamps line Princes Bridge, the main entrance into town for many people. One is now missing thanks to some idiot climbing up on to it on New Year's Eve. It collapsed. I hope he was charged, but that is unlikely. I suppose it will be fixed and the others are due a repaint anyway. The lad is due for the stocks and rotten tomatoes.

I think Grace mentioned she liked the look of Flinders Street Station, our main city suburban train station.

It is much photographed and just as interesting at the Elizabeth Street end with the clock tower. It will be repainted soon, a paler stone colour.

St Pauls Cathedral on the diagonal opposing corner.

Young and Jacksons Hotel, aka Princes Bridge Hotel, with the ghastly electronic advertising board above, but the board does hide a very neat open roof top cider bar.

Trams in the busiest tram street in the world, cyclists, taxis, delivery vans, trucks and council workers all hate where the horses for hire are located. All pass within inches of these horses. They simply should not be at this location. The horses and carts also ignore time restrictions noted on the parking signs. Lord Mayor Doyle should act. Yes, one horse did swing its snout out to one side once and it was hit by a passing tram.

I don't know if it is true, but when six o'clock closing of hotels was in place, because of the terrible mess made as men gulped down multiple beers and often enough brought them back up again, never mind just spillage, public bars were all tiled and simply hosed out after closing. Pub tiles were often nice though,

Intricate work at Melbourne Central.

In the gloom for some reason this cruise liner looked very bright and white.



Oi, this is Australia, not Britain. Where is the kangaroo and emu?

The mad running season concluded in December.