Why this has been so late
A certain ADSL provider I am a customer of, was sold to an overseas service provider around a year ago. This initial service provider was one I used because at a previous employer's, they also provided the broadband link for the employer and I'd gotten to know their commercial arm very well and was highly impressed by them.
I soon found out that the domestic provider was not so good. For the first eight months I estimate that my link stayed up only 50% of the time, and despite over 16 communications by phone and email with this ISP and with Telstra, the problem has not been properly resolved to this day. That's around $236 worth of service that I feel I had not received in the first eight months, and since then, while the service has been useable, it has never operated at full potential, and has still had outages ranging from several outages of minutes each per day on some days, to several hours on other days. I estimate that overall I've received about half the service that I paid for with this company.
Things didn't improve when they were taken over, and this year, moving as I did from permanent employment last year to self-employed, to the current job, I had no money in the account that the fee gets drawn from, at that time. It cost us a $35 dishonour fee, and when I found out about it I contacted the SP and asked them not to draw the amiount until I had money for them.
They didn't. Within a week they'd tried two times more and cost us another $70 in dishonour fees. At that stage I didn't notice because I was busy gearing up for this job, and when I did notice, I phoned them again.
I asked them to remove the debit payment from the old account which we are closing, and gave them the new account I've opened for the pay from this job. I asked that they not try and debit this new account until my first pay had gone in, and was assured that it wouldn't happen. \
Two days later they tried again, and on this new account, cost me a $45 dishonour fee...
By now ropeable, I sent a scud email to their support department, who agreed to refund me the latest dishonour fee as they "had no record of any phone call in January"...
At this point, I figured I would have to own the first dishonour fee, as I'd completely forgotten the SP debit when I started to wind that account down. But that left the next three fair and square at the SP's door. All $115 of them... I emailed back and said that since I owed $118, and they owed me $115, I'd accept them crediting me the last two months (as that's how long this has now dragged out to) and would pay the extra $3 with my next due fee next month.
Thursday night they deactivated my account, without any notice or notification, and since their $59 per month rate works out to $1.70 a day roughly, that means that by Monday there will be almost $7 that I sincerely hope they don't try and charge for in their next account...
Oh and needless to say, they won't be seeing my custom again after this is squared away, either. A pity - their commercial section worked so hard and earned so much respect from me, only to be thrown away by the consumer section in so many ways and so many times... Any other SPs out there, take note - the staff you put behind the customer contact desks are EVERYTHING in the consumer sector, they will determine if you float or sink...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 3:23 PM Ted
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My father's funeral was a very warm and personal ceremony, with a small number of selected friends of the family and ourselves. It has put to rest the stresses and fears of the last two years, during which he was not well, and I pray his soul has gone on to a better place, free from the costraints of this world.
Did you know that someone last century weighed people at the moment of death and found an unexplainable loss of weight at that exact moment? It's true, this researcher found an unexplainable loss of around 20g of weight. There may well be a mundane explanation but it's so much more pleasant to imagine that this is the human soul, flying up and away.
With that, I've farewelled the man who raised me and taught me and guided me, and look forward to meeting him again when my time comes. Thank you all again everyone, as I said it has been a time of sadness but also a time of remembrance and love. And I know that sounds corny but I feel that my father's life was worthwhile and his passing has not diminished any of that. And this is the last time I'll get all teary and emo about it, because from here on I'll remember him with pride and happiness for the great man he was and for the wonderful things he gave to those around him in his life.
So all of you reading this, send one last warm loving thought to my father and as I remember stories from our past I'll post them here...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 3:02 PM Ted
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Sunday, February 19, 2006
Almost past a bad time...
Thank you to everyone who's emailed and phoned and commented, your support at this time is appreciated.
To be fair. On Wednesday afternoon I got word that my father was ill with respiratory problems so instead of going to the weblogger meetup, Trish and I went to Mandurah to vistit him instead, and so I got to see my Dad before he passed on. He was in a lot fo respiratory distress so I wasn't unprepared for the following morning. I stayed at work the whole day to keep myself distracted, and it worked, by the evening I was at ease with what had happened.
This Wednesday, I'll go pay my last respects and we'll remember Dad the way he was, a man who always knew what to do when things went pear-shaped, who enjoyed life and never stopped learning, and a man whom I both loved and respected.
Thank's again, as I said it's appreciated.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 3:46 PM Ted
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Thursday, February 16, 2006
Vale: Otto Russ, my father...
May 12, 1923 passed away at 8:15 this morning of respiratory complications in Mandurah Hospital.
My father was the rock I grew up on.
Now he's gone.
May he rest in peace.
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, February 26, 2006 2:48 PMposted at 9:24 AM Ted More Comments: (2)
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Totally Stolen Valentines
From Ron. I had to chuckle...
Love may be beautiful, love may be bliss.
But I only slept with you, because I was pissed.*
I thought that I could love no other.
Until, that is, I met your brother.
Roses are red, violets are blue,
sugar is sweet and so are you.
But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead,
the sugar bowl's empty, and so is your head.
Of loving beauty you float with grace.
If only you could hide your face.
Kind, intelligent, loving and hot.
This describes everything you are not.
I want to feel your sweet embrace.
But don't take that paper bag off of your face.
I love your smile, your face, and your eyes.
Damn, I'm good at telling lies!
My darling, my lover, my beautiful wife:
Marrying you screwed up my life.
I see your face when I am dreaming.
That's why I always wake up screaming.
My love, you take my breath away.
What have you stepped in to smell this way?
My feelings for you no words can tell.
Except for maybe "go to hell".
What inspired this amorous rhyme?
Two parts vodka, one part lime.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 6:07 PM Ted
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Make Millions Online! Yeah... Right...
For about six months now I've been faithfully doing several market survey programs online. They email me every so often, break the monotony - and pay a few dollars for each questionnaire...
So how much did I transfer to my bank account after six months? $40, leaving $4 in the account, on one of the sites, and the other still hasn't reached the requisite $50 so I can shift that over. Hmmm figuring that I have a cup of coffee (let's see $16 per kilo, that makes about 60 coffees, so roughly 26c plus power to boild the coffee - and my time, make that 30c per cup - HOLY COW! - coffee shops are ripping me off bigtime! Note to self: Bring own coffee in thermos at next Prawnheads lunch...) plus the $2 per day to stay connected to the Internet for the times of those surveys, so say another 10c in connect time pro rata and the same in electricity, that make 50c every time I took one of those surveys.
After six months (and roughly one a week of surveys) that makes 26*.50 or $13 that it cost me, leaving me working for $31, $4 of which is still on the site so I ended up clearing $27, barely a dollar a week... And they say we don't know how to work for our money... %)
Categories - ::/:: posted at 1:59 AM Ted
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Monday, February 13, 2006
Gasp Reflex and Protopages..
First up today, I was discussing with one of my sisters about the gasp reflex and if she browses back over my blog she may want to follow that link - it seems that it's a chemical which causes this gasp reflex, and as we were discussing, we both suffered it until we stopped smoking, so I'm now guessing that someone will link it to some chemical in cigarette smoke too, in fact I may try and contact Professor Paton to suggest this as a line of research.
I mean, if it helps to isolate one factor contributing to cot death that has to be a step in the right direction, right?
My second discovery is a link to something called Protopage I can only loosely describe as a GuiWiki, it's quite a neat piece of work. All it's lacking is inter-page links but I bet they're coming. These folks are playing with the Next Big Thing in online applications, there will be a lot more o this kind of stuff out there soon.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 10:02 PM Ted
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Sunday, February 12, 2006
The Ever Curmudgeon
... that's me... Just came to that conclusion about two hours ago while reading news. Why? Well, look at this story. The guy is positively beaming at the little motion sensor he's pioneered, and why shpouldn't he be grinning? It's a great breakthrough. But while I was reading it, I got one of those jaded "ho-hum" feelings, and that made me think a bit more.
A little while ago I opined that creating intellectual property such as original works or patented designs is fast losing ground to the technological advances that allow the unscrupulous to pirate that IP and thus dilute one's returns, pretty much from the get-go. I wonder how much this guy and the pioneer company which will take up manufacturing the devices will get before the cheap knock-offs flood the market.
It got me thinking some more. There's a kind of pure joy to creating something, that's often more of a drive to developing new things than the financial possibilities. We've all had that "warm fuzzy feeling" when we've solved a problem that's been bothering us, and I bet that for most of us, that's all the reward (aside from having solved our problem) we'll ever see.
And I realised that, no matter how much personal pleasure I derive from doing my job (which is all about solving daily problems,) the solutions aren't worth as much to me if they don't come with a commensurate amount of income. In other words, my inbuilt pleasure reflex is becoming jaded... That's one of the paths to curmudegeonhood, so I've been sitting here frantically trying to think of some reason I'm not curmudgeonly.
One thing I can think of though, is partly related to that. When we're children, we get that simple pleasure from solving each of life's problems as they overtake us, and (of course) once you've learnt to do something, you get less and less of a buzz out of doing it each time. That's known as "habituation" or, in less technical terms, "getting used to it."
But - the survival advantages of being inquisitive, curious, and deriving reflexive pleasure at solving problems - that is inestimable, and those factors are some of the very ones which brought us to the point in human development we are experiencing. So solving problems is a survival trait for us, and those of us who found a reward for doing it right, would live on to the next generation.
In a way, we evolved our current technological society in response to having to be clever in order to survive a world where dumb humans would be extinct tens of thousands of years ago. And now the challenges mounted by that technological society are numbing us to the reward feelings we should be getting for solving a problem.
Combine that with the reduced possibility of monetary reward, and you get the distinct impression that technological progress may halt in a very short time, mainly because no-one's getting anything out of it and no-one cares...
Well, okay - maybe I don't think that but it would offer one possible solution to the Singularity which is predicted. Because that point is also fats approaching, and still no-one knows what to expect or what will happen. I'm curious as to what will happen, but I'm not sure I'll like it. Maybe being jaded is a kind of defense, a new survival trait...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 11:00 PM Ted
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I Just Ate WHAT?
This weekend, I've been to an event I was seriously despairing of ever seeing - one of my closest friends' wedding. He and I have been friends since the mid 90's, when we went around installing Internet for people, and we used to grab crusty Vietnamese bread rolls in town and then hoe into them at whatever spot was the lunch favourite of the moment, and I think the crap we talked about would bore you so I won't. Sometime after that he went to work through a range of businesses, on the way to where he now is - owning a computer shop on a busy road, with good staff, good clients, and good fortune. Oh yeah, and a Young Business Achiever award along the way there, too.
For someone who came over with his folks from Vietnam as a youngster, he did all this through hard work and dedication to his business. An inspiring story, really. But that's not what I want to talk about.
The other evening I attended the reception of Mr and Mrs friend, and Trish and I enjoyed a great evening. From the first it was clear that this wasn't quite your usual wedding, there was a moneybox as well as a collection of wedding gifts, and the place was decked out in a blending of western and eastern styles. Once we got photographed with the new couple for posterity, we found our places and sat down, and got our first look at the seating for around 250 guests...
Over some rather nice red wine and beer, (I'm a red drinker okay?) we listened to the families of the bride and groom being introduced, in Vietnamese and English, interspersed with some musical empahsis from the live band, and applauded when everyone else did, and got some conversation in with the people at our table. Turns out that one of the guys was a pharmacist at a pharmacy we often visit, life with my mate has always been loaded with coincidences so when I thought I recognised one of the ladies at the table I just put it down to more of the same. And yeap, had not met her but recognised her from one of the jobs I've attended in the past.
Once food started to arrive, things went a lot better. I was starving, and the "shark fin" soup hit the spot. (Emphasis because I believe it's a susbstitute which is acceptable to European sensibilies, but which still hit the spot for both cultures that evening.)
Dishes arrived in a steady stream over the rest of the evening, and up to the fish and final fried rice I have to say I had never tried any of the dishes, and I was impressed. Trish, who's normally not adventurous with her food, only drew the line at one dish, and even enjoyed a jellyfish salad, catering at this reception was excellent. And what was the dish that stumped Trish? Sea cucumber... Which, while not my favourite meal, I can say that I won't ever stress out over seeing on the menu again. I can handle it.
During the evening, the groom was everywhere, handling both cultures with equal aplomb in his inimitable style, even the boisterous ones, and watching him and his new bride, I felt pretty lucky to be in this multicultural place, sipping French style wine in the Italian way with Asian foods, watching Aussies doing what we do best, which is to party party party...
Addendum:(Three things I just got gently chided for failing to mention - the western guests included the range of cultures we're already so well known for, the beer was excellent, and it was my birthday, so my friend and colleague also sort of provided me with a birthday party, as well.)
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, February 12, 2006 12:07 PMposted at 11:39 AM Ted
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Thursday, February 09, 2006
Go Maggie Go!
I personally agree with her - we should not be pussies about this, we need to point out that with one insignificant exception the world is composed of others, and acting like a bunch of prize brats is not going to impress the grownup races of the world.
Come on people there's enough world for everyone - stick to your own part of it and stop acting like the rest of it owes you anything! And for God's sake stop acting like a bunch of politically correct wimps, rest of the world! I don't know if this is true but it's certainly plausible, and I do not want it here.
Don't get me wrong - I am not a religious Christian, and I have nothing against religious Muslims, but I do draw the line at people who act with the kind of stupidity ferocity and ignorance as our forefathers did between 500 and 2000 years ago. That's a developmental stage people, each culture goes through it, and eventually outgrows it. Grows up, as it were.
I did part of my growing up in an Arabian country, and I can vouch that I saw intelligent and sophisticated people there, living lives which were much more civilised than many Western countries were able to. What I see today seems to be some totally different species to those kind and wise Arabs I grew up among...
It's all so pathetic - you see the *nasty* and *horrible* cartoon, which apparently is so nasty and horrible that you, a survivor of regimes like Saddam Hussein's and the tender ministrations of the house of Saud, are now scarred for life by it. Yeah right... You are now so scarred that the only way you can to do to abreact all that horror is to burn down an embassy, inflict pain and suffering on someone totally unconnected to that *nasty* and *horrible* cartoon.
See, that's why the rest of the world thinks the average follower of Islam is a bomb-wielding, twin tower crashing terrorist - because they are acting like it. And that's why the only course of action that might work is if *EVERY* paper, every blog, every TV station and even radio station, takes these cartoons and stories and publishes them. Only once it sinks in that everyone thinks they're acting like dickheads will there be any chance of a change.
I wish they would be those morally tall people again, and that things could work out to their favour - but I'm afraid the radicals and fundamentalists may have done irrepairable damage already...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 12:29 AM Ted Comment made, yay!
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Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Death Of Uniqueness - oh sorry, this has been done already...
It seems that everything can be faked, and that means that a bit of new order has to come to the world economy.
What I mean is, that in the next few years you'll see a lot of sacred cows turned to imitation burgers. There have always been fakes and imitations, scammers and forgers, original content creators and pirates. It's always been there, the war between the IP originators and the ripoffs.
Let's face it, there was a time when a song by one minstrel was copied and/or parodied by all their peers. Then when vinyl came along, you could get "special pressings" with labels in slightly mangled language, when cassette tapes became popular, so did the cheap copies, and there was a time when "made in XXXXXX" meant "developed in some country and reproduced by us without permission" until the honour went to country YYYYYY instead...
As each new technology extends the reach of the people who make original content, it also makes it easier for pirates to copy that content and make cheap non-genuine items available.
So where's the smart money on IP rights? If you ask me, it's certainly not in the directions the RIAA and SCO are taking. Let's face it, if you make an encrypted CD that will only play on a specific branded CD player, all that will happen is that someone in a facility in some country where it's not illegal to, will make cheap copies of that CD player = AND of the CD as well...
Hmmm therefore copy protection and IP-protecting jealousy isn't where it's at. There's no point to developing a new concept or product because someone will rip it off before you've recovered the tooling costs. With the proliferation of piracy, even the pirates are being pirated and piracy becomes unprofitable.
Another way, that's been around for thousands of years, is what used to be known as hard work. But now there are robots being developed which will also replace hard work... And the robots will no doubt be cheap knock-offs from some cheap factory in some cheap labour country, and eventually someone will get the idea of using cheap robots to make more cheap robots...
So what's left? Ye gods, we have nothing left to earn a living from... Any ideas, please leave a comment. But don't bother to copyright it okay?
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Wednesday, February 08, 2006 10:29 PMposted at 10:09 PM Ted
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Take out, put in...
Here's a story...
It's really another "ironic contrast" story, like the last one. For a starter, there's the wistful little voice in that article, asking "if this is the healthy food aisle, what's in the other aisles?" and that always makes me think of James Lilek's Real Beef Hotdogs in his excellent blog, (read about halfway down the column,) and that always makes me really question our food culture in general.
Makes me glad I've always followed a slightly healthier path (and no smart comments about how come I have the ailments that created that book %) in my culinary life.
The irony of the article isn't lost on me. Bread flour is bleached and processed and bastardised to within an inch of starchhood, then by Government regulation the vitamins minerals and nutritional supplements are put back - from over-processed chemical supplement manufacturers... You see the irony - process the food to take all the goodness out, process the goodness to take all the food and goodness out, then mix back together at great expense...
It's no wonder we have such an epidemic of obesity and diet-related illnesses. As I say in my prostate friendly blog, we've developed over thousands of generations to be able to tolerate certain foods, and that means that our bodies can process those foods with less hassle. And those foods do not include anything chemically pulled apart and the reassembled, they do not include pesticides and radioactive trace elements, yet our food is loaded with them. As a result, our bodies are spending a lot of effort in just processing our foods and trying to eliminate the extraneous chemicals before they kill us, and our health suffers.
Oh, and the radioactive waste as fertiliser stories? It's true, in the United States you can fill up a truck with radioactive waste and stick a big radioactivity sign on the side, then cross a state line, take off the sign, and deliver it pretty much directly to a farm there to be used as fertiliser or soil improver. America is taking care of its own overpopulation problem all by itself. And by the look of the Australian article, we allow glowing fertiliser because according to that Arpansa article, they have disposal guidelines for radioactive fertilisers.
And fresh veges - ummmm should I say crap veges - are pretty much de rigeur for even the usually discerning Aussie palate. What do the Fresh Food People mean when they (as an example, just an example, okay?) buy tomatoes green (so they can keep them longer and hold the producers over a barrel) and then keep them gassed to prevent further ripening for several months before gassing them to ripen them and putting them on the shelf? How can that be "fresh" or "good"?
See, the humble tommie is a miracle of turning poop and water into sugars and digestible foodstuffs. But once it's off the vine, the tomato doesn't have access to poop and water any more. And while it's sitting under gas in a coolroom to prevent it ripening, it's having to consume a part of whatever goodness it's stored so far to stay "alive."
Then when it's "ripened" by the supermarket freezer techs, it consumes even more of it's sugars and starches to finish growing up. But because it doesn't have that vine pipeline to the nutrients, it's consuming the very nutrients our bodies need the tomatoes for.
And as for the wastes - you think a plant eating poop is gross, you don't want to know how many wastes those force ripened tomatoes can't dispose of because there's no vine and no leaves for it to dispose of the wastes from hibernating and ripening through...
So the thrust of my prostate friendly book is to not be stupid with your food. Give some thought to what your body really needs. I buy most of my vegetables at Swansea St Markets, because they don't have the facilities required to manipulate my foods to quite the extent that the big supermarkets do. I buy meat from butchers whom I talk to and find out if they're the type to fume the meat to make it look prettier, or if they're more honest and down to earth. And where they get their base product from. Because while the butcher might be as honest as the day is long, their suppliers are often a big supermarket style abbatoir...
That's pretty much my message all the way. "The general public" might not know the difference between a tomato and a piece of green protoplasm that could have been a tomato had it not been chopped off, chemically abused, and stored until it really is only protoplasm - but if you're smarter than the general public, then you'll be healthier than the general public. And if enough of us demand vine-ripe tomatoes, whole flour without the processing, raw sugar and honey instead of white sugar, then maybe the tide will turn against over-processing for fun and profit and we'll see some return to foods that don't kill us.
And if not - well, at least *you* stay healthy...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Wednesday, February 08, 2006 10:29 PMposted at 9:49 PM Ted
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006
This - cf. this...
We're a sad lot, really.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 8:16 PM Ted
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Sunday, February 05, 2006
Note Studio: Nice Product, Shame About The Demo
A few posts back I mentioned PBwiki and how useful I find it. As I said, one of the wikis I keep there is my documentation of clients, another one is a notebook of ideas and "eureka moments," and so forth.
And I've just been to take a look at Note Studio on the advice of a commenter to that article, and I can say the following, quite unreservedly:
Note Studio looks like a great product, being like a linkable e-book or a local wiki. (Why do I say "looks like?" - see further down.)
Note Studio was reasonably easy to learn to use, as it just uses formatting characters similarly to the way most wikis do. (And more on this, too, later on...)
Note Studio is an Australian product from the look of it, so I'm guessing it is very good. But...
Note Studio has an absolutely fricken ridiculous amount of "buy me" nag factor built in, which was enough to encourage me to stop evaluating it right there and then, uninstall it from my laptop, and vow not to use it again.
No I'm not a cheap bastard who's after free software or nothing. I am however someone who's aware of the value of my time, and when I have to click a bloody pop-up window every time I click the "back" button! then it becomes awkward to figure out how NS fits into my now totally shattered thought process. Also, there's a nag header on each page taking up screen real estate, and that tends to take one's eye away from the flow of information.
So NS gets a big pat on the back from me for what seems to be a damn good private wiki product, and a huge kick up the backside for not doing something sensible like making the edit function a time-limited demo instead, so that one could actually use the product whithout distraction for two weeks or whatever.
So despite the fact that it's on a server somewhere wayy off in the cybersphere, despite the fact that it's harder to include multimedia and images on a remote server when there are times where you're operating behind a 56K modem, PBwiki has one thing going for it - it's free as in beer, you can use all the features and a decent amount of storage right away, for nothing. You can evaluate it. Free.
Come on dogmelons, do something nice for your product and make it a time-limited demo!
Now to the next item of thoughts on my agenda, XHTML and the single wiki...
The "X" in XHTML, I am assured, stands for "eXtensible" - so why is it that wiki coders still insist on using effing ridiculous *=something= tags to add bold or emphasis or heading characteristics? Why not come up with a set of "wiki tags" the eXtend XHTML the way it's supposed to be? Then wiki engines can be built into the web server either as modules or extensions, and every webserver can become a notepad.
So I'd have a