Friday, 30 March 2007

Secrets of DNA, Ted style...

Here's a little snippet I managed to pick up recently from a bunch of readign I've been doing:

I wouldn't have been doing the reading if evolution and selection worked as we are taught in classrooms. No this is not a creationist rant, rather the opposite. It's a "well shit that's clever!" kind of a look at how selection works.

For example, most so-called "mutations" are already there in the proteins and stuff, but they don't actually get allowed by the genesis processes unless there's some environmental variation that shuts down one of the normal processes and allows that variant to express instead. That means that a frog egg in a warmer pond will shut down some processes and allow others to take place, resulting in a generation where a higher percentage of the tadpoles will be more warm-adapted.

It's a clever thing, and the book I'm reading talks for whole chapters about how the DNA sequencing has working DNA and junk DNA and hints that the junk DNA may be an important "spacer" to place working DNA at the right point in the overall genome, and the book's author seems content with the fact that all those complex rules about what DNA is to be used for what, at what particular point of the process, that they miss the one point that stresses me out more than any other.

We have about 4,000 working DNA sequences and 100,000 proteins. That means that one piece of DNA codes about 25 proteins, not one to one as originally thought. Some of those proteins may well be being constructed as a result of other processes resulting from a protein that the DNA did code for, so maybe one DNA sequence can code for 12 different proteins, and this all depends on how far it is spaced by "junk" DNA from some other important DNA sequences or something.

That's a clever way to re-use DNA sequences based on their positions relative to one another or whatever. The rules that govern how each DNA sequence is used seem thus to be exceedingly complex. And I wonder how many biologists are working on the same question which I have:

Never mind how clever those rules are and how well they adapt life to the environment - how did those rules get created in the first place? If we can find out how such an appraently complex and very specific set of rules could have evolved to code the DNA, we would have a much clearer understanding of how to truly decode DNA...

Addendum: Reading further in the book, got to a piece about how one DNA sequence is a complete virus genome. The authors (Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, Jack Cohen) again say something thats both very deep and very shallow of them at the same time. You see, the retrovirus sequence prevents the mother's immune system from rejecting the foetus. According to Pratchett Stewart & Cohen, Messrs, "At some stage during mammalian evolution, this defence system was stolen from the viruses and used to stop the female placenta resposnding to the antigens that reveal the foreign nature of the fetus's (sic) father."

Good Messrs, this begs the simple question: What stopped the mother's immune system attacking the foetus before the retrovirus genome was adopted? Which came first, the retrovirus adoption or the foetus rejection? If it was the former, then why did the mammalian genome adopt a virus genome when there was still no foetus to give it a useful function?

Thursday, 29 March 2007

And Uh - Yeah...

I have my ADSL back. Telstra may find themselves at the receiving end of a lawsuit now, I'm considering my options.

Lessee now - I give my ISP a sum of money every month, of which they give Telstra a certain amount to provide the broadband connection. Telstra take what is ultimately my money and they contract to my ISP that they will provide a service. Now normally, if a company contracts to provide a service for a month and then doesn't provide that service for over 25% of that time due to electrical mechanical or other failure on their part, they can be sued for breach of contract.

So lessee some more - my landlord is a separate person to me, they rent the telephone line here and Telstra agree to supply broadband over that line, see paragraph above for their responsibilities in this pair of contracts.

Then my landlord defaults payment and the phone is barred. Telstra still supply my broadband over that line though, for another three weeks. Then, they disconnect the broadband too. Which they are still taking my money for, mind you. And which, despite the contract between Telstra and myself and my ISP, they are now insisting I must also pay a reconnection fee for. This is not a mechanical electrical or other failure, either. This is a deliberate act of refusal to provide a service I have paid for, in order to coerce a payment from an third, unrelated, party.

Anyone out there have any idea if this is legally enforcible? If I find out that it is, I'll post my findings here. I'd also welcome anyone's comments and views on this.

Hardware For A Skynet

It's getting closer and closer. They're making it easier and easier . . .

Monday, 26 March 2007

Stolen Weeks

You may wonder why I've been quiet. Of course, there's a reason. I believe I've just had around $110 stolen from me by Telstra, over someone else's telephone bill, and it means my connection will still be down until sometime Wednesday 28 March.

So here is a question for you: You live in a house with a friend, and that friend defaults on their car payments and parks their car at their parents' place for a few weeks. The repo people come around, and, not finding the car they came to collect, decide that in order to pressure your friend they will clamp the wheel of your car. Legal? No way! Can you sue the ass off the repo company? You betcha!

Now to my problem. My ADSL is delivered over a telephone line which my landlord leases, and I only use for ADSL. The landlord and landlord's children use the telephone, and failed to pay for it a few weeks ago, resulting in the line being disconnected. ADSL kept working for several weeks after the disconnection, and then suddenly it just stopped too.

Now - Telstra has a requirement to keep all telephone lines operational for 000 calls, no matter what. That means the copper is connected at all times. That is why the ADSL (which I pay for, and a sizeable portion of that payment goes to Telstra for supplying my data) can be maintained. And Telstra also has a requirement to supply my ADSL because I have paid for it and I am NOT in any default.

What actually happened was that Telstra yanked the code for my connection in order to force my landlord into paying. I have lost over a week of ADSL service which I paid for, and in addition Telstra are charging a reconnection fee for my ADSL, in addition to charging my landlord a reconnection fee.

You can believe that I will be contacting Telstra once my connection is restored, and then my next stop will be a lawyer. And the TIO. Because this amounts to stealing, intentional and deliberate stealing.

Anyhow - while being without a connection:

Bonsai Johnny comes across as arrogant. "Bullshit!" he says "they don't know what they're talking about!" Thanks Baby Bush...

Airlines that will take a dollar from you to sink into a "carbon points" scheme. Hmmm who operates that scheme, where does the majority of your dollar finish up? Do you really truly honestly absolutely believe that this pack of cutthroats who are out to wring you for every cent they can, let alone your dollars, are going to keep their thieving mitts off a dollar that you just give to them? Are we really that naive? Apparently we are.

Future fund - "like Norway, like Russia" - erm Russia's broke... hello... Saying that the future fund is working is like saying that Russia is one of the most affluent countries in the world, it's just plain untrue. Also, we of the Baby Boomer generation spent our lifetimes putting money into the Government in order to have a pension we could live on - it was promised to us that part of our taxes would become our "future fund" - which is patently untrue also, as you can see - first we had to have superannuation as well, and now it turns out that we won't even have enough even with super because we haven't been contributing long enough.
Get used to it kids, Governments lie through their teeth, by the time that so-called "future fund" would have been slated to be used, it would somehow already have vanished through the floorboards. At least this way you get some infrastructure for your tax dollars, if you leave politicians in charge of it it will be just like my pension - a dimly remembered thing that has also been stolen from you by then.

And they aren't going far enough, how about wireless access? Tassie has PAYG power and wireless broadband at a fraction of what I'm paying for a useless ADSL... I would love Wireless broadband here, in one of the most affluent capital cities in Australia, where I can't even keep my ADSL service because Telstra have a very unusual idea of what constitutes service.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Connect The Dots If Not Too Tired

So there is this new mystery to occupy our police.

And what has changed from this time last year? Why, the time, of course! As I said in a previous article, we are more tired because we have to try and sleep in a hotter part of the evening. Daylight saving is the one thing that has changed between this time last year, and this year.

Do we need any more proof than those fatality rates? How much more will it take Mr D'Orazio & Co? I predict that the rate will settle down to a normal rate per months compared to the same months last year, right after daylight saving stops.

I wonder if they'll connect the dots or not? Or will it take another summer of road carnage, industrial accidents, and grumpy kids vandalising more and more premises before they'll take daylight saving and put it where the sun don't shine?

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Sunday Slimes Follies p17

"HANSON SPILLS THE BEANS . . . " shouts that headline, over a really tabloid picture of Pauline No Notion with her hooks firmly sunk into some hapless chappie.

Come on Sundayrag, if I wanted that kind of reportage I'd go to Wimmin's Weakly or the No Idea or Who or What or whatever the junkmag of the week is...

Some people out there still believe you're a newspaper, you've got them fooled. At least try not to make it so obvious that you're just another tabloid desperate for cheap bold print.

QOTD, Education

Make your educational laws strict and your criminal ones can be gentle; but if you leave youth its liberty you will have to dig dungeons for ages. - Michel de Montaigne

Aren't we improving our prisons a lot?

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Fremantle Arts And Thoughts On Authorship

It's sometimes what hasn't been said and is mentioned in passing...

"The question of unpaid royalties was also being addressed. “We’ve been gradually, because of the turnaround in the last 12 months . . . clearing those. The package the Minister (has announced) will bring all of that up to date.” "

So there are, like, all these writers who have been quietly starving away for the last few years and who might now get their cheques? Well that's a good thing, certainly.

More of a worry is the $565,000 grant/loan combination figure. How many books does FP actually have? Well, I count 9 titles on their website which they're actively advertising, and there's of course no indication of how many copies have sold nor how many other titles are on sale. But even if we number their string as consisting of only ten authors, that means the maximum average royalty each can receive is $56,500 - and I gather that A) not all of that money, indeed probably just a small portion of it, will go to royalties, and B) we're not talking about royalties just over the last 12 months here, but likely two years or possibly more.

At a very rough guess, their authors will be earning not much more than $9k a year from royalties, and my gut feeling is that in fact the average author will be earning about half of that.

So really, it sucks to be an author. Maybe I should get out of blogging...

Sunday, 11 March 2007

2007 Caravan And Camping Show

Basically? Big show, small brains organising it... What sort of disservices did the organisers do for themselves and for we the paying public? Argh, where do I start?

To begin with, the show was held at Belmont raceway. This is NOT a venue famous for lots of parking, and honestly, how many caravanning people would NOT come to the venue in their own car? It's all about being off the grid and public facilities like Transperth after all. So parking pretty much ran out after organisers, exhibitors, and staff parked their cars... Consequently the vacant land in the track was used as a giant car park, but it slowed incoming traffic to a trickle.

To add to the stupidities, Belmont raceway management themselves had instigated a major stupidity which the caravan and camping show now felt in aces. Two lanes on each side of the Graham Farmer have easy access to the entrance to Belmont. That's four lanes packed full of traffic which on a normal race day would be funnelling down to two lanes, one heading left and the other right. But as the caravan show was using much of that space, it left four lanes of traffic all trying to fit into ONE lane, the right hand one. Thirty-five (!!!) minutes elapsed between the time we approached the East Pert Powerhouse and the moment we turned into the raceway entrance.

The 4WD trip which crossed and followed the racetrack several times didn't help improve the mood any, and then we got to park miles away from the nearest shuttle bus pickup point. Definitely not the kind of thing a couple of baby boomers (and face it, Grey Nomads drive the caravan industry these days) really needed to have to face on a day that was steadily getting hotter and hotter.

Last year's show was at Ascot and as far as I'm concerned that was by far a more suitable venue, Belmont was just - let's face it - what could at best be called a logistical mistake.

By the time we got through the gates, a mere 13 kilometres from our doorstep, it had taken over two hours to get to the show. That is really pathetic, considering we could get to Skyshow, parked, and a spot on the foreshore, in under 35 minutes at the busiest time.

The next organisational lacuna (="hole") into which the show fell was the matter of food and drinks. I don't know where they got their footage from for the TV ad but it was absolutely crap also. Compared to the smaller show late last year in Victoria Park, this one was a famine in a desert. Even compared to last year's caravan and camping show, this year was distinctly slim pickings.

Look, caravanners are a sociable lot, and us wannabe caravanners similarly are social animals too. We are also as I mentioned, quite a lot of comfortable, spoilt, baby boomers who like their comforts such as being able to choose from a range of meals and drinks, and - yes, I found this to be the total pits also - we like to be able to SIT and enjoy our meal not try and juggle the greasy foultasting chips and a limp chicken roll and drink while standing.

I felt that having been crapped on just gettign to the gate, then crapped on again because of having to haul my emphysemic ass miles across the racetrack because the organisers were too cheap to make it worth Ascot's while, that was bad. Then to pay good money for the privilege of that, that was expected but none the less a bit more than I felt the show was worth all things considered. And then to find that we'd also been left in the lurch for eats and drinks, well that has almost turnedme off the show for good...

The show itself... Hmmm most everything here I'd seen six months earlier in Vicrtoria Park but still a few things became evident. RICH Baby Boomers now drive much of the market. There were a lot more large rigs, big buses with Winnebago logos, a bus with it's own remote-drive-on smart car, HUGE and opulent rigs with driving seats like a cross between a Mack top of the line cab and an airliner cockpit, and more.

The other thing which I saw much more of is fifth wheeler rigs, either as complete sets or as pan trailers, generally with slide-out side sections now. These rigs I must have seen a dozen of, where six months ago there were two at the show.

Portable power generation was evident in accessory stalls all over the place, and as yet only a very few caravans and campers had solar panels and batteries, of those most are pathetic little set-ups that barely manage to keep the fridge running all day, and I predict that once my ideas to do with solar panels and energy get out, you'll be seeing a lot more caravans with all the bumps taken off the roof and solar panels along the roof instead.

Let's face it, currently caravans are miserly with energy and use a roof-mounted air conditioner and roof vents because that saves energy. But these are also the dust and water ingress points that are GUARANTEED to leak because they will tend to sag in after a bit of travel on rough roads. And if you have all that roof for solar energy instead, why not install a small split system instead? You won't need to be saving energy if you do the right thing.

So as I saw a swing to 5th wheelers, I expect a swing away from roof mounted air conditioners and vents in the future, and a swing toward much greater use of solar energy, providing as it does freedom from grid power.

Seen at this show also were the "origami boats" - several manufacturers now produce a small dinghy sized boat which folds flat for transporting along on your caravanning holiday or epic journey and offers comfortable and easy water transport for when you want to go fishing. I wouldn't use them at sea or in white water but as a putt-putt for getting out from the river or lake shore to where the fish are, they seem ideal.

Something else I am not seeing is bikes. All the major car sales places are represented and have tow vehicles galore, but what about the good old dirt bike that can be hung off the back of the caravan or driven up on the A frame? A reasonable bike is almost a must-have for outback caravanning yet few take advantage of the show to exhibit suitable 125cc - 250cc machines...

So all in all an average show in terms of innovative content, and this year also a very disappointing show as far as oranisation or looking after the public.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

August 29th is not far away

Dammit didn't they watch the Terminator movies?

Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th, 1997.

. . . or 2007 perhaps . . .

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Luck And The Gods Of Tarot.

Had an argument recently with a friend about tarot psychics and luck, and it runs a bit like this:

If tarot is all self-projection then I seem to have managed in the past to project reasonable facsimiles of other people's lives, especially several times readings for first-time acquaintances whose details I managed to home in on without the usual "invite-test-switch" kind of ploy that the TV psychics use.

Don't know what is involved, maybe extremely good posture and face reading skills - except that at other times I don't seem to get a hint even if it's painted on a barn door and smashed over my head...

Best case ever - met someone and he had seen me read cards for his sister so he brought in a brand new girlfriend of his. They both sat without saying a word or acknowedging a thing I was reading while I reeled off a divorce, a contest involving a car, and that she had an estranged daughter whom the ex husband was now trying to re-establish contact with and isolate from her.

Later I needed guidance to find that sister's (Ellie) farmlet and drove into a country town and wandered into a local museum and spoke to the woman behind the counter. She had never heard of Ellie, didn't recognise the name of the area that had been subdivided into hobby farmlets, but seized on a name that made sense to her and gave me directions to the area. Got there and turned left instead of right, just as well because Ellie and her partner were coming from that direction in their ute and we would have gone to the farm, not realised it was theirs because the ute wasn't there, and gone home. Later found out that Ellie had named her farmlet by the name this woman pulled out of the hat, but the actual creek which bore that name was miles to the south of where she had directed me. And I knew the name but (it being christmas and I'd been slightly tipsy when Ellie told me) had forgotten it so I couldn't have told the woman at the museum, I only rememembered the full name when she said it.

I can't count the number of times weirdness has crept into my life in this way, but it's been often enough that I accept that it exists. Being a tidy-minded computer geek the thought makes me itch but if it walks like a duck quacks like a duck swims like a duck then it's not likely to be a helicopter or anything other than a duck... %) I accept that there are things I can't directly observe and just remember to duck.

Once I get over the initial hump in a reading I tend to gradually get an overall picture and the details just flow in. I very rarely read individual cards except to get a basic picture, and then what happens is like free association where I take my critical faculty out of the loop.

And I am similarly forced to believe in luck as a force, because of the phenomenon of multiple major lottery winners. I did the stats, for a program I wrote, which basically indicate that the odds of winning one of the major prizes in lotto are about 1 in 60 million. Therefore, the odds of winning two major prizes in lotto are 1 in 360 million million, and the odds of winning three different prizes is 1 in 216000 million million million. The earth's population is only 6,600 million.

So if the Earth ran purely by statistics we should expect a double winner once every half a million years or so, and a treble winner every 300 million million weeks or so, so - say - once every 50 million million years. Yet every year you hear of one or more double winners and there have been several treble winners too. Yes there are probably 10,000 different lotteries in the world but also remember that only a small percentage of the world's population play lotteries, and they don't play every game every week either...

It works both ways of course. If you have been struck by lightning you are more likely than other people to be struck in future. That by the way is proven by observed figures and again statistics can't offer any explanation. Similarly, "bad luck charlies" are an observed phenomenon that doesn't follow the rules of statistics.

So if the world doesn't run by the laws of statistics there has to be a reason involved, and I call that reason, luck. QED. Strange as it seems to end my theory with the acronym for Quantum ElectroDynamics, which is itself based on statistics... hehehehe

Yes I started reading Tarot cards as a general stress relief, because thinking about the meanings ascribed to the cards is calming and leads to meditative thinking which is good from time to time. It was when a friend jokingly asked me if "Swami Theo" would read him his cards one drunken afternoon that I saw some value in them other than meditation. And I found out that my psychology must be good because I got very good at telling what kind of problems were happenng for the subjects, and I still don't know how I do that. (And BTW "Theo" was another of this mate's fabrications, it bears no relationship to my name...)

The statistics I worked out on the back of a napkin (true) at a cafe when a mate and I heard of a triple winner in the States some years back and decided to see if we could guess what were the odds. It was only years later that I went back over the figures with another friend that it suddenly hit me that something was very, very wrong...

If anyone is a statistician or better at it than me perhaps they'd like to work out how close or far off my figures are? And then we can decide if what is being observed is truly random statistics or if we have to concede that there is such a force as luck. I for one would feel much less itchy if someone could explain this one away...

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

And Now For Something . . .

Here's another thing that makes ya go hmm. I can appreciate that I might want a TV in the kitchen, but how many appliances do I need with a TV in them?

And yes I appreciate the schadenfreude of the juxtaposition of the rooster and the roaster...

A Health Tip: Meat

Here's a guide to what you should look for next time you buy meat. I won't repeat that article here, and will just say that some of the things that find their way into our daily meat can kill some unfortunate people, make a proportion of us moderately ill, cause health problems for a large segment of the demographic, and serious illnesses for another small percentage. Worth a read.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Brains Gods and Spacetimes

If you've anything like a philosophical interest, then you might want to read all eleven pages of this article. It asks the question of why it seems that our brains are wired to be so ready to believe in Gods or ghosts or in fact anything that constitutes a higher power than ourselves.

Coincidentally I've also been reading a variety of text on string theory, superstrings, physics, a very fine book published online named "Motion Mountain" and which you can read by going here - also I believe Christoph Schiller is still accepting proofreading errors and any other errors you may find so if you find anything then he is wide open to your suggestions.

The authors of the 11-page article suggest that the capacity to believe evolved as a "spandrel," a consequence of the changes that gave us survival ability and is not of itself a survival trait. But there could be a far simpler explanation that has no basis in evolution at all...

When I go to natural beauty spots around here I have now twice heard someone say "this is so perfect and beautiful that it proves there is a God." Well, not those precise words of course but that sentiment.

Those people are suffering a common misconception, namely that there has to be a God because everything is so well designed for humans. The real truth falls somewhere in the range "I was born under a blue sky to the sight of green trees and mountains and rivers and oceans and lakes - and because they are what I have seen all my life, I find them beautiful. And this spot is the most natural and beautiful I've seen in a while, bearing out the conjecture that we find beautiful that which we are born into."

In the same way, I read a very long magazine article once which enthused about how strange it was that water had the properties it did, thus making it perfectly suited to promoting life. After a fairly long read of the article I wondered if the guy was writing a satire. Life evolved to the form it is today because water had such weird properties that it forced life to evolve to suit it!

There are countless very intelligent and respected people gettign hold of the wrong end of the stick out there. Unfortunately they develop a following who then all mill around praising the mystical entity that created water just for us...

That mystical entity is sometimes called God, and sometimes, String Theory, or even the Grand Unified Theory, or Brahma or Karma or Physics or Ogg the Rock God Outside My Cave.

And they're all equally unproveable.

One thing that comes out of Physics and Science is that we are living in a knife-edge kind of a Universe. If vacuum energy was larger than 1 to the power of ten to the power of 118 units or less than than 1 to the power of ten to the power of 120 units (yes that is right it's an inverse) then the Universe would either explode violently a la Big Bang or else collapse extremely violently a la the other end of the Big Bang scale.

That's a range of of maybe two in a line of dots with 1 time ten to the 120th zeroes after it. In fact, it's a range of two in a line of dots that stretches to infinity in either direction. It so improbable that this exact amount of vacuum energy should be what's left over after the Big Bang and produce this stable Universe for us to inhabit. Hmmm... Or maybe it's just that while this Universe has just the right amount of vacuum energy to hold stable, life has developed, taking advantage of the opportunity?

But my explanation for the fact that we think about Higher Powers is simple - if you believed that we're only here because of a one in infinity event, in a Universe which will exist for only one time unit in an infinity of time, and which besides has all these seeming paradoxes which enabled life, well I think we'd just stop...

It's just easier to ascribe things to higer powers and my theory is that every child develops this as a coping mechanism, because they are indoctrinated into it by parents and peers. Ability to think abstract thoughts is what made us into the thinking beings we are, and therefore we apply our ability to abstract to the problem of Why? and come up with the socially-endorsed answer.

Even dogs can think abstract thoughts, think Pavlov's experiments with dogs. Ring a bell, feed dog. Repeat. After a while, ring a bell, dog associates sound with food and salivates. A ringing sound has no flavour but dogs make an association between the events and prepares for something that will magically come true shortly...

We think a bit beyond the bell to who might be ringing it, and come up with gods....

I just found one more quote in that article that illustrates the extremely inconsistent and interwoven nature of our belief systems, this one from a scientist who is studying belief theory, and is a Christian. He writes:

Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me — should I then stop believing that she does?

That rather plaintive statement shows how conflicted the gentleman is - because if it was placed in the same context as the entire belief theory he should have said:

Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think that I have a wife who loves me — should I then stop believing that she does?

You see the small sidestep he took to avoid conflicting thoughts, and then you can see why understanding is still a long way from perfect...

Thursday, 1 March 2007


Just have to say. Western Power and their commercial arm Synergy are total bull. We transfer to the electric account every payday, using B-Pay. It generally keeps us ahead of the bill, sometimes a bit behind. But it's generally staying level.

I've been home a few weeks so the aircon has been on a bit longer than normal. The bill has blown out - and they send us a Warning Of Disconnection Notice. Never ever have they sent us a Get Out Of Jail Free card when we were ahead, not even a bunch of flowers for giving them our money to collect interest on for a few weeks. So this is total crap. We'll pay it this week but it's just another example of letting the computer make all the decisions and alienating the customer.

It would be sort of understandable, even if not totally acceptable, if the addition of another money hungry organisation had meant we get some kind of better service. But we don't. Western Power still generates the electricity and now Synergy bills for it and collects their fee along the way.

And it might not be total crap, if the splitting of Western Power into two companies had resulted in a leaner meaner Western Power which was putting itself fully into the breach and supplying the power it is contracted by the State government (= us!) to supply.

But that isn't happening. Western Power / Synergy are begging us not to use too much power in TV ads because they aren't able to do what they contracted to do, which is to supply enough energy to meet the State's needs.

In December a power bump took out my personal laptop, and most likely that was also the second-last straw for my server grade web server which died today but has been having issues since that earlier bump. Western Power say that they aren't responsible for that particular bump and refuse to replace the laptop because it was a "bird strike." I have yet to see the photo of that particular bird so I remain a bit skeptical, sorry.

But that kind of attitude makes me wonder how they would take being told that they also initiated the delayed breakdown of a very robust server as well. I wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell is my guess...

Here is Victim Number 1 - my Toshie 4600 laptop, sadly the hard drive and hard drive controllers are no longer working:

Victim Number Two, Intel server dual PIII 1Gb RAM SCSI disks:

Yes I realise I've put the server out of chronological order - but as I'm fairly certain that the December power bump started the failures which led to the server finally being unable to cope with today's power bump, I say this is the beginning of the end for this particular piece of gear. It started rebooting, began having weirdness in the power start circuitry, and the drives became noisy and subsequently three of four SCSI drives have failed.

And I'd be less angry with that overdue notice if they'd just own up to wrecking my equipment instead of blaming everything else, but they are just blameless and innocent and will not acknowledge any blame. I know there has to be a problem on this power circuit because I have lost so much gear to power surges it's not funny - and I do know when something is down to power and when it's down to other factors because I've worked with electricians for years, am an electronics hobbyist, and as a system administrator have run server rooms full of sensitive equipment for years. This is NOT due to other factors.

Oh yes, where was I? I managed to score an older laptop from a good friend and used that. It's much slower but at least I could keep my website current (while the server was up and working, anyway...) and remote work for clients, and do all my other work. Thank God for friends! But to reiterate an old TV ad catchline - "But wait! There's more!"

A week ago the evaporative air conditioner died, of unknown causes. All I know is that it was running, everything was fine, and then it stopped running in the middle of a very warm day, making life impossible for me with my emphysema. The air conditioner tech was here today and removed the fusion damaged motor. Fusion Damaged - you know where fusion comes from I hope? Yep, down the power lines. There was no power disturbance the day the motor fused that I was aware of, yet our voltage was high enough to fuse a fairly robust electric motor.

Victim Number Three - evaporative airconditioning motor:

And right after the aircon tech left today, it started to rain and suddenly there was a flicker in the power, all the clocks reset in the house. Then another one, and another one. Then there was a fairly loud clunk as the power surged again and then died altogether, and then silence. Including the laptop which I only had thanks to the generosity of a good friend. As luck will have it, there is one more laptop here I can use and I'm using it now. It's not portable as the lid is bolted open with meccano bits and the battery is a 15 minute proposition at the most, so really it's totally unsuitable for my needs. My options are getting more and more limited, and I'm running out of generous friends!

The server refused to restart today after the power bump, and for the last two hours I've been sucking down my pride in my workmanship and replaced a server grade machine with a very old P4 PC to get my website running again.

Victim Number Four - Toshiba 4200 laptop:

So now I am really really peeved. Two laptops one server and one motor are on the bill so far, and I'm running out of patience with them. I might just package the whole lot up and send it to them along with several pounds of butter and instructions. Or I might take them myself and dump them in some reception area at Synergy or Western Power. Or maybe I'll set up in front of their offices with the dead gear piled around me and a big poster put up to shame them. All I know is that I am very distressed and that this is my next biggest incentive to install a solar installation, because I could do a far better job of keeping my gear safe than they have.

That make four pieces of equipment in three months, an impressive gallery of ruined gear for such a short timespan:

Over the last four years at this place I've attributed the steady stream of modem and PC deaths to bad luck, old equipment, and whatever else. But it now occurs to me that there has to be a problem in this area. This just isn't normal is it? I live in a capital city for Hedaven's sake!

The money trail so far - one laptop I've had for years and which would probably cost $1500 to replace, one server grade tower with four SCSI disks (now only one disk left useable, not the boot disk unfortunately) at least $3500 if I replace it with a low-end Dell, one air conditioner motor which will cost between $700 and $1200 to replace, and another toshiba laptop which will cost around $900 to replace. Around seven or eight thousand dollars damage in all.

I'm about to submit a new claim to Synergy for the server and the second laptop, and hopefully our insurance will cover the air conditioning motor. If it doesn't well we're basically stuffed, I use my laptop daily, I do web work and IT work and it is the one indispensable part of my tool kit, and I've now had two destroyed. I need a decent server because I'm attempting to make money by selling an e-book and my ideas online. And because I have emphysema, I haven't been able to work in the rest of the house for a week now, because the only other air conditioning in the house is in my bedroom and I've been confined here almost completely for most of that time...

I really hope they see their way clear to clear these amounts up because I can't afford to live like this. Please pass this URL around to people, hopefully it will get to someone at Synergy/Western Power and they will see how miserable they've made one household...