Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Climate Change

Well now we have it, climate change is the big thing for the 21st century and if we don't do something about it we will be in strife.

The places that I think of, that will cop the raw end of the deal are the islanders around the world. Their homes have been under threat for many years, what with cyclones and occupation by colonial powers. So I feel for them in the coming years with rising sea levels, most affecting them.

I also think of the animals that live at the extremes of our planet. The Artic and Antarctic mammals. They need the cold conditions to live their lives, they need ice and snow.

Our type of democracy in the west has evolved with quite a different mind set to the one we need now. It has been one of expansion and always getting bigger and better. Now we have to think about getting smarter and smaller. For the first time in a long time the next generation will possibly experience a lesser standard of living. They may well start to have a shorter life span, have less variety in their diets and travel not in cars for much longer.

The great experiment in human industrialisation had a 200 year time span and is now in decline. There still exists a few people who have never known the lifestyle of the modern era. Unfortunately it is their environment that will be diminished by our global warming.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Summer Time Has Arrived

Summer time has arrived as in we have gone onto daylight savings. [is it saving or savings?]
This brings about a problem here in Australia, we have some states that don't want to have longer evenings. They come up with some fanciful ideas as to what happens if you do have daylight savings. Just this last week the Premier of Queensland said, 'People will suffer more skin cancers if we introduce daylight savings'. And he was serious. It is usually the more northern states like Queensland and Western Australia, who worry over the introduction of daylight savings. Where as the most southerly state Tasmania, loves it so much they start a month earlier than the mainland. Back to some of those comments, usually uttered by politicians who want to win rural votes at the next election.
The curtains will fade quicker.
The cows wont want to give milk. Or
The cows don't want to come in to give milk.
I am sure a dedicated observer could around this time of year come up with a shopping list of complaints. Cause it is this time of year that the topic is addressed, with boring repetition.
So I promise not to retell all this next year, though I might let you know when it ends. Just to keep you all watching this space.
Last word on Day light saving.
In the U.K. during the second world war, I was told they had 2 hours of daylight saving. It stays light until at least 9 pm with one hour just imagine with two. Living in the north of England or Scotland and waiting for the sun to go down, so you can go to bed.


Friday, October 27, 2006

The SBS reply

This the letter I received back from the TV station SBS. They just don't get it, re quality of broadcasting being about a viewing experience.

SBS has taken this course of action following a great deal of
consideration and investigation. It was not an easy decision to make,
but the alternative was far less palatable. SBS could continue with its
current format, but its ability to commission quality Australian
productions and to purchase the world's best films, television
programs and sporting fixtures would become more and more restricted due
to limited Government funding and the prospect of diminished advertising
revenue as a result of competition from Pay TV, the Internet and other

SBS obtains about 80% of its funds from Government. But in the May
budget SBS suffered a $3m shortfall in its appropriation for this
current year (excluding digital transmission and distribution costs) and
received no extra funds at all for program making.

The remainder of SBS funding comes from advertising revenue. Even
though that amount is relatively small, it is vitally important revenue
that goes exclusively to the purchase, commissioning and production of

Under its Act, SBS is obligated to operate in an efficient and
cost-effective manner and, importantly, it is required to actively
pursue funding opportunities independent of Government funding.

Since 1991, SBS Television has broadcast a maximum of five minutes of
ads per hour between programs and in natural breaks. This is far less
than the average 13-15 minutes of advertising permitted on the
commercial television networks.

Until now, SBS has broadcast up to five minutes of ads as well as
several minutes of program promotions in a single block between
programs, meaning 6-10 minutes would elapse before the next program
began. During this time, we consistently lost more than 50% of our
viewers. They would simply change channels or switch off.

With smaller audiences, SBS's advertising rates (already well below
the commercial networks) had to be reduced still further. The result has
been a curtailment of our program-making capabilities because less money
from ads means less money for the commissioning and the production of
original programs.

Under the new format the maximum of five minutes of ads per hour still
applies, but the ads will be spread across the hour in three separate
breaks, each containing 90 seconds of commercials. In half-hour
programs, there will be two 60-second commercial breaks.

This will restore true commercial value to SBS's ad breaks. By
placing short ads within programs, when SBS reaches its peak audiences,
our advertising rates can be increased. We estimate that this will raise
at least $10m in the first 12 months of operation. All of this
additional revenue will go into program making and the commissioning of
programs from independent Australian producers.

With this extra revenue we will launch a one hour news program in
January that will expand our coverage of international and national
news. The bulk of the additional funds will go to the commissioning of
quality Australian drama, documentaries and other programs.

By dramatically reducing the time between programs, we believe SBS
audiences will be encouraged to stay, especially because the in-program
breaks will include program promotions about forthcoming programs. It is
important that information about other programs on SBS reaches the
largest possible audience. Currently these messages, in the form of
promos, are lost in the middle of lengthy and cluttered breaks between
programs. Too often our audience tells us they would have watched a
particular program "if only I had known it was on". The placement of
promos in a more accessible place helps overcome that communication

We understand your concerns regarding in-program breaks, but these
changes will enable us to continue to provide our viewers with the
highest quality and most diverse programming available on free-to-air
television in Australia.

Yours sincerely,

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A letter to SBS TV

Dear SBS comments,

With regard to the placement of advertising during the programmes you


I have been trying to work out why it is wrong and doesn't fit in with

your image and format. I think I have found the answer. It is relatively

simple, but could also be a bit obscure, so therefore be missed by the


Most commercial television stations show programmes made for and therefore

design to fit the commercial format. Story lines, plot, action, etc.

can easily be molded into the commercial format. Most sports fit this

category to. They have been very successful on commercial tv.

Commercial tv stations often have complaints when they show a

film or a serious piece of television because they can't get the mix

of programme and advertising to work.

Here lies the essence of your problem of showing adverts during

programmes. The viewers are expecting a higher quality of

broadcasting, even if many programmes have been made with the

intention of showing them on commercial tv, the quality of production

and the feel [often European] doesn't lend it's self to the

Americanisation of advertising. The insensitivity of the advert break

is an intrusion that can be tolerated when the subject matter has been

made with a commercial feel to it's production. EG sport, soapy, lifestyle. But

not when the subject matter is hard hitting drama or in depth reporting

with editorial comment.

When SBS started putting adverts in between programmes it

fitted well into that time slot, that informs and at times instructs

the viewers, about programme rating and content. The placement of

adverts during a show, does not fit into your style of programmes or your station


In conclusion you have a small audience share, they are by and large

a select demographic group interested in your programmes. [Not just

couch potatoes]. If you don't respect them they will not respect you.

With thanks


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mick Donalds

Just heard a report on the news that McDonalds is going to update it's interiors to encourage the punters to remain longer in their "restaurants". The voice over [an American] kept saying the Mick Donalds. Does that mean we are all going to eat a Mickers instead of a Maccas?

The professor [there is always a professor] to give expert commentary, said the young adults, who are the demographic group that McDonalds wants to attract. Eat out a lot and want an eating/dining experience. Isn't that an impossibility at a McDonalds?

The McDonalds I have visited are some of the saddest eating places I have experienced.


Thursday, October 19, 2006


We all know the value of keys. We use them daily to lock our selves in and out. They keep our lives private away from the prying eyes of our neighbours. All this and more I’m sure makes a lot of sense. However if you have your keys stolen then you have a problem.

This is what happened to us yesterday. Someone came in the back of our place and stole two sets of keys. One set opened and locked our public life and private life. I.E. Home and Work. The second set were for a late model Toyota car.

Luckily for us the house and work keys are easy for us to rekey and re place. Not so the work truck and car. Could cost as much as $1000.

Modern key systems with alarms and computers to work them are very expensive to replace/repair. And so specialized that very few places know how to fix them.

I would like to say to any one who is thinking of stealing things like keys/personal stuff think about the outcomes. This is about the third time we have had things stolen and it is always during the lead up to xmas. A great Christmas present for this little duck. Thanks


Special Broadcasting Service

SBS stands for Special Broadcasting Service and it is a multicultural channel in a world of commercial tv this is a gem. Virtually ad free and full of good tv shows in their original language with sub titles. A few years back they introduced ads and they showed them in between programmes, very civilised. Earlier this year the powers at b decided to run ads during programmes. This has incensed the loyal viewers of this great tv channel.
We are like frogs we allow this sort of thing to happen and before long the water is boiling and we don't see it coming and we are all boiled frogs.
Get writing to our MPs that we don't want our SBS running adds during programmes. If the government needs more money [they seem to be awash with surpluses] tax the commercial channels to provided alternative viewing to theirs. I know that may sound daft but with out quality viewing available at least some of the time tv as a medium is not going provide an outlet for talented film and programme makers.

Not all artists and directors can afford to make main stream film, but niche viewing on tv is possible and plausible. Whereas most commercial tv is made in such a way to lend it’s self to 10 minute blocks with breaks in between. Not story lines and drama made with a beat to a different drum.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Price Rises

Grumpy old Dog

Every time a supplier of our products puts their prices up we have to go around the shop re-pricing our displays. To do this we have taken to using the computer as a label maker. It took awhile to set it up so the size of sticker we use could be made into a shop label. Size vertical and horizontal, margins top and bottom. This was all nicely set up in the old computer took awhile but it worked a treat every time. Very easy to do a minute to set up and off we went. [Truth be told I still preferred the freedom of writing the labels myself].

Now to problem of changing computers even with all the same software, you just can't seem to get everything to work as you would hope. So each time we put the page of labels in the printer and hit print, they come out with numbers and dollar signs on the eschew. Over the edge of the lines above and below the margins. Great when you thought you had a page of 65 labels nicely printed but instead you had some modern art which should be mounted and displayed as forgettable art.

The answer to problem so far has been to revert to the old computer and nurse it back into action and so far touch wood it's working. The main problem with old computer was/is it can't cope with the rigors of programmes running in the background. It runs with a fever which could cause major melt down if not watched like a day old baby.
So wish me well, there are well over 1500 items in the shop to re-price over the next weeks and months. I'm going computer blind.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

New computers

I'm setting up a new computer, what a pain in the arse this is.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Really the lack of water is what concerns all of us here in the south east of Australia. We have been told that the prolonged drought is not a normal cycle of wet and dry spells, but probably the result of climate change.

It probably means some places in the world will get more rain than usual while others will get less. We are a lesser region. What we don't have is a large natural water supply. We don't have the winter snows that you get in the USA or N.Z. we don't have massive rivers flowing down from the wet tropics like the Nile or the Amazon. We have pretty average size rivers that used to flood on a regular basis but don't any more. And probably never will again what with the way the water is sold to farmers. The amount sold is greater than the flow.

So to cut a long story short, we must start reusing water on a big scale. With no ifs or buts no options re choices of which water we recycle. We just have to get onto it and now. All the signs are there no exceptional circumstances just a known situation. That is the population is getting bigger the water usage [per head of population] is getting bigger, and the rainfall is getting smaller. A bit like 2 plus 2 = 5.
Here in Victoria we have a massive State government surplus, lets use some of it to turn around the water we send to the sea from our home usage and house run off.

I see it like the Snowy river scheme of the 1950/60s a major project that will help secure the water requirements for the next century.

Lets not forget that when they built the Thompson dam the then premier proudly announced that the construction of the Thompson meant that Melbourne wouldn't experience water shortages again. Now we have stage 1 water restrictions and we are looking at much higher water restrictions by the end of this Summer season.
We need water every day of our lives lets get the politicians to make it an election issue. Reuse, Recycle.


Friday, October 06, 2006

When Old Computers Die

Well they are not always that old. I am writing this on an IBM that is running windows 98 and office 97. It has been given a new lease of life with a lovingly administered re-format and a bit of Irish luck that managed to defy the Internet modem and get it's self on line, with Broadband no less.

The reason I'm using this oldie is that the newer 2 1/2 year old computer has gone into hyper-drive and is blowing its AC adapter and running like an Ethiopian on a marathon the only trouble is it don't like it as much as the Ethiopian does. So at the moment it is in the sick bay and very soon it will be sent to a hospice for elderly computers and only let out again if it really makes an effort to run properly.

The main problem we are all facing with these machines that rule our lives is that they become slaves to the busy internet and whiz bang soft-ware that is cluttering up the works. No matter what you do they quickly take on a life of their own and then it is terminal before you can say gigabyte.


Thursday, October 05, 2006


We all have very unreliable memories. We may think we have a good memory and on some subjects we do, but if you were ever asked to swear your life on a memory then don't.
Here are a couple of examples:

1] A psychologist interviewed a group of children who attended a school that had undergone a trauma, like a shooting where kids had died or a fire. She then went back and re-interviewed the students a year later. What she found was that the kids who hadn't been at school when the incident happened had a more vivid and detailed memory of the event than did those who were there. This is despite the fact that they couldn't have experienced the events they claimed to of seen.

2] Someone I know was a young man when his Dad died. It was a very emotional time for the family which is quite large. The death took place in a hospital bed. The memory of my friend was of holding his Dad's hand as he died. He felt the life blood leave his father's hand.

My friends younger brother who was only 12 at the time was not in the hospital at the time of his Dad's death. However he too has a memory of holding his Dad's hand and sitting at the bedside as his Dad died. These conflicting memories have created disagreements between these brothers. As if one wants to steal his brothers memory.

I don't believe this is the case. I think the younger brother has relived the death of his father so many times he has transferred bits of his brothers experience onto his memory. He has done it so convincingly that he truly believes he was there.

Try remembering what you saw, did yesterday and if someone you know was there what they think happened. You could be surprised.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Global Warming

Now I'm starting to believe the scientists. 30 C day in early October is not heard of. 80 bush fires, a day of total fire ban, and all hell is let loose.

But wait a minute aren't we being selfish? Think of all the plants that just love the extra carbon dioxide. Are we thinking this planet should and will be as we want it so our species and others like us can survive? If anyone has any ideas on this drop a comment.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fix it yourself

Yesterday we had a problem with the car. Crushed wing and a broken tail gate catch. All up it was looking very bleak. What with insurance premiums, excess payments and no claims penalty rates. It was going to cost at least $500.00 for the dent in the wing.

So this morning we pulled a bit of paneling off and thumped and punched the panel until it looked pretty straight. As for the tail gate catch. That had fallen off in my partners hand as she opened the boot to get the fruits of her hunting trip down at the local supermarket.

On first inspection it looked dire, a hole in the floor of the boot where the stud for the door catch had sat. a 50mm hole with jagged edges and no way to get to it from beneath. With two heads and a bit of brainstorm this morning, a metal plate sandwich was constructed and within an hour the door was closing and locking. Perrrrrrrrrrrrfect.

We are not out of pocket and all is well with the world again. So I can get back to grumbling about the things that annoy me. Like try outs for kids basket ball, or the herd mentality when it comes to sporting events. And many more.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Cars and Panels

Someone across the road from where I live reversed into the front wing of our car last night. Well I think it was last night, I hadn't looked since Saturday. Saturday was Grand final night over here in Melbourne and a fair amount of reveling was going on. I suspect a late night partier from across the road. I wasn’t home myself until after one so had no chance of hearing the crunch of steel. The better half was asleep in the bedroom and may of been stirred by a muffled party goer leaving, but couldn't be sure.

The up shot of it all, is that I find we are insured but will loose our no claims bonus and will have to pay the first $400.00 so we are stomped aren't we. The car just isn't worth spending that amount on. So I am now on a hunt for a friendly panel beater, with the necessary skills to 'punch out' a medium size dent, in the front wing.

What pisses me off is that who ever did it didn't leave a contact number. So next time you have the unfortunate fortune of hitting someone else’s car, and they are not there to tell, leave a note to let them know. It will make you all warm inside.