Friday, April 29th, 2016
Thursday, April 28th, 2016
Rather interesting how the Sydney Morning Herald has two articles next to one another and yet no one has put the two together.
The first article is titled “Two Yanks on our ‘sad’ NBN”. It talks about how even the ‘super fast’ connection they get from the inner city place they are staying at is considered to be below the minimum that they are working on installing in rural areas in the US.The second article is titled “What GoT piracy says about Aussies” and is about how Australians are still the ones most likely to obtain a copy via BitTorrent rather than signing up with one of the streaming services that can provide a legitimate way to watch.
Combining the two provides a possible explanation. Perhaps many of those ‘stealing’ a copy of shows do so because their internet connection is still too slow for them to be able to stream the show. With many third world countries having much faster internet connections available than many people in Australia it is not surprising that there are many Australians who will spend an hour or more downloading a copy of a half hour show in order to be able to watch it without it stopping every minute or two in order to let the show catch up if they try to stream it.
The solution to Australia’s movie piracy problem is to provide a fast enough internet connection so that people can actually consider the legitimate options. Of course those providing the straming service need to provide access at a reasonable price but if people’s connection is too slow to allow streaming then the price for a legitimately streamed copy is irrelevant to them.
Thursday, January 14th, 2016
I have seen a number of articles about autonomous vehicles that pose dilemmas that drivers rarely or never need to face and pose the question of how autonomous vehicles should handle that situation. I am left wondering why these people are posing artificial situations that are only hypothetical and may never occur rather than looking for instances in the past where a situation has actually occurred that such vehicles would therefore need to be able to handle. One situation I can remember from many years ago makes a far better example of the type of dilemma that an autonomous vehicle would need to handle than any of these hypotheticals I have seen.On the main expressway north of Sydney there are many steep sections. Trucks descending these sections need to spend a lot of time braking and so brake failures occur frequently enough that emergency ramps have been installed at several places to deal with runaway trucks. These emergency ramps are near the bottom of these steep sections and these bring trucks to an eventual stop by providing an initial steep climb that slows the runaway truck and which I assume eventually provides a level spot where the truck is expected to stop (I haven’t been up any of these ramps to look). With the terrain in the area most of these ramps are cut into the side of cliffs where there is a vertical rock wall on one side and a long drop on the other.
On one occasion a car transporter carrying half a dozen or so new cars had its brakes fail and had to use one of the ramps. Now as it happens a family that had no idea what the ramps were for had decided to have a picnic part way up the ramp where they were not visible to any runaway vehicle faced with the choice of using the ramp to try to stop or continuing down the expressway and probably colliding with other vehicles causing a major accident. Now I know what the truck driver decided to do in this situation as I actually saw what was left of the truck and the car that had been on the cab roof but I don’t agree that an autonomous vehicle should necessarily be programmed to take the same action. The several people picnicking on the ramp were somewhere they were not supposed to be while the truck was using the ramp for its intended purpose. While the truck driver decided to kill himself in order to avoid helping the picnickers to commit suicide I don’t believe that an autonomous truck should make that decision on behalf of the driver in this particular circumstance and I also don’t believe that it should give the driver an opportunity to make the decision. In this particular situation I would expect an autonomous vehicle (with failed brakes) to use the safety ramp for its intended purpose and to disregard anyone illegally in the way (to do otherwise would make it far to easy to sabotage the reason for the ramps in the first place).
Sunday, December 13th, 2015
Looks like they finally gave me access – but forgot to tell me they had.
Friday, December 4th, 2015
We purchased a brand new Panasonic Microwave/Convection/Grill model NNCF874BQPQ from Seconds World for $730 on 6th July 2014 (it was not a second despite the name of the store we bought it from). On 1st July 2015 we noticed that the bottom floor of the microwave had exploded throwing shards of glass like material all over the oven. Fortunately none of the shards had ended up in food and so luckily no one ended up having to be admitted to hospital. When we phoned the store on 1st July 2015 to advise you that the goods we were sold were NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE (as it could have killed someone) we were told to arrange with Panasonic to return the microwave to them. They requested that we return the goods to Techworks which we did.
The Microwave was given to Techworks on 2nd July but instead of our being refunded for the oven they claimed that there was no fault in the oven and that we must have done something to break it – we know that we didn’t do anything to cause it but how do you prove that something didn’t happen. They also quoted us a price little short of the cost of the oven for repairing it and even demanded a fee to return the oven to us (but who would want to repair an oven that could kill them next time). They also suggested we should claim it on insurance (but insurance would only cover repair – insurance doesn’t cover no’not fit for purpose’). This is simply an excuse on their part to avoid having to recall all the ovens and refund everyone. Panasonic apparently no longer sell this oven. Seconds World did offer to sell us a replacement at cost price – a pointless gesture given they don’t stock this oven or anything even remotely like it any more.
We didn’t know that the body of the oven was ceramic when we bought it or we wouldn’t have made the purchase. That the oven blows cold air into the oven immediately after the timer turns off means that the body is constantly being heated and then cooled (we mostly used it as a convection oven). This seems like a design flaw to me since heating and cooling any glass like material regardless of how it is treated will eventually lead to it breaking and in our case it happened relatively soon. Presumably Panasonic were expecting it to last a lot longer and quite likely many of them will but would you want to take that chance?
We were lucky that none of the ceramic shards ended up in food. It seems that the only situation where we might be able to actually take this further and actually stand a chance of being able to prove that the oven was faulty and that we didn’t cause the damage would be in the unfortunate situation where the next time one of these ovens explodes that the ceramic fragments end up in the food and the person ends up in hospital making it more difficult for Panasonic to make untrue accusations as to who caused it.
Of course if we had done anything to cause this we would have claimed it on insurance and not tried to return the oven for a refund..
Tuesday, November 24th, 2015
I don’t know what all the fuss is about regarding Clara’s “death” in the latest Doctor Who episode. If I remember correctly this is the third time that we have seen Clara die on screen. She is the impossible girl who exists throughout time to save the Doctor. She has and will presumably die millions of times to save the Doctor. Ever since she survived stepping into the Doctor’s timestream she became unbreakable and unable to be removed from events surrounding the Doctor. While Ashildr/Mayor Me talks about tracking the Doctor to look after those the Doctor abandons to their fate, she can only travel forward through time at a rate of one day every twentyfour hours whereas Clara is and always will be somewhere close to the Doctor ensuring that he will win. We know that the Doctor will always be safe because Clara is always there to make sure of it (she even got away with lying to the Master of Information System Security – MISSy – by giving a completely incorrect reason of why the Doctor always wins – the Doctor always wins because Clara is there to change things until he does win).
Ever since Clara became immortal with concurrent access to the entire life of the Doctor she has been the most indestructible thing in Doctor Who (which I suppose in part explains why she could become reckless – it doesn’t matter what she does as she will always exist everywhere the Doctor is. I look forward to seeing how Clara dies the next time she meets up with the Doctor (and the time after that and the time after the time after that).
Clara – the impossible, indestructible girl. The Doctor needs to find someone that he can protect as his next companion as travelling with someone indestructible who protects him m akes it harder for people to identify with the companion.
Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015
Stan is advertising that they have the whole of season 8 of Doctor Who available via their service. Strange but none of the images they are using to advertise this look like they came from season 8. Season 8 was the one with Jon Pertwee as the third Doctor, Katy Manning as his new assistant Jo Grant and Roger Delgado as the Master in every single story in the season. None of them appear in any of the advertising so either someone at Stan has made a mistake as to which season is which and used the wrong images or they have made a mistake and are identifying the wrong season.
The new season of Doctor Who that is currently being shown is season 35 and the images look like they came from season 34 instead of season 8.
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015
What I liked about the start of the latest series:
- – The acknowledgement of the three different times that the Doctor has participated in the fall of Atlantis with the three totally different and incompatible causes.
- – The tie-in back to the first Davros episode and even the first Dalek episode.
What I didn’t like about the start of the latest series:
- – As with the last series they have completely forgotten that Clara is the impossible girl and knows all 144+ Doctors far better than the Master could ever know him having actually been a part of his entire timestream.
- – There were many times the Doctor visited Earth where there wasn’t a crisis such as the one in the early renaissance that occurred during this episode (with the snake colony and dalek forces. For example the Doctor’s visit to China with Marco Polo was far more peaceful.
- – How did the doctor get the dalek blaster at the end of the episode and how did he return to that time without his Tardis?
- – Why does the Master keep referring to herself as missy? Women can be granted Master degrees (and Doctor degrees), the names of the different degrees are not different for women than they are for men – there are no spinster degrees or missy degrees (unless Master of Information System Security counts as a missy degree – one I am sure plenty of men have too – entitling them to add MISS after their name).
- – Why is Clara suddenly in charge of UNIT? The brigadier might have called on Liz or Jo but they were companions of the Doctor who worked for UNIT. Clara isn’t a part of UNIT so there is no reason for UNIT to expect her to know anything more about the situation than they do – or have they remembered that she is the impossible girl?
- – All the references all over the Internet to Doctor Who season nine without any mention of the first episode of that season – Day of the Daleks. The current season is of course season 35 (or series 9). For all of you wondering what is going to happen in season 9 – well it happened in 1972 so everything that is going to happen in season 9 already happened 43 years ago.
- – How did the Doctor power an electric guitar in the early renaissance? Also how did he get the tank back to that time as it certainly wouldn’t fit through the Tradis doors.
- – The last few series of Doctor Who are becoming far too dependent on the daleks for stories. You can only obliterate an enemy so many times with them mysteriously returning more powerful than ever so many times before it ceases to be fantasy and becomes garbage.
- – Doctor Who is still showing that a bad producer can have a greater effect on producing poor Doctor Who than a good Doctor can have in creating excellent episodes. Peter Capaldi is a better Doctor than Matt Smith was but both have suffered badly from Steve Moffat’s lack of imagination.
Conclusion – the first episode of series 9 is nowhere near as good as the first episode of season 9. Looking forward to when Steve Moffat steps down now that he has rehashed all his story lines several times over.
Monday, September 21st, 2015
I recently read this book – the last Sir Terrance wrote before he died. According to a note by his assistant in the end of the book Terry would have given the text one final polish before the book’s release had he not died before having the time to do so. There were few spots in the book where this lack of polish was noticeable. For the most part this book was as good as many of the better Discworld books.
One interesting aspect of the book was how it inverted many of the things that were introduced in the first three books. Instead of a girl wanting to become a wizard there is a boy wanting to be a witch. Instead of parodies of fictional characters such as Hrun the barbarian there are similar uses made of things from the real world – such as the men’s sheds (the mere mention would have been funny, that they are an essential element of the story is even better).
Throughout the series is a running reference to the way axes are passed down through dwarf families. Sometimes it needs a new head and sometimes it needs a new handle but it is still considered to be the same axe. This becomes the basis for one element of Shepherd’s Crown when Tiffany want’s to get Granny’s broom repaired so her new assistant can use it. The dwarf repairing it decides that both the bristles and the handle need replacing in order to get the broom back to proper functioning. Tiffany had insisted that the broom be repaired rather than replaced and so this was the way the dwarf obeyed that instruction.
The book also revisited events from the early book ‘Lords and Ladies” with another invasion attempt by the elves. This gave an opportunity to mention just about every witch mentioned in all of the prior books as well as a number of other characters who only appeared in that one book – such as the elf king.
About the only thing I couldn’t figure out in the book was the relevance of the Shepherd’s Crown itself. It could have been left out of the story completely without affecting the overall story to any great extent. I can only assume that Terry was intending to make it more relevant to the story during the final rewrite in order to justify it as the name of the book.
The only thing I didn’t like about the book was the reference at the end to passages that Terry had written for future books that will now never be finished. I can’t see that knowing about books that were started and will never be finished achieves anything meaningful.
I did meet Terry once. Almost 20 years ago he was signing books in a local bookshop on my birthday and I spent my entire lunch break waiting for the opportunity to meet him. Of course I had to buy a copy of ‘Science of Discworld’ for him to sign as I already had copies of all of the actual books in the series at home.
Now looking forward to the publication of the fifth and last book in the ‘Long Earth’ series which I started reading recently. As he was only one of the two authors of that series (having come up with the original idea but not had time to fully develop it himself) that will presumably be able to be completed by Stephen Baxter (whose other books may soon find their way onto my book wish list).
Thursday, July 16th, 2015
The Australian Taxation Office appear to have little idea of what they are doing when it comes to computers and the internet. There are constantly new issues arising as they don’t think out things properly before implementing.
One of the latest issues is their lack of capacity planning with regard to the new version of their MyTax online software for people to lodge their own individual tax returns this year. Now obviously with millions of people wanting to lodge their returns in the first couple of weeks so as to claim their refund the system would need to be able to handle several tens of thousands of people trying to use it at the same time (at least) however as it turns out, some parts of the system have a maximum capacity of about two thousand people – only a small fraction of the number of people would reasonably be expected to want to use it at the same time during July. It looks like no capacity planning was done at all and the ATO is surprised that so many people would actually like to lodge their tax return.
Another issue with the ATO is security. They claim that their system is secure and yet a part of their security sysytem requires that Java be installed on the computer trying to access their business and tax agent portals. Not only is Java itself considered by many to be a security risk that they would prefer to not have installed on their computer but the way the ATO implements their security is using other features that at least some browsers consider to be a security risk and no longer allow to run. The ATO’s response is to tell people to switch to less secure browsers that are yet to implement the security that will block the ATO’s insecure security module.
Yet another issue with the ATO is their reliance on restricted access to people’s tax file numbers. Now if documents containing tax file numbers are emailed then fragments of those documents may be held on mail servers all over the place making it theoretically possible that someone could obtain copies of tax file numbers from these mail servers without the sender or recipient of the email ever knowing. To prevent tiis happening the ATO hace advised that no documents containing tax file numbers are to be emailed. This means that when all of the payment summaries for employees are done that companies will need to remove the tax file numbers before emailing them to their staff. Of course this isn’t going to happen particularly since the email button in most software for producing these payment summaries almost certainly doesn’t remove the tax file numbers and so eventually the taf file numbers will be compromised. The ATO apparently has no plans for how they will handle when this happens.
Basically the ATO online security system is a joke and someone breaking into their system and publishing everyone’s tax info for the world to see is just a matter of time. Unfortunately there appears to be no way to opt out of dealing with such a backward organisation as there is no competitor to switch to who actually has proper security installed.