|Thursday, April 12th, 2012|
So PrJr tells me that our bath at home is not as good as this one because ours does not have a TV.
|Good morning Hong Kong
So so so...I have to confess the humbling feeling I experienced yesterday as the PR family travelled by bus from the airport to our hotel.....The sheer scale of HK was gobsmacking.....it made me and my view of Australia to feel so small and insignificant on the world scale.....Even by Singapore standards HK is mega. While I know this is a mere snapshot, HK/China feels like the future and the rest of the world is the past.
|Saturday, December 17th, 2011|
|Wednesday, January 5th, 2011|
So I love it when I think I have discovered something and google tells me how wrong I am and how far from the times I am.
Enter jelly made with softdrink (no-carb version).
1X satchet of Diet/Lite jelly powder (Orange/Mango flavour etc)
1X tablespoon of plain gelatin
250 ml boiling water
Mix and allow to cool till slightly warm (don't wanna kill the artificial sweetness in the softie or cause all the bubbles to go out of solution)
Mix in 750 ml of Fanta (or other flavour)
Eat on the same day so you can enjoy the bubbly fizzy goodness......
Americans are fans of the cherry jello + coke combo...sounds good.
|Sunday, November 7th, 2010|
|Thursday, June 24th, 2010|
|Monday, June 21st, 2010|
|Thursday, October 29th, 2009|
|Ur doin it rong #4: Digital Television
Ur doin it rong #4: Digital Television
I have recently been shopping for a set top box (stb) for my Father-in-Law for his birthday. I, as usual, did my research and I was alarmed to discover that the majority of the currently available stb’s will not be able to decode the new TV transmission streams that are likely to be transmitted within the next five years. The current DVB-T standard relies on MPEG-2, the new standard will be MPEG-4 and will gradually become the main transmission stream. So we are seeing not one major transition (Analogue à Digital MPEG-2) but in fact two (Analogue à Digital MPEG-2àMPEG-4). And each transition will require the viewing population to fork out money upgrading their hardware. This also means that existing LCD/Plasma TV with in-built tuners will also need replacement or a new stb.
I mentioned to a salesman (an obviously non-sympathetic commission-driven ear ) that I can’t abide by forced obsolescence within such a short time-frame, and he replied that it wasn’t the 1950’s anymore and the nothing lasts forever.
What annoys me further is that MPEG-4 is already the standard in many countries. This begs the question, why didn’t we just start with MPEG-4? Were the networks scared that the adoption digital technology would be so poor because of the prohibitive hard ware cost?
I believe that the majority of manufacturers are conspiring to avoid detailing the MPEG specs on their packaging for fear that consumers may discriminate by not purchasing the old MPEG-2 stb’s. I further notice that on some packaging there is the statement “Free View phase I compliant” this translates to “this is a soon to be obsolete stb with MPEG-2 decoding capacity”.
This is yet another bit of croc. All the free-to-air stations got together in the fear of losing advertising revenue to cable TV, to promote digital TV. They made up the Freeview certification mark which stb manufacturers are allowed to put on their products in exchange for agreeing to reduce the advertisement skipping functions on the stb’s with recording capacity. The Freeview group has been advertising that with a Freeview stb, viewers will be able to view more channels. This is a misleading statement. Any viewer with a high definition (HD) stb will be able to view all the channels. This has prompted a backlash from the manufactures of non-Freeview stb’s to have to make a positive statement that their stb’s can receive all the available HD channels. This is needlessly confusing viewers/purchasers of stb’s.
Where the Freeview group are coming from in relation to their misleading statement relates to a change in the broadcasting laws than came into force this year. All the networks are now allowed to deliver different programmes on their channels rather than being restricted to duplicate programming across HD and SD channels.
STB’s with USB:
Many stb’s now come with USB ports on them. Sounds great right? Now I can watch all the movies I want to on my portable hard drive or thumb drive. Annoyingly in several stb’s the USB ports are only functional for upgrading the software that runs the stb. There was one stb that I looked at that allowed you to record TV on to a portable hard drive/thumb drive and watch those recorded shows from the drive, but not use the USB for watching movies in other formats or viewing picture file or listening to music files. Are they trying to avoid incurring royalties relating to DivX/MPEG-4 or other DVD/movie file format codecs? I see this as deliberately short-changing consumers by causing them to buy more hardware such as DVD/media players with this capacity.
Anyway I’m not happy. I ended up picking up a soon to be obsolete stb with MPEG-2 decoding capacity. Given that of the 25-30 available models of stb, only five were MPEG-4. Those MPEG-4 stbs were almost twice the price ($189-$260) compared to non MPEG-4 HD stb’s ($88-$166). There are simply not enough non MPEG-4 stb’s for the price to be competitive. The first stb I picked up this morning kept turning itself off after being on for 2 minutes. I returned it, but the guy didn’t believe me and had to set it up in the shop and recreate the fault before refunding my money. I could not believe that a stb would be sold in a faulty state. I went for a different model which was the top rated stb as rated by CHOICE magazine (TEAC HDB841 for $107). Interestingly the Choice article entitled “HD: highly disappointing” stated that: “even the best of the high definition set-top boxes are only adequate” and I am inclined to agree. I think I will have to wait until MPEG-4 becomes more common and price-competitive before setting up my ideal digital home.
|Wednesday, October 21st, 2009|
I am currently reading "The Island of the Colorblind" by Dr Oliver Sacks. He is a wonderfully eclectic writer who manages to combine childhood exploration and excitement with scientific observations and conclusions. I love the titles of his books. They just make you want to read them. My favourite is "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales" Dr Sacks has been accused of exploiting his human subjects for his own benefit. One comment in relation to this accusation made me laugh: "the man who mistook his patients for a literary career".
|Monday, September 28th, 2009|
|Marketing FAIL (deliberate)
How do you promote a boring old product that has been a national symbol?
You pretend to change it's name.
People get upset.
This is exactly what has been done with VEGEMITE (similar to marmite). That is right, you heard it here first folks!
They had a national competition to change it's name and they had a national advertising campaign supposedly directed at changing the name.
The winner was a web designer who came up with the name "iSnack 2.0". It is crap, and I further submit that it is deliberately crap. People have got upset, some have suggested boycotting the product. I mean how dare they change the name of a national icon?
I wonder how the sales are going? Up I presume.
sarcastic responses have included "iSuck 2.0" -and crap some one else thinks along the same lines as me, dang I should have googled before typing.http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/09/28/2698635.htm
|Thursday, September 3rd, 2009|
|Friday, August 7th, 2009|
|Ur doin it rong: Evil financial products
Ur doin it rong #3: Evil financial products (you see I can bitch about
more things than just those solutions masquerading as green solutions).
There are many financial products in this world which take advantage of
the poorly organized, mathematically naïve, and plain poor or easily exploited.
Example evil financial products:
Reverse mortgages (particularly where targeted at the retired population):
This is where the house is re-mortgaged to provide an income stream in retirement.
Of course when you are dead the problem will be solved with the mortgage company
depriving your children of the majority of their inheritance.
Tax-return loans: Feel like paying a big lump of interest to obtain your own money
that you paid in tax, a little earlier than the government will get around to refunding it?
Then this product is for you. This kind of nasty product can be commonly found by the
likes of accounting firms/tax agents that are financially diversifying their income stream.
Term Deposit/Saving incentive schemes/accounts: I know what you are saying
‘these are ok aren’t they?’. Well they are a nice idea but the way the interest is calculated
should be provided in example form and data should be provided for what percentage of
account holders actually achieves the bonus interest rates on achieving their goals.
Second-hand car dealers selling car loans: The lack of independence should be seen
as a big warning sign. So many things are done by Car dealers to bring about loan
approval that are fraudulent or very close to it. These things should be clearly stated in
all promotional material and stated by the dealer at the time of offer.
Travel agents selling insurance: Again the lack of independence should be seen as a
big warning sign. Travel agents can quite easily hide their extra commission in these
circumstances while providing a product that may not suit your needs as completely as
an independently obtained policy. These things should be clearly stated in all promotional
material and stated by the agent at the time of offer.
Recommendations: If some of these products can’t be banned the provided marketing
information should include several worked examples demonstrating the total cost of the product
and clearly spell out in plain English the penalties and even data on what percentage of
these products incur penalty fees. Mandatory requirements: full and transparent disclosure
along the lines of a combination of that found for mobile phone contracts and on cigarette
packets. Some of these products are detrimental to your health or at least your long term livelihood.
|Thursday, August 6th, 2009|
|Lyre Bird "Chook" and a few power tools....
There is a Lyre Bird at my local zoo (Adelaide) that has taken to imitating the construction workers and their tools which are being used to construct a new panda exhibit nearby.
The sounds you should be listening for are as follows:
Post-mix drink being poured
2 way radio chatter
It makes bird sounds too:
Yellow tailed black cockatoo
Flock of rainbow lorikeets
|Sunday, August 2nd, 2009|
|Ur doin it rong: Plastic shopping bags Vs Plastic shopping bags (but thicker)-UPDATED
Ur doin it rong: The next installment….
So for those of you who do not live in South Australia, we have recently had a state government-implemented ban on thin plastic non-biodegradable bags for all supermarkets. The basis of this ban has something to do with: too many bags going into landfill, the fact that once in the dump the never break down, the ones that are meant to break down do not do it very well or cause some other problem in the process, that most bags use non-renewable petroleum products and have a big-ass carbon footprint, oh and that plastic bags choke dolphins.
I have not seen any actual evidence for the majority of the above promoted reasons, but I am reasonably sure that some of them are true to some extent. I am all in support for any change that addresses the problem and provides an improved outcome at an economical price.
So what it the logical solution to this vexing bag-lady of an issue?
I hear you thinking, paper bags, starch-based biodegradable bags, fiber bags or some other plant-based renewable material?
No, the answer in large as provided by the supermarkets is for the hapless and disorganized shopper to purchase a thicker woven plastic bag at the princely sum of $1 each. So we have gone from a plastic bag to a plastic bag. What? Yes you heard me right. We have been told that these plastic bags will save the amount of plastic that would have been used in the old bags because they are reusable. Well I used to use my old plastic bags (of which I am still working through the deliberate pre-ban stockpile) at least twice for storing things, garbage, cat poop/vomit or nappies. We are told that we will get at least 10 uses out of each new bag. Is this a case of yet more dodgy economic justification?
Well I can tell you I have not reached anywhere near that limit before the bags have accumulated holes, tears or the straps have clean broken off. They have now become landfill. Oh and did I mention that these new bags are made of very thick plastic that probably uses the same amount of plastic as found in hmmm 10 bags perhaps? The new bad guy is no different that the old bad guy except it costs the shopper significantly more and makes everyone feel like they are saving the Earth. The poor checkout employees has also had to suffer the large amount of the psychological burden as pissed shoppers vented their anger at the person least likely to have been complicit in the ban.
The supermarkets have made an absolute bucket-load of fast easy cash in these poor times out of these bags, as well as saved the outlay for the old plastic bags. They were the major lobby group behind the government instituting the ban. The supermarkets will not publish figures on what their exact profits have been on these bags but several insisted that it had been a ‘cost neutral exercise’. What a croc-o-shite. I
am sure whatever marketing genius came up with the idea of user-pays-for-a-crap-solution-whilst-riding-on-the-environment-bandwagon, got a hefty bonus.
People have recommended that it is cheaper to buy a large roll of garbage bags at the same time and fill it with your shopping. These bags work out to be much cheaper than the $1 bags and do everything your old bags use to.
Alternatively, please please please bring on real solutions supermarkets...
Where are all those bio-degradable bags you promised?
I know that the first big steps that we make on the path to providing green solutions will be clumsy ones, and I am sure that these steps will get better with time and practice. I am just impatient with such obviously crap solutions to big problems. I guess another thing I would like to see is some sort of independent review process which would include a full public disclosure with audit data and include the further provision for public comment prior to these changes becoming permanent.
Not a picture of me, not being euphoric. Honestly, I do feel like this every time I remember to take the bags with me from the car to the shop.
|Friday, July 31st, 2009|
|Ur doin it rong: incandescent light globe V energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulb
Ur doin it rong.
This will be the title of all my simple rants about the issues of a modern world. No attention will be paid to spelling or issues of grammar. I just want to get it out and not let it take too much time.
Today's 'Ur doin it rong' is related to compact fluros (compact fluorescent bulb). There are moves afoot to completely ban old-fashioned filament light-bulbs (incandescent light globe) some time over the next few years in Australia.
Replacements are fine when they are of an equal or at least very close substitution with some benefit or an avoidance of some disadvantage.
In this case it is that old cheap carbon pumping light bulbs are being replaced with new slightly oddly coloured and slow in reaching their full brightness more efficient light bulbs with massively longer lifespan.
But here is the rub...and there is always going to be one in these articles as well as inferior substitutions of a dubious environmental nature.
We are told that the new ones are so much better than the old because they last 12 times (or whatever big number is the real one) as long for 6-8 times the price. Sounds good right? I like it when the economic/financial analysis is done for me because like everyone else I am too busy and don't have all the facts.
The problem is that every one of these new light bulbs that I have installed has not achieved anywhere near the stated lifespan. It does not matter which brand the bulbs have been. Most of them have not even lasted a year. All the old type bulbs newly installed in parallel to the new funky ones are still going strong. These new bulb are doing a better job of contributing to land-fill than the old ones. I wonder what the carbon footprint of the production of the new vs the old is under these circumstances. I also hope that the new ones are free of mercury as is found in the long sort of tube lighting.
I think the stated lifespan on the packaging of these light bulbs is downright fraudulent. I know what they have done to obtain the figures -they have taken a few thousand light bulbs and turned the all on and then waited to see how many failed over various time points. They may have also done some accelerated product testing where they cycled the surrounding air temp and or humidity etc. They cant have done any real world testing -or any sort of testing that emulates the daily switching on and off of lights in my house. I want to see real-world data on these packs and I also want this information incorporated and taken account in government programs where they are subsidising or providing some other incentive to get rid of the old ones. What about applications where the new bulbs cant be used such as in enclose fittings or those connected to infrared sensors? Where will we find lights to do the job here.
I am all for substitution where it is an equal substitution. I refuse to be held to ransom over dodgy economics to sell some pseudo green shite onto me that does more harm than good.
Next issue: Banning of plastic bags.
The old Vs the new.....Better or not?
|Monday, June 29th, 2009|
|Farrah's Fawcett and Jacko's Taps
So the news the other day: Jacko Jacko Jacko and in other news Farrah Fawcett star of Charlie’s Angels passed away.
There has to be a word for the misfortune of dying on a day where a more famous person dies and steals all the headlines from you.
I found it amusing that the media has generally had trouble dealing with the 'anal cancer' cause of death. I had never heard of this type of cancer and so this prompted me to do a wiki search and have a ponder. So the cancer is very rare, it is primarily caused by the papilloma virus -which is the same badie that causes cervical cancer and is transmitted in the same way. Papilloma virus causes genital warts and is generally transmitted by a man with warts on his manhood, which becomes a handy applicator for applying it to a woman -to cause throat cancer, cervical cancer and anal cancer depending on where the applicator is applied. Wow thanks wiki for filling me in! The incidence of the extremely rare anal cancer is found most highly amongst homosexual men. The good news is that Gardasil -the cervical cancer vaccine will effectively eliminate this disease. So as you can see dear readers, if you have made it this far, there is far more to the Fawcett story than the media will ever dare to unearth.
|Monday, April 6th, 2009|
|In conversation with PrJr..the missing donut
Me (thinking of the un-eaten mega chocolate donut in kitchen): Would you like something special to eat?
Me: If you can tell me what it is you can have it......it is round and has a hole in the middle.
PrJr: Is it a gingernut biscuit?
Me: No -it is much softer than a gingernut biscuit.
PrJr: Is it the cat?
Me: No -you cant eat the cat!!
Later that day MrsPr comes home hungry....We eat the donut....it was goood.
PrJr comes in: Mum what is round and has a hole in the middle?
MrsPr: I don't know (oh shit we ate the donut).
5 minutes later....
PrJr: Dad, what is round and has a hole in the middle?
Me: Something special -come back in 5 minutes and I will give it to you.
I hurriedly went and got a gingernut biscuit and ground a hole in the middle with a nice sharp knife.
PrJr with very big and impressed eyes: Wow!!
He happily eats the thing that is round and has a hole in the middle..and happily ends the story....
Suggested moral of the story -you will only have to work harder with a second lie if you make a first......
Can you think of a better moral?
|Friday, April 3rd, 2009|
come on world..entertain me!
|Thursday, February 12th, 2009|
Upon seeing this sign my 3 1/2 year old son (PrJr) stated: "Snakes may be crossing"
|Friday, January 9th, 2009|
PatentReporter recommends www.booko.com.au -a great site that finds the best book price online (incl delivery fees).