Move to Fruity IT

August 25th, 2013 No comments

So it finally happened. After years of being a supporter, and then around 4 years as a user I finally turned my back on Linux as my desktop at home. Sadly in many ways I finally got sick of everything just being a little bit harder, particularly around work connectivity and the accursed DET love of Microsoft Office.

I was using Ubuntu and I have to credit it with being a great desktop OS. Really great in many ways. Compared to Windows versions I’d tried I happily played in the Linux world. But with the boys and I getting back into the iOS world it was only a matter of time before desktop computing made the easy move to Mac OSX.

In typical Paul fashion, it was in for a penny, in for a pound, so we have a new iMac, and we have an Apple AirPort Extreme router and an AirPort Express as well. Sadly I’m really not missing Linux much at all. Mac OSX is rock solid and except for a crappy Firefox memory leak I’m pretty impressed with its operation. iTunes is so much better on Mac than it ever was on Windows, and I can see why people quite like it.

So now we have gone over entirely to the world of Apple. My new roll neck sweaters arrive soon.

Categories: Computers Tags: ,

Not hard to Swallow

April 25th, 2012 No comments

OK I have to admit I love Brooks Leather saddles. there is something just decidedly lovely about the old world charm of a leather saddle, which is then doubly charming when you realise that after a break in period they are more comfortable than most “comfort saddles” on the market. The logic being the leather will take the shape on one’s unique posterior and provide unparalleled comfort. Yes some big soft saddles are comfortable but for the hardcore rider who wants a narrow saddle the Brooks may offer comfort they haven’t seen. The downside? Well cost and weight. The lightest Brooks saddle is the B15 Swallow Titanium and at 360 g that would make some hard core weight weenies cry. But not only will it become comfortable the thing is a bloody work of art. Classic aesthetics meets real world functionality; the key to good design.

Saddle art: The classic Brooks Swallow Titanium race saddle - the father of all race saddles.

Categories: Cycling Tags: , ,

The Labor Conundrum

March 26th, 2012 No comments

The Queensland result is nothing short of disaster for the ALP. No other words can really express the tragedy that is the result. And listening to Annabel Crabbe on with Richard Glover this afternoon it was the source of much mirth and scant analysis of what it meant. But Crabbe rightly identified that the challenge for the ALP is interpreting what it means, and in my opinion it doesn’t bode terribly well for the Federal party. In my not so humble opinion the ALP is caught in a pincer movement partly of its own making. Thirty years ago the ALP could rightly lay claim to being the party for workers, strong ties to the unions in a highly unionised work force, which meant their connection to working people was real. Their growth out of parliamentary socialism we could call it, informed their attempts in the Chifley years to nationalise the banks. But since the days of the electorally successful Hawke and Keating governments the ALP marched right and deserted their view of government ownership of large entities. Hence Hawke’s government privatised the Commonwealth Bank, Qantas and Australian Airlines. Leaving it a hypocritical argument when they opposed the sale of Telstra by the Howard government.

Now we have seen within a the last year two state ALP governments fall for two reasons: privatisation and scoring one election win too many. First the ALP must try to sort out where it stands with privatising assets. They are idiots to keep arguing this “must be done”, when they are too cowardly to go to an election on it. Iemma was rolled by the party over electricity privatisation, and yet why should the party support him? He was too gutless to ask the people for a mandate over it, knowing electricity privatisation was poison. By the time Keneally achieved this the ALP was done for, but one of the nails in the coffin was partial power privatisation which the true believers hate. A year ago the Coalition won seats they had never won before in NSW, in part because the ALP lost their base. Bligh likewise didn’t gain a mandate for the sale of assets but she did it and then also reaped the pain of a mad electorate annoyed about many things, but particularly about being lied to.

The other problem both these governments had was crap oppositions. Both won their last election based on the poor palatability of their oppositions. This forced people to stick with governments they were tired of, by the next election once the oppositions were organised and worthy of election the electorate overturns the government they hate with such vehemence the wilderness for the ousted party is long and deep. There are parallels federally of course with the failure of the Keating to win the 1996 election. He was so hated that Howard just had to stay quiet and ride on the hatred to victory. This led to a long 11 year time in Opposition for the ALP. The answer here is when given a lifeline, recognise it and change tack – big time. Don’t take it as an endorsement of what led to you being on the nose.

Now any ALP member who doesn’t see the problems for Gillard is a fool. Gillard like Bligh is seen as a liar, now the silly thing is all politicians lie, but for Gillard it is like a millstone around her neck. It means even good messages fail to get traction in the community because the electorate has switched off. Now this is a problem for Gillard, because the QLD election tells us what happens when the electorate really dislikes you, or the electorate sees you as lying and negative. But more importantly Gillard has failed to articulate what the ALP stands for. The trite comments about “Labor Values” are at times not much different to the Liberal Party. The ALP must look again at those values it holds dear and not be afraid to hold tight on them. State ownership of key assets is anathema to the economic rationalists, but the ALP should not be the home of these thoughts. The ALP needs to recast itself as a modern party not just of the working class but one that isn’t a plaything of the 1% or the 10% of society with the wealth. It needs to make it clear that the broader left views of public education, universal healthcare, environmental concerns and workers rights are theirs above all else. They have not done this, and when they have recently (“like the Carbon tax”) is has been other parties like the Greens dragging them to it.

Australia is so welded to the 2 party system the ALP will recover in Qld and NSW, but the ALP will continue to struggle if it fails to articulate an ideology that is true to its parliamentary socialist history and lets business drive agendas due to their buying power.

Here endeth this rambling rant.

Categories: Politics Tags: ,

Return to a state of [Ubuntu] Unity

March 21st, 2012 No comments

I tried GNOME fans I really did. But sadly the GNOME 3 experiment for me is over. I wanted to support GNOME 3, I really did, but in terms of functionality I am afraid that Ubuntu’s Unity is better for me. I tried to ignore the discomfort I felt with GNOME 3 but sadly the environment that is GNOME 3 just does not work as well. On the desktop it was bearable but the dock simply replicated the Unity dash and the frippery bottom bar extension was like a broken task bar from GNOME 2.x, it simply offered limited functionality. On my netbook the damn network applet took ages to reconnect after waking the machine up, it was so bloody frustrating. Unity reconnects within 10 seconds.

The notifications on the bottom right corner is not the correct place, sort of shadowed it never seems to operate quite right. Whereas Unity has the top righ corner, things seem more obvious and the unity bar on the left seems more functional.

Yes I miss the Super Button reveal and especially the ability to close programs there. But sadly I cannot be on the GNOME bus any more. Time to ride the Unity train and see where that goes.

Categories: Linux Tags: , , ,

An Auto by any Other Name.

March 5th, 2012 1 comment

When is a manual car not a manual car? Simple answer, when there is no clutch. What about clutch-less manuals, simple answer they are a farce. Readers the sad reality is this, the only true manual has a gear stick and a clutch and no matter what a car owner says anything else is an automatic. You see automatic has two meanings depending on perspective, it either means relaxation and comfort, or it means lazy and lack of driving skill. Now the former meaning is why people buy automatic cars, and hence why many cars are auto only. Most people buy an auto cause it is easier and in city driving, no gear changes makes life very easy. And the reality is most people see driving as a chore.

But the latter meaning bothers many sporty car owners and car makers. You see if you have just sprung 50,000 for you new Golf GTi you don’t want someone laughing at you for buying an auto sports car. So car makers have tried and tried to improve autos so they are manual-like. And let’s be honest they are better. But they aren’t a manual and I for one won’t accept the illusion any more. One day I was chatting to a guy about his Golf GTi, “Did you buy the manual or auto?” I asked, “I bought the DSG.” He responds like he has some special transmission that somehow is better than an auto. It is still a frigging auto. No clutch and changes itself… that is an auto. It doesn’t matter how it does it, it is still an auto. “You see they have the wheel paddles so you can… blah, blah, blah”. It doesn’t matter that you can change it manually it is still an auto. No clutch means it is an auto.

I had a friend with an Alfa 147 which wasn’t an auto, no it was a Selespeed. This is Alfa speak for: “we feel dirty that we have to make auto cars cause we make drivers cars but this tries to replicate the manual experience”. Sadly the way it did it was when you changed it dropped revs and then changed then picked up again, so harshly I might add you move in your seat noticeably. I mean it was contrived and embarrassing, it was an auto pretending to be a manual because sadly Alfa knows no auto option in Australia means very few sales.

So to all out there, I will bear it no longer. If you tell me you car has [insert marketing hype name/acronym for auto] transmission I will now say, “Oh the auto”. An auto by any other name is still an auto. No matter how much you cover it up with techno jargon your sports car really is just an auto. Which means you aren’t really into driving.

Categories: Cars, Rant Tags: , , ,

Rudd vs Gillard – Who would have thought… well anyone really.

February 26th, 2012 No comments

The current disaster that is the ALP is caused entirely by the 2010 decision to roll Rudd. For whatever reason the Australian public has never been happy with the way that was done. While Australia is indubitably a parliamentary system and you only vote for your local member, campaigns have for a long time run as presidential style campaigns. It is all about the leader and in 2007, the Kevin 07 campaign was, in my opinion, more presidential than any other. It was all about Rudd with the occasional mention of his team. They crafted a narrative about Rudd and he campaigned well.

Come his time as PM sure he made mistakes and he was at times, well most times, prone to prolixity. But he remained popular until Gillard and Swan persuaded him to drop the ETS. When he did that the Australian public thought him a charlatan, a man that stood for nothing. The grand irony is that the ETS ended up killing Rudd’s stratospheric popularity in the electorate and the similar carbon tax has done a similar thing to Gillard’s more humble “popularity”. But I digress.

That the ALP thought it somehow possible to roll a PM before he even fought his first election as an incumbent is gobsmacking and arrogant in the extreme. Blokes like Bill Shorten, Mark Arbib and that fat useless David Feeney managed to remove a still popular PM and install a PM that many thought would be an ALP messiah (great wrong calls there). Sadly their actions destroyed the ALP and any chance Gillard had. Oh she helped with a very poor campaign, and yes leaks occurred but I am pretty sure it wasn’t Rudd there. But the reality is the public have never accepted her legitimacy nor have they liked how she got the role of PM.

And failing to gain a majority in the election she called after 5 weeks as PM, another stupid move, has let that illegitimacy become a fact of law in the eyes of many, even thought she succeeded in gaining the support of a majority of the House of Reps which is all the PM has to do. Sadly this has resulted in massive unpopularity aimed at Gillard and this has not been helped by her poor statements about a carbon tax before the election and then her inability to explain the carbon tax is actually a trading scheme with a fixed price on opening.

And this is the problem, Gillard is popular in caucus for her negotiation and consultation but hated by the public cause she cannot sell a message with warmth nor does she appear genuine, so the public think she the epitome of the lying pollie. Whereas Rudd is disliked in caucus, many who will vote for him only do so out of desperation, he is viewed in the party and an outsider and a tyrant; yet to the public he is great. So what will they do. Well if Rudd wins there won’t be another challenge and they may win the election. If Gillard wins there will be another challenge, so more disunity and they will lose the next election. If I was an MP I would go for Rudd, not cause he is better as a PM than Gillard, but because if I was sitting on the Opposition benches after the next election I wouldn’t want to be thinking, what would have happened if we went back to Kev.

Here endeth the rant.

Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,

Wear it as long as thou canst

February 9th, 2012 No comments

It would go down as one of my favourite quotes from Quaker Faith and Practice. I think it is a lovely summary of the acceptance Quakers have for others and those with beliefs that may diverge from Quaker “orthodoxy” (if there is such a thing). Hope you all like it (yes I know it is on the Religion page on this blog too).

19.47

Corporate testimony depends on individual faithfulness. An individual will be faithful through a recognition of the testimony and a searching of the heart to see what steps are required. The following anecdote depends on oral tradition, but it has played so large a part in Quaker thinking that it is included here:

When William Penn was convinced of the principles of Friends, and became a frequent attendant at their meetings, he did not immediately relinquish his gay apparel; it is even said that he wore a sword, as was then customary among men of rank and fashion. Being one day in company with George Fox, he asked his advice concerning it, saying that he might, perhaps, appear singular among Friends, but his sword had once been the means of saving his life without injuring his antagonist, and moreover, that Christ had said, ‘He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.’ George Fox answered, ‘I advise thee to wear it as long as thou canst.’ Not long after this they met again, when William had no sword, and George said to him, ‘William, where is thy sword?’ ‘Oh!’ said he, ‘I have taken thy advice; I wore it as long as I could.’

Samuel Janney, 1852

 

 

Categories: Quakers Tags:

Self Serve registers – No way!

January 29th, 2012 No comments

Ok I hate those self serve registers. I can operate them, goodness me that isn’t the issue. Companies like Coles and Woolworths are installing these to shaft workers. six self serve registers need one attendant to help, instead of 6 register operators.

So they pay less wages and yet no reduction in prices. No discount for doing my own scanning. No discount for packing my own bag. So I get no discount and I support making people redundant if I use them. Easy decision, I boycott them. The lone attendant asked me once would you like to use the self serve. My answer was a firm but polite No. I will not use them, I’ll happily wait longer to support a register attendant keeping their job.

Categories: Rant Tags: ,

Commodore falls, how sweet it is.

January 14th, 2012 No comments

Sweet indeed Comrades to see Australia’s own Holden (do people still believe that crap) lose the best selling car crown to the Mazda 3. According to motoring journalist Pedr Davis you probably have to go back to WW1 to a time when a fully imported car was the best seller, before Australian’s fell under Holden’s spell the Austin A40 was the best selling car post WW2 but it was made (read assembled) in Australia.

It is nice to see the Mazda 3 score this win, but the invective that it launched on the Drive website in comments to the article was interesting. Australians are a parochial lot and when poor old Holden lost that top spot well it was like we had lost the Ashes for a century for some. They predicted the death of Holden and pointed out how great the Commodore was.

The reality is the Australian car industry survives on Govt. handouts and has since successive governments removed tariff protection for the industry. The problem is product development cycles take years to get into place but the market can change rapidly. Cars like the Mazda 3 and the Toyota Corolla (yawn) are now much larger than they were years ago. They offer enough space for many people and now oiffer excellent and economical performance. As such the need for big sixes like the Commodore and the Falcon is on the decline.and while people worry about their carbon footprint these big cars look indulgent, whether they are or not perceptions count.

Holden will ride this out, fleet sales will carry the Commodore forward, but Holden know where the future lie, hence why they are now assembling the Daewoo Cruze here and badging it as a Holden. The Cruze, Corolla and 3 will count for a huge chunk of the market.

But what I couldn’t help notice was the almost racist vitriol for Mazda in some of the comments. The latent racism that lurks in some Australians is indeed disturbing. The fear of the others and the latent dislike for other races comes forward when a sacred cow is challenged. When the Nissan GTR beat the Ford of Dick Johnson at Bathurst the bogans booed and the officials penalised the GTR out in future races. And when the Mazda 3 beat the Commodore that sacred Australian car (spare me bogans) well there was more than enough nasty comments about Mazda, tinged with words that belie a darker view of cars from elsewhere.

The Australian automotive industry is important for manufacturing skills but let us never forget it isn’t ours, those plants are owned by three multi-national companies, two American and one Japanese. They aren’t Australia’s plants. And one day the bean counters at those companies will decide they have had enough and move manufacture to some cheap country. Then what will Australians do when they can no longer cling to Holden like some security blanket?

So the anger directed at Mazda isn’t fair they don’t pretend to be Australian, they are Japanese made and proud of it. We have less to worry about from them than the damage Holden, Ford and Toyota will reap when they pull up stumps and leave. And it won’t be Mazda’s fault cause they made a car people liked. It is the “Australian” trio for not really caring about Australian manufacturing.

To declare bias in this rant, yes I happily contributed to Mazda 3′s sales victory in 2011, twice.

Categories: Cars Tags: , , ,

Then there were two Mazdas

January 7th, 2012 No comments

Well with great delight the family is now GM free. Yes in moves initiated a while back we now no longer own our Holden (read Opel) Barina, and instead own a second Mazda 3 Diesel. Yes I can hear you question the logic behind buying a second one but many things lead to a decision, some like a good deal can’t be predicted. But the thing that can be predicted is that if a car is damn good, owning a second one isn’t that hard to justify.

Our Mazda 3 Diesel twins

The Mazda 3 is the best selling car in Australia. If you take any fleet sales out, so that means people parting with their own money the Mazda 3 clears the Holden Commodore and the Toyota Corolla by a clear margin. It is easy to see why, they are not an unattractive car, they have plenty of room for a car their size, they have nimble handling and are fun to drive, they are Japanese so immediately more reliable than anything comparable care out of Europe, and once again the Japanese heritage means repairs tend to be cheaper than rival Euro brands.

Previously the family owned a Holden Astra and a Holden Barina, and after over 10 years of ownership it is hard to recommend anything from the Opel (let’s be honest the only thing Holden on these were the badges) stable, in fact I think the reliability matches what I expect of anything from the GM stable. While both cars performed well with spirited engines and good handling, they were maintenance hogs, so much so that I often suspected Alfa Romeo was responsible for parts of their design. Little faults cost a lot to repair but in the Barina’s case major flaws occurred that cost big money. Stuff like that shatters your faith in a car and then you want it gone. So my experience says anything Holden is bad news, they might not have made it themselves but they sourced it, promoted it and then maintained it, so to them I say your cars are crap.

And let me be clear Ford is no better, like Holden they have dished up average cars here in Australia for years and equally have imported cars from Europe that are underwhelming in terms of reliability. My mother owned a Ford Mondeo and after her experiences no thinking person could buy a Euro Ford and not expect a tale of woe.

So why diesel I hear you ask. Both cars use less fuel than the Barina did yet they go like the clappers. The days of diesels being slow is long gone. The Mazda can do 0-100 km/h in around 8-8.5 seconds which isn’t too bad, but while doing that they use very little fuel compared to a comparable performer. But it is in rolling acceleration they excel, doing 70 km/h in third gear the car is pulling around 2400 rpm, see a gap in the traffic, floor it and in a flash you are pulling 100 km/h and braking to avoid a ticket. Going up the Mt Ousley out of Wollongong the diesel motor easily propels it past the speed limit on the climb and under the bridge in 5th gear you are pulling speeds that would see your licence suspended, and it can comfortably keep accelerating.

The reason for this massive performance is torque and a prodigious amount of it. Peak torque is 360 Nm delivered from 1800-2600 rpm. To put that in perspective that is 10 Nm more than a 3.6 L Commodore, it is also 23 Nm than the V6 Toyota Kluger. Now both these cars eclipse the Mazda’s power figure of only 110 kW but as many have said, “Power is for show, torque is for go”. That massive torque that the Mazda diesel has means massive surging performance at the usable part of the rev range. There is no need to rev it’s head off it is flying before then. All this performance in the bottom end leads to lots of fun and it is fun that still sips very little fuel.

So now owning and driving two Mazda 3s it is easy to see how the Mazda 3 is the first imported car since WWI to become the best selling car in Australia. Doubly nice to see a GM product lose the top spot.

Categories: Cars Tags: , , ,