Monday, April 25, 2011


Today is ANZAC Day. It is a day of two halves: the Dawn Services around the world at various points of military import, and the afternoon games of AFL, NRL... and two-up down the pub.

The morning is for commemoration; the afternoon, for celebration. One for death, one for life.

It sums up the ANZAC spirit, where we will lower our heads to think of those who fought in foreign lands for freedom and never returned; then, it's a wake, the telling of tales of battles long won or lost and keeping the memory of fallen mates alive.

At the end of the First World War, the discussion turned to reparations and the punishment of Germany.

President Woodrow Wilson (who won the presidency on the promise not to enter the war) advocated generous terms for reparations. In a moment of supreme arrogance, he said to Australian Prime Minister, Billy Hughes (who once punched out a heckler during a campaign for conscription and was as aggrieved as any Australian over the catastrophic losses), "But you only speak for five million people." The offended Hughes snapped back, "I speak for 60,000 dead. For how many do you speak?"

There is no hierarchy on who lost more, every nation involved lost too many due to the military incompetence of those in charge. If Douglas Haig had actually seen the ground on which he sent thousands to fight, he might have developed a different strategy. But he didn't, content to stay at a chateau behind the lines and study out of date maps.

It is the bravery of those men who did their duty, even knowing it meant certain death, that we commemorate today. The sacrifice is not forgotten. As the warriors of all wars are honoured, we salute those who are still in the field, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in East Timor and elsewhere.

And thank them all for their service.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Far and away

And... here I am in down town sunny Canberra. Okay, not so much 'down town' as in out in the 'burbs.

Good Friday traffic from the coast would have tried the patience of a saint; I settled for grinding the molars as cars consistently slowed to take in the mountain view, or slowly edged around corners that don't need it, then accelerated so no-one could overtake. sigh A three hour trip took four-and-a-half hours - and most of the traffic was going the other way, ie, down to the coast.

I'm here to do some Denman research at the National Library, then take in the new exhibitions at the War Memorial; I haven't been since completing my final year History extended essay way back in 19**. This weekend is also Anzac Day with commemorations around the country.

I can also find stuff to make my aged parent's life much easier - stuff I could not find in a rural shopping hub. I guess for specialist stuff, you have to go to a major city.

I don't think the library will be open tomorrow - shame that - so... I shall just have to shop. No, don't try to stop me, it must be done or I shall be bookless; and what a tragedy that would be. This is, after all, a working holiday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Just another scam, ma'am

Cool! The laptop has booted perfectly for two days in a row!

Still, I got another phone call from a company claiming to be an outsourced computer maintenance group while wrestling with the problem. I think that's four this year.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm not turning on my computer, logging on to the internet and giving remote access to a complete stranger with an accent I can barely understand. Especially when the name of the company calling is garbled, with only the word 'Microsoft' clear. I have defeated the virus causing problems, reset all my security - which is now legion, cleared out junk files, defragmented the drive, backed up and sorted out the Black Screen of Death from a software download. I don't need some putz to then tell me I have the same problem as three months ago.

I don't know which is worse: Nigerians telling me they'll give me a percentage of a deceased estate - if only I would help them get the money out of the country; French/Canadian/Cameroonian e-mails telling me I've won the lottery in Spain, Holland or the UK, or sub-continentals with poor English skills wanting access to my very English laptop.

The tragedy is that many people will believe the scams, will send money to help out a Nigerian, will send their bank account details on the promise of wealth, and who will give these people access to their computers and find their identity or banking details stolen.

The solutions are to delete the e-mails and tell the callers you're a computer technician or there's one in the house and you'll just go get them. No one should be asking for remote access to your personal computer unless you absolutely trust them.

I'm sure this won't be the last time they call, but the next time, it will be.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Damn you, Murphy!

Still having problems with the computer.

The last thing I want to do is buy a new one, even as I know this laptop is considered ancient at five years old. (But the rapid turnover of technology is an argument for another day.)

Fortunately, I haven't lost anything. Everything has been backed up, a lot.

The Forward Motion story-a-day is coming up from 1 May and my schedule is tight enough. Still, Murphy's Law dictates that any annoyance you have, will worsen the closer to a deadline you are.

And it does no good to try to outsmart Murphy, he'll only sneak up behind you.

So. Time to reboot and hope the fixes have... ah, fixed the problem, or try fix number four...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

BSD, or, WTF happened to the laptop???

I have been suffering from the dreaded Black Screen of Death.

It is definitely one of those things that sends a chill of fear down the spine. The white cursor arrow adrift in a sea of dark grey, like a lost glow in the never-ending night. Fear for all the work I've done this week. Gah!

I did a back up two days before the gloom arrived, and had an automatic download the morning of the big black - and that's what caused it. The f*&£$9 download.

The worst of it is wondering if you'll ever get Vista back, the thinking of the work lost, the inability to go online... and spending hours patiently watching the computer operating system search for the key to unlocking the madness.

Okay. I didn't watch, just set the system running and went off to visit with family - but it did take hours.

Finally, after, hmm, six hours or so? I came back and there was Vista, sitting innocently on the screen as if it hadn't caused me twenty-four hours of angst. The first thing I did was back up everything again, then run Spybot S&D as an administrator, then the anti-virus software and finally, searched on-line for a solution should it happen again.

All I can hope is, when I shut down, everything will boot cleanly tomorrow. At least all my important files are copied to an elsewhere should the worst happen.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Close encounter with ick

Summer time is over and the clocks have gone back; trouble is, I'm still waking up at the same time, except it's dark.

This morning, I don't think I mind too much.

It's a rainy morning, and a heavier burst of showers woke me. I'm one of those people who, once awake, cannot go back to sleep, or doze. I've just got to get up. So, I rolled over and reached out to the lamp - it still being near dark and all - and stopped a couple of inches from the switch.

The mind just does not work well before six a.m. In the pre-dawn gloom, I'm feeling like an idiot, with my hand stretched out to the lamp, trying to work out what the hell that darker patch is on the shade. Touch the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb and that's the size of the darker patch.

Discretion being the better part of valour, I rose and turned on the overhead light. Yeah, a spider. Hairy, with it's legs curled in camped out on the lamp shade. Watching me sleep. Plotting. Planning. Waiting...

Now I've squicked myself out. The spider is still there. I backed away, out of the room for my morning cup of tea. I know I sprayed for bugs, but I guess it's super-spidey. I figure I'll get paranoid about it later, when my thought processes become more focused.