Sunday, 16 December 2012

Standby, here it comes .... again

Newtown, Connecticut, USA - remember it.

A whack-job gets a gun, and kills 20+ children that he didn't even KNOW, his mother, and himself.

It seems even the terminally crazy can get one thing right.

Now for the back-lash.

Every gun owner that DIDN'T DO IT is going to get shafted - in the name of DOING SOMETHING.

Just one more law will solve this problem. After all, the whack-job only:
1) Acquired two handguns - illegally
2) Stole a rifle (an AR-15) - illegally
3) Killed his mother - illegally
4) Stole her car - illegally
5) Transported guns in the car - illegally
6) Entered a school with guns - illegally
7) Brandished a firearm - illegally
8) Discharged a firearm in a school - illegally
9) Shot more people - illegally
10) Killed himself - who cares

If only the teachers could have done something more than just be heroic.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Unemployment SUCKS

Monday morning - first day of unemployment.

I can't be bothered looking for more work until after Christmas, so I don't even set the alarm.

Phone rings at oh-dark-thirty.

"Help, ABC isn't working."

"Sorry, I don't do support for Company A any more."

"..*splutter*, but somebody has to fix this!"

"True, but that somebody is NOT me. I was escorted from the building on Friday, and warned never to return. I suggest you call your boss about finding someone to fix it. I have his mobile number in case you don't."

"Can't you call him?"

"I could, but I won't. Have fun. Bye."

Phone rings again 10 minutes later - it's Boss Man 1.

"ABC isn't working." 

"I know, Minion 1 called already."

"So what are you doing about it?"

"Nothing. I recall something about ... and don't come back..., so I won't. Bye."

Phone rings again 10 minutes later. I am sitting outside, drinking a coffee, and re-reading the Sunday paper - it's HO Boss Man.

"What's this I hear about you refusing to fix an urgent problem at Company A? What do you think you get paid to do?"

"One, I haven't been paid for work at that place since July. 
Two, I refused to do something unethical to fix your fuck-up over paying Company B, which leads to:
Three, I was escorted from the building on Friday, threatened, abused, and warned to never come back. 
You were saying?"

"We need you to fix this issue, NOW!"

"You are not listening. I do not do support at that place any more at the direct orders of Boss Man 1.  He works for you; I do not. Talk to him about it. Bye."

Phone rings 30 minutes later - it's HO boss man again.

"I have spoken to Boss Man 1. He will be calling to apologise, and then I want you to fix this problem."

OK, time to play hardball.

"Sorry, I can't. The existing support contract for my services ended when Company A, through a duly authorised representative, chose to terminate it. 

According to Company A's OH&S policy, I can't work at that site unless I am an employee or accredited contractor. I am neither. 

The accreditation process requires that Company A ensures I carry appropriate insurance, sights my training certifications and business details, then has me complete an induction course. 

This typically takes a week as you know, but my insurance broker is on holidays, so I am not sure how long it will take me to get a certificate of currency regarding insurance."

This all comes out a bit rushed, and I find myself actually trembling.

"Can't we just pretend that Friday never happened?"

"We could, but LOTS of people saw everything. A personal apology would be nice, but a public one sounds better. Also, since we are talking a new contract, I think the rates are past due for review, and all amounts outstanding need to be paid."

"I'll call you back in half an hour."

He does better than promised - the phone rings in 18 minutes.

No preamble.

"How about an email apology CC'ed to all staff, a 10% higher daily rate, and will a cheque do?"

"Sounds good."

I choose not to push things by telling him that I'll be in once the cheque clears.

"So when can you fix it?"

"Once I get on-site, about 15 minutes."


It takes me 10 minutes of the drive in to stop trembling.  Thankfully the traffic is light so early in the morning.

It turns out that the problem was a PEBKAC error (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair) due to a procedural mistake by the operator.  It is fixed in two minutes.

I am still not sure whether the operator knew what was wrong all along or not - I guess Friday drinks will be when I find out for certain.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Unemployment - Reward for Principles

I have just spent an inordinate amount of my precious time doing something that is questionably illegal.

Company A has a new piece of machinery installed in their factory.

This machinery was ordered from Company B, an overseas supplier (almost all suppliers of this type of equipment are overseas from Oz).

It was designed, built, flown half-way around the world, assembled, installed, and commissioned by Company B - on nothing more than the promise of payment from Company A once commissioned and accepted.

Company A is using the machine - arguably a good indicator that the "accepted" bit has been met - but has NOT paid for it.

Company B has a time-bomb built into the operating software for just this circumstance, and since the bill was not paid, allowed it to detonate - expensive machine, he no worky.

Negotiations take place, more promises to pay are made, and the time-bomb is "removed" - as in the machine software is reconfigured to allow an additional week of operation.

Additional week passes, and the bill remains un-paid. Machine stops.

I am approached with a request to make it work again.

I spend days groping around in the software (written in Delphi, no less, but only the compiled code is available - no source) trying to fathom how the bomb is built.

It is not a simple "If today is after 7th December, don't work anymore", but turns out to be more complex. Regardless, I work it out, and come up with a way to bypass the bomb.

I refuse to implement it.

As I see it, this is immoral even if it can be spun that it is not illegal. The DMCA doesn't apply - neither party is US-based, but I DID work out a way to defeat IP protection. 

Management of Company A insists that I implement it, or be escorted off the premises, never to return.

As of now, I'm unemployed. I guess I'll apply for a job with Company B.

Monday, 21 May 2012

The Insects Have Won the War

Over the weekend, I discovered a nest of termites in my workshop gleefully munching on some discarded cardboard boxes, and probably on the timber frame of the building.

I don't know how they got in, and I don't care - I just want them GONE.

Google is your friend, so off I trot to find the solution. Only I don't find the solution, I find a whole range of options, none of which is anything LIKE the "nuke-em-from-orbit" answer that I seek.

I can spend a HUGE amount of money on an ecologically friendly, bio-degradable spray that acts as a deterrent, and lasts a few months.

I can spend even MORE money on a less degradable deterrent spray that lasts a few years.

What I CAN'T do is spend my money on something that will KILL THE DAMN TERMITES - NEST AND ALL. Why? Because the pest control companies are not allowed to sell it or use it, even when the manufacturer is still allowed to make it, in the name of the environment.


Years ago, my father and I renovated an old mud-brick farm-house. 

The floor was gone - joists  and boards eaten by termites and turned into fancy insect architecture made of dried termite spit.

We removed all the damaged wood, and then deployed that great insect leveller - DDT - liberally. New joists and boards installed, a coat of plaster, several coats of paint, new stove, new window frames and glass - house habitable again.

The best bit? No more termites - EVER.

The ability to do that has not been LOST - we gave it up, for nothing, and that makes me sad.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

I despise journalists

In an online article on the web-site, "staff writers" demonstrate just how stupid & lazy journalists are.

The article is headed:

"Now, to the small matter of Kodak's nuclear reactor. Wait. Nuclear WHAT?"

and contains this gem:

" reports that in the basement of Kodak's New York property lay 3.5 pounds of enriched uranium. Which means they had enough to build an atomic bomb."
Which is the most egregious CRAP. 
Thirty seconds with Google reveals that PURE U-235 has a critical mass of 52 kilograms. A lump smaller than this is known as sub-critical and cannot sustain the chain reaction necessary for the blinding flash and the big-ass BANG.
For the arithmetically challenged, 3.5 pounds converts to LESS than 1.6 kilograms, and just to be BLINDINGLY obvious, 1.6 kilograms is LESS than 52 kilograms.
For the likely level of enrichment of the Kodak uranium (20%), there is precisely ONE way to turn this amount of radioactive uranium into an atomic bomb - add another 400 plus kilograms of 20% U-235.
Journalists are the reason that journalists are despised.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Revolution sounds like a ... whimper?

This blogging thing is hard. Well, not hard per se, but it's definitely hard to keep posting regularly.

I have a job, and the income from that is desparately needed because I also am afflicted by the greatest income-attrition device known to man - a wife and two children.

I have hobbies - I shoot competitively, and I have a couple of old cars with which I tinker occasionally.

I own a house, so there is maintenance to be done.

Finding time to blog - and then actually doing it - is an ongoing challenge. I have lots to say, but little time to say it, although if you ask my extended family, they might tell you that I talk too much. The arguments that I have with my left-leaning cousins are EPIC.

So now we come to the point of this post - the pressure in my head has reached a point that exceeds my lack of enthusiasm for making the effort to post, and my ability to exercise restraint.

The Australian Federal Budget.

Apparently, as parents of two school-age children, my wife and I are now entitled to $1,640 of other people's money. Why?

I am also to be compensated through the income tax system for increases in the cost of living caused by the new Mining Tax and the new Carbon Tax. The total of the compensation is said to be equal to the increase in government tax revenue. Why?

The Budget also doles out money to various other demographic groups, while somehow also returning to a surplus. Why?
Now, don't get me wrong, a surplus is a good thing compared to the alternatives, but why is government taking more than they spend in the first place? Why are they giving it to other people instead of back to those from whom they took it? Heaven knows, I could gainfully make use of more of my money if they would only let me keep it. Of course, for every surplus billion in taxes taken by the government, only 900 million gets returned (if it ever does) - it costs 10% to run the bureaucracy that manages the money, but still.

Now I read in the local paper that every taxpayer in the country is involuntarily contributing $100 per week (through taxation) to welfare recipients in this country. Why? I recognise that genuine cases of hardship exist, but am I really alone in saying that nobody should get more for NOT working?

Australia is done for. The ANZACs are spinning in their graves scattered over Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Mid-East.

No country can long survive when a family can have NO bread-winner, and still afford housing, clothing, food, a car, mobile phones, alcohol, cigarettes, and entertainment.

When that family consists of adult members whose ancestors for TWO GENERATIONS have never held a job, and children where that number is THREE, then there is NO HOPE of turning things around at the ballot box. These indolent leeches on the body of society will NEVER vote to stop our largesse.

The revolution can't be long away. It won't be pretty, and I am not looking forward to it.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Communication - The Lost Art

I read a comment in a thread on Rennlist recently that (paraphrased) said:
English is not taught in Californian schools anymore. That time slot is known by the students as "sleeping class". The teachers focus on Spanish anyway.

I paraphrase because the actual post was quite hard to read and deciphering it's intended meaning was somewhat of a chore.

I know that I am a grammar and spelling nazi - I insist that if people are trying to communicate something to me, the onus is on THEM to ensure that the message is intelligible. I am adamant that it is not MY obligation to parse their message into a form suitable for comprehension.


It is a shame that language is not taught in Californian schools - and if you think those in Australia are any better, then you are delusional.

Writing is about communicating. If the intended receiver of the message sees a mess of random capitalization, misspelled words, and homophone misuse, mixed with L33T-speak and punctuation by scatter-gun, the message is often lost before it is even processed.

There is a reason the aphorism Too Long; Did Not Read exists, but it has a less well known counterpart in Too Incoherent; Did Not Try To Understand.

It's not MY job to turn your gabbling into sense. Get your thoughts in order, work out what you want to say, then use the tools of (your) language to transmit that message.

If I look at you blankly, it is not necessarily ME that is stupid.