High fibre diet


Malaysia can do it. Why can’t we? © PJ Croft 2000, 2014

I forgot to mention – the NBN fibre runs right past my house! I can have fibre internet any time I like! It’s been there all the time, I just didn’t know because no-one said so.

That’s the outcome of that iiNet flyer I got last week inviting me to sign up. I went to their web site and it seems all I have to do is sign up. Free installation!

I can have 12Mb/s with a 20GB per month for $49.95, or 25Mb/s with 100GB per month for $64.95, right up to 100Mb/s and 500GB/month for $99.95.

I’ve got ADSL on my copper wire connection now, which in theory is 12Mb/s max, but all I can get is 1.3Mb/s. It’s adequate for most things, but I can’t watch Hi Def video clips on-line, and I see a lot available on the photographic and video sites I use. If I want them, I have to download them. A 100MB file takes around 5 mins to download.

I’ll start on the lowest plan, 25Mbits/s ( = 3MBytes/s) at first. That means that 100MB HD video file would download in 30 seconds, theoretically. I should easily be able to watch it live streaming too. All I have to do is pick up the phone.

Take that, Malcolm Turnbull! This is fibre-to-the-home, FTTH, which you are going to deny to most of the country. No-one would be able to get higher than 25Mb/s, which is the starting point for iiNet FTTH.

He is ordering the NBN Co to use Fibre To The Node, FTTN, which relies on your copper wires for the final link from some “node”, which could be up to 5Km away, for the final connection to your house. That was my problem at the old house in Trigg. I was 4.5Km from the nearest node, Hamersley exchange, and I could not get ADSL after 15 years of trying. Too much loss on the wires. If I couldn’t get even 1Mb/s on my copper wires, how are they going to offer 100Mb/s. Only by adding closer nodes.

If you saw the West Australian last week, they carried photos of several Telstra street pits which contain the phone wires and they are an utter shambles. Filled with water, mainly, but one had burnt wires from a lightning strike and never repaired. Others are corroded by water, or badly damaged by an untested plastic sealant that ended up corroding the wires.

The union has around 350 pictures like this of Telstra pits. Relying on these for 100Mb/s data is madness. They’ve got to be fixed first, and they’re not being fixed. Why? All the staff cuts in the past decade or more. Telstra has lost most of the experienced techs. When redundancies are offered, it’s the best ones who take them and leave. Like me!

Malcolm Turnbull, you’ll go down in history as the man who crippled Australia’s fibre optic network future.

It doesn’t add up


The good old days. © PJ Croft 2014

My campaign about supermarket checkout scanning continues. Two incidents in the past few days.

At an IGA I use regularly and where I’ve found errors several times before, I bought three tins of herring fillets. Two were marked as $3.59 on the shelf but scanned at the original price, $3.99. The other one was marked at $2.49 but scanned at $2.99.

At the checkout, I noticed this and tried to correct it before I paid, but after I got through I found it hadn’t been fixed! All three were shown as $3.99! I stood there waiting while half a dozen other people went through, trying to resist my urge to shout, “Check your docket! This shop rips you off.”

Finally I got the attention of the chick who called someone to come over. I waited some more, and a more mature woman came, looked at the prices and then to her credit, refunded the whole cost of the three items, about $9.40 refund. This was a win for me, but just about every time I go there, I find errors like this. Their marked specials on the shelves do not reach the checkout scans. It’s always in their favour. A good way to boost profits.

Second, yesterday I found another customer’s item on my bill! I noticed that a couple of old ladies in head scarves were talking earnestly to the checkout girl at my Coles in Butler. They opened a plastic bag and I saw a big bag of potato crisps. I don’t know if the checkout girl challenged them, but after a few more words the girl scanned the bag of chips. I don’t know what happened then, but they moved off and it was my turn.

Imagine my surprise when I got home and checked my printout (I always check!) to find Smiths Thin Cut crisps listed at $3.19. Bloody hell! It’s bad enough being overcharged on things I buy, but to be charged for someone else’s item is a bit rich.

To give Coles its due, unlike Woolworths, I virtually never have scanning trouble in any Coles store. That’s why I only discovered this when I got home. I’ll be going back there today asking for my refund of $3.19.

The theme of all this is, scanning errors are rife, and they are virtually all in favour of the shop. And you almost never get the refund as the old Scanning Code of Practice promised. Beware.


The cruise is firming up. When I enquired further, I found the cost of the cruise part is only $2,108. Add airfares and it’s still way down on the $4,990 airfares included I was told earlier.

The airfare from Beijing to Hanoi is US$312.50, and the fare from Hanoi to Bangkok is A$172. The fare from Bangkok to Perth is $240 on Air Asia (cattle class).

I’ve found I can get a frequent Flyer free (20,000 points) trip Perth to Singapore on Jetstar, so that’s easy. All up then, it’s $2,832 plus hotels. Much more affordable. I’ll be booking asap, but I’m worried about travel insurance. With all my existing medical conditions, they won’t like me.


One odd thing is that the cruise ends at Tianjin, the port in China nearest Beijing. Even though they say -> Beijing in the schedule, they don’t actually take you there. Beijing is 150Km inland from Tianjin! The travel agent confirms that the cruise ends at the wharf and it’s up to you after that. I’m a bit miffed at that.

Apparently you can book a tour from the wharf which ends at Beijing airport, but that’s way out of town. Looks like a rickshaw ride for 150Km to our Beijing hotel.

Hotels in Beijing seem to be around $120 a night for 4 star, eg Novotel, Holiday Inn etc. But I’ve found one called Shichahai Art Hotel which is down a lane in a hutong (old street). It’s all done in Chinese art themes and looks very nice. The only problem is the reviews emphasis small rooms and little wardrobe space. Suitcases have to go on the floor. Don’t like that.


I noticed Fargo collected an Emmy for Best Miniseries yesterday. I watched the repeat in the past few weeks out of morbid fascination. This program was an orgy of violence! The main character played by Billy Bob Thornton was a psychopath who killed without a second look. Shotguns, assault riles, pistols, knives.

So this bloody violence goes to air uncut and is awarded, but sexual content is slyly steered around and self censored. Not happy.