Another one finished

_Front CoverAh, another job ticked off the list. I finished volume 2 of my Croft History this afternoon and sent the order off for two copies.

029036By coincidence, an email arrived this afternoon offering vouchers for $26.95 each. I decided to order two and the cost reduced to $49.95 for the two. I only ordered two vouchers, but I think I’ll order up to 10 more as I suspect relatives will want copies.

Hmmmm, no, hang on, I’ve been there before, thinking people will think the way I do, only to be left holding the bag. I’ll just order two more. These offers come along fairly often.

Anyway, it’s a relief to have got it finished. I get a bit tense when there’s a deadline and things aren’t going well, but it was OK.

Next is volume 3, 1957 – 1964, covering Cunderdin, Werribee (Wundowie) and Beverley/Northam.

After that, I’m going to do a volume just on me! I’ve got more than 100 self images dating from birth right through childhood, teens, young adulthood right through to now. I’ve almost got an image for each year of my life. If I add an informative caption to each one with as much text as I can fit, it’ll give me hours of bedtime reading 😉

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My car is 14 years old now and although it still drives beautifully, I really do need to find a replacement. I’ve been giving it a lot of pleasurable thought.

In the last 20 years I had dogs and so I had to have a station wagon. There was no alternative. But now I can indulge myself and I want something a bit classy and luxe. I don’t have to consider dogs (sob!) or carrying long loads any more.

I’m looking for a high quality timeless styling coupe or convertible, and I think I might finally be able to afford a used Mercedes. I was thinking of the 500SL (still like it) but it has a lift-off hardtop which I think is too hard to handle. There’s no way you could decide to have the top down while you’re away from home! About $25K for a 1996/97 model.

So the next candidate is the SL350 or SL500:

Merc SL350

Mercedes SL350. I’ve had this image for several years.

mercedes_sl_350_5200128425001727951Mercedes-Benz-SL-350-21145_1205490454796Ain’t that beautiful? By going up to ~$45K I could get one of these, a 2003-2005 model. It has a motorised metal folding roof. They were ~$210,000 plus when new. They’ve lost most of their value, so you can hope that they won’t fall much further, i.e. you could probably get much the same as you paid for it in 10 years’ time. Yeaaah.

I’ve been through all the alternatives but I want a car of restrained, tasteful styling that won’t date. Believe it or not, you can actually get a Porsche Boxster for the same money, but the list of potential serious engine faults is totally offputting. No thanks. Anyway, no hard top. Why do I want a hard top? Security, not only around here but in case I ever want to go travelling. I may actually buy one in the eastern states and drive it around over there before coming back.

Just pipe dreaming.

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And the faults just keep on coming …

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYet another faulty product that’s going to cost me a packet to return it. See how there’s a gap between the lens flange and the camera body above? There shouldn’t be.

The gold coloured thing is an adapter to fit my Contax lenses onto an Olympus body. I bought two at about $200 each. They’re made in Hong Kong. They’ll fit on bodies without the overhanging “prism” housing, but they foul the prism housing on the E-M1.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I emailed them on Monday evening and to their credit a guy called Alex replied next morning saying they’d tested and modified them to fit the E-M1. He can’t understand why mine won’t fit. Can I please return mine to him in Hong Kong.

Yeah, OK, but this is going to cost me another $50 shipping fee, or more, because these are metal and quite heavy.

This is just the latest in my line of faulty products that I have to pay to return. Not to mention the three coffee capsule machines that have failed within a few months of use. Bloody hell!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo what do I think of the executions of the Bali pair?

First, they were going to bring heroin into Australia and they knew how risky it was, but they were greedy and didn’t care. Well, they got it badly wrong.

Second, Indonesia has the right to conduct its affairs as it wants to. If we don’t like it, don’t go there or protest from here if we wish.

Third, here’s where it gets grubby. The Australian Federal Police were told that the pair were going on this drug run by an Australian lawyer in Melbourne before they boarded the plane to go to Bali. But the AFP chose to let them go on the drug run. They also chose to let the Bali police arrest them instead of asking that they be allowed to board the plane back to Melbourne, knowing that they’d be subject to the death penalty in Indonesia. Pretty sick in my opinion. The AFP just says “no comment”.

Fourth, there are strong stories of corrupt judges in the trials process in the past 10 years they were in jail. What a surprise.

Fifth, what hypocrisy by Indonesia! They go to great lengths to protest and protect their own citizens when they are sentenced to death in places like Saudi Arabia, but resist calls for mercy in their own country. That’s impossible to understand.

So now, despite so many calls for mercy and despite knowing the damage it will cause to Indonesia, they’ve gone and killed these two guys. I’m very sorry for them and I think Indonesia looks very bad as a result. It’s been a messy, dirty business all round.

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_IMG0453sDespite all that, I have a reason to go back to Bali near the end of May, so I’m planning a trip. It’s not the Balinese fault and punishing them by staying away would be utterly futile.

Hotel prices are a bargain compared to a few years ago – quite good hotels for $50 a night or less. I must have been crazy to stay at the Besakih Beach Resort last November at $110 a night. I didn’t do my research properly. I was suffering from a chest infection and the beginnings of a kidney stone at the time.

This time I’m going to fly Garuda. I’m tired of being cramped up in those tightly packed Air Asia seats. Garuda’s fare is $440 return for a full service flight on an A330 twin aisle with meal, movie and 30Kg of luggage in two checked bags included. No extra charges. When you consider Air Asia starts low but inevitably adds up to more than $200 one way, they’re no cheaper really.

I notice Air Asia have started an offer of 30% off from May to July. I wonder if they are anticipating fallout from the executions?

The one thing I regret is that I’ll be going in the dry season. I like the wet season! I love the thunderstorms and lightning and the cooler temps between November to March.

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I feel a bit happier today. I think it’s because I’m free of the worry of a big problem in my left foot.

I see a podiatrist regularly and he’s been talking about the possibility of Charcot foot. Yeah, I’d never heard of it either. It’s where the arch collapses and a bone starts rubbing through leading to possible ulceration on the sole of your foot. Hard to fix, apparently.

So he sent me off for X-rays last Friday and I had a thorough check at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital yesterday. Result – no sign of any Charcot problem. No problems at all, really, apart from a very low arch and odoema. So that was a relief. Better to be safe than sorry, and I feel quite relieved about it.

I do have a small bone spur on my right heel, though, but it’s not causing me any great problem. No worries.

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me train veranda

My first model train set. Me at Grandma’s house approx. 1952

Nearly finished volume 2 of the Croft history in WA. Has to be sent off by next Tuesday. But I’m having trouble getting back to it. I added material in the early pages after I’d filled about 30 pages, and the new material has thrown everything out of order. I’m having to rearrange all the photos, inserting temporary blank pages as place holders. I’m finding it hard to get motivated as a result. No worries, I’ll get there.

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Back in 2009, I think, I wrote about Blue Gen, a ceramic fuel cell powered from natural (town) gas. It’s a power generator about the size of a washing machine, designed to be used in individual houses like solar power. Well, I was wondering what happened to it:

The technologies change, but the economic opportunities remain the same, and so does the narrative of yet another Australia technology export and the myopia of Australian governments and its energy industry. Ceramic Fuel Cells has all but abandoned hopes of a rapid deployment of its ground breaking technology in Australia, and has instead shaved down its workforce, ended local production, cut commercial ties and will focus all its efforts on Europe instead.

Yes folks, couldn’t get any interest in Australia, so they’ve moved to Germany where there is huge interest. That means jobs are lost here and the technology moves overseas. Where have we heard that before?

Poisonous policies

Channel 7 Reunion photo001

Channel 7 1959-2009 Reunion – 50 Years of Perth TV. Can you see me? Hint: blue

First – Anzac Day 2015 – I started work at TVW Channel 7 Perth 49 years ago today. Yes, I started on Anzac Day, a public holiday, in 1966 as a 19 year old nervous nellie. I’d had my interview a week or so beforehand and the Chief Engineer asked me when I wanted to start. “How about next Monday?”, I said. Neither of us remembered that it was a public holiday.

When I remembered, I was far too nervous to ring up and change the day. There were no yuppie phones in those days. I would have had to walk down the street to a phone box. I was too naiive and nervous, so I turned up at my new job on the Monday public holiday. There was hardly anyone around, of course, certainly no-one to show me the ropes, so I just nervously stood in doorways and watched.

We had to fill in time sheets, and there wasn’t one for me. Next day, a normal working day, I filled in my new time sheet and filled in the times for the previous day, which would have been double time for the p/h. To this day, I have no idea whether I was ever paid for that double time day.

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Queensland sees the light! © PJ Croft 2015© PJ Croft 2015

“People are saying informally that Australia and Canada are emerging as public enemy number one for the Paris talks on climate,” [Nobel Prize winner Prof. Peter] Doherty said.

“No other names are being mentioned. Australia is seen as very much out of touch and out of sync with what’s happening globally.”

Sir The Lord Abbott QC AO OA SD AM/FM DAB+ AC/DC E&OE KCMG – “Climate change is crap.” Our prime minister is a climate change non-believer so he puts us all in peril for his private beliefs.

Academics at the University of Western Australia have asked the university to break its agreement with the Abbott government to establish a $13m “consensus centre” with Danish climate change contrarian Bjørn Lomborg. [The Guardian]

Fairfax Media has reported the push for the centre came from within the prime minister’s office. Tony Abbott is a known fan of Lomborg’s work, having praised it in his 2009 memoir Battlelines. Lomborg is best known for his 2002 book The Skeptical Environmentalist, which was the subject of complaints to the Danish Committee of Scientific Dishonesty. In 2009 he was named one of Business Insider’s top 10 most respected global warming sceptics.

At a time when we are being told what a perilous state the federal budget is in, the prime minister has allocated $40 million to set up a post at the University of Western Australia to be run by a Danish climate change denier, who, as above, is accused of scientific dishonesty! And UWA has accepted the money and is going ahead with it!

How are we supposed to be proud of this country when our government is so awful???!!!  There is even talk that Abbott could be called to face charges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague on the basis that Australia is breaching international law for its treatment of asylum seekers.

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Even the nasty racist UKIP leader in the UK says he couldn’t go as far as Abbott and co in their harsh treatment of refugees!

What about the machinery? Is he endorsing immigration detention, detention of children, forced pushbacks? Farage made it clear he was not. “Some of the ways that Australia acts on these things,” he said, “are tougher than we in Britain can perhaps stomach.”

I am disgusted.

A few weeks ago someone I know told me our views are “diametrically opposed”. How utterly disappointing. That means he:

  • Accepts the jailing of children and pregnant women.
  • Accepts such deliberately harsh treatment of refugees that they develop mental illnesses and try to commit suicide.
  • Thinks climate change is crap, in line with our esteemed PM.
  • Thinks it’s acceptable for the federal (I nearly wrote feral) budget cuts to fall mainly on the poorest and lowest paid.
  • Thinks it’s fine that ultra high income earners pay no tax, because the government is not interested in fixing loopholes that allow rich people to avoid tax.
  • Thinks it’s fine to cut $30 billion from hospitals and schools and telling the states that they’ll just have to find the money.
  • Thinks it’s fine for Australia to enter wars without any UN authority (Howard/Iraq/Afghanistan, Abbott/Iraq) or any reference to parliament or even his own cabinet.
  • Likes Australian knighthoods, and them being awarded to a foreigner.
  • Wants Australia to remain a British colony with a British head of state, with no Australian able to be our own head of state.

I could go on. He knows my views, yet he said “diametrically opposed”. I was very, very disappointed.

Another country

Cairns 130I was thinking of starting an appeal for disaster relief funds to help NSW after their giant storms and floods.

Bulldust am I! No bloody way. After all the vicious bile that’s been coming our way from NSW commenters on the Guardian and ABC websites, to the effect that WA does not deserve any relief from the crippling 70% GST ripoff, I say go fuck yourselves, people in NSW.

I’ve been extremely disappointed at the level of sneering prejudice, the belittling comments, the nasty snide remarks to the effect that WA can forget about any compromise on the GST ripoff. This comes mainly from Sydney, I think, and fits with the nasty attitudes from Sydney that I had to put up with for years in my working life.

Childish jokes about needing a passport to go across the border, about WA being two hours behind the rest of Australia, about not knowing there’s a time difference. I got a phone call at home at 6am one morning in the 90s from a company in Sydney. When I politely pointed out the time, the guy didn’t seem to know that there was a three hour time difference. Har har.

This GST has seen it all come out again – the sneering, the prejudice, the “masters of the universe” attitude from Sydney. Leo Schofield, the toffish Sydney art critic, was caught out making sneering comments about Tasmanians last week and had to apologise. That’s typical. It’s a form of racism – anyone who’s different is looked down upon.

Yes, it’s true that for 90 out of the past 104 years WA received subsidies from the other states. Considering that we comprise 1/3 of the country with less than 10% of the population, and if you believe we need to occupy the land or have evil eyes looking at occupying it for us, that seems not unfair. And considering the massive road network need for this huge state, we deserved help.

But I’d argue (without knowing the true facts) that in the past 15 years WA has repaid those subsidies in mining royalties flowing east, maybe more.

And considering that Australia’s defence bases are almost entirely concentrated on the east coast. WA only has two air bases, but with no aircraft! We’ve got the SAS and HMAS Stirling naval base, and that’s it. Defence bases are huge generators of local wealth and employment. WA gets very little of that wealth.

There’s also the pokies factor. All the eastern states get massive revenue from gambling on the pokie machines, with all the social ills and addictions and costs. WA has always stood alone – we forgo the revenue, but we don’t have the costs that gambling imposes on society.

Almost all of Australia’s cultural facilities are concentrated in the eastern capitals. Want to see the world’s great artworks? You’ll have to go to Sydney/Canberra/Melbourne. Rarely does anything come to WA.

So it works both ways, you arseholes. If you notice a certain chilly welcome when you come west for your holidays or whatever, look to your own attitudes. It feels to me as if there’s a new barrier on the SA/WA border. WA really is another country. My attitude has changed in the past few weeks.

So don’t expect any help from me in WA. Fock off.

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Coincidences again. There used to be a guy working at Channel 7 in the early 1970s called Frank Benedetto. He was an American, from New York. Just travelling the world at the time. He only stayed a year or two and went back to the US.

Then he came back to Perth for a visit about four years ago, got in touch and we all had a coffee morning at Kings Park. He’s been in my mind inthe past few days in connection with our 55th Reunion last Sunday.

Yesterday I was at the Soda Cafe at North Beach and in the parking area was a delivery van – Cafe Benedetto. Bloody hell. It’s not a common name and this was an uncommon coincidence. Creepy.

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The reunion? Not bad. We had nearly 100 turn up, which seems a lot but considering the past staff list numbers about 850, it seemed a bit sparse. I was one of only five from Engineering, which was disappointing but not unexpected. I’m not sure that the reunion was advertised very widely. I suspect many didn’t know it was on.

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I discovered that Boffins Bookshop has moved from Hay St to a new under-street shop in William St, opposite Wesley Arcade. I used to visit Boffins a lot, but gradually found I couldn’t climb their steep stairs to the meaty books upstairs. Now it’s all down a pair of escalators, on one level. Good! I bought one book on Sunday and saw a couple more I want. I might even go in today. Using the train makes it easy and my travel is free on the Seniors Card.

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My warranty replacement OCZ Solid State Disk hard drive came last week, complete with big red Quarantine stickers and tape on the box. It seems the Customs dog had sniffed something so they opened my parcel. No problem, of course.

That failed drive cost me two days’ severe stress and lost time, right at the critical time of the NSHS Reunion last year, and $52 in shipping cost to return it to Taiwan. I now have a brand new OCZ 240GB drive, but I won’t buy that brand again. I bought a Samsung to replace it at half the cost.

More pics

TVW40th-KM

TVW 40th Anniversary 1999. Can you spot me? The funny costumes are because we were asked to come as our favourite TV character. I had bronchitis. I wanted to go as Cpl Klinger but I felt too sick.

Channel Seven Reunion today – 55 years since they (we) went on air in 1959 and as the organiser says, we’re starting to lose people. One of the prime movers is Ken McKay, who I used to work alongside in videotapes in the late 60s. He’s retired but runs a web site called WA TV History ( http://watvhistory.com/ )

It’s fantastic to us veterans (uuurrrrgh) but it’s much more, as Ken is a single handed bulldozer campaigner in trying to preserve Perth’s history, not just TV. He finds an amazing range of historic photos and archival film. You don’t realise until you see the photos and read the articles just how much we’ve lost. Development has run rampant in Perth! It’s tragic. So much has been lost as a result of an almost complete dominance of developers over anyone who values the past. A favourite tactic has been to let old premises fall derelict to the point where they become eyesores, then say they have to be demolished. Or our old friend arson. Set fire to it, that’ll get rid of it. It happens time and time again, and they get away with it.

Anyway, read a few of Ken’s articles. You will be surprised.

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I went into the city yesterday by train and was hoping to take some photos to compare with old shots. But the trees have grown up, completely obscuring the views. I can’t show the malls now, compared to 20 or even 10 years ago because all I see is leaves. It’s nice to have the trees, but frustrating.

What ridiculous “sculptures” they are in Forrest Place. Lime green thingummabob, giant boot and sock. Utter rubbish.

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More pics – my Australia folder. All (except the map) are my shots.

Aust contacts Aust contacts2 Aust contacts3 Aust contacts4 Aust contacts5 Aust contacts6 Aust contacts7 Aust contacts8

Bad day

Sky circle Carine 4.81b

Ice crystal circle around the sun, Carine, April 1981. © PJ Croft 1981, 2015

Urrrrgh. I made a mistake yesterday. I went shopping.

First, I had a haircut at the local barber. I waited nearly 20 minutes for the sole barber to finish the only guy in a chair. I was nearly ready to ask if it was going to be much longer. Then when I finally got my turn, she spent less than ten minutes on me, with none of the neck shaving or blow drying that they usually do. I was surprised when she whipped the sheet off, and she still charged me full price, $21, even though she knew I am a pensioner. I came away feeling I won’t go there again.

Then I drove to Joondalup and once again got a horn blast from a damned tray backed 4WD tradie at a roundabout. I was almost exiting and he was well clear of me, but he blasted me near the end of the merging process. They won’t merge! I’m sick of these louts.

Then I got to Joondalup and saw a bay in the Parents with Prams and Seniors section. But there were two women just standing in the bay with a pram. I indicated that I wanted to park there and got a bugger off, this is a parents with prams blast. I held up my ACROD sticker and said I’m entitled to use these bays, but they wouldn’t budge. I drove on and found a normal bay around the corner.

Next thing, after I’m out of the car, a big, grossly fat, ugly bloke comes up to me and says, “There’s a disabled bay there, mate.” I said I didn’t need to use it, I was OK here. But he repeated his statement and said, “Don’t you talk to my missus like that.” I told him again I was entitled to use the bay and he abused me again, don’t talk to his missus like that, and walked off. Bloody hell. Upsetting.

I had a great lunch at the Sidewalk Cafe in the centre mall there. I really feel good eating there – they give me what I ask for, it is a full serve, whatever it is, and I tell them I enjoyed the meal when I pay. Unusually good these days, an exception.

Then I made the mistake of doing grocery shopping at Woolies, the first time for a couple of months. Yes, another pricing error. Another case of a markdown price not registering, and going through at the full original price. Again! I pick this up because I always sit down and go through my docket when I leave, and I always find an error at Woolies.

I think this is so prevalent (it happens every time I shop at Woolies) that it’s time I wrote a letter of complaint, cc Consumer Affairs and ABC Checkout. I’ll need to collect more dockets, but that won’t take long. I’m sick of Woolies, Woolworths overcharges, Woolworths rips you off! By contrast, I virtually never find any errors at Coles.

Postscript: another strange incident. I shopped at Coles just now and as I often do, I held a quarter full plastic bag open and said, “Fill ’em up. There’s plenty of room for the small stuff in here.”

“I’ll continue with what I’m doing, thank you”, said the lady, avoiding my eyes. Woohoo. She has her way of doing it and she ain’t going to be told. She did relent a little later and asked if I wanted to add a few small items to another bag.

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And to cap it all off yesterday, after steadily losing weight at the rate of about 0,3Kg a day for some time, I regained 1,2Kg in one hit yesterday. Damn. I’ve lost about 5Kg in the past four months, slow and steady. Just eating less because my appetite ain’t what it used to be. In fact I would say I eat less than half the amount I used to eat 5 years or more ago. I used to eat a full container, maybe even two, of Chinese food or curry, but now I get two meals from one container. And that’s all I have.

The Byetta diabetes injections I use are supposed to be a weight loser, and I know why – it makes you feel nauseous for about two hours after each injection (breakfast and dinner). It’s quite effective at suppressing appetite.

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I always get pleasure from looking through my thousands of photos from my 40 years of photography. Some samples from my Perth Shots folder:

Contact SheetContact Sheet2Contact Sheet3Contact Sheet6Contact Sheet5Contact Sheet7 Contact Sheet8 Contact Sheet9 Contact Sheet10 Contact Sheet11There are one or two pics from other sources but nearly all these are mine. There are some historic shots in here. What’s going to happen to all these when I die?

More coincidences

PSP_004230_1080

Mars, of course. Courtesy of Nasa/JPL

RAIN! My readers in other parts of Australia or the world wouldn’t understand, but it’s been raining! I love it. We don’t get much rain and now it’s back. Some steady light rain but many heavy showers, only lasting a few minutes, but enough to start soaking the ground, spread over days. If you want to see climate change, come to WA. The bush is looking parched, dry. Australian bush is always dry looking, but it’s noticeably dryer now. Rain like this is a Dogsend.

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Bloody coincidences. I think I’m psychic. I get premonitions.

About five years ago a friend of mine used my video camcorder and editing computer to make a short promo piece called Get Up, Stand Up. It had a rather catchy tune. For some reason it popped (I nearly wrote pooped) into my head yesterday morning.

I was cleaning out some old backups yesterday afternoon and guess what: yes, Get Up, Stand Up was one of the items! I hadn’t thought of it for years. Precognition rather than premonition.

I was watching an SBS program about the development of the machine gun. One of the pioneers was Hiram Maxim, and his office was in Hatton Garden, London, around 1910. So what happens? The robbers do their business in Hatton Garden over Easter.

I happened to be flicking channels on TV yesterday and tried Channel 9 showing Casablanca. At the moment I switched to it, Ingrid Bergman said, “Play it, Sam. Play it for me.” Sam says, “Play what?” Ingrid says, “You know. Play it Sam.” And so on. Yes it’s true, she never said “Play it again, Sam.” But what a coincidence that I switched to it just at that famous moment.

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I got two emails yesterday. The first was from a transport company telling me there’s a shipment coming from OCZ in Taiwan. So they’ve received my faulty Solid State Drive and either they’re sending a replacement, or they’re sending my dud one back saying, “No deal, sport.” Joking.

Then a little later I got one from Hattons in the UK saying they’ve refunded my purchase price for the faulty locomotive I mailed back to them on the Thursday before Easter. So the mail took just a week.

I’m glad I’m getting satisfaction, but these two faulty products cost me $52.75 and $18.20 respectively in postage! Bloody hell. Not happy. Not happy about all the faulty products I’m experiencing, e.g. a succession of coffee machines. And a cheap Ozito line trimmer that won’t line feed. Grrr! Every time it runs out of line, I have to take the head apart and try to refeed it. Serves me right for buying $99 junk.

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I’ve read two great books recently. The first was Travelling to Infinity by Mary Hawking, the wife of the physicist. I highly recommend it. I’ve mentioned it before, but I keep thinking about it. One aspect is, what a rich environment is Cambridge in England, or any of the university towns and cities. If you have any wish at all to engage in academia or any of the arts, you are awash with opportunities.

Molecular plaid

Visualisation of a computer CPU

The other book, which I’m nearly finished, is The Enigma, the story of Alan Turing, the WW2 code breaker. That’s all I knew of him before I read this book but I realise now he was more than that. First, he was Dr Turing. He had a PhD in Mathematics from Cambridge. He doesn’t get much credit for that. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. That’s a big deal.

He did much more than break codes, though. He wrote the book, literally, in about 1938, on the theoretical first computing machine. The Enigma was a German code machine that was invented in the 1920s and was commercially available. I always assumed that there were only two, one in Germany and one in Britain, but no, they were all over the place. There was one in every German ship or HQ. I never knew how Britain got theirs. I assumed they copied and built one during the war. No, they had already bought one before the war. The Germans were pretty cocky (read arrogant) and thought their encoding would be unbreakable, but Turing and a few others were ahead of them and figured out all the tricks.

This was Bletchley Park, a place with thousands of staff who never fully knew what they were doing, but who received all the coded German messages, punched them onto paper tape, fed them to the Enigma machine and decoded and translated the messages. There was another machine, initiated by Polish intelligence before the war but carried on by the British, called the Bombe. Cute. And in typical British style, Turing also invented a voice encryption device for radio communications, and called it the Delilah. Even cuter.

Amazingly, the senior British military refused to take the results seriously. They believed they could win the war by traditional military tactics and refused to take any notice of these decoded German communications. The Navy were the worst. Almost total denial, resulting in the loss of hundreds of ships and men because they wouldn’t accept the intelligence. All those stereotypes of Colonel Blimps and stupid Generals and vain Admirals are true. Tens of thousands of men died, including thousands of Aussies, as a result of these few arrogant fools. The British military command in India are singled out as totally blind, refusing to accept what they were being told.

But the Enigma was a mechanical device. Once they had got theirs working, Turing moved on to other things, which meant an electronic computer, using the primitive valve electronics of the time. He taught himself how to design electronic circuits and started on the first actual computer, using an input device, data storage, what we’d now call accumulators and arithmetic and logics units (ALUs), a means of output (teleprinters), but most importantly, written programming, including the use of subroutines. This all seems so simple now, but it all came out of his head.

I highly recommend the book, but it’s about 750 pp thick, in small print, and the author is a Cambridge mathematician himself. He doesn’t spare us the details. If the idea of reading about Hilbert spaces, matrices, Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, Zeta Functions and similar puts you off, you probably wouldn’t get too far in.

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Having been taught a semester on radar by a British bloke called Jim Whitelegg in about 1969, I can grasp what Turing was doing in the valve technology of the day very well. Jim Whitelegg was actually involved in the development of radar during WW2, so he wasn’t far removed from that technology. I actually learnt the “Radar Equation”, although I never used it outside those Perth Tech classrooms. It was all valves, of course.

Those early British and US computers used between 10,000 and 28,000 valves! Most of them did the same thing, it was just that you had to have a valve per bit, and you were operating on thousands of bits. The first British valve computer cost around 10,000 pounds and operated at about 1MHz. These days, putting a billion transistors on a silicon slice costing about $150 and operating at 4,000 MHz is no big deal.

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Some nice photos:

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Mars, of course. © NASA/JPL

Barque Endeavour July88-12

Endeavour © P.J. Croft 1988

More coming…