OK, I think this is it

2006_mercedes-benz_clk500_used_3888150_15_lI think I’ve found muh car. That’s it above, a CLK550, 2006 model, and only 43,000Km. That’s remarkable. $38K.

2006_mercedes-benz_clk500_used_3888150_5_lStrangely, it’s advertised as a CLK500 (5.0L V8), whereas the badge clearly shows it to be a CLK550 (5.5L V8). Their specs listing also refers to a 5.0L engine. Very odd.

But it’s an Elegance model, which means wood grain in the dash and console, which I love. It’s not an AMG, but if it was, then you can’t have wood grain. Mercedes’ view is that if it’s an AMG performance model, then you must have aluminium/metal in the dash and console. Not my idea.

Also strange – I’m pretty sure this same car has been for sale at Young’s Holden yard in Vic Park for a couple of months. Now it’s moved to John Hughes, down the road. Why isn’t it selling? Why has it moved? Obviously I need to enquire, and ask my tame ex-used car/ex-John Hughes salesman to help me.

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One of the attractions of buying a nice car like this would be to drive east and do a big road trip. (By the way, the fuel consumption of this big V8 is 13L/100Km city and 8L/100KM country, which is exactly the same as my 2001 Magna 3.5L V6. Sure, the cost of fuel is a factor, but I only need to fill up once a month in my present car, and this would be the same interval and the same cost, so I’m not losing anything.)

Back to – a driving trip – another factor for me in all my travel is that I need my CPAP to sleep at night. If I were to drive the Nullarbor, I would have to sleep at least one night out on the road, which would mean no power to run the CPAP. Problem.

Answer: I’ve just discovered there’s a new CPAP machine on the market specifically for travelling.

z1-tiny-battery-powered-travel-cpap-hdmusaIt runs off a battery. You can buy an add-on Lithium-Ion battery pack which gives a full 8 hours running. (I would hate to run my machine off the car’s battery, then wake in the middle of the Nullarbor or somewhere, only to find I’d flattened the car battery so that I couldn’t start the car. Urrrrrgh. No calling the RAC in the middle of nowhere, and no push starting the car either. Nightmare scenario.)

This also revitalises my ideas about international travel. Taking my ResMed machine with its humidifier has always been a problem. It;s bulky, it’s weighty, it takes a lot of space in my suitcase. A machine as small as that would revolutionise my travel

Price? US$575. This is from an American web site. Will they sell to me in Australia? I think so. (ResMed won’t! Even though ResMed is an Australian company, and the machines are made in Sydney, and they are half price in the USA, the US companies are not allowed to ship to Australia. We have to pay double here. Hmmmm.)

Anyway, no plans to buy yet, just food for thought.

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Today, I have bought this:

Yamaha T-500

Yamaha T-500D tuner

It’s a hi-fi component DAB+/FM/AM tuner. DAB+ is digital radio, which I like, and to have AM available is good. $425 approx. from eBay. Aussie supplier, postage included in the price. At the moment I’m listening in my main living area on a portable receiver with a small low-fi speaker. I want this for my hi-fi system.

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Age wearieth, age taketh away

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It’s gone from the web – sold? I was too slow. See below.

I’m the same age as Joanna Lumley, 68. I heard her say it on TV the other night in the Trans Siberian Express program. But I’m better looking. She’s aged. Nice voice, nice person, but women lose their looks as they get older, men gain. Men improve with age. Fact. Just sayin’

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Except that, boy I’m tired. Lots of sleeping. Can’t sleep more than 2-3 hours at first at night, so after lying there for an hour or more trying to get back to sleep, I get up, have a hot milk drink, go back to bed about 6am, sleep for an hour or two, then around midday, crash again. Cycle. Repeat. Just occasionally, I sleep a full night but I can’t work out why and how to make it happen again.

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I thought I’d found my next car on Friday night. There’s a 2004 Mercedes CLK 55 AMG in Adelaide for $28,990. Very dark-blue metallic, 95,000Km. Crikey, it seemed to tick all the boxes. Quite a low price. I was almost ready to phone and place a deposit.

But closer examination makes me think it’s a 2003 model, not a 2004. The odometer shows 98,000Km when they advertise 95,000Km. Why? The radio/sat-nav console looks different to other 2004 models. There’s no engine start/stop button on the gear shift lever. The grille has only three slats versus four for other models. Lots of doubtful things, in other words. Bugger. It looked good for a while. Back to the grindstone.

Why do I need a 5.5L AMG V8? It’s the same price as a lesser engined car. AMG is a Mercedes offshoot which hand builds and tunes the engines before they’re installed in the car – what we used to call blue-printing. Making sure everything fits to the precise tolerances. In my opinion, this should make the engine run smoother and last longer.

They also make small changes to the suspension and exhaust, again making for more power and smoother running. I’m convinced. Besides, that badge on the back!!

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Not this one, although this is top shelf. I really should buy this one. It’s in Melbourne.

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You’re probably getting tired of my tirades about climate change politics, but just read the article by Mike Seccombe in The Saturday Paper this weekend: https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2015/07/25/the-true-cost-green-energy/14377464002171

I am an on-line paid subscriber, by the way, and I drive to Quinns Newsagency every Saturday morning and pay my $3.50 for the paper version – I recommend it.

This article clearly sets out the blatant lies put forward by the climate change/anti-renewables deniers such as PM Lord Rabbott and Alan Jones, “Shock Jock”. They are just liars!

The economics have become clear: it is now cheaper to derive electricity from wind (wind turbines) and solar than from coal. So much for our prime minister! So much for the idiots in this country who have chosen him to be the leader. If he can’t understand this simple stuff, what chance does he have with the hard stuff. Answer: he doesn’t cope with the hard stuff. All he does is repeat three or four word slogans, ad nauseum.

The science is clear, the economics is clear – there’s no argument left. only stone age Liberal politicians and the stupid people who vote for them.

Woolies true to form again

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Woolies has done it again. See the pineapple above clearly marked $2.50, but I was charged the original price, $5 (right).

Woolies is not doing too well in profits. What better way to boost the bottom line than by deliberately overcharging. Nine out of ten customers won’t check their bills and won’t complain. Those that do find the errors are no problem – we’re just given the price difference and sent on our way, even though we might be fuming. I can’t go crook at the poor girl behind the counter and the manager is probably out on a long lunch. We never see managers. Presto, increased profits. Check your till receipts if you shop at Woolies! You are almost certainly being ripped off. Coles – no problem, never an error. If Coles can do it, why can’t Woolworths?

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Ah, memories.

_1010133I used to be in the habit of keeping a diary, as you can see above. The green one on top is 1995-96 and the one below it is 2012, although the edge is not marked. Sometimes I missed a year but most of the intervening years are there.

It was a cursory record because I didn’t write it up every single day, and even when I did write, I wasn’t recording my innermost thoughts. I just recorded the major things I wanted to remember, especially when I sent letters or made some official action. I kept track of the magazines I bought and their cost, just to have an idea of how much I was spending, because I’ve always been a magazine addict. I spent a lot of money, probably $70-$80 per month or more. I used to buy New Scientist every week at $8 each. That’s $32 per month for that one alone. And Amateur Photographer weekly at $6.50 I think. Ouch.

Anyway, they came with me to this house but I never look at them, so in the interests of reducing clutter, I’m thinking of throwing them into the recycle bin. But I can’t! How can I discard all these memories? So I think I’ll try to scan them, just the important pages, the ones I want to remember. Then I can make a multi page PDF for each year. Why? Who’s going to be interested? I keep thinking someone in the far future, because I’ve got records of everything. I keep a notebook with every cent I spend each day. That must be interesting to someone in 50 or 100 years’ time.

I’ve resurrected my old 2009 computer, a Core i7 with 6GB DDR2 RAM, and installed the OCZ solid state hard drive that I got replaced under warranty. This computer is no slouch, even though it’s six years old now. I’ve got four hard drives of 750GB size or thereabouts, so it’s a powerhouse. Ideal for scanning work. That makes two good desktop computers, both Core i7s, and the Sony VAIO laptop, a Core 2 Duo with 8GB RAM and a BluRay burner. All three have legal copies of Windows 7 Professional 64bit, which will be upgraded free of charge to the new Windows 10 starting on 29 July, nine days away. Zowee. This’ll keep me busy for the foreseeable future.

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Speaking of foreseeable futures, a young woman came to my door this morning, very, very chatty, but trying to sell me roller shutters for my windows (there’s that word again!) She was obviously trained to engage the potential customer in chat, and we talked about our ages. She guessed my age at late 40s, bless her little cotton knickers. She was 22. I was tempted to invite her in to see my images but … that would have obliged me to get window shutters. I told her she has no chance of selling them to me. I hate the look of them and I would hate to be in a darkened, shuttered house. No way. Perhaps for security, but it would be bloody expensive security. I’ve already got window locks and a house alarm.

She was nice, though. English, Midlands accent, 22. The mind wanders …

Hot air

originalLord Viscount Marquis Sir Anthony Abbott VC VD AO OA BO DFC AC DC OM MO, suppository of all scientific knowledge, doesn’t like wind power generators and says they have “other undesirable health effects”. This is the claim of opponents of wind turbine generators, that they have strange health effects as well as fading the curtains.

Professor Simon Chapman AO PhD FASSA, Professor of Public Health, University of Sydney, who you’d have to admit has the expertise to comment on these claims, has published a list of all the adverse claims that have been made in this country against the windmills.

There are 244 of them! They range from excessive yawning to delayed wound healing to autism to weight gain and weight loss – the list goes on and on for about 28 A4 pages. Here are just a few more:

  • Vomiting blood
  • Visual acuity reduction
  • Viral skin infection
  • Varicose veins
  • Urination, painful
  • Teeth, “arcing”
  • Stools, loose
  • Speech problems

244 claims like these! It’s the same as phone towers, mobile phones causing cancer, power lines causing cancer, all these bullshit claims by people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

But Lord Rabbott believes this stuff and has blocked and killed investment in the wind generation of power for the foreseeable future. The alternative energy industry bodies (solar, wind, wave etc.) have said enough is enough, we must actively fight the government to allow these industries to operate. I never thought I’d ever stand with an industry group, but I do on this one. This stupid, stupid government has to be defeated. We can’t go on like this!

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In the same vein, the IPA, the Institute of Public Affairs sounds like a pretty bland organisation, yes? In fact they are an extreme right wing body which published a list of aims for the Liberal Party to achieve once they gained power. There were 100 items on this list and it’s interesting to note what’s been happening in the past 20 months since the hard right wing Australian government was elected. Here are just a few of their aims:

48 Privatise Australia Post
49 Privatise Medibank
50 Privatise and Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
51 Privatise SBS
63 Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
72 Privatise the CSIRO
75 Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

47 Cease funding the Australia Network
66 Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built

Climate Change
1 Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it.
2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change
3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
6 Repeal the renewable energy target
10 Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol

Human Rights
4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
5 Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council

If you read through the whole list, this vile, evil government are working to the plan set by this shadowy bunch of hard liners. This is a nightmare. This is takeover by an unelected group whose aims are very similar to the Republican Party in the USA. Looney, pro guns, anti abortion, closure of abortion clinics and fertility clinics, cutting taxes on the rich and increasing taxes on the poorest, telling the poor they should just work longer hours, anti-immigration …. again, the list goes on and on. Another nightmare.

And the infiltration of the Liberal Party by the Italian Mafia! Notice the complete silence from the Libs? Yes folks, the Liberal Party takes the donations from the Mafia in Australia. And they have the gall to run an $80m Royal Commission on unions. I think the right wing Liberal/Nationals have far worse questions to answer.

Things of beauty

When you buy and use a USB thumb drive, as they’re called, do you wonder what’s inside that bit of plastic?

Above is a 1 megabit (approx.) Large Scale Integrated Circuit (LSIC) containg many individual memory chips to make up the 1 MB of Random Access Memory (RAM). Notice that it’s four rows of eight squares. We tend to think in terms of powers of two, and eight is a good number.

I find these images beautiful:

PCBlayout1

This one is the printed circuit board layout which holds the ICs and all the associated circuit components. Look at the beautiful complexity! Human hands did this. Computer software plays a bug part in laying it out, but a human wrote that software anyway.

2014-03-18-edne-gp-mentor3f23bdd1bf5d3475098138a87a56d3bf9 C0386-Figure1 dsp_zoom Interviews_FEL_layout layout_fulladder

Engineering

IC_Wafer

A silicon wafer about 20cm in diameter containing hundreds of individual integrated circuits, before they are cut apart. The rainbow colours are because there are very thin layers of silicon which the light can penetrate and be reflected from the layers below, just like an oil film on water.

I’m not sure why – maybe it’s Engineering Week or something – but engineering as a career was the topic of discussion on Life Matters on Radio National this morning. I’ve got to hand it to Natasha Mitchell, she has a degree in engineering so she’s qualified to speak. I wish I knew what branch of engineering:

  • Mechanical
  • Civil
  • Structural
  • Mining
  • Petroleum
  • Electrical
  • Control and telemetry (SCADA)
  • Electronic
  • Communications
  • Computer
  • Information Technology
  • Aeronautical
  • Biomedical
  • Aerospace
  • Nanotechnology
  • Chemical
  • Process
  • Manufacturing
  • HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning)
  • Highway

As they said in the interview, all people can think about when you mention engineering is train drivers and mechanics. As shown above, it’s a huge field and if you can’t find a niche in one of those, you must be brain dead.

But my line, electronics, is especially the future proof way of job security. (I don’t have a degree, but I have a three year full time Technical College Diploma.)

EC101_Layout_50

Software design of an integrated circuit on a PC. As you can see, this is Windows software. You could do this yourself at home.

Look at all the jobs and professions that are either disappearing or being taken over by computers and automation. Even journalists are now a disappearing breed, replaced by software that can write reports!. Anything in finance is also under threat.

Electronics engineering is future proof. When you’re the person who designs the systems that automate the world, and you’re the only people who know how they work, you’re in job security plus.

Electronics is FASCINATING. There must be few other vocations where your job can also be your hobby. I loved my work and I was proud to call my self an electronics technician. And I had job security in spades. I never feared being laid off, as many were at Channel 7. Sure, I was offered voluntary redundancy and I took it, but it wasn’t because the work disappeared. They just wanted to get rid of older people and staff numbers in general. The poor guys remaining just had to take on my former workload. The work hadn’t gone away, it wasn’t made redundant.

The depressing thing was listening to the engineers being interviewed this morning. Of four people including the host, all had engineering degrees, three of them were women, one woman had a PhD, one woman was a Reserve Bank board member and the one bloke was a professor of engineering. All of them were lamenting the low level of interest in engineering as a career in Australia, the poor standard of maths teaching in schools, the low level of computer programming being taught in schools and that all the Asian countries are bursting with talent in these fields. We are going to be left way behind – we already are! As well, there’s no interest in investing in new technology in Australia. How can there be when the Coalition government is actively discouraging it.

I can’t see things changing. This country is being left behind, anyone with any drive has to go overseas and the expertise we need depends on migrants, often from Asian countries. No hope, I’m afraid.

woodcrest-wafer

Integrated circuits (microchips) on a silicon wafer about 20cm in diameter, before being cut up and separated. Each individual IC would be smaller than your little fingernail. They are too small to be picked up except by little suction devices.