I wuz there

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My shot of the Sony building, 1992.  © PJ Croft 2016

From The Guardian:   For half a century, the Sony Building in Tokyo has attracted domestic and foreign tourists to the upmarket Ginza district. The flagship building went up in 1966 at a time when the high-rise megalopolis that would eventually provide the setting for Blade Runner and the inspiration for Akira was still in its infancy, and displayed world-changing products such as the Walkman and Trinitron TV.

Now, the consumer electronics company plans to demolish its own flagship store and temporarily replace it with a park. The loss of Yoshinobu Ashihara’s building will be felt in a Tokyo that constantly demolishes and rebuilds, wiping out its architectural heritage. But in a city like Tokyo where public space is woefully lacking – most of it indoors and devoted to retail – an urban oasis could actually help the city, not to mention the once-mighty company’s struggling brand.

Brutal and concrete from the outside, the Sony Building’s interior is something entirely different. Typical of Ashihara’s other buildings from this period, it has multiple-level floors that defy the conventions of the common retail complex. “I made the entire interior space continuous by placing 27 floors on successive different levels,” the architect wrote of the building. The result is a store where floors spiral round, like a staircase.

I was there in 1992. I went through this Sony building.

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This was in the days of analogue High Definition TV broadcasting. MUSE they called it, Multiple Sub-Nyquist Sampling Encoding. Japan had HD TV in the early 1990s, ten years before us.

Problem was, it was analogue and before its time. Europe came up with DVB-T, Digital Video Broadcast-Terrestrial and it was goodbye Japan.

Coldfingers

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Airlie Beach, Qld.    © PJ Croft 2016

Brrrr. It would be nice to be there. I’m told there’s a cool wet snap has descended on Bali, forecast to last a week. The cool air is sweeping up from Australia, i.e. here, outside my door. Go air, go.

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Brexit! What a disaster! This will go down in history as the ultimate cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face decision of all time.

It has divided the UK, almost literally. North vs South, young vs old, intelligent vs dumb bums, Scotland vs England, Northern Ireland vs England and Wales, and possibly N. Ireland vs “southern” Ireland.

This is all the doing of that idiot Tory, Cameron. He will go down in history as one of the great failures.

Now the racists are ratcheting up. They’ve been stirred up by that Oswald Mosely of the 21st century, Nigel Farage. A racist xenophobic stirrer with nothing real to contribute, just slogans.

Make no mistake, this is a disaster. This will play out for years and we’ll all suffer. As The Economist said on the cover last week, Divided We Fall. Putin will be rubbing his hands with glee. It’s just what he wants, disunity in Europe. What fools are the Poms.

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I’ve spent a lot of time today fixing my main desktop PC. I can’t remember what happened a few days ago, but it wouldn’t boot up any more.

So I pulled it out into the dining area (for the daylight), and proceeded to reseat all the memory strips (DIMMs), the PCI cards and the plugs and sockets. What a job. PCs are hard on the fingers. All the DIMMs and plugs use clips which are not only stiff and hard, but have sharp edges. My cold fingers are sore.

I found one of the memory modules was improperly inserted (my fault) and that was making the power supply cycle, i.e. protect itself. Thank goodness for this bit of good design. In the old days – 30 years ago – the power supply would have died or the module would have been destroyed.

OTOH, I would still have a job fixing power supplies 😦

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Anyway, I’m back in business and it was a chance to clean the filters, rearrange a mess of cables and generally wipe it down.

In the process I used an HDMI to DVI adapter from another monitor and had a terrible time getting it off the base. The designers placed it underneath a recessed bit, so that you can’t see it without upending the monitor. The thumbscrews were so tight I had to use pliers. Try doing that by feel.

Then when I put it back again later, I spent about 5 minutes cursing, swearing and busting my fingers trying to get it back into place again. Why not upend the monitor? I had to, in the end, but this is a heavy item and the space is limited and I don’t want to scratch the desk or wall.

Why can’t Dell make it easy for us?????

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I’ve just seen this: http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/rottnest-police-target-students-carrying-drugs-to-island/news-story/2e9eea50c089dc283bd68bcbb19dd58d

I admit that at Easter 1964, I, with some other guys from The Hut, was ejected from the island, told to catch the next day’s ferry and go home. Why? We chose to camp under the lighthouse rather than in the camping area. Why? I think it was because we didn’t have any camping gear. We had a few bottles of Swan Lager beer, and in those days we were under-age drinkers. the drinking age was 21.

But drugs?? No, not even in our minds. What a change has happened in 50 years. Lamentable.

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I read a review of a new tablet PC the other day, and got the hots for it a bit. It was the ASUS Transformer T300 Chi. It looked juicy and I started looking up the price. I found a few prices, but left it for a week.

Today I went back to the ASUS site and found it’s gone from their product list! There used to be a T100, T200 and T300. Only the first one is left.

OK, it’s been replaced, and I’ve read a review of the ASUS Transformer 3 Pro, shown in Taiwan in May. But that’s not up on ASUS’s web site. Huh?

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ASUS Transformer 3 Pro.

Why am I looking at this? On my last trip I took my Dell 15″ laptop, weighing nearly 2Kg all up, and my Samsung Tab S tablet, weighing about 800g.

The Samsung uses Android and I found it surprisingly useful. Mainly for reading the news and emails at breakfast, I must admit. But I don’t like using Android. I’ve got used to it, but it’s a dog compared to Windows.

This new ASUS uses Windows, but still gives full touch control. The Dell laptop is a touch screen as well, and I found it surprisingly usable.

If I could only take one 800g device with me when travelling, which gave me all the functionality of Windows (10 or 7), had a 2880 x 1920 display, a Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM and a 512GB SSD, for around $1,000, I’m interested.

I’m not sure it’s available yet, and I’m not planning a trip in the near future, but …

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I have an appointment on Friday with the gastric surgeon to, I hope, remove my gastric band. The thing is, I asked for an appointment in early May. I’ve had to wait over two months. This is unconscionable! This the doctors’ union in operation. The AMA artificially restricts the number of doctors who can become specialists so as to keep a big waiting list.

This is wrong! Why should someone with a serious bodily problem have to wait two months to get to see a doctor? This is no different to any union or “restraint of trade”issue.

But on Friday, I’ll have to keep a straight face and be polite. After all, he’s going to cut into me. NB: he takes his fee up front. The bill comes through immediately, even before the service is provided. Even plumbers don’t do that. Nice going.  I spit!

Wrong Way, Go Back!

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The first CEO of the National Broadband Network (NBN), Mike Quigley, has hit out at the shambles that Malcolm Turnbull has made of our national fibre optic network:

In the speech, Mr Quigley rubbished the copper-based fibre-to-the-node technology, a centrepiece of the Coalition’s rollout, and said fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) “is the only safe long-term bet for Australia’s fixed broadband network”.

“To spend billions of dollars to build a major piece of national infrastructure that just about meets demand today, but doesn’t allow for any significant growth in that demand over the next 10 or 20 years, without large upgrade costs, is incredibly short-sighted,” he said.

“It is such a pity that so much time and effort has been spent on trying to discredit and destroy the original FTTP-based NBN.

“And equally a pity that the Coalition has put their faith in what has turned out to be a short-sighted, expensive and backward-looking MTM [mixed technology model] based on copper.

“The nation is going to be bearing the consequences of those decisions for years to come in higher costs and poorer performance in an area that is critical to its long-term future.

“Betting tens of billions of taxpayers dollars at this time on copper access technologies, as the Coalition has done, is a huge miscalculation.”

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Malcolm Turnbull, when Minister for Communications under The Lord Rabbott VD, decided he had to have a different plan to Labor’s fibre to the premises (FTTP) plan. Labor’s plan was to have fibre optic cable to every home and business in the country, where possible.
Turnbull had to be different, so he changed it to fibre to the node (FTTN), where the fibre optic cables end at big metal cabinets in the street, and the connection to your home and to businesses would be made using Telstra’s old copper wire cables.
Trouble is, those copper wires are old and unreliable, and the pits fill with water, and many of the connections were poorly made in the old days, and the copper was never going to be capable of the full speed data that full fibre can give, especially in the reverse (upload) direction.
In addition, the system can’t be upgraded. It’s too old. That’s why Telstra was so happy to sell it to the NBN Co.
Turnbull promised a second rate system, but cheaper and sooner. It has NOT worked out that way. The cost is working out to be about the same as Labor’s original plan, and the schedule has slipped so that it will not be available earlier as he promised.
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So Turnbull has condemned this country to a second rate, much slower system that is obsolete before it’s finished, can’t be upgraded, and will come no sooner than if it had been fibre all the way, as Labor originally proposed.

I spit!

I’m well, thanks, how are you?

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I got my latest three monthly blood test results today, and the doctor was very pleased. So am I.

The main one is HbA1c, the three monthly average blood glucose. The last four quarterly readings have been 8.1, 8.2, 7.1 and the latest one 7.0. That’s “Satisfactory glycaemic control.” Very satisfying. It would be better if it was 6.0, but this’ll do.

Kidneys? All readings normal. Liver? Same. Cholesterol? 3.2! All the LDL, HDL and Triglycerides are within the target range. I do not have a cholesterol or lipids problem. “Good lipaemic control.”

My weight continues to fall. I came back from Bali 0.5Kg lighter than when I left, and I’ve kept it off since I’ve been home. The key? Good breakfast of low GI foods (porridge, multigrain toast), light lunch, sometimes only a handful of nuts, and importantly, only a very small dinner, often just a cup-a-soup. I’m just eating less and less.

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The lies being told by Turnbull and Christopher Pyne, the so called minister for Science and Innovation about the NBN are just breathtaking!

They say there’s been more progress connecting premises in the past month than there was in the first three years under Labor’s FTTP plan.

They conveniently don’t mention that it was always going to be necessary for there to be around 3 – 5 years’ planning before the first premises could be connected. Of course there’s more progress now, that’s because the planning phase is largely over and the connection phase is running! There was no way that connections could start in the first three years under Labor! This is just another Liberal Party lie.

Look at the WA state government’s latest backflip. In 2013 they announced that a light rail nline would be built to Perth’s NE suburbs. They said repeatedly, it was “fully funded and costed”.

Now they’ve announced, three years later, that the plan has been abandoned as too expensive. But it was “fully funded and costed”! Where did the funding go? It was just another Barnett government lie. Like the electricity prices that would be tied to “at or near the CPI”. The fact is that electricity prices have risen at more than triple the CPI. Barnett just brushes it off as not a commitment. It was a lie.

The Liberal Party deliberately lies to you.

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The UK votes today to stay in the EU or leave. I HOPE THEY STAY! It will be a tragedy if they leave.

Why?The main thing for me is that a leave vote will almost certainly trigger another referendum in Scotland on whether to leave the United Kingdom. Scotland is a big beneficiary of the EU and wants to stay in. If England votes to leave, it will probably break the union. Contrary to my views last year, I would say Scotland should leave the UK this time around. It would be a tragedy, however.

Also, the Republic of Ireland is a member of the EU and uses the Euro as its currency. But the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is open – no passports are needed as both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland (UK) are members of the EU. But if Britain leaves, the border controls will have to be reimposed, renewing the divisions between northern and southern Ireland that have taken decades to mend.

There’s also the loss of London as the finance and banking capital of the world, although since London has been voted the most corrupt city in the world recently, maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Finally, have you heard the phrase “Perfidious Albion”? Perfidious means untrustworthy. That would be entirely appropriate if Britain ran away, in my opinion. It would be yet another example that Britain can’t be trusted, and never has been trustworthy. That phrase Perfidious Albion didn’t just spring up for no reason.

Another point: voting is not compulsory. On such a vital question, how can they ever be sure that the result reflects the real wishes of the people? This is a crazy system.

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The West Australian published an item about Perth radio stations today: http://www.lookatwa.com.au/Entertainment/radiostations.html which lists all the stations in Perth. Quite useful. I have the feeling the list might be out of date, but I need to check further.

There’s also a list of TV stations and I’m not too impressed with that list. They say “Access 31 was a public access station that operated from 1999 and closed in 2008 due to insolvency.” That may be so, but West TV is still operating and doing a great job, but they don’t mention it. Black mark.

Progress

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I finished assembling that desk today, and it looks gruk! (That’s “good”.)  This is my guest bedroom.  It’s an IKEA desk, costing only $69. Surprisingly tricky to assemble, it had me scratching my head at times, because it can be assembled in either left or right hand configuration, so you have to mentally adjust.

The room is very masculine, but I don’t have many female visitors. Applications are welcome. 🙂

That lamp came from a verge throw out in Trigg in about 2012. I picked up several very nice items and said to the guy, “Are you moving?” He said, no, he just wanted to get rid of them. Well, throw some more my way, mate.

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Now for a few big IKEA items, a 6-drawer chest for the main bedroom and two large book cases for the living area. These are heavy items, so I’ll be assembling them right near the final resting place.

I love assembling IKEA stuff. It’s like a big toy/mind exercise.

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Aaah, midwinter. Shortest day of the year, and we can look forward to longer days and some warm weather again. I must admit, my right hip is giving me curry in the cold.

My best shots Vol. 1

_A Cover

Click here to go to MyAlbum

This is a book I’ve made and had printed containing a range of my favourite shots from over 40 years of my photography. As it says, this is volume 1, and there are two more volumes. I’ll put selected shots up in the next day or so. Naturally, there are captions to the photos in the books.

The books cost $39.95 + $10 postage and packing.

Liberal Party corruption

I recommend this:

I have sent an email to my local MHR the Honourable Christian Porter MP, asking him to resign from this corrupt party. Let’s see how honourable he is.

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Then, of course, there’s the matter of Parakeelia. This is a private software company set up by the Liberal Party that has written software called Feedback that allows MPs to maintain information about constituents and so on. Each MP pays Parakeelia about $1,450 per year to use and maintain this software.

But this $1,450 comes out of the MP’s electoral allowance. That is, it comes from taxpayer funds, yours and my taxes.

Strangely, Parakeelia ends up with a big surplus of money from all these payments. Where does the surplus go? Into Liberal Party bank accounts!

So to be clear, taxpayer funds are paid to a Liberal Party owned company, Parakeelia, which then diverts excess funds to the Liberal Party. All up it has given more than $1.3 million to the Liberal Party. That’s your money, in the form of electoral allowances.

Nice going, huh?

See Parakeelia: The Inner Workings of the Liberals’ funding rort, by Mike Seccombe for a much fuller account of this scam.

Malcolm Turnbull was happy to spend millions of dollars to fund a royal commission looking for corruption in unions. It found minor offences, and it certainly didn’t achieve its aim of smearing Bill Shorten.  But it’s clear that the Liberal Party is corrupt to its core!

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has exposed more than a dozen state (NSW) Liberal Party MPs who accepted political donations from people and companies who stood to benefit from decisions made by these men. All have been forced to resign from the parliament.

How about calling it what it is: corruption and hypocrisy. How can you vote for these people?!

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I wrote the above before I had fully read the article in the Saturday Paper. Read it! It’s even worse than I thought:

“Perhaps the most outrageous aspect of the affair, though, is the evidence that the Liberal Party was double dipping on the taxpayer – not only funnelling money through Parakeelia to itself, but also using public servants to train members in how to use the system.

“According to reports in the Fairfax papers, backed by leaked emails, parliamentary staff employed by something called the Coalition Advisory Service, recently rebadged as the Members and Senators Support Unit, were simultaneously working for Parakeelia. Thus the Liberal-owned company’s staff costs were apparently shifted onto the taxpayer.

” “It clearly is fraudulent because those people are supposed to be ministerial advisers and instead they are seconded to another office where basically they do political stuff,” [disendorsed Liberal MP Dr Dennis] Jensen says.

The Liberal government spends $17 million (or was it $70 million) of taxpayer funds on a royal commission into unions (with nearly all the money flowing to judges and lawyers), purely to try to dig dirt on the ALP, without success, but they ignore the utter, filthy, blatant corruption in their own ranks. Hypocrites!

At last!

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At last, I’ve made a move to reorganise my CD and DVD collection. When I moved,  February to April 2013, I had to reduce my collection of more than 1,000 CDs and hundreds of DVDs to a manageable physical size.

I did it by discarding all the plastic CD cases and putting the discs and the front label into soft CD albums, the kind that close with a zip. This was good, but it means I have to leaf through all the pages to find what I want, and I never can.

The DVDs were different: I ripped them all to hard disks, quite an easy process. I’ve got more than 300 feature films, documentaries, TV programs and general interest stuff on three or four 1GB hard drives, which I access using a Western Digital adapter. Clunky, I admit. Do I actually watch them? Hardly ever! I just had to get rid of hundreds of DVD cases, that’s all. I also had the feeling that if I ever go to Bali to live, this is my “taste of home” TV material.

Anyway, ever since I’ve been in this house I’ve been meaning to get organised. Yeah, you too, eh?

So now I’m doing it. This is the result of several days’ work.

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Sure, It’s IKEA, but it looks great and it’s cheap. Now to actually transfer all the CDs with their covers into cases and put ’em all into alphabetical order, so that I can find them.

I’ll be adding another set of four towers on the other side (where the ladder is) to house my DVD and Blu-Ray collection.

In addition, I already have two towers in black/brown in my “media room”, and I bought two more yesterday, so they’ll house my classical CDs, which at the moment are in enormous piles on the bench. Classical CDs are now about $5 each, so I’ve bought 30 or more, probably a lot more, in the past year.

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That raises the issue: we went through a golden age of classical music recordings in the 70s, 80, and 90s. Decca, HMV, Philips, DGG, all these great companies were sponsoring and making immaculate recordings of great performances by orchestras and performers.

But almost all we see now are cheap $5 discs of these old recordings, reissued. What’s happened? Have we seen the end of these magnificent discs? Have they fallen victim to the “I only want to download it, I don’t want to pay for it, and I don’t care about the sound quality” syndrome?

I’m thankful that I can buy these old recordings to fill in the gaps in my extensive collection, but is this the end of serious classical music recording? Ouch!

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Another discovery: up to now, if you bought a 4K TV  (ie 3840 x 2160 pixels, four times FullHD) there was no program material available. The data rate is too high for it to be downloadable from the internet and there were no discs and no players. If you bought a TV, you got a USB stick with some movie material, but that was it. Everything you watched was up-rezzed from FullHD 1920 x 1080 pixels.

But now 4K (UHD – Ultra HD) disc players are available. The first one is a Samsung and it seems to be available now – I saw one in JB last week. There are UHD discs too, some recent movies (Revenant, Mad Max Fury Road etc) at a price of $50 each.

The Samsung player gets reasonable reviews, but Panasonic have theirs coming in a month or two at a higher spec level, and a higher price, about $800. Yum.

My TV is a 32″ LCD that’s nearly 10years old now. I have the hots! I have the hots to upgrade to the nearest-to-perfection TV ever made – an LG 55″ OLED 4K  screen. I’ve read a detailed engineering review of this, and it’s as near to perfection, technically, as it seems possible to get. It’s hard to see how it could be improved further, in an engineering sense.

The price is $4495, so I’m not rushing out to buy one tomorrow. But …

Material to play on it? Everything I’ve shot in Bali or here since mid last year has been 4K, from my Panasonic FZ1000. That Odalan ceremony I put up last week? That’s 4K, dumbed down (reduced in resolution) so that I could upload it to my blog in reasonable time (it took 6 hours!) I have 4K monitors on my desktop PC and my laptop, now for my main TV.

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