Here I go again

Pete horse 1950

Me on my hobby horse  c1950.

I wasn’t going to get on my hobby horse again, but I can’t resist.

It seems Mr Simon Birmingham, while he had ministerial authority, took it on himself to reject some research grant proposals after they had been approved by the relevant vetting body of academics. He assessed them by their titles as being frivolous and not rigorous enough. So now they are going to have to pass a further test, the National Interest Test. So that makes him the Head NIT.


These have come in quick succession.

Speaking at Sweden Game Conference 2018, former Telltale narrative designer Emily Grace Buck says it’s time for a “really serious conversation about potentially starting a union”.

The backstory is that software game developers wherever they are, including in Australia, regularly work 12hr days or longer, sometimes 6 or 7 days a week, for no extra pay. They burn out. So the idea has dawned that maybe they need to form a union. Yes indeed.

And more evidence has come out that it is very common in this country for farmers and fruit and vegetable growers to exploit backpackers and casual workers at rates far below the minimum wage. They are blackmailed by the bosses holding passports as “security”, then charging high rent fees for their accommodation and other illegal practices. You know the story, but figures have been released showing that at least 70% of workers are being exploited this way.

This is what unions do if people will belong, support these workers by application of the law. telling them of their rights and dealing with these ruthless employers. If only the workers will join.


So I’ve joined ALP. I’ve finally put my money where my mouth is. I tried to join a couple of times back in the ’90s, but something went wrong both times and my application didn’t go through. Now it has. I think I get my sheriff’s badge and baseball bat next week.


I’ve had an email threat to ransom me by locking up my computer. The trouble is, by the time I found the email in my Spam folder, the deadline date had passed and nothing happened. Try this for size:

How it was:
In the software of the router to which you were connected that day, 
there was a vulnerability.
I first hacked this router and placed my malicious code on it.
When you entered in the Internet, my trojan was installed on the operating 
system of your device.

After that, I made a full dump of your disk (I have all your address book, 
history of viewing sites, all files, phone numbers and addresses of all 
your contacts).

A month ago, I wanted to lock your device and ask for a small amount of 
money to unlock. But I looked at the sites that you regularly visit, 
and came to the big delight of your favorite resources.
I'm talking about sites for adults.

I want to say - you are a big pervert. You have unbridled fantasy!

After that, an idea came to my mind. I made a screenshot of the intimate 
website where you have fun (you know what it is about, right?).
After that, I took off your joys (using the camera of your device). 
It turned out beautifully, do not hesitate.

I am strongly belive that you would not like to show these pictures to 
your relatives, friends or colleagues.
I think $948 is a very small amount for my silence.
Besides, I spent a lot of time on you!

I accept money only in Bitcoins.

He’s talking rubbish about the “adult” sites, and nothing happened. I’ve made a full backup of my C drive and a rescue disk anyway, so I’m ready.

Then a few days ago the landline phone rang. By the time I got it to my ear, some woman with an American accent was saying “… have detected a threat to your router. Press 1 to reset or 2 to hang up.”

I didn’t know what to choose and a few seconds later the phone call ended. Nothing further happened. I don’t know whether it was a genuine automated call from iiNet or some other prank call. Weird.


I use video editing software called Canopus Edius. A few days ago I had the idea to look on YouTube to see if there was anything about it. Boy, was there!

How about 131 clips, totalling 10.7GB and with a total running time of 21hrs 21mins. And that’s just the ones in English. There are hundreds more in Hindi, Urdu and Tugulu (and funny, they are all about using stolen versions of the software, called the “crack” versions. Pakistani and Indian, all.)

Now I’ve got to try and absorb all this knowledge. It’s good stuff if I can organise it all.


I’ve never been clear about the difference between turtles and tortoises. I heard a radio talk about it a few days ago.

Turtles have webbed feet, live in water and although air breathing, don’t venture far onto the shore of water bodies. Tortoises are land animals, have separate toes and go to water bodies to drink, but otherwise dwell on dry land. So now I know.


I’ve noticed that whenever I park at underground carparks at the shops, the scrape marks on the concrete poles are nearly always red paint. I wonder why. Maybe it’s all the Ferraris.




Paki rage

“NINE YEARS ago Asia Bibi, a poor farm labourer from Pakistan’s tiny Christian minority, went to fetch a jug of water from a well for the Muslim women working beside her in the fields. It was a hot day. She took a sip before passing the water on, inadvertently initiating a furore that has lasted ever since.

“On October 31st the Supreme Court overturned the verdict of the lower courts and acquitted Ms Asia of blasphemy. The charges stemmed from her neighbours’ anger that an “unclean” Christian had dared to share their drinking vessel. Ms Asia’s fellow fruit-pickers had demanded she convert to Islam. After she refused, a mob accused her of insulting the prophet Muhammad—an offence punishable by death in Pakistan.”

Courtesy: The Economist

Islam is a non-violent religion, a religion of tolerance. So we’re told over and over.

I agree with Richard Dawkins; there are two religions in the world that are truly dangerous. The first is Islam, and the second is Roman Catholicism. Absolutely agree. Religion is a mass delusion. It can have benefits, such as the Salvos and other caring organisations run by churches, exclusively Christian churches as far as I can see.

But throughout history all the wars, periods of darkness, torture, partitions, repressions, pogroms, mass genocides (witness the Rohingyas) have been due to religion. It is the scourge of mankind!

Witness Pakistan itself, created by the inability of Hindus and Muslims to get along, and what was formerly called East Pakistan and is now called Bangladesh was due to one sect of Islam being unable to get along with another. And Shi’ites and Sunnis, even in the same religion, are ready to tear each others’ eyes out!

It’s barbaric and cruel. Religion is the cause of hundreds of millions of deaths over the centuries of history. It may be the death of us all now that nuclear weapons are being openly displayed again. Dog help us.


Aaah, warm sunny weather again. Not real warmth yet, but I’ve thrown the light blanket off the top and don’t need to wear a cardigan any more.

I’m floating the idea of buying a car in Brisbane and driving it back to Perth. I wish I’d done it a month ago when it was still spring, because the east looks as if it’s heading into heatwave conditions already, and the cruel drought is still in force, making large parts of the country dry and dusty. I suppose sticking to the coast, which I would do, will still see plenty of green.

It’s still just a vague plan at the moment, but I’d better do something to firm it up soon or the car might disappear. I’ve been looking at it for at least a month.

Screenshot_2018-11-01 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLK350 Avantgarde Auto MY08

Don’t assume I’ve got money. It’s nine years old and not expensive, half the price of a new small car.


Aaah, Aussies, don’t you love ’em?

Grassy thongs

Sand on your feet after being at the beach? Slip these on and wipe all the sand off as if you were walking on lawn.   🙂 😉

As advertised on Facebook.

It’s uncanny!

Army group Bren2

That’s Dad, (centre) Jonathan (Jack) Croft in the army at training camp, around 1940, aged 18.

October 29, a significant day, Dad’s 96th birthday, and the 19th anniversary of my retirement from Channel 7. I still dream about stressful work situations. Not too badly.


It’s been a long time since I blogged, sorry. Not a lot to write about, or that I’m able to write about, but here I am again.

Coincidences continue to amaze me. In the ABC-TV program Apple Tree Yard (actually BBC) a couple of weeks ago, one of the characters texts the female lead the words Wedekind plus something (?) I didn’t know what it meant or its relevance.

Next morning I was reading an article about Friedrich Nietsche (as you do) and it mentioned “the German playwright Frank Wedekind“.  I’ve never heard this name before, yet it cropped up twice in two days. This is amazing.

Another one: On Saturday night’s Mock the Week on ABC2 one of the comics made a joke about Tamagotchis, those silly Japanese pets or whatever they were. I hadn’t heard that word in may years. Today, Monday, there’s an article on Gizmodo called

This Machine Keeps A Family Of Tamagotchis Alive And Happy Forever

Snap. Twice in three days.

Another one: I’ve just been reading a Silicon Chip magazine and saw an advert for wall plates for speaker connections. That led to a thought that many years ago at work I was thinking of wall mounting some speakers in a control room but I couldn’t remember the name of the speakers. My eye moved down a couple of inches in the same ad and there was the word Arduinotech. Aha! The speakers were called Duntech, made in Adelaide. How about that?

They were being raved about at the time, but there was no way to hear them. You had to buy them and get them shipped over. At about $2,000 a pair, I wasn’t going to take the risk.

There are lots more, but I forget ’em. I think this is because we receive so much more information these days than we did 30, 40, 50 years ago.


Likewise I’ve read so many new words, words I’ve never seen before in my long life, that I’m thinking of starting a list. Such as:

  • Brachistochrone, (a Latin word meaning shortest time).
  • Cataphract. Armour for the entire body and horse.
  • Spudger: a tool for separating two pieces of any item.

And I can’t quote you another word right now because I didn’t write them down. Duh. More to come.


Employers finding ways to avoid lifting wages, Reserve Bank says

“Australia’s employers are finding inventive ways to avoid lifting wages for their staff as the economy improves, the Reserve Bank has found.”

That’s a partial quote from a press release from the Reserve Bank. If they say it, it’s true. Despite historically low wage increases and rising productivity, employers are still trying to keep wages down by means of outright wage theft, (i.e. deception, dishonesty), or by opposing wage claims, no matter how well justified. They still disparage unions and fight any attempt to unionise the workforce. I’ve said all this before, sorry, but the evidence keeps mounting in news report after report, week after week, month after month.

The phrase “wage theft” is now a common part of our vocabulary. Shameful!  The Royal Commission has exposed the utter incompetence and dishonesty of just one section of Australian upper management. Does anyone think the other sections are any different? Dishonesty, incompetence and greed in upper management are rampant.


On this theme, the value of my AMP shares, ones I thought were a rock solid safe buy in 1998, blue chip, has been decimated. By that I mean, they have been reduced to about 10% of what I paid for them. Around 90% of their value has been lost by a succession of incompetent managers! There’s no point in selling them now, I may as well hold them and maybe they might pay for the notice of my death in the West at some stage.  Phhht!


Lyn Dex Norm 83_1

Dexter, Bali 1983

On the subject of death, I was saddened to hear of the death of a good mate from Channel 7 days, Dexter Crowell. It actually months ago, in May this year. The delay in announcing it is because he had become very reclusive in these later years as the result of a brain aneurysm nearly 20 years ago.

Cosy corner Ketut me Dex 2

Dexter on the right, with me in Bali 1983. Great days.

Anyone who knew him before that would remember him as the life and soul of a party, full of jokes, a real extrovert, a really fun guy to know.  But although the aneurysm didn’t affect his movement or speech, it changed his personality. He didn’t want to see people any more, except his elder brother. I managed to find him at home a few times in about 2011-12 and found him fine to talk to, and technically as sharp as ever, but I couldn’t raise him after that.

When I moved up here to Butler, I ended up only about 5km away from his house in Quinns, but despite phone calls, texts, emails and a couple of visits, I never managed to see him again. What a pity, now that we were so close by.

So vale Dexter, RIP old son. You were a good mate and we’ll miss you.



Today is also a notable day: I’ve taken possession of my first new washing machine in 25 years! It’s a Fisher and Paykel front loader, one of the most reliable and best recommended by CHOICE over the years. There are fabulous German machines, but their prices are too much for me.

My previous machine was a Westinghouse, possibly even made in Australia. To have lasted 25 years is pretty good, I think, with only one fault: the hot water inlet went faulty. But that just meant I washed in cold, which I was doing anyway.

Since I only did two loads a week, it had a pretty easy life I suppose. I’m looking forward to noticeably cleaner and whiter clothes though. The first load is finishing now, having taken an hour, twice as long as the old machine. Hmmm.

A mickle muckle


Have you seen the petrol price today? $1.62 a litre! That’s the highest I’ve ever seen it in Perth, as far as I know. Actually, I can check because I always write the details of every fill into a notebook, including the price per litre. The notebook lives in the car so I’ll have a quick scan later.


I heard a Nullarbor driver say it was about $2 a litre out there last week. He was heading for Perth from Melbourne to see his beloved Demons get thrashed. He should have saved his money and watched it on TV. Go the Weagles.


I have internet radio now and Sapristi-nockolds, there’s a UK station that plays nothing but Goon Shows, back to back, end to end, side by side all day and night.

ABC Radio National used to play a show every Friday morning at 5.30am. I was an avid listener for years in the oughties, but they eventually shut it down, around 2010 or so. Actually, they played a radio comedy half hour every morning, Hancock’s Half Hour, Round the Horn, Just a Minute and so on, but no more. I got used to waking just before 5.30 and used to record some of these shows on my Mini-disc recorder. I still have scores of these discs among the roughly 100 discs I have. I copied all the Goon Shows to my hard drive, about 109 shows, but now I can listen to the radio at any time. I’ve heard them all before, but it doesn’t matter how many times, I always hear something new and still laugh. Priceless.


Aaah, Mini-disc – it’s regarded as just one of Sony’s failures like Betamax, but it’s not a failure for me. I own three recorder/players: one Sony hi-fi deck;


one Sharp component deck with CD, Mini-disc and AM/FM radio;

Sharp MD deck

and a Sony portable Mini-disc Walkman about 100mm square and 15mm thick, running on one AA battery which lasts for ages.

MD Walkman

Plus I have about 100 recordable and erasable discs. They’re pretty hard to buy now, but that lot should last me a lifetime. Actually, I’ve just found that they’re still available on eBay, but range from about $5 to $9 per disc.

One reason they’ll last a lifetime is that they’re virtually indestructable. They’re enclosed in a plastic caddy with a sliding metal closure to protect them from dust.


To erase or record on them requires both a laser and a magnetic field (they’re more properly called magneto-optical discs). That means they’re impervious to external magnetic fields, so you could put them in a bulk eraser and they’d be fine. So as long as they’re protected from dust and scratches, they’ll last forever. They used to cost about $3 each and hold 650MB or one CD, 76 minutes.

Having the radio and one of these loaded, I can instantly go to Record if I hear something I want to preserve. To erase, just use the menu and it erases the file table in a second.

When I was at the old TV station, they used to use ¼” endless loop tape cartridges extensively, including in the newsroom. These were pretty reliable but needed regular cleaning and maintenance and the tape was prone to damage. Being endless loops, if you wanted to find something it was guess work and waiting. Erasing required a bulk eraser. Old technology.

In the ’90s I was asked to investigate alternatives and recommend something better. I had been using Mini-discs at home for years and Sony made professional decks, so naturally I included this along with two other systems (including a PC based file server) in my report, with a strong recommendation for MD.

Sony_MiniDisc_MD_Recorder_MDS-81   Sony broadcast MD deck.

Amazingly, my recommendation was acted on and the journalists and editors loved them, with their fast and precise cueing (setting a start point) and instant access. That was one of the first nails in the coffin of tape.

These days a PC file server system would be pretty easy to find and use, but in those days (mid ’90s) Windows PCs were still pretty clunky and a bit hard to use for most people (especially journos 🙂 )


A good mate has bought himself a used BMW 530, 2006 model, for a very reasonable price. Beautiful car, in excellent condition, and it got me looking at ads myself, mainly on the Facebook Marketplace. Lots and lots of cheap cars there, some of them in good condition but many that look pretty dodgy.

I got the hots, briefly, for a 2006 BMW X5 4WD SUV, asking $8,500. It looks from the photos to be in immaculate condition. It would be a 3 or 4 litre V8, auto.

But I bought a BMW magazine and talked to another mate who owns one and was thoroughly frightened off. The magazine is full of horror stories about the things that go wrong with BMWs, including one guy who says outright that certain throttle actuators fail far more than they should, as if they were poorly designed and bound to fail. But they fail at around the 100,000km mark long out of warranty. The new replacements cost £2,000 each, £2,300 fitted. He refurbishes them, replacing the electronic components that fail, and plastic gears that wear, for £225 each with a lifetime warranty.

That’s just one story, but there are so many known problems that you take your life in your hands buying a used BMW, far more so than a Japanese car. Same for Mercedes, from what I’ve read. The fact is that German cars fail, and fail badly, after their early years.

The BMW 7-series, the top of the line, are very electronic, with many components having integral electronic controllers. All these controllers have the vehicle’s chassis number encoded into them, so buying cheap replacements won’t work, as the car won’t recognise them. You have to buy from BMW at BMW’s prices to get parts that will work. Clever…

My mate mentioned that although his X5 has been reliable, each rear tyre costs $700, because they’re very wide and are run-flats and you only have a choice of two brands. Similarly, a replacement battery is $700.

I think I’ve lost my lust for a BMW, and a Mercedes for that matter.


I’m trying to retrieve data from a couple of failed SATA hard drives, 2TB models. I set a software program going a couple of hours ago, and it still has 4hrs 10mins to go. I’d cancel, except that it has shown three files as recoverable so far, so I don’t want to give up.

This was a disaster – one 2TB drive was the internal disk, and the other was an external backup drive. They have both failed! I don’t know why or how. Pretty bad luck. It may be possible to retrieve the data but I’m not optimistic.

So what’s new?


Sunset Lovina  26 August 2016   © PJ Croft 2018

Another day, another example of management dishonesty and criminality. The news item from this morning is gone already, but a former manager of a finance industry regulatory body, who moved to become CEO of a building society, was ripping money out of the society using his wife, using deception, inflating his expenses, submitting false claims for reimbursement and so on. Day after day, week after week, month after month these revelations are coming out. The banking and insurance royal commission is exposing deliberate deception and potentially criminal wrong doing on a massive scale. Committed by managers, or lower level staff at managers’ urging, with bonuses as the carrot.

The Abbott Liberal government wasted no time in holding a royal commission into union “corruption” (that word was in the title of the commission – nothing like prejudging the issue).  The result? One criminal conviction for one state branch secretary and one conviction for a low level official. This at a cost of more than $10m to taxpayers.

Yet where are the demands for banks and insurance managements to face criminal trials like union officials? The Liberal government are relatively silent. Why?

Quoting Sally McManus, ACTU Secretary: “The banking royal commission has found hundreds of thousands of instances of potentially criminal conduct (so far), hundreds of millions of dollars worth of unlawful fees, misappropriations and possible thefts as well as overseeing millions upon millions of dollars in fines for the big banks.

“Still that hasn’t stopped the Morrison-led Liberal party, its storefront thinktank and its various conservative media allies from playing the usual anti-union cards.

“It’s just that this time their hand is weaker than it’s ever been.”


On the subject of income protection insurance, a good friend of mine who works for himself has been paying premiums for this type of insurance for 23 years. He estimates he’s paid about $23,000 in premiums to now.

Last year he had a heart attack (not serious, luckily) and managed to cut the top of his left thumb off in a circular saw accident. Naturally, these took time to heal and he lost income.

He submitted a modest claim (nowhere near the amount he’s paid in premiums) and guess what? The insurance company rejected his claim. It’s on something of a technicality, but they won’t budge. He’s been trying to resolve the issue for nearly a year now, and the insurance company is doing all it can to waffle, obfuscate and generally act as bastards. Notably, they want to do everything over the phone. Why? Probably because there’s nothing in writing that could come back to haunt them.

It’s still ongoing and my friend is at the point of going to the Insurance Ombudsman. He’s not a man to give up, once someone rubs him the wrong way. They’ve picked the wrong guy to have a fight with.

More later.


Home again


Aaaah, it’s good to be home, even though I had a great time in Bali. But travel is stressful and exhausting for me now. There were only three immigration people on the six desks, so the three queues were l-o-o-ng and achingly slow. It took nearly an hour from the first X-ray check to walking out into the duty free area. I was desperate to sit down but you can’t. Heavy shoulder bags were pulling my back out of shape, but there was still at least 200m until I could sit. Phew!

I had an iced coffee and recovered a bit, then started the long walk to Gate 9B. Why does Air Asia always get the furthest gate? I was nearly buggered when I got there, only to find people getting up and leaving. We’d been changed to Gate 5! Dammit, nearly all the way back again.

Anyway, I met a guy I used to work with at Seven on the way, so we had a good old chat. We used to call him Mouse, I don’t know why, but also Gizmo because he was a gadget man, like me I guess. We had plenty to talk about.

Then I had priority boarding, so I was in row 1 and seated early. We took off on time, I had quite a nice meal (Nasi Padang) and I nearly slept. We arrived in Perth 30 mins early and I was one of the first off the plane, so zoom, I hit the Customs queue.

But for the first time in years, I was directed to the examination tables. I don’t know why, but I had to put my hand luggage on the X-ray scanner. At the other side, the woman said, “Have you got sweets in your bag?” I said, “Oh yes, they’re jelly beans, from here. I carry them because I’m diabetic, they’re to lift blood sugar.”

She said that’s OK then, and kind of apologised, but she smiled and said I could go. I don’t understand why I was pulled aside, though. I’d ticked no to all the questions. Truth to tell, I had some coffee capsules which are kind of food, but they don’t fit any of the descriptions, unless you call them herbal medicine.


Then I had another fall when I got home, on the front steps. I always find them a bit hard but I was so exhausted that I couldn’t make the top step and down I went, hard. Again, nothing broke, so I reckon my bones are good and strong. I’ve never broken a bone in my life. It was just exhaustion.

That makes about six falls on this trip. Not good. My new glasses account for a few, and accidents for the others. Bali steps and missteps.


I have to do something about my fitness, though, because it seems I’ll be negotiating Bali steps a lot more soon. I’ll be spending quite a bit of time there in the future. Big plans. Bagus.


News of another gempa bumis (earthquake) in Bali this morning, magnitude 5.4 at 5.48 am. It jolted my friend awake. But this time, the epicentre was directly south of Bali. Let’s hope they die away, or move away.