The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

Knockers, whiners & whingers

I used to get told “shut up you negative bastard” – because I can play the devils advocate pretty well. Not everybody can see the consequences of decisions or actions – and when I can, and tell the bad news, there are many who don’t want to hear it.

HOWEVER – this approach has a few benefits. A thought experiment or two can lead to the conclusion that something is simply not worth doing because the purported benefits won’t be seen. At the same time though, such analysis needs to be tempered with some understanding of risk-taking – and a willingness to let people make the odd mistake or two – this being one of the best ways of learning.

So at my work in technology development, I try to be as accommodating as I can of odd ideas and wierd foibles. After all, that’s how so many innovative things come about, and besides, I do it myself often enough. :)

But what I get tired of is the people who are the never-ending knockers, whiners, and whingers. Those who never have a good thing to say about any idea, method or approach.

It gets hard to handle those with the attitudes of don’t-bother-somebody-else-will-do-it-better, or oh-its-too-hard-and-we-are-not-smart-enough, or we-can’t-do-that-there-is-too-much-risk, and on and on.

You know the type. Oxygen Thieves

I can think of many examples, but the one that really stands out is the central corporate technology group, who told me that some of our newly developed technology is inadequate because it misses a current trendy new feature. (Mind you, they don’t SELL anything, the part of the company I’m with does.) When I said we could add this if we thought there was a need, they poo-poo’d this with “I don’t think so, it would be very very difficult and far too hard to do.” Well guess what suckers…. A couple of us got together and we’ve done it. And we’ve got 2 patent applications out of it as well. Go suck on that, whiners.

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t”, but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he tried.
So he buckled right in with a trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing,
That couldn’t be done and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin
Just take off your coat and go to it.
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

- Edgar A. Guest

Our Dear PM

Everybody knows I’m biased and can’t bear our glorious leader…

Anyhow, in spite of my blatant and self-acknowledged bias, has anybody else noticed lately that when our glorious leader appears in interviews and so on, he’s starting to sound like an old, old man. Old, and tired.

I’m expecting that he really will stand down soon, leaving the Abbott and Costello comedy duo to fight over the scraps. Calls to mind images of seagulls squarking….

B*&^%d plastic pants

What the heck has happened in this world?

We have sheep farmers who can’t sell their wool, but when I want to buy a pair of trousers I have a choice of polyester, polyester, or (for a real leap of imagination) polyester+viscose. Bloody plastic crap.

Polyester looks crap. It goes shiny. It doesn’t breathe so you end up like some sweated pig inside it. 100% cheap. 100% unappealing.

And polyester micro-fine fibre. 100% hoopla. Still 100% unappealing.

As far as I know the last time it was IMPERATIVE that I had plastic pants was back when I was in nappies. And that’s a long time ago.

These days I want to buy a decent pair of wool-blend trousers. Not a huge big ask. I’ll accept some of the plastic crap blended with the wool, it seems to be more durable.

But… out in the ‘burbs, do you think I can find somewhere, anywhere that sells decent pants? Nup. Truth from a sales assistant: “If you want something like that you will have to go into the city to one of the big department stores.”.

So I did, and eventually found something acceptable. Seeing as I hate shopping for clothes, I bought two pairs whilst there.

But why, oh why, are us poor menfolk fobbed off with this deluge of cheap, nasty, second rate crap? Oh yeah – I get it -CHEAP.

Defect Storm!

Today at work we took the programmers to a far distant part of the site, into a separate room, laptops, PC’s, test gear, and ran DEFECT STORM. Dunno quite where the idea sprang from or why I canned it that… but…

The idea was to trawl through about 2-3 years worth of boring low grade crap software defects that have been reported but we’ve never done anything about them – because there have been more pressing things to do.

The general rule of thumb was that if a defect would take more than 1/2 hr to fix, and verify, then do it some other time.

It’s been a full on day: with 4 developers going flat out, a software leader / co-ordinator trawling the lists, and 2 managers checking fixes, finalising the clerical work, fetching lunch and chocolates for the happy workers.

The guys fixed 66 defects involving things like placement of labels & boxes on forms, spelling errors, and a few minor functional things (like “why does this beep when I do blah blah”). Thats 66 fixed, and verified.

At the same time we’ve reviewed the outstanding lists, found things that are just obsolete (sorted a long time ago but not recorded as such), found defect reports that are duplicated, and so on. All in all we have been able to close over 130 reports in a day, and have reviewed 50% of the reports that have been made.

Now that the low hanging fruit has been picked, its back to the grindstone of the more tricky ones – but everybody seemed to think it was a worthwhile exercise.

Final tally for the day:

5 Pizzas (12 inch)
10 litres of coke / coke-zero
0.5 litres of water
Approx 1 kg of chocolate (TV mix, Fruchocs, etc)
1 LARGE bag of Minties (cos you need em at times like this)
66 defects actively worked on and corrected
130 defects closed

Whew! What a day. Everybody did a champion job!

microsoft system for feedback to programmers

Somebody in M$ Europe has a sense of humour:

Unfortunately they have screwed it up by requiring a M$ Live ID, so you’ll have to go through the pain of making one. And it only seems to work using M$ Internet Explorer. And after you have logged in you need to search for the presentation by MAURO MEANTI.

Arrggh. Make sure you use the low bandwidth option. It uses the poxy M$ media player and the high bandwidth option does not seem to buffer the video properly.

It’s worth the effort.

EDIT: for those who can’t speak techno:

M$ = Microsoft.

Click on the link above. Use Internet Explorer (dont try in a different browser like Firefox).

Then you have to make a microsoft Live! ID if you don’t already have one. Click on the PLAY FULL thingy (or similar name). Follow their various prompts. About 1/2 hour later when you have your MS Live! ID, then come back here, click on the link above again.

When you get to the place it takes you, click the “Low Bandwidth” label on the screen. Hunt. It might take a while to find it.

Then login into their hideous site using your fresh sparkly new MS Live! ID. Then use the search options to search for a presentation by Mauro Meanti.

Then eventually you will be able to play the video.

Then go and scream about how hard they made it for you.

Lifes Great Mysteries

Why does the glue on envelopes taste so awful?

Why does most deodorant smell terrible?

Why do nasty horrible people seem to die horrible early deaths so infrequently?

Why is it then when we get a form, folded in 3rds, that comes with a reply paid envelope to send it back, the folds are never in the right place, so it needs to be re-folded before it fits in the envelope supplied?

Why is it that home made bread goes stale in about a day, but shop-bought bread takes between 3 days and a week?

Why do smoke detector batteries always go flat (leading to the piercing, period BEEP) at about 3 am, and always in the middle of a dream?

Why have mobile phone batteries been taking lessons from smoke detector batteries?

Why are toilets incapable of flushing away the skid-marks?

International talk loike a poirate day

Aaarrgghh me hearties!

Yesterday be international talk loike a poirate day.

Oi hoape all you scurvy land-lubbers did enter in the spirit and talking loike a poirate.

And jolly hard work it is to. But at work the various groups on the internal IRC chat line (from different buildings, and in our interstate and overseas offices) all had pirate names, and managed to keep the pirate banter up for all of the work related conversations, all day.

Damn fine day, but we need some rain

30 degrees today… in September… need rain, need rain…

#1 son, Mr Bean, helped me make Jamie Olivers brunch bread (with prosciutto, tomato, eggs, cheese, etc in it). Then we all headed off to the Barossa wine region – mainly to pick up some more good deals from Jenke’s, but also to find a picnic spot, tootle around and so on.

Lunch was on the banks of the Para River near Richmond Grove winery, under a thumping great big gum tree. The brunch bread was very, very good (recipe coming some time), the location was great. This is where they have the Peter Lehmann / Richmond Grove outdoor concerts – a sort of natural amphitheatre.

We found Peter Lehmann Wines had a bin-end sale, so we just HAD to stop in there… 2 dozen later we made our way to Langmeil – which was recommended by my Chiropractor.

The 2005 Langmeil Shiraz / Viognier was magnificent and will improve with age. At about $17 / bottle by the dozen its not cheap, but for a wine of this quality it’s pretty good value. So, we had to acquire a few of those.

Next… a stop at Jenke’s, then finally a stop at another place I won’t name as a favour to pick up a few bottles for a friend of SWMBO.

Home with (gasp) 6 dozen in time for an afternoon nap to recover. The chaps took off with their mate next door, thankfully allowing an hour for the parents to crash… er… rest their eyes.

Now I need to work for the next month or so to pay for all this :(

Afternoon walk at the in-laws

We went for a walk on the part of the property that Wilma the Walrus’s Mum has retained – after selling some off to allow her to retire. But she still owns some stunning countryside in the Adelaide Hills.

We’ve been walking about and photographing naive orchids there for years. No cows now to keep the grass and small trees under control, so nature is gradually taking over again.

I’ve no idea what the proper names for most of these things are, I just take da pictures, mainly of stuff that I think looks good…

Anyhow, here’s a few selected highlights from the happy snaps of today’s walk:

Heading around the hillside (one of many):

Saw this thing on the way… yellow flower thingy:

These “fly catchers” seem to be a native, they sit very flat to the ground and are about 2cm diameter:

Bit more of the scenery. Lots of stringy-barks in this area:

Bumped into this fella on one of the tracks the kangaroos leave:

And, found a few of the elusive native orchids. Not many around, probably because it has been an extremely dry winter – rainfall about 1/4 of normal:


Just a bit of lichen stuff growing on a dead tree, but the colours and shape are interesting:

And a thumping great ant mound:

And a final view back over some of the paddocks as we headed for home. #1 son (age 12) took this photo, and he’s very proud of it.

More Flinders Ranges

More sights from the 1990 tootling around in the Flinders Ranges – far north of South Australia:

On the Bunyeroo Gorge road (this was taken at a peak on the road which is completely blind… the road goes up, and up, and then suddenly drops down the outher side of the hill. Woe betide you if anybody is coming up the hill in the other direection):


The Casneaux Tree – so named because a chap called Casneaux photographed it in about 1939, and the picture went on to become very well known at that time:



I was using Akismet – the spam scanning software for wordpress. That had an error rate of about 2 a week, but it did put about 30 spam posts a day into the Spam Bucket.

Even then, i’d take a quick scan of the spam bucket to see if anything legitimate had crept in. Mostly not. But its still a distracting waste of time.

Now i’m using Gatekeeper – which just asks those little questions at the end of a comment (is a ball round? that kind of thing).

Result for the last few days: NO SPAM AT ALL.

What’s with these spammers? Do they really think I’d let that shit through? Do they really think anybody would be silly enough to click through on their links? Why do these contemptible, miserable little cretins send out this endless stream of garbage?

Pachelbel Canon

I first heard Pachelbel’s Canon when I was about 18 or 19, and gee I was hooked. I HAD to have a copy. I eventually did (thanks Dad).

First written in 1680, it’s still going strong. Strangely, Johann Pachelbel is not remembered for anything else.

Duncan has posted a marvellous YouTube link to some Koren guy doing a moderned-up version wih electric guitar, and goodness knows what else. Go and check it, here.

For more about Pachelbel, check Wikipedia. They even have a version of the original – but you need to install the OGG codec to get it to play, and it’s about 5 MB.

You can also find an extensive collection of (much smaller) MIDI versions here, including jazz, piano, rock, woodwind, etc etc etc.


Another that works best by reading it aloud:


Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath.

This made himů (Oh, man, this is so bad, it’s good)… a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis!

B*&&^$y wall oven again

A long, long time ago, in days of old, when knights were bold, and all that, the Walrus family built a house, and in it they put a top of the range, frightfully expensive, Australian-made wall oven.

Now this oven has this cute feature where you can set it to start at a certain time, or run for a certain time (which the Walrii only found out about after buying it… at the time if you wanted fan-forced you got all this other stuff).

To do this, the oven has an electrically operated gas cut-off valve, which looks like this:


After using the oven happily for about 2 years, it stopped working. No gas, no lighty-flame, no-heaty food, grumpy Walrus family.

A call to the service tech saw the gas cut-off valve replaced and it all worked a treat for another 18 months. Since then, I’ve been going to the spare parts place every 18 months or so to buy another one, because the oven eats these valves. Rather than paying a service tech and the exorbitant fees, Wlima Walrus and I have been changing it ourselves. Fortunately Wlima likes messing about with stuff, so helping lift the oven out of the wall is no big deal.

Anyhow, to make matters worse, the part of the valve that fails is the electric part, which removes very easily, and looks like this:


This is just a dirty great big coil of fine wire, potted in some kind of plastic thingy.

So – the replacement comprises buying the whole assembly, taking the electric part off the new one, swapping it onto the old one, and throwing out all that lovely cast metal stuff.

Cost of the replacement part is about $80, and of course the spares place never carries them in stock, and I have to order it, and pay an extra $10 for delivery, and wait a week, blah blah blah.

Last visit to spare parts they told me that I needed a new igniter unit as well as the valve. Sounded like BS to me, but I went along with it – so last time was $200 for an igniter + the valve + lots of fun on a wet Sunday to change them both over. Got a duff igniter didn’t I – which had to go back for a swap… Oven out of action for a month that time.

Well…. the b*&&%$y thing failed again 2 weeks ago, a mere 16 months after the last lot of replacements. So much for the very expensive new igniter unit. Tossers. Ordered a new valve, which arrived a couple of days ago.

Today I thought I’d fix the sodding thing properly – and use some of that expensive education I had. I’ve measured the coil, figured out how much power is going into it, and made a small modification. I found some old 5 Watt resisters lying around from my mis-spent youth pulling apart old valve radios (!). About 200 ohms is now in series with the coil, which should drop the amount of power going into the coil by about 20%.

The electrical safety people would probably have kittens, but stiff bikkies. A quick test shows that the valve is still operating, and the oven has been running for the last 1/2 hour.

Let’s see how long the sucker lasts now.


It didn’t take long…

I received this on Thursday but only got to look at it now:


Faith healer

Check out the latest use for a John Howard.

Read the description!


You really need to read this aloud:


A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption.

One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named “Ahmal.”

The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him “Juan.”

Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal.

Her husband responds, “They’re twins! If you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Ahmal.”

The celebrity trifecta

What a week!

Three well-known Australians died last week:

- Steve Irwin – freak accident whilst doing what he enjoyed

- Colin Theile – old age

- Peter Brock – a prang whilst doing what he enjoyed

If there’s a bright side to any of this, it’s that at least one made to old age, and the others were doing what they enjoyed and did not have a long drawn out suffering.

The world will be less colourful with their passing.

Stupid number plates (again)


Oh dear, oh dear.

And I saw, on a BMW 318i: BMW318. Gosh, what an imagination!

Llama song (again)

The llama song has become so well known that it now has an entry in Wikipedia.

What a great company name

How about this for wonderful name:


There is something comforting and very old fashioned about such a name.

Not that it conveys the slightest about what they do!


How many gross things can somebody eat and survive?

Neat free software

Check out autostitch… for those who take panorana photos and want to join the mess back together again:

Tax office – again

I wrote a YEAR ago about receiving a superannuation contributions tax surcharge notice from the tax office.

At the time they were chasing about $300 in additional super contributions tax from the 2000/2001 financial year.

Now I remember why my “salary” (ha ha) was so high. That was the year I changed jobs so I was paid out for unused long service leave, annual leave, and so on. That big windfall payout pushed my “salary” so high that the buggers have been chasing me for a measly $300 in super surcharge tax ever since.

Well, guess what, its now 6 years later and I’ve got ANOTHER super surcharge assessment notice for the 2000 / 2001 financial year.

I completely give up. I’ve now got no idea how much tax these parasites have taken from my super fund for that year. I’ve found 3 assessment notices (and I’m sure there were a bunch more that I threw out). I don’t know when they took money, from which fund, where when, or how much.

Thankfully that idiot Peter Costello has abolished this stupid tax that has been impossible for the ATO to figure out, and manage.


Mi-mi-mighty fine egg & bacon butty

Try this, if you want something fast and delicious:

Cut a 2 or 3 slices off a nice red capsicum – about 1/2 cm wide. Toss them in your non-stick pan, and put it on a low heat.

Grab a rasher of bacon. Cut the fat off, and toss it (the fat) in the pan with the capsicum.

Dither around a bit. Turn the capsicum over.

Toss the bacon in the pan. Cook until its just starting to get crispy.

Put two slices of bread in your toaster. Preferably grainy bread. Cook ‘em until nice and golden.

While the toast is coming, crack an egg in the pan. Cook it in the bacon fat.

While the egg is cooking, cut about 4 slices off a cucumber, and cut a little nice cheese. (A hard peppercorn cheese from La Vera is perfect).

Spread one of your pieces of toast with a teaspoon of mayonnaise (or better: ETA potato salad dressing – cos it has more flavour).

Pull out that piece of bacon fat you put in earlier and chuck it away.

Onto the toast pop your egg, bacon on top, then capsicum, then cheese. Leave to let the cheese melt for about 20 seconds, then pile on the cucumber. Other piece of toast goes on top.

Do the usual squashing thing – lean on it a bit to stop it exploding. (Don’t do what the kids at the local school do… DON’T SIT ON IT!)

Now eat it up quickly while it’s hot.



You don’t want the capsicum to be browned or burnt. You want it to be gently cooked, so it gets a nice sweet slightly smoky flavour.

And yep – cooked in bacon fat. Bad bad bad, but yum yum yum.

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