Entries Tagged as 'General'

7 reasons why it’s WORSE to be a renter.

So Fairfax decided to trying and spin that renting is wonderful.  It is so wonderful that despite housing being more unaffordable than ever, they can write a fluff piece on the 7 great reasons you have for renting over buying and here is why they are wrong.  The italics is all direct quotes I am afraid to say.

  1. Freedom

Think about it: provided you don’t get into a habit of remodelling rental properties with a sledgehammer, a decent set of rental references will mean you can rent pretty much anywhere you like.

Yeah, because uprooting your whole life, friends, social network, travel network, schools, shops and everything else about your life is just the sort of thing you want to do every six months isn’t.  There is also the freedom that the landlord has to sell your house whenever they want to make the most of the market, visit your house with a few days’ notice for whatever reason they see fit, but hey it was in writing so you don’t have to worry about the freedom of saying no.

  1. Fill the piggybank

While the current rental crisis isn’t great news, you can still organise your renting life in such a way (living further out, sharing) that it’s possible to save as well as make the rent each month.

Of course, if you want to spend more than 2 hours each day moving further out is just such an easy option.  I have a 45 to 55min commute each way every day and if I am working late for whatever reason it then turns into a 35min train ride and 40min walk because there are no buses past 9:30pm.  Sure it doesn’t matter if I see my family or not, because I am saving money for a mortgage that I will never be able to afford.  As for sharing, seriously WTF, see point 4.

Also saving is great, at the moment I am trying to juggle childcare costs, rent and saving $5,000 for the money to move house again. (about the cost of a helicopter flight I believe)  I’ll need a bond of around $2k, the first months rent and to pay for a removalist just for the big things to move.  You know big things like a table and chairs and a couch.

  1. Jim’ll fix it 

Jim, or Tony, or Marge, or Bruce: if something goes awry (and, let’s face it, things often do in rental properties), it’s the landlord’s job to sort it out.

Yes it is the landlords job to fix it and chances are he or she will do it themselves to save money and botch it up, taking the opportunity to have a good squiz around your place at the same time.  Most of the time any repairs are either done by the lowest priced contractor and they do only the minimum. And don’t worry if it costs Jim too much to fix it, he will just bump the rent at the next available moment.

  1. Roomies

Renting, on the other hand, is more often than not a collective experience.

Yes when you are FUCKING 20 years old it is.  I’m not and I am fairly certain that no one wants to rent a house with 4 year old twins who spend half the night awake and all the day colouring in anything that is or isn’t bolted down.  When they aren’t doing that they are busy arguing with each other whom was first to get to the toilet spending hours in said room.  For that one or two hours I get to spend having quiet time with my wife before the up and down night antics kick in, I’d like to have a nice quiet time with her and not her and the 3 other roommates we share the house only 20km for the City with.

  1. Downsizing

Renting is a great opportunity to streamline the amount of personal detritus you’ve been dragging around for years and free yourself from the shackles of capitalism.

Yeah it is great just when you are getting settled into a suburb to get a phone call from the landlord saying “hey selling the house”.  I’ve always thought firstly “what a great opportunity to streamline my personal detritus”.  I look forward to explaining to my kids why this is such a great thing and oh sorry Mum and Dad can’t afford for you to have that swing set in the backyard (donated to us) because we can’t afford a backyard.

  1. No commitment

Well, I wouldn’t call renting “commitment free”, it’s more like “commitment light” (or probably “lite”, if we’re really using diet parlance).

It is also the same for the landlord, they have no commitment to you either.  So you get a regular reminders that your social position is one that means you can get screwed over at 24 hours written notice.  Things like a mortgage can be locked down for years in advance when interest rates are low, landlords can up the rent every 6 to 12 months because they can and they know the cost of moving is so high that people won’t.

  1. Can’t tie me down

… But having said that, there’s something wonderful about being safe in the knowledge that if, say, Steven Spielberg rings up tomorrow and says he has a job for you.

I am safe in the knowledge that Spielberg won’t ring me up and offer me a job, he doesn’t have my number for starters and I am not in the phone book.  I wish I could live in cloud cuckoo land where that is seriously a good reason to stay renting.  Sure, I’d miss my wife and kids when I rush off to Hollywood or New York to live the Friends lifestyle. Remember what happened at the end of Friends, they grew up and moved out and apart.  They didn’t sit around saying, hey lets just stay here and keep renting, or let’s just rent further out.


So yeah renting is just so bloody wonderful that we once again have to move  The 7 houses I have lived with Mrs Wolfcat, 5 of the moves were because the house was sold out underneath us, 1 because my job moved interstate and 1 because the landlord was greedy and it was the best house we could find given we were forced to move from the last house.

Yes renting is all sunshine and happiness, well until you get screwed over.

P.S Please buy more of my stuff from Redbubble, really we do need the money for a new bond.

Sorry Skynews, but like people, yes even Muslims, not all volcanoes are the same…

Yes, once again science and facts are getting in the way of Skynews and their global rush for ignorance and world dominance.

Today the Chilean volcano, Calbuco, erupted after a nice 50 year nap in rather spectacular style. Like this…

[ photo by ]

Whilst a few international media paid a bit of attention, because Chile, really, who cares according to Australian media, this story took a while to get noticed.  Basically once photos like this came out and started to go viral well they had to jump on the social media bandwagon didn’t they.

So here is Sky News Weather Australia getting in on the deal.


Of course I am not a volcanologist, ( IAMNAV ), but with a strong interest in the earth sciences, unlike many in Skynews upper management, one of those images didn’t seem right.


Yes, that last image, funny how every other image (completely uncredited mind you, but not surprising really ) seems to show the same type of volcanic eruption, the last one is a lava flow from a small cone.  Funny, all the Chilean media reports said it was a ash plume and failed to mention the lava… oh that’s right, all volcanoes look the same don’t they. This is really not that dissimilar to the way Skynews treats environmentalists, Muslims, scientists and anyone else they tend not to agree with.

This is the same as even an image in their stock library for volcanic eruptions even… oh and all these ones on Google Images as well.


So yes SkyNews before you run off and claim credit for amazing photos, which you didn’t take, but stole from the Internet (but please no one “steal” Game of Thrones in Australia, lest Foxtel get upset ),  at least check that the image is actually of the volcano that you are talking about.

Because whilst your fact checking department has been cut back, if it ever existed, the rest of the world does know a thing or two.


P.S And for god sake, please credit images to their source, it would be terrible if people stole your content wouldn’t it.




Lessons for all brands from #freshinourmemories

If you are not aware, Woolworths decided it was a great idea to associated their brand with Anzac Day, but not just any old association, the association was to be around their “the fresh food people” branding.

B8AfgJ-CMAAhYfMSeriously… “what the” were the brand folk thinking.  Any decent social media strategist would have told them to GTFO.  Perhaps they did and were of course over ruled by the brand people who know better.  I have seen it before many times.  But then I have also seen “Social Media Expert Guru’s” (SMEG’s) do the same, thinking they can control social media.

More than predictably it went totally wrong. So wrong that it will be in PowerPoint presentations about Social Media for many many years to come.  And whilst Woolworths deserve some points for pulling the website, replacing it with nothing was a dumb move.  The apology text is floating around on social media, why not just cut and paste that into a simple <h2></h2> tag on the website.  You screwed up, admitting it everywhere but where you screwed up, is another screw up.

Months of work would have gone into this project, many many hours locked in meetings, with flow charts and pretty pictures. Yet, this site still went live.

The ANZAC legend is polluted enough from companies and revisionist historians claiming it was the making of a great nation and of course looking to make a buck or two.  Never forget that the landing was the making of a great nation from a monumental cockup of landing in the wrong location and the retreating after thousands of young lives were lost for nothing.

Of course we can all head to Camp Gallipoli to sleep under the stars just like the diggers dig, or purchase something that costs $50 where an unknown percentage of only the profits go to the RSL. Or, like myself and many others, we could just attend the Dawn Service and pay our respects in silence.

See brands, if you try and jump on a bandwagon you might just get thrown off, and that is something that will always be fresh in our memories.

But never worry folks, still a few weeks to go for other brands to screw up before the 25th of April.

The legend of ANZAC is a legend, it has good and bad points, but it is not and never should be a marketing opportunity for any company.
oh and look… the Downfall version already…

Camp Gallipoli shows the whole “celebration” thing is out of hand.

To say that the Gallipoli “celebrations” are getting out of hand is an understatement.

For example there is the option to camp at a number of show grounds… “just like the diggers did”. Yes, that is right, sleep out under the stars on eve of the 100th anniversary of the landing. Because sleeping in swag at the showgrounds, with a concert, toilets and people checking for OH&S issues is so just like it was 100 years ago.

This one sentence from the Camp Gallipoli website just shows how silly and out of hand this has all got.

“Camp Gallipoli Melbourne will be offering attendees a variety of hot meal options for dinner and breakfast that will include vegetarian options. All the meals will be served in an authentic military style just like the diggers would have had.”

OH FOR FUCK SUCK.  Let’s make it a truly authentic event. To do this there will need to be a few changes.


  1. Tell people the location of the event, then put them 1.6km north of the event.
  2. Serve up reheated food that has been in a can for six months on a boat from Australia
  3. Cramp lots of people into a tiny wooden boat then serve up dinner whilst people are being sea sick
  4. If someone says oh I am a gluten free vegetarian, tell them to HTFU princess and duck all the bullets that are about to kill them
  5. Add the smell of grown men who haven’t showered in weeks with large doses of fear and sweat.
  6. Allow 50% of the people to have a smoke whilst they have their dinner
  7. If anyone says something about OH&S issues, shoot them
  8. Don’t allow any women
  9. Ensure that 98% of people are Anglo
  10. If someone wants the toilet, tell them to go where they are sitting



Now, I will go to a Dawn Service like I have for many years, but forking out $150 or so to sleep under the stars at the showground for an “authentic military style dinner” is just plain stupid and exploitative.

Anzac Day should always be about being respectful.

The Arrogance of Fermi’s Paradox.

Last night I watched Human Universe with Prof. Brian Cox, a great series with stunning visuals and the history of our little species.  This particular episode dealt with the Drake Equation, Fermi’s Paradox and Von Newman machines, but sadly came to the conclusion we are more than likely alone in the Milky Way as an intelligent life form. Wow, what arrogance as a species we must have, that our current technology levels and understanding of science means we can make this assumption.

For those not familiar with the paradox, it in its most simplistic rendering is “the universe is old, intelligent life should be everywhere, we can’t see it, and therefore it doesn’t exist“.

The Drake Equation, written by Frank Drake back in 1961 is a formula to work out the chances of active and communicative alien life in the galaxy, based around number of stars, plants, planets with life, planets with intelligent life and planets where the intelligent life hasn’t gone and do something stupid like kill is biosphere with pollution. When originally formulated the Drake Equation put the number of stars with planets in the order of .2 to .5 of stars having planets.  With the Keppler Mission and Earth based micro-lensing techniques it is now considered that nearly every star not only has a single, but multiple planets around it.  The Drake equation is also based on just planets and not moons around those planets that may support life, such as the Jovian or Saturnian moons in our case.

Next of course is the really tricky part of getting past the Cambrian Explosion(1), to get to multicellular life . This also suffers from anthropic bias as we are only dealing with a study where N=1.  Long term missions to Mars and and the Jovian Moons will be required to see whether this is the case or not.  Any multicellular organism on Mars, or fish swimming in a Europan ocean will answer that quick smart. But that would make the equation N=3 and for our solar system only.

Yet my major issue with the Fermi Paradox when addressed to the Drake Equation, which science is putting more and more places for life to occur in the galaxy, is the expectation we will be able to spot any intelligence.

Scientists are already looking at analysis of exoplanets (2) to look for tell-tale signs of industrial impact on the planet’s atmosphere. That is, to look at the atmosphere and see if they have screwed it up as much as we have by leaving a pollution finger print. What if for example they were smarter than us and worked out polluting your atmosphere with high levels of CO2 was a dumb idea and didn’t go down that path, or did so, and then cleaned up their act.

Next we are looking in the radio spectrum for their noise. We have been leaking radio since the early 1900’s, but thanks to the inverse square law these weak signals are so diluted by the time they get a few light years out they would be almost impossible to detect (3), well using our technology that is. Apart from a couple of messages when have deliberately sent, we aren’t really broadcasting ourselves.  For me a major bone of contention is that radio is the be all and end all of the search.  If we were to look for humanity 200 years ago via radio, we couldn’t find ourselves.  We wouldn’t find the tell-tale signs of pollution in the atmosphere, and certainly if we sent a radio message to us 200 years ago, we could detect it either.

Perhaps using radio is just a phase we are going to go through and grow out of as we find new ways of communicating, who is to say than in 45 years’ time we don’t work out subspace (thanks Roddenberry) as a way of communicating over interstellar distances, or some sort of Higgs Field Transducer which vibrates messages across the galaxy on the very fabric of space/time itself. Each of these ideas are just as fanciful to us as radio would have been to a person from 1788 when white folk landed in Botany Bay.

So if we say radio and pollution are just a silly phase we are going through and intelligent life isn’t hanging around on that spectrum, we have a few others things to consider.

Firstly, the amount of time intelligent life is around.  Taking once again our N=1 study, we can see that life has had a few goes at popping up on our planet.  We presume that there were no intelligent dinosaurs for example.  We presume we are the smartest things to have evolved on our planet and we assume that it took 4.5billion years a couple of very large rocks and a shit load of luck that our ancestors survived these encounters to evolve to be us.

Ignoring the Ancients as put forward by Stargate (oh how I miss thee), we can say we are the only tool making intelligent species that has arisen on our planet.  But with the N=1 problem, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen all the time.  Dinosaurs weren’t all dumb lumbering reptiles and there were already mammals around at the same time. If that small Chicxulub rock (4) hadn’t taken out the Yucatán Peninsula and most of the habitable planet who is to say that the mammals wouldn’t have evolved brains like we did, just 60 million years earlier.

Given we are basing all our assumptions on intelligent life on a species that is less than 2million years old, and that we only got around to starting to use tools, farm and do art some 50 to 60,000 years ago, and things like radio only 100 years ago, space exploration 60 years it strikes me as horrible arrogant to start saying we are alone in the galaxy.

And for that extra dash of arrogance just add the issue of time and distance.  Thanks a lot Einstein for making the speed of light the fastest thing, which means everything we look at in deep space is in the past. If we look at a planet 50 light years away, that is 50 years ago.  Look at planet, 200 light years away, that is 200 years ago, before we even worked out radio existed.  Then we need to add parallel evolution to the equation.  That is we need to find a species using our technology, in the past which is our present to detect them.

Of course given the timescales involved with our galaxy it is possible for the whole galaxy to have been populated with Von Neumann probes, so proponents of the Fermi Paradox also argue where are these probes.  Two things immediately come to mind. One, they are everywhere, but if you can create a self-replicating robot to explore the whole galaxy in under 50 million years, why not make it invisible. Two, why create it in the first place, for what purpose. And three ( yes I know I said two ) what if your evolution as a species overtook the need for such a project and you shut them down after creating them as they are no longer required.

These are just a few issues that I have with saying we are alone in our galaxy. I haven’t even started with the questions about why some alien would want to talk with us, when was the last time you thought about trying to communicate with an ant. Or what happens beyond homo sapiens to us as a species, why intelligent life has to be carbon based and bipedal and faster than light travel. When people in 1980 couldn’t have dreamed the impact the internet would have on society, what amazing technology will come in the next 100 years alone.

And this is why I get cranky about this anthropocentric view of science and the history of the universe.






2014 The Darkest Year for Our ABC

2014, will I hope go down as the darkest year in the ABC’s history. I mean it couldn’t get worse than this year could it?

Earlier in 2014 the ABC lost the Australian Network contract. A contract removed just to appease Murdoch – 80 staff, many of them good friends were fired.  As Mark Scott said over 1000 years of talent walking out the door (1).

The non-continuation of the Ramp Up Australia funds, which saw the ABC lose the voice of Stella Young as the Editor and a number of key staff that supported this project, a project that helped give some of the most disadvantaged a voice in a market that deems they don’t need one. (2)

Oh but the budget cuts (not forgetting the Abbott lie “No Cuts to the ABC or SBS, weren’t enough) lead to the  so called “Efficiency Dividend”, something that would see 10% of staff cut, both front and back of house walking out the door. If 80 staff was a 1000 years of experience walking out the door, what is the impact of 400 staff leaving. To make matters worse, the vast majority of these forced redundancies are just before Christmas. Scrooge looks like a bloody prince compared to the Abbott government kicking so many people out of a job just before Christmas.

Then this week, the shocking and unexpected death of Stella Young.  A person I am glad to call a friend and a co-worker.  Her passing was not just a loss to the ABC for her going voice in the organisation, but for the NDIS and disability overall.

The announcement that Waleed Aly will no longer work for RN, or the ABC.  A voice that is so articulate, clever and witty.  Hell, who needs a voice like that we Australia have Bolt, Jones et.al. The loss of Quentin Dempster from the ABC, a mentor to many journalists over the years. This week also saw the final broadcasts from ABC Newcastle and Carol Duncan, a city of over 500,0000 people, relegated to a regional area due to funding cuts.

And sadly tonight the final episode of At the Movies aired.  An amazing shift from SBS to the ABC to continue a legacy which I doubt will never be repeated.  One of the few changes to the ABC that wasn’t budget and Liberal ideologically driven.

So many “back of office” staff have been cut, those back of office staff many of which are the ones that help shaped the ABC over the last 10 years to be the organisation is it today.  People often only think of the on air staff, not the hundreds of people that help put the shows together. Staff that I have seen work 18 hour days when an emergency occurred.

The ABC is an organisation that is digital, responsive and flexible.  I could list all the things that the ABC has lead the way on, such as Catch Up TV (IView), Twitter, free 24 hour News, Children’s programming, Websites, Podcasts, Long Form Digital Narratives, Emergency Broadcasting etc.  Sure the rest of the media are still playing catch up, but according to the Liberals, we need to cut the ABC, so they are more efficient. Or another way, the Liberals want the ABC cut so they don’t look efficient compared to Murdoch’s effluent media.

Our ABC has suffered more in 2014 than even under the Shire and Howard years, the fear is at least 2 more years of a hostile Abbott and Turnbull government will see even more drastic cuts is utterly incomprehensible and yet so frighteningly real I hate to think what the next few budgets and “efficiency dividends” will bring.


Time-lapse test of the Mini 0803 Dashcam – 120km in 3 minutes.

Finally did a long enough trip in the car to put up a new time-lapse video, from my new Mini 0803 Dashcam.

This is the video with no edits, just compressed in time from 1 hour 30 min of driving down to 2 min 16 seconds in Premier.

Here is the route that the trip took as well.

View Larger Map

A 16gb micro SD card holds 2 hours 56 min of looping video, so I will need to upgrade to a couple of bigger cards before I do a decent road trip. But I am rather pleased with the quality of this very little camera.

I am still playing with getting the gps log files out to a useful format, so that is why there is only a Google Map version of the route.

Still if you are looking for a cheap little 1080p Dashcam, the mini0803 is worth a shot.

The Car Computer for the Road TripAnd certainly as a webcam, this is a lot smaller than my old set up 🙂

Although the Asus R2h was also my topo map gps as well as my dashcam.

And I did capture this small 3000km trip across Australia with that set up…

My Essential BBQ Tips for the Australian Summer.

Coopers 62 and a new BBQOnce again we are heading into the Australia summer. For some of us in the lucky states who aren’t afraid of fading curtains, it means long warm evenings and relaxing with friends around the good old fashioned BBQ.

Here are 20 of my favourite tips for the Aussie Summer BBQ.

These are in no particular order. ( well apart from number 1, and number 2 )

  1. You may have a beer once you start cooking the BBQ, and yes marinating the meat counts.
  2. Always cook more meat that you can possibly eat.
  3. The animal farm at the show is a good place to start placing your orders.
  4. Drinking a beer whilst turning sausages, whilst kids play on a trampoline counts as good parenting.
  5. Size matters with a BBQ,  the more burners is better.
  6. It is better to cook a BBQ the day before a heat wave, cold left overs for the win.
  7. Veg do taste better cooked on the BBQ, learn how to do them properly.
  8. When cooking a vegetarian, ensure you have a good rotisserie, that can take the weight.
  9. Oh… sorry…. cooking for a vegetarian…  Check with them about cooking their food first or not.
  10. But if you are cooking four vegetarians, allow extra time.
  11. Learn to touch test the meat for tenderness with your tongs ( not tongue! )
  12. A good set of BBQ tools is a necessity. ( Note these are good fathers day or Xmas presents )
  13. Always under cook the meat a fraction, so it can go into the oven to stay warm, if you are doing a number of courses.
  14. Wrap a warm bottle of beer in a wet paper towel, 15 min in the freezer and it is good to drink.
  15. Never leave your BBQ unattended, even after it off, it is still warm, use a family member to fetch beers.
  16. Buying a pre-made salad is cheating, but will save a lot of time, which can be spent doing good parenting as above.
  17. Always clean your BBQ before guests arrive, if they see bugs crawling off it, they tend to get unhungry quickly.
  18. Keep a fire blanket on hand, no point in wasting good beer to put a fire out.
  19. Never buy cheap snags, nor cheap beer come to think of it.
  20. When attending a BBQ, check the beer of choice of the BBQ owner.

Team Australia F*%K Yeah – A product range for the 2014 Aussie Patriot.

We all remember the Be Alert fridge magnets that didn’t work… well these stickers do. They will stick, unlike those Howard era magnets that really didn’t magnet.

Of course, the home isn’t the only place to can avoid not showing what a Team Australia player you are. Why not wear your pride on your front. T-shirts or hoodies… why not mix and match, with a t-shirt under the your Hoodie. A true Team Australia Player would you know.

After a hard day at the office not generating any metadata, one needs to relax, and a Team Australia Pillow is just the thing.

Then when you are out buying your Australian Made products, from companies that would never track every purchase you make, you will need to put them in a bag. This bag has been proved not to generate metadata for any purchases, and if you line it with tinfoil and place it over your head is said to help listening to Brandis explain metadata 10x easier.

And finally a range of Phone covers ( Iphone, Ipad and Galaxy devices ) these cases will ensure that you never hand over your complete browsing history to the government. Because you are a Team Australia player, you don’t need to prove your loyalty, you are, we are, we are Team Australia as the song goes.

PTV Proud owners of a new Poor Tax Penalty Fare System.

The problem with being poor is that the system really likes to ensure you stay that way.

Public Transport Victoria’s new on the spot fines trial is just an extension of this. Always have a spare $75 on your Visa Card, easy no problem. Struggle to make ends meet on the dole or on Ausstudy well, tough luck that will be $217 thank you very much.

The new 12 month trial of “penalty fares” is nothing but a poverty tax. Spin it anyway you like, but those able to pay the $75 fine are $142 better off.

Funny how the only things the penalty fare applies for are:

where the passenger:
• travels without a valid ticket or fails to produce a valid ticket on request.
• travels on a concession ticket without evidence of concession eligibility or fails to produce this on request.

Yes because most people on a concession ticket always have at least a spare $75 dollars floating around in their bank account that is why they are on a concession fare.

To ensure the system is not open to corruption they say the only payment option is via EFTPOS or Credit card, not cash. So wait a minute, the Authorised Officers have a mobile payment system, one that can take a massive chunk of money and yet they can’t allow someone to top up a fair because the Myki Topup machine was broken, doesn’t exist on the trams at all, or say you had paid online, but tough that takes up to 24 hours to get through to your card.

The whole Myki system is designed to be punitive (and a giant waste of money, check out https://sites.google.com/site/cheaperthanmyki/ to see what the cost of Myki could have purchased). Many overseas countries have machines inside the big destination stations allowing you to top up before you touch off for example. Here is Australia you are all guilty, and must be fined.

I have on a number of occasions had enough money to top up my fair, noticed my Myki was low and found the machine at my non staffed station vandalised so I couldn’t top up. My choice is never to pay before exit, it is exit and hope I get away with it, or pay a fine.

Of course the system is not open to abuse, because the Penalty Fares are at the discretion of the Authorised Officers. So what is to stop one of them saying, “hey slip me a $20 and I’ll give you the $75 fine, instead of the $217 version”.

In the end the reality is that it now just means the fines are smaller for the rich and larger for the poor.