Saturday, 28 February 2015

Cleaning up (part of) Captains Flat Rd 2015

I felt that I was spinning my wheels a bit this afternoon so it seemed sensible to clear things for the morrow by doing my clean up a day early.  As usual I covered Captains Flat Rd from Widgiewa Rd down to Briars-Sharrow Rd (about 500 linear metres).

To a small extent I had already made a start a few days ago when a friend asked for old aluminium cans for use in an art work.  I took about 15 undamaged ones to her.

Here are a few thoughts about today's collection.

The first image is to illustrate the point that not using plastic shopping bags doesn't necessarily make you environmentally aware.  This bag was undamaged so has joined our collection at home.
 I wasn't able to peel much of these balloon remnants off the sign.
It is sort of like the old bushwalking adage: if you can carry a full can or bottle into the bush, surely you can carry the empty one out.  Why can't these folk come and take the balloons away after the party?

I am always interested to note the changes in branding of the throwaways.  This year nearly all the beer bottles were Carlton Dry.  They - about a slab worth - were spread fairly evenly.
 For cans Red Bull had regained dominance.  I think I only picked up one "Mother".  (As an aside, after the pick up I watched a TV interview with on of the rev-heads from Red Bull car racing.  A very arrogant person, typical of what one might expect from a company responsible for much litter.)
This was the worst area.  It seems to be a gathering spot for trail bikers and I tend to put much fault on them.
Overall I picked up 3 sacks of pure rubbish and 2 of recycling.  Perhaps a little more than usual.  The good news is that there was very little around the school bus stop.  Perhaps the kids took the hint when Palerang Shire cleaned that area up in late December?  As I left a truckload of trail bikers turned up so if the area is cruddy tomorrow we'll know where it has come from!

No rubbish was at the bus stop the next morning.  Here are a few snaps taken as I went to hand in my crud at the Community Hall:



I will conclude with a column by the Editor of Country Life UK.

Friday, 27 February 2015

A very large bucket of stuff for Apple Inc

And you'd better believe the stuff I have in mind is not sweet smelling!

It is traditional to dump on Microsoft for being totally uncaring about customers wishes and needs but forcing people to do things the way Microsoft (or least some recessive geek or nerd employed by them) feels they would like to do it.  I do not step away from that, but merely use this post to say that Apple are no better.

This is merely a further proof that competence is inversely related to the size of an enterprise.  I had originally formed this view when working with some very big companies to assist them to provide information to the Government.  The bureaucratic processes of obfuscation, jobsworthiness and sycophancy inside those companies were exactly the same as in the Public Service.

Part 1

To the case in point.  I got Frances an iPod for Christmas so that she could listen to nice music when working in the garden.  It semed that it was a tad more complicated to set the device up than we had thought, and we have been a bit busy recently so hadn't got around to doing it until today.

Here is what the screen looked like when it first came out of the box.
They said to check the battery was fully charged so I checked the battery icon
...  and it looked good to go.  However nothing seemed to change when I turned the device on or off, which I thought a tad strange.  Eventually I noticed a small tab on the device ...
.. and being of a curious nature flicked it.

Stone the copulating corvids the whole shebang was a sticker which peeled off revealing the actual screen!!!  Rather than being fully charged the battery was about 10% charged!!

NOWHERE in the instructions do they say "Peel off the sticker to reveal the screen.  NOWHERE!!!!!

How could these absolute pelicans fail to do that!!!

To make matters worse, when the basic screen is revealed after the device is fully charges it looks exactly the &**^*&^%$%$ same!  NEEEAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHH!

I reckon everyone involved in the design or marketing of IT kit should have their full name, street address, email address and the details of the bank account to which their inflated salary is paid on a public register so that we can pay them what they deserve in person.

If that was introduced I reckon dairy farmers, who live near an Apple establishment would soon be making more money selling buckets of what the cows leave behind than they ever get from the milk!

Part 2

Having overcome this and downloaded iTunes, loaded a CD to that program and managed to sync it on to the iPod (and that is covering quite a lot of frustration in a few words) I then put in the ear phones and tried to listen to some music.  Silence.  Apart from a lot of swearing I then
  • turned the ipod off and on again;
  • Found another pair of apparently consistent headphones and tried that;
  • reset the ipod;
  • turned the ipod off and on again; and
  • listened to the tunes on iTunes to check it wasn't an iTunes problem.
None of these solved the problem.  So I packed up all my kit and took myself off to the Apple Store in Canberra where one of the many staff who lurk in the place offered to take a look at the problem.  He whipped out a set of phones from his pocket pressed play and said "That seems all right."  Which it was.  Here is the problem in a picture:
To appreciate the problem look at this second image showing the solution as developed by the Apple person.
There are two key lessons from this:
  • The third rule of Bloke Theory had the solution: if it doesn't work push harder.  (The first rule is "Hit it with a hammer" which might have worked if the blow had been accurate enough.  The second rule is "Stop everything and have a beer (or two)." That was employed but  strangely didn't work in this case: it is thereby downgraded to being merely a guideline.)  
  • Dudes (and Dudesses) in big companies who have to front the public are generally helpful and competent because otherwise their lives will be hell - and the words "How do you remove cow crap?" would be a large part of their conversation.
It should also be noted that I did a lot of reading of manuals and help pages and none of them were any help whatsoever.  They didn't include any photos like the 2 above nor words saying" this is a very tight fit, make sure the jack is thoroughly pushed home".  So we are back to where I  ended in part 1.

Part 3

Having got all that out of the way;
  • I copied another 5 CDs to iTunes, and then synched them to the ipod, in about 30 minutes; and
  • was then told that the sound quality was excellent.
So the end of the story is that everyone lived happily ever after,  Even though some of the Apple Geeks and Nerds shouldn't be happy.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Gardening sights

A task that needed to be done today was weeding the potato patch.  Frances is very good at weeding but sometimes the weeds send their A+ team and a bit of bloke theory needs to be applied.  Thus it was my turn and after two barrow loads of grass and various Cruciferous weeds had taken up a commanding position on our long-rot compost pile this is what the patch looked like.
Since 2 of the 3 rows of plants seemed to have lost all above ground material I decided to wield a fork in their general direction.  This generated quite a few spuds.

 A positive of gardening is that one can get a bit up close and personal with some elements of nature.  I was surprised to find a mole cricket (Gryllotalpa sp.) and  popped it in a bucket  for a photo-op.  This meant it didn't bite me!
 Casting an eye at the raspberries showed a grasshopper contemplating eating a leaf and  ....
 .. some mini-bees doing good in the matter of fertilisingraspberry flowers for the Autumn crop.
 Back at the house the dahlias along the drive have started to strut their stuff.
We have also - for the first time - scored a few hollyhock flowers.
I have no idea why we have so much trouble growing these plants.  Perhaps they like deeper soil, but we do add a lot of compost when planting stuff.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

ANPS, Falls, into Punchbowl Swamp

Please note the commas in that title.  It should be read as meaning that the post is about ANPS visiting (Gibraltar) Falls and going into Punchbowl Swamp.  No-one face-planted in a montane bog!  This is as close as anyone got to that situation:
If you've got wellies, use 'em!

Staying with the wet side of things, we did start off with a short, pre-morning-tea stroll to look at the Falls which, as far as we could work out, are the only significant falls in the ACT.  (Don't panic: there will some flower pix soon.)

This is from the Creek leading into the Falls.
A view of about half the height of the Falls.
A snazzy bit of detail.
To the plants.  These are the nuts of Leptospermum myrtifolium which was very evident in the swamp.
A flower of same: there weren't many blossoms around.
Closely related Baeckea utilis.
Once we got to the main part of Punchbowl Swamp some patches of water - mainly in tyre tracks left by hoons - were evident.  A particular delight was the flowers and leaves of Nymphoides montana.
A close up of the flower.
Also in the water was Isotoma fluviatalis.  I am fascinated by the ripples/reflections.
This is Velleia montana.  It could also be V. scrawnii
The trunks of Eucalyptus stellulata are always worth a look for pretty colours!
Spiranthes alticola was evident in a number of spots.  The biggest cluster was back on Corin Rd opposite where we parked.
It was interesting that these two stems spiralled in opposite directions!
The only other 'live' orchid found today was Eriochilus magenteus or Parsons Bands.
To Fungi: I am afraid names are a bit lacking for the first couple.

As we got to a clump of pines Amanita muscaria became apparent.  This patch shows the development from a red rubber ball through the red disc covered with veil remnants to a decrepid orange disc.
This is a Parsley Fern (Botrychium australe).
Right at the beginning I got the only two bird snaps of the day.  Both are of Golden Whistlers - firstly a male of the subspecies confundus.
 .. and a few less blurry female.

Now there are a few insect snaps.  First up, one of the several clumps of Sawfly larvae.
A Mole Cricket (Gryllotalpa sp.) found by Jo.  Roger advised that they bite: Jo already had proof of this from direct evidence - and her hand in which she was bringing it to confirm ID.
The Mountain Cricket (Acripeza reticulata): this first is a gravid female found by Roger.
I then found another female (note stubby wings) showing off its technicolour abdomen!
I think this is a Marbled Xenica.
There were lots of these moths - possibly a member of the sub-family Crambinae - out in the swamp
I initially thought this was a fly with red halteres, but the red bits are the wrong shape.  They are more likely to be mites.
This is a beetle - possibly a Chrysomelid leaf beetle.
As well as the above, when we emerged from the swamp Roger found a bunch of the small flies which have been forming the evening swarms at Carwoola.  They were low down on a Eucalypt (E. dalrympleana from memory) and some Lomandra underneath it.  They were very active and none of my photos added anything to this text.