Saturday, May 06, 2017

In A Southern Land with a Northern Heritage

During the first two weeks of May this year 2017 my parents celebrate their 70th birthdays. They have just left from Maitland to spend a week in Wallaroo, on the Yorke Peninsula South Australia.

From time to time they have suggested that someone ought to write down their reminiscences, or more pointedly that I ought to. I guess if I am to do so, then the best place to start is with what I know, namely myself, and then work backwards and forwards from there.


So here goes. Once upon a time .... nah!

Not sure why now but for some reason Donkey Stones were mentioned. Then there was a reference to the Queen, my mum mentioning that she remembers the Queen visiting Ashton Brothers to open a new dye works or something. Which raised the question of how many buildings has the Queen opened which have since been demolished to make way for other buildings?

This led me to do some google searching, to find the following article on Donkey stones:
I was looking for the origin of the name, and why a reference to donkey. Then I got side tracked looking for Donkey Stone Wharf, and instead started to explore Denton on google maps. I was trying to see if it was the river or canal, which I walked along with my dad, when I was around 5 or possibly younger. Seems we walked along both the River Tame and the Peak Forest Canal.

July 1965, Ashton-under-lyne at ashton infirmary, county of Lancaster, is when and where I was born. So lancastrian until they changed the county boundaries, and it became part of Tameside, part of Greater Manchester. In terms of explaining to Australian's where I come from, it's usually easier just to say Manchester than reference specific towns.

When we first arrived in Australia, my mum went to the local department store looking to buy some sheets and blankets, and was told to go to Manchester. To which her flippant remark was something to the effect: that if we had known that before hand we would have brought them with us. Here in South Australia, at least, the bedding department and the bedding is known as manchester.

My mum worked at Ashton Brothers textile mill as a machinist and overlocker, until it was taken over by Courtaulds. I attended the nursery there, before attending St Lawrence's School.

Chronological Markers

When I was born, we first lived at my paternal grandparents house, before moving to Great Norbury street, from there we moved to Strathmore Avenue and I started school. We didn't stay there long and we moved again to Lodge Lane and I changed schools to Flowery Field Infant school and then I moved onto Flowery Field Junior school as it was back then. So I know I was at least 5 when we moved to Strathmore Avenue, and less than 5 at Great Norbury street.

My birthdays then became markers for us moving around. As I had my 9th birthday in Zambia, from which I can surmise I had my 8th birthday at Lodge Lane just before we moved to Maple Grove Bawtry. My 10th birthday was in Australia, my 11th in England and my 12th in Australia. From there I don't have any markers in time, other than my school grades roughly matched the years: so grade 7 in 1977, and grade 12 matriculation year in 1982. By 1977, I was around 12, had lived in 10 houses across 3 countries, not counting my grandparents, and was attending my 11th school.

The map below shows the general travel between countries, ignoring the stop overs. For example in travelling from Zambia to Australia, we stopped in Mauritius, it was recommended as having great beaches, and we shouldn't miss out on the opportunity. It was the wrong time of year though, we landed in the middle of a tropical storm. The rain was that heavy we could barely see the front of the taxi, so not sure how the driver could see where he was going. From Mauritius we stopped over in Perth, not intentionally, the airways TAA was on strike and we stranded. We spent most of a day stranded in park, with all our cases, waiting for an hotel room to become available.

Anycase I will add more detail to the map as it becomes available, as the stop overs have there own stories. For example the stop in Rome on the way to Zambia, involved armed guards running around the airport.

So today I was particularly looking around the Lodge Lane Flowery Field Primary School area, noticing the changes. When I noticed in reference to the school the hatching of some birds. Which reminded me that before we left for Bawtry, my dad donated his collection of birds eggs to the Infant School: they were in flat wooden boxes. The things people collect. In Zambia a neighbour had a large butterfly collection.

Anycase, this post will be the live draft and launching pad for telling my story, our story.

Childhood Ailments

The other week whilst looking for information on wordpress, I found the following interesting article:
Osgood-Schlatter Disease
This is something I had not long after returning to Australia. Initially I had sharp pains in my heels and could hardly walk. But my mum just said it was growing pains, and it would go away. Which it did. From my view point it migrated to my knees. Once again my mum said it was growing pains and it would go away. It didn't. So finally went to the doctors, and got some x-rays.

My left knee was apparently the worst, and so I had injections in that knee. There were two injections, one was an anesthetic and the other I think was hydrocortisone. The anesthetic was so couldn't feel the hydrocortisone expand. That seemed to fix my left knee, but my right seemed to get worst. I had two sets of injections in that I think. I cannot remember now, whether I had 3 sets on injection total or 3 in my right knee. My right knee now has a knobble on it, and I cannot kneel on it, but at least I can get up and down.

At the time that I had it, if I knelt down I got stuck down. Not so much fun, sat crossed legged on floor, during assembly in middle of gymnasium. The pain increasing as the assembly progressed. At the end had to uncross my legs with my hands and try and find away to stand or have someone help me. Prior to which I could just stand straight up, without uncrossing my legs.

I wasn't into sport, though I walked every where. I also didn't seem to have any limitations on jumping up, over and across anything.  When running I just kept running no matter what I encountered the pursuer on the other hand tended to stop or get injured in their attempt.


Schoolyard and Neighbourhood Battlefield: Kids at War

Which introduces another post I discovered whilst looking for an article on Git: the version control software. The article I was looking for had disappeared but found this instead on the blog:
Bullying: Children and the Martial Arts
In moving around I was typically the outsider, the foreigner, the outcast. Which was potentially a good thing, since I was stubborn and had a seemingly high tolerance for pain, well until my knees give in. Basically absolutely nobody tells me what to do, including my parents. If you are lucky bullies get tired and bored. Whilst my parents and I got smarter.

The bullies tended to disappear, as they were outnumbered by the rest of the school or kids in the neighbourhood depending where they roamed.

Now bullying today making it into TV news reports, that is something else. Potentially should stop putting it on the news as mostly likely fueling their activity. Not sure if kids today need new tactics and strategy.

The sheep will always choose to be shorn, and jump on the bandwagon of humiliating others to avoid being the one humiliated. That is they will remain submissive to the bullies, do as they say or want. Whilst someone else is getting beaten up, they are safe: but for how long? What if the one being beaten up chose to strike back at the onlooking sheep: after all they are the weak ones? Would they continue to fan the fires, or join the side of the weakling being hammered into the pavement? If he hits me, and then I'm going to hit you over there, do you hear me? Most gangs seemed to comprise one big guy, and a bunch of smaller guys. On their own they had less power. Once the members of the gang learn they are not safe on their own, then the gangs tended to break up. Leaving David and Goliath to do battle. Unlike the classic battle, David gets hammered into the ground, but now Goliath is outnumbered and has no future. The sheep have become a herd determining their own direction.

Put simply if I could walk home from school and return to school the next day, then the beating wasn't so bad. In the neighbourhood wars, bricks, stones, miniscule penknives, sharpened sticks, heavy branches and home made bows and arrows were the only weapons we had to contend with. The bows and arrows were never that good. Words may have been thrown around like, "I'm going to kill you!", but I doubt any of us was in any danger of being killed.

I don't know, maybe I was something of a death seeking lunatic. On one occasion, we were being bombarded by mud bombs containing heavy stones. Instead of sheltering behind a pallet full of new turf, with everyone else, I stood in front with a bit of timber batting the bombs back. This broke the mud bombs up, sending the stones flying off in all directions bouncing off house windows. Resulting in adults coming out of their houses and telling us to clear off {Truly! polite no swearing. Maybe threats to call the police.}.

Toy guns and playing war breeds violence? Not so sure about that, we weren't playing war, we were at war. All largely about scarce resources and who gets to control?

In the modern world of cyber bullying, I don't know, but I'd guess one smart kid, could take the bullies down.

Australian Context

On arriving in Australia from Zambia, one thing that became apparent was that things considered for boys and girls in Zambia were only for girls in Australia. Thus my school case became a girls case, which didn't make sense, as the book my Grandparents had sent from Australia to England seemed to suggest all used such cases. And I just did a search and the website I found indicated that popular amongst school children from the early 1900's until the 1970's: so maybe some perspective changed as the cases  went out of use.

Anycase I was an outsider with a teutonic name: apparently making me some kind of mass murdering nazi or something, wearing socks and sandals and carrying a girls case. The girl stuff easy to dismiss: so what. There's no way my mum would permit me to consider girls to be inferior to boys. Not sure what references I would have had at that time, most likely just Boadicea.

So something happened and I got beaten up, yet again, only this time a large crowd gathered, as this four eyed git, who should have known better, stuffed an apple core in my mouth and wandering back laughing with the large crowd that had gathered. balling my eyes out and seeing red, I noticed half a brick on the ground and picked it up and threw it at their feet to shift the crowd. They were about to throw it back when a teacher finally decided to wade in. She'd started lecturing, I didn't want to listen to such nonsense, so I walked away over to the water fountain, to wash my face and mouth. When a male teacher grabbed me by the ear and dragged me across the school yard to see the headmaster. This idiot gets the hallmark of being the worst teacher I ever met. Confirming all doubts if I had any, that adults wouldn't recognise the truth if it got up and smacked them in the face. Which I often wished it would. Fundamental rule: people in authority exercise power not intelligence.

Anycase I saw the headmaster, and went and apologised to the lady teacher. Defence not an option. Fortunately we left and went back to England. Some stuff happened back in England, but getting beaten up not so much: though we had our turf wars.

Then we went back to Australia. From my viewpoint Australia was a big country, and Perth had seemed nice whilst we spent the day stranded in the park. Adelaide however was the one place on earth I never ever wanted to return to.

Whilst I attended a brand new school, the deputy head from the other school became one of the many deputies at the new school. Also the worst teacher ever arrived as a physical education teacher.

I needed to stay on absolutely best behaviour, fighting back was not an option. So I became passive, submissive and largely with drew. On the other hand I gained the reputation as the giant killer.

The school yard was split level, with a brick retaining wall between the levels. The biggest kid seemed to think it was funny to pick me up on the lower level and throw me down on the upper level. He wouldn't stop so I resisted and the wall started to dig into my knees. I don't know what I did or how, but somehow I jumped up above the wall spun around and brought my fist down straight into his face. He wandered off, to the toilets to wash his split lip, cursing he was going to sue me if i'd broke his teeth. I likewise wandered off to the toilets to wash my gashed hand, cursing would sue him if I needed more injections in my knees.

His lip healed in a few days. My hand around the knuckle which had the gash in it, turned purple and green, and kind of made writing difficult, and probably took a week or more to heal. No teachers were involved: apart from later in the week my German language teacher wanted to know what had happened to my hand. Which everyone else in the class explained for me. She was kind of surprised I'd been fighting.

I was the quiet independent courteous and well mannered kid: I'd say sorry for anything and hold doors open for anyone. I didn't get in fights. The big kid and I were kind of friends in the first place, and slightly better afterward.

Some time  after the fight, during physical education, we did leg wrestling, and I got teamed up with him. You know the stuff, teacher says pair up, and everyone makes a mad dash, then says ha ha sucker. Leg wrestling is like arm wrestling, except lie on backs shoulder to shoulder, and then hockey one, hockey two and three, raising legs from floor and crossing and back down again. On three the legs lock and then try and spin the other over. I didn't want to break my leg so I got spun over several times. He thought it was fun and got his status back, so he called the teacher over to show off: do you mean like this. At which point I spun him over: my knees weren't has stuffed as I thought.

But this wasn't the only giant. Whilst I was the well mannered kid, I also had a sharp tongue with which I slayed teachers. As the saying goes:
Obedience alone gives the right to command.
As I mentioned earlier, absolutely nobody tells me what to do ever, nor will they get away with wasting my time. Whilst other kids talking back to teachers were typically making a nuisance of themselves and disturbing the whole class. When I spoke back, the teacher was wasting my time, our time, and mostly in the wrong.

After my outburst I typically wandered off to the student counselor explained what had happened and then later apologised to the teacher, and the teacher likewise apologised to me. My parents rarely ever got involved, they were informed, but my problem and for me to sort out, and typically had done so before they were informed.

Most of the incidents could have been better handled, but there is only one that plays on my mind as never resolved. It wasn't resolved because the teacher clearly did not understand, as he turned up a year later to one of my classes to show how he had changed. But he hadn't, he just confirmed and reinforced what I had said. I didn't explain, I just let him have his victory stroll.

Mork from Ork

The movie Finian's Rainbow, covers bigotry in various ways. For me the most notable was how the servant kept saying "yes sir boss" and otherwise kowtowing and exaggerating the superiority of his so called master. In the TV series Mork and Mindy this same kind of exaggeration is used in reference to Morks superior Orson. Despite his larger superior mind Orson is clearly incapable of understanding human behaviour.

I don't know what happened in this particular year, but the class became relatively friendly and protective of one another. There were a few rebellious trouble makers who just wanted away from school, but most of us just got on with our work.

The school was open plan, and we typically walked across the campus from one class to another. On this particular day, I'm not sure what had happened earlier, but all the desks had been placed end to end in about three rows extending through the open concertina wall into the adjacent classroom. Normally the desks formed columns and rows, and the teacher could walk around each desk. The desks were trapezoidal, so that two desks could form a hexagon for group work. There were also plain desks. The trapezoidal desks were spun around alternately to form a continuous row.

I walked into the room and sat at the far end of the second row, near the concertina wall. The two girls considered square sat in the row immediately in front of me. The rest of the class filed into the row I was sat. One or two guys sat at the far end of the first row, the opposite end to where the two girls were sat. The rebels on their own at the back of the class.

Our teacher arrived, he was generally relatively friendly. He wasn't happy about the desks, but the class explained they were like that when we arrived, and he could see into the other room. He didn't want to waste time rearranging them, so accepted them as they were. The lesson started.

He asked a few questions, the same people put their hands up as usual to answer, he wasn't happy. He wanted answers from someone else. So class was told to put their hands down. He asked the question again, and started with the person at the far end of the first row: not the two square girls, he knew they could answer.

The person didn't know the answer. So the teacher moved onto the second row, not my end of the row, but the opposite end. The next person doesn't know the answer. So the next person again is asked. The question now is slowly moving towards me. The teacher is getting irate as no one is able to provide an answer.

The girl next to me whispers if I know the answer, I nod and whisper back that I do. She wants me to give her the answer, but the teacher seems to be looking in my direction. I indicate we'll get in trouble for talking. We don't have any scrap paper to write on.

The train is speeding towards us, towards me. There is no way I am going to answer this question, I'll get my head kicked in by the rebels at the back if I do.

The girl answers, that she doesn't know. She's expecting it to be all over, as I answer the question. But no way am I giving the answer. I get asked the question.

I nervously respond: why don't you, shut up?

The teacher raises his voice and asks what did you say?

This is typically an opportunity to back down and rephrase what you have said. Back down, not I. So I repeat: why don't you, shut up?

He retorts, you little child.

I respond, you big adult.

Big mistake. Really big mistake. The teacher rises, and desks start flying, as the teacher tries cutting his way through the desks towards me. I get up and start moving along the aisle trying to get to the end of the desks and out off the building. I hit my knee against a chair, causing me great pain, slowing me down. I get out off the building but so does he. At the entrance stood apart, he threatens me, I threaten him. Not violent threats, just which authorities we are going set on each other.

I wander off to see the student counselor, we talk and she organises so that I can see the teacher later in the day, to apologise. Later in the day I go to the admin centre, up stairs to the teacher lounge, meet the teacher and go out onto the footbridge which connects the admin to the middle school building where I had taken class earlier. I'm part scared of being tossed off the bridge. We talk, I apologise. I was sure I explained myself and meaning.

The class thinks I'm mad, crazy, a lunatic, and confirmed giant killer. But they misunderstood my meaning, and I wasn't going to attempt to explain to them what I was actually referring to.

A year later, this skinny anemic looking teacher walks into our class, walks up to where I am sat, and talks to me as if achieved a victory and proving me wrong. He  then talks to our current teacher before leaving, as whispers start to flow around the class at how skinny he was.

You see, as far as everyone else was concerned the teacher had been big, large, fat, obese, significantly overweight. But most adults could do with losing some weight, and most of our prior teachers for that matter. Sure he may have been bigger than most, but that was his choice and largely irrelevant.

When he called me little child, he wasn't referring to me being a nine pound weakling, he was referring to my mentality. But he clearly didn't understand human behaviour, he set in motion something that wasn't going to end well. He was getting irate, so was the class. I merely responded to his flippant remark, with my own flippant remark, in the manner of Mork from Ork.

His massive, huge adult mind was just plain incapable of fathoming what he had set in motion, was he really so stupid to expect that I or anyone else was going to answer the question. He had already insulted more than 50% of the class, after me there was just the rebels at the back, or the two girls he skipped at the start. Either of the two girls likely to answer the question, the rebels at the back unlikely. If I didn't give an answer, he was mostly likely going to drone on as moved to the last row. If I did give an answer, I was dead. He was wasting time, he was being insulting and disrespectful, he was wasting my time. He wasn't getting my answer. He needed to understand what he had set in motion, and I didn't have the confidence to stand up and express things in a more appropriate manner.

Lesson: Words are powerful, they can move mountains, and have unexpected catastrophic results. Make sure everyone else is on the same page. You know, the "Context is King", thing.
My final school report for the grade 9 subject reads:

I am again pleased to report Conrad's progress in social science this term. He is at all times a pleasant and co-operative student (with just a bit of stubbornness). Conrad should take a little more care with the setting out and writing of his work, as it does become untidy. He has shown maturity and thoughtfulness in his written work, but needs to enter more into class discussions. A pleasure to have him in my class.

Disclaimer: Get Your Brain in Gear

I supposed as I mentioned something medical back there I should mention I'm not a something or other. What do you call that occupational elite, they have a medical degree, some scrap of paper or other? Sorry I don't believe in the authority of scrap paper. Either people say things which are reasonable which they can back up with evidence or they don't. To get a degree you have to read. What the academic staff says is largely irrelevant, it is no better than here say, they still have to back up their thoughts with reference to learned papers. Learned papers typically reference other learned papers and have been reviewed by others. The theories have to be capable of being independently verified by others.

So do not ever accept the word of a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer for that matter, purely on the basis of authority. If it doesn't make sense to you, then it probably doesn't make sense to anyone else either. Unless pushed for time, and short of money, always attempt to get at least two opinions preferably three. With two opinions may just get a disagreement and thus little help. With three opinions may get two opinions similar: however, you don't just accept the majority view. Just because everyone believes the earth is flat and that all swans are white (we have black swans in Australia), doesn't make it so.

So do your own research and reach your own understanding, do not be bullied and coerced into accepting a view you cannot comprehend.

If I mentioned anything on any topic, then I am waffling, and I explicitly state, on the about page, the intent of the blog is to waffle.

To put it another way the novel 1984 by George Orwell, wasn't a user manual telling you what society to create, it was a warning on where we were heading and preferably what not to create. We are drowning in doublespeak, so few people took heed.

Put simply if you read my waffle and use it has the basis of a decision you make, you are responsible for that decision: and the start of that decision, was that this waffle, was a sound basis for aiding your decision making. Your choice, your decision, your responsibility.

Obviously if you think your decisions and actions are someone else's responsibility then the rest of us as a community, to fulfill our responsibility,  need to have you placed in a straitjacket and padded cell so that you can come to no future harm.

Whilst I don't particularly like people, I will assist those who request help, to the best of my ability, if I see people, in need of help, I will assist. However, I tend to assist people, in away that they can become independent of the need for future assistance, unlike most businesses which tend to trap people into loops of dependency. Actually most of the humanitarian aid agencies seem to trap the people they assist into dependency. I'm guessing this has to do with all the fools with MBA's who equate everything to a money making business. The aid agencies should solve the problem they were created for and then cease to exist. Obviously the people who have made careers out of such activity do not want that to happen: and so the problems remain unsolved.

Its time for a revolution of thought and action!

Related Posts

[6/5/2017] : Original

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Hypothetical for Microsoft and other Software Companies

Since my Windows XP computer died, I have been finding using a computer more and more irritating, everything seems to be going backwards. The same goes for digital TV: analogue TV was getting close to perfection, so it seems someone decided to break it by cutting the analogue signal and forcing everyone over to unstable and less robust digital TV broadcasts. I say less robust because when an analogue signal is poor, still likely to get a snowy picture and gain some information. When a digital signal is poor, then get pixelated garbage. Digital TV was imposed by government without any democratic vote on the matter. It however is an infrastructure issue. Computer hardware and the software that runs on it, however is not an infrastructure issue. There is no good reason to remove one technology from the market and replace it with an alternative.

As I have mentioned previously the different versions of MS Windows are not upgrades, they are different products. If the software that I had running on Windows XP will not run on Windows 7 or Windows 10, then it clearly is not an upgrade. If the user interface changes and operation changes then its different not an upgrade. A power driver is not an upgrade of a ordinary screwdriver, it represents a single optimised function and single capability of an ordinary screwdriver. A power driver is less useful than an ordinary screwdriver. Likewise as another example a nail gun is not an upgrade of a hammer, it also is less useful than an ordinary hammer.

So my problem. My hardware fails, and my software is locked by OEM licensing to the failed device and I cannot get new hardware with required operating system. More importantly two of main software packages won't install or run under Windows 7 or Windows 10. I went with the upgrade to Windows 10, as I didn't like Windows 7 and my software didn't work anyway.

Proposal 1

If buy hardware from same manufacturer, then OEM license permitted to transfer to new hardware.

Proposal 2

Microsoft releases a new operating system, which contains pre-installed virtual boxes for all its previous operating systems.

Proposal 3

Microsoft releases Windows XP and Office 2003 under a GPL or similar license.

As far as I'm concerned this software worked perfectly fine out off the box. If a computer virus is something which interferes with and hinders being able to use a computer as intended: then Microsoft automatic updates are a computer virus. A computer does not need to be connected to the internet. Computer software does not need to be updated on a regular basis. Most people are not computer geeks or technology geeks, they are not waiting for the latest release, and they don't care about some tweak discovered by some geek. In the main they just want to get on with what they were doing or are doing. To have computer resources suddenly tied up by updates is not acceptable. To be unable to carry out a simple lookup on the internet because updates are being downloaded and consuming data allowance is not acceptable.

I understand, need to protect copyright, and need to keep selling something to make a living.

But here's the thing. Windows XP is massive operating system, compared to CPM/80 on a 360 kbyte floppy disk, or MS DOS on a 720 kbyte floppy disk. When I started using computers I would have liked a Unix based machine, but it required a massive 20 Mbytes for a full install: that was the size of the average harddisk on a PC, so no where for data. Now people are trying to get Linux installations down to 100 Mbytes: such as damn small linux or puppy linux. These still have graphical user interfaces: so what is all the stuff in Windows XP? Unix was once desirable because it was the main operating system for scientific and engineering software. Now most such software is written for MS Windows, that which is available for Linux is incomplete or typically cumbersome to use.

Windows XP doesn't even have to be released as open source. The source can be protected. The main requirement is that can modify the system and can distribute the modifications: and do not require the source code to do that.

The first variation that is likely to arise is reducing the system size, and making it modular. Delete everything that is unnecessary on a stand alone PC which is not networked and does not have internet connection. Rip the system back to launching a simple command prompt, and having no more capability than a old MS DOS bootable disk. Then have separate installers for adding extra capabilities. My current Windows 10 folder is about 34.8Gbytes . Now I don't know how much of that is unneeded remnants from Windows 7, or how much is due to low quality software dumping files in the Windows folder because the software developers haven't figured out the fundamentals of their software finding itself. It does however seem excessively large.

A personal computer should be simple enough that a user can explain the presence of every file and folder on that computer. If they do not know what it is, then they should be able to delete it. If not then the file doesn't belong their. The operating system may belong to Microsoft, however the computer belongs to the user. A company has no right to be modifying the contents of a personal computer, and certainly no right to be recording history in typically hidden folders. The history typically has no value to the user: it is not like they can retrieve the data and then invert every command issued to undo something that went wrong. I probably open about 100 or more files every day: the recent file list is of no use to me. Now whilst its display can be switched off, it doesn't stop the system recording and wasting hard disk space. How many people have bought new computers because they are unaware of how much junk the system and other software produces in the background?

As I recollect Windows XP was around 1 to 2 Gbytes, and I didn't and don't need all its capabilities. So what is all the stuff required by Windows 10? Its graphics have been deteriorated, so that not as clear where one element starts and another ends. Office 2016 seems unstable, with displays becoming split or distorted. Plus Office 2016 doesn't seem to like file association, it typically generates an error when attempting to open a file the first time. Loss of multiple document interface (MDI), single container for Excel is also a backwards step. It is more inconsistent now than when had MDI. With MDI can organise files inside Excel without messing desktop organisation of other applications. Whilst it may be possible to organise the Excel files separately than other applications, its necessary to remember that some of those Windows on the desktop belong to one application, and only want to arrange them, so don't arrange the desktop, arrange from within Excel. Even so there is still loss of control over the size of workbook Windows. Multiple workbook and multiple Window Excel applications become inconvenient. I'm not convinced that the UI/UX professionals really have any understanding of human behaviour.

Whilst LibreOffice is useful, its spreadsheet application is no where as convenient to use and automate as MS Excel 1997. However the primary requirement for a computer user is that files created yesterday can be read and edited tomorrow. Having standards for data exchange is important. Such standards should be flexible enough that content can be added or deleted without causing the readers and writers to crash.

The difference between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT is that the LT version cannot create or edit certains features of a drawing: however it is able to either display those features or identify that they exist but cannot be displayed. The file can also be edited without loss of those features.The difference between AutoCAD and IntelliCAD is that AutoCAD commands typically execute faster and screen displays update correctly, thus providing proper feedback to  the user. So IntelliCAD maybe able to open the drawing files, and it maybe lower priced, but its operation is less user friendly. However, interacting with software tends to be wasteful compared to automating that software: and if objective is to remove or minimise human interaction, then the automation capabilities of IntelliCAD make it a suitable substitute for AutoCAD. However parametric CAD is still less time consuming and more flexible than automation and parameterizing via a general programming language.

Now whilst Microsoft and Autodesk both acquired a dominant position in their respective markets, they cannot maintain that dominance with their current product offerings. The population at large does not need nor want the current product offerings. It was important that Ford only offered black cars, so as to make cars affordable to the public at large. But now that the basic need has been essentially saturated in the industrialise west, cars need to be produced in smaller batch sizes to meet niche markets. Likewise mobile phones cannot be sustained on an assumption of a consumer market with regular updates of new models. Most of the capabilities of mobile phones are gimmicks: junk with no real long term value to the end users. However having put capability there, it is not acceptable to abandon such feature in future releases and leave some people stranded.

Whilst there may occasionally be issues associated with infrastructure and connectivity, the primary issue is loss of capability when modern technology is used in its stand alone isolated mode. A pocket calculator is still faster and more reliable than a mobile phone or desktop computer. However a computer has the potential to replace the 1000 or more books I own, and take up considerable less space. More over a computer can do this without need to be connected to the internet. The internet of things at this point in time is more gimmick than anything useful. Most likely fueled by TV shows and movies which show unrealistic capabilities of computers. Computers cannot break the laws of physics. Control requires more than simply connecting sensors, it requires electric motors attached to the equipment, and motors require a power supply. Rather than electronic sensors reducing maintenance costs of remote equipment, it is likely to increase the costs: as the robust mechanical equipment which only occasionally needed maintenance is now appended with fragile electronic junk. The internet and the web does not equate to technology.

[Case in point. Around 15:30 blogger has problems automatically saving work, but manual saving works for a time. Then saving hangs. I can copy the post to clipboard. But Notepad won't open, so cannot save. Task manager also doesn't open: not sure about the point of a task manager that is resource intensive and frequently fails to open. Switch power off, and reboot. Check power off settings: can shutdown and install updates or restart and install updates. Either way no choice about accepting updates. So basically can attribute the source of the hanging being updates hijacking web resources and other computing resources. So decide to restart with the updates: 17:42 computer reboots, I think its the final reboot, but no: its still only 75% way through. 18:11 get to log back on and it says "Hi". Are you kidding me! You effectively hijack my computer, to make changes I didn't ask for, and waste my time and consider you can be jovial about it. 18:20 can actually do something with the computer: with my computer.]

So if Windows XP and Office 2003 are considered too old to support then release them to the community to support. I'm reasonably certain that they will rip it back to the absolute minimum install. As for the internet it has very little to do with computing, so develop it without messing up the systems used for computing.

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[02/10/2016] : Original

Saturday, August 13, 2016

How much land can one person patrol?

Assuming the earths land area was divided up into cells, each of which is the responsibility of one person to monitor, how large an area could each person monitor, and how many people would be needed?

Given that average walking speed is 5 km/h, and suggested limit is 25 km/day, which equates to 5 hours of activity. The suggestion on hand books on human fatigue, and shift work also suggest working for no more than 5 hours between rest periods with a minimum duration of 10 minutes. Also the approximate distance can see is 5 km to the horizon.

So assuming a circular region of 5 km radius, then a person located at the centre can see to the boundary, whilst when at the boundary they can see back to the centre. All assuming have relatively flat land and no obstructions in the line of sight. The perimeter of the circle is 31.4 km, if patrol comprises of walking from centre along radius to the perimeter, around the perimeter and then back along a radius to the centre. Then the two radial legs total 10 km, leaving 15 km for the arc of the perimeter. It would therefore take 2 days to patrol, unless increase daily travel to 41.4 km. Accepting two days for the patrol, then would need 1,896,363 people to monitor the whole planet.

If do not accept the two days, and do not accept increase in total distance travelled, then need to reduce the size of the region: assuming no technological advantage. If do so then the radius decreases to 3.018 km., or diameter of 6.036 km. Which doesn't fit with my preferences for simple multiples of 5 or 10. So rather than only being able to see the centre from the boundary, have so that can see the opposite boundary, and further can see the centre of the adjacent cell from the centre. That puts the diameter of the cell at 5 km, and its circumference at 15.7 km, and the total trip at 20.7 km, requiring a population of 7,585,452.

Of course rugged terrain and obstructions would create a maze which would have to be travelled, and that would further reduce the size of the cell. Whilst the size of the cell can be increased by the use of look out towers, telescopes/binoculars, and the use of a mechanised vehicle. However whilst a vehicle can travel faster, such increase in speed would not be much use except for large open regions. Assuming car travelling at 50 km/h and still limit activity to 5 hours, then maximum travel per day is 250 km. Then the diameter of the cell is increased to 60.4 km, however do not have a view of the perimeter from the centre nor a view of the adjacent cell. Assuming that is acceptable then total population required reduces to 52,045.

It would therefore appear that the planet is occupied by enough humans that they can locate observers across the whole land area, and monitor the environment. For that matter most countries have large enough populations that they can place their own observers across the planet.

It also suggests that a town should be less than 5 km diameter. Messes up my previous concept of an industrial city-state 100 km diameter, divided into towns 10 km diameter, each divided into villages 1 km diameter, into estates 100 m diameter, into personal dwellings 10 m diameter. The city-state having a maximum imposed population of 10 million, and maximum of 2/3rd land taken up by the infrastructure or otherwise no less than 1/3rd for residences. Also assuming a maximum sustainable world population of 10 billion, then 1000 industrial city-states would be needed, taking up approximately 5% of the land area.

At some point in the future all mining operations should be shutdown and all materials held in the city-states. The only activity outside the city-states being agriculture, tourism and environmental monitoring. Most agriculture however would be intensive agriculture within the boundaries of the city-states.

Also given long range aircraft can travel distances of 10,000 km, and typical commercial aircraft can travel 5,000 km, Then aircraft can get from coastline to coastline of most land masses, and from coastline to the central interior. Coastline to coastline is also possible by sea going ship, whilst slower, a sailing ship doesn't require fuel to be transported to the destination at some previous time. Ships are also typically used for transporting fuel not aircraft, the use of aircraft for fuel transportation seems limited. Therefore getting fuel to the interiors requires land transport or pipelines. Ultimately pipelines are wasteful if have small quantities, as the pipe has to be filled with unused fuel. It seems a diesel electric train can travel 1000 km. Therefore the starting point to occupy and hold the land would be a network of railway stations and outposts at 1000 km centres, pushing fuel to airports at 5000 km centres. To this network would then be car fuel stations and general stores at 500 km  centres, and then added to this would be human rest and refreshment stations a 5 km centres. Civilisation is where the inn's, hotels and motels are no more than 5 km apart. When the next nearest inn is more than 5 km away, then reached the edge of civilisation, the edge of the occupied zone. {Assuming can walk 25 km each day, then can push this distance to 25 km on condition that there is at least some space where a person can rest, and they carry their own refreshments.}

Using modern GIS, it shouldn't be too difficult to over lay a grid of circular or hexagonal cells on the land areas. To individually triangulate the networks of motels, fuel stations, railway stations, shipping ports, airports, mining towns and farming regions. To then identify the edge of civilisation and the great unexplored wilderness. Once have the triangulation to also compare with the actual roads and railways. Then to create pathways forming a travel plan visiting at least one hotel in each 5 km to 25 km diameter cell, and travelling around the world doing so. The trip should follow the coastline and crisscross through the interior. If all nodes cannot be visited in one year, then have a 5 year up to 10 year plan to visit all nodes. However long the plan is, the world is traversed each and every year: the nodes visited each year just change until all nodes have been visited, then the cycle repeats.

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[13/08/2016] : Original

Sunday, July 10, 2016


For those who missed the memo [New Scientist magazine] during the 1980's, solutioneering is not a good thing it is a bad thing.

Solutioneering is not problem solving, it is not design. Solutioneering is having a solution and applying it to every problem which encounter, or applying it where there is no problem at all.

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail. [Abraham H. Maslow (1962), Toward a Psychology of Being]

Most engineers are not problem solvers, despite what they as a community may promote. They are solutioneers, they don't solve the real problem they apply the technological solutions they have in their toolbox.

For example if have a river to cross. The civil engineer is most likely to put a tunnel under the river. The structural engineer a bridge over the river. The mechanical engineer a cable car. The naval architect set up a ferry boat. The aeronautical engineer provide a ferry service using an helicopter. Whilst an aeromarine engineer a ferry service using hovercraft.

Whilst all of these technologies get from one side of the river to the other, they do not tackle the actual problem which gives rise to the need or most likely desire to get from one side of the river to the other. To solve the real problem all of these technologies along with new technologies need to be assessed for suitability. When assessing the suitability both the advantages and disadvantages along with negative side effects need to be considered.

Situations identified as solutioneering include mandatory seat belts, mandatory bicycle helmets, mandatory smoke alarms, mandatory residual current devices (RSD's). The technologies themselves are not solutioneering, its the way the technology is applied and/or imposed that is solutioneering. These technologies were made mandatory in Australia largely because the need is relatively low: the vast majority of the population, the vast majority of the time, will never experience a situation which would make these technologies useful. Those few people who want such technology would not have been able to afford to buy such technology, therefore to increase the market and lower the price,  the technology was imposed on everyone. In these situations fear was and is used to convince  people that they need the technology and further that they would be irresponsible if they don't use.

Bicycle helmets for example do not protect cyclists from breaking their collar bones: shoulders will typically hit the ground before a persons head. Bicycle helmets don't protect cyclists from being crushed by a car. Kids experience head injuries when they fall off bikes or in general play. Bicycle helmets were made mandatory on basis adults should set example for kids and to increase the market. The market increase is largely nonsense as helmets have to be the correct size and growing kids will need to change their helmets. Helmets however are not necessarily safe, check the product safety site, the helmets are now being worn for general protection from head injuries but the helmets are the hazard, now resulting in deaths. Having a kid wear a helmet, is not going to protect the kid from falling off the edge of the elevated decking; a decking which is less than 1 m high and therefore doesn't need a guardrail. Another example is a swimming pool fence merely compliant with the swimming pool fence code will place an obstruction to free movement of people which will be a hazard since it does not comply with the loading requirements fro barriers. The swimming pool fence code only provides strength requirements to keep kids from tampering with the fence so as to get pass the fence. It doesn't provide adequate loading for adults at a backyard party from leaning against the fence and pushing it over: and certainly not suitable for fences at a marine park with an audience.

A more current situation is the internet of things. Whilst connecting something to the internet is possible, it doesn't mean it should be done. Doing something because you can doesn't mean you should. To start with main frame computers posed a whole host of problems, many of which were resolved by microcomputers and personal computers: putting everything into the cloud brings many of those problems back.

Now most of the time people don't want to waste time finding solutions to problems, their general preference is to go into a supermarket and find a suitable solution sitting there on the shelf. The solution sat on the shelf may not solve all their problems, or fully resolve a problem, but it will provide just enough capability to be useful for the time being. As I have mentioned in other posts, once a product is released to the market it will be used for purposes beyond the intents of the designer. A product is merely raw material and it is the responsibility of the end-user to determine its suitability for their purposes: it should not be the responsibility of the designer to consider every possible use and misuse.

Supplying solutions is not the issue. Every manufacturer and retailer supplies off-the-shelf solutions. The problem of solutioneering is applying the available solutions in an improper manner to inappropriate problems.

So promoting your business on the basis of providing solutions not product, informs me that you don't know your knee from your elbow. That you do not know how to solve problems as you have merely implemented some new age marketing hype.

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[10/7/2016] : Original

Monday, April 18, 2016

Moving Some Content Over To MiScion Pty Ltd

Moving all technical articles, especially those on structural design and/or structural engineering, over to family business web site at MiScion Pty Ltd. Posts with downloads will mostly be moved into the web store, or link into the web store. The downloads will be classified as sponsored products, and will be available gratis some of the time and for a fee at other times. The fee is to cover the costs of resources required to develop and distribute the software.

Some of the posts will be deleted, for others the post will remain but the article content itself will be replaced by a link to MiScion.

Some of my other blogs will also be deleted, with all the content placed over on MiScion website. The software blog: spreadsheets and databases will mostly remain, as the ExcelCalcs widget isn’t compatible with wordpress. However all of these posts will redirect to the MiScion web store. So if  people don’t want to join ExcelCalc’s, and don’t have any spreadsheets to contribute to ExcelCalc’s and don’t want a paid ExcelCalc’s subscription, or have otherwise exceeded the ExcelCalc’s down load limits, then my spreadsheets can be downloaded direct from the MiScion webstore.

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[18/04/2016] : Original

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Rough Sizes of Land around Adelaide

This is something I did a few years back. Simply looked around Development Plans and at the minimum block sizes permitted for housing, as well as looked through the UBD street directory and scaled off the sizes of various blocks of land. Doing so provides a rough guide to the maximum span and length of building around the metropolitan area: agricultural buildings may span further because they have larger blocks of land. Another issue is storm water drainage requirements and the maximum likely distance from one end of the site to the street storm water mains.

Table of Land Property Sizes Around Adelaide dimensions in metres.
Description Length Width Area
Residential 25 14 350
Residential (Traditional Town) 25 20 500
Residential 32 12.5 400
Residential (Court Yard) 32 14 448
Residential (Traditional ) 1 32 20 640
Residential (Traditional ) 2 40 20 800
Dump 50 50 2500
Lincoln College 60 60 3600
TAFE 80 70 5600
Parliament House 90 80 7200
Power Station (Torrens Island) 100 100 10000
Museum 110 60 6600
Art Gallery 120 40 4800
Bicentennial Conservatory 120 60 7200
State Library 120 70 8400
Museum 120 90 10800
Central Market 130 50 6500
St Aloysius College 130 100 13000
St Andrews Hospital 130 120 15600
Memorial Hospital 140 70 9800
Council Dump 140 80 11200
Calvary Hospital 140 130 18200
Festival Theatre 160 110 17600
Childrens Hospital 180 140 25200
Caravan Park 180 180 32400
Adelaide High School 200 110 22000
Oval 200 130 26000
Outer Harbour 200 0
Brickworks Market 260 200 52000
Adelaide Hospital 270 210 56700
National Motor Museum 280 200 56000
Modbury Hospital 300 200 60000
Adelaide Entertainment Centre 300 200 60000
Christies Beach High School 300 240 72000
Adelaide Oval Grounds 300 240 72000
Aerodrome Light Aircraft (Aldinga) 300 300 90000
Willaston Cemetry 300 300 90000
Parks Community Centre 340 340 115600
STA Workshops (Regency) 360 300 108000
Hindmarsh Island (Caravan Park) 360 300 108000
Rubbish Tip (Wingfield) (1 side) 360 300 108000
Birdwood Park (Tennis & Netball) 400 280 112000
Grey Hound Racing Club 400 340 136000
Mile End 420 360 151200
Fort Largs 440 340 149600
Ingle Farm Shopping Centre 440 360 158400
Heights High School 460 140 64400
Drive-In Theatre 460 340 156400
TAFE (Regency) 500 380 190000
Golden Grove Village 500 500 250000
Port Adelaide 500 0
Hampstead centre 520 360 187200
Speedway Park 520 520 270400
Lewiston Golf Course 530 530 280900
Adelaide University 540 500 270000
Ritirement Village 560 300 168000
Australian Submarine Corp 580 420 243600
West Lakes Mall 600 300 180000
EWS Noarlunga 600 580 348000
Cavan 600 0
Enfield Cemetry 680 480 326400
Mitsubishi Motors 700 440 308000
Marion Shopping Town 720 440 316800
Institute of Medical & Vetinary Science 740 300 222000
Golden Grove High School Facility 900 600 540000
Globe Derby Park 900 600 540000
Rifle Range 1000 400 400000
Victoria Park Racecourse 1000 420 420000
Royal Adelaide Golf Course 1000 800 800000
McCracken Country Club 1000 1000 1000000
Bolivar 1030 900 927000
Adelaide International Raceway 1100 520 572000
Hillcrest Hospital 1100 800 880000
Uni-SA (Levels) 1120 620 694400
West Terrace Cemetry 1200 1100 1320000
State Sports Park 1300 1260 1638000
Hope Valley Reservoir 1400 1400 1960000
Munitions Store 1500 1440 2160000
GMH (Elizabeth) 1540 1040 1601600
Waite Agricultural Research Institute 1600 800 1280000
Willunga 1700 1200 2040000
Port Stanvac Oil Refinery 1800 1700 3060000
Flinders University 1840 780 1435200
Labour Prison & Farm 2000 1100 2200000
Bolivar 3000 1720 5160000
Adelaide City North 3500 1800 6300000
Happy Valley Reservoir 3500 2040 7140000
Adelaide Airport 3500 2400 8400000
DSTO + Edinburgh Airbase 5000 5000 25000000
Adelaide CBD 5500 3180 17490000

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[13/01/2016] : Original

Monday, January 11, 2016

Future Cities: from Multi-Storey Buildings, to ships at sea

Whilst I may typically hold the view that multi-storey buildings are little more than:

"Concrete beehives filled with human drones, who are wired to the Matrix and assimilated to the Borg", 
I'm not entirely against such buildings.  However, my preference is for keeping humans mobile, and maximising the ability to adapt by use of small transportable dwellings.

Fundamentally as the Sun burns itself out, it burns hotter, so eventually our atmosphere will be boiled away and so will the oceans: and most life will be fried or boiled into non-existence. The biosphere building projects won't just be needed for researching the potential to support human life on another planet: the Earth itself will be that other planet, for the Earth of the future will not be the planet we know now {admittedly a few billion years from now}.

The building of the Building Research Establishment (UK) shows that we can make buildings large enough to contain other buildings: so geodesic domes over entire cities is not necessary.  Whilst Canada with tunnels and footbridges connecting its buildings so that can walk between them during the cold and snow of winter, also shows that we do not need to encase the city in a geodesic dome. Large geodesic domes typically being the traditional futuristic view: they may still be needed, agriculture will need to move inside: it will not be an option. The point is that there are more practical ways of enclosing space than construction of giant domes, and things that we can do now: compared to some futuristic construction of an Ark for the limited few. As for compatibility with being mobile: the vehicles of the future won't be the same as the vehicles of today: more ship, aircraft, spaceship than car.

Anycase, I expect in a city of multi-storey buildings, that the buildings are connected both internally and externally by bridges and footpaths. I expect minimum use of elevators and stairways. That the city is something of an artificial hillside and all buildings are structurally connected. That all residential dwellings have direct connection to an outside footpath: no climbing steps and no using elevators to get to ground floor. Outside will be accessible at all levels. No dwelling will be buried in the interior and dependent on artificial lighting. All dwellings will have natural lighting, natural ventilation, and access to outside footpath. A footpath that goes somewhere, not just a balcony.

The residential building should be relatively self-sufficient, and operate similar to a fully serviced hotel. There should be school, library, hospital, restaurant, offices and retail stores, with adequate car parking for residents and visitors, all contained in the one multi-storey building. Kids can walk to school, though in terms of existing buildings they can take the elevator.  {NB: a lot of city kids already don't know what cows and sheep look like, and have no idea of where their food comes from, so trapped in a single building isn't any greater deficit than they already experience. City folk are raised in an artificial environment and typically conditioned to function in and be dependent on such artificial environment.}

Such residential building can be something of a secured fortress, controlling who is and is not permitted into the building. Though such fortress may be more of a bad thing than a good thing. However combine the idea of residential hotel, with cruise ships, aircraft carriers, hospital ships and the factory fishing ships, and get the idea that all can be self-contained and kept mobile: as long as we have oceans any way. If people are content to live in the boxes of multi-storey buildings, and be locked to the dependency of the artificial environment of a city, then life on a residential hotel ship shouldn't be too objectionable. After all if the rich and famous spend their time touring the world or out and about on luxury yachts: then why not live on a ship full time. Ships are multi-storey structures.

Consider the problem of population growth in a city. The land has already been used up, but need more dwellings. It is therefore necessary to always have some buildings in reserve. For example in some location a 10 storey building is knocked down, and a 20 storey building is put in its place. People in a 10 storey building else where are relocated to the new 20 storey building, and the process repeated with their 10 storey building. To push the buildings higher to support larger and larger populations the footprints of the buildings need to also get larger: that therefore means the buildings need, at the very minimum, to become connected. Planning Regulations need  to control circulation space, and minimum width of corridors: and should be greater than currently set for inside buildings. Buildings are no longer simply enclosed spaces providing a protected environment isolated from the extremes of environment outside: buildings are becoming the artificial environment on which we are dependent. {Consider that there is a bacteria that lives in our guts, which apparently once lived in pools of acid on the surface of the earth. The environment we currently live in is not the original environment of the Earth: it is a polluted environment, polluted by that which we require to exist. We, humans, could be considered to be little more than the protective containment unit for that bacteria. Ultimately we also will require similar containment unit, if we rely on our cities we will become plants, if we make use of our vehicles we will retain the advantages of being animals.}

This dependency on the artificial environment of our buildings extends to an ever increasing demand for shade structures and covered walkways. Where kids once ran around in school playground and public playgrounds there are increasing demands to provide shade structures to protect from the sun and the possibility of skin cancer: as if everyone of prior generations died of skin cancer. {The Sun is not yet any where near as hot as it can burn.}

Buildings and other structures form the built environment, which forms an artificial environment which is meant to best suit our needs. My contention is that there should be more connectivity between the buildings which form the hub of a city. That this hub should then support a mobile population. The mobile population will either be in ocean going vessels, aircraft or land vehicles. That there should be many such hubs, networked across each continent, that these hubs should be no more than 400km apart in developed regions and no more than 10,000km across undeveloped regions. That the primary requirement for developing the continents is to get a network of such central hubs spanning each continent north and south, and east and west, and circumnavigating the coastlines.

As I see it, the problems of the world are not concerned with whether or not we have the resources to support the current world population but whether or not we have the political will, and the logistics to distribute the resources appropriately. Clearly population is not just shifting from rural communities into the big cities, making them bigger, population is crossing national boundaries to reach the preferred cities. Our world is not so much a world of nations but a world of controlling city-states, and outside the cities are the fringes and outland's. Unfortunately the mining and farming occur in the outland's and we are in danger of loosing people interested in mining and farming. People seem to be seeking office work and the lifestyle, especially the night life of the big cities: but all paper shuffling and entertainment is not good for our survival: someone has to produce the food.

Market gardens and greenhouses that were once close to the city centre have largely disappeared to remote places, and the land has been covered in housing. Good farming soil is buried under houses: not exactly a sensible way to go. However around the world there is this movement to bring small scale farming and industrial farming into the city. From backyard aquaculture to roof tops gardens, to entire multi-storey buildings operating as farm based on hydroponics and aquaculture.

Whilst my earliest ideas concerned fully integrated industrial city-states, where the pollutants  of one industry are piped directly as inputs to another, and the cities are 100km in diameter and set out on a 100km grid connected by high speed rail. My current ideas favour mobility, ships and floating cities. Ocean going vessels already have reasonably integrated systems, and are relatively self-sufficient. Rather than build massive vertical structures anchored to the earth and a whole heap of nonsense about them being hurricane and earthquake proof, I believe better to build massive horizontal floating structures.

One benefit of a floating structure, is that a new structure can be built whilst the existing is in use: no need to clear land and live else where whilst new building constructed.

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[11/01/2016] : Original