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Man living in caravan at Menzies

December 01, 2017 — BarryK

This poor guy is being hounded by the local shire council:


...what you can see behind him, are "quarter acre blocks".

I have been to Menzies, and was curious about those "blocks". When the town was originally gazetted, these blocks were marked out, and were sold to individuals. But, no one ever built anything there, and these blocks appear for sale every now and again, asking between AU$3000 and AU$5000 (about US$2000 to 3000), as the owners try and offload them to someone else.

Meanwhile, the shire council collects rates on these blocks.

The "town" of Menzies is in the Shire of Menzies, and there isn't much there. As I recall, the Shire offices, a diner for travelers, a pub. Most of the "blocks" are, as I recall, not in sight of the main road. They are just harsh desert terrain, you wouldn't know there are any "blocks" there. I don't recall much in the way of roads to them either, tracks maybe.

Anyway, this fellow bought one, put a caravan on it, and the Shire Council is charging him AU$50 per day for "illegal camping".

Apparently, this situation has come about because of one petty official on the Shire Council.

My God, there are so many illegal activities where official turn a blind eye. There are people camping illegally in car parks in Perth, there is prostitution. It is recognised that police and government officials have the discretion to sometimes turn a blind eye. This fellow is in the middle of nowhere -- leave him alone!!!


Mr Gopel's block is in Suiter Street (meaning, dirt track, at best). I was curious to see where it is. Yep, same place where I looked many years ago, some distance out of the town. See map here:

Those blocks I have seen advertised privately. This link has history of block sales in Menzies, however I think those are only ones sold through estate agencies or via the major listing sites such as

Tags: ethos

China Southern Airlines

July 03, 2016 — BarryK
A little while ago, I booked a flight with China Southern Airlines. This is a summary of my experience.

I searched for a flight at, and found China Southern to be the cheapest. Instead of booking through an agent, I went direct to their website.

What I found is that most of the pages at are extremely slow to load or don't load at all. However, the URL does work, albeit slowly. My guess is the latter pages are served from somewhere outside China, specifically for the Australian market.

After booking online, there was a statement that confirmation (and my e-ticket) had been emailed to me. Except it wasn't, nothing arrived, not in the spam folder either. After about half an hour, I hit resend, still no email. Fortunately, there was also a link to download the e-ticket as a PDF, and that worked. I never did get those emails.

Prior to booking, I joined their Sky Pearl Club, so as to get flyer points and be able to login to make any changes to my booking.
After joining, they sent SMSs, one of which had my login pin number. Three SMSs I think, all in Chinese. Anyway, I found my pin number in one of them.

After booking my ticket, I wanted to choose my type of meal, as I am a vegetarian. However, I found that only Business Class passenger are able to select type of meal online. Everyone else has to telephone them.

One reason that I booked with them, is I carefully read their conditions, and found that I would be able to cancel my ticket (with a "processing fee" of unspecified amount).

My circumstances have changed, and need to cancel my ticket. That's when the fun started. I logged in, clicked the button to change/cancel my booking, entered the relevant information, clicked Submit, and got a server error. So far, I have tried about a dozen times, different times of the day or night, either get a server error or it just hangs after clicking Submit.

Once again, a phone number is provided, to make booking changes. Looks like a number in China.

I have read a lot of online feedback about their phone support. Mixed, many say it is woeful, some had good experiences. It might depend on the English-speaking ability of the person at the other end.

Current situation is, I still have a ticket with them. I guess that I will have to try that phone number. With a great deal of trepidation.

I know, I know, the saying "you get what you pay for". But, this airline has quite a high rating. Odd though, one customer feedback site that I looked at, nearly all of it was 4 or 5 stars, yet there was another site with ratings down around 1 or 2 stars -- on that latter site, one guy said that he wished that he could give negative-star rating.

Um, these have very positive reviews:

This one has a lot of one-star reviews:

Interesting facts page about CSA:


Don't forget Microsoft's past

July 03, 2016 — BarryK
The comments here are an interesting read:

The post from A. J. Venter about 3/4 down the page, is particularly sad. Their enterprise in Africa was destroyed.

I am one of those oldies who remember much of MS's tactics. Let's see, how far back do I have to go... I am forgetting the early Windows version numbers... there was a time, in the 80's, when you had to install MSDOS, then Windows on top of it. Or, you could install Digital Research DRDOS, then Windows -- except that MS upgraded Windows and it refused to install on top of DRDOS, claiming that it was incompatible.

Which it wasn't. I did manage to trick Windows to install on top of DRDOS, and Windows worked fine.
It was just MS killing off a competitor.

Ha ha, that was just the start!

About the same time, there was IBM's OS/2, that MS initially pretended to support, but in fact they killed that too. See page 3:


Don't trust the Google App Store

July 01, 2016 — BarryK
This is a worry:

I have previously thought that I should only download apps for my Android phone from the Google App Store, as the apps would be checked out before being admitted.

This is adding to the many security concerns that I have about Android.

It almost makes me go out and buy an iPhone.

Tags: ethos

ODF back again?

February 23, 2014 — BarryK
Microsoft almost killed off ODF many years ago, or rather managed to get it shoved into obscurity.

The UK Government is looking at making ODF a requirement, see here:

I have learned to be pessimistic, when idealism/altruism, well just plain common-sense, are up against big business. Will I be pleasantly surprised this time around?


Why is the tea darker?

February 14, 2014 — BarryK
I drink green tea, boiled in water, nothing else added. For awhile now, I have been boiling it, allowing to cool, then pour into bottles and put in the refrigerator -- a refreshing cool drink -- it is summer here.

I had recently been using tap water, despite years of drinking only spring water or rain water. Then a few days ago, I decided to go back to using spring water -- no access to rainwater these days.

That is when I noticed something. I always boil the tea twice, allowing to stand for a short time between boils, to extract more from the tea leaves. I followed this exact same regimen with the spring water, and this is the result:

...the tea on the left is boiled in tap water, on the right in spring water, "Aussie Natural" brand.

So, I wondered, was the tap water causing more to be extracted from the tea leaves, or was there some kind of chemical reaction between the chemicals in the tap water and the tea leaves?

I conducted another experiment, boiled the tea in spring water three times, allowing to stand over an hour between boils, and this is the result:

...the bottle on the extreme right has been boiled three times in spring water. Darker, but still nowhere near the tap water.

So, I am left wondering. A bit of a google around did not really reveal why the tea boiled in tap water is darker.

I am using Nerada organic green tea:

This is what Aussie Natural have to say about their spring water:


$2B Android royalties

November 25, 2013 — BarryK
This is quite depressing:

As I understand it, Microsoft didn't have to really prove that their patents are valid, they just threatened and bullied the companies using Android to pay royalties.

Software patents should become illegal in the US (and Australia and everywhere else), as has been done in New Zealand:

However, there is this sobering assessment of what has really taken place in New Zealand:

Some analysts claim that the US is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. That being the case, US judges are likely to bend (alright, break) the rules in favour of US companies wherever possible -- and given that patent royalties are such a nice earner for Microsoft, no way will the US ban software patents, or curb patent trolls.

Except if it works against a US company...

There was a software patents case recently between Samsung and Apple in the US. The President himself intervened in a court decision against Apple: