Opinion Australia

One man’s view of how the world might be.

Archive for February 2009

Vale Wendy Richards

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We learned this morning of the death of Wendy Richards who finally succumbed to breast cancer after a long struggle, she was 65.

Wendy was a favourite on the small screen for in Britain for many, many years both as a ‘blonde bombshell’  Miss Brahms in the classic series “Are You Being Served”, and as the matriarch of the Fowler family in “Eastenders”.

I first heard of her ‘singing’ with Mike Sarne back in the 1960’s on his hit song “Come Outside” but that was a one-off for her and she continued with her acting career to the relief of all.

She was a lovely lady.

Written by welshdog

February 27, 2009 at 5:44 am

What does it mean to be "British"?

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Some statistics have been released which, if correct, maye you wonder what’s happening over in ‘dear old blighty’.  The figures released imply that 1 in 9 people living in Britain were born ‘overseas’.

Globalisation, cheap travel, easy migration and wide differences in living standards have encouraged people to move in ever greater numbers from place to place, and especially from less developed areas to those perceived as ‘better off’. There are now nearly 7 million people resident in the UK who weren’t born there.

As the recession starts to bite, unemployment rates are increasing and large numbers of non-uk born residents are qualifying for, and receiving the dole.

I suppose this is an issue countries around the world have to deal with, especially Australia which relies on immigration to keep the economy growing. The question to ask is are we going down a similar path to the UK and if so… is it really such a good idea?

It also makes you reevaluate what exactly it means to be “British”!

Source: One in nine people living in Britain now born overseas

Written by welshdog

February 25, 2009 at 6:44 am

Posted in Environment, Society

Cloud Computing – getting closer!

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The concept of ‘cloud computing’ had me very confused for a while, I really had no clue what these buzz words actually meant., or what benefit it would give me. Eventually ‘daylight dawned’ and I not only understood what the pundits meant, I discovered that I’d actually been using it for some time! 🙂

At the simplest level, even a personal website is cloud computing. Basically *anything* you access/store/manipulate etc anywhere online, and off your own hard drive, could be gathered under the umbrella term. In practice however the term has slowly developed to the point where it’s taking on a subtle difference. Now it’s becoming understood as covering any activity you currently do locally, i.e. on your own computer HDD, but can be done online.

So for me, apart from this sort of site, the most obvious use of ‘cloud computing’ has been Google Mail which I’ve been using for some time. However I’ve slowly been getting used to accessing my *data* online as well. I have been using a backup service called ‘Mozy Home‘ and currently have some 45Gb backed up ‘just in case’. It ‘syncs’ overnight when I’m asleep and ensures that if the machine is stolen or destroyed I’ve not lost all my data… photos, music, documents etc. Diverging slightly from the topic, being with Mozy has some added benefits. If the computer is stolen and used by the thieves, it’s possible I might be able to locate who they are and where my machine is by downloading *their* files which Mozy would have backed up! 🙂

Moving on, I’ve just started using an online facility called ZumoDrive. It’s still in beta and ‘invitation only’ but still worth checking out. The free account gives you 1Gb of space to give you a chance to evaluate its usefulness. Basically it’s a hybrid system that creates a ‘virtual drive’ on your computer which you can use exactly the same way as any other drive on your machine, with a few important differences.

To begin with the data isn’t stored on your hard drive, it’s uploaded to the ‘cloud’. Secondly, that data can be accessed anywhere you have access to a computer. Thirdly, you can use it as a ‘file sharing utility’ by giving access to other people via your own, or alternate email address logins!

Naturally it has a few drawbacks, the main one being using it for *all* your data needs a fast broadband account… and if you have no web access you have no access to your data. For the most part tho this just means modifying what you upload and for storage/easy access of images etc it’s ideal. I tried using it to ‘stream’ my Lord of the Rings music to my netbook using a free connection at the local Macca’s and it worked perfectly. I’m seriously considering opening a monthly account (10Gb for $2.99/month) and using it for more file transfers!

There are other ways of achieving the same ends, tho perhaps not quite so elegantly. One of these would be the Windows Live SkyDrive. With the SkyDrive, Microsoft has given all users a 25Gb online storage space which they can access, use for file sharing etc. It isn’t as versatile as ZumoDrive, but is free and of course, works.

The point is that as the cloud develops more and more features and functions will be made available for online use. Already Google online offers tools including a word processor, spreadsheets, presentation software etc. Add in the mail service, blogging facility, photo storage etc and you can begin to see a time closing in where purchasing an expensive computer for ‘home use’ will be a thing of the past.

From my perspective – sooner the better! 🙂

Written by welshdog

February 24, 2009 at 7:12 am

Mohamed al Fayed – a real reason for complaint?

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You really have to ask yourself if there is something to the continuing complaints of Mohamed al Fayed (the owner of Harrod’s) that the ‘powers-that-be’ (including Secret Service, the Royal Family, and the police) in the UK are conducting a conspiracy intended to ruin him… in other words… people are out to get him… and have been for a very long time!!

This time the police have spent months investigating claims he groped a 15 year old girl in his office.

Somehow the claims reached the media, and despite him being able to prove he was elsewhere at the time the offences were said to have occured, the police nevertheless took several months to clear his name… whilst leak after leak managed to find its way into the media.

Sometimes you just have to ask yourself if his apparant paranoia really does have some basis in fact!

Source: Furious-Fayed attacks police cleared alleged sexual assault girl 15.

Written by welshdog

February 18, 2009 at 9:51 am

From bad to worse.

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The fires are not yet out… the death toll not finalised… and Melbourne suffers another blow as projections of some of the long term issues become clearer.

This time the problem is water supply. Rainfall in the catchment area for Melbourne is already at its lowest on record, and the dams are currently only at 30% capacity. Now, with much of the catchment burned and blanketed in ash, when the rains come it’s likely that the water collected will be far too dirty for use. Eventually it will clear of course as sediment settles, but it might take years in order for that to happen because each time it rains… if it rains… the dams will be again polluted by turgid ash filled water.

Despite the problems this will cause, it is nonetheless a short term problem and can be fixed. The issue is far more serious than that and projections have been mooted that suggest the *minimum* period affected will be fifty years, and the situation may not revert to ‘normal’ for up to 300 years!! 

So what *is* this problem that is so serious? Basically it’s the possible, actually probable death of hundreds of thousands of Mountain Ash trees. The Mountain Ash is the dominant species throughout the affected catchment area and there are grave fears that the crowns of these trees have been destroyed by the intense heat of the fires.

Whilst it is a Eucalyptus, the evolution of the tree has produced one that *requires* fire in order for seeds to sprout. It is of course, no more fire resistant than others, and these fires were so severe they may not have survived over immense areas. What’s worse is that this variety they won’t shoot new growth from the sides, or the base of the tree. These trees regenerate from seed alone.

This may not sound that serious… until you learn that new growth can use up to 50% more water than a mature tree, and as the growth period of these trees is very extended, the total water supply from the catchment could drop by that amount for the foreseeable future.

What sort of effect this massively reduced water supply will have on Melbourne in the short and long terms is open to discussion, but serious questions are already being asked about the city’s ability to function with water supply so critically threatened. Something will obviously have to be done… the question is, just *what*.

One thing is certain however, the decision of ex-NSW Premier Morris Iemma to push through the building of our desalination plant may well turn out to be a life-saver for Sydney. If similar disastrous fires were to scour the Blue Mountains our water supply, already a bit shaky, would be stretched to the limits and beyond. If that happened, then the plant could be put quickly into full production.

Written by welshdog

February 18, 2009 at 9:31 am

Insanity in the UK.

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The level of bizarre behaviour of institutions in the UK is getting out of hand. Soon they’ll be on a par with the lunatics in the USA.

Current in the list of oddities is the case of two grandparents who were told that they were too old to look after their grandchildren… and were then told that because they had complained to the media that their kids were instead being adopted by a gay couple they would no longer be allowed any contact with them. This of course is despite them having already adopted the youngest child, the childrens repeated insistence that they be placed with their grandparents *and* the youngest girls known and recognised fear of men! More lives ruined in the name of political correctness.

Then there is the man who has been jailed because he confronted a heroin dealer and flushed 5 bags of the drug down the toilet. It’s good to know that drug dealers can rely on the full weight of the law being imposed on people trying to do the job the police can’t or won’t do. Just for added measure he was imprisoned for two months for defending law and order whilst a Portuguese lorry driver who wiped out the lives of six people gets 3 months per life! What an indictment of the justice system??

And lastly… for today… we have Virgin Rail telling its customers they can’t give each other a goodbye kiss when they drop them off at the rail stations.

The country is going to the dogs.

Written by welshdog

February 17, 2009 at 9:02 am

Posted in General Ramblings

So much for that

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I must have fallen out of the habit of daily blogging suring the ‘enforced’ break over the holidays. Yesterday for example, the site hardly entered my thoughts except at the beginning of the day when I realised I had no time to cough let alone write.

Yet despite having my little netbook at hand all day, I managed to watch most of a film, visit the doctor, pick up one of the kids, and spend the evening at ice-skating (where I even had a *free* free wi-fi connection at Maccas where I was sitting), without considering for a second I could be wittering on about ‘stuff’.

Still it could be worse. I was reading a ‘New York Times‘ article pointed out to me by The Phantom on his blog about ‘slow blogging‘ which is supposed to reflect the new blogging process involving deeper thinking and a more laid back attitude to it all.

I think I was a leader in the field of slow blogging… tho it must be said my attitude isn’t so much a ‘laid back’ one… it’s more ‘laid down’.

Written by welshdog

February 17, 2009 at 6:34 am

Posted in General Ramblings

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