Grump's Corner

(directly related to 'things' affecting my lifestyle in NSW, Australia)

29 September 2010

Telstra Shops

 

I do not know if my experiences at the Castle Hill Telstra Shop are typical, but it is consistent:

·         Twice in the last month I have attempted to change my pensioner discount from one line into the house for another,
Twice I have given up after waiting around for about a half hour…
Twice I have given up!

·         Can it be done on the internet: who knows?  Don’t try searching the Telstra website: it is singularly unhelpful in this regard.

 

NSW Radar Speed Cameras

 

How come the average driver will be booked for doing a few ks over the speed limit, when L-platers and red P-platers can exceed their limit by 20kph without being booked?


 

30 January 2010
Illumination in various road tunnels around Sydney

  1. There is a lot of knowledge available on the effect of flashing lights on epileptic and semi-epileptic people
  2. the non-continuous overhead strip lighting in various road tunnels around Sydney produces a flashing effect on drivers, not only directly but from reflections from other vehicles Either the designers of tunnel lighting don't know, or DON'T CARE


30 January 2010

  Sydney (or, insert your city here) Drivers

A recent trip across the city from the Baulkham Hills Hilton to Cape Banks reinforced the lemming-like behavious of drivers:

  • A car had broken down in the Eastern Distributor tunnel, south-bound.  It was in the left hand of the three lanes; a few hundred metres short of the off-ramp to Bondi.
  • The traffic signs telling drivers that there was a traffic problem ahead and to merge right started a few km before the breakdown
  • The overhead lane markers for the left lane were showing a red 'X'
  • Every traffic sign in the tunnel informed drivers that there was a traffic problem ahead and to merge right, alternating with advice to turn on the car radio 
  • The tunnel emergency radio communication was broadcasting that there was a traffic problem ahead and to merge right.

Drivers intending to take the off-ramp (i.e. the left lane) perservered with the left lane despite the signage, red 'X' indicating the lane was blocked and the radio notifications until they could see the broken down vehicle, then tried to merge right...
...at that point in the tunnel there was chaos

That few km added 45 minutes to our trip (i.e. inconvenient), but thankfully there was no emergency requiring police, ambulance or fire engine.


15 November 2009

Telstra/Bigpond - their website...

The two best things that Telstra/Bigpond could do are:

    • Take every computer manufactured after 2000 from the (presumably, reasonably well paid) website design staff; and ONLY allow them computers running Windows 98.
      Presumably the aforementioned website design staff have super-dooper computers and the latest web design packages with all the bells and whistles - and believe in using all the bells and whistles.  Even comparatively simple Bigpond pages take far roo long to load - how customers on dial-up cope is beyond belief.
    • Have somebody (anybody?) who is familiar with online payments fix up the system - particularly the Telstra on-line billing

21 September 2009

My first experience of a 'domestic' flight on the internal leg of an international flight...

Part 1 - Sydney to Brisbane (the 'international' bit):

    • Book in - all OK 
    • Through Immigration and Customs - all OK 
    • Flight - all OK 
    • Exit at Brisbane - almost OK 
    • Immigration OK (the orange sticker on your boarding pass gets you through (but it would be nice if someone warned passengers to make sure they hang on to the boarding pass until through customs and immigration (nobody does))) 
    • Customs want to take your boarding passThe boarding pass (with the orange tag) gets you to the domestic terminal for free on the sky-train without it you pay

Part 2 - Brisbane to Sydney

    • Book in, flight and exit at Sydney (back to 'domestic) 
    • Thinks - arriving at domestic terminal 
    • car is in car park at International (on the other side of the airport) 
    • Qantas transfer to the international terminal is inside the secure zone and booked luggage will be on the carosel outside the secure - and there is (innocuous) stuff in my booked luggage that will not get through screening to get back inside the secure zone 
    • Collect luggage from carosel 
    • Together with a LOT of other priority passengers on the flight with priority luggage, ours is the last out onto the carosel - there is a LOT of grumbling 
    • Luggage comes out on carosel #2 - second from the western end while the exit for our flight is on the eastern end.  This is at least different from the other week when the luggage came out on carosel #4 - second from the eastern end while the exit for our flight was on the western end 
    • Look around for directions to the transfer bus - if they are there they are well hidden 
    • Give up inside the terminal to look outside - after ten minutes or so, see the T-bus go past (empty!) 
    • Give up outside and try to take the train to the International terminal - go down to train level 
    • Trains closed due to track-work, staff direction to alternative busses... up steps (luckily I am lightly packed and only has a shortish flight) 
    • Bus to International turns up after about 20 minutes

Not the end of the world, but the plane landed 21:15 and I get out of the car park about 23:00

Both Qantas and Macquarie Airports need to get their act (including information and signage) together!

And congrats to STA for the busses and staff!


17 March 2008

The criteria for a truly successful con is that the marks NEVER realise they are being conned. 

The ultimate example must be having marks that are prepared to die for a cause, in the belief that their cause is just (funny how the power brokers never fall into this category).

The sickest example is that there is an unending supply of marks.


 

4 February 2008

Development of 'service desks' subsidised by the pharmaceutical companies?

Having just 'invested' an hour or so of my time trying to resolve a problem with my Bigpond website hosting I am left with:

    • Elevated blood pressure 
    • Frustration 
    • An unresolved problem with the website access 
    • An even higher level of grumpiness than usual

Telephone help desks 

    • some are brilliant
    •  and then, there are the others...

Internet help pages 

    • some are brilliant
    • and then, there are the others...

And the connection with pharmaceutical companies?

Presumably they make money out of selling happy pills; after this evening's example, there must be a lot of people that need happy pills to cope with 'service' desks!


 

29 January 2008

Vehicle Tail/brake lights

Over the last 30-odd years or so, car 'designers' appear to have let the design of headlights to the otherwise unemployable - there is no excuse for what has happened, and also inexcusable that the regulators (ADRs in Australia’s case) have allowed headlight design to become an expensive (and potentially lethal) fashion accessory.

Having successfully developed (???) headlights to their current idiocy level, vehicle manufacturers have discovered that they can let their wannabe designers loose on tail light assemblies.

It is bad enough that some (too many) taillight assemblies are designed (?) such that minor carelessness when loading something into the boot/hatch/rear door becomes a big-dollar expense to replace the assembly (and they break or crack SOOOO easily) - the wannabes have discovered LED lighting; and if a few LEDs are good, lots must be better.

There are cars on the market that have tail lights so bright in darkness the driver of a following vehicle has trouble seeing - and then there are the brake lights.

With all the whiz-bang computer technology available, surely if the manufacturers want to use such intense lighting there could be some way of reducing the intensity in relation to the ambient light level (gadzooks, 1950s technology?).


2 January 2008

News (or the lack thereof)

Those with little interest in the 'how' can skip to the last paragraph

We live in an age of (near) instantaneous media coverage of 'news'; but what is 'news'?

    • One definition that I remember goes along the line of 'real news is the things that important people don't want you to know'.  This is a somewhat cynical view, but in the time I first heard it (back in the early '60s in a media class) it had a certain ring of truth - probably far more pertinent now.  Given that media empires are corporations, and their directors tend to spread across various other corporations, unless a corporate personage is out of favour it is unlikely that critical or 'unfavourable' news about these personages and their families will get very far when it comes to news.  Governments have the 'D' notice or its equivalent: or more subtly, the suggestion of a D notice; corporations have 'editorial policy'.
    • Certainly, the TV industry gives us news as entertainment - even when there is a dramatic event or happening to 'report', news presenters become the focus rather than a mere conduit.  Presenters I can live with; provided the news content is adequate. 
    • Unfortunately, 'news' has a tendency only to be promulgated if it is considered 'newsworthy'.  Many years ago when CNN was in its infancy, a trip to the US or a stay in a hotel that 'took CNN' by satellite provided news (at least in its video form): CNN took incoming news and ran it (generally) without any fancy editing and without the benefit of commentators providing 'interpretation'.  This was spectacular (even if rough) and had immediacy; as each hour rolled on the CNN staff had time to tidy up the video, but generally do not alter the thrust of the item; The networks are unlikely to be accused of this 'un-interpreted'/unfiltered approach. 
    • Opinion is presented as 'news': apparently the recipient audience is incapable of interpreting news unless it is has been first digested and reconstituted 
    • Reporting has been replaced by commentary and opinion
    • 'Spin' is presented as fact 
    • Censorship is censorship no matter what guise it takes; media empires seem to have a policy as to what is to be covered - and what is not to be covered.  At its most blatant this policy is criticised by the 'democratic' media if it is practiced by totalitarian states; but when called 'policy' it is practiced by almost all media organisations in one form or another.

And the whinge

If there is something newsworthy, it will be done to death.

If there is something remotely newsworthy, it will be done to death.

If there is nothing newsworthy, opinion will provide enough to fill the gaps.


19 December 2007

If only to show that a 'grump' is not that way due to some innate disposition

It is one of those 'evenings' in Sydney suburbia - low 20sC, gentle breeze, no mosquitoes or flies, not overly humid, twilight as I finish off mowing the backyard lawn after a pleasant evening meal.  The aging cattle dog has spent the time watching me on the sit-down lawn mower (not REALLY quality cattle-dog time, but the next best thing).

Sigh!


2 December 2007

Cable TV

Why are there advertisements on cable TV?  The increase in monthly costs of 'cable' have vastly exceeded CPI, together with economies of scale and advertising has been added???


20 November 2007

M2 Westbound...

In conjunction with the 'widening' to three lanes from the toll booths to the western side of the Epping tunnel (actually, no widening; only narrowing of each lane to fit in three) have come a number of other changes:

    • Westbound from the LC Tunnel end to the toll booths used to have a 100kph speed limit without any real problems - this has been degraded to 80kph
    • Westbound from the toll booths used to have a 100kph speed limit - now degraded to 80kph, and 70kph through the Epping tunnel - and a 24 hour speed camera.

Is the speed camera for the 70kph limit area, or is the 70kph limit for the speed camera?

Arggh! (no, I have not been 'booked')

If the triplication of this section of the M2 is such a perceived safety problem, why was is undertaken?


10 November 2007OK!  So I have been occupied on other things

King Georges Road - Wiley Park

How much longer does the vehicular traffic in Sydney have to suffer this permanent traffic chaos?  Isn't 50 years long enough?

Parked cars near the shopping precinct on King Georges Road were creating a bottleneck back in the 1950's... 
Drove through this area today around lunchtime - what is probably considered by the NSW Government as a three lane (each way) is in fact about 1 1/2 lanes.  Parking in the curb lanes is allowed in non-peak hours; making the area around Wiley Park railway station in effect peak hours for 24 hours every day!

Every day of the year, thousands of drivers are inconvenienced (at the best!), an untold amount of excess fuel is consumed, and no bugger cares.


16 October 2007

40 days of Federal Election Campaigning...

What did we ever do to them to deserve such treatment?  We give them a sense of (self-)importance, staff to wait on them hand and foot, chauffeurs, overseas trips, massive remuneration, arguable the world's best superannuation - and how do they repay us?

We have this spectacular system where those people who we do not want in general society are identified (called pre-selection), and isolated in a series of padded cells cleverly disguised from them (called parliament houses) where they can undergo mutual mental masturbation without disturbing the populace or calling on any intelligence...


6 October 2007

Why do Winemakers put preservatives in wine?

My wife and I used to enjoy a bottle of wine with the Sunday roast meal - we no longer have a bottle of wine with the Sunday roast...

Not that either of us have become teetotal; simply, if my wife shares the average mid-range Australian wine she ends up with a violent headache.

Q - What has changed?

A - Preservative 220 (sulphur dioxide)

In common with many households, the mid-range (A$15-35) bottle of Australian drinking wine would not last very long in this household.  It is purchased for drinking in the (comparatively) short term, not for cellaring.

So, why do the winemakers put so much preservative in it?  Surely not so that it can be cellared for decades this is drinking wine, not connoisseur's wine!

Have you tried buying a bottle of wine without the dreaded preservative 220?  Ask at your local bottle shop and chances are there will not be a very big range.

Preservatives undoubtedly have their place.  It is an ancient art; look at how successful the ancient Egyptians were at preserving bodies - but then I would not take one of their pieces of handiwork out for a good time on a Saturday night...

I would like my drinking wine to be something I could share with my wife - not something on a shelf to be admired for how long it will remain (further) 'unspoiled'!


27 September 2007

Headlights of oncoming cars (at night-time):

    • Back in the bad old days, when a vehicle was inspected for either the initial registration or the annual inspection for re-registration, the headlight alignment was checked (and where necessary, adjusted) at least once a year the headlights when on low beam would not be glaring into the oncoming traffic.
    • Back in the bad old days, when a vehicle was repaired after a collision, the repairer would check the headlight alignment (and where necessary, adjust) before the vehicle was returned to road use. 
    • Back in the bad old days, headlights did not have a sharp cut-off at the top of the low beam light spread (nor the prismatic multi-colour effect) of modern headlights. 
    • Back in the bad old days, every second car on the road did not have driving lights as standard. 
    • Back in the bad old days, traffic police would stop and book drivers who had their lights glaring into oncoming traffic 
    • Back in the bad old days, a blip of high beam to an oncoming vehicle was usually all that was needed to remind them to dip the lights to low beam (or get their headlight adjustment checked). 

Maybe, if the police started to book a few drivers for having misadjusted headlights, driving towards oncoming traffic when on high beam, and/or driving towards oncoming traffic with the driving lights on, together with a bit of an advertising campaign there would be fewer accidents caused by drivers being blinded certainly life would be a lot more comfortable for oncoming traffic. 

Relating to driving lights, why cannot vehicle manufacturers set the circuitry so that the default for driving lights is off; i.e. when the vehicle is switched on the driving lights are off (this is how the electric overdrive lock-out works on my car).and then