June News

Money under mattress

Financial Year End would normally be our theme for June, but it is still travel and renovation. There are some wonderful images of money under the mattress on Google search, but most have copyright notices, so this is all we have left after pouring money into a renovation (mainly because nobody would accept it).

Travel and Renovation

Much like last month; no software was written in June, just another trip to Brisbane with a load of furniture and equipment, plus plenty of renovation.

Van load of furniture and kit

What Happened?

A little embarrassing, but it added to the renovation effort. By now the rewiring was complete, and the electrician managed to not fall through the ceiling, but during the insulation replacement effort, I managed to make a rather large hole after missing a rafter.

Stepping through the ceiling

Oops — managed to not go through the ceiling, but there was nothing to grab onto. Such is the design of the roof! See the August news for what the repair looked like.

10mm of Gyprock is not much to step through, but is sure heavy to pickup if you have to repair a ceiling mishap. The repair was done using marine ply in two sheets, with the help of clamps and screws to hold stuff in place.


Disconnected from the Internet

We had served our sentence with the internet service provider. Now it was time to get a new service in Brisbane for my wife who had been without an evening internet connection for a few months. Luckily she still had access for banking during the day. There are many traps for the unwary — disconnection fees, reconnection fees, etc. We transferred the overrated NBN connection to an ADSL one in Brisbane with a delay of almost a month in getting it going again. Our advice to anyone on a rental is to get a wireless modem and get the people in the shop who sold it to you to demonstrate that it works with your laptop. I am convinced the massive layoffs in recent times with the outsourcing to India contributed to the lack of service in either McLaren Vale or Brisbane. Oh, I forgot, there is no such thing as being temporarily connected to the NBN box on the wall now that you are disconnected (without another year or longer contract). Wondering aimlessly in the desert of forty days could describe the disconnected feeling. It would last for many more months...

The renovation was going ahead, most of the furniture was in Brisbane, and winter was upon us in possibly the coldest winter we have experienced in McLaren Vale. Luckily the wood fire was happy to convert the felled pepper tree into carbon and heat.

News was no longer available as the TV was part of the last move so we missed the part where the House Speaker was found to be using a bit more than the previous Speaker for travel, and thus had her snout taken out of the trough. Headlines were less kind, and so another one walked into the sunset... I enjoyed her style, especially when she told Chris Pyne that he was to call the head of the opposition by his proper name after a little exchange of words that featured prominently on YouTube (when we still had an Internet connection in May). The minister will call ... by their proper name

Still no ARM-64 from Altera or AMD

We are forever hopefull that these two companies will launch a volume product based on their promises in the ARM-64 space. AMD for their prior record in getting low-cost motherboards into the market, and Altera so that making a viable testbed for instrumenting a multicore setup would be possible. We will wait a little longer, as the renovation is delaying us almost as much as the shift in end dates for these technology companies. It seems that the whole electronics industry is as bad as any of the building companies (maybe much worse) in promising deliverables. We are very badly out — each time you open up a wound in a house, there is a huge amount of additional surgery required to fix the problem. The ceiling did not help an already broken schedule either. Next time, we build, not renovate.

Tales from the Woods

A touch of welding

The septic tank cover needed a decent frame, so a little bit of welding was called for.

Tacking frame for septic tank cover

The welding table never made the journey to Brisbane. Here is a tack on the underside, before welding the frame. The work was done outside, and the welding table swapped for some very nice bottles of wine (new owner's son was a wine maker at a fine winery).

Welded corner after some grinding

Another corner after welding and a bit of grinding. Since been coated with various flavours of paint — metal etch primer, galv spray, Luxathane epoxy urathane, and silicon sealer before being placed in its new home.


We have managed to see large parts of Australia that flying does not even provide a hint of what is below. Each trip direction depends on weather, but the preferred route was towards the coast along the New England Highway, rather than inland via Moree. Here are a few photos to share with those who prefer to fly.

Adelaide Hills from Malpas Road

Adelaide Hills from Malpas Road (vines near McLaren Vale).

Travels continued...

Sunrise over Mendooran

Sunrise in Mendooran (75km north of Dubbo). A lovely small town past the Goonoo State Forest. A room in the Royal Hotel will only set you back A$50, showers are close to the room along the balconey, and the pub has one of the best slow burning stoves around. Meals are great as well.

The trip through the forest is not that different to the road via Gilgandra, except there are many more kangaroos. From there, the next place for accommodation is a long way off. The next few hundred kilometers are infested with fuel thieves demanding a ransom of almost 20 cents per litre more than the price in Adelaide or Pinnaroo. We have a range of well over 1000 km per tank, so we were only caught once.

Come to think of it, a cup of coffee is more than three litres of petrol! Something's wrong, Australia. The van will be fitted out for travelling without furniture or equipment later, and a coffee making apparatus will be right there with the portable toilet on the list. Toilet stops are not that good along the trip either, unless you have the bladder of a twenty year-old camel.

Lavender farm

By now the GPS on the Apple phone was starting to play up, and pinned this photo along Bective Settlement Road. It was of a lavender farm in New South Wales. One of those places you pass on a full van load, but visit when there are plenty of hours still left in the day on a return trip. Coffee breaks are also extremely important in this vast country, as distances between towns are almost entire countries in Europe (often with not much to see either).

For travellers from Adelaide to Brisbane, the best coffee to start off the trip is at Jabuk in South Australia. It is just after Peake and along the B12, perfectly placed before the first yawn rips your head off in one of those flip-top manouvers. That will take you through to Pinnaroo, where the Pinnaroo Bakery Cafe will make you another coffee. They are more famous for their breakfasts than coffee, but it is still a very good one. Don't forget to fill up with diesel or petrol (whatever you use, careful not to mix up the two as pricing is very different). The prices are the best along the way, even better than Adelaide. The next good price is the Shell station in Aratula, along the Cunningham Highway south of Brisbane (6776 Cunningham Hwy according to the Shell Fuel Finder). Prices inbetween these locations can vary by more than 10 cents per litre, particularly in New South Wales from Coonabarabran to way past Tamworth.

There are plenty of perils when travelling. The kangaroos are the most obvious — these silly animals are scattered all along the roadsides in the mornings after tackling truckers in daring acts of stupidity. However, this particular evening, we thought of doing some night travel and rather than the usual B12 route, we chose to go through Mildura to have the last few hours in built-up areas from north of Adelaide through to the Southern Expressway. A fuel tanker collided with a vehicle trying to pull out of a side road, with disasterous results. The small car driver was killed and the fuel tanker caught alight. This photo was taken almost a kilometer away. After the fire services had doused the spilled fuel, traffic was diverted via Sedan. It was not a happy night driving over a road filled with fuel and the smell of it was very strong. We passed the stricken tanker within a few hundred metres, still smoking. The detour route via Sedan and using the GPS was a nightmare; luckily we were empty.

Fuel tanker fire in distance

Fuel tanker fire in distance behind a queue of trucks on their way to Adelaide. 16th June, 2015.

Intel acquires Altera

We added this in during September, as we never noticed it earlier. We visit Altera's website almost daily waiting for the 64-bit ARM shipment dates. They certainly did not post the news, it was on the Register, at Intel gobbles up chipmaker Altera in $16.7 BILLION splurge, dated 1st June, 2015.