NSA has nothing on the Australian Government

With all the brooo haha about Edwin Snowden’s revelations about the secret war by the NSA against American Citizens, the rest of the world and whether this is ethical, legal, in good taste and un American, one would think that the secret spying on your own citizens is something only Americans and the harsh regimes could think of doing.

My local council spies on me for my own good, and the Australian Government gladly legislates for all sorts of information to be used by the good operations of government so that my tax payer dollars are well spent.

Big Brothers Watching

It’s official, our local government say’s that they do get the meta data from my phone records. Who I call, how long I’m on the phone and all that stuff that can be used against me, or to protect me.

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If you want to enable mass surveillance on your citizens, don’t do it like the yanks. Just do as the Australian Government. Tell everyone you’re doing it, and have been doing it, and if they don’t like it, go … fish.

When running hot water isn’t an option

So, what can we do about cleaning in the evening when there’s no running hot water in the house?

We’re visiting family and friends in Tonga and although the place is nice and warm (for their winter) that water from the water tank can be down right cold when you need to submerge in it to get clean.

I’ve had many friends come up with an amazing range of ideas for how to warm up the shower experience in the evening. Sesilia and Sione demonstrate the oldest way known to bath during winter.

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Use a bucket.

You shouldn’t need to read any further, but they don’t actually suggest you get into the bucket.That’s silly Eye rolling smile

chuwi iuee android 7” tablets

Going through some minor burn in tests to see how well these little wonders hold out. So far, mostly positive.image

Quad Core Android 7” tablets for approximately AUD$80 each (delivered) and they’re quite good. Last night was spent just updating the apps on it, and configuring English settings etc.

A few games seemed to be ‘freezing,’ ‘crashing’ (Angry Birds, Dragons World) so there wasn’t much else to do but try running some of the Performance Analysis tools AnTuTu Benchmark, StabilityTest v2.7 and they seemed to report some good findings.

Continue running the update, update, to make sure we’ve got all the latest software installed.

‘Ofa recently got a Kindle Fire HD and I really enjoy the form factor and what a cheap ‘companion’ device this thing can be. Of course, ‘Ofa ain’t relinguishing her Kindle (she didn’t have much use for her original Kindle, so go figure that one out) so the rest of us have to do with trawling through http://www.aliexpress.com to see what Yahoo et. al. can provide for us from mainland China.

We’ve got here the CHUWI V17HD 1280×600 Android 4.4.

AnTuTu say’s we’re doing good, at a much lower price point. We have some magical number #16876


The Aliexpress sale page shows playing movies, and I can attest that watching a movie on this thing looks really slick.

The BenchTest pushes the Four Cores without any heating issues with the unit and that little guy/sprite hangs around while we whirl around him/her to show that the graphics capabilities aren’t so bad.


And the main reason that I was stopped on the page (other than the sale at the time?)


Android 4.4.2 Woohooo. I just love the AOSP mail client for this thing. And now it’s connected to Gmail and ActiveSync back to the Office MS Exchange Server.

Tonight was the first hands on test with the kids grabbing one each (1 had to make do with a Samsung GS4.) The kids were ‘in the cone of silence’ for 30 minutes. If you asked them to do something, their hands and feet would move but their heads were magically locked to the little screens.

It’s doing good for me for what it’s intended, a tote device for doing some ‘stuff’ with occassional/relaxed connections to the Internet, reading mail, watching a video. On that premise, this device is looking real good.

Fakalahi vahenga, workers compensation

It finally dawned on me that there is a complete industry here in Australia that also has generations of implementation in Tonga called “Fakalahi Vahenga.” Every now and then you see some of the guys pop out early to watch a game at the pub or down at the local TAB (betting establishment) and to further the generalisation the girls come in a ‘little late’ after a shopping spree.

In this regime of workplace reform, Fakalahi Vahenga is an accepted mechanism to compensate for injuries, problems encountered at work to assist the injured worker return to work at some functional capacity. In Australia, this includes the company or insurer trying to get the correct medical assistance the worker requires, such as seeing the See Eye, Hear Ear, Smell Nose doctors.

Fakalahi Vahenga is one of those accepted practises to help injured workers get back to work, or stay in work, depending on your understanding of the injury. This practise is well established in institutions, and proselytised by politicians etc. I think the only non-practising people are mum’s?

For Tonga, sometimes the emotional abuse of the work environment becomes increasingly difficult to compensate for which leads to longer and longer stress leaves. Because we’re very cognisant, enthusiastic about our workplaces, we turn up for work and just break out that ‘stress’ leave into elongated lunch breaks, or early home time or late entry time, a mix of the above or all of the above.

Uike Lotu is one of those national weeks of Fakalahi Vahenga where the majority of us just take it even if we’re not even attending the “Uike Lotu.” The more pious amongst us will take a day leave during the Uike Lotu, or just fakalahi vahenga and turn up for the clock in and take the elongated stress relief, go to an early lunch and extend that to taking an early Uike Lotu leave.

Customer Service and Phone Calls

Like most companies you come across, we have beautiful posters espousing our “core” values. These “core” values were derived at secret meetings which required secrete hand shakes for entry and various ceremonies such as:

  • convoluted names for coffee-beans smashed into hot water and milk.
  • marketing designed, marketing 3-way tested, focus group named things once known as crackers with cheese
  • hidden bunkers used to syphon the energies of the universe into the attendees, before they could vomit o their own self-assurances

Image courtesy of David Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.netOf course, everyone has the core value of “Customer” something or other. You know, how we all love those troublesome ‘others’ called customers, and how our genes have been scientifically altered such that our every waking moment is infused with the desire to pleasure our customers. Like broken start-ups around the world, we are also infused to not care whether we make any money out of this operation, we just love our customers.

Meanwhile, as the scientists continue to fine tune their adjustments to our psyche, phone calls go unanswered whilst we’re busy browsing the Internet.

There was a company I once worked at, where the CEO would pick up a ringing phone, deal with the issue and afterwards calmly scream at you if you were anywhere near hearing the ringing phone and didn’t do something about it. We didn’t have a customer service “core” value. He (yes it was a real he, not a metaphorical) just expected that we set up the phones so people can get in touch with us, and if the phone is ringing you bloody well answer it, he didn’t care if you had to walk across the bleeding office to get to it.

In our “core” value Customer oriented company, it’s the marketing/sales team that are most guilty of letting their phones ring. If they can’t get through, they can’t complain, and they can always call back if they really want to get through. There’s something being said here:

The team tasked with communications to, from our customers don’t pick up phones from any but their own. Even if the ringing phone is the desk beside them.

Which sign are you reading? The colourful one on the wall, or the colourful ones at their desks?

How good is your tongue

We have contrasting reading styles with our kids, and there was some concern about the progress of one of the younger ones, but there some odd issues.

Sesilia doesn’t seem to be reaching the same reading levels as her siblings. It’s a fight to get her to read, and when we read she wanders through her page slowly. She’s comfortable with her phonics and we’ve been drilling phonics for years in this household.

Oddly, she also spends a lot of time looking at each page as she’s reading, which is the same behaviour her two brothers showed. The boys reading levels, comprehension are very high. What’s going on in that head?

Phonics has it’s place in education, but it’s always good to remember that it’s just another tool. When the student fails to progress, maybe it’s time to review the appropriateness of the tool for the student, instead of “judging” the student. Remember that the student/child is the important thing, not the system or methodology.

Study finds potential flaw in reading instruction to Spanish-speaking students in US

What works for teaching students to read in English may be unnecessary for beginning readers in Spanish, Stanford professor says.

… by the end of second grade, a striking shift had occurred. Although the Mexican students continued to score lower than U.S. students — again, even those instructed in English — on phonemic awareness, the Mexican students had caught up to or surpassed the U.S. students in what truly mattered: reading achievement.

Inserted from <https://ed.stanford.edu/node/2377?utm_source=intelligencer&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=february-2014>

Language and culture continue to be an important discussion point for expatriots, FOBs etc.

This is another interesting data-point for raising culture and language with our kids.

Moist Meals

We had cooked banana, sweet potato with Corn Beef for dinner tonight (the kids had sweet potato chicken breast ‘wedges’)

I’m happily enjoying my dinner (as opposed to …?) when ‘Ofa stops. Picks up one of the bananas in her fingers and puts it in front of my face.

“See that?”

Uhhhh, yes dear (thinking that something weird’s happening with bananas this seasons that I don’t know about?”

“That’s why it’s moist”

Help me out here, I’m not getting any of this.

“Niu (coconut oil), that’s why the haka tastes moist and tender”

Help me, I’m still missing something here.

“But, we’ve always wanted our haka with coconut oil, lolo’i”

Unfortunately, due to matters concerning your health this message will self-destruct in 5 minutes and we will deny having ever heard or said any of the above. Your mission is, to use coconut oil in your haka. Generations of Pacific Islanders attest to the healing properties of …

I look forward to Sunday’s lunch., Mmmmm

Kids, spaghetti, symptoms and better practises

Here’s one for all the parents out there?

We had (have) this scenario at work where the simplest analogy for my non-technical friends was an analogy to solving your kids thirst and love for spaghetti. And that’s a messy story.

One of our software development team has a product that has been on a client’s system for the past 2 years and in one of the recent updates (about 3 months after a ‘feature’ update) the product starts getting this error:

WMI Service not responding.

The development team swear blind that they’ve done enough investigations, and the problem is fixed by rewriting their piece of code that touched the “WMI Service.” Of course, they can’t replicate the bug in their development environment, or the Quality Assurance environment. But, they can guarantee the error will go away by not using the above mentioned service.

We’re told to be in partnership with our people, and a summary of our investigations highlights a few interesting facts:

We have no clue why this error occurs, but we can get rid of the error.

The parallel to our child analogy above is, …

My kids all grew up loving spaghetti when they were introduced to solid food. As any parent, aunt/uncle will know: Kids and spaghetti are a recipe for ‘MESS’. Notice the capital letters there.

There are plenty of solutions on the market that budding new parents are urged to try. They have baby bibs made of hard plastic with a ‘catch’ tray that is easier to wipe/clean and can catch some of the ‘refuse’ before it reaches the floor. I’ve even seen promotions for floor plastic sheets, that new parents can spread on the floor to ‘catch’ the debry.

What are we solving above? Nothing really, because none of those products really work for inventive/scheming new spaghetti eaters. Your treating the side effects of the illness. It’s a messy business or you wouldn’t be dealing with kids in the first place, accept it and move on. The above ‘solutions’ are just helping you avoid dealing with the real issue:

Your kid is a messy eater.

Fortunately, most kids grow out of their messy spaghetti problem and elevate to messy bedrooms, messy schoolwork, etc. But that’s a different release.

Back to our team’s problem.

Solving the “WMI Service Not responding,” by ignoring it is cleaning up the after-effects and not the cause of the problem. The development team already know the problem only occurs when the server’s CPU utilisation is maxed out at 100%. They don’t test for this in the development machines or in the test team’s machines.

No, suggesting to install more debugging tools on the server (Visual Studio) isn’t helpful, nothing more will run on the machine and the few people/services already running are struggling.

No, scheduling a server restart every night is not a solution. It resolves your symptoms, temporarily, but it doesn’t solve your problem.

Unfortunately, programs don’t independently grow up and shed bugs like old skin. Programs tend to hold on to atrophied body parts until they get the proverbial code-stink. Code stink gets worse with age, a minor bug can readily become the foundation for a lot of problems.

Find out why you have these symptoms, why is the application using up 100% CPU utilisation. Fix the problem, not the symptoms that’s a better way forward.

Aquatic Center alight, spare a thought for the loss

Yesterday (Sunday) was scorcher in Sydney and we were at the mall (shopping) when our youngest daughter started whining, and complaining she was hot and we needed to go to the swimming pool so she can cool off (their favourite being the Sydney Aquatic Center at Homebush Olympic Park.) We had enough things to do that day so we stayed at the mall and then came back home.

It wasn’t until late in the night, after finally putting the kids to bed that we discovered there was a massive fire at the said Aquatic Center’s parking lot destroying 30+(?) cars and putting up to 5,000 in the center out into the heat as well as the disorientation of real and present danger. Disorientation accentuated with the uncertainty of whether they can get back to their vehicles, and more difficulty for those trying to figure out how to get home with their kids in tow, and the extreme heat of the day.

Fortunately, there were no notices of deaths but there is significant property loss and we feel for those who were directed effected.

It was an awesome display of powers of nature beyond our human control (of course I fear that the fire was human sourced, whether intended or thrown away trash (smoko or glass.) The day was very hot, and the cars themselves and their glass magnifying sunlight on the dry leaves/grass etc. may have initiated the furnace. We’re glad we missed the pool this time.

Strangely, the events are a juxtaposition with our Sunday Service on Philippians 3 and Paul highlighting that God’s salvation doesn’t come from our own power, greatness, good guy. It’s totally depended on someone else’s grace.