Kinross Parking Lot

We purchased in Kinross in mid-2008, just one month before the Global Financial Crisis would strike. About six months before we purchased our home Connolly Drive had been extended north from our suburb to link up with Clarkson to help alleviate traffic build-up on Marmion Avenue. Sadly for those of us living in Kinross that decision meant that the ability to exit the suburb became far slower if you didn’t depart before a given time, earning itself the nickname the ‘Kinross Parking Lot’.

One a good day it takes just a few minutes from my door to exit the suburb, however on a bad day where traffic decides to come via Connolly Drive in a big way it can ramp up to 25 minutes at its worst. This is exacerbated by the fact that I live on the easter half of Kinross, our half of the suburb has only Connolly Drive from which to exit whereas the western half has this or Marmion Avenue.

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Our (former) local member Albert Jacob fought to have the Mitchell Freeway extended, and through his persistent efforts the State Government eventually agreed to its extension. The extension has taken two years to complete and this Thursday finally opens, I can hard contain my excitement at the prospect of being able to exit my home at 7:50am in the morning and not worry if it might be a 20 minute escape plan, or just a regular one.

 

A lovely Winter’s day

I booked a night’s stay in Crowne Plaza Hotel in East Perth a few weeks ago as I had a dinner party I was attending just down the road and a late night return to my own home in the northern suburbs late at night was not something I was keen for. A few days beforehand the weather forecast was looking grim, heavy rain and winds due. Come Saturday it hadn’t improved one iota.

Driving to the hotel was stressful enough, I almost never venture into the city, and never to this side, thus I have no experience how to get there. Indeed, the last time I had been here was prior to major changes to the Perth foreshore to develop the new Elizabeth Quay. All I can say is thank god for Google Maps, it told me which lane I needed to be in in order to navigate the maze of roads, but for this app I would have certainly ended up somewhere else.

Arriving safely at my hotel and headed up to my room on the seventh floor keen to check out the view.

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I had a wonderful view of the pool and grass across the road, but the Swan River and South Perth further beyond were nowhere to be seen. The wind was howling, screaming through my sliding door, and the rain was heavy. I was now worried, I was going to have to walk in a few hours to my friend’s place, heaven help me if the weather was like this.

Thankfully the weather settled down come time to head off the Kath’s, it was just lightly drizzling by this time, to my total relief.

The following morning the weather was beautiful and South Perth and the Swan River were restored to the view from level seven.

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HTML Emails: Ugh!

Our Communications Coordinator has just gone on leave at work and whilst she’s away I’ve assumed responsibility for the research newsletter. We’re not talking some massive broadcast here, it could be much bigger, but they really don’t push distribution as they should. Currently it’s run on this bullshit old listserv, talk about hello 1990s. Finally, I have managed to wrangle the manager into letting me move them to the modern era of email campaigns and tracking user interactions.

One of our other team members uses MailChimp to send broadcasts to businesses about events, so I thought I’d also investigate despite having previously used Campaign Monitor. Like CM it was a simple interface and ended up being simple to establish my desired template, import our existing user list and begin next week’s newsletter. That’s where my being impressed ended, as I was entering the newsletter I noticed it was not so nice with handling the formatting, I was forced to double-return to separate paragraphs – WTF!? It turns out that MailChimp was not using paragraph tags on the content, instead it was just separating each with break tags, queue my horror.

I convinced the manager to look at Campaign Monitor, I prefer this product anyway having used it for several years, and I knew it most certainly did not have lazy formatting. Tonight I setup the same template and tomorrow will import the list. The beauty of CM was it offered additional font choices not available on MailChimp, the choices were visually more preferable for our newsletter. I think CM also handled the whole Desktop / Mobile / Tablet scaling better than did MailChimp, I could be wrong and maybe it was just Outlook.com web client not scaling imagery, I am not sure.

I look forward to our first campaign going out on Monday and being able to provide the managers statistics from the first week so they can see interactions by users, and how many of our user base are interacting with us, something we have never known. The statistics may help them to better target those things they provide and perhaps eliminate items in time that perform poorly.

Are content owners serious about discouraging piracy?

You have to wonder, are content owners truly serious about discouraging piracy of their content?

In 2016 Australia’s Federal Government passed legislation allowing content providers and license holders to apply to the courts to having illegal distribution sites (e.g. torrenting sites) blocked by ISPs. Foxtel, a longtime pay tv provider, began the process of applying to the courts to request a series of sites be blocked; several applications have been made since.

I have no problem with content providers wanting to make a buck from their efforts, no one wants to work for free after all, but what I do have a problem with is where they don’t allow us access to their content at all. I happen to enjoy the CW program The Originals, season 4 has already concluded but here in Australia you cannot access it anywhere. Foxtel channel Fox8 is its typical home, and prior seasons are also available on Netflix, but Foxtel doesn’t appear to have even showed this season, and doesn’t have access to prior seasons either.

I have purchased a number of season passes with Apple’s iTunes, and for many months now have been searching for the show in hopes it might finally turn up, given it is available within the United States iTunes store. This leads me to believe that the content owners are targeting, punishing Australia for content piracy which is hardly going to encourage a take up a legal means of access.

Maybe content owners need to look to the opportunity now occurring in Australia, we finally have inexpensive means of accessing content at a time when they can apply to block those torrenting sites. If they are serious about discouraging piracy, make the content available to the various services and give them a fighting chance.

Senator Ludlum

Just a few days ago Federal Senator within the Greens Party, Scott Ludlum, advised the nation he would have to resign after being advised he still had New Zealander citizenship. He’d lived here since age 3 and naturalised as an Australian in his teenage years, thus thought he was no longer a citizen of his birth country, seeking then to serve his new country within its parliament. 

I have always found Senator Ludlum to be a great and hard working politician, even though I may not vote for him. In the days since he announced his resignation due to the constitution not permitting him to serve, how utterly bloody stupid is that, there have been suggestions he might need to repay his salary back to the Australian people, some $1.6 million. 

Have we forgotten he actually served his country, his constituents, he debated in parliament and on its committees? I do hope that our government will look at this and say it was an honest mistake and not expect repayment as that would be truly disgusting behaviour. Just such a pity our parliament loses a hard working and dedicated person due to a constitutional provision. 

Sleep eludes me

I’ve never had much trouble adjusting to travel, this despite the fact that I cannot sleep on a plane to save myself. This was proven back in 2011 when after 40 hours awake I finally arrived in Calgary, Canada, hit the bed within 30 minutes of arriving at my hotel and was up and hitting the ground running at 8am the next morning. 

Having returned from two weeks in France just 9 days ago I have found this time I am definitely not hitting the ground running. I got home and after getting some food went to sleep for some 16 hours, then the next two nights I slept 11 hours a piece. I had thought on my first day back to work I was reset, I awoke nearer to my normal waking time, but the next day I nearly didn’t wake in time to go to work… oops!

I’m wondering if our being in winter has anything to do with my having trouble with adjusting, the mornings dark into 7am at the moment. 

My doctor prescribed me Melatonin this morning. I have never had this before, but she assures me it is wonderful at helping to reset the body clock. I hope so. 

French holiday ends

It’s hard to believe that several weeks can pass so quickly, but I think when you’re holidaying somehow time manages to move at a faster pace than when you’re waiting for that holiday to arrive.

My time in France was met with some particularly hot weather, the French kept assuring us that it was abnormally hot for June with temperatures ranging from 36 to 38 degrees most days and also humid. I’m not one for spending much time in the sun, thus I was the most obvious candidate for sunburn, I kept forgetting to apply the cream to protect myself, or reapply it when I had put it on. Thankfully by the time my Trafalgar tour returned to Paris weather returned to a more normal mid- to high-20s, though still humid.

One of the reasons I wanted to go to France was to finally use that French I’d learned in school all those years ago. For six years I’d learned the language, and achieved high grades, thus I was keen to apply that which I’d learned. It was immediately apparent when listening to the French speak I was never going to be able to keep up with them, or fully understand all that was being spoken, they were too quick and there was no way our classes could span the entirety of the language. I found it interesting between different hotels I’d stayed in that some used “etage” for floor/level whilst most used “niveau”.

One observation I made during my time in France related to French waiters and their confidence with English and taking orders. When in Rennes our waiter spoke very limited English, in fact most waiters in that restaurant indicated this, thus most in my group just pointed to the menu items when ordering. For myself, I chose to speak to the waiter in French hoping it would make the already nervous individual feel more comfortable, funny enough it didn’t. I found here and in other places despite ordering in their language often items never turned up, either they were on the bill (Rennes) and not delivered, or just not included at all (Tuileries).

I had a great time in France, as well as a day trip to visit the stunning Belgian city of Bruges. I very much enjoyed visiting the many old buildings, many of which pre-date European settlement of my own country, their utter beauty, craftsmanship and engineering skill leaving me in awe. Completing my third Trafalgar tour I am again glad I selected them as my tour company, I have again walked away with several new friends as I did from my first tour sixteen years ago.

One thing I think I have learned is that I really should upgrade my flying from now on to at least Premium Economy, the extra legroom is worth the added expense. Following my arrival in France, and after having walked around the Notre Dame area waiting for my hotel to become ready, that night I had the worst cramping in my right leg and did initially fear the worst that I might have a DVT. I had a massive bruise appear mid-way on my left thigh which really did scare me, it didn’t occur to me until two days later that it had been caused by a Paris Metro turnstile having jarred rather nastily against that thigh when I had to force my way through – I was much relieved once I recalled this.

Returning to Perth on the Wednesday flight I made sure to drink plenty of fluids and for the first time I swapped to the aisle seat instead of my usual window seat preference. The ability to jut my legs into the aisle for additional stretch not available within my usual seat was certainly nice, as was the ability to just get up every so often and not annoy someone to do so.

Now back in Perth it is a chilly 16 degrees celsius, though I think we may have been cooler today and had a crap load of rain, what a difference half a world makes.