Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A horse's what??

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.


Why was that gauge used?


Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US Railroads.


Why did the English build them like that?


Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.


Why did they use that gauge then?


Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.


Okay... so why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?


Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.


So who built those old rutted roads?


Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.


And the ruts in the roads?


Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.


So it turns out that the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot, thereby proving that bureaucracies live forever


So the next time you are handed a spec and told we have always done it that way and wonder what horse's arse came up with that, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses.


Now the twist to the story...


When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.


The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.


So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's arse.

Subject: Aged Health care/Pensioners

The Government has refused proper health care to many elderly citizens due to their advancing years. It is a worrying problem for many but help is at hand.

Join the new free care plan today. If you are 65 years or older, you can apply. All new members will receive a gun and four rounds of ammo.

You are allowed to shoot two MP's, one Centerlink employee, and just to be sure of a long sentence, someone you really don't like and think the world could do without.  Daryl Somers comes to mind, or Eddie McGuire.  That sort of thing.

As part of the plan, you will leave enough evidence to make sure you are caught and in due course will be sent to prison with a life sentence.

There you will get a safe central heated or Air conditioned environment, three meals a day, lots of company, free TV and an assortment of games plus - most importantly - all the health care you need!

New teeth needed? No problem.

New glasses? They'll be provided.

New hip, knees, kidney, lung, heart? They're all covered too.

And who will pay for all of this? The same government that told you they cannot afford your current health care.

And as an added bonus, because you are a prisoner, you don't have to pay income tax anymore!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

How to spend a shitful afternoon

So I’m doing a dropoff at the airport this afternoon, and the best MO I have for doing this is to chuck everyone off at the departure line, then zip around to the McDonalds in the carpark and avail myself of a coffee until those doing the seeing-off bit are ready to be picked up.  Beats $30 for short term parking fees.


I’m propped up in Maccas with a nice coffee, and I go to put my canalphones in so I can watch some iPhone videa while waiting.




Hmm, that doesn’t seem right.


Withdraw right earbud to discover the silicone tip has decided to hop off the end of the speaker assembly and is now wedged in my ear canal.  Fantastic.  Bloody wonderful.  Ripper.  No way in hell that’s coming out with fingers, and the crap service station next door doesn’t sell tweezers or a small first aid kit with a pair in it.  Excelsior.


So muggins here gets to sit there for half an hour, *then* drive 50km back home, all with a lump of scrunched up silicone putting pressure on my ear canal and the flange around my eardrum.

Cattle gates - how not to do it

Cattle gate fail.

Ok, so that's annoying.

But... what if the pipework were to.... deflect... off something once it had pierced the quarter panel sheetmetal?

See all the ripples in the seat cover in the last pic?  That's clench at work....

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Data centre art

This is a real ISP's NOC in Sweden, and yes - it's built in an abandoned nuclear shelter.

Cabling pr0n:

Caravan fail

Nice Viffer with custom paint job

Saw this in the local Bunnings carpark, quite nice.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Good gadget

I can see one of these entering my life.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

New record!

New record - 28 cockatoos!

Game little buggers, too - got them to come up to about 4' away so far, as long as you have sunflower seeds.

Not everyone is pleased though, they're not allowed to play with the large white things having breakfast.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Things I learned today

Do NOT allow overenthusiastic transmission techs to remove and reconnect a COPB card in a RIM until the control bus has had a chance to discharge.  Or you will be going to find a new COPB card, nearest spare 20km away.


Having inserted the new COPB, I do NOT recommend resetting the NMQB 34Mbps stream decoder until the COPB has fully initialized.  This will result in the loss of the production DB in the RIM.


If you feel like being an enthusiast and doing steps 1 and 2, I really have to recommend you ensure the production DB is backed up first, as when you really, *really* need the core database to restore the RIM you have just comprehensively toasted…. The database file will be found to be corrupt, thus meaning you have *no* viable DB *anywhere* useful.


With about 400 customers offline, you may now offer a suitable penance up to the gods and recall an annoyed SME, who will in turn recall an even more annoyed systems admin, who will unearth yesterday’s DB archive, whilst all the while chewing your arse for placing yourself in such a position.


No, I didn’t do this, but I did get to watch.


I will consider that one an object lesson….

Monday, April 12, 2010

Office quote of the day

Bruno:  IT claim they have fixed this POS PC of mine but the goddamn useless thing still won't work, and I've had it.
Alen:  What's wrong with it?
Bruno:  It's slow as congealing crap and none of the applications work.  I'm going home, you can play with it all night if you like.
Alen:  Cool.  But what about the PC?


Just heard the above sound effect from my colleague next to me.  If you select the blank template and download it to a network element, it drops off the air....  particularly unfortunate if you were working on a network hub, too.
Nice man in white truck attending with a laptop, a serial cable and a list of telnet commands....

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I could only with to be so erudite

Ever heard of a bloke called Andrew Bolt?  He's a staff columnist for the Herald-Sun.

This may be one of the best newspaper articles I have ever read.

DEBBIE Webbe knew exactly who to blame when her daughter’s criminal boyfriend ploughed his stolen car into a young family’s little Mazda, killing himself and three others.

“I blame the police totally,” she said.

“I want the police to pay for what happened,” she added on A Current Affair, for which she wore a sleeveless shirt to better show her tatt, a symbol of the new barbarianism that is actually behind this tragedy.

Yes, I understand everyone wants to be kind and non-judgmental to Webbe, whose daughter Skye got in that stolen car with Justin Charles Williams and now lies critically ill in hospital.

Oh, hear the poor mother’s sobs on radio or on TV, while interviewers murmur their pitying there-theres - even as she crucifies the cops.

Oh, you poor dear, Mrs Webbe. So let’s not ask this tattooed lady in her moment of grief why she let her daughter go out with a twice-jailed 23-year-old father of three who’d been stealing cars since he was eight.

Let’s not ask this poor sniffing mum how she raised a daughter who’d admire a man with 37 convictions - a man Webbe in one interview said she knew had tried to outrun the police just last year, and who nearly killed himself in a crash then, too.

Let’s not ask what values she passes on to her children when even now she claims Williams was “not a bad kid”, “OK” and guilty only of a “petty little crime” after getting “a bit mixed up in the criminal world”.

Oh, I see, Mrs Webbe. There are no real criminals, right? Just the nice people you know who by pure chance mix with some faceless baddies, and can’t possibly be blamed when they steal other people’s cars, break into their houses, use false number plates, give two fingers to court orders, drive like death, flee the police and kill two parents and their baby, Brody.

You look at this mayhem and conclude ... what? That it could have happened to anyone?

You see the savage consequences of a savage acting savagely and “totally” blame ... the police?

But savaging the police for chasing Williams to his death is to blame the one symbol of authority that’s done its job - this time, at least.

Blame people we must, but let’s blame Williams first, along with the exhausted institutions that helped to produce a toxic culture in which such a feral could thrive and run so amok.

Blame this culture that later left its calling card at the crash site - not just flowers, but bottles of Jim Beam. It’s a sly grief that nudges other ferals even closer to their own moronic deaths. Taking some of us with them.

This is a tragedy which - like the more dramatic Jaidyn Leskie killing in Moe, or the murder of Anita Cobby, or the rape and execution of the Bega schoolgirls, or the Snowtown killings - seems to lift a rock on a subculture we usually ignore, since it’s so scary to confront.

Here’s some details you should know before you’re tempted to blame the police, too, as the authors of Williams’ death.

Williams was a serial lawbreaker who’d faced court at least once a year since he turned 18.

Again and again he’d breached good behaviour bonds the courts imposed in the deluded belief that such a man could behave well.

At least twice before his death ride he’d tried to outdrive police in cars he’d stolen, once mounting a bike path and last year crashing so badly he was in a coma for three weeks.

Even as recently as two weeks ago he was still triumphant in his contempt for the laws he’d trashed so often and the authority he’d never recognised.

On the “F--- the police” Facebook page he wrote underneath a picture of a crashed police car, “HOPE THE LIL DOGS ARE DEAD.”

He had excuses, of course. To get off his latest charges, he reportedly planned to argue he was unfit to plead because of brain injuries he suffered in last year’s crash.

He also complained he had attention deficit disorder, was illiterate, and had been thrown out of school “too many times to remember” for such things as threatening teachers and students.

And his background sounds precisely as you’d expect - another train wreck so typical of these no-responsibility times of breed ‘em and leave. Of broken promises of ‘til death us do part. Of a giddy freedom that leaves the weak falling through an endless vacuum.

He was the fourth of 10 children, his sister Tania-Lee says, and his own father left when he was just four. He alleged he’d been physically abused by a relative.

But, of course, he’d since repeated the very pattern of which he claimed he was a victim.

At just 23, this convicted criminal, who’d never held a job for long, had already fathered three children with a girlfriend he left last year, literally holding the baby.

How mad it is, that the Federal Government pays even criminals, addicts and assorted ferals to reproduce, $5000 a baby, rather than pay only to have their offspring at least made fit for society.

What a world we are literally creating. Two centuries ago in Britain, the rich outbred the poor, and pushed their values down the social scale. Now the poor - many virtuous, yes, but others lazy, careless or unsocialised - outbreed the rich, and the mob’s values are pushed up.

Am I too pessimistic? Too damning and arrogant, even in this week when 2000 fools can block a highway near my home, loot a Bob Jane shop, hoot the police and bash a photographer just because they didn’t get to see some dragsters?

If so, forgive me, because one final detail of Saturday’s smash sealed the grim deal for me. Guess who Williams killed on Saturday, scything through their car at 200km/h?

Friends of his, actually, both with criminal records themselves for offences involving drugs, and with eight children from previous relationships.

Now you have the details, so let’s do that blame thing, but properly this time.

No, I don’t blame police for chasing a lunatic driver in a stolen car.

I blame Justin Charles Williams for being a good-for-nothing.

I blame his parents for not sticking together and raising a boy to be a civilised man.

I blame those friends and relatives who praised in him what they should have condemned.

After them, I blame the schools and welfare officials for not grabbing Williams when he was young and already dangerous, and trying to make him straight, rather than turn him loose on our streets.

I blame the courts for giving him more chances than he ever planned to take, and leaving him free to steal yet another car for his last deadly drive.

I blame all of us for creating a culture that tells the feckless there’s no dishonour in leaving your children, or in betraying your most solemn duty to your spouse.

I blame all of us for killing shame, and for kicking to pieces the stern guides of tradition and faith that the brainless badly need in their trackless lives.

I blame the “reformers” who stripped our courts and police of their once intimidating authority.

I blame a government that throws money at the shiftless and that finances incivility.

And I blame those who, when a crook crashes and burns, blame first those few who at least tried to hold him to account.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Latest up-yours-Bill WGA/OGA cracks

Current to April 2010, needs to be applied in safe mode (preferably safe mode with networking is good).


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Here we go again..

Gee, Traffic Support Branch Superintendent Mark Fairney - you reckon you're sick of the carnage?

Personally Mark me ol' china, I couldn't care less about it.  I see that "initial investigations showed speed and alcohol were factors in the crash"... that makes the driver a fucking idiot in my estimation, and the loss of another idiot is no great loss.  Unfortunately, we don't seem to be experiencing much of a shortage of supply.

His death followed that of a 20-year-old Peterborough man, who was killed on Sunday morning at Yongala. None of the car's five occupants was wearing a seatbelt and the driver is now facing charges over his death.

An excellent idea.  Presuming he was actually at fault (which the article doesn't actually say, other than imputing so by the comment re charges) then I say clap him in gaol for a couple of years.  (To be fair though, I don't believe a driver should be responsible for other adult passengers not wearing seat belts - they're above the ago of legal responsibility, their actions are their own to answer for.  If that's all the charges are for then I'm equally disgusted at the police for focussing on an irrelevancy.)

The latest report I can find is bemoaning the death of 57 people over the Easter break.  I like the bit at the end though:

Drive safely, folks. Speed cameras, booze buses and police patrols alone can't keep you from getting hurt on the roads, so stay alert, drive sensibly, don't speed and definitely don't drink and drive.

Surprise, guys - penalising people for catching them after they have done something stupid is a poor deterrent.  By the time you catch them, they've already done it.  As I said yesterday, unless the penalties are so unthinkably hideous they don't stop people.
The other thing to remember is that if you put a few hundred thousand cars on the road, people are going to die.  Quite apart from speeding, being affected by drugs, alcohol or fatigue etc, people are still going to do normal dumb stuff.  They'll exercise poor judgement, forget to check a blind spot, drive a poorly maintained car, fail to drive to the conditions, generally drive like an Asian etc.  Crashes are going to happen, particularly if you increase the traffic density.  I don't have the numbers offhand, but I'd be willing to bet that the actual rate of traffic accident related deaths has gone down in proportion to the amount of traffic on our roads, which makes the wringing of hands even sillier...

Yes, apparently it does....

Monday, April 5, 2010

A rant about the current "road safety" insanity

Is anyone else sick to the back teeth of the current idiocy perpetuated by the media, government and assorted national police forces about road safety?

You can't go 24 hours without hearing a story on the media about how some teenage idiot with far too much engine and way too little ability, judgement and skills has wrapped their XR6 or Skyline around a pole and  killed everyone onboard.  You then get quotes in the media story such as this complete shite:

Victorian police are wondering when young drivers are going to 'get the bloody message' after an unlicensed teenager, believed to have been speeding, smashed into a pole.

Are the police truly that stupid that they even have to ask the question?  The answer is, very simply, never.  The average teenager/twentysomething clearly believes that are indestructible, has absolutely no ability to make a sound judgement about the future repercussions of their actions, and actively enjoys taking risks.  Throw in the thrill of breaking the rules, doing something "extreme" and peer pressure, and the chances of stopping them from doing stupid things in cars simply for the asking is precisely zero.

Then you get the most incredibly naive and idiotic crap like this in the media and my blood just boils.  Great idea, let them get away with it because it might be dangerous to stop them.  Anyone think that that approach is a long term solution?  It's like the stupidity of proposing that police abandon high speed pursuits due to danger - the sole objective of anyone busted for speeding would be to hit whatever speed forced the police to abandone the pursuit.  Luckily our nanny state doesn't quite seem to be going there just yet, but look at some of the clueless bullshit in that article...

Meanwhile, a woman whose 21-year-old daughter was killed in 2005 by a teenage driver during a police chase, said police had a "fixation" on pursuing stolen vehicles. "To my mind, pursuing stolen vehicles is very dangerous and pretty fruitless," Frances Rose told Fairfax Radio Network on Monday.

Gee, Frances - to my mind you're a fucking moron.  Do you not understand the fairly simple principle that by doing as you suggest, police would be sending the message that anyone stealing and driving away a vehicle would be allowed to get away with it?

In my experience, there are a number of ways to deal with behaviour you require to stop or change.

(1)  Ask nicely, point out the required behaviour, and educate the people concerned about the dangers and downsides to the behaviour.

Waste of time.  People generally exhibit the undesired behaviour because they don't care about the rules, can't be bothered complying, find them inconvenient, find it actively fun to break them etc.  You are wasting your breath even asking.

(2)  Tell people bluntly to stop doing it, and penalise them if they do.

Also often a waste of time.  Penalties don't stop people doing stupid things unless the outcome is so horrifically unthinkable that even your average brain dead twentysomething gets it, and there's no way our wrist-slapping nanny state legal system would allow something really effective.  You know, like having your car crushed, loss of licence for 10 years, $25,000 mandatory fine and 2 years gaol time.  For a first offence.  Until the penalties approach this sort of level they're just not going to be effective as they won't sink through the layer of stupidity that insulates the consciousness of the people involved.

Even then, you'll still get people who won't follow the rules, because the I-won't-be-caught-I'm-indestructable crap still kicks in, and you still have to remember we are dealing with a bunch of people for whom long term planning isn't a strong point.  And you only need one short instance of pedal-to-the-metal before you're surgically removing someone from a tree.

(3)  Prevent the problem from happening in the first place.

Now we're talking.  How about as a minimum:

  • raise the minimum licence age to 20
  • all trainee drivers required to complete a minimum of 100 hours of driver training with a qualified driving instructor, with log books
  • a real driving exam - two hours in mixed and heavy traffic, parking and maneuvering etc, plus demonstrating of defensive driving techniques
  • for the first five years of your licence, you are restricted to a 4 cylinder car with a maximum of 100 horsepower, maximum of one passenger in the car, zero BAC, no mobile phone usage whatsoever (handsfree be buggered).
  • if you're caught breaching any of the above, or break a single traffic rule, you lose your licence for two years with no option for appeal.  If you're also doing anything vaguely hoonish (speed by more than 20km/h over the limit, drive dangerously, race etc) your care is crushed - with no option for appeal.
  • at the end of that five years, you are required to resit the same driving test.

Combine this with the lovely new police system that can photo-ID numberplates and flag the car for attention by the nice plod lying in wait up the road, and I reckon you'd put the fear of dog into the little bastards.  There's nothing like some healthy fear of consequences to improve compliance.

It'll never happen, but until it does, my attitude to seeing three people being hosed out of a WRX that's now an integral part of a bridge stanchion is couldn't care less.  If you act like a fuckwit then at least your genes are out of the pool, and if you're stupid enough to hang around with fuckwits then it's pretty much the same.

I love working on public holidays

Not bad.... three hours into the shift and we're out of work.  Virtually nobody else is working either so there's no phone calls and nothing coming into the queue.
So I get to spend the next 5 hours drinking coffee at double time and a half....