Monday, February 28, 2011

Dumb as a post co workers

Spent a good hour today trying to convince a bulletheaded co-irker that her understanding of rostering was basically nil.

It would seem to be a matter of very common sense to me that it is not possible to have 9-hours shifts in a 24/7 environment with only a 30 minute overlap, but do you want to try explaining it to her?  It was only when I cracked it and asked her - in front of the team - if the world she lived in had 25.5 hours in a day that she shut up.

This was not the only idiocy of the day.  Other gems included not wanting to travel to work late at night or early in the morning, which literally got down to me drawing time as a linear function on a whiteboard and inviting the people involved to illustrate visually how this was possible in a 24-hour environment.  I suspect some of them are still there attempting to illustrate the 4th dimension, apparently if you use every colour of whiteboard marker going it makes a difference.

In the meantime, I've brokered a deal with mismanagement that's not perfect but a good deal better than the original, and the unwashed can have it as a fait accompli.

In unrelated news, should anyone require a new helmet, I can recommend the following designs.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Nuclear power and sandals

I'm sitting here doing a couple of HS&E/environmental awareness courses necessary for the site induction for the building I've been working out of for the last week.

Apart from the obviously stupidity of this as a situation, it has occurred to me that this would be at least the 20th more or less identical site induction I've ever done, so what is the purpose of doing yet another one?  Don't put heavy stuff on high shelves.  Don't use electrical equipment if there are blue sparks coming out of it.  It's inadvisable to use the benzene to clean your desk, although it does a really, REALLY good job.

The answer, of course, is liability.  Liability drives the entire world these days, because as always it comes down to a culture of blame.  Until blame is assigned to someone for something happening, it might be assigned to someone else, and we can't have that.  In some ways blame is like a heat seaking missile; once released, it's dangerous until it finds a target.  Once that happens, everyone can calm down and get on with it, because the danger to them is gone.

So we put out yellow a-frame signs to let us know when the floor is wet.  That way, if we fall over and break an elbow, we were deemed to have known this, and it's out fault.  Every product in known creation has a 49-page disclaimer and acceptable usage policy that you're deemed to have accepted by breaking the shrink-wrap (which you had to do to read the policy in the first place) which can be used to prove that no matter what you did and how you did it - you did it wrong, and any disasters so arising are therefore your fault.

And so, here I sit doing HS&E 21 of my life, and I'm sure there will be many, many more to come - all designed to ensure that the management of the company can prove that when any problem occurs, they'll be able to prove it was my fault.  It really is a matter of the most splendid irony that "health and safety" actually means "minimising our corporate liability".

I've also been sitting here this morning listening to two of the people nearby banging on about some David Suzuki film that one of them saw on the weekend, some we're-killing-the-planet epic about the evils of plastics.  I'm sitting here at a plastic desk, on a plastic carpet, wearing partially plastic clothes, operating a lumop of electronic plastic.  I doubt that plastic water bottle is going to be the death of me, something else is gonna kill me first I suspect.

At the same time, there's been media coverage over the weekend over the same old carbon credits debate (doom and gloom that prices will go up) plus an alleged ethical debate over Australian uranium exports.  Most of the people arguing about the latter are, to quote Colm Meaney from Con Air, off saving the rain forest, or recycling their sandals or some shit.  Without even reading the rest of the article, I can tell it's going to morph into some useless discussion about "renewable energy", "renewable" apparently being the current buzzword of choice for bunny and tree huggers.

I'd like to see our tree hugger build a car out of wood, or actually pay for a shirt manufactured out of pure flax.  Or do something radical like feed himself in a totally environmentally friendly and energy renewable way while standing in the middle of a city.

Most of the proponents of "renewable energy" will happily quote solar/wind/wave energy as somehow being adequate for anything other than running a transistor radio, while conveniently ignoring the fact that the transmitter that puts out the radio signal alone is broadcasting about 50 megawatts.  Let's see you run that one off a wind turbine, shall we?

The solution is, of course, the same as its always been.  Go nuclear.  Nuclear is the only source of energy we have in abundance that will provide sufficient energy for earth's requirements without polluting the living crap out of the place any more than we already have, and maybe if we stop burning coal and oil for power then David Suzuki can go back to fishing plastic bags out of the creek in some peace.

Of course, we won't make this decision until it's too late, and the situation is so completely fucked that there's really no solution left at all, just degrees of alleviation.  I just wonder what it would take for society to collectively grow a set of balls and do what needs to be done?  Whatever it is I doubt it will be acheived under out current system of government, which is based on offending as few people as possible to preserve the lousy stinking jobs of the politicians, as opposed to being any sort of stewardship for society.

Ah well, enough of a rambling rant for the meantime.  I think I'll go make a coffee.  In a plastic cup, using electricity, with non rainforest alliance beans, and I plan not to give a damn about it either.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fun afternoon

Spent half the day with a vendor and a network architect planning some of our network alarm collector, site surveillance and remote management stuff.


We’re using Kentrox site manager kit, large hubs, smaller hubbed boxes, and POE sampler boards with analogue and digital inputs.  Capturing power (voltage, mains fail, bank discharge, recharge delta etc), temp/humidity, door open, shock/tilt and camera.  Door sensor will grab a frame and either FTP or mail it in, and I can stream off the box too.  Thinking about implementing a wand camera on a cable for talking thick field staff through stuff too.


Every site has twin, diverse, redundant in band management paths from the cloud, plus a totally standalone satellite feed that’s aggregated through the earth station in Perth for out of band backup.   That means two IP pools for the gateways with failover relearn routing in the cloud.


Inside the site, there’s a management IP for every box, plus IP/portforwarding via iptables to every other device, so if the IB management to one side goes down I can still hit it from IB on the other side seamlessly. We will also have port mapping to all the serial ports so I can use basic telnet or FTP to do remapped serial cut-through to any interface unless the whole site is a smoking crater.  That means we not only need a while address map for every device at the site, we also need a complete iptables map for every device and what it’s portforwarded to in cascade.


That’s just the backup stuff if the site manager itself goes down.


If the gear itself is playing up I have both IB Ethernet cut-through and OOB serial cut-through onto everything, via Craft.  Every device will have a full config map, a default boot template plus a dumped running and startup config file we can restore the site with.  Telnet in the box via OOB or have local tech do it, give it a local IP, mask and gateway.  I can now take over via telnet and dump a full running config into it, box doesn’t even need to be restarted, it takes effect on the fly.  Now I can SSH to it and start dumping in all the customised stuff.


Now repeat times  900x FAN sites and 120 POIs.

Whiskey, tango, foxtrot...

Have a look at this scruffy haired yoof and guess what's going to happen.

You'll be wrong.


There’s something about the concept of putting a virtual machine through Windows Update that’s just... wrong.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just a few random thoughts from the day

To the Indian dude who looked like a version of Manuel from Fawlty Towers with a Melbourne Midnight Suntan who stepped out in front of me this afternoon with your head up your arse; yes, I did walk directly into you and knock you over on purpose.  Look where you are going.  Even better, look where I am going.


Lady at the shopping centre who suddenly decided to pull up motionless spang in the middle of the aisle because you saw some product that caused your single neuron to cold-start; yes, I did run my trolley directly into your shins deliberately to make the point you are a dumbarse.  It looked like it hurt.


It’s nice to be able to afford the luxury of knocking off 30 minutes before rush hour if you are getting the train home.  You get to avoid all the little scurrying lemmings why think they have to barge and push to get themselves home 2 minutes earlier.


To the smartarse whose attitude I corrected on the train the other day; it’s not only basic civility to let people off the train before getting on, it’s basic physics.  Two people cannot occupy the same doorway at the same time.  I felt zero hesitation in taking a firm grasp of your collar and relocating you where you needed to be for the basic laws of the universe to carry on.  I realise you didn’t like this, but I have 10 years, 4” and about 30kg on you, and after the day I had I was quite prepared to sit you on your arse in front of the entire platform to make the point.


There are two sorts of people who wear suits.  People who wear them because their job or position requires one, and people who wear one because they’d like to have the position where they need to wear one.  It’s quite easy to tell which is which.


Quite a few women wear joggers for walking to work and presumably change into something a little more dressy once they get there.  I think this is an excellent idea.


Laptop backpacks are also an excellent idea.  Manbags/satchels built for laptops sound cool until you heave one over a shoulder for more than a block.  Then you’ll be crying for a backpack.  I’m only carting a 13” ultraportable, power pack, full sized corded mouse, VoIP headset, wireless modem and cabling with me and that’s heavy enough for 4 blocks.  On a similar note, that cordless notebook mouse you got?  How’s your hand doing after a few hours?  Yeah, looks painful.


There’s a interesting variety of street bums who exist exclusively in cities.  How they got there, I don’t know.  I’ve seen a few still sleeping in the mornings, just crashing on a slab of concrete or a bench with a blanket over you must kill your back, even if you’re less overweight than I am ever going to be.


Our work VPN sucks the root.  The throughput is woeful and the DNS is worse.  Luckily I only need it on to access the network shares and Communicator, mail works fine with it off.


I just found out that I am being paid $50,000 a year more than the annoying FOH person I sit next to until the ops centre floor is completed in our building.  He’s no less annoying, but somehow… the irritation has faded into relative insignificance.


Oh yes – despite the annoyance, cost and occasionally odour of getting the train into town, there is a certain value in being able to sit down for half an hour, let someone else drive, and watch Star Trek on my iPhone.


My mate here is now nicknamed Passion Fingers. Touched a $25,000 alarm collector and fucked it totally. Overwrite the default configuration file on the thing and we've got no idea what the fucking admin password is now. Fuckhead is Polish so it's something like wrskrwzck but he's misspelt it....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Bandwidth with the work VPN running, boo.

And without the VPN running...

Monday, February 14, 2011

To my co-irker

To my co-irker who has been sent along with me this week to dog forbid learn something...

I realise what we're doing is new; I have precisely the same experience in it as you.
Yes, it's a little daunting to be doing something you're not trained in.
I agree completely that we might get part of it wrong.  I think that's inevitable.  I'm not stressing over it.
No, I don't have the answer to that either.  You know as much as I do about it.  Rephrasing the question will not change this.
Please stop asking me to validate every single thing you do.  Here's $5, go downstairs and buy yourself a spine.

In short, if you don't stop acting like a codependant symbiote I will cheerfully choke your worthless life out of you, if only for the stress relief.  I just wanted you to know that.  And I will hide the body in the lab afterwards, I reckon it will last for at least a week in the air con before I need to find an alternative.  And that just be the trigger for buying that cordless reciprocating sabre saw I'd like.

Now, did you have another question for me or were you thinking about growing a pair of balls and acting like you've got more maturity than an insecure teenager?

PS - Oh yes; if you tell me once more that my list of alarm events is wrong, and you make me interrupt what I'm doing to point out you have misread "self" as "system" or something similarly utterly different, I will stab you in the eye with a pen.  It will hurt.  I will also use your pen so I don't get gooey bits on mine.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dear Americans

Dear Americans,


I realise you have long since butchered the English language in the name of crass individualism and anticolonialism like you have many other things, but I would just like to point out one issue if I might that has come to light this evening on the idiot tube.


The correct pronunciation for oregano is OH-REE-GAH-NOH.  This is a basic phonetic concept that anyone speaking English as opposed the to the bastardised Americanish version of it would realise.


It is NOT pronounced OH-REG-AH-NOH.  You will notice that compared to your horribly butchered version, the “e” is long and the “ga” is plosive.  It is also not emphasized with a growling sound like a cur dog on the “r”.


Please correct this immediately.


Oh yes, while I am on the subject – there is no such thing as “aluminum.”.  There is a metal called “aluminium” which I think you refer to, but you are missing an “i”.  (You are also missing many other things, but these lie outside the scope of this message.)


We will discuss the revolting concepts of contracting “right” to “rite”, “night” to “nite”, “quick” to “qwik” and other such atrocities on a future occasion.


Your cooperation is appreciated.


(How your redneck, inbred, knuckle dragging society ever rose to be the dominant continent earth is beyond me.  Personally I blame the French for assisting as they did at Fort William Henry, but then again the French can be blamed quite legitimately for many things.  Being French primary amongst them.)

More nanny state

Er, hang on - somebody actually got it right!

Burn in hell, fucker.

People who have annoyed me this morning.

This driving to work and listening to talk radio is definitely interesting, you get to hear all sorts of opinions.  Some of the sorts of total twaddle, tripe and complete bollocks people come up with are quite interesting.


One of the stories in the media this morning is the Coles and Woolies price war over milk.  Now, the Opposition agriculture spokesman John Cobb is suggesting people boycott Coles over the price war to support dairy farmers.

Good luck with that one, John.

What had me boggling though was a discussion between the radio host and John Cobb, where John carefully explained his complete lack of understanding of basic economics.  His argument was that by Coles dropping their prices, they would impose a price drop on milk processors at next contract evaluation, who would then offer lower prices to dairy farmers in turn.

The rather gaping hole here is that dairy producers will simply refuse to supply at prices that don't cover their costs plus a profit, or it's not worth their while to do so.  That sets a minimum price limit that processors can buy at, which transfers to Coles, which transfers to the consumer.  If Coles want to sell at a negative profit as a loss leader to get people in the door so they can flog them overinflated bananas, that's fine - but it doesn't automatically flow back down the supply chain, as our alarmingly misguided politician thinks.


I also saw this little gem in the news this morning. 

Now, I realise that it's necessary to take a few things into account here.

For starters, modern society has a culture of blame at the moment; the first priority when anything goes wrong is the identifty and castigate a culprit.  This usually takes precedence over anything else, including fixing the problem.  Once a scapegoat has been safely blamed for the problem, everyone else can relax in the knowledge they can't be blamed for it, and then they get on with dealing with it.  In this case, with the shooter dead, some other poor sod has to be located for shaftage.

Secondly, this was a crime involving a gun.  Since the liberal right-wing media and most politicians are generally biased against gun owners, there's going to be a bash.  With the judiciary, law enforcement and laws being set by liberal government, the result is pretty much inevitable for the poor gun owner.

Thirdly, and quite curiously in contrast with the first point, in the nanny state nobody's ever to blame for anything they screw up.  It's always that they weren't sufficiently loved as a child, or were bullied at school, or their work environment failed to fully nuture and guide their development.  Heaven forbid anybody actually be required to take responsibility for their own actions, like our dead shooter.  No, we'll blame the father for allowing the snowflake to access the evil, nasty gun, because he couldn't possibly have contemplated such an act unless he was given access to the means to do so.

So the upshot is the father gets convicted of manslaughter, effectively being blamed for the entire event.  At most he should have been done for failure secure the thing.  But that won't happen, because that would require society to collectively accept that yes - the person next to them might just go postal some day and decide to slaughter everyone in the room.  Perish forbid we might have to deal with that, best we remove anything sharp or dangerous in case someone is tempted to not place nicely, eh nanny?


Finally, this is one of the hot topics of the day.  There's lots of hysteria in the media about the evils of level crossings, the transport minister was interviewed on the radio this morning, and some talking head from the RACV was asked the exhume some policy statement that was once wrung from said minister several years ago - at the time the shadow minister.

I was agreed that level crossings should be expunged, and that at least 10 should be earmarked for immediate removal and conversion to something safer.  What I found extraordinary though was that the RACV immediately also said that it would be far too disruptive to convert the crossings to road flyovers, it would be better to convert the rail lines to subsurface.

Hmm, let's examine that one.

Point one.  If you dig a hole, it will fill with water at some point.  This is generally regarded as inconvenient.  It certainly was last week.

Point two.  Rail lines need a maximum slope of around 2-3°.  We can assume that a line recess will need at least 12' or so, for rails, stock, pantograph and caternaries, and road base structure.   That means the angle of repose needs to begin around 300' back - on both side - to acheive this depth, not including the length o f the platform at the bottom.  Given a 6-car Siemens Nexas is around 500' long (including coupling spacing) and 10' wide, then 192,000 cubic feet of overburden would need to be removed alone just to construct the necessary ramps and platform section for a 2-way track - and that's for precisely the width of the train, making zero allowace for walling, clearance, the passenger platforms and access walkways themselves etc.  I reckon you could safely add another 50% to that?  And that's just the dirt you've got to dig out, now you can pay for the construction itself, and if Mr RACV thinks he's going to keep driving across that bit of road while they excavate out underneath it I think he's going to be disappointed.

Mr RACV then admitted that such a program of works would cost in the order of $80-100 million per station.

I've got a better idea, and certainly a cheaper one.  How about people just stop being criminally moronic, and squeezing through the closed gates/driving around barriers etc at level crossings?  Personally I really don't give a damn if you get killed, but it stuffs the traffic up for me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Just a few of the stupider news stories of the day

The MPAA are threatening to disconnect Google from the internet.  Good luck with that.

Nice one, Apple.  You've only had a FREAKING YEAR to correct the problem.

Cool jury verdict of the day.

How cool an idea is this?

Attack of the flaming NIMBYs

Ah, I see the NIMBYs are out in full force today.

These would be the first people baying for blood if lack of coverage meant they couldn't make a 000 call, if network congestion caused their vital call to their bestie to drop out, or, worst of all, meant they couldn't update their Facebook status on their iPhone.  The world would just come to an end.

I'm not sure if it's just a blind spot or if the people involved are truly so stupid they can't make the linkage, but it's very simple, people - you want mobile phones, you need coverage.  That's the way it works.

Interestingly, The Australian ran a couple of pieces in the last few days banging on about the US plan to build a wireless "NBN" based on 4G LTE technology, and unsurprisingly the hacks churning them out followed the standard editorial line of bash-the-NBN-at-all-costs - these costs including, apparently, their increasing loss of credibility.

As this piece in Crikey points out (ie drives bus sized holes through), you'd need a cell tower in every street to be able to provide comparable wireless coverage to fixed locations.  Fire up the NIMBYs again guys, and get a few shovels of fresh rhetoric in there - they're going to need something to be angry about.  After all, in today's society of outspoken empowerment, apparently everyone's an airchair expert and they have the right to have their opinion listened to, even if they have no idea on the subject and their only understanding has been fed by urban myth and one-eyed media reporting.  (Looking at you, Australian IT.)

Wireless is fundamentally a solution for mobilty and access edge use.  It's limited by the need for towers to ensure decent reception, the need to provide bandwidth to those towers, line of sight, intereference, the need for an antenna at the premises etc.  Why would you want to use it for a fixed premises access solution when there's a viable pit and pipe solution already available?

Wireless spectrum doesn't just appear from the sky, it costs money because there are multiple users contending for it.  Obama can requisition it from TV companies all he likes, but that doesn't create spectrum - it just steals it from another media delivery network that will then have shortages down the track.  It's also not just a matter of waving a magic wand and allowing additional spectrum to be used - if it was that simple, it would have already been done.  The reality there is that the most attractive spectrum has already been used, going further outside this means additional costs in terms of lower efficiency, wider channel bands, higher transmit power levels (watch out for that extra head growing, NIMBYs), larger antennas, higher power consumption for devices etc.  There's a decreasing rate of efficiency that has to be recognised before just assuming it will all be OK.

Fibre might be expensive now, but it's building a network that will be there for the future and can be scaled.  Bung a few new SFPs in the headends (about $200 between 32 users) and right now I could go gigabit to the premises.  The reason it's being limited to 100Mbps now is that frankly there's no need for it (and the odd leecher who wants to download the entire internet every month is not a valid need).

In other news, did you you know there's a red light camera that also does speed detection at the corner of King and La Trobe Sts in the Melbourne CBD?  I do now, dammit.  :(   2 weeks to get the infringement notice out... hopefully I don't have another one in the pipeline.  Luckily that intersection is normally sufficiently congested that it's rare to be able to just drive through it, let alone at better than 50km/h.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cop this

Interesting conversation on the way home.  Some cop spouting bollocks on talk radio about the evils of mobile phone use in cars, usual weak arguments about safety etc.  I couldn't resist calling their call line.  Conversation is about as close as I can recall it.



Me:  So why exactly is talking on a mobile while driving dangerous?


Cop:  You could be distracted away from your primary responsibility, driving safely.


Me:  So talking while driving is dangerous?


Cop:  No, the use of the handheld mobile is dangerous.


Me:  And it's still OK for me to use a handsfree to talk while driving?


Cop:  Yes.


Me:  And it's legal for me to fiddle with my stereo, change the CD etc while driving?


Cop:  We don't recommend it.


Me:  Is it illegal?


Cop:  At the moment, no.


Me:  Is it legal for me to hold something else while I'm driving?  For instance, a piece of wood?  Or a pen?  Or a keyring?


Cop:  Yes.


Me:  So the talking isn't dangerous, the holding or manipulating the object isn't dangerous, but the combination somehow is?


Cop:  Yes, you're not allowed to talk on a handheld mobile while driving.


Me:  So is the mobile somehow an inherently evil object?  Or a weapon of mass distraction?


Cop:  Studies have proven mobile phone use while driving is distracting and leads to higher accident rates, which is why the law is there.


Me:  What if I take the SIM card out of the phone, or the battery?  Is it still a mobile?  Is the device still legally a phone if it's no longer capable of making a phone call?


Cop:  No, but what would be the point of that?


Me:  Bear with me for a moment.  So you agree that a mobile phone that can't make a phone call is not inherently a risk to safe driving in of itself?


Cop:  No, why?


Me:  Because I'd like your public official answer whether it's legal to have a conversation going on a mobile via a handsfree, and at the same time just hold a second dead mobile which is totally incapable of making a call.  This precisely simulates the situation which you say is dangerous and distracting, but yet it's apparently completely legal, and I therefore presume safe in the eyes of the police, correct?


Cop:  Erm....


Me:  Because you were talking earlier about how the law was tightened in 2009 to remove all the loopholes, so naturally you got them all, didn’t you?  By the way, did you know I’m talking on my mobile while driving?  I’ve made it through rush hour from Albert Park to Caulfield while talking to you, seems safe enough to me if I can debate a senior police officer to a standstill while doing so.


Radio DJ:  And we'll be right back after these messages!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Scammers and impeccable timing

I just found out over the weekend that my mother received a scammer phone call from some Indian scumbag telling her that her PC had a problem during the height of the cyclone festivities.

Whilst my mother is normally a polite and well spoken individual, even with obvious scumbag ripoff merchant scammers, I suspect her response was a good deal less cordial than it might have been under more relaxed circumstances.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Just had another fire alarm and building evacuation.

For once, it wasnt a false alarm; the builders on the 4th floor drilled down through the slab... into Telstra Learning Academys comms room on the 3rd floor.


At least TLA knows their VESDA systems are working OK.  :D


Anyone had a look at LinkedIn, or got their profile on there?

And does it strike anyone like... Facebook?

I will admit I have a profile on there, but it really does feel like yet another social network trap, just under the guise of professionalism and business.  The pressure is there not to be on LinkedIn because you particularly want to be, but because everyone else is, the implicit message being youll be the odd one out.  Of course now its not just socially uncool to be the conscientious objector, but its professionally damaging too.

All of a sudden, its SpaceFaceMyBook all over again, trying to see how many friends/connections you can accrue, in the mistaken belief youre encouraged to develop that this actually means anything in the real world.

I suspect the reality is that just like Facebook is actually a way to provide enough functionality to get people to voluntarily agree to stare at advertising, LinkedIn in a trap to get people to buy useless premium subscriptions to something they dont need, by scaring them of the consequences otherwise.  And then in the future, theyll start providing webmail, online collaboration, secure document storage and hosting etc and well all just have to buy into it... because its the new paradigm.  By the time people realise its an artificial construct its too late, youve already taken the blue pill.

The more I think about this sort of stuff lately, the more I realise that increasingly were all being very cleverly manipulated.

Everything from moving away from in-TV adverts to in-program product placement, which you cant avoid, and is so subliminal that you dont even know its being done to you.  The human brain has an excellent ability to discard rubbish, the average person ignores at least 85-90% of what they see and hear every day.  Can you remember any of the billboards you drove past on the way to work?  But the ability and facility to do that is something weve learned by recognising advertising when we see it, thus giving us the ability to isolate it from what we bother assimilating

 I know I do it now with banner ads on websites, to the point where SWMBO fairly frequently points out I have porn open on my screen at home in a banner somewhere; I honestly dont see the damn things.

Now, how do you do that when the message is ingrained into the content you actually want to absorb?  Like your TV program?  Or the SpaceFaceMyLinkedInBook web page youre looking at?  Or when its ingrained into your daily and professional pattern via communication and resources and you cant escape it?

I used to think that wed be in trouble when Minority Report-style targeted advertising would be popping up in front of us as we walked down the street, but now I tend to think otherwise; this

Thursday, February 3, 2011


For a number of years I have maintained savings and cheque accounts with a bank currently known as Bendigo Bank.


I began this association over 20 years ago in North Queensland when the institution was known as Northern Permanent Building Society, and although the bank itself has been absorbed, renamed and morphed over the years, the accounts remained the same.


The accounts were used primarily for savings (remember when savings accounts actually paid interest?) and for writing the occasional cheque – because there’s always one pest who wants a cheque for payment.


I think at peak I had about $15,000 in the savings account, but kept little in the non-interest-bearing cheque account, and to be honest I had no problems with the bank over the years, despite changes of institution name.  This came to a halt one morning around 12 years ago.


I had written a cheque (for the one aforementioned pest a year who wanted one) and mailed it on a Monday afternoon.  This was done in the full knowledge that there was not enough cash in the account to cover the cheque, but I intended to rectify that first thing on the Tuesday morning (this is pre the internet, let along online banking).  Both Australia Post and the cheque recipient must have set records for speed on this occasion, as by the time I arrived around 11am to cover the cheque, it had already been bounced, and a $30 dishonour fee levied.


This displeased me greatly, and I proceeded to explain this to the teller in some detail and volume.  The main thrust of my argument being that this demonstrated that the bank was clearly capable of clearing a cheque on the spot, which seemed to be rather at odds with their stated policy of taking five days to clear one when I was the one that wanted the cash.  As a result, I put my case that they could withdraw the dishonor fee.  Now.


Now possible?  Under any circumstances?  No problems.  I will be closing both accounts.  Now.


You can’t give me $15,000 on the spot?  Are you a moron of some kind?  Funnily enough I do not want to walk around with $15,000 in cash.  I will take a bank cheque.


There’s a $10 fee for a bank cheque?  Entirely unsurprising.  I will take the balance of the account, save for ten pieces of silver, which you may keep.


Oh, there’s a $20 account closure fee, is there?  Right, what’s the least amount of money I can leave in the account and still maintain it open?  $1.  Excellent.  I will take a bank cheque for the balance of the account minus $11, of which you can have $10 for blood money, the remaining shekel to remain in your clutching mercenary grasp.


At this stage the teller, refusing to make eye contact with me, very quietly said that there was a $15 a year dormant account keeping fee.  I replied, far less quietly or politely, that the bank would be suing the executors of my dead estate for the fee, and she should proceed as instructed.


And there the matter has rested for the past 12 year, punctuated only by the occasional bank statement showing balance: $1.00.   I’ve never heard a word about fees.


Until yesterday.


Last week the lumbering bureaucracy of Bendigo Bank apparently groaned to light and disgorged a letter advising that since my account had been dormant for the last three years, it would be cancelled and the balance taken as a closure fee if there was no activity for a month.


So, with some delight, internet banking has just been used to make a deposit to the account, thus marking it as active in their systems – presumably for another three years.


I’m looking forward to getting a statement sometime in April, which will say balance: $1.01, and should the current state of affairs continue, I fully expect to be increasing that to $1.02 some time in 2014.

Very interesting mail offer

I just received a very attractive offer in the mail.


As part of my previous Telstra employment, I received several options to purchase shares at fixed prices, but which did not vest for 3 years post the offer.


In other words, if I receive an offer today to buy shares at $5, I can’t do so for 3 years, but I can still do so at the $5 offer price after those 3 years.  Theoretically this empowers me, as a loyal employee, to work really hard and to ensure the growth of the company during that period, thus inflating the value of my option when I exercise it.


Unfortunately, during that period, despite my best efforts as an employee the company was *also* subject to some of the most piss poor mismanagement ever seen at the hands of a rapacious American asset stripper intent only on plundering the company for the benefit of both himself and a few American cronies.


As such, while the offer is most generous, I think I will have to politely decline the option to purchase shares at $4.34 when they’re worth $2.79 as of close of trading today.

Oh yay...

Awesome, the builders just fired up a petrol concrete saw to cut a hole through a precast wall just outside our office.

And with that, he went to lunch...