In Covid-19 Hibernation

Tough Times

We are all living in tough times in 2020 due to the Covid-19 virus pandemic.

As staying in has been the instruction from our governments, it has been necessary to adopt a new outlook on live and living.

No more enjoying any travel in retirement

No more dining out at restaurants

No more gathering and meeting with friends

All finances shot to ruins (well, nearly)

 

Lifestyle Change

So yes, we are all forced to change our lifestyle to some extent.  How long this is for, no one really knows yet.

This has led to much more internet usage.  Now we watch a lot more on Netflix, Stan, CuriosityStream and YouTube.

I have also been doing some online training courses via Udemy.

Also I have been exploring more options in the way I have developed some WordPress based web sites.  I even managed to set a site up on a small cheap VPS (Virtual Private Server). That took up most of a day with me making several errors in the setup of the Ubuntu operating system, the control panel (Webmin) and then the manual install of WordPress.  The site uses a throw away domain name and does not much at all, but does work. I will use it for further training and experimenting.

 

Here is a screenshot proving it worked.

Not much to see really.

 

Australia Global Warming

Well, the evidence is all out there, and now we get to find out the  reason .

The reason is that Australia is moving, and it is moving closer to the Equator. That means hotter.

The year 2018 was the third hottest year (on record).

The movement has averaged  2.7 inches per year. This comes from the National Geographic Society HERE.  They got the information based on continental drift which is sourced from GPS Satellite data.  To remain accurate, the GPS settings are reset every few years. The last adjustment there, in 1994, was about 656 feet. Wow!

The report has me thinking though, as the orbiting satellites are racing around the planet, on the move themselves all the time, how do we know that we can rely upon them?  Keeping tabs on the satellites must be like herding cats. And then basing Earth based positioning on these free ranging cats, seems a little dubious to me.

Ah, the experts will tell you that they  “know exactly the position and path of the satellites, based on navigation by the Stars.”

What? Now tell me that Stars are not moving. “Sorry, the Stars are moving, but we know their motion also”

So does Australia really drift northward at 2.7 inches per year?

Edit and Run Kotlin

KOTLIN is a recent JAVA-like programming language developed by JetBrains. See more at the language site here.

Below is a small snippet of editable and runable Kotlin embedded in this blog post. For this, I use a small WordPress plugin “Kotlin Playground”

Try changing the string values enclosed in ”  ” and click the small green arrow on the right side.
 note: I found I had to disable a privacy protection extension in my browser for the sample code below to show.. 

by JG and kotlin.

John Deere 1927

Just Like Our Old 1927 Model D

When growing up, our family had a small hobby farm north of Perth, Western Australia.
We also had some good friends who lived in the WA  wheatbelt area, near Mukinbudin.

My Father talked about getting some sort of tractor for our farm, and our friendly farmer "TW" from Mukinbudin mentioned he had an old one parked out on his property, and that we could have it free if we paid the transport.

So, one long weekend we headed to "Muka" to see if the old tractor would work. It had been sitting out in the weather for decades, covered by some sheets of corrugated iron and old wheat bags.

Once uncovered, it looked pretty far gone. We checked the oil, added some fuel, cleaned the two sparkplugs, and "TW" cranked engine over a few times to see that it was getting some lube into the pistons.

Now for the real test, we primed it with a little petrol, and "TW" swung on the huge flywheel a few times, and it actually started up and ran. It belched a lot of smoke initially, but settled down after a few minutes.

Dad had the tractor trucked to our small farm and we built a shed for it.

It used power kerosene as its main fuel, but we would start it on petrol, and once warmed up, we would switch it over to use the kero.  On a cold winters morning it would blow some great smoke rings from the exhaust.

My Brother (Colin) and I spent many hours driving it, pulling out tree stumps, and dragging a plough. Ah, the memories

Below is a YouTube video of a restored tractor the same as ours. Ours was way more rusted, and had no mudguards over the rear wheels.

R.I.P.

We used the tractor for many years but it ended up superceded by a nice diesel David Brown. The DB had rubber tyres ( Yeah! ) and had more gears and went faster. Also, it had electric start.

The old John Deere was eventually retired and I last saw it in a kindergarten in a Perth suburb. All the dangerous bits had been removed, and it had been cleaned up and painted.  The kids loved climbing all over it, and spinning the steering wheel.

 

 

Lucky To Be Alive

Considering some of the things I did when a teenager, I now consider myself lucky to be alive.

Back in the 1960s, I had a friend at school named Phil R. and he lived in Ruislip Street, West Leederville, Western Australia. I have completely lost touch with him since those school days. But we had a mutual interest in Rocketry and Explosives and Chemistry and Physics and the like.
From memory, he was about six months older than me. But I digress....

So when chatting in the school playgrounds, I casually mentioned making of some good gunpowder. We got talking and I told him I could get plenty of Potassium Nitrate and Ammonium Nitrate.
Phil had been interested in small model aircraft, such as those powered by small diesel or ethanol fueled moel plane engines. I had a small one powered by a .5 Cubic Inch Cox Glo-plug engine. He had some with bigger diesel engines.

Anyway, we got talking about rockets. So we started planning a small rocket project.
We built a small copper pipe based rocket, using 3/4" cu tube, and soldered some small vanes around the base. The rocket had a pointed nose which we created by hacksawing some notches into the top end of the pipe, and folding in the copper tube to make a rough point.

Now for the fuel. We needed solid fuel for our design. We knew the rough ratios of the fuel components, secret stuff, sugar and sulphur, and met at Phil's home after school one day. Both Phil's parents would be at work, so we had the house to ourselves.
Step 1: (  note: do not ever try this, it is extremely dangerous)  Light the gas stove, and put our mix of fuel into an aluminium saucepan from his Mum's cabinet, and heat it to melting point whilst stiring.
Yes, we actually did this, being thirteen or fourteen years old at the time. We succeeded in getting our nice liquified mix of the three ingredients without burning down the house. Next we poured the hot molten fuel into our rocket casing. All good thus far.

We waited for the fuel to solidify in the rocket, and took it to the laneway at the back of the property. There we had some bricks set up as our launch pad.
With the rocket in place on the bricks, our next task was to light it. We decided that a match was too short to use for safety, so taped a few to a short bamboo stem.
We lit the matches, and applied it to the base of the rocket.

Well, that was the last we ever saw of our rocket. With a resounding whoosh... it was gone, and we watched as it soared out of sight. The rate at which it left the launch pad left us frightened. We never did try and build another.

So You Think You Can Win Lotto

What Are The Odds

Recently, after collecting a small Lotto prize of just over $20, I began to consider the chances of winning the first prize.

So, I found the odds of winning a first prize in the various Australian Lotto "games". It is hardly a "game", but that is how it is promoted.

Here are the games, and their respective odds:

Now, lets add some perspective to those odds.

Most people are familiar with a drawing pen, such as this one, which will draw a line about 1mm wide.

artline pen

A line 1mm wide is a little wider than that a normal ball point pen might draw.

Now, imagine a strip of paper long enough to represent all the possible number combinations in each of the above lotto games, each represented by a line across that paper strip. Then you come along and draw a line across that strip of paper to represent your chosen numbers for one game such that you win first prize.

For the Powerball Lotto until April 2018, that strip of paper would need to be about 76.7 Kilometers ( 47.6 Miles) long.
After that date it would need to be 134.4Km ( 83.5 miles).

 

For the Oz Lotto, it would need to be 45.3 Kilometers (28.1 miles) long, and for the 6 from 45 game, it would be about 8.1 Kilometers (5 miles).

You now know why you have not won yet.

In my whole life I have only met one person that won a first division prize in a lotto in Australia. This happened about 40 years ago whilst I was working in a bank, and a customer came in with his winnings.

Lotto = Voluntary Taxation.

Gasthof Adler Black Forrest

Candace and I drove through a lot of Germany last year. One place we often talk about is a place called “Gasthof-Adler”.

We were just meandering around the Black Forrest area for a few days, and one day we came upon this place around lunchtime. So we stopped and ended up having a great meal.

Since the experience, we have been unsure of just where it was that we stopped.

Today I found some notes we made during our travels and I found a reference to where it was, so I went to Google Maps and did find it.
More than that, I found  The Gasthof-Adler website  (all in German) and below I share some of their photos. We will be sure to visit there again when next in Germany.

Need A Grill Mesh?

I saw this a few weeks ago and thought it amusing.

aldibbq

I hate that the writer added the apostrophe to Aldi’s name in the caption.

At my local store I think they are $2 each 🙁

 

I doubt that Aldi grocery stores find it amusing.

Using the Dummy Temp file tf

(a tip for Clarion programmers using MSSQL).

I define my dummy files with the name  tf (indicating a TempFile and quick to type and easy to find) in my local data in any procedure/function where I need it.

I set each data column as a CSTRING of at least the max size I might need for any data coming back from the SQL-Server. The number of columns I define varies as needed and can easily be changed when more are needed.

There is NO actual table needed in the Server Server database to match this dummy table, so long as I use the '/TURBOSQL = TRUE'  MSSQL driver switch. It is just a local table buffer (within the procedure).

I take care of opening and closing the file (well, it's really only a file buffer that gets created and instantiated with the OPEN() command).

Here is a typical  declaration:-

tf     file,driver('mssql', '/TURBOSQL = TRUE'), PRE(tf),owner( TblOwner )
record      record
f1    cstring(201)  
f2    cstring(201)  
                     end
         end

I also put my sql command into the local cstring-

SQLstr      CSTRING(801)

Whilst this is not absolutely necessary, it makes things neater. If I wanted to retrieve a couple of fields, say using

SELECT lname, fname from Client where sysid = 1234

So, I could do

clear(tf)
tf{prop:sql}= 'SELECT lname, fname from Client where sysid = 1234'

but I like to use the SQLstr variable....

clear(tf)
SQLstr =  'SELECT lname, fname from Client where sysid = 1234'
tf{prop:sql}= SQLstr

Now, the above shows a simplified version of what is actually used in the source code. Reason being, to prevent any SQL injection or user nastiness. That is the subject of a whole other  future  article.

“Telstra Air” and European FON

On a recent seven week of travelling in Europe, I was looking forward to accessing the Internet using my Telstra Air account on FON hotspots around Europe.

What a disappointment.

Although having read the Telstra guidelines, installing their “Air” app on my devices, I found that connections to the Internet were very rare.
There were none in any airports or train stations.
Supposedly it would be available in Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany and France.

In Spain I spent time in Madrid and Barcelona. Score: 0, not one Fon connection made.

In Italy, I spent time in Milan and Cinque Terre. Score: 1, one connection made in Milan.

In Austria, I spent time in and Salzburg and Vienna. Score: 0, no connections established.

In Germany, I spent time in Munich, Heidelberg, and Frankfurt airport. Also we spent time in many small towns around southern and western Germany in a rented car.
Score: 7/10 Several good connections made as we drove through some smaller towns. This would happen at Red traffic lights and slow driving in traffic.

In France, we spent time in the Alsace region. Score: 0.

We also spent about a week in Switzerland, but we already knew that there would be no Fon there as telcos there do not participate in Fon..

Luckily we had Internet provided at each place we stayed overnight.

In summary: Do not rely on your Telstra Air account in Europe.