Archive for February, 2006

Civic Bus Fare Scammer

People walking around busy areas asking people for a certain amount of money, supposedly for a bus fare, whilst not looking in the least bit hard pressed for cash are not new nor rare, but they are a problem. In most cases I completely ignore these people, however one such “non-hard-pressed bus fare scammer” caught my attention today.

About 11:30 this morning I was walking to the bus stop opposite the Legislative Assembly building to catch a bus to Tuggeranong, and on the way passed one of “the regulars”, the people who seem to spend half their life wandering around asking for a bus fare and never catch a bus, this particular regular was probably the most regular, being blonde, of slim build, about 25-35 years old and about 175-180CM tall. As per usual he was asking for 40 cents for a bus fair (seemingly oblivious to the fact that a concession bus fare is $1.30 minimum in Canberra, as would be most Civic office workers who probably don’t catch a bus to or from work anyway) and bothering many many people. I avoided him and continued on my way, not paying any further attention to him or his activities.

I went to Tuggeranong, had lunch with my bus driver friend, came back into Civic and had a coffee at the previously reviewed Coffee @ Helen’s. While I was in there enjoying a flat white, the previously sighted regular bus fare scammer walked in and asked the staff if they could change some coins into a $10 note, they agreed and he spent the better half of the next minute unloading his scammed booty of 20c, 10c and 5c coins, which was then counted by the staff and exchanged for a $10 note. The bus fare scammer then walked back home, which as I know is up at the top end of Ainslie Avenue in a set of apartment blocks I seem to have forgotten the name of.

I don’t know if there is anything legally wrong with this situation, but there is certainly something morally and ethically wrong with it. I spent some of the afternoon pondering the question of whether I should have intervened and pointed out that he had scammed at least 25 people to gain the amazing quantity of silver coins. Maybe I should have, but I tend to see, or at least pass this person once or twice a week, and would be in fear of my own safety if I had taken that course of action. Of course, it would have been nice to, at that moment, have been a Today Tonight reporter who had been following the scammers activities all day, and then pounced when he tried to convert his illgotten mini-fotune into a plastic note. There would have been an element of satisfaction in catching him red-handed, alas it was not to be, and I am left pindering the legal, moral and ethical ramifications of the situation.

I suppose I should summarise this by advising you not to give 40c “bus money” to someone in Civic who is blonde, of slim build, about 25-35 years old and about 175-180CM tall. That’s probably the best advice I can give you.


33 comments February 28th, 2006 at 11:15pm

Underground Cabling: The Reasons, The Map

You may recall my recent series of articles and photos of the underground cabling work being undertaken in my area by UEA (here, here & here).

On a recent walk with Nattie I uncovered the path of this underground cabling, and confirmed my theory that it may be electrical cabling, which I theorised when I saw ActewAGL looking at various sections of the route.

Anyway, the underground cabling is a new electricity feed to a new transformer in a new building in Civic. The cable runs from the Mount Ainslie substation (location is no secret, it’s marked on the UBD printed maps), along a bit of the nature reserve, down the side of and under a couple streets in Ainslie, along the Mount Ainslie side of Limestone Avenue, under Limestone Avenue, down one side of Allambee Street and the under the road at the corner end, along the side of Currong Street, under Currong Street, Along Boolee Street, under Kograh Lane, continuing along Boolee Street, under Ballumbir Street, under Glebe Park, under Bunda Street and finally at its destination.

A map of this follows.
Map of the Underground Cabling

So why am I telling you this? Quite simply because the whole process has interested me, and I am happy to finally know what it is all for. The work is by no means finished, and the intersection of Boolee Street and Kograh Lane remains closed for a few more days until the finish whatever they are doing there, one can only assume that this is a major part of the job, perhaps the location where the cable is being monitored from. None the less, with the building nearing completion, the electricity supply will be more than welcome, and I must say that the work appears to have been highly professional and well organised.

You could say that it is bring “power to the (office) people”…or maybe not.


9 comments February 28th, 2006 at 03:59pm

2CC Are A Potential Podcaster

It occured to me over the weekend that 2CC would be a very good podcaster. They have a lot of very interesting programming which would work quite well in a podcast format, and provide them with a new business opportunity.

My idea is that 2CC’s local programming could be released later in the day without the broadcast ads, but with a reduced number of podcast ads, the podcast ads for a 2CC podcast could be somewhat Canberra centric as the majority of 2CC’s podcast audience would probably be based in Canberra.

I should probably explain why I think their programming would make good podcast material. Firstly, it deals with Canberra and Australian news and contains a lot of interesting interviews, which would be of interest to many people, not just in Canberra. Some people may want to hear a certain interview again, or may be referred to an interview they missed. It could even add an extra dimension of listener interactivity to the programming, and make emails a bit more prominent. Many ex-Canberrans may be interested to hear what is happening in Canberra, in much the same way ex-Australians often listen to the 2UE webstream.

I ran a few quick calculations, based on 10 minutes of news and 12 minutes of commercials and found that Breakfast would run for 133 minutes and Drive for 114 minutes, which would, at 64kbps mono, work out at 63.84MB and 54.72MB respectively. These figures do not take into account the podcast ads, and they could probably get away with a half the bitrate and still have decent audio quality for speech.

The weekend programming would also be good in podcast form, and I think the 2CC podcasts would be quite popular.

I suppose they would probably need another staff member to handle the podcasts (I’d be happy to put my hand up!), but I still think they would make a profit from them if they had podcast ads.

Of course, another useful thing would be webstreaming, although I’m not sure if they would be allowed to stream network programming, and if they’re not able to, then I doubt that they would be inclined to run a part-time stream. None the less, I think the podcasts are a good idea.

On that note, Samuel’s Persiflage #3 has exceeded 100 downloads this month, the first episode to do so.


9 comments February 28th, 2006 at 08:40am

Sunday Night with Wayne Mac

As I mentioned yesterday, Wayne Mac was scheduled to be on 2UE and 6PR last night. This did indeed occur, but the 6PR webstream stopped working at some stage yesterday afternoon and was still offline when Wayne was on. I most certainly was not going to ring Perth and record it off the phone line. I do have the 2UE interview with Mike Williams though, although I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to hear 6PR’s hour long interview with Wayne.

Anyway, at about 8:15 last night Wayne Mac was on the line with Mike Williams on 2UE. The discussion centred around the top 40 format, talkback radio, and 2UE’s leading role in all of it. The PMG gets a mention when it comes to approving the talkback format, and Wayne informs everyone that Angus & Robertson stores may be able to order in his book, which is available on his website.

The interview is taken from the 2UE webstream, which is only just acceptable quality for speech, don’t expect much from the vintage jingles which are played. I could have recorded it from 2CC’s broadcast signal, but I didn’t want to get excessive interference from a nearby computer or risk losing half of the interview to 2CC’s new computer system.

I’ve kept the recording as a 64kbps mono MP3 to avoid excessive compression of already overly compressed audio, as that could make hard to understand. As it is, the sound quality should be fine.

You can download the 14 minutes and 26 seconds worth of interview (6.61MB) here.

Apoligies about the 6PR webstream failure, I guess these things will happen when you outsource your streaming to third parties.


1 comment February 27th, 2006 at 01:17am

Samuel’s Musician Of The Week

This week’s award goes to Billy Joel. I have chosen “Piano Man” as the feature song.

It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Makin’ love to his tonic and gin

He says, son, can you play me a memory?
I’m not really sure how it goes
But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes

La la la, de de da
La la, de de da da da

Sing us a song, you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feelin’ alright

Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he’s quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there’s someplace that he’d rather be
He says, Bill, I believe this is killing me.
As the smile ran away from his face
Well I’m sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place

Oh, la la la, de de da
La la, de de da da da

Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he’s talkin’ with Davy who’s still in the navy
And probably will be for life

And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes, they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it’s better than drinkin’ alone

Sing us a song, you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feelin’ alright

It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
’cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been comin’ to see
To forget about life for a while
And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, man, what are you doin’ here?

Oh, la la la, de de da
La la, de de da da da

Sing us a song, you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feelin’ alright


4 comments February 26th, 2006 at 07:23pm

Wayne Mac tonight on 2UE and 6PR

I previously mentioned that Wayne Mac will be on 6PR tonight, he has since informed me that he will also be on 2UE tonight with Mike Williams (aka Shirl from the Mike Walsh Show).

I don’t know the exact time of Wayne’s 2UE appearance, but it should be sometime between 6PM and 9PM Sydney time (7AM-10AM GMT). 2CC (and possibly some other regional stations) relay Mike Williams, so you might be able to hear it locally, if not, the 2UE webstream is available on the 2UE website.

Wayne will also be on 6PR’s “The Way We Were” program from 10PM-11PM Perth Time (1AM-2AM Canberra Time, 2PM-3PM GMT). Again, some stations may relay this, but if you can’t receive it locally, the 6PR webstream is available on the 6PR website.

I’ll do my best to bring you recordings of the 2UE and 6PR interviews, although I can’t guarantee anything.

In response to the allegations that Wayne is an undisclosed advertiser on this website and/or my podcast…no, I just enjoy hearing his interviews, and where possible try to get copies for his benefit, he is not an advertiser or sponsor of this website and/or my podcast, just a friend.


4 comments February 26th, 2006 at 03:33pm

Dream Of Explosion

A few nights ago, after an episode of Without A Trace which featured a couple bomb scares, I had a rather odd dream.

I was sitting in my bed, looking out the door of my bedroom, where a TV image was situated much like a hologram. This TV image was showing the SBS program “Toyota World Sports”, which was interrupted by a WIN News Update (which makes no sense considering that WIN is a regional relay for most Channel Nine programming, not SBS) where they announced that the Woolworths store in Manuka had been blown up. This was interrupted by some bagpipe music with people line dancing, and then “Toyota World Sport” resumed. Interestingly, in reality there is no Woolworths in Manuka, there is a Coles though.

This might be a good dream to attach a “Don’t try to emulate my dreams” statement to.


2 comments February 26th, 2006 at 10:52am

Audio Quality

Every now and then, when I take a look at the blogs that have linked to this site, I notice comments about this site and its content. A couple days ago Thomas Baxter was talking about Ricky Gervais’ decision to charge for his podcast (a topic I covered here) and started talking about the podcasts he listens to. Whilst he didn’t exactly mention a reason for listening to Samuel’s Persiflage, he did mention that he likes the audio quality. I’ll let him explain.

But, thanks to the medium of podcasting, many many people are able to grasp the technology and put things from utter tripe on the net, to well crafted and presented podcasts – Samuel’s podcast is a fine example of the latter purely from the perspective that even though he is doing it himself, he puts out a podcast that has very good (compared to many others) audio quality, another example of a similar podcaster (however he has fallen by the wayside in recient times) is Andy Grace.

Thanks for the feedback, it is good to see people talking about the audio quality of Samuel’s Persiflage, especially considering the amount of work I put into it. Naturally, if somebody has a gripe about my podcast, I’m more than happy to entertain it as long as it is constructive, there is no point emailing me to inform me that my podcast is “the worst waste of the internet” and not tell me why or what you think would make it better, as one anonymous correspondent did a couple weeks ago via the contact form.

For the record, my aim with all audio in Samuel’s Persiflage is to create something which sounds decent, is legible, and doesn’t having annoying sudden variances in volume, preferably remaining roughly the same for the entire duration. Where possible I try to do this without audio compression or excessive processing. In some cases, such as the phone interview with Danny O’Brien from the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the last episode, it was necessary to do a fair bit of processing to even out the volume, even if it wasn’t particularly successful, in the end, it came out a lot better than it originally sounded.


9 comments February 26th, 2006 at 07:42am

Overhauling Licence Laws

Surgeons are being very careful about the way they ask for the minimum licencing age to be increased, by putting it somewhere in the middle of a request for uniform licence laws. The useful and interesting part of their request is this statement by Dr Russel Stitz, President of The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons

The parts of the brain that address reasoning and impulsive behaviour don’t fully mature until the age of 25 particularly in males, so if we’re looking at processes to improve the road toll in those age groups then patently we need to take that into consideration

I must say that I agree with this, although I do think some people mature at an earlier age than others. What we really lack in our licencing system is a rigorous common sense test, and car power restrictions.
Having been through college and seen many friends gain licences and subsequently add more lunacy to the roads, I really think we shouldn’t be letting anyone learn to drive until at least 18 years of age. In my view, driving a motor vehicle is an inherently adult activity, and something which requires a truly mature person with a level head.

Despite this minimum, I am not proposing that we merely increase the minimum ages for various driving activities, I am also suggesting that training should be longer and harder, with a requirement for a professional instructor (either an instructor or someone who drives for a living such as a bus or truck driver with a clean record), and we need some kind of common sense test. The last part may be hard to implement, but it would certainly save a lot of carnage. I would also force drivers to resit these tests every five years, and existing drivers to be bound by the new laws. Yes, that means removing a lot of people who would be underage under the new laws from the roads.

I would also remove licence fees, for those with a clean record, but increase them by $100 for every demerit point accumulated. I would also overhaul the demerit point system to be tougher.

Some may see these ideas as draconian measures, but if we are serious about saving lives on our roads, then we need to consider this kind of thing, and this is a good start. It would probably remove about 20% of road users, but they would be the 20% likely to kill you or your family, the 20% who don’t consider the consequences of travelling 30km/h over the speed limit on a wet and bendy road, the 20% that really shouldn’t have been issued with licences in the first place.

Draconian…maybe, sensible…yes!


15 comments February 25th, 2006 at 10:39pm

Local Loonies Do Get Confused

You may recall that in the Blog View Stats for January I noted that a website called Syndicate Motor Sports were the 2nd top referrer for the month, delivering 295 page views. I also mentioned them about a week ago, when one of their readers recognised me.

During a recent check of the referring sites for this month, I noticed an unusual spike in the number of people coming here from that site, and decided to take a look and see what was bringing them here, as it turned out, they had managed to confuse themselves over the details of their reader’s encounter with me.

For one reason or another, despite everything I had written, some of them were convinced that I was talking about someone yelling out of a car window. First, take a look at what I wrote.

Today, as I went to have lunch at Coffee @ Helen’s, one of the staff recognised me.

I went on to say

upon walking into Coffee @ Helen’s, I was greeted by this person with “You’re the infamous Samuel Gordon-Stewart”.

Now, let’s have a look at what Syndicate Motor Sports member “DRAG DIS” said

Hahahahah that was me who spotted him. I was with a mate who screamed out summernats.
I think though he may have a small brain, and might be quite unintelligent.
1. I do not work at coffe @ helens. The only male that does works behind the counter (not buying food) and is Of Asian appearance, and I am of caucasian appearance. I do not know how this point can be confused.
2. He also mentioned he had not seen me working their before. Thats because i have never worked their. This guy is delirious.
2. I am unsure why he did not mention the summernats roar my friend made , and his disgusted look. He neglected to mention that.
What a tripper

I don’t know who this “DRAG DIS” is, although for someone judging the brain size of others he certainly has a lot of talent when it comes to spelling and numbering lists. There are two possibilities here, either I imagined having lunch and meeting a Syndicate Motor Sports reader, or they are referring to the wrong incident. As you probably guessed, it is the latter.

The person who recognised me was working for Coffee @ Helen’s, he was the person who served me and many other customers and, contrary to the assertions of “DRAG DIS”, Coffee @ Helen’s have more than one staff member.

I do vaguely recall the incident referred to by “DRAG DIS”, although it could be any of a number of similar incidents. I think “DRAG DIS” is referring to an incident which occured somewhere around the Civic Bus Interchange where somebody in a moving car made a loud noise, whether this was them yelling something or just making a noise I do not know. I doubt that they understand the fact that simply because they know what they are yelling does not neccessarily mean that anybody else does, especially when they are on the other side of the road in a noisy area yelling out of a moving vehicle.

In related news, as I was taking Nattie for a walk today and waiting to cross Ainslie Avenue, somebody driving a white commodore which had just taken a left turn onto Ainslie Avenue from Limestone Avenue moved into the right hand lane without indicating, put their right arm out the window and started making unusual arm shaking gestures towards me, which they ceased shortly after passing me. It is a pity that I didn’t have a video camera to record the incident and hand the tape into the police so that they could penalise the driver for not indicating when changing lane.


14 comments February 25th, 2006 at 10:28pm

Popup Update

OK, I just worked it out (I Hope!). When I disabled the nedstat/webstats4u code by “commenting it out” in the footer template, the popups disappeared in my browser. Unfortunately, it would appear that Internet Explorer doesn’t understand HTML comments and tries to render them instead. It finally occured to me when I saw “–>” appearing next to the webstats4u icon in IE, that I had been so excited about getting rid of the popups that I only commented out that section of code, and forgot to remove it.

This appears to be a rendering bug (or feature) of Internet Explorer, that the standard “< --" and "-->” comment code is not treated as a comment, and instead treated as renderable code, which is why the popups continued to appear in Internet Explorer.

It should now be fixed (although a hard refresh using CTRL-F5 of the homepage should force it). Again sorry about the inconvenience, I just never counted on that basic staple of usefulness being ignored by a browser.

Hopefully Internet Explorer will understand comments in version 7, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.


3 comments February 24th, 2006 at 11:44pm

If ASIO were reading this…

One does have to wonder what ASIO or the FBI would make of this nonsensical conversation I had with a contact earlier in the evening.

10:24 PM A: the banana flies by evening star
B: and the apple floats on the doctor express
10:25 PM B: ASIO are now trying to work that out
A: the king’s men are rubber chickens. they will be meatball.
10:26 PM B: supermarket chicken be rubber it does not, and the fish
10:27 PM A: I have flown like the fish. do you swim like the chicken?
10:29 PM B: Yes, but only with the roast turnip
10:31 PM A: I prefer my turnip boiled and mashed, it reverses the goat money.
10:32 PM B: fluff bites hard, on the great fledgling goat
A: yes
10:33 PM B: the danger threatening from the unknown consultant, had intended to catch blue shift. Waving it like a banner, she flew out the window. And the waltz
10:34 PM B: confirm?
A: foxtrot the king’s birds, and the kings men. we shall waltz
10:35 PM B: ascend to the throne of the duck munchkin, the waltz will be attended to by the hammer
10:36 PM A: we will continue this discussion later. the kings men hear music, and suspect a waltz
B: you be safe of big bang goes pop weasel


9 comments February 24th, 2006 at 10:43pm

Standards have dropped

It was only a few years ago that I was a student at Campbell High School, and I clearly remember the annual tradition of excursions to the Civic Pool during P.E. classes.

These were organised in an unusual manner, which involved walking to the pool and back from the high school. There was a small level of order to this odd excursion, there were three teachers, one leading the pack, one in the middle and one at the rear attempting to speed up the dawdlers. All students had to cross at the traffic lights on Limestone Avenue outside the high school, walk down a particular side of Coranderrk St to the Constitution Avenue traffic lights, cross at the lights, walk to the pedestrian crossing next to the convention centre and cross over to the swimming pool. This was quite naturally reversed on the way back.

Today on my way into the CIT Reid Campus around 11:30am I spotted one of these drawn out excursion groups, unfortunately there seemed to be much less order to this lot than any time during my high school years. Firstly, there was no visible teacher presence, this could be explained by the general demographic of P.E. teachers being fairly young, and often fresh out of university. Generally they do look a bit older than the students and look mildly authoritative.

Unfortunately there was no such presence in this group and it showed. Road crossings were amazingly disorganised and dangerous. Coranderrk and Ballumbir Streets intersect in a Y shape, with Ballumbir merging with Coranderrk to form a new length of Coranderrk. Naturally, this is where the group decided to cross, seemingly running across the road and dodging cars. If this move was initiated by a leading teacher then I am very concerned about the example they are imparting on their young and impressionable students. Even worse still, no teacher attempted to stop this from happening.

Following this bizarre and dangerous road crossing, many students seemingly disappeared into Glebe Park and the surrounding walkways, and headed in the general direction of Civic. Admittedly a roll call at the pool would have picked up these truants, but it is still unacceptable that this could happen so easily.

It would appear that Campbell High School’s P.E. teachers have forgotten their duty of care, and need to be reminded of school policies in relation to excursions. If an accident had occurred, which it nearly did, the consequences and negative publicity would have made them wake up. None the less, prevention is better than cure, and I will be sending a copy of this article to Campbell High School as a courtesy to allow them to review policies, and take the appropriate action to help ensure the safety of their students.

I’m certain that somebody will now tell me that high school students should be capable of crossing the road safely, and I agree, they should, but peer pressure and general teenage silliness does get in the way of clear judgements from time to time, and it is the job of the supervising teachers to keep this to a minimum.

Whilst Campbell High is my old high school, I am not picking on them simply because I used to go there. In this case I am able to draw on my experiences there and make a comparison, however I would be equally critical of any school that allowed such behaviour.


13 comments February 24th, 2006 at 03:35pm

Bigpond fix email woes

If the number of people landing here by searching for information about the Bigpond Gmail block, and the number of other websites discussing it is anything to go by, Bigpond’s Gmail block has been quite an ordeal throughout the week.

It turns out that Bigpond use somewhat overzealous third party server blocklists that attempt to automatically work out which SMTP servers are open for third party use, and effectively spamming. Technically this should put just about every ISP mail server on the planet on some blocklist by virtue of the fact that you don’t have to be connected to your ISP to utilise their mail servers.

The basic fact of the matter is that this is an outdated method of blocking mail servers, as most spam originates from “botnets” created on home PCs by malware. These botnets are sold to spammers, “malicious users”, etc by malware programmers for a profit, this is fairly effective as it allows standard PCs, which look pretty innocent, to sporadically start sending spam and other useless junk all over the place.

Unfortunately, one of Gmail’s servers was incorrectly picked up by one of these blocklists late last week, and Bigpond then picked it up in their semi-daily or thereabouts update. Gmail’s server was removed from the list sometime this week, and Bigpond worked that out today at about 11am Canberra Time (Midnight GMT).

There is still a bit of a delay as the queued mail gets delivered, but services appear to be back to normal. Incidentally, another ISP, iinet if my memory serves me correctly, fell fowl of these blocklists a couple weeks ago, and have just recently been fixed.

The bottom line is, Bigpond are now accepting emails from Gmail, and probably blocking someone else instead. I have some advice for Bigpond, forget blocklists, use some proper anti-spam technology to run checks on incoming mail, there’s some pretty good open source software that does precisely that, and it will do a much better job than overzealous blocklists.


5 comments February 24th, 2006 at 03:04pm

Extensive Wayne Mac Interview On 6PR This Sunday

Wayne Mac, author of Don’t Touch That Dial, will be on 6PR’s “The Way We Were” program this Sunday evening. Most interviews on that show last for a very long time, you may recall that they interviewed Wayne a while back and it lasted for quite some time.

Wayne will be on there this weekend at 10PM on Sunday (Perth time), which equates to 1am Monday (Canberra time) and 2PM Sunday (GMT).

6PR have a webstream on their website, and I’ll see about recording it for your enjoyment.

Incidentally, 2UE’s John Stanley (who once shared a house with Wayne here in Canberra) briefly interviewed Wayne a few weeks ago, I have the recording for you here.

Also, I interviewed Wayne in the January edition of Samuel’s Persiflage.


14 comments February 22nd, 2006 at 12:35pm

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