Category Archives: Technology

Stories about technology, science, technology advances, technology hits and misses, technology impacts, the future

Made In China

There’s a lot of contentious debate that sometimes arises when it comes to buying Chinese made products, whether they are from major retailers or through eBay. Many have a belief that if it’s made in China, it’s crap. The truth of the matter is that it’s virtually impossible to buy anything nowadays that hasn’t been made in China and, if you look back say 50 or so years, anything made in Japan was considered crap at the time. Some of it was and some it wasn’t, but now anything with a ‘Made in Japan’ label is considered a premium product. It took some time for Japanese manufacturing and quality control to reach what it’s now been for at least 40 years; however, in that time it very rapidly surpassed whatever was considered high quality Australian manufacturing. And so it is with Chinese products as more and more manufacturing is done in China and they also up their game when it comes to all manner of products.

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Microsoft Designer Keyboard And Mouse

It’s rare that I write specifically about some generic product, but in this instance I thought I would. Given that I type quite a lot, a keyboard that allows me type effectively and comfortably is rather important. So I thought I’d give my views on my new keyboard, as I recently had to replace my current one and found it quite difficult to find something suitable. Over many years, ever since personal computers were first introduced into the workplace and I had to learn to type all of my own documents, a keyboard has been a large part of my working life. I’ve seen many keyboards come and go over those years, both in the workplace and at home, and while the keyboard layout has remained much the same, the style of keyboards have certainly had their variations. The early keyboards were all mechanical, with a solid clickety clack sound and feel with each keystroke, to the near silent chiclet keyboards found most notably on laptops. The name chiclet comes from an American chewing gum, which the keys on such keyboards resemble.

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Built, Not Bought

One of the funniest things I see from time to time are 4WD videos and the like where the owners proudly show off how they have ‘built, not bought’ their particular 4WD. This is often a statement meant to disparage those who go to a 4WD accessories retailer such as ARB, TJM or similar and have them supply and fit accessories such as suspensions, bull bars, winches, battery kits etc; basically everything that you need to kit your 4WD for the great outdoors. Sadly, doing so is viewed by some as being inferior, if not a disgrace, to those who fit stuff themselves. Personally I see nothing wrong with taking your vehicle to such a place, especially if you’re not mechanically inclined or simply don’t want to go through the hassle and time of installing things yourself. Sometimes it’s also a matter of warranty, where if something fails or doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, you’ll be in a better position to make a claim. It’s not much different to taking your vehicle to a dealership or mechanic for regular servicing, for some that’s far better value than doing things yourself at home, especially if you don’t have the equipment and location to do so.

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As We Plunge Into Darkness

We inexorably beginning the decent into an era of darkness, a time when our expectations of being able to simply throw a light switch and have a room illuminated begins to wan. With Hazelwood power station now closed and a significant component of our previously cheap and reliable electricity supply gone and Yallourn as well as others also facing the chopping block, electricity costs will continue to rise and reliability will continue to fall. We managed to miss a bullet last year by not having major blackouts, with South Australia not being so lucky, but our time will come soon enough. The rush to renewables at all cost, or damn the costs as it seems to be, will mean that the days of cheap, plentiful and reliable electricity will become a distant memory. When children in the future ask what their parents used for lighting before candles, the answer will be electricity. Grandparents will tell incredulous stories of light appearing through invisible forces.

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Nissan GU Patrol Diesel Lift-Pump

As a bit of background, many diesels, especially trucks, use a diesel fuel lift-pump in or near the fuel tank to provide better fuel flow to the engine’s fuel filter, which is usually located near the engine. When the fuel has to travel quite some distance and the height between the fuel tank and fuel filter is significant, then a lift-pump takes a lot of strain off the main fuel pump used to pressurise injectors, or a fuel rail in common rail diesels. You can find lift-pumps in even smaller vehicles of one form or another especially 4WDs but many, like my Patrol, don’t have a lift-pump and so it’s quite common for owners to install one to assist with fuel flow and fuel pump longevity. So I did the same in 2014 with my Patrol but, unfortunately, on one of our High Country Cruises in 2016, the lift-pump unceremoniously failed, stopping fuel flow to the engine. Thankfully that wasn’t a particularly difficult job to remove, as I’d specifically installed the lift-pump so that it was easy to access.

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Netflix Et Al

After refusing to enter into any sort of pay TV deal for the last decade and more, I’ve finally succumbed and signed up to Netflix. It wasn’t so much for my benefit as I just don’t watch a lot of TV at the best of times, though I guess I’ll get something out of it as well, but it was more to relieve my wife from the hell that’s become free to air TV. There’s hardly anything to watch on TV and when something does come up, it’s so rife with ads that it becomes sheer torture putting up with the increasingly stultifying ads thrust onto the viewers. If it’s not the 100th time for crappy knives, bamboo pillows, ladders, wrenches, funeral insurance or another charity and the like, it’s just more ads telling you what’s coming up in the next day or week (and that’s just in one day). The basic fact is that TV stations really have little to broadcast nowadays and so fill in interminable hours of emptiness with ads. And this seems much worse with our satellite TV that is from northern Australia.

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Bureau Of Meteorology

One of the things that just about everyone in Gippsland and most rural areas in Australia relies on are reliable weather forecasts, be it farmers or individuals like me that might be planning a camping trip into the High Country. Knowing what the weather is going to be in the forthcoming days or weeks can be imperative to some, especially farmers when it comes to planting and harvesting crops.  Obviously the only source for Australian weather comes from the Bureau Of Meteorology (BOM). However, the BOM is, more often that not, thought of as the BOG (Bureau of Guesses), as such is the reliability of weather forecasts often ‘predicted’ by the BOM. Many people (and this comes from talking to local farmers etc) look at the BOM forecasts, laugh and plan for the exact opposite. Such is the high esteem in which the BOM’s predictive capabilities are held.

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Drone Ownership

I wrote about my experiences with drone ownership some time back, a multi-part story about a technology that looked  promising, but eventually became a somewhat disappointing experiment for a number of reasons. It wasn’t that the drone experiment was a failure from a technical point of view, but failed from what could be called a practical or aesthetic point of view. I became reasonably competent with the very basic drone that I bought and a move to a much more capable and higher end drone would have been an easy transition. However, I’m very glad that I did buy a simple and inexpensive drone from the outset as I realised that drone ownership wasn’t what I had anticipated, nor which I would find overly useful in the long term. A $140 drone, rather than a $1500 drone was the best investment that I’ve made for a long time, even if that drone now resides in a cupboard unlikely to ever see the light of day again.

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Electric Vehicles – Back To The 1800s

The onslaught against the internal combustion engine (ICE) continues apace in Europe, with a grand plan to replace them all with electric motors by 2040 to save the planet. So not to be left out, Australia now has its own evangelists shouting from the pulpits that Australia must follow suite, if not lead the way (as always). Australia’s Greens were the first to announce a plan to end the use and export of coal, as well as the sale of all ICE powered vehicles by 2030. Now the National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA) of NSW has called for the abolition of all ICE powered vehicles as early as 2025. And following quickly on their heels is the ALP who want to impose a slightly watered down version by 2030. I’m not sure where this 2030 date came from, but we are apparently lagging the rest of the world in this endeavour to return to the 1800s and only immediate and severe action will save us all.

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Spam

One of the most annoying aspects of managing a blog is the incessant spam comment that you get, which can total in the dozens per day if not more. These spam comments are usually generated by robots promoting just about any sort of crap that you can imagine and attempting to place links in your blog comments and, in the worst case situations, attempting to hack your website. These robots work on the basis that comments are just added automatically without any form of intervention and hope for a lucky break. While easy enough to ignore, send to the sin bin and then delete these obnoxious weeds, they can be an administrative pain in the first instance, as well as potentially having an adverse effect on your site if your hosting service begins to be affected. Most hosts have some form of spam filter, but these don’t always cater for what gets through on blog comment forms on a poorly secured website and that’s when problems can arise.

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