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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While going through the toil and turmoil of trying to understand and get the Android phone working the way I wanted, and address all manner of security and privacy issues, I happened upon an event that made me wonder about technology and how George Orwell’s 1984 novel about a future society may already be here. While looking for an app on my PC, using Google, that would allow my Android phone to be answered more easily than in the standard way, I came across one that might have been the answer. So I then went into the Google Play Store on my phone to search for this app, but when I opened the store, that app came up without asking. That took me aback somewhat, as my PC and phone are not synced, nor had I logged into my Google account on either. That was one of those WTF? moments. It seems that I’m not the only one to experience these moments.
For someone that uses a computer a lot and after years of various frustrations using a regular computer mouse for my daily work, I finally had enough of my current Microsoft wireless laser mouse. The wireless on the mouse worked fine, but I was forever having to replace and/or clean the mouse pad, and always looking for an alternative pad that would keep the mouse working properly. No matter what I tried, the surface would eventually begin to wear, develop a shiny or dirty surface and the mouse would stop working or jump about erratically. I was using hard surface pads, but cleaning didn’t seem to make any difference, as the shiny spots that appeared on even the best of surfaces would cause the mouse to misbehave. It got to the point that numerous times during the day I’d be swearing and ready to throw the mouse at a wall because it became so frustrating. It was time to try something new.