Friday, 3 December 2010


This bloke is one of the best cartoonists in the country....

Probably second only to Leunig.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Broadband in the Bush

I attended a briefing on the NBN rollout in Roma last week delivered by a bloke from the Commonwealth Department of Broadband and the Digital Economy. Attending were locals from both Catholic and state education systems, mostly techies, curriculum people and allied health professionals. The map of planned installations in Queensland is here.  

They came away from it impressed with what is coming, and excited by the potential.

The most impressive aspects of the rollout for people in Roma are -

1. Roma’s getting fibre. If they had to wait for private industry to provide this out there, their grandkids might have seen it if they lived long lives.
2. The speeds available will allow conferencing between schools and the local base in real time. The dream of conducting a video sesion with a kid with disabilities, a physio and an OT, will be a reality next year. This will bring the services available to these kids to the same standard available now to kids in metropolitan areas. It also gets around the major barrier of access to specialists who prefer not to live in the bush.
3. The cost of an NBN connection to a school in Roma will be the same as for a school in Brisbane. This is a great advantage to small bush schools who lacked the money previously to sign up for the same standard of service as is available to large metro schools.
4. Schools such as Thargomindah, Eromanga and Eulo will be linked by satellite or wireless off the node, providing a much higher quality service than what is currently available.
At last people in the bush will be getting a service comparable with the metros. Well, most of them will....

Seems fair - they pay the same taxes as everyone else.

Now, if only the feds can be convinced not to sell it at the end of the exercise. Or even better, to set up a people's bank operating out of Post Offices.....

Economy Run

Roadsters are not generally noted for their fuel economy, but the Mazda MX5 may well be the exception that proves the rule.

This week I went on a brief overnight jaunt interstate across a range of roads, and without driving with any consideration for economy.

The MX5 averaged 6.93 litres/100km, with a best of 6.7 litres/100km from Glen Innes to Tamworth. Much of this road is characterised by long climbs, during which I downshifted to fifth to maintain momentum.

The fuel I was using was a mixture of 95 and 98RON. You can't buy 95RON (which is what I run it on) in NSW without ethanol. I prefer to avoid the blends, as the car wasn't built for them. It likes 98RON and seems more responsive (and more economical) using this fuel. You do pay through the nose for it.

The most enjoyable aspect of long distance motoring in this car is that it can be driven in two different modes.

You can put the top and the windows up, turn on the air and the stereo, and drive it much in the same way as you would a sedan. In this mode it's comfortable, not too noisy, and relaxing.

Or you can put the top and the windows down, leave the radio off, and take in all the smells and sounds this liberates. This was the way to go through the wine country on the granite belt.

With the wind in the right direction, you could smell the vintage.

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...