DVD Player

The DVD player was playing up.    It wouldn’t play the last part of some movies.     The older the movie, the more likely it was that the issue would arise.    I googled for a solution, but in vain, apart from vague suggestions to get a DVD lens-cleaner disk (I have no idea how that might have worked).    Meanwhile, it had become very frustrating not to see the endings of random movies.

I then took a different approach to my googling;  how much would a new DVD player cost?  Would you believe, you can get them for about $25!     Well, what did it matter for $25?   If it didn’t work, maybe we could keep it as a spare.

So I duly made the investment.  S had misgivings as to whether such a cheap machine, and from Big W at that (and much smaller than the old one) would work, but first reports are that it does everything required of it.  The old one has been put aside to await the next hard waste/electronics collection.


Bitcoin (again)

I admit that bitcoin (and cryptocurrencies generally) hold a fascination for me, mainly because I can’t get my mind around how they work.   Hence, because of this – and also because, frankly, I can’t see what’s in it for me! –  my inclination has always been to  stay well away from any cryptocurrency!

However, bitcoin has been quite prominent in the news of late, because its price nearly got to the US$20,000 barrier, before falling back to around US$10,000.

Of course, this gives rise to all those “if only I’d bought some” reflections!    Hindsight is wonderful, but even so, I don’t have any regrets.

Apart from the volatility in the value of bitcoin, a reason for having no regrets is that the tax implications of dealing with cryptocurrencies are complex.    Although  GST seems not to be a big issue, as the ATO accepts that digital currency is a method of payment,  capital gains tax may be involved.  There are also potentially issues under the anti-money-laundering laws.     So the news that the tax office is getting set to “blitz” investors in bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) shouldn’t come as any surprise.

Of course, anonymity is prized by some holders of bitcoin (who see it as a currency without a central bank), but it seems that the authorities have a number of weapons at their disposal, including Austrac’s powers to gain information from digital currency exchanges along with requirements for customer identification.  Combined with the with the ability to obtain similar information from other jurisdictions under double-tax treaties (for example, the US and Japan), it seems that at least some of bitcoin’s perceived “benefits” might not be quite as significant as some of those who are involved in it might wish.

As I’ve stated,  I don’t pretend to understand how cryptocurrencies work, but my imprression is that, although bitcoin transactions (being a blockchain) can be “peer-to-peer” without the need to go through an exchange, transactions involving the purchase of bitcoins, or their conversion back into currency, usually need to be done on an exchange, and it is at this point that the authorities appear to have the ability to watch what’s occurring.


I thought modern technology was supposed to make it virtually impossible to lock your keys inside the car?   Well, seems that it still happens!   The assistance man was attending to a car nearby, and from what I could observe, was trying to enter it.

And it wasn’t going well!   However, later the alarm ceased sounding and the vehicle had gone, so presumably it all worked out eventually.

EDIT:  I have been assured that it really is “impossible” to lock the keys in the car.  Hmmm, so modern technology is “fail-safe”?   But if you lose the key, well, then “issues” definitely arise!


The walk in Tuscany in 2016 was arranged by ATG Oxford, who I’d recommend.  A particular specialty of theirs is walking in Italy.   I still receive occasional newsletters from them primarily aimed at promoting their services.   However, the most recent issue to arrive contained an interesting item headed “Hotel Survival: Please help!”

It was stated that the closure of small, family run hotels (in Italy?) is being hastened by the “interactive media”.   The point was made that a few adverse (possibly unwarranted) reviews can take a hotel from being number 3 in a town or area to number 23 causing “devastating financial consequences”.  They state, “Awareness of how easily ratings can be manipulated seems not to affect the credibility of interactive travel sites”.

The item acknowledged that negative reviews could come from various sources, including competitors, but ATG requested that in the case of their clients, should they wish to comment negatively on any hotel on an ATG trip, not to share views online before telling ATG about the perceived issues.   ATG state they’d find out the facts and respond.

They said, “To be able to make continuous journeys on foot, we need to ensure that any and every perceived issue is resolved and that these small, family-run hotels not only survive but are continually improving”.

I can imagine that operating a small hotel in Italy might often be a challenge, but it’s an interesting thought that reviews posted on the internet are perceived to have such a potentially significant effect.

Trip Advisor and “The Shed”

I often look at TripAdvisor’s reviews, and have posted a reasonable number myself.   I also like to think that I understand the art of reading reviews on TripAdvisor (and elsewhere) and sorting out the ones that can be relied on and those that aren’t so reliable.  In particular, I distrust “1-time posters”, and I look for recurring themes in the reviews.

It seems that TripAdvisor has procedures to protect against “fake” reviews, but these appear not to be foolproof!    Apart from the issues with Meriton, it’s been reported that a non-existent restaurant rose up the rankings to become TripAdvisor’s number 1 restaurant in London!

Supposedly the person behind this is called Oobah Butler, and it appears that he’s written the story behind this  here.  The story has certainly been  reported in the media and here).

It seems that TripAdvisor were asked for comment, and Butler reports that they said, “Generally, the only people who create fake restaurant listings are journalists in misguided attempts to test us.  As there is no incentive for anyone in the real world to create a fake restaurant it is not a problem we experience with our regular community – therefore this ‘test’ is not a real world example.”

Indeed!    So TripAdvisor consign the fact that they were fooled to the “fake news” basket?

Disclaimer:   I haven’t independently verified any of what Oobah Butler says, but apparently this is an archived link to the TripAdvisor review as at existed at some stage, which seems to suggest that there’s at least some basis to his article.

Garage door

The garage door was clunking and was erratic in adhering to the “limits”, that is it sometimes banged against the stop  when going up or down, instead of at the programmed point.

The service guy told us that the mechanism that sets the limits was worn and couldn’t be repaired so the only option was to get a complete new motor.   Somewhat reluctantly, we agreed to this and in due course the brand new motor arrived and was installed.  Needless to say, technology has moved on, so we also got a new chain mechanism.   However, the results are great:  everything is much quieter and smoother.

As he was leaving the technician offered me a word of advice:   the mechanism needs to be serviced every year or so.    The reason for the wear in the old motor was because the various components, such as the door springs as well as the operating chain, had got out of alignment, thus putting extra stress on the control mechanism.

Lesson learned:   devices such as this need to have a little loving care now and then!