To India

We’re off to India soon,  and I’ve set up a new blog for this.  It’s here.

And yes, for the India blog, I’ve gone back to Blogspot.  Seemingly, photos on Blogspot can be a higher resolution than here on WordPress (although there are fewer options for re-sizing them).     WordPress have also irritated me recently by imposing an unwanted “rainbow” line across the top of the Dashboard page.   True, it seems easier to search old posts on WordPress, but for now, I’m giving Blogspot another go.   Hopefully I’ll have some wi fi access, and my rather ancient netbook will be up to the task of posting some blog entries.

In the meantime, this blog will go into recess.



An on-line booking

We’re planning to have a few days interstate later this year, so after comparing airfares and the like, I went to the Tigerair site to make an airfare booking.   The site was a little unresponsive once or twice during the process but at the last step, it seemed not to complete the booking.   So, I did it all over again!!   Then it dawned on me – I’d duplicated the booking.

Oh no, in hindsight it was all my fault.   True, the site hadn’t confirmed the booking quite in the manner I had been anticipating, but nevertheless, had I looked at what it more closely, it would have been clear that the booking had been made.

What to do?   With not a lot of confidence, I called the phone number listed on the website.   After listening to a recorded speel dealing with all manner of issues, I got through to an operator (obviously off-shore) after just a few minutes (more quickly than I was anticipating!).

And although it was fairly tedious giving every detail of both bookings, I was told that, yes, I did have a “duplicate booking”.   They’d been made 9 minutes apart, and, to my great relief, because they’d been made directly on the Tigerair website, Tiger would cancel the 2nd one and refund the money!    It might take between 2 to 4 weeks for the money to turn up, but they’d do it!  (see Update below).

A great sigh of relief on my part.   The world of on-line bookings isn’t quite as fraught as I thought it might be.  I wonder if things like this are not unusual, so perhaps it’s good customer relations to allow a little flexibility in such situations.

UPDATE:   The refund was credited to my account by close of business on the next business day.   Much better than I dared to hope!

Doing the MyTax tax return

I have become accustomed to the quirks of the “MyTax” tax return website (you get to it via MyGov).   As I’ve said before, it takes a bit of getting used to.  One way of looking at it is that the powers that be have tried to “dumb down” the tax return process so much that it’s actually harder to use than the older electronic eTax site.  Still, in this day and age, perhaps even tax returns have to be able to be handled by an iPhone?

Having said this, my impression is that in some ways, there have been some marginal improvements to the format this year.  For example, there’s now an option to review the form before pressing the “Lodge” button.   However, one thing that did annoy me this year is that some of the pre-filled information arrived very late.    I had been working on and off on my return for a number of weeks, yet in mid-September, another dividend was “pre-filled”.

True, this isn’t the Tax Office’s responsibility, as it can only handle information supplied to it when it arrives.   And the site certainly draws your attention to the fact that new pre-fill information is available, and this year, identifies the particular item as new (I don’t think this occurred last year).

“Self driving” lorries

We’ve seen a lot of news about self-driving cars, (and here) but the BBC has carried a report that trials of partially “self-driving” lorries could occur in Britain by the end of next year!  At first sight, this seems intimidating, but reading the article in a little more detail, things become clearer.

At this stage, it seems the idea is to enable the lorries to travel more closely together, with the lead driver controlling acceleration and braking, but the following ones being steered by a driver in each who can also respond to any obstructions.   Given that we already have larger trucks in Australia (“B-doubles” and even longer “road trains” in some parts), I’m not sure whether such arrangements would take off here.

But they do show the direction that technology is heading.   Developments such as these are doubtless only the first step on the way to a lot more automation, perhaps sooner than we realise.

And there was a brief mention of the British proposal in one of the Sunday papers.  The concern was that the technology may be able to be hacked!

I guess anything is possible, but probable?  I think this would be way down the list of worries!



Even longer non-stop flights?

Well, Qantas has already scheduled non-stop flights from Perth to London, but now has its eye on planes that would be able to fly non-stop from Melbourne and Sydney to New York and London.

It’s not something I would want to endure, no matter what the class of travel.  Yet I suppose the reality is that, in the face of strong competition from other international carriers, this is an opportunity for Qantas to cut out a niche for itself.    Not everyone would want to do this, but if you do decide that’s the way to go, Qantas is most likely going to be your only option.

Windows 10 Creators (sic) update

My computer had been prompting me to start the “update” process, but although it kept promising to do the update when I logged off, it seems that not much happened until I actually clicked the “Update Now” button.   Then computer then mumbled away to itself for well over an hour, but eventually informed me that “Windows 10 Creators Update” had been installed.  I suppose the flip side of this is that Windows didn’t take it on itself automatically to install the update at a time that it arbitrarily selected (I recall this having happened in the past), so I can’t complain about that.

Apparently this update has a number  of supposedly interesting features, but these seem largely gimmicks to me.  I can safely say, that there seems little in it that is likely to be of interest to me.  Perhaps I’ll look at the privacy settings, but apart from that,  all I want is for my computer to continue to operate with as few hassles as possible (and I accept that updates are necessary in this regard).   Annoyingly, the update appears to have interfered with some of my “default” settings (mainly in relation to programs by which particular files are opened) and also some of the Outlook settings, but hopefully I’ll be able to sort through these.

And – ought there not be an apostrophe in “Creators” ?   I would have thought that it should be Creators’…..?    The issue was mentioned in this article, but clearly Microsoft regards itself as being above the niceties of English grammar!

Light globes

In days gone by, it was quite simple to have a few spare light globes in the cupboard.  They were all bayonet-cap; the only choice was the wattage – somewhere between 25 w to 100 w, occasionally even a little brighter.

But these days, some fittings are screw-in (“ES”), and around the house we have a few varieties, ranging from “candle” globes through to various spot lights.    And technology has changed:  the simple old cheap and plain filament globes have been banned on energy efficiency grounds, and we now have to choose between mini fluors, halogen, LEDs ….  and more.

Hence, although I’ve got a shelf full of legacy type globes, usually I just buy a replacement when I need it.   That can be a challenge, too.   Sure, at Bunnings, they’re all neatly arranged, but at our local supermarket, the shelves are invariably a confusing mish-mash, and it’s pure luck if the description on the shelf accords with the type of globe that’s actually stacked there!