Tag Archives: 2014

SP Ausnet to Black Saturday to dollars

Around this time last year, I wrote a post about the houses lost to fire here in Warrandyte, and the possible role SP Ausnet had played in those losses.

marysville fire picAt the time, even I felt as if I was doing a bit of conspiracy theorizing. Today, however, I know I was spot on the money because it was just announced on the media that the third, Black Saturday compensation claim against SP Ausnet has been settled out of court. This particular compensation case referred to the township of Marysville [see photo to the left].

Apparently all three Black Saturday compensation cases concerned some kind of equipment failure. The equipment was/is owned by SP Ausnet, and the utilities company has denied all liability. BUT. Counting the three, separate compensation cases, the company has agreed to a total of $648 million dollars in out of court compensation payments.

At some point I expect to hear that the families involved in last year’s Warrandyte fire will also receive hush money from SP Ausnet.

To be honest, I consider that $648 million to be cheap. The survivors whose lives were smashed by the Black Saturday fires will receive approximately 60% compensation for their losses. 60%. Think about that. Where is the compensation for living the rest of your life with nightmares?

And what of the rest of us? If the worst bushfire in Victorian history was caused by equipment failure, and possible negligence, then what hope do we have that the same perfect storm of events will not happen again?

I’m not optimistic. Even people around Warrandyte have become complacent, and that is likely to get worse as the years go by. People forget, perhaps because it’s easier to live out here if you bury your head in the sand.

The only sign of optimism I can see is that the insurance companies that underwrite companies such as SP Ausnet will not be happy. They may demand an investment in safeguards that the victims themselves can never achieve.

I hope so, because with no legal liability recorded against them, SP Ausnet is under no legal obligation to lift its game. Think about that.


Independence in Scotland – the real meaning of democracy

I’m just waiting for my class to begin so this will have to be quick, but how could I let such a momentous moment pass without comment?

Congratulations to the people of Scotland. They have achieved a victory that centuries? of bloodshed and discontent could not. This is the power of the pen, and democracy.

But the wonders of today have just begun. The prestigious golf club – St Andrews – has also voted to allow women to play golf on its hallowed greens …for the first time ever!

I’m neither Scottish nor a golfer, but I love the idea that people power really does work. I haven’t felt this positive about humanity since the bloodless end of Apartheid and the fall of the Berlin Wall. We can make the world a better place. We truly can!

-hugs and a big pat on the back to all-


Why I don’t like the new WordPress interface


I don’t like change. There, I’ve said it. Once I’ve got a tool working efficiently, I don’t appreciate being forced to learn how to use a different one, just because someone, somewhere, thought it might be a good idea.

You see, the thing I care about is not the tool itself, it’s what I can do with that tool. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, please. Every time you do, you’re wasting my precious time. And whatever you do, please don’t make my blogging life harder!

Sadly the latest iteration of the WordPress interface does not give me anything worthwhile, but it does make what I do a little bit harder.

Before I start complaining about the failings of this new tool, I have to concede that the WordPress designers did not develop this new interface for me. In fact they did not develop it for any of us old users. Almost without fail, every innovation has been aimed squarely at new users, or to be more precise, to attract new users. This can be seen most clearly in the login screen :

wordpress interface new 1

The whole, visual thrust of this screen is to make it easy for a new user to sign up. Unfortunately, if I were a new user, I’d look at that screen and scratch my head because :

1. I would not know the format of the wordpress URLs, and hence I would not know what to type in that nice, convenient box,

2. There is nothing on this screen to help me decipher what’s expected of me.

In a word, this is poor design compounded by the fact that as an old user, I now have to add an extra click to my sign-in procedure. If I stayed in WordPress all day, that extra click might not bother me. But I’m in and out a number of times per day, and each time I have to :

a) Wait for the screen to load

b) Click the Log In button

c) Position the cursor at the new input dialogue box, and only then actually type in my log in details.

Quite frankly, this is unnecessary and more than a little annoying. Sadly, it’s just the beginning.

Once I am inside WordPress, the interface does look greatly simplified, and ‘clean’. By default, the interface opens with the Reader screen, allowing me to dive straight into other peoples’ blogs, if I so wish. Well, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. First thing of a morning, I’m more likely to want to see my stats, or reply to comments. However, if I’ve just had a great idea for a new post, I’d rather get straight into writing.

Now, to be fair, there is a ‘New Post’ icon at the top right of my screen :

wordpress interface new post1but when I mouse-over it in the Opera browser, I get no tooltip telling me that this is what I should click in order to create a new post. Again, to be fair, Opera is very unforgiving of html or CSS errors, so perhaps the lack of a mouse-over is just a problem with my browser.

However, I find it hard to believe my browser is also to blame for the fact that the ‘New Post’ icon never seems to work properly for me. I can certainly type a new post, however as soon as I try to save my draft, or preview it, the waiting animation just goes berserk and won’t stop. In order to save my work, I have to :

– select all

– copy

– cancel post

– select My Sites

– select Posts

– select New Post

– and paste what I typed into a screen that can be saved.

As you can imagine, this is just a wee bit …annoying.

My biggest gripe, however, has to do with how important features have now been hidden behind acres of simplified screens. For example, in the new, streamlined interface, the only way I can find one particular post I have written is by scrolling through every single post I’ve ever written, in date order! That is the prospect I faced this morning when I went looking for my original post on ‘frozen shoulder/hydro dilation.

I eventually found the search function under My Sites/Dashboard/Posts/All Posts. Now, I have always been able to find the search function on the Dashboard, but I distinctly remember also being able to access the search function from the My Sites/Posts option as well. That is no longer available to me, and I’m forced to do everything the hard way.

[Note: if you have not already found the search function in WordPress, there is a quick how-to at the end of this post].

Again, this lack of functionality is only likely to annoy the $hit out of people like me who have 500 plus posts to wade through. But what happens when those new users become old users and discover that all the best, most efficient features have been hidden from them?

-grumble- I suppose they’ll have other interface ‘innovations’ to gripe about by then…

In the final analysis, I have no objection to WordPress making the lives of new users easier, but so far many of the innovations seem more counter intuitive than anything else. New users need hand holding. They need to be told what everything is, because when everything is new, nothing is obvious.

As for us oldies? How about some innovations that allow us to hotkey our favourite functions so we can customize our working spaces as we see fit? Now that would be a change I’d welcome.



How to find the search function in WordPress [July 2014 version]

1. Click ‘My Sites‘ at the top left of your screen :

wordpress interface new 2

You should now see this :

wordpress interface new 3

2. Click ‘Dashboard’ as shown above.

You should now be looking at the slightly revamped Dashboard screen. This was the heart of WordPress when I began blogging almost 3 years ago.

wordpress interface dashboard 13. Click on Posts in the black, navigation panel to the left of the screen :

4. Now click on All Posts as shown below :

wordpress interface dashboard 2

You should now be looking at a table listing every single post you have ever written.

5. Click in the Search Box [at the top right of the list as shown] and type in a keyword. Then click the ‘Search Posts’ button next to it.

wordpress interface search 1


In the example shown above, I typed ‘Nanowrimo’ into the search box and was presented with every single post I had ever written that contained the word nanowrimo in it. This cut my ‘check it and see’ search area down to just a handful of posts.

Once you have found the post you are looking for, you can click on the ‘Edit’ option to open it up. Clicking on ‘Edit’ allows you to..tah dah…edit, but it also allows you to get a ‘Shortlink” for the post. Shortlinks are invaluable when you want to link to an old post from within a new post. Or link to any post from within a Tweet, etc.

A Double Dissolution – the safety net of democracy in Australia

Since the Hockey-Abbott budget came out a few weeks ago, I’ve been wondering what we can do about it …in a democracy. Is it fair to make a fuss when a democratically elected government does something we don’t like?

For me, the simple answer is YES

Why? Because we have a Senate for a reason. The role of the Senate is to ‘moderate’ the decisions of the House of Representatives – i.e. the Abbott government. 

How does the Senate moderate the decisions of the House of Reps? By not passing bills. [A bill has to be passed by both the House of Reps and the Senate in order to become law]. 

Blocking Supply. If the Senate knocks back a House of Reps budget [3 times] the government of the day has the option of calling a Double Dissolution. A Double Dissolution means both Houses of Parliament are dissolved and new elections are held for both houses. 

No government goes for a Double Dissolution lightly as there is no guarantee it will be voted back in, and none of the politians want to lose their seats. 

Usually, the mere threat of a Double Dissolution is enough to force a compromise. In the case of the Hockey-Abbott budget, however, I think we should pressure the smaller parties to make a Double Dissolution inevitable. Voting is a pain, but it is the ONLY tool we voters have to keep politicians in line. If we can get rid of Abbott and his government, we will not only protect our national identity and way of life, we will send a clear message to politicians for decades to come : 

– Don’t break your election promises

– Don’t pick on the most vulnerable in our society

– Do try telling the truth for a change

– And do listen to what the people are actually telling you, even if it disagrees with your ideology

So let’s bring on this Double Dissolution. We really don’t have that much to lose.



Hockey Budget 2014 – $245 million for chaplains??

angryIf I’ve been quiet about the 2014 Budget, it’s only because the wrong was so obvious. Today, however, The Daughter alerted me to something that seems to have slipped past in the general furor – chaplains.

There is currently a High Court challenge regarding the legitimacy of the Commonwealth funding chaplains at all. Let me rephrase that – according to the constitution, the Federal Government did not have the right to fund chaplains in schools. To read more about the background to this challenge follow the link below :


One of the things you will find on that website is this :

“Within the LNP coalition budget announced on 13 May 2014, in spite of overall cuts to education funding, the top school spending outlay was $245 million to finance the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) across four years to commence in 2015. This brings the total amount expended upon, or committed to the NSCP since 2007 to $670,000,000.” That is perilously close to one billion dollars.

Let me put those numbers into some kind of context – the disabled will be put on NewStart to ‘encourage’ them to find work. This will free up quite a bit of money. Quite a big chunk of money will then be handed out to religious bodies – despite the fact that said funding is not allowed by the constitution.

Excuse me? Did I just land in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party?

Now I know that a lot of parents are religious. Those parents probably don’t see anything wrong with the government funding the Chaplaincy program.

But the devil is always in the detail. You see these chaplains don’t represent every religious body in Australia. As far as I know, they do not include Rabbi’s, or Imams, or Buddhist monks, or priests of the Greek Orthodox Church, or Hindu priests or any of the lesser known religions. So if your kids belong to any of these religions  then you’re out of luck because the Chaplaincy program doesn’t give two hoots about your kids.

But wait, there’s more. The Chaplaincy program also doesn’t give two hoots about kids who fall into the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans] category either. In fact, such kids are seen as evil. The Chaplains believe they must be rooted out, or ‘cured’. That is their definition of caring for these kids.

Has a light bulb gone off in any heads yet? <<heavy sarcasm>>

Yes, this is exactly how anti-gay sentiments are propagated in the US. This is exactly how non-LGBT kids are encouraged to bully the ‘bad seeds’ in their midst. This is exactly how the most vulnerable of our youth are pushed to the point of suicide.

And guess what? We’re paying for it all.


Joe Hockey wants us to tighten our belts for the common good, but he and Tony Abbott are the ones who define that common good. Apparently it’s good for Australia to fund paid maternity leave for upper middle class mums who can already afford not to work for six months. And it’s also good for Australia to fund a Chaplaincy Program that excludes huge parts of our population, and is patently against the constitution. But apparently uni students, pensioners and the disabled are parasites who just suck the life out of the country.

Really? Well that is a version of Australia I refuse to accept. We’re better than that.






Update on WordPress problem using Opera browser

After posting about the problem I have been having accessing comments on WordPress [here], I decided to do some sleuthing online. I went from link to link until I finally found a forum talking about an unrelated issue some people were having with WordPress and Opera.

One of the possible solutions posted on this forum was to clear the Opera ‘error console’. Now despite having used Opera for years, this was the first I’d heard of an error console. Nonetheless, I went searching and finally found it. I was shocked to see masses of error messages. Taking a deep breath, I deleted them all. Then I logged into WordPress and clicked on the comment notifications icon…

BINGO! I now have comments again!

Before I do a quick walkthrough for others having the same problem, here is some background. Right from the word go, Opera has been notorious for sticking to the HTML and CSS standards. You’d think that would be a good thing, right? Well the reality is a wishy washy ‘yes and no’. The problem is that few sites are as compliant as Opera. This leads to errors, and apparently, the build up of errors within the error console can lead to snafus like the one that’s plagued me.

Okay, enough theory. If you use Opera and WordPress, and you are having problems with the way Opera displays WordPress, here is a possible solution :

1. Go to the Opera tool bar and click Tools/Advanced/Error Console [as shown below]

Wordpress problem with Opera 1

2. Click the first error message in the list and hold down the SHIFT key. Now click the last error message in the list. All the messages should now be highlighted.

3. Click the CLEAR button at the bottom of the page [as shown below]

Wordpress problem with Opera 2

And that’s it. I was wrong, there is one more small step. After clearing the error console, you will have to close Opera to get the changes to take effect. I discovered this today when I found my comments gone again. [4/2/2014]

Those of a nerdy nature might be interested to look at the error messages before deleting them. Most have to do with HTML or CSS issues. That said, I have been using WordPress and Opera together for a couple of years now, and this problem has only cropped up a couple of times. The first time, I just had to suffer until ‘something’ changed again and my comments returned. At least now I’m back in control of my apps. Unfortunately, until WordPress cleans up its code, this problem with Opera is likely to happen again. -sigh-

[Note : the problem did happen again, after just one day of use. Luckily clearing the error console and closing Opera did the trick].

Happy blogging,


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