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the bloody newsletter
ISSUE #165

The last selfie of Lois and me at a Cambodian restaurant
Mike's Pith & Wind - Lois
I certainly didn’t intend to go to NZ again this soon after going to Auckland with bro’ Richard (aka Dick of Dick’s Toolbox) to see Lois, our ailing 93 year old mother. Mind you, when we went over we weren’t absolutely certain how badly she was ailing, but we both had our suspicions fuelled by recent phone conversations we’d each had with her.
Our suspicions were confirmed in the most unfortunate way when Lois had a fall, possibly triggered by another stroke, within a week of our returning to Melbourne. She was admitted to hospital where her condition deteriorated rapidly.
She died on Saturday the 7th of this month, which is why I’m returning to Melbourne for the second time (with Maria this time) after the Auckland siblings and their families indicated that my presence was necessary in the interests of family solidarity as well as to add some elder brotherly perspective.
I was happy to be there too, although there were more than the usual hurdles to negotiate. For instance, there was my projected appearance at the book launch for Peter Evans’ book, Sunbury Festivals, at the Arts Centre organised by Melbourne Books that I reluctantly had to cancel.
Then there was the matter of Maria’s passport that had inconveniently lapsed a couple of days before we were due to fly over, but amazingly the Australian Passport Office whisked it through in just a day, a very long day mind you but a single day nonetheless, so we were free to book our tickets and go.
I actually managed three hours sleep before we clambered into the van and headed off to the airport (via Dick’s place to pick up his Tom-Tom GPS that I’d been so impressed with on our very recent trip to Auckland together) and thence to Tullamarine and a rendezvous with another Emirates’ Airbus 380.
After an uneventful flight Maria and I picked up our pre-battered rental car and headed to my brother Jeremy ’s Meadowbank home where we were warmly welcomed by him and his wife Susie. (I was best man at Jeremy and Susie's wedding in San Francisco back in 1998, which of course Lois as mother of the groom attended as well).
A lavish meal that night at Middle-Eastern style restaurant Beirut and exotic ice creams at Milse later we toppled into bed – only for me to sleep fitfully as I’m wont to do when I'm travelling.
The day of Lois’ commemoration broke clear and sunny. Jeremy and Susie were hosting Lois’ commemoration and our sister Ann, who’d assumed the role of family organiser, (a role she acquitted with aplomb not unexpectedly), was anticipating anything from twenty to fifty relatives and friends. read more
STOP PRESS...................All the latest news, gossip and pics
ARCHIVES.............................All the back-issues of everything
BOOK THE BAND.......................Book Spectrum - and more!
SPECTRUM'S FRIENDS............Links to Spectrum's people
CLASSIFIEDS................................Buy Mike's guitar - please!
CORRESPONDENCE..............................Letters to the editor
Dick's Toolbox - Oh, the NBN..
I am writing this even though the NBN is at least a year away, maybe more, from the outer fringes of Melbourne where I reside, and where the Internet is just a little slow. When it does work data packets move to and fro in a desultory and constipated fashion according to some peristaltic whim. All too often it doesn’t work at all even though we have a fancy router that is meant to fail-over to a wireless service when things go pear-shaped. This it sometimes does. And over the years our internet has gotten slower and slower for which there are a number or reasons. The two obvious ones are: firstly, the age and deterioration of the copper pairs running from the exchange to the nearest pillar and then from the pillar to our house and, secondly, not enough capacity has been provisioned to the exchange for the number of users. In theory we should have twice the speed we have given our three kilometre distance from the exchange - and we did once when ADSL2+ was first installed. But then only very briefly. For about one morning we got 10 Mb/s, no we get around 5 Mb/ps.
When we were in New Zealand staying in the middle of nowhere they had nearly 40Mb/s ADSL2. Positively snappy - though you could see the node from the house which does help. With any ADSL service the further you are from the exchange the slower your service will be which is a technical property of ADSL. The fact that it works at all is quite clever but the more advanced the ADSL service the greater the chance that it will interfere with another service in the adjacent copper cable thus slowing everybody down.
Anyway having worked in telecommunications I know a little about the NBN and not just the technology but the business model; but nobodyhas all the answers so you can have the result of my well informed ignorance.
Firstly is the NBN a good idea? The answer is an unqualified yes given that we live in a connected internet age with high graphic and information/entertainment needs. High speed internet is a financial and emotional necessity for pretty much everyone. Is the need uniform everywhere? Absolutely not. The business city centres are over-provided with fibre because businesses are more likely to pay for bandwidth. But the further you get away from the centres the worse the coverage. There was a momentary glimmer of hope when the Hybrid Fire Co-Axial (HFC) Pay-TV networks were built but essentially that was Telstra playing catch-up with Optus and the network overlap was about 95%.
Interestingly when the roll-out of that network started it was underground but after about five minutes they realised that was far too expensive and soon wires were slung from the power poles. Telstra maintained and up-graded its service properly over time but Optus let its network deteriorate. The Telstra cable network is being integrated into the NBN.. read more
M I K E R U D D B I L L P U T T . C O MM M I K E R U D D B I L L P U T T . C O MM M I K E R U D D B I L L P U T T . C O MM M I K E R U D D