. . .

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The way this happened was like something out of another Stephen King book - "Needful Things", or perhaps "Rose Madder"

It was as if the book chose her.

I was walking past an op-shop when something big and white caught my eye. In the days preceding this I had wanted to find a Stephen King book to read, as I had finished "The Dead Zone" in under four days. I first read "Insomnia" ages ago and it was one of my favourites. It has been enough time that I have forgotten the details of the book although I do remember some of the story.

The book peered out at me from the front window of the op-shop. It seemed to be whispering "Buy me. Buy me." I found that I couldn't walk past the shop, even though I was in a hurry.

So I did the only thing I could do, I walked inside. The shop smelt of dust and mothballs. I asked the man "how much for the Stephen King book in the window?" He escorted me to the display and pointed at a bronze cup.

"This one?"

I was perplexed. I was sure I said 'book', what was he playing at?

Then he pointed at a set of handkerchiefs.

"This one?"

"No, this one." I put my hand on the book.

He tapped his hand on a set of glassware.


"No, this." I kept showing him the book but it was like he couldn't see it. I thought perhaps his eyesight wasn't good.

"This one?" he put his hand on a stuffed toy.

Either that or he was having a lend of me.

"This one." I tapped the huge, hardback white book in the window for the last time. He finally got it.

"How much is it?" I asked, knowing full well I would pay whatever he said just to get out of there.

"Three dollars."

"I'll take it."

The book is amazing, very compelling and fast paced.

The irony is the title: Insomnia. When I read it last night I fell asleep immediately!

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

For some reason it has become increasingly difficult to find a Sunday Bag in Australia. Unfortunate, as these bags can be used for the driving range and proper rounds of golf, not just par 3s. At present I do not have fourteen clubs so I have no need for a large bag. Sunday Bags can be carried easily and are convenient for walking the course without a buggy.

The Sunday Bag also has a rich history, as this Art Deco representation of St Andrew shows. The larger stand-alone bags seem to have become more popular but some (like myself!) prefer the Sunday Bag for convenience.

The Sunday Bags vary in price and features. Here are a few examples:

Women's Mulholland Sunday Bag Endurance $599.00
All leather, holds up to 10 clubs

Clearly, this is a top of the range, quality leather item. This actually reminds me of expensive luggage. The kind you would be scared to run over cobblestones or gutters. Impractical for my own purposes but perhaps more suited to someone with a warm car and golf cart.

Golf is a messy game - the last few times I have played I ended up with soaked feet, socks and shoes, muddy cuffs on my jeans and a rogue splash of mud on my cheek that I didn't notice until I entered the bathrooms at the 19th hole. Another memorable time was when nobody graced the golf course except for my partner and me. Why? Because rain, hail and lightning were forecast. We knew this, but our enthusiasm overpowered the weather. I remember teeing off on the second tee with hailstones the size of marbles peppering the back of my head. The second green was so covered with hail that it was completely white. Do you know, it's actually surprisingly easy to putt over hail. Or it was that day, anyway!

When we returned the pro shop, we met a golf professional who is a childhood friend of Trevor Immelman, winner of the green jacket at the 2008 US Masters at Augusta. He gave me some advice he learned in South Africa. "If there is lightning and thunder, put your bag under a tree, get away from the water and lie down flat in the middle of the fairway." Good advice.

Or you could do what we actually did when the thunder and lightning rolled in. Just played faster.

Palm Springs Sunday Bag $14.99-$39.00

2 way divider. Web handle for carrying short distances. 2-point adjustable single harness strap. Balls/Accessories pocket plus a full-length clothing pocket. The bag doesn't specify how many clubs the bags will hold but one would assume it to be around 7-10. Comes in five colours.

Nike Skinny Range Bag $49.95 -$69.95

Three pockets, holds around 7 clubs. Lightweight and compact. Fits a substantial number of clubs despite the small size.

Titleist X80 Carry Bag $49.95-$59.95

The bag features 2-point adjustable sling, 7.5" molded top with divider, Velour lined zippered accessory pocket and pen holder, amongst other things.

Personally, I had a hankering for a Wilson Sunday bag to match my Wilson Staff cap (see previous post "my new favourite accessory"). For some reason when I tried Ebay, the only Sunday Bags available were from the US. I was in a hurry because I wanted to play the following week and I didn't want to hire clubs and a buggy again. I just had to put faith in US mail.

Fortunately I found the perfect match in Maryland:

Wilson Deluxe Sunday Golf Bag in black. Light weight, weighs less than a pound. Convenient zippered pouch for balls and accessories. Adjustible shoulder strap. Easily holds up to 7 clubs.

Price: wouldjabelieve... $23.50 (including postage)

And my wonderful seller sent the bag First Class mail, allowing it to arrive on the Tuesday before my round.

No more club hire for me!!

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Has this ever happened to you? You're about to sit down to dinner or settle in to watch a TV program and the phone rings. But it's not friends or family. It's one of THOSE calls. The faceless, survey taking, dinner interrupting sources of constant annoyance. Sometimes you wish you could find out who they are. You're left asking Who Called Me? But there is no answer.

You may have even gone to the trouble to put yourself on a No Call List. Still, some callers persist and you can't find them. Some people receive prank calls, which can be disturbing. Especially if they are invisible, anonymous. You have no recourse. Or do you?

Wouldn't it be great if you could strengthen your privacy against these calls? "Who Just Called Here" has a reverse phone lookup service, which is especially useful for businesses that can't afford to miss one call from a client. As a further measure, it also offers privacy protection to block your private details from data collection services.

This post brought to you by WhoJustCalledHere?

Monday, May 19, 2008

While researching and shopping around for a pager service I decided to visit the Telstra site. I tried to find "pager" with the search function but couldn't get any sensible results. Then I tried "paging". Considering the fun I have had in dealing with Telstra in the past, I found the result for my misspelled search quite amusing...

hee hee!

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hello? Is there anybody out there?

Unfortunately my three Technorati support requests have gone unanswered. This is unfortunate and a bit disturbing.

I am still down by 40 for blog reactions
and 48 adding me as a favourite.

My Technorati authority is now artificially down by 10 points.

The only comparable level of blog reactions for my blog was back in September 2007.
The last time I had so few adding me as a favourite was in May 2007.

All the work I have done since has been reset and I am very slowly crawling back up again. This is unfortunate because I think it damages Technorati's credibility as a ranking system for your blog. I have been using the service since 2006 and I still find it to be an easy way to track incoming links and favourites. When clanging errors such as this not only occur but go unnoticed, it gives one pause to wonder whether this problem will ever be rectified.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Leaving feedback is an integral part of the Ebay shopping experience. Sellers often wait anxiously for the positive sign and dread the negative. Buyers do the same. Sometimes it becomes a strange waiting game, almost like an electronic game of "chicken" to see who blinks first.

Today Ebay has unveiled a new angle on feedback, thus removing the buyer's fear of being "bullied" into giving positive ratings.

In explaining the system of feedback I will have to refer to the previous system of positive, neutral or negative feedback for both buyers and sellers. The sellers can be judged on a number of factors whereas the buyers generally can only be judged on one thing.

Firstly, a seller will be judged on the item itself. This is, of course the reason for the transaction in the first place. This includes:

1) Honesty in describing the item including brand (or lack thereof), colour, material, features
2) Faults in the item (eg. laptop won't hold charge, "q" key missing)

Second, the sellers are judged on their use of postage and packaging, including:

1) Speed of delivery
2) Appropriateness of packaging
3) Price of postage and packaging

Personally, I tend to give sellers full marks if they fulfill most of the expectations listed above. If they have charged an extra dollar or so for postage, I am generous. After all, they often make a loss when selling the item which can even out over the final price. It is also difficult to hold a seller responsible for postal delays, especially if they communicate that they have posted it in good faith. It is more difficult for the sellers to fulfill all expectations. I have experience in being both a buyer and a seller and I much prefer being on the buying side of things.

Buyers on the other hand, are judged on a much smaller criteria.

1. Payment for item and
2. Communication

If you pay quickly, sellers will love you. I try to pay instantly if possible because it tends to surprise a lot of sellers. It is interesting that this will no longer be a factor under the new system of feedback.


Buyers will feel free to express their views without fear of retribution. Bullying by shonky sellers is very real. There are many stories from people who have been held to ransom for the sake of a positive feedback rating. Sometimes the buyer will have to decide between telling the truth about the seller or pandering to the seller's demands to protect their own feedback. A common and unfair seller's revenge is to leave negative feedback for any buyer who rates them as negative. This is unfair because the buyer may have correctly fulfilled their responsibility of paying for the item. To rate a buyer as negative for doing nothing wrong is, well, wrong.


This increased scrutiny could possibly cause people to shy away from attempting to become sellers. A buyer could leave negative feedback simply out of revenge when their unwarranted demands for discounts are refused. A vindictive buyer is just as bad as a vindictive seller. If the seller is honest about the item and it arrives safely, buyers should not be leaving negatives. If buyers are sensible and fair with this system, it may just work to everyone's advantage.

It will be interesting to see how long these particular changes to the feedback rating system will be received by Ebay members. It seems many Ebay buyers and sellers have readily accepted the star rating system, so this may be a further step in narrowing the ratings to keep pressure on sellers to deal in high quality products and practices.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Like Clarice Starling from the Silence of the Lambs, I don't really scare easily. In fact, a lot of the films I prefer to watch seem to give people chills. I don't understand it really. In fact, most people who know me would roll their eyes and say "yes, she likes horror films" (with an underlying tone of "what did we do to deserve this?")

I once tried to encourage one of my friends to watch a scary movie with me. I ended up with a sore eardrum and popcorn all over me. Yes, it sounds like a cliche but truth is stranger than fiction. It was a crucial point in the movie. Things were tense. The girl was walking through the darkened hallway and you could sense she was not alone. Suddenly, just as the scary part happened, my cat jumped on my friend's lap, causing her to scream like she was going to die, and sending popcorn all over the living room. Including me. Thus ended my attempts to push my favourite genre on my friends and family. We horror fans all know who we are. We're the ones that get treated like Hannibal Lecter just because we like a good scare. As if we are somehow evil or wrong just because we like to feel adrenaline coursing through us, frozen in time, watching the screen and waiting noiselessly to see what will happen next.

I think the reason we like to be scared is simple, a primal urge to feel something, even fear, to make us feel alive. Not only does it make us feel alive, it makes us feel fantastic to be alive. It makes us feel like survivors, walking out of the wreckage and appreciating the love and happiness in our own existence. I think we watch horror movies for the same reason people like to go on roller coasters, or go bungee-jumping or rock climbing. I think we like to scare the hell out of ourselves once in a while just to say "I'm alive and I'm still here".

I saw some fantastic horror movies this weekend on DVD but it has been a while since I saw a horror movie at the cinema. I saw the trailer for a new horror film called "Frontier(s)". It tells the story of four friends escaping Paris and criminal prosecution. They find a hotel, check in, but all is not what it seems. There is a sense of unsettling panic underlying the trailer. I'm not sure if I want to relate to these characters too closely because I got a glimpse into some of what they will go through. In the trailer, the film was described in this chilling way: "Feels like you're watching a film made by madmen. It's that good." It will be in selected cinemas May 9th and out on DVD on May 13th. The film is unrated (yikes!) and for this to be released in a cinema is an unusual event. Frontier(s) was shown at Horrorfest 2007 and had the distinction of being the only film to be considered "too horrific" for mainstream cinemas. It definitely gruesome and of course not suitable for work. Here it is - check it out if you dare...Trailer

Also, for all things horror check out Bloody Disgusting(s) - an extensive resource with movies, video games, trailers, reviews and interviews.

Sponsored by Frontier(s)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

If you are not quite ready to purchase a car yet, you and I are in the same situation. Sometimes it's easier (and cheaper!) to rent a car instead. The benefits are many. I personally require a car perhaps ten times a year. The savings are obvious - no ongoing registration costs, weekly petrol bills, tune ups and maintenance bills or car insurance. The total savings are substantial over the course of a year. When I do require a hire car, I will scan the internet for the best deals until I find the perfect deal for me. You can do the same by checking out the best car rental deals and comparing prices on Advantage Rent A Car. The site provides discounts for travel agents and tour operators. You can choose from a number of vehicles including minivans and convertibles, depending on the occasion. Once you find the preferred rate, the booking facility is simple and easy to use. When you can take care of the car booking online it gives you more time to plan for the important details, such as packing for that holiday or day trip!

This post brought to you by Advantage.com
Hi, this is the third support request I have put through. The first two were to ask why my fans went from 78 to 30 suddenly in February this year.

The second has just happened. Please reply to this one because still have no reply and I feel I am being penalised for errors at Technorati. Two days ago I had 147 blog reactions. Great right? No, because today I have many more blog reactions and the total comes to 107.

So, in summary:
I've lost 40 blog reactions and 48 people who have added me as a favourite.

Please reply.


Take a look at BuyYourCar.co.uk and try one of the searches. It is easy to find the new or used car you are looking for, featuring cars from both private sellers and dealerships. In my case I would be trawling the used car section. Preferably for a large car with lots of storage space. Ah, the freedom to be able to pull out on to the open road and just drive wherever you want... But I digress.

Whether you are looking for a used toyota or a big Chevy station wagon (*sigh*), you can search by preferred make and model and find matching results on the quest for your next set of wheels.

If you are new to buying a car (I bought my first car at night!! True story), you need to get all the advice that is humanly possible so you can avoid making that one regrettable purchase. In this case, check out the Buying Advice section. It contains advice on the best questions you should ask a seller, inspecting the vehicle and a used car buyer's checklist. Most valuable is the section on car buying scams. This advice is worth considering - I have seen many a poor soul on "A Current Affair" bemoaning their gullibility at buying a car online, usually employing Western Union money transfers as their preferred payment method! Had they taken advice on car buying scams perhaps they would be both wealthier and wiser today.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Okay, maybe that's overstating it a bit. I have been waiting over 15 days for my unlock code from Telstra. I paid them up front, as I mentioned in my previous posts on this subject:

Telstra Must Die and Telstra: Overofficious and Not Very Efficient

These posts detail my long waits on hold, the clueless manner in which I was passed around from operator to operator, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

Well strike me lucky if I wasn't blown off my feet by this one.

"Hello Telstra, how can I help you?"

"Hi, I'm calling to find out my unlock code. I spoke to (employee number, name) and he hasn't called me back with the code. It was supposed to be 3-4 working days but it has been 15."

(friendly, nice voice)"Okay, I'll just put you on hold."

This was promising. She sounded nice. But I'm on hold again.

"Hi, sorry about the wait. Here's your code, do you have a pen?"

(stunned silence)


"Ah, yes. Sorry go ahead."

"Okay, your code is *#number number etc"

"I'll just try it now."

(punches in code)

*sproing!* goes the phone. It is unlocked.

"That's amazing! Thanks!"

"No problem, you have a nice day."

I sat and stared at the wall in shock. It was done. That was too easy. Where's the catch? Is it really over? Pinch me!!

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I am always looking for ways to improve my blog. I have tried many different designs, hand-coded everything almost from scratch, thrown it away and started again. It would make sense that everyone is looking for that one design that will make their blog memorable and to stand out from all the others.

I found a design blog that provides information on everything from the basics of web design to how to create the best Adwords advertisements.

Judging by the look and feel of the site, I consider it very important that a web design blog be well designed. This sounds obvious but it is something that many web design blogs and sites occasionally overlook. In the case of Stylish Design, this blog is well designed and innovative, with a format that is fresh and unlike most blogs I have seen in my daily surfing adventures. Well worth a look if you are interested in blog design and web issues in general.

This post brought to you by StylishDesign.

Monday, May 05, 2008

For the last couple of months I have been deciding what to read next. I had a hankering for Stephen King - my favourite book of his would have to be "Rose Madder" but I wanted something else. I was thinking I would like "The Dead Zone". I know the basic outline of the story and I have seen a few episodes of the television programme recently. Then I forgot about it and lo and behold - I was out walking today and passed a newsagent. At the front of the newsagent was a table with secondhand books on sale.

And what should I find almost immediately staring back at me:

Ooo! Spooky! It was like it was saying "buy me!" "buy me!"

And the price was $5.99 - hehehehe!!

Perhaps this is "the secret" at work....

(spooky music out)

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Wikipedia, the web-based encyclopaedia project is a source of information just about everything you can think of. I often find myself "wikipediaing" (did I just make up a word?) famous people and their careers. There is a section of Wikipedia on the Nouveau Riche that is, those people who have made their fortunes in their own generation. This obviously does not include Paris Hilton! One of my favourite rags to riches movie would have to be "Rocky", the story of a relatively unknown boxer who gets the chance to fight the heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed. I always get teary in these films, but not just at the end. In fact I can quite easily go through a whole box of tissues per film! The most beautiful thing about rags-to-riches stories is the thought that there is a possibility that we too, can become the very heroes we admire.

This post brought to you by Wikipedia.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I thought it was going to be so easy to set up my new High Definition set top box. I mean, really, how hard could it be?

The answer came to me when I was waist high in cables and instruction manuals, pressing the "menu" button for the fifteenth time trying to work out what went wrong.

I'm going to try and simplify this so nobody ever goes through the same unnecessary troubles that I endured.

These steps are for connecting a HD set top box to a plain old normal television. These instructions are for a Tedelex HD set top box but should be able to translate to other models.

Step 1:

Unpack set top box. Get the cable that looks like this: (red, yellow and white)

and plug it into the set top box like this (it is colour coded so you can't really get it wrong!):

Plug your aerial into "ANT IN" on the set top box:

Then plug the other end into the red, yellow and white bits at the back of the TV.

Step 2:

Turn the set top box on.

Get the HD remote.


Set the format on "PALI" - I presume this has something to do with PAL for Australia / UK TV.

On this particular remote you do the following:

PALI (on this remote it is the RED button!)

That's it!

Step 3:

Generally normal (older!) TVs have AV1 and Av2 to plug in audiovisual equipment. So, you will have plugged the red, yellow and white cables into eitherAV1 or AV2 which means when you get the TV remote, put the channel on Av1 or Av2. Whichever one shows up the HD menu, that's it!

On this particular model, (Tedelex TE-8200) the instruction manual tells you to press menu, select "TV channels" by pressing "OK" and searching for channels either automatically or manually.

I did an autosearch and found quite a few channels but not TenHD. Which is a disaster because TenHD is the main channel I want for the extra golf tournaments.

I realised that the aerial wasn't in the "Channel 10 spot" when I did the autosearch.

I readjusted the aerial in the Channel 10 spot and rescanned. Lo and behold all the Channel 10 stuff came up.

Step 4:

If you want to watch a channel that is being previewed in a small box on the screen, select the channel, press:


Then you can watch the channel. I tell you something, these instruction manuals should actually say what I just said here. In plain English. Why oh why do they just skip over steps like "on what friggin channel does the set top box come through?" or "I've got the TV on, the set top box is on, the remote is working so why the crap isn't the HD menu coming up?" They just assume that you will naturally get to the point where the menu is magically displayed on screen. I ask you, what is the point of having an instruction manual if they think you can jolly well work it out for yourself?

From recent research on HD forums, it seems lot of people have spoken about the difficulty in finding a proper TV guide that includes the HD channels. I would love to find a hard copy but for now here are the online guides:

Yahoo7 TV Guide

CitySearch TV Guide

EBroadcast TV Guide

NineMSN TV Guide

According to recent news reports, Nine HD will not launch until March 2008. I wondered why I couldn't find it on any of the TV guides! Duh!

The picture is amazing. It has gone from something like this:

to this:

It's nuts. It's like watching DVDs all the time.

Hope this helps :-) Enjoy.

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Discover the alternative to expensive cable TV, no monthly charges and global access to 4500 channels. No hardware required. Stream HD channels directly from your laptop.

I used to own a Macintosh. *sigh* I wish I did again - I miss the look, the feel, no viruses... but I digress. I really love those simple games sites - the kind of games you played when you were a fledgling nerd (or was that only me?) - the kind of games you played while you were working out operating systems and formatting hard drives and scaring people who didn't know anything about computers...

Like me, you can discover free mac games and play to your hearts content. It's a mac games fest and everyone's invited. Some games are free and others you can download in demo version and buy if you decide you like them.

You can play the cute and reportedly addictive airport mania for mac - attend flight controller school, run an airport, spend too many hours playing, miss meals...

Don't you think simple platform games and basic graphics are the best? Or is it just me?

This post brought to you by Mac Games and More.