Humour 17 Feb 2008 08:30 am

Strange advertisement on NZ TV

My work took me to New Zealand last week — home of the world’s worst free to air TV (followed only by fta in the USA).

I was astounded by a TV advertisement for ’30 Second Spray and Walk Away’ — a product designed to kill mould, moss, etc. on footpaths and around the exterior of a home.

Check this out:

I think it’s amusing — but I’m not entirely comfortable with that opinion.What do you think?

(You’ll find more from the same company on the YouTube page.)

Miscellaneous 10 Feb 2008 09:13 pm

New Brother laser printer installed – bad news for Brother!

Some time ago, I wrote about the silliness of laser printer pricing compared to drum+toner prices.

Today, the drum and toner in my old printer needed to be replaced. So I installed a new printer (same as the old one – Brother HL-2040) which cost $A95. Cost of a new drum plus new toner would have been over $A200. Cost to manufacture this whole printer (plus packaging, handbooks, CDs, cables, etc.) MUST be more than just for the drum and toner that came with the printer.

So who’s the winner here and who’s the loser?

Miscellaneous 25 Dec 2007 07:11 pm

Telstra’s not ALL bad

Telstra recently upgraded my cable service — they say speeds may be as high as 30Mbps.

According to my latest test, I can download (subject to network traffic as usual) at 35Mbps. Wow.

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Miscellaneous 25 Dec 2007 07:07 pm

Unscented deodorant

Question: why is it impossible (in Australia) to buy unscented spray-on deodorant? It used to be freely available, but the major manufacturers have dropped ‘unscented’ from their spray-on ranges.


Do people like to smell like deodorant?

Apart from me, does anybody care?

Motorsport 07 Oct 2007 11:25 am

Bathurst 1000 – live blog

I can’t believe that the race was started with Cam McConville’s car stuck against the wall on the exit from Griffin’s Bend. Crazy. Surely it would have been better to delay the start for a couple of minutes rather than having a dangerous start followed by several laps behind the Safety Car.

Flying stuff &Miscellaneous &Nerd stuff 06 Sep 2007 09:07 pm

Model helicopter – amazing video

Technology (general) 30 Aug 2007 02:07 pm

Interesting Toppy times

Australian owners (or prospective owners) of Topfield PVRs might be interested to know that the manufacturer (Topfield Korea) has appointed a new distributor of the product in Australia. Some details here.

Sounds like Topfield Korea is less than impressed by the fact that the Australian distributor has  also been distributing the competing Beyonwiz range. Might be a good time to pick up a Toppy bargain if the old distributor wants to clear stocks quickly (and maybe devalue the brand a bit in the process…).

Bargains &Flying Nerd recommends 29 Aug 2007 08:24 am

Topfield SD PVR boxes now on sale

At the House of Nerds, we love our Topfield PVR. It allows us to simultaneously record two TV programs (to hard disc drive) while watching another previously-recorded program.

Frankly, the Toppy has revolutionised our (actually quite limited) TV viewing. It’s now unusual for us to watch anything in real time. We tend to set things to record, and then either (i) watch them later or (ii) start watching the beginning of the recording while the recording is in progress. In both of these scenarios, the Toppy allows us to skip over advertisements almost instantly.

The good news for you late adopters is that Topfield Australia now has SD (standard definition) PVRs on sale for $399 — see here. Unless you have a HD-capable display device (plasma, LCD, CRT), the SD Toppy is probably all you need — SD produces surprisingly good quality in most situations. And when you team up the Toppy with a few community-generated add-in programs (known as TAPs), you have a very usable and worthwhile box.


Technology (general) 29 Aug 2007 08:16 am

The great cable debate

For some reason, the cable that carries signals from my Topfield PVR box to the TV has become intermittently faulty. Not sure why a cable would fail after well over a year of use, but there you go. The failure symptom is a badly flickering picture followed by complete loss of picture. I think the ‘Y’ component of the cable is the culprit.

So, I had to buy a new cable. The cable in question has a multi-pin European SCART plug on one end, and RCA connectors on the other (for component video and stereo audio).

I decided I’d spend a few dollars on a new cable for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to see whether a more expensive cable would produce a better picture
  2. I couldn’t find a cheap one!

I paid $50 for the new cable. It has (allegedly) gold plated connectors (well, they are a sort of gold colour), and the individual coaxial cables are much thicker than the cheap cable provided with the Toppy.

And, you know what, the picture is noticably better. Colour saturation and even-ness are improved. Text is sharper. Hard edges are harder.

I’m not surprised that there would be some improvement, given the skimpy quality of the coaxial cable employed by Topfield. I am somewhat surprised at the magnitude of the improvement (as viewed on my 86cm CRT TV).

Now, please don’t think I’ve become an expensive-cable-convert. Silly people could easily pay several hundred dollars for a SCART-to-RCA cable in a hifi store – but they’d be wasting their money. I think what I’ve seen here is evidence that a good quality cable does give a better result, but I know that a silly-priced cable probably wouldn’t see any improvement in performance at all.

Miscellaneous 29 Aug 2007 08:04 am

Hello, I’m still here

I know, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy. Many things have happened at once, namely:

So, sorry for the absence, Nerd-fans. I hope to have some interesting items for you all over the next few days.

Formula 1 24 Jul 2007 11:01 am

Webber confirmed at Red Bull for 2008 – maybe that’s not such a bad thing!

Commenting over the weekend on his team’s re-signing of driver David Coulthard, Mark Webber confirmed that his own deal with Red Bull Racing is for two years. In other words, Mark will be at RBR in 2008.

Given the team’s improving form, that may not be a bad thing. RBR seems to be moving clear of the mid-field pack and setting off in pursuit of BMW-Sauber (currently F1’s third-fastest team).

It’s also worth noting that RBR is continuing to invest in technical talent to bolster the team. The lastest hiring, Geoff Willis, brings many years of technical management skills to RBR, having worked most recently at WilliamsF1 and Honda. In fact, Willis’ departure from Honda last year seemed to precipitate a down-turn in the speed of that team.

Most speculation seems to suggest that Willis will complement super-boffin Adrian Newey by building systems and processes that allow the team to better bring to fruition his (Newey’s) ideas and innovations.

Computing - general &Curmudgeonliness 24 Jul 2007 10:50 am

Laser printer drum needs replacing. Solution: buy new printer!

I’ve been using a Brother HL-2040 laser printer for the last couple of years. It’s a small, cheap (available these days for under $100 after not too much shopping around) and fast (up to 20ppm) printer that produces good quality. Frankly, I’ve been very happy with it.

The toner cartridges for this printer cost around $75 (for the genuine item), and last for around 2,500 pages. That results in a fairly average cost per page.

The image transfer drum lasts for 12,000 pages, and costs around $120 (genuine item — once again, with not too much shopping around). In other words, the total price for a set of consumables is just on $200.

Remember… a whole printer with cartridge and drum costs under $100.

I’ve just inserted a toner cartridge, and my drum is up to 10,000 prints. In other words, when this toner runs out, the drum will be dead. (I’m not sure whether the printer’s software will disable printing until the drum is replaced.)

The only economically sensible thing to do will be to throw out a perfectly serviceable printer and buy a new one.

How silly is that?

Continue Reading »

Computing - general &Nerd stuff (technology) 11 Jul 2007 03:42 pm

Travels with Vista – security suites

I know that not everybody believes in so-called Internet Security Suites. These collections of security products are designed to keep your net-connected PC free of nasties such as virii, spam, spyware, adware and the like. It is sometimes suggested that these products are, in fact, unnecessary bloatware, and that the operating system (particularly if it’s Windows Vista) can do just as good a job.

Personally, I prefer to run a security suite. I believe that applying the expertise of a specialist security company can help protect the PC from on-line threats. I’m happy to pay the subscription price if the product does a good job.

Sadly, my experience is that it’s really hard to find a Vista-compatible security suite that does do a good job. Here’s a quick summary of my experiences with some of the big names…

Continue Reading »

Flying Nerd site 27 Jun 2007 10:51 am

Flying Nerd — 20,000 visits

In the last day or so, a significant milestone was passed here on 20,000 visits!

This site came into being on 20 July 2005. (Posts dated earlier were Formula 1 rants that I had shared previously with a group of friends.)

Some interesting stats from the last two years:
* 208 posts
* 2,968 attempted spam comments detected and filtered by Akismet (89% of all comments submitted to the site).

Music &Nerd stuff &Nerd stuff (technology) 09 Jun 2007 09:22 am


The replacement parts for my broken Rio Karma digital audio player arrived (from Karmalimbo in Canada), and the beastie is now repaired and working as well as ever.

Here’s how it all came together.

First, a picture showing the bits of my Karma after I’d opened it all up to find the problems (broken volume control buttons). This photo was taken after removing the case and disconnecting the battery (battery is the square, balck piece) but prior to removing the display and hard drive from the main (damaged) circuit board.


Continue Reading »

Formula 1 29 May 2007 04:22 pm

Webber for Renault in 2008?

I noticed last year that, when Mark Webber signed for Red Bull Racing, there was no announcement as to the length of the deal.

Speculation arose in the Paddock of the Monaco Grand Prix over the weekend, suggesting that our Mark could be headed to Renault for 2008 (he was a Renault test driver prior to getting a race seat at Minardi).

Continue Reading »

Formula 1 29 May 2007 04:05 pm

Time for Ralf Schumacher to go

Long time Flying Nerd readers will know that I don’t have a lot of time for Toyota Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher (Michael’s little brother) — or the Big Girl’s Blouse as I have been wont to call him.

I’m pleased to see that members of the press are finally coming round to my view. In today’s Motorsport News, Editor Phil Branagan has this to say about Ralf:

Look, I know Ralfy has his fans (for some incomprehensible reason) but, really, this must be the end. The guy either cannot or, worse, will not drive a Grand Prix car fast and, if anything is obvious this year, it’s that talented young drivers can come up to speed quickly, if given the opportunity. It was just embarrassing to watch him lurch around in Monaco.

Toyota, for the Nth time, please note; Ralf is a dud. If there is no-one in Germany [the Toyota F1 team is based in Germany] with the ticker to pull his pin, hire Donald Trump for an hour. Bin Ralf. Enough is enough.

Formula 1 &Motorsport &Sport 29 May 2007 11:26 am

Don’t forget: Tuesday is Motorsport News day…

Click here.

Computing - general &Nerd stuff &Nerd stuff (technology) 23 May 2007 10:24 am

More gold in old computers than in gold ore; same for copper!

Every ton of discarded electronic equipment contains 17 times more gold than a ton of gold ore and 40 times more copper than a ton of copper ore. Amazing. More here.

Miscellaneous 22 May 2007 10:51 am

New product – words fail me!



Click here for details.

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