Thursday, May 06, 2021

Talking crypto on the Vertical Hold podcast

It was my pleasure to be a guest again on the Vertical Hold podcast this week. 

In this week's episode: "What’s the tech behind BitCoin’s booming rivals like Ethereum? What are ‘smart contracts’? Why would you build an AI bot and give it dementia? Guests Access Informatics’ Peter Marks and Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe".

Hosts Adam Turner and Alex Kidman run a tight ship and it was fun for me to experience Zencastr for the recording which records each guest locally in high fidelity and then uploads their audio. 

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Got the first AstraZeneca Vaccine at Melbourne Exhibition Centre

Today I became eligible for a COVID vaccine so I was keen to get it done. The web site indicated that my closes mass vaccination centre is the Melbourne Exhibition centre. The site said I could book an appointment or just turn up and there was a 15 minute wait. I decided to be a "walk-in".

Arriving at the address, I could see the building but no visible signs or people. There are some signs but they are on the ground.

It turned out that the entrance was on the side opposite the Museum.


The queue was short but slow moving. There was no sign to confirm what the queue actually was. A bloke in the queue before me joked that he was here for the beer festival (which was on the last time he was here). After a while staff came out and asked for people who had booked to come out and go straight in, even if their appointment was hours in the future. 

At the door we were temperature checked and given masks.

Once inside, there are more queues. We were advised to have our Medicare card handy.

At the desk we were also asked for photo ID so people had to dig through their purses and wallets.

After the interview we were then directed to a mysterious system of rows of spaced chairs, then on to a single row of chairs and finally to a booth with a person to give the "jab". 

The injection was completely painless for me. Next jab is due in 12 weeks, you can go as early as 4 weeks but 12 weeks is better.

After the jab you sit for 15 minutes before leaving. All staff I interacted with were efficient and professional.

Lessons for consumers:

  • Booking is a fast track to the door
  • Bring your Medicare card and photo ID
  • Bring information on any medications you might be on such as blood thinners
Suggestions for the vaccination centre:
  • Put up a big sign at the address you give directing people to the queues
  • Have signs on the queues saying what they are: "walk-in" vs "appointment"
  • Tell people they need to have Medicare and photo ID ready
Side effects

My arm started feeling warm almost immediately. A few hours later it's a little sore and I have soreness under my arm. One day after the first jab I felt general muscle soreness. Took paracetamol. Felt very tired and had a sleep for a few hours in the afternoon. Day two, arm still sore but no other discomfort.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Forced to wait over four hours to get through to Qantas to use a credit

A flight I booked last year with Qantas was cancelled by them due to pandemic lock-down and so I have a credit. Now that things are open again I wish to use that credit. It's not easy... The web site told me I had to ring them.

I've rung a few times in recent months and been informed that the wait time was over two hours so I gave up. Today I decided to stick it out as it didn't give any information about the wait time. I interpreted this lack of estimate as a sign that it was going to be quick.

After more than two hours I started trying to contact them via Twitter as this seems to have worked for some other people in my situation.


Facebook looked like it might be a more efficient way to contact them as they say this:

Alas, "7 days" doesn't seem to include today.

I tweeted a thread of comments but didn't get a response. 

This is what you have to listen to:

Finally, after more than four hours I got to Eric. A very nice operator who was able to fix me up.


I value my time and this punched a big hole in my day. My guess is that many people are not able to invest this much time in redeeming their flight credit so Qantas gets to keep it. This reeks of being a "dark pattern".

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Talked about monetising Podcasts on ABC Download This Show

Great to get back to a studio for these shows at last.. Although I look like I'm coming from a black void compared to my co-guest Meg Coffee.

On the TV bit we talk about Apple's announcement of support for Podcast subscriptions.

The podcast version is out (and it's free!) The radio version is available here. I had a question from someone asking why my video quality was better than the others. This episode was the first time I've appeared from the ABC Melbourne radio studio where they have a Sony AX53 camera in HD mode.

Here's the view from my perspective.




Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Appeared as a guest on ABC Sydney Focus talking about 5G and the 6G controversy

This week it was my pleasure to be a guest again on Cassie McCullagh's ABC Sydney show called Focus. It's always easy to work with these folks.

The discussion ranged over a variety of topics including my skepticism about the consumer benefits of 5G, the controversy about the early specifications of 6G (don't panic, it's not due until 2030). We also talked about how much we all value a fast and reliable NBN after our shared experience over the past year.

You can hear the program here.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Monitor multiple digital modes simultaneously with Hermes-Lite and SparkSDR

The Hermes-Lite 2 continues to impress. I've now been turned on to the wonders of the cross platform SparkSDR software which open up multiple receivers, running different modes, and (if you have WSJT-X installed in the normal place), it decodes. Here is my setup under Ubuntu with receivers for WSPR, FT8 and JT9.

My thanks to Robin, G7VKQ, for bringing this to my attention! 


Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Farewell to the van

The van has been an entertaining project over the last few years. A 2000 Toyota Hiace with 411,000km on the clock.

We have travelled up and down NSW many times and made the big trip across Australia to Perth.

Despite a few mechanical problems it has never let me down. 

Now though, each time I register it expensive repairs are needed. The time has come.

Highlights for me have been listening to ham radio in remote, and quiet, locations and just sleeping in the van - particularly when it's raining.



Farewell Morrison.