Now this is a monopoly lock in at work..

MICROSOFT will rip an estimated $70 million out of the aged care sector’s IT budget over the next 18 months as it forces users to pay full commercial rates for previously discounted software. Aged care providers are shocked by Microsoft’s decision to revoke their not-for-profit status, which gave them access to its products at a heavily discounted rate. As a result, Microsoft’s Office, Sharepoint and SQL server products are firmly entrenched in the sector’s IT infrastructure.


Richard Wright’s Great Gig In The Sky (RIP)

Donna and I were driving up the west coast of Scotland on the 16th September listening to BBC Radio 4 when we heard that Rick Wright of Pink Floyd had died the day before of cancer. That was quite a shock to me as (silly as it might sound) I never thought I’d hear about one of the Floyd shuffling of this moral coil, well not yet at least..

Now back in Australia I’ve just had the opportunity to watch the TV programme “Classic Albums: The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon” I recorded before going to the UK for that trip and it was bittersweet to see Rick talking about The Great Gig in the Sky with its theme of dying knowing that he was now gone.

His beautiful music alongside the great vocals by Clare Torry make a very fitting and timeless epitaph for someone famously unwilling to talk about himself.

Returned Afghan Refugees Murdered

Reported at the BBC, talking about Afghan asylum seekers held under the Pacific Solution by the former government:

they were assured by Australian immigration officials that it was safe for them to return home, and told that they would be held in detention for the rest of their lives if they failed to do so.

Sadly these assurances of safety were pure illusion, and it appears that this deception led to a number of those who did return being murdered by the Taleban:

It documented the deaths of nine of the failed asylum seekers at the hands of the Taleban and believes the true figure is actually closer to 20.

The current minister has asked for more information whilst the former minister takes spin and a lack of empathy to new depths:

“It is the case that Afghanistan is a dangerous place but the [United Nations] Refugee Convention does not say you cannot be returned to a dangerous place,” Mr Ruddock said. “The fact that somebody might tragically die [in Afghanistan] may well be as tragic as a road accident in Sydney.”

Hmm, road accident versus murder.. Yes, both tragic, but not quite the same..

The Atheist Bus Campaign

Good to see it took the Atheist Bus Campaign just 10 hours to raise all the money necessary for this!

With your support, we hope to raise £5,500 to run 30 buses across the capital for four weeks with the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Donate online now!

Snapshot of the advert for the Atheist Bus Campaign in London

It really riles me to hear folks say that you have to have religion to have a moral compass, It smacks of a desire to inspire fear in those who don’t believe. I feel there is plenty of evidence that religion itself can result in people doing things that are immoral (( No, I’m not saying that it’s always a bad thing )).

I’ve gone through a number of different belief systems in my time but in the long term none of them made any sense to me in terms of gods; in the end it just wasn’t logical to me that supernatural being(s) exist, there’s just no evidence for them and they seem to me to be entirely superfluous.

I concur pretty much with what Alec has to say about things, I’ll just carry on trying to be good to people and treat them as I’d wish to be treated (hopefully succeeding sometimes).


XVideo on VGA laptop output with radeon driver

I’ve been doing a lot of playing with MythTV using Mythbuntu. One of the nice things it supports is diskless booting of frontend systems so I thought I’d try it out on my old laptop. It worked quite nicely until I was about to start displaying any video through the VGA output to our TV, then you’d get a blue screen rather than the video but the video would display quite nicely on the laptops own display. Needless to say that was pretty suboptimal. 😉

The reason that happens is that with the free ATI Radeon driver in Ubuntu the XVideo overlay is assigned to the first display (the built in LCD) even if you’ve disabled it through the XRandR config in your xorg.conf file. I tried a lot of mucking around with various Xorg settings and got nowhere until I stumbled across the rather simple solution!

The xvattr package is in Universe in Ubuntu and I make it happen each time by putting the command into the /etc/mythtv/session-settings file (just can just create it if it doesn’t exist, it just gets sourced by the mythfrontend command on startup).

Sadly I don’t think I’m going to be able to use the laptop after all because it doesn’t have line out, just headphones, and that doesn’t appear to be enough for my amp. 🙁

No Opt-Out for the Great Firewall of Australia

So it appears there will be no way to escape from being blocked from seeing sites that are false positives due to buggy & broken filters or incorrectly classified, etc.. 🙁

Australians will be unable to opt-out of the government’s pending Internet content filtering scheme, and will instead be placed on a watered-down blacklist, experts say.

According to preliminary trials, the best Internet content filters would incorrectly block about 10,000 Web pages from one million.

I guess if John Howard was still around he’d want us to be blocked from seeing un-American content too.

No Ubuntu Linux Dell Inspiron Mini 9 for Australia :-(

At work we’ve been interested in the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 (Dell’s answer to the eeePC), especially as everywhere you go you’ll read about it being shipped with Ubuntu Linux, which was great news.

Unfortunately I’m sad to say that my sources in Dell have told me that it’s only going to be available in Australia with Windows XP, no Linux version for Australia. 🙁

McCain versus the Universe

I can’t tell which of these three things is worse about John McCain:

  1. He can’t tell (or is willing to mislead) when Federal money hasn’t been spent on a project
  2. He can’t tell an overhead projector from a planetarium display projector
  3. He thinks that the idea of spending taxpayer money on aiding scientific education is a bad thing

This is all down to his repeated denigration of a request for US$3M federal funding from the Adler Planetarium in Chicago (which has bipartisan support) with comments such as planetariums being “foolish”. As New Scientist says:

What may be most troubling to science educators is the fact that McCain clearly presumed that the wastefulness of spending money on a planetarium would be self-evident without any further explanation or context.

Given that the planetarium were after US$3M to replace a 40 year old projector (which they can no longer get spare parts for), and the cost of the Iraq war is over US$300M per day, it seems churlish to refuse their paltry request.

Update: Maybe McCain should see this XKCD.. 🙂