Goodbye PMHC

February 27, 2008

Today the Governor dismissed the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council. More at the ABC.

The Council’s gone, but the white elephant will remain.

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Insert key – why?

February 23, 2008

Or more specifically, do we really need the Insert key mapped to enabling overtype?

Most computer users (myself included) have just fallen into the practice of using backspace or delete to correct things, and indeed I could’ve used overtype to correct a few mistakes I made while typing this very sentence, but I haven’t.

The reason I ask is that the less computer-literate of our population don’t know what to do when they accidentally hit the Insert key then start typing over a document. They then go and waste the time of people like me in trying to fix it.

Also, surely there’s a good use for another spare key on the keyboard? I can think of one already – using Insert to bring up a ‘template text’ menu, or a modifier-type key, so ‘Insert + C’ or ‘Insert, C’ could insert ‘CONFIDENTIAL’. I would actually end up using something like that.


MP3 players; apology

February 12, 2008

Some many many months ago I got an MP3 player as some cheap sweetener on some prepaid mobile deal, for a Nokia 1110 with Virgin I believe.

Some several weeks ago, I decided to get a decent MP3 player with some Christmas gift cards. Since I’m not terribly rich I got a $60-ish 1GB Thomson Lyra player from DSE. Unlike most MP3 players it’s powered by a standard AAA battery.

That worked well for a couple of weeks until it suddenly crapped out, presumably from a dead battery. Replaced battery, turned on, guess what, half the songs are missing and of the rest, half seem to have been randomly truncated. Try formatting on PC, suddenly it claims it has 4GB and somehow 300MB are used by nothing.

Oh well, back to DSE it goes. When I get around to it…

…meanwhile, I go back to school, I realise that now I’m allowed to possess evil music-playing devices and use them out of class, I need something to get me through all those hours of study. So, out comes the Onix HY-107 (yes, the crappy cheap one) and on goes a few songs.

The HY-107 works fairly well for a really cheap device; the software is OK, but the real problem is the construction.

The major problem is the interface – the buttons don’t necessarily work consistently. Press Previous, up comes the menu. Press Next, up comes the volume control. Press Volume, and you go back a song.

I couldn’t quite figure out why that was, but when it snapped open while recharging in this PC’s USB port, I decided to have a look.

Disassembled MP3 player – PCB, front

As you can see in the photo, it seems that, like every cheap electronic device made in China, it’s half assembled with sticky tape.

The real part of interest, though, is the five buttons. I found that when you press the buttons down bluntly with your thumb, about half the time it seems to mess up. When you press the centre sharply with your index finger it seems to work as intended consistently.

I’m no electronics guru, so I’m not sure what’s happening there. My present theory is that the buttons are detected by a varying resistance and when not pressed sharply it messes it up. Anyone out there more enlightened than me who wish to comment?


I’ve read the text of tomorrow’s apology and I think it’s pretty well worded – covers all the major points and doesn’t seem to open any holes.

Unlike many I think the apology and the compensation should be dealt with as separate issues. If the Government wants to pay compensation that should be done during Budget, not right now. Compensation is a complex issue that would require much more technical analysis. The apology, OTOH, can be done right now.

I’m looking forward to this. Unfortunately I won’t be able to watch it live, but I’m sure it’ll be online for me to watch somewhere.