Posts Tagged ‘Telstra’

A week in Byron Bay.

September 1, 2017

 

 

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If this blog seems a bit quiet, it is because we are not home. The blogging on the move isn’t the strongest part of my writing oeuvre. Not that the words disappear or fade, but the technical aspect of using a computer away from the familiarity of our upstairs little office is challenging. Although, I admit freely that anything away from home is now becoming a challenge. This is why we decided to wrench ourselves to the outside, and take a break up North at Byron Bay. You know how it is; sun and surf still appeals.

Did you know that two days ago my Apple iPhone became locked for no reason? The internet provided by TPG had dropped out. Both my computer and Helvi’s just did not walk. Nothing, rien, nichts or niks would make it work. It’s funny how a break in our IT world can be so unsettling. And I thought we were pretty aloof on the possibility of being hooked on computers.

A good friend suggested I take my locked Apple iPhone to a Telstra shop. Our account is with Telstra which are the biggest telephony company in Australia. The service provider of the internet however is TPG, a much smaller company. They seem to have a permanent advertisement on the TV which drives me mad but not enough to change providers.

Telstra shops are always busy and you can tell that it are the lost and the forlorn oldies that have the most trouble with  modern electronic communication gadgetry. They are doomed to forever catch up with the increasingly more intricate cell-phone world. It is all so baffling, but you can tell by their worried puckered up faces they are all at their wits end. I too joined them which gives comfort. And after I gave my name, which a man wearing a Telsra name tag tapped into a tablet, was asked to take a seat and wait for my turn.  The shop was now full of Mobile/Cell-Phone traumatized elderly people holding up their gadgets like a S.O.S.

When my name was called a young girl approached and asked about my problem with the locked iPhone. She suggested it could well be due because of the age of the phone (rather than my age). ‘Why not update and buy a new one,’ she suggested?  New iPhone made by Apple costs hundreds. I baulked at spending so much on a telephone, especially when they appear to get ‘locked’, and apparently at their own volution! I noticed a new Telstra phone for $99.- with all the colourful buttons and apps much the same as an Apple iPhone. After I bought it she tapped in all my details and as I kept the same number I was pleased to have this problem of my old locked phone solved at minimum costs.

When I came back and tried my new phone it wasn’t easy to get used to the change. The buttons were all different and the sheer number of choices that one had to make to install the workability of it all was dauntingly depressing. Just to install the phone numbers of family and friend’s in the new phone had me close to calling the ambulance, while Helvi threatened to call the police. This new phone wanted me to accept ‘good morning’ reminders of, ‘time to go to work’, all sorts of memories and reminders and birthdays. It was just so endless and pointless.  Who is the sadist thinking this all up?

It all made me wish to go back to try and unlock my old trusted iPhone.  The message of contacting Apple was still on the old Apple screen and even had a phone number which I rang. Much to my relief, but after going though another round of pressing this number and that number on my landline-phone, I got to talk to a real person. Not only real, but with an Aussie accent. To ascertain my identity I was asked secret questions for which answers were apparently given some years ago when I set up the iPhone. Fortunately, two of the secret bits of information I gave were correct. He guided me to set-up a new password, and bingo, my Apple iPhone did a Lazarus and came back to life. Of course, even though the iPhone went back to life, the phone account had been switched over to the new phone.

The upshot of it all is that I use the new Telstra phone as a normal phone ( if there is still such a thing as a ‘Normal’ phone) and the old iPhone for internet and downloading e-mails.

It’s not easy, and that’s why we are going to Byron Bay to soak up some warm sun and drink cold beer.

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Give us back our Country

March 14, 2017

 

IMG_0829The Salvia

It is so heartening hearing that South Australia is now trying to nationalize the Electricity industry. Remember Australia had a Commonwealth Bank, the GIO, the PMG and above all we owned our resources. It was all owned by Australia and its people, us. We were rich. Australia was a country who had it all. The envy of the world.

And then, the ugliness of capitalism reared its head. It started with lowering taxation. Government after government  got in by waxing and manuring greed by promising to lower taxation. The inevitable shortfall of revenue was fixed by  selling everything under the sun. Leases on vast areas of our resources were sold to individuals who started  companies specialising in selling our previously owned coal, iron ore, uranium, silver, gold, oil and much  more to the highest bidders. Enormous profits were distributed to shareholders but not to the people who previously owned it all.

And then after selling off the resources that Australia has almost unlimited ownership off to private individuals, our Government owned bank,  The Commonwealth Bank, was sold off, followed by our own insurance company , The GIO, followed hot on the heels by Post Master General, morphing into the present Telstra. The Government had once again some more  revenue, enough to prop up creaking infrastructures, health, schools, roads, public transport.

But when all that money  went, poverty crept in once again. It became harder and harder to find the money. Increasing revenue through taxation  was electoral suicide. It was easier to allow poverty to creep into the masses. Pensions were cut, social services were cut, queues at hospitals became longer. The divide between the haves and have nots became wider. Educational levels lowered, students are now struggling to get basic language and numeracy skills. Skilled jobs were filled by importing overseas workers and so the list goes on.

The States too, got onto selling stuff. Water was privatised, and electricity. Poles and Wires with both water and electricity prices going through the roof. Shareholders are rubbing their hands in glee. Riches are made but only to the few. The money made out of selling public utilities are only short term solutions. It should never have happened. Australia should have kept control of its country. Why are French companies now running and determining the electricity prices in South Australia? It is crazy.

Is it time to take it back? Nationalise what previously was owned by us, the people. South Australia is on the way of doing that. We should applaud that. Did anyone watch the ABC’s Four Corners program on the state of the US. People earning such low wages, whole families living in tents or single rooms. Kids being fed packets of chips or stale pizzas. All those glittering advertisement, miles of MacDonald’s signs and the insane grinning Colonel Kentucky chickens running amok.  They are now the largest employers of people who get payed so little they are reduced to dismal poverty. They try and smile so heroically; what would you like with your chicken/ hamburger sir, they say while wearing a cap?

Surely proof of terminal capitalism in its death throes.

The conversion to ePub plus MOBI.

April 13, 2016

‘Tantalising close,’ would be an understatement. ‘What price would you like to sell your eBook for, Gerard?’ Can you believe it? Yet, this was the question put yesterday while filling in a form to convert the book ‘Almost There,’ to a format called ePub plus MOBI all done by the Australia Society for Authors. It hit like a bolt from the sky. But that wasn’t all. Try and understand how it felt when reading on the same form; ‘Please provide details of the bank account into which your sales revenue should be paid.’ Your name of account, the BSB number and account number. ‘Your sales revenue?’ Joy, oh joy!

I could hardly believe it and neither did Milo. Out of the goodness of my heart, I gave him not one but two raw chicken necks. He looked perplexed but did not muck about, burying one neck for later consumption. He is prudent when it comes to his food larder. Only yesterday, while digging at the front garden I uncovered one of his beloved pig’s ears. He was watching me. I left it near where I found it and after leaving the garden I observed him re-burying it again. I suppose, it had not quite reached the level of dead carcass decay that Milo likes when consuming a pig’s ear. It explains where that broodingly dark smell comes from when Milo is sitting between us on the console of our car just inches away from our own faces.

We are al prepared and ready for the onslaught. The grandkids are coming over. The school holidays are on again. We have stocked up on half a litre of cod-liver oil and promised if they behave they will get a nice treat. Last time, just a few weeks ago at Easter, they managed to use up our monthly allocated Telstra data in just two days. We only ever use up about 1/10th of our monthly data. Just imagine how quick kids can rack up bills for their parents? In our days we would be lucky to get a spoonful of cod-liver oil for our birthdays. Or, when times were really good, get a pair of hand-knitted grey coloured socks. By the way, cod liver oil as sold in the past in liquid form is now mainly dispensed in very silly and expensive little gelatine sugar coated capsules. However, Price-Wise chemists still sells this wonderful golden nectar in its full liquid form. So, rip into it while it still lasts.

The latest controversy about the effects on health by eating sugar might well bring the liver oil back into vogue. I can see people crossing the street, slurping it up. Cafés will be selling it as ‘liver oil latte.’ And liver pizzas. The return of slim people

Anyway, the book is ‘Almost There.’

Getting up is so hard to do.

February 17, 2014

images16V8MKAUbrewing coffee

I jumped out of bed today at 6.10 am feeling optimistic and unusually ebullient. I ground some fresh coffee beans bought at Aldi’s labelled as ‘Fair Trade’ coffee. Fair trade means not manufactured or grown by workers paid a miserable two dollars a day. I put the water on to boil on the gas. I am still gushing over having got rid of the electric kettle helping to reduce the burning of dirty coal which in Australia makes us the biggest Co2 polluters per capita in the world. At least, the ‘fair trade’ coffee with water boiled on gas instead of electricity will just have to do and ease me into the morning without too much further soul searching.

The water kettle I now use even has a whistle. I always loved a whistling kettle as I do a ticking clock. The clock I grew up with had loud ticking and chimed every half hour. It had to be wound up once a month. My dad’s job was the winding of the clock. Whenever there were complaints of dad not doing enough domestic stuff, he would reply; ” yes but who does the winding-up of the clock around this household?” He made it sound as if he was building an airport or an oilrig in Antarctica.

There was a large key with a square hole that fitted around the square pin that wound up a large spring driving the mechanical part of the clock. Amazing invention really.The romance has gone out of time pieces now as it has out of the simple telephone. Remember the comforting sound of a slow ringing telephone? Today, over twelve million people a year get hit by trucks, cars, trains and other modes of vehicles while staring at their mobile devices. I wish I knew what people are so busy with on their mobile phones. What urgent messages are being ‘downloaded’ when crossing the road or jumping on trains, catching aeroplanes. Do people check their text messages when having sex? Is texting in public proof of being part of the world, being busy and engaged with whatever stuff that is going on, being alive?

I have a mobile phone but for some reason I fear its insistent ringing. I get all tense and apprehensive. The television script writers now routinely have strange buzzing or vibrating sounding phones going off in the dark, thus adding a mysterious tension to the murder story- thriller. They are onto the fact that mobile devices going off in films increase ratings enormously. They do seem to install a kind of nervous expectation and rising excitement in the story. A bit like canned laughter in comedies.

There is something wrong to have a world where so much depends on answering or texting, downloading all the messages that one might have missed. I have withdrawn message service as a first step to try and go without it. I have also given back my E-Tablet after it swallowed my sim-card and I was unable to retrieve it. The marital tension it caused just trying to set it up. It almost came to blows 😉 Aldi is fantastic with the sixty day money back guarantee. I happily stuck my $ 249.00 back in the wallet. Never again another gadget. Perhaps a new electric coffee grinder or juice extractor but no more phones, smart or otherwise, with or without Apps.

Only last week, during watching American Hustles in the cinema, our mobile phone went off. A very embarrassing moment. I quickly pressed the red button that stops answering. I don’t know how to switch off the phone. I studied the booklet and push the ‘switch’ button but it doesn’t switch off. Anyway, we rarely get a call. Ten minutes later during the same film, another call. Again I pushed the red button. After the third call, I left. Not easy leaving a row of patrons keen to watch a movie. The polite way and good etiquette is to face the patrons…but I feel a bit funny passing by with my pant’s zipper inches from their keen faces, almost like an indecent offering. Passing the other way is not much better with your bum even closer to their faces. Anyway, the movie wasn’t much good. H stayed behind because the phone is always in my pocket. Women are clever they don’t have pockets. It was so embarrassing.

In the meantime my coffee has now settled, ready to be poured.

Fibro Asbestos Homes; A ticking time bomb.

June 10, 2013

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Fibro asbestos homes; a time bomb waiting to explode.

It was to be the fulfillment of Australia’s promise to migrants; ‘You will end up owning your own home’.  In Australia dreams and aspirations are made of working towards ‘own home’. It worked for my parents but they were also, unwittingly, working towards a strong possibility of owning their own coffin in the bargain. It sounds a bit grim, therefore let me explain.

Before coming to Australia, as far as we were concerned, we owned a home. True, there was a lull in the event during WW2 when living in own home was often precarious with reckless sorties of planes flying overhead dropping incendiary devices that were decidedly anti home. But, by and large, people lived in own homes.

Actually, and speaking strictly, we did not ‘own’ home in as much as it was possible to own a shirt or underpants but we did own a home in the sense of having a secure roof over our heads that was indisputably ours. No one ever even thought of a possible owning of a pile of bricks and timber like you did when you bought a shirt or underpants. Most people lived and died in a home whose bricks and walls were owned by the government of the country or the city that one lived in.  It was never thought of otherwise and it never occurred that we were at risk of not being able to live there as long as we wanted. Titles of ownership were mostly unheard of.

After my parents arrival in Australia ‘owing a home’ was almost right from the start the main conversation between many new arrivals. First you bought own block of land and this would then be followed with building own house. This is what drove almost every migrant and was soon seen as the raison d’être for having migrated in the first place. First my father was perplexed by this new type of living whereby one had to buy a roof over one’s head. Why was it so different from Holland whereby a roof was considered something that you rented for life and never worried about having to buy it?

It was all a bit of a puzzle but soon ‘toute la famille’ were taken in by the fervor and own home rush, busy with working getting at least a ‘deposit’ together. The term ‘deposit’ was also something totally unheard of, as were people called ‘Real Estate agents.’ Dutch migrants that we met in this frenzied atmosphere of ‘own homes’ got together with my parents at week-ends and talked almost exclusively about deposits and estate agents, rates of interest on loans and The Dutch Building society that would give loans.

The memory of Schubert’s Lieder and my soft Margo now seemed so far away, unobtainable forever and ever and separated by oceans of dried salted tears.

How’s your deposit going was so much more of the essence now.

In a very quick time, and all Oostermans capable of working with lots of overtime being paid double or at week-ends ‘triple,’ a deposit was salted away and exploratory  train trips were made to many different suburbs of outer laying Sydney to investigate ‘own block’ of land.  Those trips were also sometimes made with a ‘Real- Estate’ agent. My dad thought it such a strange term. “Are there ‘Un-real Estate agents as well”, he would flippantly ask the agent?

At the late fifties, Shire-Councils closed an eye to migrants living on blocks of land with a garage on it. It was euphemistically called ‘a temporary dwelling.’ My mum spotted an advertisement of such a temporary dwelling in Revesby. Revesby then was on the edge of Sydney’s civilization, still unsewered but did have a pub in the making and most importantly was on a rail-line with a real station, schools and a church, even a fish and chips shop! I have never forgotten the salty potato scallops wrapped in “the Sun’ newspaper.

My dad put down the oft migrant’s feverishly debated ‘deposit’, and after a while the land and its asbestos sheeted garage was ours. Now, this is where the possibility of ‘own home’ with the possibility of ‘own coffin’ creeps in this rather philosophical discourse. Even as early as the late forties and fifties cases of a mysterious and deadly serious disease started coming in, especially from workers who worked in the Wittenoom asbestos mines of Western Australia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wittenoom,_Western_Australia

However, the action on the link between asbestos and the 1948 diagnosed asbestosis was delayed and deliberately ignored. In fact, during the period that already had scores of victims of asbestosis Australia was building hundreds of thousands of houses sheeted externally and sometimes internally as well, with fibro cement asbestos sheeting. It was thought by bonding the dangerous asbestos with cement it would be a safe and cheap building product. We first lived in the 8 by 4 metres of unpainted and unlined asbestos sheeted ‘temporary dwelling and then for another 18 years in a small house made from the same asbestos fibro sheeted home. None of us succumbed to the dreadful asbestos induced cancer Mesothelioma. We were lucky. Not so were those having died so far or the untold who will continue to die in the future. Some price for ‘own home’!

In 1948, Dr Eric Saint, a Government Medical Officer, wrote to the head of the Health Department of Western Australia. He warned of the dust levels in the mine and mill, the lack of extractors and the dangers of asbestos and risk of asbestosis, and advised that the mine would produce the greatest crop of asbestosis the world has ever seen.

You can see, why I now feel that the dream of ‘own home’ could well have been a very nasty and expensive coffin for my parents and their children, which it has become and will continue for the tens of thousands still living in the asbestos containing cladded homes.

How come Australia doesn’t provide alternative accommodation to all who still live in asbestos containing fibro cement sheeted homes and give compensation to all the sufferers? After all, the Telstra fibro cement sheeted asbestos containing telephone pits are now the subject of huge turmoil and consternation. But, what about real people living in real danger?

How come it is so quiet on our western ‘own home’ front?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesothelioma

How to avoid strangling a Belgian Draught Horse.

May 27, 2012

For many days my Twitter and Face book were out of action. The word ‘Twitter’, even when looked up on ‘Google’, would send shivers through my computer. The page would freeze, go stiff with rigor mortis and turn blue and incoherent. It turned out that ‘Blue Screen Page’ is a well known phenomenon. No one knows why, but scientists and engineers are working on it. There are a host of web- sides claiming they can cure Blue Screen. Those sides promise to be helpful and start off with a free scan and a further promise to clear it in less than 2 minutes. Not true. The free scan just turns you almost into a jellified blob of rage when showing their scan result. I was told, despite having Norton security, I had 129 viruses and 766 ‘problems’ on my computer. But… for $29. – (US) by credit card you will be Face-booking and Twittering again within a couple of minutes. Everything in the US seems to be measured in two minute time spans. Things move very fast there.

As soon as I see that the ‘free’ scan is a scam I naturally delete the page. Not so fast though governor!  Turns out those free US based scam web pages are difficult to delete. Most don’t have a delete option. Over and over, one is urged to down-load the credit card option and pay up. No wonder capitalism is in trouble, the cheek of it all.  I thought by turning off the computer I would get rid of those ‘free’ scan merchants. Not at all. I switch back on, and there is that same persistent page again. After a lot of moving backwards and forwards the scammers finally gave up the ghost.

I decided to take firm action and took the laptop to a reputable (non free-scan 2 minute) computer shop run by very young but savvy experts. They helped me before with a problem without even charging me. Always a good sign! They switched on the laptop and… it worked perfectly. There was my familiar Tweet page and Face-book. I couldn’t believe it. He put it into my list of favorites, “Gerard Twitter.” No charge again. Boy, was I on a roll?  Was so happy I shouted regular latte coffees and Danish delights all around for the two of us.

After doing some shopping at Aldi and walking home I did not give the Tweeting a second thought. That shows how supremely confident I was. Later on in the evening after a couple of Merlots, I felt like a good Tweet. It only needs a few words, so what the heck. With Face-booking I always feel it needs a more serious and literate level of involvement. That’s why I usually, but not always, do the Face-booking in the morning after a good night’s rest.

I opened the lid of the laptop and after a few seconds the home page arrived. I went to my list of favorites, just relishing the moment and allowing the luxury of hovering above “Gerard Twitter” button… and….. The Blue screen page was back on again. I was devastated, crestfallen. A blind fury welling up, totally lost for words.  Fuck Face-booking, fuck Tweeting and Fuck life.

Life is just like that. We move around getting involved into the ambit of things that can go wrong. Perhaps excluding relationships, there is nothing quite like the Internet Technology world whereby one walks a fine line between remaining sane or hovering on the edge of going out in the deep of a dark night and strangle a sheep or a Belgian draught horse. The world of IT including Iphone, pads, kindles and Apps is there to try our mettle. Have we got what it takes? Will we survive or end up smashed on the rocks of Blue Screen phenomena?

I survived and am here to tell the tale. What was the solution and how did the logistics of the Blue Screen Page get repaired. My daughter told me to always try and switch off the computer and then the router. I had switched everything off many times but not the router which gives me the ADSL internet connection through Telstra phone line.  I went downstairs in the bedroom where both phone and router are next to my bed blinking away intermittently. I switched all off and waited. I switched all on again and climbed upstairs to my computer. It all worked. Twitter and Face Book are back. Hoorah! I try and not think why Helvi’s computer never had this Blue Screen and yet uses the same connections. But there you are. That’s the devious world of IT. Never question it. Acceptance is the answer.

Never take it out on the Belgian Draught Horse.