I’ve been a TPG customer for many years.  They’ve been providing me a very good broadband service, and I think we have only had one outage in the 5 years we’ve been with them here in the Central Coast.  I am on a 200GB for $59/pm plan, on their “Off net” packages, since they do not have equipment in my exchange.

And then last month, out of the blue, they decided to cap my internet connection.  As it turns out, I’ve been exceeding my usage. Continue reading

This morning I presented the communion message at Central Life Christian Church.

[ Download ] enclosure

Windows 10 is here.  I upgraded by Surface Pro 3, and the upgrade worked pretty great.  Overall I was impressed with Windows 10… But then….

Where are my files?

Like many, I use OneDrive for my file storage.  My Surface Pro only has 128GB of storage, and there’s plenty (1TB) on OneDrive, but for some reason, Microsoft has decided not to allow the “Online” feature in Windows 10.

What is the “online” feature, you may ask.  The online feature allows you to access the OneDrive storage while you’re connected to the internet, thus not using the local storage.  With the smaller size tablets, this is a necessity.

I’ve raised the issue on the Microsoft forums, and they’ve been quite dismissive of the issue, citing that it is a design decision in Windows 10 not to allow the online feature.  Their “solution” is not to sync those folders.

So basically, you have 1TB of storage in the cloud, and if you want to access all of it, you have to either sync selectively, or use the web interface.

Seriously Microsoft, this is dumb.  This was such a huge design problem for me, I went back to Windows 8.1.

OneDrive is still the best cost per GB option for me, but if they don’t fix it in Windows 10, I may have to move to something else, Dropbox perhaps?  Let’s see..

Come on Microsoft, get your act together, and fix this in Windows 10.

In Australia, many people are now jumping on their soap boxes on the topic of marriage equality.  They feel that any two people that love each other must be legally allowed to get married.  In essence, they want to allow gays to get married.

I’ve been very open about the point that I do not have a problem with it.  In fact, some of the people closest to me are gay.  They are great, and I have a huge amount of respect for them.  However this post is not about my beliefs.

So the debate is raging.  Many are for it, many are against it.  It is a very hot topic right now, yet only about 1% of Australia’s couples are actually gay.  So it begs the question.. How many of this 1% actually cares about getting married?  I have no idea, but the few that I’ve spoken to, don’t care.

What about marriage?  Forget about the “equality” part for a sec…  If we simply look at marriage, where two people have made an oath to look after each other, be faithful to each other, in front of whatever god you believe in, according to the laws of the land, then I’m wondering if marriage is still as valuable as we’d like it to be.  More and more people are living together before getting married (which according to the christian believe is wrong).  The divorce rate is on the climb, which begs the question – is marriage still alive?

And then 37 million people got a big surprise when the Impact hackers released their private Ashley Madison data (and for those living under a rock, Ashley Madison is the largest adult dating website for married people who would like to have an affair).  Regardless of the reasons why these people have signed up on Ashley Madison, it does raise a valid point – is marriage still alive?  Because if 37 million people thought it was a good idea to cheat on their spouses, then maybe we as a society need to take a closer, harder look at what we define as marriage.  Rather than condemning these “cheaters”, we should rather ask – why were their marriages so bad, that they felt the need to look for satisfaction elsewhere?  Why couldn’t they discuss their issues with their spouses to make it work?

It is not black and white, but believe we live in an age where we need to ask these questions.  We should not be controlled through religion or tradition anymore.  If two people want to get married, then let them, but don’t try to make the argument for it on a soap box while you’re living in sin without being married yourself.  That just adds no credibility to your argument.

It happens from time to time that I’d like to backup files to a USB drive.  Being old school, I like to use batch files to achieve this.  Now provided your PC runs a reasonably new version of Windows where robocopy is included by default, this little backup script works reasonably well.

Simply copy this file to the USB drive, and double click it when you’d like to backup your critical files.  Of course, as always you need to adjust the individual parameters in the script to suit your own flavor.


@echo off
:: == find the current path of the USB drive
set ME=%~d0%~p0

:: == what would I like to backup
:: == where am I backing it up to
set TARGET=%ME%backup

:: == Write the date and time.  This is useful to know when the backup was last taken
time /t > %ME%lastbackup.txt
date /t >> %ME%lastbackup.txt

:: == by design, I'm disabling the wait and retry... I'd rather have the backup finish with most of the files, than get stuck on one file.
robocopy "%SOURCE%" "%TARGET%" /mir /w:0 /r:0

I’ve been back in South Africa now for 2 weeks (with one more week to go).  As always, the initial days are filled with nostalgia, as I see my family again.  Thoughts enter my mind on how I can now afford a property in South Africa, paying it with Australian dollars, but then reality sets in.

The country is in much better shape than it was 10 years ago, but you just look around, and then the reality becomes clear.  People are not happy.  There’s a level of depression and “fighting for your place” that exists.  Traffic in Johannesburg is horrible.  The homes (town houses) are tiny.  Why would I ever want to retire here?  The only logical reason would be the strong AUD against the ZAR, but with money aside, there is really no other reason.

There is still a lot of poverty in this country.  There are numerous beggars on the streets (standing in the middle of the road), sometimes, sun-roasted parents with their children.  As heartbreaking as it may seem, giving money is not a solution.  There is no clear indication if the current presidency has any inclination to correct the current levels of corruption, or even improve the current levels of poverty.

The ZAR is much weaker than before.  It is a bit disturbing to see shampoo being sold for R90.  When I convert to AUD, it is not that bad.  As a foreigner visiting, the ZAR is ok.  For the locals earning ZAR, it may be a different story.

For now, people are still driving new cars, and for the most part the country does appear to be surviving.  Let’s see what the rest of the week will bring.

As it happens from time to time, you may need to look up some data from within an Excel file.  In this case, I have a 2 dimensional data set, and I need to pick a value from it.  In this example, I’m interested in the value of 22 for Women in Asia.



Now you can be clever and say : Oh, that’s easy!  Just enter =Sheet1!C3 and you’re all set.  Great… I got 22, but if I decide to add another column, or add a few rows, that falls down.

To overcome this I’ve developed this simple little formula.


You can work through the statement, and it’s really simple and elegant in it’s use.

  • The first MATCH command looks for the location of the word Women in column A from the sheet Sheet1.
  • The second MATCH command looks for the location of the word Asia in row 1 from the sheet Sheet1.
  • The ADDRESS command then builds the reference to the cell for Sheet1.
  • The INDIRECT command then retrieves the result from that address.

When copying this in your own spreadsheet, you will need to :-

  1. Adjust the word “Sheet1” to the sheet name where your data is stored.
  2. Adjust A:A to the column where the left hand titles are stored.
  3. Adjust 1:1 to the row where the top titles are stored.
  4. Adjust the words Asia & Women to the terms you’re referencing in either cell.

Since Linux made it’s appearance on the IT scene many years ago, the battle has been raging between the Windows and the Linux fanboys.  And I will admit that I am a Linux fanboy (sorry Ray!!)

I like Linux, I really do.  As a development platform (yeah, I’m the geek that codes in vi) doing development in Perl for web-based application with mySQL, Linux is great.  I love the power you get from the command-line where you can pipe anything to anything.  It is simply a level of computing freedom that you can not explain to a Windows user.

But now something has happened..  There are some applications that just do not work on Linux.  OpenOffice is goodish, but it is no Microsoft Office.  I use Excel everyday at work, and I love it, but sadly calc just does not have the same grunt.  The ribbon menu from Office also does not transfer to OpenOffice, so transferring between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice is painful.

I think my next big gripe is mounting disks.  When you use Ubuntu Desktop, a lot of the stuff just kind-of works.  Cool, but Ubuntu Desktop is bloated.  Canonical loaded every piece of software imaginable onto that one little CD, making it slow and clunky.  I don’t want all that junk, I load what I need, so I install Ubuntu Server (bare bones), and install icewm on top for some of my gui apps, like Google Chrome, vlc and so on.  But when I want to mount a drive letter to a server, I need to enter the password again.  So I do miss some basic kerberos authentication from the Linux command line back to my Windows boxes.  (Maybe there’s a fancy way to setup the /etc/fstab file with a samba file credentials file, but that defeats the point!  It should use my current login !)

And then there’s bitlocker… A great encryption mechanism for Windows, but sadly, not so portable to Linux.  Yes I know there are fuse drivers, but lets face it — it doesn’t work.  I can read bitlocker file systems, but I can’t write to them.

So sadly I find my self putting my Windows drive into my laptop more often than my Linux drive, and it is only a matter of days before I won’t be putting the Linux disk back in anymore.  I will still use Linux for my hosting platform, but as a personal desktop operating system, maybe not so much.

I wanted an easy way to get my chatbot to interact with the world through text-to-speech.  There are a number of built-in TTS options on many operating systems.  I searched around, and I mashed some code together and created a speech JavaScript library that can be called easily within any web application.

See the library in action here.