Goodbye iGoogle

Posted by Ken on Jul 25, 2013 in Random
iGoogle Portal Page

iGoogle Portal Page

I use iGoogle, my wife uses iGoogle, I am sure many people use iGoogle, and they will be disappointed that this useful website portal will disappear. Google announced a long while ago that it has chosen to stop supporting it come November, this year. I have begun my transition. I have booked marked and then deleted most of the tabs and links from my collection. I’ve been looking for a portal page substitute and found not so much of options as I would have liked. It even looks like one of the best options is to create a blog and add a bunch of widgets/gadgets and side bars with the RSS feeds in them, to make it work.

I realized today, took me a while, I have a blog, maybe there is something I can do to create a private portal page.

Anyway its Google’s decision and another thing that they have done that affects my life.


Sleep is a gift

Posted by Ken on Feb 26, 2013 in Random

As a parent I am always busy. Between, full time employments, church service, and playing with the kids there is but little time left for personal entertainment. So over the years I’ve began to stay up later into the night. Now as the children grow older their bedtimes slide into my time, so I stay up a little later to enjoy the quiet and peace and so I go to bed even later. There is a price to pay for this. I have just started to notice. The lack of sleep, the right amount of it, for my age, has an effect if not for the following day, for the 3 or forth day. I reconfigure the need to sleep.

I cannot sacrifice my commitment to my employment without jeopardizing the benefits of shelter and food for my family, so decreasing the hours I work isn’t going to help. My church service is never a burden and fits easily into the family work schedule – even if it does take a little of my personal entertain time. I also cannot sacrifice the time I can spend with the children, they wont be children forever, they will grow out of me, so now is the time to focus on them. So how do I get more sleep.

I have found two things that affect children’s behaviour. Get up before them and help them greet the morning AND don’t be grumpy. The only way I can see this working is get enough sleep so something has to give. It turns out, the selfish, self indulging entertainment that keeps me up late has to go. I’ve simply knocked off 2 hours of this each day and gone to bed and the world has changed for me. There is more energy, strangely more time for everything, just less, video games, movies and pointless TV watching. Sleep is the key, sleep is the gift of life.



“Play outside”, who knows what will happen?

Posted by Ken on Jan 19, 2013 in Family

It is hot in Brisbane today. The temperature reads 31 degrees, the sun is shining and hardly a cloud in the sky. We go up early and got some yard work done, but now it’s time to relax. Too hot to sit inside and play on the computer and too hot be be outside in the sun, but my wife said to the kids, “Go Play Outside”. Back in my youth the internet was still a military thing and my Commodore 64 didn’t show up until I was around 10. So outside was really all that was left.

Outside is not boring, I’ve been there, I grew up outside. I had a couple of blocks of wood, My kids on a bike. some matchbox cars, a couple of plastic army men and a lot imagination and energy. On our 1/4 acre block was a good sized vegetable garden, a chicken coop, above ground swimming pool, sandpit,  a really good climbing tree, an apple tree (with Green and red apple varieties) and hills hoist clothes line.

Mostly I run around, sharing my time between, riding my bike, running around and playing war games with my brothers; I’d find some piece of wood vaguely shaped like a gun, with a nail for a trigger and some holes that made one end look like it was the dangerous end.

I remember on some occasions with a bucket of water and an old paint brush I would become a ‘Leonardo De Vinchi’ artist on the cement driveway. Harmless fun really. My brother and sisters endured some of my more high energy activity and curiosity, and usually played cool games, but without them playing outside would still be fun because of stick and piece of string.

I had a friend about 1 kilometre away. He lived on a much larger property and had a couple of sheep and not wasn’t far from the creek. So we ventured down to the creek and walked along searching for treasure, animals and having a great time. I remember once we set a goal to walk to the highway following the creek. The round trip journey probably took us 2 or 3 hours to complete and no one even blinked an eye. I am sure my parents were concerned, and his too, but looking at the maps now, as a parent they would have found us in no time.

I survived the outside and had great adventures, but never once did I feel it was dangerous outside. So I encourage my kids. “Your mum said ‘go outside’, so go, who knows what will happen!.




I need a new hat, maybe.

Posted by Ken on Jan 7, 2013 in Random

I have a black hat, a baseball cap, with “the STIG” embossed on it. (See TopGear) I’ve had it for a while, but I can’t find a picture of it on the web so it must be a collector’s item now, although it’s from Target so it can’t be worth much, just hard to find.


The sun is bright, hot and dangerous. Wise people recommend one does not stare at the sun for fear that one would damage their eyes. Of all the things to forget, I probably should have remembered to not do this. An early memory I have is of staring at the sun, whilst on a school bus, until my eyes watered; which probably doesn’t help my current short sightedness. After some tests recently conducted in preparation for laser surgery to correct my vision, the optometrist found I have mountains and valleys on my cornea that resemble a peace of burnt wood. So now 32 years later I have some expensive prescription sunglasses that help shield by eyes from the burning sun.


So back to the hat – I wear a hat because I want to avoid sunburn after all I am bald, (a win in the lottery of genetics) and my hat is suffering in the same way my eyes have suffered – direct exposure to UV radiation at the full strength of the sun. As a result, the hat is now this funny shade of faded black. Its shape is good, and its’ held its shape well, but it is becoming more worn out and I am sure more socially unacceptable. I have – it’s a hat, it does its job and until a new hat arrives this one will continue to do its job. I don’t really need a new hat – unless it embarrasses my wife.


Bus & Ferry Drivers get acknowledged, trains not so much.

Posted by Ken on Jan 2, 2013 in Random

For some time I’ve wondered at the practice of greeting the bus driver the public bus. I know its nice to be greeted by other people and most passengers seem to do it. Then when the journey is over, it seems a courteous “thank you” as one leaves the bus is appropriate. Thank you for what? Doing their job, that I survived the trip, that they got me to the destination on time?? I’m not sure, what it means to other people when they say thank you, but to me its all of the above. Thanks for driving carefully, thanks for getting me to my stop safely.

I do this to the ferry drivers too, and because I can read the name tag, I get to say ” Thanks Robert” or “Thanks Paul, have a great day”. The ferry drivers experience is a little different than the bus driver because on the ferry, the driver has to get up and secure the boat and so is at the door as passenger leave the cabin and that will almost guarantee  a salutation. In contrast train drivers miss out on this interaction. Aeroplane pilots often greet passengers after they’ve landed, train drivers miss out.


Mistakes are life

Posted by Ken on Dec 28, 2012 in Random

Life, I am told by those who claim to know, is about having fun. So if this is true where do mistakes fit in, and why do they cost so much money?

Quick story: The painter came and painted the side of the house we are renting. This included the wooden parts around the windows, and after he left I couldn’t open the windows. Once the paint had dried it sealed them shut – all three windows on the side of the house.

I tried to ‘cut’ the paint and move the window, but in the process my hand broke one of the panels of glass. The real estate agency is closed this time of year and will not be open for another week and I am still not sure if this constitutes as an emergency. Thus I called the glass people to have it repaired. I was quoted a silly sum of money, but they were available and came today.

I calculate that this silly amount of money could have been used to offset post Christmas expenses like, food, or a trip to the movies with the kids, or fund mine or my wives’ birthday in early January – at least we could have had fun, but now because of a mistake, I don’t have that money for fun.

What is the mistake, it wasn’t trying to open the window. I think anyone would have done that.

I think the mistake was not checking the painters work to ensure they would open. This would have saved all this trouble. Perhaps it was a combination of not waiting to see what the real estate agency had to say about the painters efforts. Or getting them to organise the repair. I call this mistake “jumping in too quickly”.

(I’m hoping when they do open, I “might” get a refund of the expense or they might share the cost. Waiting for the real estate, was a safety issue and possibly by extension a mistake if someone was to get hurt or at least a security issue should someone break into the house, through the convenient hole in the window.)

Its a matter of perspective I suppose. I do believe life is fun, but some fun is wrapped in brown paper bags instead of fancy coloured paper and ribbons. These series of events are a little bit of an adventure into the unknown and about learning from my mistakes… Just wish it didn’t cost so much money.


Do blind people dream?

Posted by Ken on Dec 27, 2012 in Random

I was having a conversation with my nephew this week about colours and dreams while waiting at the checkout line of a local supermarket, when suddenly the girl welcomed us and caught me of guard; and I blurted out, “Do blind people dream?” She was polite and said she didn’t know.

I feel sad by this thought. Those who have had sight at some time in thier life, and become blind, will likely have a memory of colours. But for a born blind person, it would be impossible to explain a colour to them. Do these people dream or imagine in colour?

The internet is a thing so I looked it up.

via http://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=765

A/ ” Yes, blind people do dream. What they see in their dreams depends on how much they could ever see. If someone has been totally blind since birth, they only have auditory dreams. If someone such as I, has had a measure of sight, then that person dreams with that measure of sight. I still dream as though I can see, colors included. For people I’ve met since, their faces are just blurs or how I imagine they look. To me, someone like my mother looks forever 30. ”


via http://www.divinecaroline.com/22202/85765-do-blind-see-dream

“It all depends on how long a person experiences the world with sight, as opposed to without. Someone who goes blind later in life could experience visually intense dreams for years afterward; however, the more time that person spends without sight, the less frequent such visual dreams become..”


3 Minutes

Posted by Ken on Jan 15, 2012 in Random

It only takes me a couple of seconds to realize that the YouTube video I just watched wasn’t as entertaining as I’d hoped. The hit has been registered and the “uploader” has received credit for something cleverly named and yet lacking any real content. Their 3 minute compilation video of horses, cats, aliens, conspiracy theory or fails;   will yet receive a bunch more hits before something actually entertaining knocks it of the Most Viewed Today list.  We are all easily trapped by the deceptive title, “Star Trek and its parallels to human behaviour”.

It only takes a thousand or so hits for a content uploader to make money from the stupid and pointless ads that Google attaches the content, and thats all they really want. It annoys me that other more ‘legitimate’ content creators are forever struggling to created new and clever skits, hoping to retain and to attract new subscribers, all the while fighting this kind of ‘cut and copy’ uploader for 3 minutes of my time.

It seems to me that 3 minutes is about all they can get. Our attention spans must be pretty short, possibly from all that channel surfing on the 1920′s invention the Television. We’ll watch 15 minutes of a television program we find entertaining then during the commercials we hope to find something else on another channel equally as entertaining, something that will fill the 3 minutes until the original show comes back on. Disgustingly we spend 2 minutes jumping channels until something that looks good, and isn’t a commercial grabs our attention. We watch it for 2 minutes hoping it satisfies, and maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t, but we find ourselves going back to find the thing we where watching before only to realize, we’ve missed key dialog and the plot or ending is missed.

Likewise we’ll catch the end of a song on the radio (an invention of the 1910′s) and wait endlessly for it to be played again . We’ll find that after 2 hours you’ve heard the same a second time but that 3 minutes was all we were looking for yet we listen to a bunch more of 3 minute songs and 3 minute ad breaks and 3 minute interruption by the announcers to get it. In the old days anyway we’d go out and sing the song to some record shop owner hoping they’d know the tune, but today we use apps on the smart phones to listen for us and tell us the song. All so we can hear it again without having to wait through someone elses 3 minutes of ill conceived drivel.

Clearly entertainment is found in 3 minute increments.



Posted by Ken on Jan 8, 2012 in Random

‘They’ say at 40 the best years are ahead of you. As I sit eating my breakfast at the top of Clear Mountain overlooking Brisbane, I can’t help think that ‘they’ may be right. From the symbolic view of the top of my life’s mountain, I realize that I’m about halfway done. There is so much to yet try out, so much excitement to be had, but it will probably be spent sleeping, eating, working and spending time with family and friends.

Still, the next 40 years will be spent helping my children and those around me focus on the important things in life. They’ll all come along for the ride because I’m traveling down the hill now and I understand that’s so much more fun that the climb up. So hang on, here we go!!

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Posted by Ken on Dec 1, 2011 in Random

Hi, and thanks or coming. You probably didn’t get here from a email list, but thanks for coming anyway.

I opened my email today and was unsurprised to find 12 new emails today. For me that’s not at all many, but significantly only 1 was from someone I knew. The other 11 where as a result of legit subscriptions from websites where I bought something recently; and they’ve included me on the opt in list.

I can tolerate these emails for a while, but after almost a week of similar emails they all blur into one and I think to myself, “hey didn’t you send me something yesterday?”

Today as I stared blankly at my email I remembered, email is communication and none of this was communication I really want, yeah it’s good to be reminded from time to time of the companies I bought stuff from, but honestly I don’t need 10 plus emails a day to help spend my limited funds.

As I unsubscribed from each site I had a twinge of satisfaction as I realised they might get less email tomorrow… wait is that a good thing?, how will I know my email is working if I don’t get spam??