It Works – No More TELIKOM!

Posted in Mixed Nuts on March 19th, 2010 by MadDog
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This is just a brief post to allow me a few moments of gloating. I’m sitting here in our bedroom office with two computers going, both connected to the Internet at 512KBS via a satellite and four wireless units linking to our office and not a single byte is going through any TELIKOM equipment.

No more dial-ups. No more dropouts (except when it rains very hard). No more outrageous ISP charges, No more excuses:It Just Works!

Thanks to Mark Bleyerveld, our IT consultant, for his genius in getting all of this set up in only a couple of days.

It pays to have smart friends.

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Things One Seldom Sees

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on March 19th, 2010 by MadDog
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I get a lot of enjoyment from writing daily, though it is sometimes very difficult to find the time. However, I do sometimes question myself as to why  I do it. Getting away from the TV is a good enough excuse. Also, since it looks as if writing, editing and photography are going to be  a major part of my work from now on, I need the discipline of writing every day, whether I really feel like doing it or not. So, I’ve got plenty of good reasons to keep cranking it out.

Then, I ask myself why I have so many readers – ten times the highest number that I ever hoped for and growing month-by-month. What do I provide that people seek? What is is about the content of Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  that draws an audience that dwarfs my wildest aspirations?

Well, I can think of some things that it is probably not.  It’s hardly great literature. It’s certainly not deep thinking. In fact, frivolity, sarcasm and whimsy are my favourite seasonings. The photography is so-so, but there is much more spectacular stuff available at the click of a link. The subject matter is pretty tightly focused, being mostly about me, me, me,  so, unless you’re stalking me, that’s not it. Hmmm . . . subject matter – content . . . maybe that has something to do with it.

Truthfully, I think that what I may provide is distraction.  No matter who or where you are, what you are doing or what your current state of mind may be, whatever you find here each day is likely to distract you, maybe rattle your cage a little. I know that I have to rattle my cage pretty hard just to get my fingers moving to write it. My hope is not to make you think or impress you with great ideas or even make you gaga over the pretty pictures. It is simply to provide you with a little break. Whatever you see here is almost bound to be a different kettle of fish than whatever presently occupies your mind.

So, with that in mind, I’ll present you with a small assemblage of  images which signify nothing. I found them handy on my camera card from the last week or so. Make of it what you will.

When I see our boat, Faded Glory  in my dreams, this is how she looks:

Not that I dream of her often. I have many more amusing subjects. I dream much more often now than I did a few years ago. And the colour has returned!

I bet that you have never seen a nudibranch playground:I can see seven nudibranchs here of two different species. There is one potential courtship and a possible mixed-species ménage à trois,  if you care to examine the scene closely. I’ll make no moral judgements. They quite literally don’t know what they are doing.

Okay, if you’re settled down from that, maybe you’re ready for this:

This is our guru IT  advisor and general “get me out of this mess” guy, Mark Bleyerveld. He is up a pole, as you can see. What is not obvious is that it is a very tall and springy pole. I took this shot at 5x telephoto. The leaves are the top of a rather tall coconut tree. If you’ve seen big coconut trees, you get the idea. Mark is not only smart, he’s brave. No, make that crazy. By the way, the pole is the same one that you saw in yesterday’s telephoto shot. You can find the image in the link in the next pargraph.

Mark is installing the final links in our Free From TELIKOM crusade. By this evening I expect to be cruising the web at 54MBS in my home without having passed through a single wire belonging to TELIKOM. Hurrah!

While I was over at the coconut oil refinery where pole-climbing Mark was sweating away in the sun, I snapped this shot of the giant machines that grind out the skin-softening ingredient that many of the ladies adore:Let me tell you that it is very  loud in there and it stinks!  The smell is like a million burnt coconut macaroons stuffed up your nose and pounded in solidly with a jackhammer. Even with my severely retarded olfactory capability (sinus infection still with me), I had to hold my breath.

Stay with me. I’m about to wrap it up with a little colour. You’ve seen the Nudibranch Pteraeolidia ianthina  here before, but not this particular one whose name is Fred, or maybe Frederica:We know where a bunch of them hang out, so I’m working on getting the perfect shot.

You’ve also seen the Chelidonura inornata  before, but this is my best shot so far: You can see some of them in the playground shot above.

Tomorrow is dive day. I still have the pesky sinus infection, but tomorrow morning I’m supposed to get a definitive diagnosis and a prescription. That’s always an iffy thing here.

We’ll see how it goes.

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Free At Last!

Posted in Mixed Nuts on March 18th, 2010 by MadDog
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I’ll apologize in advance for any injuries that may occur if visitors fall asleep while reading this post. I probably should have added a “Geeky Content” warning to the title. If you feel drowsy or experience partial paralysis of facial muscles as you wade through this material, try giving yourself a quick, hard slap and move on to something less stupefying before you fall from your chair and do yourself harm.

Today’s subject is freedom. I’m drawn back to Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s famous speech in which he quoted an old spiritual song containing words something like, “Thank God almighty, I’m free at last.”

My strategic plan all along in my War Against TELIKOM has been to connect to the Internet without any ghost of signals passing through any of its antiquated, poorly maintained and evil equipment. I feel that victory is rapidly approaching. I expect that, by this weekend, I shall be able to sit in my house and connect any time that I please for as long as I please and download as much as I please with never a fear that I will face an exorbitant fee or lose my connection every five minutes.

How can this be? Well, unless your uncle is Daddy Warbucks, you have to have some help. The first battle was won when our organisation purchased a third-party Internet satellite dish, called a VSAT, if you care. I’m trying to avoid too much geek-speak, as it bores the life from me. We’ve had the satellite Internet connection for about a year now, and it’s perking along nicely. We lose it only when it rains torrentially.

So, the question became, how can I tap into that gush of free bytes? Friends come in very handy here. I happened to have one who is the most renowned guru in the land and a geek among geeks.

Well, I can see already that I must shorten this story. I’m beginning to feel sleepy myslef.

Anyway, Mark came up with the idea of connecting to my house by wireless signals. The rub is that these pesky little beams refuse to penetrate anything but air, at least if you plan to go further than a few tens of metres.

Climbing to the top of this old amateur radio tower at the back of our office, I was disappointed to find that I could not see our house:

So, the problem became:  what can  I see from there which I can also see from my house?

I’ll digress a moment to refresh myself by showing you the pile of junk that is typically required to get all of this working;

It’s mostly on the top shelf. You can see, from left to right, a satellite modem which talks to the gizmo up in space and a “router” which splits the signals up somehow and distributes them to the correct computers. These are the essentials, except for the actual wireless gear, which is coming up next. The black box is a “hub” which simply lets you plug a whole bunch of computers into a network and sorts out the torrents of information that flows through it. Below is a UPS which prevents the evil PNG Power from devastating our investments and an old computer which I use to keep tabs on what is going where.

Here is a picture of the front and back of the long-range wireless units. They include a gadget which sends and receives wireless signals and a highly directional antenna which concentrates the beam and allows it to travel much farther between units:

A clever bit is that there is a little doohicky which you plug into the wall to provide power through the cable which also carries the network signals. Therefore you need only one cable going to this unit. It’s called Power Over Ethernet, but the very sound of that causes my eyelids to sag.

Here is a Google Earth shot of Madang showing the plan to get the web from our office to our house:

One unit goes on the ham radio tower at our office. Two units go on the security camera pole at the coconut oil refinery. They talk to each other, to keep the signal going, through a short piece of network cable. The green lines represent the wireless radio beams doing the magic.

So, having gotten from the office to the coconut refinery, we shoot the second beam way across the harbour to the front of our house. Here is a view of town from our veranda taken with my mighty Olympus SP-590UZ furiously gathering photons at its maximum of 26x optical zoom:

You’re looking almost a half-kilometre at that little pole in the middle of the frame. It’s got security cameras mounted on it already. From that pole I can see the tower at the office and my veranda.

Therefore, I mounted the last unit beside the front door of our house and ran the POE cable to the bedroom wherein lie our thirsty computers:

I didn’t realise until I saw this picture how much our house needs a coat of paint.

Tomorrow will be the magic day, if it doesn’t rain, when the hop units will be installed on the security camera pole. Everything else is installed and powered up.

This weekend I hope to enjoy TELIKOM-free browsing. If it works, it will be magic. If it doesn’t, it’s back to the drawing board.

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Smart Corals and Dumb Corals

Posted in Under the Sea on February 22nd, 2010 by MadDog
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First I’ll deliver the latest dispatch from the MadDog/TELIKOM War. Today’s skirmish was a brief exchange of peace offerings which occurred at my house. Two technicians came and got my Internet connection going again. As a peace offering, I agreed that, as long as it worked, I’ll not display any more images of shoddy workmanship, no matter how many I find. I think that’s pretty fair. We’ll see how long that cease-fire lasts. One of the technicians promised to come to do data error tests from my office to the exchange this afternoon. He has not shown up yet. I may have to fire another volley to get some action going again. UPDATE: He is here now, but I had to go pick him up in my car, as you will note below.

I must admit that my ring of spies in TELEKOM is growing nicely. In return for anonymity, I’m getting surprising information and remarks. Today’s revelation, from three independent sources, is that some genius at TELIKOM has forgotten, refused, or otherwise failed to release funds to register all of the TELIKOM vehicles. Therefore, TELIKOM workers are obliged to hoof it to their work locations. Needless to say, some sorry customers will not receive service as walking distance to and from will exceed the six or seven hours usually allotted to a working day.

Another tidbit that delighted me was a remark by a TELIKOM technician concerning management. “They’re making us look stupid!” His  words, not mine!  It came as a response to my comment that I believed that the technicians were willing and capable to do first-rate work if given the proper equipment and supplies.

Okay, enough of that.

Why are some corals considered brainy and others not so? Maybe it has to do with the general appearance. They all have that squirmy, vaguely disgusting look about them. We’re not really supposed  to actually see  our brains, are we? So, of course, they’re not designed to be attractive, unlike other body parts I could  name, but probably won’t. For instance this Brain Coral (Goniastrea australensis)  is sort of brainy looking, but more like the brain of the alien from Alien,  if you know what I mean:

Sigourney Weaver would squish this with her boot wearing her long-johns, if she got the chance.

This is still brainy looking, but somewhat less disgusting. It’s a Leptoria phrygia  brain coral, which means absolutely nothing to me. I looked it up in a book – probably incorrectly:It looks as if it may have been removed from a Conehead. Possibly Dan Aykroyd, who is now, not coincidentally, a minor wine producer in Canada. I’ve tasted his plonk. It’s quite drinkable.

Now this is a brain! Mister Spock would have had such a magnificently squiggly nugget in his noggin. It’s a Platygyra lamellina.  and a fine one, at that.I’d be proud to have such a well-rounded and obviously classically educated brain. I’d be proud to have a brain at all.

But, what about the less mentally nimble corals? Need we dismiss them? No, of course not! For, like blondes (there, I’ve finally said it and my wife will have my hide for it), corals need not be excessively bright to have their . . . attributes. For instance, this young Acropora cerealis  is as pretty as a picture (nasty pun there – sorry) and need not fear for its future because of a lack of mental acuity:Likewise, this very young and most rare Solitary Coral (Fungia costulata)  possesses an ethereal beauty that far exceeds its more intelligent cousins:The identification as a little tricky here. The colouration had me stumped. It wasn’t until I noticed that the radiating ridges (each called a septum, if you care) are considerably thicker in the center that I was able to pin it down. With other Solitary Corals, this is not the case. I’m such a clever boy, I am.

Finally, we have the dumb corals and the dumber corals. The one which is being engulfed is some kind of Acropora,  I think. I don’t know what the one which is encasing it is, but I’d give it the edge in wit:So, there we have it. We’ve covered the entire spectrum of intelligence of corals in one simple, easy to remember lesson.

All that need be remembered is that they are all as stupid as stones.

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So, So Blue

Posted in Under the Sea on February 18th, 2010 by MadDog
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Well, now I’m only two days behind. No thanks to TELIKOM. For some reason known only to God and the local manager, I got a call this morning from a guy in the business department. He seemed to want to sell me a PABX system to fix my problem. I asked him if it had any copper lines going to the exchange. He didn’t know. I asked him if he knew anything about the USB wireless adapters that were announced for sale in April and still don’t work. He said he didn’t know. I asked him if he knew anything at all. He said he wasn’t sure. I think the local manager is trying to avoid me. Every time I call, he has “gone to pick up his kids at school” (funny thing for a manager to be doing in the middle of the day) or, “just stepped out”, or “in a team meeting”. Hah! Since his office is only a few steps from mine, that makes it a little easier for me. I can station one of my spies in the parking lot and he can inform me by walkie-talkie when the guy comes to his office. My means are many and nefarious.

I will not let this matter rest.

Never mind. I’m soon going to set up a wireless link between our big radio tower at our office and my house. I’ll have a fast 24/7 connection for absolutely nothing! I’m going to take my two TELIKOM handsets and throw them into the ocean where they will do the fish more good that they have ever done me. I’ll set up some Skype phones in the bedroom, lounge and our new J&E Enterprises Limited office and say “Goodbye and thanks for all the fish!” to TELIKOM forever. How glorious it will be to see the day when none of my communications have to pass through a single piece of TELIKOM’s crummy gear. Digicell will do me nicely for a portable. TELIKOM’s cell service doesn’t work half the time anyway.

I should possibly apologise to my readers who do not live in PNG and therefore do not understand the agony of trying to get simple phone service. My good mate Trevor Hattersley’s phone has not worked for five months. Most people simply give up and buy a cell phone. In fact, I believe that is exactly what TELIKOM wants. They want to abandon huge sections of copper cable that are so old that they can’t support even voice service. This leaves outlying small businesses stranded with no phones. Imagine owning a hotel (Such as Jais Aben) if your phones do not work half of the time. Yet TELIKOM offers no business alternative.

Okay, okay, enough for today. The pictures aren’t that great today either.

Today’s music is Pink Floyd’s Pigs on the Wing  from the ethereal Animals  album of 1977. It’s strangely in tune with my mood today. I also like Dogs  from the same album. Some of the lyrics bring tears to my crusty old eyes for their timeless poignancy. The guitar riffs are stunning.

Do you have to deal with people who think like this?

And after a while, you can work on points for style.
Like the club tie, and the firm handshake,
A certain look in the eye and an easy smile.
You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to,
So that when they turn their backs on you,
You’ll get the chance to put the knife in.

Sure, we all do. Sadly, some aspire  to that philosophy.

Never Mind. My task is only to show pretty pictures.

Here’s a little mob of Striped Catfish (Plotosus lineatus)   who, happily, never have to make a phone call: Lucky little critters, eh? You’ll probably have to click to enlarge them.

This is one of the prettiest Feather Star images that I’ve managed:The lovely Lamprometra  seems to be in a state of grace, all curly and calm.

This is a sort of throw it out and see who likes it shot. It makes me think of looking down into a particularly nice aquarium at some friend’s house. He must be very good at his hobby:It’s a bunch of small Anthea  of some species that I can’t identify.

Some of you will recognise these Bigeye Trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus)  from many other posts here. I shoot them whenever I get the chance:I think “conformists” when I look at this image. I don’t like the feeling. If I stare at it long enough I can see them moving. Must be all the drugs I’ve been taking the last few days.

I usually strive for natural colour. Of course, that’s not what you get from the camera. They usually look more like this:Sometimes blue is what you need.

From Animals,  I leave you with Sheep:

Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away;
Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air.
You better watch out,
There may be dogs about
I’ve looked over Jordan, and I have seen
Things are not what they seem.

Peace.

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TELIKOM – FAIL!

Posted in Mixed Nuts on February 17th, 2010 by MadDog
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Yesterday I was so sick that I couldn’t come to the office – first time since I can remember. I’m usually very healthy. However, when I do catch a cold, it almost invariably attracts an opportunistic bacterial infection and I get very sick in only two or three days. I started Cipro yesterday morning and today I’m back to work.

I’m now so far behind (it’s the 19th here now – the last post is dated the 16th), that I don’t know if I’ll catch up. I thank TELIKOM for that. If I can find a cheap shyster in Madang today, I’m going to file a million Kina lawsuit against the clowns just for the sake of harassment.

Here’s this morning’s sunrise, the first nice one for several weeks:Since I had nothing better to do than to harass TELIKOM yesterday, I insisted that a data technician come to my house and do a data transmission test from there to the exchange. The results were exactly what I’ve been telling them for the last five years. The decades-old cables are totally incapable of transmitting data. This morning, when I got up, I didn’t even have a dial tome.

Here’s a typical shot of a TELIKOM junction box:What have we here? Hmm. . . Among other items that don’t belong there are water, buai spet (the horrible bloody-looking stuff that is spat from the mouth when chewing betel nut), various bits and pieces of garbage, and someone’s shoe. I have seen worse. They seem to make a convenient place to, ah, . . .  how can I put this . . . take a dump. I wonder if this is a matter of bodily necessity or a comment about TELIKOM. I’ve been tempted.

Need more TELIKOM goodness? How about this shot that I took only this morning outside my own office:Well, that certainly doesn’t look quite so messy. However, close inspection shows some serious no-no items. First is the continual flooding. I’ve often seen this box full to the brim with water. Check out the silly attempts to plug the thing up with scraps of tape. The black bulb contains all of the junctions between the wires. It is supposed to be water-tight. Does it look water-tight to you?

I’ve had it with TELIKOM.

From now on, it’s WAR! Starting TODAY.

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Sunrise Madness

Posted in Mixed Nuts on June 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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I just read back over my post of yesterday.  I take back nothing that I said about Telikom, but I must have been bombed out of my skull. I remember taking the photo of the “Dog in the Red Dress” in my neighbour’s yard, but how I made the connection to Telikom is beyond me. Blame it on the toxic cocktail of cold remedies.

I’m still steaming about not being able to get a phone. A technician came to my house yesterday and finally admitted that there is not a single copper pair to the entire area of DCA that is clean. They all have faults. When I get an incoming call the phone just goes “brrrp” once. That’s what it sounds like, “brrp”. When you pick it up, it is dead silence. I must have gotten twenty calls today, since tomorrow is our big party for our 45th wedding anniversary. Sorry, folks, I can’t answer my phone. It won’t let me.

Anyway, I blew away the time when I felt like getting our of bed to work on some sunrise shots that I hadn’t gotten around to yet. I did find a few interesting ones:

Sunrise with towering cumulus casting shadow

I like the waves in the one above. Also notice that the towering cumulus cloud just to the left of the rising sun is casting a shadow in the thin layer of cloud that appears orange from the glow of the sun and allowing the blue sky to show through.

This shot is the same sunrise taken a few minutes earlier:

Sunrise with towering cumulus casting shadow (earlier)

The towering cumulus hasn’t grown tall enough to cast as much of a shadow, but you can see it developing.

There’s not much to say about this one. It’s darker and moodier. However I like the purple cast. The lights of town are very nice on the water, also. This was about a ten second exposure. That is why the water looks smooth and silky:

Purple sunrise

I think that I may have shown this one before. I reworked it this morning because I wasn’t satisfied with the colours.Sunrise with baot

Of course, few of the colours in my sunrise shots are as bright in real life as I depict them in my interpretations. Even mom nature can stand a little improvement around the edges. When I do shots like these, I’m not even thinking of them as photographs. I’m thinking that I’m painting with light. I can’t paint or draw at all. I have no artistic talent. However, give me a camera and a computer and I can create somethign beautiful. You can. Anyone can. That’s the beauty of photography today. Anybody with a camera and a computer can do what the great photographic masters of the past would have thought impossible.

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