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posted 7 Feb 2016, 00:40 by Robert Chandler   [ updated 9 Feb 2016, 00:06 ]

R.I.P., Windows Media Center

Posted on May 5, 2015 by Rob

Just reading the ZDNet article R.I.P., Windows Media Center

Disappointing. Windows 10 may not be the turnaround in attitude we were hoping for.

There is a US industry mantra of “We will be number one…. Or get out”. But only one company can ever be number one and have the largest market share. Companies talk about being “customer centered” but the two things don’t mix. Unfortunately Microsoft seem to only pay lip service to consumers.

So back in the real world: Yes it costs money to pay people to maintain products. Yes to ensure that every game & technology I buy works beyond 5-10 years is difficult. But as a consumer and developer that’s what I want. And if other platforms & companies do a better job at serving minorities then they’ll get my money.

In the long run Microsoft are shooting themselves in the foot. It’s like when you go into a store regularly for some piddly thing, but once a year make a large purchase. The store discontinues all piddle items that don’t sell much. So now people no longer have a reason to enter the store, and sales in general fall (even though only the piddly items were removed).

Personally, these kind of piddly decisions just push me further towards Apple and Google.  No matter how justified they may be.

Rob


AHCI interface for SATA disks in Windows 8

Posted on September 14, 2012 by Rob

Recently while bench-marking my new OCZ Vertex 4 SSD, my PC builder suggested I may get better results by using Intel’s AHCI interface (for SATA disks). Turns out my new Windows 8 PC was already enabled for AHCI. Philip Elder (SBS MVP) informed me that 99% of PCs they see are already enabled.

For Windows 8 here’s how to enable AHCI. Since Windows Vista you can change over to AHCI without losing disk data.

  1. Set a restore point.
  2. Change registry value of “Start”to zero (0) in key
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Storahci
    In Windows 7 this key was called
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\msahci 
  3. Go into Bios and make sure disk access is set to AHCI not SATA.

After restarting the PC, the AHCI drivers should be installed and Device Manager will show AHCI drivers for the disks.

8.1 is a good score for Disk data transfer rate [Windows Experience Index]

Spam-Be-Gone

Posted on November 14, 2008 by Rob

Something wonderful happened this week: Worldwide, the amount of spam email dropped by roughly two-thirds. How did this happen? A single hosting provider, McColo, was disconnected from the Internet.

Think about that for a second: One hosting company was apparently responsible for up to 66 percent of the worldwide spam generated per day. IronPort, a Cisco subsidiary, estimates that there are about 190 billion spam messages sent per day.

Read the full story from WindowsIRPro.com


Time’s Up Brumby

Posted on January 31, 2008 by Rob

Greenpeace activists unfurl a banner on Melbourne’s iconic Flinders Street railway station, sending a strong message to Premier Brumby on his controversial decision to lift the ban on genetically engineered (GE) food crops.

Victoria’s ban on genetically engineered (GE) food crops expires on 29 February.  Says Greenpeace genetic engineering campaigner, Rebecca Hubbard, “Victoria is running out of time before it loses its GE free status.  More…  Video Report (The Age)

GreenPeace News Articles:


GM Cross-pollination

Posted on January 12, 2008 by Rob

GM crops can contaminate adjacent non-GM crops by various means. The canola seed is tiny and easily spread through wind, animals, birds, seed transport spills etc.

Even before GM Canola crops are allowed in Australia, contamination is being found in Australian grain from  research being done by the Tasmanian Government…

But what about contamination through cross-pollination? Here genes traits are transferred from one crop to another.  Which crops are sexually compatible with the current GM crops? Do we know?

Currently we are seeing new herbicide resistant super-weeds growing up around the GM-crops. These weeds have taken on the herbicide resistance traits given to the GM crops.

Could this spoil the integrity of our existing pure crops? If Western Australia get their way and grow GM wheat, will it cross-pollinate with Spelt? (Spelt is a distant cousin of Wheat and now in common usage by health bread manufacturers). If weeds can take on the traits of GM crops then who really knows what we can expect.

We are genetic altering life, and life is self replicating. Once released into the world, you may not be able to reverse that decision.  Like Cane Toads introduced into QLD Australia you could be stuck with them for ever.

The 2004 documentary “Unnatural Selection“ tells a story of a GE salmon farm (commercial research). A flood caused 100, 000 GE fish to escaped into the river ways. Some scientists estimated these larger more aggressive Salmon could in fact cause the natural fish population to die out within just a few years. This is of course worst case scenario, but it just shows again that we playing with fire. But hey as long as someone is making a profit  :-(

EU Regulations permit very low levels of accidental or ‘adventitious’ presence of GM plants in an organic crop at a threshold of 0.9% (lowered recently from 1%).

Bio-Diversity 

The other problem we have is one of bio-diversity. I’m just starting to understand what this means.

So we have Monsato and others buying up all the seed companies around the world. Their aim is to control the worlds food supply. The natural diversity in the world, that comes from farmers collecting their own seed generation after generation will be lost as Monsanto moves in with their limited palette of GM seeds. 

In the space of only a decade we now have most of USA and Canada growing GM food crops from a very limit variety of seed. Some say we have already lost some varieties of seed.  Thank God for projects like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway.

Currently there is an oversupply of food for the planet (we just neglect to share it with those who are hungry).  So don’t beleive the Monsanto spin that says we have a moral obligation to go GM.

Worst case scenario … if the traits in these untested GM genes fail catastrophically, we could have a world wide famine.

Green Peace Trolley Watch

Posted on January 12, 2008 by Rob

GreenPeace run a program called Trolley Watch. When you see a Genetically Modified (GE) food label in your supermarket, take a photo and upload it to GreenPeace. So it’s a shame file. Yet another way to use consumers power. Currently we only have a dozen or so products labelled in Australia. Loop holes in Australian labelling laws allow potentially 1000′s of GE products in Australian stores.

 What else can you do?

Holly Schiach, Greenpeace, talks to Sydney audience about Trolley Watch in Australia.

Holly tells how Lowans Healthfoods finally gave in to removing GE food from their Lowans and Greens lines, after they received many letters from consumers.


GM Food Part 4 – GM in Australia

Posted on December 27, 2007 by Rob

Are GM food crops allowed in Australia? 

Currently no. However on the 27th Nov, the Victorian and NSW governments announced that their bans on growing GM Canola would lapse on February 29 and March 3 2008, respectively. Premier Brumby will let Bayer, Monsanto and their agribusiness allies roll out herbicide tolerant GM canola in Victoria without restriction or public notice. In contrast, NSW has extended its ban till July 2011 but will exempt some GM canola growing for commercial and research purposes, on a case-by-case basis.

According to GeneEthics.org, Bayer, Monsanto and the US government formed an agribusiness coalition to overturn the bans.

Why are we going GM in Australia?

With so many scientists and experts voicing clear concerns against GMO, why are ourpoliticians letting GM Canola crops into Australia?

Australia’s new Chief Scientist and longest-serving chief of the CSIRO Plant Industry division, is Dr Jim (William James) Peacock. While he’s been smearing critics of genetically modified (GM) food as “unprincipled minorities” and “self-serving” activists, he forgot to mention a few things about himself.

  1. Companies started by Peacock may benefit from overturning state bans on GM.
  2. The GM crop patents Peacock has lodged.

This detective work came from Kath Wilsons blog. Thanks Kath!
I recommend you read Kath Wilsons blog.

The Story So Far

THE US Government and US biotechnology companies have been driving the commercialisation of genetically modified crops, which began in 1995. Progress has been dogged by debate and controversy.

With the strongest hold-outs in Europe, US companies have been concentrating on Asian and African markets, promising higher yields and lower costs for farmers. The commercial take-up has been fastest with soya beans, corn, cotton and canola, and GM varieties now represent about 29 per cent of the world’s total planting of those four crops. Most of that has been planted by the US, Argentina, Brazil and Canada.

In Australia, GM crops are regulated by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator.

So far, only six licences to grow GM crops have been approved as safe and suitable for humans, animals and the environment: two varieties each of canola, cotton and carnations. Only the cotton market has taken off, and as much as 80 per cent of Australia’s cotton crop is believed to be grown from GM seeds.

But that doesn’t mean you might not be eating GM produce. As of June last year, 25 GM foods sourced from corn, soya beans, sugar beet, potatoes, cotton and canola had been approved for use in Australia by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

Most of these foods have come from plants that have been genetically modified to improve their growing characteristics, protecting the crop from pests or making it tolerant to herbicides, for example. They are mostly imported from other countries to be used in Australian food production or are present in imported food such as corn chips or oil made from soya beans.

If a food, food ingredient, additive or processing aid contains novel DNA or protein that has come from an approved GM food, it must be labelled with the words “genetically modified”. Foods that do not need to be labelled in this way include highly refined foods such as oil made from GM soya beans and foods in which GM ingredients are present accidentally and make up less than 1 per cent of the final product.

From an article by Wendy Frew – March 28 2006, The Sydney Morning Herald

Is there GM Labeling in Australia?

Yes. GM foods must be labeled in Australia. However… there are exceptions. These foods don’t require labeling:  Food Additives and processing aids, Highly refined foods (such as refined oils, sugars and starches), Flavourings (including individual aromatic, carrier and other components) at no more than 1 g/kg (0.1%) in the final food, Food intended for immediate consumption (vending machine food, fast foods, resturant food, take-away foods). Also the standard allows for the  unintentional presence of a GM food not more than 10 g/kg (1%) per ingredient.

So McDonalds; BurgerKing, KFC can all legally can sell GM foods without labeling (but you can ask them). Most of the processed food in the supermarket can contain GM additives and flavours without labels. Each ingredient in a food can contain up to 1% of GM content with no labelling required. If I read the AU Gov web site correctly, oils made from GM grain don’t require labelling either.

Yet there is evidence that GM foods are causing health problems. I’m certainly not happy with these exceptions. Like too many other house holds, allergies dominate my families lives, so for us pure unadulterated foods, with proper labeling is essential.

Other Jot Notes

Those warning against the fast adoption of GM include Juliet McFarlane:  A canola, wheat and sheep farmer from Young in NSW is wary of claims being made for GM crops. McFarlane is a founding member of the Network of Concerned Farmers.

Again I’d like to acknowledge all the great work done my NCF and by Julie Newman who runs the web site.

Crop Contamination by Test Crops

Even before GM Canola crops are allowed in Australia, contamination is being found in Australian grain from  research being done by the Tasmanian Government…
GM: A case of good crop bad crop - March 2006, Sydney Morning Herald 

Jeffrey Smith responds to Andrew Bolt’s personal attack

Author Jeffrey Smith was invited to Australia in Dec 2007 after Brumby lifted the ban on GM Canola. He was invited to speak at parliament house. Controversial columnist Andrew Bolt did some mud slinging and petty name calling. Smith again responded with more solid information on the dangers of GM food.
Andrew Bolt’s attack on Jeffrey Smith – Nov 30 2007, Herald Sun
Jeffrey Smith responds – Dec 6th 2007, Herald Sun

Jeffrey’s response via The Herald Sun…

Jeffrey Smith
December 06, 2007 12:00am

AUSTRALIA is witnessing the vicious “attack and disinform” tactics used to divert attention from evidence that GM foods are dangerous to health and bad for the economy.

Andrew Bolt’s rambling and bizarre personal attack on me on these pages on November 30 follows 15 years of victimisation of those who identify the dangers that threaten biotech profits.

Consider Dr Arpad Pusztai, the world’s leading scientist in his field, who inadvertently discovered in 1998 that unpredictable changes in GM crops caused massive damage in rats.

He went public with his concerns and was a hero at his prestigious institute for all of two days.

The director of the institute received two phone calls, allegedly from the UK prime minister’s office, and Dr Pusztai was fired after 35 years and silenced with threats of a lawsuit.

False statements were circulated to trash his reputation and these statements are being repeated by Australian GM advocates today.

According to University of California professor Ignacio Chapela, when he was about to publish evidence that GM corn contaminated Mexico’s indigenous varieties, a senior Mexican government official threatened him.

“We know where your children go to school,” he was told.

In Russia, Dr Irina Ermakova, a leading scientist at the Russian National Academy of Sciences, fed female rats GM soy.

She was stunned to discover that more than half their offspring died within three weeks, compared with only 10 per cent from mothers fed non-GM soy.

Without funding to extend her analysis, Dr Ermakova labelled her work “preliminary” and published it in a Russian journal.

She implored the scientific community to repeat the study. Two years later no one has done this.

A New Zealand MP testified at the 2001 Royal Commission of Inquiry on Genetic Modification:

“I have been contacted by telephone and email by a number of scientists who have serious concerns . . . but who are convinced that if they express these fears publicly . . . or even if they asked the awkward and difficult questions, they will be eased out of their institution.”

Prof Christian Velot raised difficult questions on genetically modified organisms at public conferences and his 2008 research funds were confiscated.

Antagonists in Australia are particularly vicious, paying no heed to facts or decency. Similarly, Andrew Bolt gives false and misleading information about my personal beliefs and about the laboratory I worked at seven years ago.

And he confuses a rat study, showing that GM corn can produce herbicides inside their gut, with a human study.

He claims that herbicide-tolerant crops decrease the use of herbicides, but, according to government data, it is substantially increased.

All these cases are in my book, but apparently Bolt is too busy trying to discredit the book to actually read it.

Bolt’s rhetoric attempts to persuade politicians to distance themselves from those of us who have the facts.

It doesn’t work.

One parliamentarian, who hosted my talk some time ago, received a call asking: “Are you aware of what Jeffrey Smith failed to disclose?”

The parliamentarian replied: “What, that he practices meditation?”

She then burst out laughing and said: “You’ve got to do better than that.”

Indeed, with GM products linked to thousands of toxic and allergic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile and dead livestock and damage to virtually every organ studied, you’ve got to do way better than that.

2 Responses to GM Food Part 4 – GM in Australia

  1. Charmayne says:

    I am just disgusted at these big companies being able to use terminator technology, they are all doing it only the grandma and pa gardeners have seed that you can regrow. To have crops that produce there on pesticide is ludicrous genes are not that easily controlled, if what the seed produces naturally isn’t enough well too bad. The BTcotton is used in sanitary and baby products which has been sprayed with chemicals of the worst kind, to clean it drains our water resources and it’s not biodegradable. Wasn’t roundup banned in the late 80′s when it was thought run of was killing our great barrier reef. So many problems why do we keep urging away from nature and not toward it. PROFITS!!! UNACCEPTABLE.

    • Rob says:

      Amen. As an allergy suffer I can not wear Chinese cotton because I react with the pesticide in the clothes. :(
      This lie that GE and heavy pesticide use is helping the world needs to be exposed.


The Big Picture: The Story of Stuff

Posted on December 27, 2007 by Rob

The video “The Story of Stuff” is a short video worth watching.
It reminds us that as consumers we must make good choices.
Why? Watch the video :-)

part2 | part3 | part4 | part5 | part6 | part7


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