Melbourne Ramblings – year in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report. – the ultimate customer service organisation

On Monday evening, I cannot resist the urge to purchase a few things online from Slogan teeshirts, Star Trek lapel pins, you get the idea. Tragic, I know.

After three days of correspondence, this is the email I’ve just sent to their customer services people. Be warned: it’s like trying to buy illegal firearms or something.

Just so you know, the other option I received was to fax my bill to them. I was also instructed that any email attachment must be less than 500kb or it would be rejected by their email system.

Not sure these dudes qualify as bona fide geeks.

Dear Christina –

1. On 15 November you ask for “A copy of a statement from a service provider or financial institution, that shows the billing address submitted during checkout.”

I send you a statement from our internet service provider with my home address on it.

2. On 17 November you say this is not acceptable. You ask for “a phone bill or other utility bill showing the same billing address as your credit card.”

I send you a statement from my mobile phone provider showing the same billing address as my credit card.

3.  On 18 November you now say this is not acceptable. You now tell me “You need to physically scan in a hardcopy of your bill or take a photo of it.”

Like many people, I do all of my banking and utility bill-paying online. I only receive bills of this nature by email. In order to purchase some sci-fi trinkets from you, are you seriously asking me to:

  • Go online to my electricity/gas/phone provider’s website;
  • Save a recent bill to my hard drive;
  • Print it out (perhaps I should do it in colour to make it look more “genuine”?);
  • Scan or photograph it back into electronic format just so it looks even more genuine;
  • Attach it to an email and send it to you so that you can verify my identity?

Is this what I really need to do to obtain approval for my transaction? This is a genuine question to which I expect a reply.

On a related note, why didn’t your original email back three days ago specify the explicit instructions you only found the need to share with me after two attempts on my part?

Please be kind enough to send me a non-automated response to this email. I have now spent more time trying to respond correctly to your increasingly demanding verification emails than I did shopping on your website. The stuff you sell is really not that important to me.

Yours sincerely

Mairead Doyle


This is what happens when the contents of my address book converge: articulate pedants clash horns with highly-numerate engineers, with the philosophical questions answered by a classic Aussie.


From: Mairead Doyle
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2007 3:27 PM
Subject: The Eco-Friendly Google

For those worried with energy consumption and all its downsides:

When your screen is white, be it an empty word page, or the Google page, your computer consumes 74 watts, and when it’s black it consumes only 59 watts. Mark Ontkush wrote an article about the energy saving that would be achieved if Google had a black screen, taking into account the huge number of page views. According to his calculations, 750 mega watts/hour per year would be saved.

In a response to this article Heap Media in Sydney created a black version of the Google search engine, called Blackle, with the exact same functions as the white version, but with lower energy consumption. Regardless of whether the above is true, I think it looks good. Check it out.


From: Manu Pillai
Sent: 19 July 2007 23:55
Subject: RE: The Eco-Friendly Google

Use laptops; half the power.



From: Nick Lawrance
Sent: 20 July 2007 09:29
Subject: RE: The Eco-Friendly Google

Oooh I like that. It’s as if Michael Mann has created his own search engine.

And once I’d turned on all the lights in the office I found it wasn’t that spooky to use at all!

Anyway, for those of us who “studied” in arts faculties: what does 750 mega watts/hours per year actually mean?

(In layman’s terms please, either

1.       relating it to the number of cups of tea/rounds of toast I could make with a “750 mega watts/hours per year” sized bucket of, er, magic silent power juice, or

2.       something relating to an area the size of Wales.



From: Joe Dalton
Sent: 20 July 2007 12:31
Subject: RE: The Eco-Friendly Google

As one in the business, I guess I’d better answer this one… 

750,000,000Watts/Hour = 2,700,000,000,000,000 Joules of electricity. 

One cup (assume 200ml of “liquid”)  takes 68,650.4 Joules of electricity…. (heating water from an assumed 18C (room temperature) to 100C and then immediately switching off….). 

This corresponds to 39,329,705 cups of tea (approximately)….

Naturally, this f*****g number would go down in Ireland at the moment (as it’s bleeding freezing here right now). And anyway, why not use the water to make Guinness? That would be way more eco friendly!

(Please note that the amount of energy consumed to produce the electricity to heat the water is 2.6 times (approx) 750MWhr’s, at an assumed conversion rate of 38%)

From: Nick Lawrance
Sent: 20 July 2007 12:42
Subject: RE: The Eco-Friendly Google

Thanks for the science Joe. Much appreciated.

But 40 million cups is too massive a figure for my brain to really comprehend. (If I’d known it was so vast a number I would have chosen a more useful unit of measurement.)


Does anyone know how many Olympic-sized swimming pools this equates to?



From: Brian Costello
Sent: 20 July 2007 13:52
Subject: RE: The Eco-Friendly Google

12,356.82 approximately.



From: Beal Richard
Sent: 20 July 2007 14:35
Subject: RE: The Eco-Friendly Google

How much energy has been used up answering Nick’s questions?

(just joshin’!)



From: Joe Dalton
Sent: 20 July 2007 15:02
Subject: RE: The Eco-Friendly Google

Don’t know…. But if the pool was filled with Tea at boiling point it might make setting any long distance world record a bit difficult… but you would start off at a scalding rate…. 



From: Nick Lawrance
Sent: Saturday, 21 July 2007 12:06 AM
Subject: RE: The Eco-Friendly Google

Would the winner be presented with a trophy?

Or an urn?



From: Evans, Sam
Subject: RE: The Eco-Friendly Google
Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2007 10:03:47 +1000

Forget about tea. That’s for poms in cold climates. Here in Oz we’d rather equate it to more appealing currency such as crates of Foster’s Lager. It converts to 6,350 crates of cold fresh beer. That’s a mighty strong case for change.

Blogging by Mail

I came across something really interesting on another blog today. is a great food blog by a woman in Dublin. Following her link to, I have signed up for Blogging by Mail.

Here’s the idea:

Food bloggers from all over the world swap treats and baked good, recipes and more, sending care packages to new friends. Cookies, breads, preserves, condiments, teas and coffees, music, cookbooks, photos…anything you want.

Everyone who joins is paired up with a swap partner to whom they’ll send a package.

I’m in… are you?

I’ll keep you posted on the outcome!

Culture Shock Update


The equivalent Aussie terminology for “like O’Connell Street/Piccadilly” is “as busy as Bourke Street Mall”. Of course, as soon as Aly and Mena pointed this out to me, I remembered it.

Another great phrase I heard in a meeting today (I had to stop the meeting to ask the context!) was “get a guernsey”. The bloke was talking about something being put onto an “urgent” list by a government department, and said we wouldn’t know until later in the month whether it got a guernsey.

What the…?

Apparently, it comes from getting a place on the footy team, i.e. you are definitely on the team so they give you the guernsey (jersey/shirt) but you still don’t know if you will get to play in the game.

Love it.

Car Maintenance

Another thing I have noticed is the water in the car for washing the windscreen. Back in Ireland or England you have to remember to top up the washer water fairly frequently, especially in winter. There is nothing worse than driving through winter rain in bad traffic with mud flying everywhere, and running out of water for the washer.

We have been here almost exactly nine months, and bought a car two weeks after we arrived. I have not topped up the washer water once. The car was serviced one time and maybe the man topped it up then, but one would expect the reservoir to empty a lot more than that. It just doesn’t really rain a lot here, and when it does, it doesn’t seem to turn into a mudbath.

I mean, I haven’t washed the (white) car all winter and I reckon it will be a month or two before it really needs cleaning.


Broadband internet here is less than 10% the speed of Europe. It’s almost quaint waiting for pages to load. That means for every minute it takes you in the UK or Ireland to download something, it takes almost two hours here. Perhaps not so quaint.
Think of me here trying to update these very pages…