Sunday, January 19, 2014

SOLUTION: When OSX won't recognise an exFAT external hard drive

A little gotcha with exFAT (a disk format like FAT32/NTFS etc which both OSX and Windows support out of the box) is that silly old OSX will only recognise the disk if the cluster size is 4,096 or less.

So if you can't see an external exFAT disk from a Mac, you probably need to backup the data and then reformat the disk with a cluster size of 4,096 or less.. if that doesn't work, carefully delete the partition from OSX and recreate it.

4,096 is rather shit for large files like photos, mp3, etc but anyway, it works

Saturday, December 21, 2013

My Mum's Summer Pudding Recipe

Serves 6
  • 8-12 slices day old white bread
  • 900 g of frozen fruit blackberries/raspberries/mixed berries but not strawberries
  • 100g-170g white sugar

Mum adds 1 chopped green apple (per pudding) diced to make the fruit go further.

Rinse a 900 ml pudding basin with cold water. Trim the crusts from the bread slices. Cut a circle from 1 slice to fit the bottom of the basin. Cut enough wedge-shaped pieces to fit around the sides. Press bread in firmly to line the basin making sure there are no gaps. Reserve a few pieces of bread to cover the top.

Trim the fruits and put them into a saucepan. Add the sugar, cover with a pan lid, and cook gently for 5 minutes, or until fruit is softened. Turn hot fruits into the lined pudding basin. Cover the top with the remaining pieces of bread and put a weighted plate on top. Allow to stand overnight.

Remove the weighted plate and place a serving plate over the pudding. Invert pudding on to the plate and serve with cream.

Mum's tips:

  1. Very little extra trouble to make two instead of one (recipe is for one).
  2. If you add a little bit of extra fruit and sugar it will give you extra juice. (Sugar and fruit must be in the same proportions).
  3. Any type of pudding basin can be used (Not sure if metal OK because of the acidic action of fruit on metal).
  4. The pudding should come to about half a cm from the top of the bowl.
  5. If the top layer of bread is still white add a bit more juice.
  6. Then cover with two layers of glad wrap tightly. With weight on top put in fridge.
  7. When ready to eat remove glad wrap, loosen gently with a knife and put a plate on top and invert.
  8. However careful you are, there are always white patches and stain with juice.
  9. Remaining juice put in a bottle in the fridge and pour over pudding to serve plus cream.
Update: Mum got the original recipe from Katie Stewart's Cookbook ISBN 0 330 28556 4 (1985)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Best German Prepaid Sim Card 2013

Most German prepaid SIM cards generally suck with tiny 200mb 3G data allowances, don't even bother looking for prepaid LTE/4G...

The best by far seems to be Congstar, it's all in German, including text images, so Google Chrome translating isn't always helpful, so you will need to have a smattering of German to work it out and register.

You can by a prepaid SIM card from DM for 8.49 which includes €10 credit, or from any shop, lookout for the pink T sign, for €9.95.

(BTW Congstar uses the t-mobile network, supposedly the best in Germany, but they only sell the SIM packs, no in store support)

There are two SIM packs, one in plastic which lets you choose options, the other one has a choice of two plans.

If you are like me, only after data, you can get 1Gb for €12:90 for 30 days which I think is the best you will find. 3Gb is only €19.90

Viel spass!


1. You can find out how much data you have used via, (not via WiFI or WLAN as the Germans call it)

2. This is annoying, surf packet (data) is per month, so once you have used up your data, you are speed limited to 64k. You can't upgrade to a higher plan until the next month, which is really dumb. You can however, via speed on, purchase a 500mb upgrade, via the, so I would really recommend the 3GB option

3. The live chat support via is quite good and if you ask them to speak English they can :)

Sunday, December 01, 2013

How the LNP killed off the Election debate over #gonski with one lie

Source: Google Trends

Windows Power Tip, right click task bar items for shortcuts to frequent uses

I only just discovered this by accident, if you right click on start bar icons,
you get a list of frequently accessed items.

So for web browsers, you get most visited websites and recently closed sites,
with Windows Explorer, you get your most frequently accessed folders.

Can't believe I only just discovered this after all these years of using Windows!

You can also increase the number of items in the list


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Minister for Finance, Why did China dump Direct Action for Emissions Trading?

"Chinese officials have expressed their surprise and disappointment that Australia is seeking to repeal its carbon price, just as the world’s second largest economy and biggest polluter prepares to launch new carbon trading schemes of its own, and seek linkages with international markets.

Just hours after Australia’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt was hailing the passage of the carbon repeal legislation through the lower house in Canberra as a “victory for the people”, his somewhat more powerful and longer sighted Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, was hosting a presentation at the Chinese pavilion at the climate talks in Warsaw, hailing the start of pilot carbon trading schemes in Shanghai and Beijing next week."

Source: China surprised and disappointed by Australia’s carbon repeal

Our new Minister for Finance has some explaining to do, or is this an operational matter too?

Then again......

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pensions at 70, rubbish, tax super income above the minimum wage

Just a quick post

There have been stories in the media about moving the eligibility age for the pension up to 70,
which is just a plain stupid idea. Why is this even an issue, because we can't afford the current system.

When the ALP introduced PPL, they decided the minimum wage was right benchmark.

I would suggest that any super income should also be progressively taxed starting at levels above the minimum wage, which is higher than the current tax free threshold but if that is considered a fair wage, that should be fine for people living off super.

To quote the PM: "If you want to put a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bill Shorten's Credit Card Reforms

On Tuesday night, our new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott did an interview with Leigh Sales on abc730, here is an exerpt.

LEIGH SALES: Your next priority after the carbon tax repeal is raising the debt ceiling by $200 billion. Will you release the Treasury advice recommending why the ceiling needs to be raised by such a substantial amount?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, what we know, Leigh, is that in Labor's last published budget update, the gross debt was forecast to reach $370 billion. We also know, because the former Treasurer told us, Mr Swan told us that there should be a $40 to $60 billion buffer for safety against contingencies and what that means is that Labor's proposed $400 billion debt ceiling won't even cover the debt that Labor left us at election time.

LEIGH SALES: But you've had updated - sorry to interrupt, Prime Minister. You've had updated information from Treasury since then. Will you release it so that we can actually, the public, have a look at the independent advice rather than take your political argument at face value?

TONY ABBOTT: Well certainly MYEFO will be the next release of that kind of information, but we're quite happy, Leigh, quite happy to organise a confidential briefing for the Opposition Leader. The Opposition Leader hasn't had an enormous amount of experience in economic portfolios and if he wants a briefing, if he doesn't trust the Government, we'll certainly organise a briefing for him from the Treasury Secretary.

As is quite common with Tony Abbott, sometimes he says things which don't make a lot of sense. Taking Greg Hunt's advice, I consulted wikipedia and found out that Bill Shorten was in fact Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, 14 September 2010 – 1 July 2013.

Now, rather than debate what Tony meant by that off the cuff comment, I thought it would be better to highlight one of my favorite little reforms implemented during this time which is little known in the wider community.

Here's a speech which Bill Shorten made on 8th Jun, 2011, Consumer Reform and Consumer Credit

Have a read yourself, it's always better to go to the source than read someone else's interpretation, but here are the dot points about the Credit Card Reforms

  • a prohibition on over-limit fees unless consumers specifically agree that their account can go over the limit;
  • requiring credit card providers to allocate repayments to higher interest debts first;
  • requiring greater consistency in the operation of interest charges;
  • prohibiting unsolicited credit limit extension offers unless the consumer has agreed to the service;
  • giving consumers more say over nominating their own credit limit;
  • disclosing a clear summary of key account features on credit card application forms; and
  • disclosing information to consumers about the implications of making only minimum repayments.
There's lot of great stuff in there, but I want to draw your attention to just one regarding credit repayments. Nearly all credit cards have two interest rates, one for purchases and one for cash advances. The rates vary, but it's not uncommon to see 12.99% for purchases and 20% for cash advances.

Now ideally, you pay off your credit card every month and you end up paying no interest, but life doesn't always work out as planned. So you might have a credit card debt, but there are actually two debts, paying separate amounts of compound interest. You might notice this with your monthly interest repayments which show up in your account. One is for cash advances and the other for purchases. Dig into your online banking and you should be able to see your total cash advances, remember, this is very expensive debt attracting say a 20% interest rate.

Now this is the ugly part, depending on your bank (etc), when you make repayments, they choose to pay off the cheaper debt first, this is one way that your credit card debt can spiral. You pay some money off on your credit card and the bank ignores your expensive debt and pays off the cheapest debt first. Aren't they just lovely?

This is a key problem that Shorten has resolved. Any new credit card issued since sometime in 2011 automatically must have repayments directed towards the most expensive debt first, but older cards remain the same. You have, however, now gained the right, thru these reforms to direct your bank to change their behaviour and pay off the most expensive debt first, it only takes five minutes on the phone to do this.

So, ring your bank and ask them about your credit card repayments! It's easy!

Now ideally, you should go and get a personal loan to pay off the credit card, thus avoiding the higher rates, but not everyone will do that. So, if you are carrying cash advances on your credit card, which sometimes includes bills you paid via credit card, there is a simple way to quickly reduce that amount.

After you have instructed your lovely bank to use your repayments to pay off the most expensive debt first, keep using your credit card for purchases. Sounds strange? It's pretty simple, rather than using EFTPOS or cash, instead, use your credit card for purchases and pay the money off your credit card. This way you are converting your cash advances to purchases, reducing the interest rates from 20% to 12.99%.

It's a nice reform which is easy to take advantage of, thanks Bill Shorten and the ALP.

Guess that was another "gospel truth" from our Prime Minister, shouldn't we judge politicians by outcomes?

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a financial expert by any means, please consult your bank or accountant about this, I'm just highlighting something you can look into.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Free G-NAF, Free Australian Geocoding

I have posted a request to freely publish the G-NAF Address Dataset to

It's 2013 and Australian companies and developers shouldn't be concerned with having to pay to use such an essential Government dataset.

Basic spatial services like geo-coding should not be costly or illegal, let's face it, lot's of people are using Google and violating their terms of service.

Please vote for this request, after all, aren't we now "Open for Business*" ?

*except when it involves Boats, on water and not Friday afternoon

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