Martian Day

A blog post from the future

Newcastle, 26th January, 2219.

It’s Martian Day. But I don’t feel like celebrating. It was 200 years ago today that the Martians arrived. For decades humanity had been sending probes to Mars and speculating about the possibility of life there. But until they arrived here we had no inkling of their existence. For millennia they had lived underground out of human sight.

Then they arrived on earth. They explored all the continents, but preferred the aridity and expanse of this land, and so predominantly settled here. So while Europe, Africa, Asia and America got on with being Europe, Africa, Asia and America – Australia became Novomarsia – “New Mars”.

At first the Martians were an inconsequential curiosity. But they kept coming. Bringing their diseases that we succumbed to. They kept coming, and took our best land and our favourite beaches. They kept coming, and told us what was best for us. Some were kind, some were ignorant, some were prejudiced, and some were just misguided. Opinions vary as to the motives of the Martians, but the facts are clear – their arrival was bad for us Australians.

Today, Australians earn less money, die earlier, and are imprisoned more often than the Martians. People are divided as to why that is, and what the fix is, but the facts are clear. The gap between Australians and Martians is indisputable.

Its not all bad though. The Martian did bring good things like the cyber-empathic drug “Thoughtfuline”. They put it into the water supply and it makes people think and consider before posting to social media. Amazing stuff.

Yes, there are lots of good things about Novomarsia, even things that are worth celebrating together. But just not on this day. Not on the day the Martians arrived and changed everything for the Australians.

On track

While in town today I spotted the Newcastle Light Rail for the first time, as it conducted driver training.

The crew were obviously very happy with the the tram and the training, giving a big thumbs up as the carriage went past.

Later in the morning I spotted some tram related stupidity for the first time, as I witnessed a pedestrian who thought it was a good idea to run across the road in front of an approaching tram.

I hope the new light rail gets patronised more than the current bus network. For much of my trip home I was the only passenger, until suddenly the number of passengers doubled!

Ten Years of Turning Tyres

This week marks 10 years since I first cycled to work, in January 2009. For that first year I set myself a modest target of cycling to work at least 20% of the time. Over the last decade I’ve ramped up the target, and in 2018 I achieved a rate of 94.5% of trips to work on the bike.

In the last 10 years I’ve cycled to work 1439 times, riding a total of 17,141km.

Flickr’ing Hot

It was hot today. Too hot to do anything but stay inside. This however gave me a great opportunity to organise the photos in my Flickr account. Recent changes to Flickr mean that free accounts have a maximum of 1000 photos. So today I cleaned out my Flickr account leaving just a small collection of my favourite photos. Click on the image below to see more.

Royal Re-visit

Four years ago I visited Mt Royal National Park north of Singleton, and walked part of the the loop track that goes down to the creek in the valley. On Friday I returned and completed the full walk.

The Creek Walking Track, Mt Royal National Park.

The walk down and back was 6.2km, and it took 1 hour down, and 1 hour 20 minutes up. At the bottom of the track, just near the creek, there’s one lone picnic bench.

The creek itself is quite small, not much more than a trickle, even after some heavy rain the day before.

We walked back up the northern track, which in contrast to the southerm track has steps in some of the steeper sections.

Both tracks conveniently have a bench seat at about the halfway mark, for well earned rests.

On returning to the Youngville picnic area where we started the walk, the mountain was shrouded in cloud and mist, making a very picturesque scene.

After some lunch at the picnic area, we did the short walk up to Pieries Peak. This is only 2km return, and a much gentler grade than the creek walk.

Pieries Peak walk, Mt Royal National Park.

Leeches? Yes. On the way home I found one very bloated leech in my sock, and four leech bites on my ankle.

The Woes of iCloud Photos

I’ve blogged before about how Apple’s iCloud is a disastrous mess when it comes to managing your music library. What about photos?

Until recently I had been using Flickr to upload my iPhone photos to the cloud. Flickr is about to enforce a 1000 photo limit for free accounts, so I thought I’d give iCloud Photos a go. In the settings page on the iPhone it proclaims that iCloud Photos will …

Automatically upload and safely store all your photos and videos in iCloud so you can browse, search and share from any of your devices.

Nice promise, but largely unfulfilled. I’ve been using iCloud photos for about a month, and I’m somewhat gobsmacked at how badly a global tech giant like Apple can mess up a basic function such as uploading photos to the cloud. I’ve experienced numerous problems over the last month. Yesterday was a prime example of the inadequacies of iCoud. I went bushwalking and took about 50 photos. When I arrived home and connected to Wi-Fi, iCloud uploaded the most recent 7 photos and then resolutely refused to upload any earlier, or subsequent photos.

When you do a Google search on iCloud sync issues, you get hundreds of results, but all the suggestions are various permutations of “Have you tried turning it off and on again”. (Yes I have. It turns out that turning it off and on again doesn’t stop iCloud being rubbish.)

In the interests of truthfulness and transparency, Apple ought to update the message in the iCloud Photos Setting to

Automatically Intermittently and unpredictably upload and with a false sense of safety safely store all some random subset of your photos and videos in iCloud so you can browse, search and share from any some of your devices (because the Windows PC iCloud client is rubbish.)

[Update: In a cruel twist, moments after I hit Publish on this blog post, iCloud uploaded the remaining photos from yesterday, some 17 hours later. I guess that just reinforces the point that uploads are intermittent, unpredictable, and ridiculously slow.]

Update to historical real estate maps index

I’ve just updated my visual index to historical real estate maps by adding maps from Creer and Berkeley, catalogued by the National Library of Australia. There were 130 items that were not in the University of Newcastle Flickr archive.

The two most interesting discoveries I made while adding the maps were