Author Archives: Richard Leonard

About Richard Leonard

A writer of fiction, software, magazine articles, websites, blogs, tweets and sadly, cheques.

What is a Grammar Nerd?

G’day all!

It’s been a long time between posts and I might be a little late to this party, but I’ve been given a tip-off regarding a study done by Grammarly of their fans to find out what constitutes a Grammar Nerd.

The following info-graphic describes what they found and makes interesting reading. I had hoped there were more grammar nerds in Australia but, alas, no.

Anatomy of a Grammar Nerd Infographic

Check out Grammarly, for grammar related stuff, including their automated proofreader, for which I may have given them a free ad.

Anyway, what do you think is a grammar nerd? Do you commonly come across characteristics of the grammar nerd not mentioned here?

Clementine Ford is Correct, But…

It’s even simpler than that.

But that could be because my mind is simpler than hers!

This all started with nude pictures of women being stolen from secure online accounts and put up on public Revenge Porn websites for all to see. Some of the photos were actually submitted by vengeful ex’s without the consent of the women pictured. Australian morning TV program Sunrise victim-blamed the women by suggesting it’s their own fault for posting nude pictures online. Somehow they were asking for trouble. “When will they learn?” they asked.

Well, no. All of Clementine’s reasons are perfectly valid and probably more important that what I have to say. But here’s why it’s even simpler than that. For every concept in the digital world you can find a real world analogue. Email is the same as the postal service. Google Drive, Dropbox etc are equivalent to your storage services like Storage King. Anything with a password is like a lock and key. This means (in case the people at Sunrise don’t realise) there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. No one should be able to get in and see what you are storing.

When you print out your nude photo and stick it in a sealed envelope and post to your partner who is on an interstate business trip, you don’t expect the postal service to take a copy of that photo and stick on on the outside of the van, do you?

No. It would be unacceptable.

You don’t expect someone with access to highly visible billboards to break into your locked storage shed and steal your nude prints and display them beside the freeway for all to see. Do you?

No. Again, unacceptable.

So when you email specific people your raunchy digital snaps, you don’t expect others to steal them from your locked email account or file storage account? Do you?

No. Because we don’t tolerate that sort of behaviour.

A hacker using clever software to discover your password and gain access to your account is just like taking bolt cutters to a padlock. Not on.

Anyone who does steal your stuff from your locked container, physical, digital or otherwise, regardless of where you leave the key, is violating your privacy and lives in the moral sewer.

Not negotiable.

End of story.

It should be noted that Sunrise has apologised for the original offensive post.

My Repair Frenzy

I’ve always told myself I’m no good with physical work. I seem better at and enjoy working more with “soft” things, theoretical things. I write software for a living and fiction as a hobby, play with digital photography and graphics a lot, and just discovered Blender for 3D modelling. All of this involves using a computer. Give me something real and physical to do and that’s when I also become very proficient at procrastinating because it usually ends in failure.

But sometimes the bullet has to be bitten. Last week I had to repair my laptop as a matter of urgency. As you can see from the above, I can’t live without it. Long story short, this particular machine has done the rounds in the family over the last couple of years and has been a little mistreated. Over time the power connector has developed an ever-shrinking sweet spot where it actually works and keeps the battery charged. A couple of weeks ago that sweet spot shrank to nothing. I had about four hours of battery left.

I had to fix it. My wife, who does not do the household budget and was off work for a week with bronchitis, said I should buy another laptop. No. When it has power, it works perfectly and does everything I need it to do. Its only problem is getting power past the power socket. Here is an abridged account of my experience making this repair.

Laptop guts

From memory this seems to be the back of the touch-pad board. Probably the only pic I took during the process.

Disassembling a laptop for me is like driving a dark road without a map. At night. While wearing sunglasses. Behind a welding mask. You get the idea. Should this part just clip off or is there a hidden screw somewhere? Hidden screw. Socket connection fine, must be internal. Must avoid soldering if possible. Stuffing the socket’s ground and active cavities with tiny bits aluminium foil to act as packing worked. Should be able to live with that.

Reassemble. No power up. But the multi-meter showed power behind the socket! Why not switching on?

Disassemble. Found loose ribbon cable for power button and 2 RHS USB ports. Plug in.

Reassemble. Power up. Working. Wriggle power cord. Power down. Connector developed a rapidly shrinking sweet spot again. Not enough packing foil.

Disassemble.  Abandon refusal to solder and decide to replace power socket on laptop. Challenge finding same socket to match plug on cord. Buy new plug-socket pair and leave shop hoping to have success with soldering iron for the first time in 20 years. Return to shop to buy solder. And iron.

3 hours, soldering socket to wires in laptop, desoldering ground and active terminals I shorted together with carelessness and excess solder, carefully resoldering socket to wires in laptop, removing plug from cord and soldering on new matching plug for new socket.

Reassemble. Laptop working. Happy.

Storm Water Down Pipe Before After

Before and After of DIY Repair of damaged storm water pipe.

This new found confidence with a soldering iron led to more confidence when it comes to some DIY plumbing work that was years overdue – a storm water pipe that needed placing, also a gate repair, and I might even have a go at some necessary panel beating some time soon.

Now mobile phone not charging… Argh!

A New Tax System: Summary

If you’re still with me you might be familiar with my last few posts describing my idea of a simplified tax system. Basically, we tax transactions of money in exchange for goods and services, between two tax paying entities . The tax consists of two components: Continue reading

A New tax System: Problems and Pitfalls

Despite all the brilliant-ness of this tax system, it has some shortcomings. Here I will try to cover all the problems I can think of before anyone else points them out!

The Rich are not singled out

One is that there is still argument that the rate at which the rich pay tax should be higher than for lower income people. This system does not address that except by allowing for a higher D-Factor on transactions favoured by the rich. Continue reading

A New Tax System: Possible Scenarios

Previously I discussed the selection of appropriate D-Factor values. In this post I will go over in more detail some of the unusual types of payments we make and explain how this tax system applies to those payments. I won’t talk about the standard payment for goods and services as they are straight-forward enough. Continue reading

A New Tax System: Selecting D-Factors

As I mentioned earlier, the system would allow for pre-sets. A complete set of D-Factors could be defined that was friendly to a particular sector of society. Different pre-sets could apply when economic conditions demand or allow them. Continue reading