The grand piano review

kropp2In the May 27, 1967 edition of The Bangkok Post there appeared a  curious story.  It later appeared around the world and was taken as gospel. It was published a week or so later in The Australian. Note that the Bangkok Post had been edited on the day before the appearance of the story which – and we can be sure this was a coincidence – was my 33rd birthday and I was in Bangkok travelling to Sydney.  From where I went to work for The Australian. Total coincidence.
The Bangkok Post has received numerous questions, comments, and complaints about the article over the years, including “a plaintive query from the makers of the unfortunate Continue reading The grand piano review

Microsoft can go too far

IT Update,   a newsletter I read every morning, has an alarming suggestion: ‘Microsoft may ‘automatically upgrade  Windows 7 and 8.x to Windows 10.’
This presumably because nobody wants windows-10Windows 10 running on their computers.
At the moment I am running Windows 7.0 and in the past four weeks I have had some 500 updates. None of which seem to have made my compimagesuter work better or faster.
What Microsoft is missing is Bill Gates.
I interviewed him for an hour on television and he took each question, thought for a moment, and came back with a cogent, grammatical reply. He was totally remarkable. And he did not have the bad temper that made Steve Jobs so difficult.
OK, so Bill Gates was not the most charming of men. He once said one of his major regrets was allowing employees stock options. He thought he did not need to and it was effectively money wasted.
I think since then he has changed his stance and is a major, major contributor to charity. And, as far as I can ascertain,  has nothing to do with the day to day runningSteve Ballmer of Microsoft.
Would that he did.
After him came Steve Ballmer who was an amiable cove, devoted to Microsoft and an excellent father. But not an excellent leader of Microsoft. Under his direction the company started to slip.
And it has been slipping ever since. Yes, yes they eventually got rid of Ballmer and some of the more obvious mistakes have been corrected. Which leaves Windows 10.
Windows 10 has generally been rejected by the public. I know not whether that is a question of performance or marketing but I know this: if it is bunged on to my machine without my permission I switch to Apple Macintosh the next day. No hesitation. No messing around. A quick switch.
Mac retinaYes, it will cost $AUS2,000 and that is a lot of money. Worth paying that sort of money if it means I no longer get stuffed around by Microsoft and a version of Windows which seems to be in perpetual need of updating.

Something important should go in here

A senior civil servant and I are in regular contact focusing newspaper27on the many and varied methods  of wasting time and getting it wrong — but not totally.
The memo which cannot be answered for it refers to a previous memo that does not exist is neat and should be tested on a wider, international basis.
The authority on this sort of action is the author John Masters.
All his books on India are a delightful read and totally authoritative.
He loves, wallows, enjoys the Indian civil service where you get splendid reply memos such as: Returned for favour of comma after ‘and’ in the third paragraph.

There is another area which needs examination and which, here, Continue reading Something important should go in here

A paean — good word, that — for hospitals

This may not be of interest to you in which case I apologise.
I haveimgres had cancer, some strokes (no one knows exactly how many) and cracked my face open falling while jogging. The reason was probably a stroke.
This has left me, an important first, with an unbounded admiration for the people who staff assorted hospitals. I have found loving care in separate places in the world. And it all seems to be of an incredibly high standard.
Now I have seen — a three monthly check-up — my oncologist Robert Smee at the Prince of Wales hospital in Sydney who you see in the first picture (the second one on the next page is from a pantomime). I get on with him remarkably well. He is a very decent chap. Could have been in my regiment, Continue reading A paean — good word, that — for hospitals

Ranting against the class system

imagesThe old class system nonsense appeared recently in the UK yet again. I left there when I was 33 purely because I could not stand the English class system. (Note the Scottish and the Irish may have class systems but I have never noticed them .And not the boys in the picture are not from Eton.) But the English class system is alive and well and living at all sorts of levels.
A prime example arose when I was proper poorly and not writing but I would like a little Continue reading Ranting against the class system

No driver means panic

Not that I am against cars that drive and navigate themselves. In fact, I am all for it. Especially as they have taken my license away and there is very little hope I will ever get it back. So I am at liberty to relax and wonder about the safety of these self-drive cars. I would be suspicious anyway but other things combine to raise by apprehension level.
SatnaverrorWhen I run in England I am in Storrington and my way is through a deer park. On the way there I pass a Roman Catholic Church. Nearby is a big sign.
It would matter not to me whether the Continue reading No driver means panic

No, I am not rushing you a reply

Somebody had to do it: imagesput a stop watch on how long it takes to return an email. The USC Viterbi School of Engineering in Southern California put their researchers on to it and the results, while not astounding have explained to me, at least, where my problems lie.
A paper, ‘Evolutions of Conversations in the Age of Email Overload’ — snappy title there lads — comes from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Continue reading No, I am not rushing you a reply

Copyright is really messed up

Last week a U.S. judge ruled that Warner/Chappell Music does not own a valid copyright to Happy Birtimgreshday to You so it is now in the public domain. And Warner
When the song has been used for commercial purposes, such as in films, Warner has enforced its rights, and took in an estimated $2 million in royalties each year.
Now it must pay it all back.
An advertisement on the Internet reads: ‘Register and Protect  your creative work online Continue reading Copyright is really messed up

Age has nothing to do with it

Having just returned from my daily hour and a bit run around Bo220px-William_McGonagalltany Bay I can assure everyone that if I was any healthier I would be a dangerous man. OK, I got cancer of the neck. It has been said I was a pain in the neck all my life and this is the natural conclusion. Apparently you do not get cured on cancer in the neck. It lurks ready to strike again like a . . . . pain in the neck. They say ‘but you are 82 and should expect it.  Bollocks. I should expect nothing. And my oncologist, a man with long experience, a tremendous reputation and a short temper agrees with me.
I am very healthy. I do ch’i gong and run for an hour and a quarter a day except Monday when they put the rubbish bins out.
Am I mentally burned out? I cannot easily answer that. I can write readable non-fiction Continue reading Age has nothing to do with it

A sort of literary publisher — sort of

9781740511384Bruce Maxwell and I used to work together and for some years he edited Discovery, the Cathay Pacific inflight magazine. He recently wrote to me:
‘I downloaded a book called Tilting at Windmills, published by the University of Adelaide, recently. It is sub-titled The literary Magazine in Australia 1968-2012.
On page 43 we encounter one Gareth Powell, the “girlie” publisher, who also it transpires first published Frank Moorhouse.’
After getting this note from Bruce I look up Tilting at Windmills: The Literary Magazine in Australia 1968-2012 by Philip Edmonds, University of Adelaide Press and find it is priced at $44. At which price I will pass. And the one review of the book that I have found suggests it is a lousy example of book editing. Still, I got a mention. Just barely. Pity it did not apparently mention Tony Morphett amongst others where I published their first book. Being a book publisher in Australia is not an easy life.
For the record, yes, I did publish Frank Moorhouse. Futility and Other Animals came out under the Gareth Powell Associates imprint in 1969. Which was a very long time ago. So I was the first publisher of Frank Moorhouse. Not an honour I take seriously.