Churchill, 14th April 1941

Winston Churchill, 1941

Any further information on this picture we have in our possession would be great.

From what I can tell, it was taken on the 14th April 1941 (coding 14441).

It is also the first picture I’ve seen of Churchill with his wife; the fellow in the bowler hat is a mayor or similar. You can see that Churchill has a gas mask over his shoulder, and is raising his hat with a cane (badly framed photo misses this)

In a week of surreality

In a week of surreality, I learnt I am a MINI-me to a Nick Hodge in the UK and attended Ying Tong.

An email from my mother-in-law, who emigrated to Australia in the mid 1950s, connected more dots. And some family skeletons in the closet fell out.

Before jumping aboard the ship to Australia, she worked at the BBC – with The Goons! She typed their scripts and attended recordings. I am related to famous, and only a few steps removed from The Goons. I am connected to British Comedy royalty, even if only by marriage.

A Gift to the Nation

On the eve of Anzac Day, 2007, the National Archives of Australia have released a mountain of scanned documents detailing the service records of World War I soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses.

As an exercise, I am tracing the history of an Corporal Albert Ernest Lock. I think he is the person who gave name to the town of Lock, South Australia. (Service number 29888).

He died of wounds in late 1917, and was buried in Belgium in 1917.


Further Notes from archives:

6th April 1917 – Assigned 102 Howitzer Battery, a part of 2nd Field Artillery Brigade, 1st Division Artillery, Australian 1st Divison. He manned one of the 4 x 4.5 inch howitzers in this Battery. He was one of 71 other ranks; a part of one section, 116th Howitzer Battery, also consisting of Major Harris and 2nd Lt C Groves.

16th May 1916 – Promoted to Corporal from Gunner

20th August 1917 – Promoted to Temp. Sgt from Corporal

22th August 1917 – Wounded in Action, remained on duty (Belgium) The War Diary for the 1st Division Artillery has no enemy action on this date.

9th October 1917 – Died of Wounds / Killed in Action; during the Battle of Poelcappelle. (a part of Passchendaele). The 102 Howitzer Battery was firing on China Wood in a Search and Sweep at 11:27am. He was one of 9 ‘other ranks’ that died that week.

Buried at Huts Cemetery, Dickebusch (Dikkebus), Belgium. (Divisional Diary of that Month)

Father was Albert Lock, stationmaster at Bridgewater, South Australia.  Mother Mary Jessie Ann Lock. Sister, Sister Majorie Ellen Lock.

In will assigned Hundred of Roby County of Bacclaugh numbered 9, Purchase 6784 Register Book volume 573 Folio 9 to his father. Was he a clerk in the railways on Eyre Peninsula?

Eurovision Season is starting

I don’t understand a word of this, but the central tenants of Geek hardware and reproduction are universal:

According to Bruce Satchwell, hardware and radio geek from the Gold Coast, this is an example of a weird European hobby called Amateur Radio Direction Finding.

I wonder if this hobby started like archery in the 11th through 13th century in England? English archers were revered through Europe due to their prowess. This was developed in villages from a young age. Maybe during the Cold War eastern bloc countries had their young radio geeks make RDF devices to stop the Capitalist west airborne intruders? I wonder.

Moore’s Law and Compounding Interest

In deploying the small Ruby on Rails application on an old Dell 8200 running Debian-sarge, I decided to see how the application would perform under load.

Apache comes with a great little application meekly called ab. ab is a small command-line tool that slashdots your web application, and gives you a nice measure (in pages per second, amongst other things).

Measuring the performance of the Dell 8200 using the Mongrel web server vs. my Mac Book Pro running the same versions of all the stack of software (except, obviously the OS) – the speed difference is 16x. Now as these machines are about 4 years apart from each other in the Intel-world, 16 is exactly what you would expect: the performance doubles every year. Very wise prediction from 1970 that continues to drive this whole crazy industry.

What has this to do with Compounding interest? Exactly 22 years ago one of my kind, late great-uncles started a bank account for be with the grand deposit of AU$200. Which I’ve subsequently forgotten about.

Mum found the Deposit booklet somewhere, and sent it to me. Today that account is worth about $640. This is a compounded interest rate of 5.4%. In another 22 years it will be worth AU$2,023 at the same rate.

Now, if it had compounded at Moore’s Law over the last 22 years: the amount in the bank would be a grand $6,276,211,921,800.

Now I know why I work in IT, not finance!

NSW State Library: National Treasures

History is a personal fascination – so I decided to call into the NSW State Library today to have a look at the “National Treasures” exhibition before it closes on 22nd October.

Various historical documents: Captain Cook’s Log book from 1770, Bank’s diary from the same journey; diaries from Australian WW2 POWs; Eddie Mabo’s papers; various pioneer diaries from turn of the century; legal documents from transported convicts.

Documents are important: they are physical evidence of our history. Go have a squiz.


Dancing Sons of Fishermen!

Do your Mitochlorians dancing to a Flamenco rythym?

Bryan Sykes, geneticist and author of “The Seven Daughters of Eve” has found that a majority of the Celts emigrated from Spain to the British Isles 6000 years ago.

A central theme of Bryan’s research and books is that we are all more closely related to each other than we realise, and you inherit your Mitchondrial DNA from your mother.

If you have yet to read either of his books, put them on your Christmas wish list.

FreeDOS and Parallels

File this into the why basket.


FreeDOS works with Parallels. So now for the full 1987-1992 retro-experience, the MacBook Pro can learn about HIMEM.SYS, FAT32 and other evil that Windows has shielded us from.

How to:

  1. Download FreeDOS ISO image
  2. With Parallels, create a new VM (virtual machine), Hard drive
  3. Set the CD as the boot device, and select the VM
  4. Start the VM
  5. Follow the onscreen install instructions: note, be careful erasing your hard disk image!

The VM settings screen will look something like this:


Colin Thiele. RIP

When it rains, it pours.

Colin Thiele, a South Australian author of over 80 books died recently aged 85.

ABC News report his most famous book, Storm Boy; set on the Coorong of South Australia. Another, later book made into a movie by the SA Film Corporation was Blue Fin. Set in Port Lincoln (but filmed in Streaky Bay) – it detailed the relationship between a tuna fishing father, and his son.

In fact, most of Colin’s books dealt with father-son relationships set in South Australia. Fire in the Stone, Sun on the Stubble. Set settings were a unique view of farming life; the wheat, sheep; German heritage and a time in the first half of the 20th Century.

Even when I went to school, Colin’s books were a little “non-PC”, and as such they were not a part of the books curriculum. Both Colin and I are descendents of German immigrants, and his books had a semi-autobiographical quality – a shared perspective.

A good innings, and I am sure his writings touched many.