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Evil Numbers
Mon 19/09/2016 10:27 PM


Ok - so I’m certainly no mathematician as anyone who knows me can attest - but even I can tell that 196 + 2.91 - 196 - 2.91 equals zero. 


The negative numbers cancel out the positive, and you’re left with zero.

Unless you ask Excel, that is.

I use Excel quite a bit, but this is the first time I’ve come across this particular problem. According to Excel, the result is -3.55271E-15.

There’s nothing hiding in those numbers (type them in yourself and test). Excel just can’t hack it. If you change the order of the numbers it sometimes gets it right.

You can force it to change the formatting and that will hide the odd result and appear as zero - but it’s only hiding the issue.

So what’s going on?

I’ve tried multiple computers and different versions of Excel and had the same result.

I’m still not really sure what’s going on here - but from what I can dig up, it’s got to do with the fact that Excel uses floating point numbers, and they aren’t precise enough. So it actually is just getting it wrong.

This is an issue with floating point numbers, not Excel itself. I used floats in SQL and had the same result.

This is the first time I’ve come across this sort of issue by accident. Took me ages tearing my hair out trying to work out why my data wasn’t reconciling. Turns out that it was - if you discount the issue.

I'm slightly less embarrassed by my lack of Mathematical ability when I can get this right and a computer can't.

Trust me - regardless of what Excel says, the answer is zero.

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Note to self....
Tue 16/08/2016 12:45 PM



Note to self, remember to put on your spacesuit before opening the airlock...


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Dedicated to Space
Fri 03/06/2016 07:11 PM


It’s been a while since I posted - so it’s as good a time as any to dust off an old topic I’ve been meaning to post about.

Back to Brickvention.

I’ve been attending the Lego convention in Melbourne for a few years now. I’d like to think the stuff I’ve displayed is decent, but it’s far from the quality that many of the other exhibitors bring along. They leave me for dust.

Each year, there are awards for best in show and similar categories. These go to models and builders which display the most skill, not necessarily the ones that pack the biggest punch for the general attendees. 

This year was the 10th anniversary of Brickvention, so they decided to add some extra fun awards. And I scored one!

They gave me the award for "Dedication to Space", which seemed a little odd as I didn’t really consider myself a space builder. But thinking about it, every year I’ve been I’ve had at least one space related exhibit. Apparently I am dedicated to space, although sometimes that just means a random spaceship and not anything impressive.

But to be honest - I’ve got a feeling that the award had more to do with tables than space.

Jason has joined me on my trips to Brickvention quite a few times (although he missed this year due to getting married or something) - but I’ve noticed that no one ever seems to know who he is, while many will greet me by name.

I’m not a very outgoing or chatty sort of person, so that’s not it.

The people who know me are generally the organizers and committee members, rather than just other random exhibitors. 

I think it’s because I’m generally one of the last people out of the hall. 

Brickvention packup is an epic undertaking that never ceases to amaze me. Within a few hours of the last visitor leaving, the exhibits are all packed and out the door. And for most people, that’s where the convention ends.

For the organizers and committee members though, there’s a lot of work getting the tables sorted, packed, and into trucks or trailers. All the table cloths etc need to be sorted, and every single thing needs to be out of the building before they can leave for the night. There is heaps of work involved.

So I stick around and give them a hand. Even if I have to take my car load of Lego back to the hotel, I’ll turn around and tram back to the hall to help with the pack-up. 

Jason doesn’t do this - neither do most of the exhibitors. In fact, you can be pretty sure who will be there at the end - they always seem to be the same exhausted faces.

I think that’s why the committee know who I am.

And I think that’s why I got the "Dedication to Space" award.

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Another one...
Tue 19/04/2016 09:22 PM


For quite a few years now I’ve had 7 G60s.

But I finish dismantling one and took the remains to the scrap - so I was down to 6 G60s (and some parts).

That was obviously not good enough - so I got myself another one.

This one is earlier than the rest of mine - it’s from the 1960s, while the rest of mine are from the 1970s - so it’s got the early ear steering wheel etc which I wanted. Plus it was drivable when it had the... incident, so the motor and things are probably salvageable.

This old girl had been a fire truck at Lorinna before becoming Sandy’s trusty farm truck near Sheffield. He was a big fan of the old girl.

One day the old girl was parked up near the house so he could charge the battery. It had been there for a few hours without incident, and then for some reason it decided to go for a roll down the hill.

It started out backwards, but reversed itself near the stables, and then started rolling forwards. Apparently Sandy had seen it moving and almost caught it here - but was slightly too slow and it trundled down the hill gaining speed heading for the neighbour’s house.

Thankfully before it reach the neighbour; it clobbered a tree - resulting in its current condition.

Sandy listed it on Gumtree, where I found it.

She’s now parked in my shed ready to be disassembled. While the ute itself is dead, some of it’s parts will live on.

As it happens, this wasn’t my first interaction with this truck.

My mate Jason had been doing some work for Sandy and spotted the old girl. Knowing how keen I was on G60s, he took some photos and details for me. That was a few years back.

I hadn’t see her in the flesh, but I’d seen the photos.


So courtesy of Jason, this is what she looked like before the incident.

Such a shame...

And now I have 7 again.

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A Trip to Crotty
Tue 22/03/2016 09:16 PM


There’s a broken cable under Bass Strait - and Tasmania is running out of both water and power. So we went to visit a town that hasn’t had many visitors.

You see - Tasmania uses mostly hydro power from a series of lakes and power stations around the state. These regions haven’t seen much rain lately - so the lakes were pretty dry anyway - and the policy of selling our ‘green’ power to the mainland at a premium and buying mainland power when we need it has seen them drop even further.

But the Bass-Link cable that allows us to buy and sell our power has been damaged, so Tasmania is an isolated grid again. Unfortunately it’s a grid with very low water levels at the moment, so the government is bringing in diesel generators to take over when the hydro power dries up. 

So as annoying as it is that we sold our hydro power to the mainland and now don’t have enough water for ourselves - that’s not the point of this story.

With the dropping water level, Crotty is back.

Crotty was a mining town in the West Coast near Queenstown. It had been abandoned as a ghost town for approaching 100 years until the early 1990s when it was swallowed by Lake Burbury as part of the King River Hydro scheme.

But with the water levels falling so far, the ruins of Crotty are visible again.


To be fair - some of the ruins are just under the high water level and would have been clear for some time - but others have just recently appeared from the receding lake.

Turks and I had seen an article in the local paper about the re-emergence of Crotty back before he was married and Turks had mentioned he would be keen to take a look - but things were obviously rather busy around then, so we hadn’t done anything about it. 

But along comes March with it’s double long weekends (thanks March!) and we were discussing what we’d get up to, and I suggested a trip to Crotty.


So Em, Turks, and I headed down for the day. Turns out Crotty is really easy to find and with a vaguely capable vehicle you can drive right out to it.

We weren’t the only visitors either, it seems like Crotty is popular again - there were about 6 or so cars kicking around while we were there. Not bad for a ghost town that’s been under water for years..


It was a somewhat random way to spend a Long Weekend’s Monday - but was very enjoyable (apart from the migraine I got on the way home - but that’s unrelated). 

And now I can say I’ve walked around the township of Crotty.

For anyone interested in making the trip themselves - you go to Queenstown and take Conlan St out of town (becomes Lynchford Rd for a while apparently before going back to Conlan St according to Google). 
You follow that road until you arrive at Lake Burbury - and you should soon find a good gravel track that takes you down to the lake side and into Crotty itself. If the lake was full, there would be an island here - and the ruins we found would be submerged. 
You can even see some of the ruins on Google Maps if you know what you’re looking for.

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