Friday, September 10, 2010

Suits in Sweden

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Since I am visiting the country of the Polar Bear, I thought I'd have a look at cold water diving equipment and pricing compared with Sydney. So far, it is looking good.

I am considering buying a new wet suit or dry suit since 1) My old crap Mares trilastic completely fell apart the last dive I did before leaving to go to Europe and 2) My Pinnacle Dry suit Cordura is just far too stiff and captures a lot of air so I need far too much led to break the surface. There are quite a few dive shops in Stockholm but similar to Sydney, the vast majority do not disclose any prices on their web sites. There are some different options available of course, but where I can see some interesting alternatives are basically in two different shops.

First, we have Alpin & Dyksport in Stockholm. The sell the Northern Diver Vortex dry suit for kr 7500, about AUD 1136 and the Waterproof W1 wet suit for kr 2600 (AUD 400). Then we have Dykmagasinet in Karlstad that stocks a wider range of options:

  • Waterproof W1 kr 3000 (AUD 455)
  • Waterproof Taurus Semidry kr 4500 (AUD 682)
  • Waterproof Sedna Drysuit kr 8900 (AUD 1350)
  • Waterproof Drako Drysuit kr 9500 (AUD 1439) and
  • Ursuk Heavy Light Drysuit kr 7800 (AUD 1180)

All prizes include 25% sales tax.

The Waterproof suits are really top of the line quality with lots of features and an aura of quality. There is a funky looking Australian Waterproof web site that lists some retailers, but the websites have all but no information / little visibility and no pricing. I found one company in Victoria that retails the Taurus for AUD 1000.

The Diveoz forum has had some threads on these suits but there is little information available apart from everyone complaining about the pricing.

I am going to Karlstad next weekend to have a look at the suits and hopefully to try them on. Right now, I am leaning towards the W1 and Ursuk suits, but a Taurus would be a very good alternative in Sydney too.

The W1 has some nice features, extra strength around shoulders, elbows, knees and bottom. Ankle and wrist seals and zips, the shape of the suit looks much better thought through than the competition, neck comfort seal, front zipper (not dry) with flap inside, warm lining etc. (7 mm). The Ursuk seems in description very similar to the DUI TLS350 with an added hood with latex front. I would be very interested in a drysuit made of soft Nylon material with unrestricted movement and little trapped air. Sydney does not get cold enough to warrant really heavy undergarments and this suit can give similar buoyancy characteristics as a thicker wet suit.

I'll also have a look at the neoprene drysuits, it seems they are a much snugger fit on the body than trilam and a thin undergarment would be enough in Sydney. I might enjoy diving with this all year round, who knows.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Renting in Sydney

So we sold our house in Western Sydney and moved to the Sutherland Shire to be in an area where the schools are bette and we are closer to the water. BIG mistake. The Shire is full of people who were born without morals. I mean completely without morals. Not just shifty, I MEAN COMPLETELY WITHOUT MORALS.

First we moved to Grays Point. We rented a house from Raine & Horne Miranda. The owners were traveling the world and even though the property was a bit expensive ($600 / week) we were in an area with a good school and it looked peaceful so we went for it.

After 4 months, the owners declared that they were moving back home and we had to find another house to rent. We had plans to go to Sweden for a sabbatical at this stage so we asked if we could stay a couple more months before we were going. The owners suggested that they would move in with us, we would pay full rent and they would use our stuff. Naturally, we were a bit hesitant and while we were discussing this, I got a phone call from the real estate agent siply stating " the owners are moving in with you tomorrow, is this OK?" I was a bit bewildered at this and told the real estate agent that we had made no such agreement. The agent was fairly abusive asking me what the owners were supposed to do now that they had already rented a truck. The next day we had the owners coming to our house to "have a chat with us".To cut a long story short, the real estate agent tried to rip us of by stealing our bond money but when we filed a counter claim with the tenancy board, there was a very quick shift in atitute and we got our bond back. We then moved to Gymea Bay and rented a house from Ray White Gymea. It became evident quite quickly that the house was in a very bad condition and needed some urgent repairs. The bottom floor had a rising dampness problem which caused mould to grow everywhere, on all our clothes, furniture, books, you name it. My wife even got respiratory problems and has started using asthma medicine as a consequence. The real estate agent never did anything about the problem as it unfolded. It was not until after we had called mould experts ourselves they reacted and offered to 'clean the carpet'. At this stage, we had all out belongings off shelves and out of drawers on the floor to stop the mould destroying everything.

The landlord came past and cut three holes 20x 10 cm in the walls in the bedroom plus installed a fan to circulate air and get rid of some of the moisture. If you have lived in Sydney during winter, you know that you don't want three such holes in the bedroom wall since the indoor temperature quickly falls to 5-8 degrees. We had no option but to request to move again, 3 months after we moved in. At this stage, Ray White Gymea started to become really abusive. The correspondence we have had with them is unbelievable. They have had my wife in tears, done everything they can to make our lives Hell even though we have started to get ill from living in the premises and we have two young children who may be affected for life. Very interesting people those Ray White people. Now, we have the outgoing inspection tomorrow and we notified the Ray White Ofifce so we could do the inspection together. We were tole that they were going to do the inspection alone and we were not allowed to be there, go figure.

I was told by the residential tenancy board to notify the agent that we would do an inspection so they can be present if they choose to. We should have witnesses and take many photos. When I wrote an email to RayWhite Gymea about this, the owner, Bill Anastasiadis wrote me an email saying that the tenancy board was ill informed and going on about him being the principal of Ray White Gymea.

I can't wait for the final inspection. Obviously these people are following their own moral standards, not what the tenancy board thinks is the norm for Australian renting agreements.

The question is, is this a Sutherland Shire decease or is this just Raine & Horne Miranda and Ray White Gymea business operations and moral standards?

One thing is for sure, renting properties in Sydney in this climate sucks. It is not enough paying rent on time and looking after the property. You also have to be prepared to take abuse from real estate agents and bow down to the people who own property, after all, they must be better than you since they own a house to let and you don't have that much money.

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt


The principal left the following comment on this post


It is amazing how you have posted only parts of the true facts.

When we where alerted to the mould issue it was my office that paid for a steam cleaner and mould expert to attend the property not you.

It was my office that also had someone attend to rectify the problem.

You also fail to mention that my office also negotiated and had the Landlord release you from the Lease and also had the Landlord pay for your removalist costs and compensate you.

I advise that you have the true facts mentioned on this blog of yours otherwise it will be construed as defamation."

Anyone who may have thought I was exaggerating.......

It is true that Ray White wanted to steam clean the carpet, but it was not until we ourselves had an expert inspecting the property they got some cleaners in to clean the mould off the walls and outside the furniture. All clothes, books, inside book cases etc. were left covered in mould and also left for us to clean.

It is true that the landlords agreed to end the lease and pay for our move, after all we were starting to develop serious respiratory problems and with a pregnant woman.......

We are out of the house and there were no surprises towards the end apart from the removalists not moving everything so we had to do much of it ourselves, but still...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

While most media were focusing their attention on the Copenhagen climate change conference in December, the government quietly announced it would this year mandate filtering of the Internet by Internet Service Providers. This would require ISPs to block all access to web pages on a list, compiled by the government.

The announcement came in mid-December, at a time of year when most people were too tired or busy to care. One group however realized changing the law to require filtering by ISPs is highly ineffective, makes us vulnerable to future misuse and ignores possible negative effects on another, more trumpeted, government initiative the National Broadband Network.

The Computer Research and Education Association (CORE) felt strongly enough about the redundancy of the government’s approach that it banded together in its opposition to the government’s proposed amendments to the Broadasting Services Act. At its annual meeting in Brisbane, CORE, representing all Computer Science lecturers and professors in Australia and New Zealand, decided to officially oppose the government’s proposed filtering. I was asked to take the lead and draft a press release on behalf of CORE.

Never before has our group reacted so rapidly and decisively. The urgency was motivated by a sense of shock that the government would actually consider such a move, based on the painfully redundant trials of last year. Our objections are purely technical; it is over to others to consider the societal and moral aspects of filtering.

First, a list-based filter – whereby the government provides ISPs with a list of sites containing banned web pages - will only capture a small fraction of the content the Government wants to block and none of the material circulating around nasty pedophile rings. Claiming that it will be reliable and effective method in capturing unwanted content and especially stopping child pornography is absolute nonsense. Second, content generation is changing and information is becoming increasingly ephemeral or “short lived”, especially considering the shift in information sharing through social networking media, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter etc. We don’t know exactly where we are heading, but we know the static web page will rapidly decrease in importance as the means to spread information and these web pages are the only items on a black list. Third, it is trivial to work around ISP filtering, in fact, much easier than it is to work around filters installed on individual PCs in homes. Since children are generally more computer savvy than adults, the question is whether the filtering scheme will effectively stop children or adults from accessing information. Perhaps in the near future, if wanting to find out what the Sex Party’s election platform is, one has to ask the kids. A simple poll among school kids and adults of who knows how to work around filters could make for interesting bedside reading, before pulling up the Internet blanket covers and going to sleep.

ISP filtering trials conducted prior to the government’s December announcement demonstrate the Government chose to only look into the past when carrying out the tests, not at all considering the National Broadband Network being rolled out. It is well known among the research community that list-based filtering can be done in existing systems without significant performance penalties. What remains unknown is how it will affect the NBN. Conversely, it is not known how the NBN will change the playing field for different kinds of media. There is a real risk it will require the filtering mechanisms to be significantly extended and developed to have any impact, which would put us on a very dangerous slippery slope. Making such changes and extensions would be much easier once the basic legislation is in place, setting the scene for further restrictions and censorship.

CORE has asked the Government for a working party to be put together to properly attend to the many issues surrounding the proposed legislation – a very sound suggestion. Australia is blessed with many smart people who are capable of properly investigating the matters surrounding this form of censorship and we can make informed decisions after the groundwork has been done. If we can implement filtering so that the effectiveness is maximized, and the risks and side effects minimised, it will be found out. Then, and only then, should nationwide filtering be implemented. If the case for filtering is convincing, I am sure Australians would embrace the scheme. An alternative is to stop talking and again make available the PC-based home filters the tax payers paid for during the previous administration, saving on the $125.8 million earmarked to improve cyber safety in the 2008 budget.