Australia’s wonderful health system – helping keep us sick

 Aging, Grumpy Old Man Gripes, Health  Comments Off on Australia’s wonderful health system – helping keep us sick
May 112016

Many people acclaim Australia’s health system as the world’s finest. And in many ways, they may well be right.

I’m sixty four years old – just celebrated my birthday this week (thank you very much) – and suffer from psoriasis. It’s an ailment for which there is no known cure, and the medical profession has no idea as to what causes it.

I have been cursed with this ailment for more than half of my life, and in a period of in excess of 30 years, I have tried all manner of treatments. Some helped a little; most not at all.

Please let me give you a bit of a picture of what it’s like to suffer from psoriasis: parts of my skin grow too much, causing scaling and lesions. This occurs on my scalp. My face. My back. My hands. My arms. My buttocks. My stomach. My legs. On the front. And the rear.

Wherever I go, I leave a nice little trail of evidence that I have been there, in the form of scaly skin dust. On my seat in the office. And at my desk. In meeting rooms when I attend meetings. In my car. On the seats. On the armrests. The centre console. the dashboard. At tables in restaurants. On park benches.

Wherever I go.

Let me assure you that suffering from an incurable ailment, for which the cause is not known, and for which there is no effective treatment, is not a pleasant way to live one’s life.

Sometimes, I feel quite depressed; today is one of those days.

The reason? I have recently become aware of a new treatment – Cosentyx – which holds out some hope for, if not a cure, at least some element of relief. And I have just started to go down the path of tying to avail myself of this treatment.

Yes, try to get it. But the Australian so-called health system is doing everything that it fucking well can to stand in my way. It’s a veritable condom on the penis of progress.

My health is not a concern!

And that is precisely where the so-called wonderful health system that we supposedly enjoy in Australia has fallen into a screaming heap. Of shit.

A dastardly hellhole designed to do anything EXCEPT help those in need of medical aid.

A cause of confusion and depression. A cause of despair and frustration.

My GP knows my condition well; he’s been my doctor for longer than I’ve suffered from psoriasis. I understand that before embarking upon a journey with this new medication, I need to have some tests to ensure there are minimal contraindications. I have in the past had other courses of treatment rejected because of contraindications; this new treatment suggests no such situation, but I accept that we still must go through that process.

But that is not the problem I’m facing.

On Monday last, my GP was told by the powers that be – the people who (mis)manage this system – that the medication I’m on needs to be prescribed by a dermatologist.

I’ve seen dermatologists in the past. Over the 30 plus years that I’ve suffered from psoriasis, I’ve seen three; none of them were, to be perfectly frank, impressive. The most recent example – about six years ago – I actually reported to the medical authorities, because I had little faith in his (lack of) ethics.

Apart from that minor issue, he recommended – and I tried – a number of different treatments. UV light. Different creams. Moisturisers.

And yet, here I am, still suffering from an incurable ailment, and still leaving piles of dust all over Sydney.

Am I angry? Yes.

Frustrated? Absobloodylutely.

Depressed? You better believe it.

Do I have a path towards getting some relief for my condition? Not a snowflake’s hope in hell, thanks to Australia’s wonderful health system!

Not yet, at any rate.

This morning I went, dutifully, to see yet another dermatologist. Because I have to.

He has ordered some bloodwork, but I may also need more x-rays, before I can becin a DIFFERENT fucking medication to the one that seems to b the one that moght hold some element of relief.

But wait, there’s more.

Related to psoriasis is psoriatic arthritis, which I also suffer. I’ve been off work for the best opart of the last couple of weeks because of this, and this new medication treats both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

So, the dermatologist suggests that seeing a rheumatologist may be a way through this morass of government ineptitude.

Of course, getting to see different medical specialists requires time: none of them are immediately available, and thus I need to wait. Several weeks, barring cancellations.

So, the upshot is that I need to continue suffering my pain, leaving my trail of dust everywhere I go (just like Pigpen in Peanuts) continuing to be depressed and untreated, all the while waiting to see doctors who are, effectively, complete strangers to me, and who know very little about me and my medical history, all because of a stupid unworkable system that insists that important decisions about my health are made by public servants who know even less about me than the the doctors who are complete strangers.

If you believe that this is a great health system, then please give me a call; I have some oceanfront land in Broken Hill that I can sell you!

All together now, it’s coding time

 Education, Grumpy Old Man Gripes, Latest, Technology  Comments Off on All together now, it’s coding time
Dec 072015

There’s been quite a bit of talk in and around Australia about teaching kids to code. By and large, I don’t believe that this is a really good idea, and I’ve had some vigorous discussions about this with many people, on the radio, in person, and on Twitter.

Some people disagree with my opinion (as evidenced by the fact that many seem to believe it to be a good idea) and that’s fine; I’m always up for a good and vigorous debate.

Mike Hadlow has posted his views (with which I agree) on this matter in a well written blog post, and he has put his views much more eloquently than I could hope to have done.

Australian (dis)Organisations refuse to talk to their customers

 Grumpy Old Man Gripes, Poor Customer Servce  Comments Off on Australian (dis)Organisations refuse to talk to their customers
Jul 212014

What the hell is up with major Australian organisations in that they are refusing to talk with their customers.

I’m looking at you, AGL.

And I’m looking at you, Telstra.

Both of you are out to pasture. Gone with the wind.

A bunch of useless bodies, with minds that seem unable to grasp the simple concept of COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS.

Let’s take AGL, who first of all deliver cold water, but charge their customers for hot. On the rare occasion that their meters actually work. I’m about to have the fourth one installed in about ten years. Why is thier hardware so bloody unreliable?

But that’s not the issue. Because their hardware is unreliable, they decide that they’ll just take a wild guess at what your usage might be.

And by wild guess, I mean wild.

About double what it should be.

So, I try to do the right thing, and call them. They’re staff have no interest in talking about the issue. I’ve now called them SEVEN FUCKING TIMES about their problem. I’ve left messages.

I’ve left my number.


But do they call back?

Nope. What a bunch of useless pratts.

But at least their call centre is located within Australia.

There’s a few things that I refuse to do, and I’d recommend that y’all consider this too. First of all, I refuse to talk to off-shore call centres. They take our jobs. YOUR jobs.

But what’s worse is that the staff there do not speak Strine. Tring to communicate with people in offshore call centres is like talking to your cat. And expecting a sensible response.

And when the offshore call centre calls you, unannounced, and then asks you for personal identification information ???

I’m sorry, but no. Go to hell.

I have no way of verifying who the hell you are, and there’s less than a snowflake’s chance in hell that I’m going to give you any personal identifying information.

I really don’t know that you’re who you say you are, and I value my privacy way more than your offshore call centre is worth.

Which brings me to Telstra.

Who tell me that according to their records, I am not receiving spam SMS messages from them.

Except that their records are wrong.

And over the last two weeks, they have totally and abysmally failed to contact me with even an apology, let alone an explanation for their abhorrent, illegal behaviour.

Their so-called social media team keeps on telling me that a case manager will be contacting me. How nice. They’ve said that more times than there are days in the week.

But I’m still waiting.

For the next SMS spam, probably.

For an organisation that’s supposed to be in the business of communications, they’re providing a fine example of how not to communicate.


Microsoft Surface sinks. As does their so-called Surface support service

 Grumpy Old Man Gripes, Poor Customer Servce  Comments Off on Microsoft Surface sinks. As does their so-called Surface support service
Nov 052013

I recently purchased a brand new Microsoft Surface RT. This was the original Surface, 64GB. The price was very good; the deal seemed to be too good to resist – 64GB Surface, with keyboard, for less than the asking price for a 32GB Surface, without a keyboard.

I went in to the deal with my eyes open: I knew that the OS is a somewhat brain-dead OS, but that’s also true of the iPad. When you look at both devices, they’re both essentially designed to consume data rather than create it.

But the Surface seemed to have a couple of possible advantages: the OS is derived from Windows, and with an included keyboard, I felt that there might be some potential.

Looking at the overall package, I also felt that there might be an opportunity for writing some software for the (radio) station. Within the station we have very little in the way of available funds, but knowing both software development and the station’s needs, there seemed to me the possibility of doing something for the station, plus learning more about the Windows RT ecosystem.

But as I write this, I’m about 19 days into my ownership of the device, which has now spent more time in an unserviceable state than it has in an operational state.

While I accept that it’s fair that occasionally a device might fail early in its life, the way that the matter has been handle by its maker has been nothing short of the most astounding serious of misinformation, failures and bungles that I have seen in a long time.

When the device initially failed, I was somewhat disheartened. Nobody likes to see anything that they’ve just bought fail within a few days of purchase. My initial thoughts were that I should just take it back to the store where I bought it from, and have it replaced.

But I tweeted about this, and received what seemed to be a very positive response from Microsoft’s Social media support team for the product.

Surface Tweet 1

And lodging the requested service request also seemed to be a positive choice, suggesting that there would be a very prompt turnaround …

This is an example of what Microsoft's lodgement form tells us

This is an example of what Microsoft’s lodgement form tells us

You then go on and order a courier pick-up – again indicating that the whole process will be completed promptly –  and so I went down this path.

Talk about a stupid mistake on my part. But how was I to know? Microsoft offered less than zero transparency about the process, and no visibility whatsoever about the timeline involved.

For instance, when confirming the courier details, Microsoft tell you that the courier’s hours for collection lie between 9am and 5pm.

But nobody had bothered to confirm that with the couriers, it seems: the courier called to collect the device at 8:30 am on the appointed day. And then the driver berated me because I wasn’t there when he wanted me there.

But that’s where the fun – as in dysfunction – really began.

To where was the courier taking the device? Microsoft at North Ryde?


Perhaps a Microsoft service centre; I believe that there’s one in Harris Park in Sydbey’s west?

Again, nope.

Try UPS, in Botany. Yes, that’s right, they were couriering the device … to another courier!

What the hell is this all about? Once it arrived at UPS, it sat, somewhere (the Black Hole Of Botany) for two days, before it finally showed up in a Microsoft service centre.

Somewhere. I’ve not been told where, but I’m led to believe that it is in Sydney.

So, two days, to get from Sydney … to Sydney.

Then, Microsoft’s email tells me that they’ve (a) received the device, and (b) they will dispatch the replacement device in two days’ time. So much for “When your device is received …”.

So, that’s a total of four days minimum when they’ve done fuck all in this matter.

And the current word is that I might receive it back … tomorrow.

All this, when the correct action, and the correct advice from Microsoft, should have been to just take it back to the dealer from whom I bought it, and exchanged it as a DOA unit.

I am totally beyond livid at the way that Microsoft has handled this matter. It’s been a fuck up after fuck up after fuck up, starting with misinformation, passing through the Black Hole of Botany, and just no hope whatsoever in terms of what the hell customer service should be all about.

And even a fairly senior customer liaison person within Microsoft, who has been trying very hard to make things happen, has simply been unable to impress upon those people within the organisation just how badly they’ve screwed up in this matter.

So, we now have yet another reason for why the Syurface RT has failed as a device: it’s not only an unreliable device, but Microosoft’s people simply do not have the technical and administrative competence to help customers when the device fails.






Backflip with Pike: 7 Points

 Grumpy Old Man Gripes, Latest  Comments Off on Backflip with Pike: 7 Points
Sep 062013

With a degree of difficulty of just 3, it was somewhat reassuring to see that the Shadow Minister for Sleazy policies has executed a perfect backflip with pike in terms of the attempted resurrection of the internet filter.

This whole concept has been roundly – and correctly – criticised as a waste of time and money; a policy that is simply too difficult to implement, but yesterday afternoon we were greeted (for a short time) with the sight of the LNP hammering their collective heads against the nearest brick walls, as they tried to defend this insanity.

Thankfully, they all very quickly complained that they were getting headaches, the policy statements had been misinterpreted, and that they would be taking a powder as a result.

What a bunch of absolute idiots.

But the really sad part is that their (unwritten) policy is to drag us forward, kicking and screaming, into the 1850s. The LNP simply does not want to have the Australian population well informed and well educated; they would much rather see us devolve into a country of taxi-drivers and waiters in restaurants.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with taxi driving or waiting in restaurants, but as a nation, we need ensure that we, and and our kids, have access to the very finest educational and research facilities.

So, for fucks sake, stop building massive edifices to all of the mainstream popular sports, and instead, let’s see those dollars invested in education and research facilities, and centers of excellence.

And yes, let’s have a proper, FTTH NBN, not the half-arsed accountants’ solution that the LNP is proposing.