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Daily Archives: August 28, 2008

Download Freeware and Shareware Computer Utilities, and other geeky stuff.

MajorGeeks.com is a great site, though it is always a good idea to look around for some more reviews before downloading anything. However, thanks to the Major I discovered yesterday that a new version of simply the best defragger, JkDefrag 3.35, is now available. Naturally I rushed for it. This tool has saved my computer from tragedy over and over again!

You may have seen a quick template change here a few minutes back. I was on Firefox 3, which Firefox persuaded me to upgrade to, testing out what it did under a bit of stress, and I am sorry to say it tends to max out my CPU more than Firefox 2 did, though not quite as often as IE7 does. It does have good features, such as a better download tool which also scans the download for viruses. Sadly for me it will not at this stage support the Windows Live Writer Blog This plug-in, which I now only get on the Classic Maxthon — which I am now using. Of course one can open WLW anyway and blog away, but I do like the convenience of the plug-in.

How are you finding Firefox 3?

 
Comments Off on Download Freeware and Shareware Computer Utilities, and other geeky stuff.

Posted by on August 28, 2008 in blogging, computers, web stuff

 

Seniors want retirement at 75 | The Australian

If you think that headline means all seniors, you would be mistaken, but it is what many readers will understand from it…

Seniors want retirement at 75 is about a report from the advocacy group National Seniors Australia, which needs to be distinguished carefully from the Combined Pensioners & Superannuants Association of NSW Inc for example. The latter organisation recommends policy of this nature:

CPSA is calling for a supplement for those pensioners who are living on very low incomes.

1. A supplement paid to very low income pensioners to bring them to a modest standard of living. In light of a lack of budget standards conducted, CPSA uses the Westpac/ASFA budget standard of $18,900 for singles and $26,500 for couples.

2. Concessions, rebates and allowances be appropriately indexed, so that they cover the out of pocket expenses that they were initially designed to cover.

3. An appropriate budget standard be conducted to assess how much pensioners need to achieve a modest standard of living.

The former seems to be recommending, or at least justifying, a “work till you drop” approach. On the other hand, I do commend the idea that there should be a choice. I question the realism of moving the pensionable age to 75, for personal and experiential reasons I will go into in a moment.

The Australian reported:

THE nation’s peak seniors group has called on the Rudd Government to raise the retirement age to 75 and increase compulsory superannuation from 9 to 15 per cent, warning that the ageing of the population poses a greater threat to the economy than climate change.

National Seniors has delivered a far-reaching document with radical reform options that push for an increase in the official retirement age to 75 years and an immediate increase in the single age pension from 59 per cent to two-thirds of the couple rate to bring it in line with other OECD countries.

The group’s ageing blueprint “AdvantAGE Australia” was yesterday handed to Wayne Swan and all MPs will be sent the paper.

National Seniors chairman Everald Compton said the age that people become eligible for the age pension should be lifted gradually, potentially rising to 75 by 2020.  Mr Compton suggested that a new way to setting the pension should be established.  He argued that the Reserve Bank should declare annually the average wage and the Government legislate to peg the pension to a percentage of the figure.  The group wants the Government to remove upper age limits on superannuation and workers’ compensation.

“It’s not as sexy a subject as climate change so this subject gets shoved off into the corner, but its economic consequences are enormous and we’re calling on the Government and the Opposition to give the priority in a bipartisan way, which will enable Australia to avoid going bankrupt,” he said.

The Treasurer has confirmed that a review of the tax system, headed by Treasury secretary Ken Henry, will consider an increase in the rate of the age pension.

The report released yesterday said that by 2030, more than half the voting population of Australia would be over 50 years old…

See below for a copy of the report.

I am retired, effectively since before 65, though my pension commenced after that birthday. In all honesty, I could not, would not, take on a full secondary school teaching load any more. I doubt I could handle the pressure. I am sure my teaching would suffer and decline. That would be disappointing all round. Teaching is a tough game, whatever people out there may think, and it is essentially a game for younger people. The conditions, whether in public or private schools, are unrealistic. Teachers teach too many classes for starters; I am sure most teachers will know what I mean when I say that for maybe half of one’s teaching load one tends to operate on automatic pilot while focusing attention on part of one’s load, whether that be because they are up for the HSC, or because they raise special difficulties that require attention. Then there is a whole raft of extracurricular duties, most of them unpaid. Honestly, I stopped because I had reached the point where I did not have the stamina to go on. I am not alone. Some few are different, of course, but many do those last yards pretty much on automatic pilot — and this is not necessarily good for education.

Meanwhile, we have the obscene salaries and retirement benefits of many of our CEOs and other mandarinates. But that is another matter…

Seniors Australia: Advantage Australia 2008 PDF

 

Gillard speaking for parents, children | The Australian

Justine Ferrari has there commented on the news rather than reporting — not itself a criticism, as the item is so classified:

JULIA Gillard is one of only two education ministers in the nation without children, and she is the only one speaking out for parents.

Every parent has the right to know their child’s school is as good as the one down the road.

If a school fails to meet a minimum standard of quality, principals should be held accountable, teachers should be removed, the school should close. Every child deserves no less.

At present in Australia, there is no way of guaranteeing to parents that their local school is doing all it should.

Accountability is virtually non-existent and choosing schools, as Gillard said in The Australian last week, is based on guesswork, rumour and crossing your fingers.

The Rudd Government is staring down state governments and teachers’ unions afraid of being held accountable.

In doing so, it is holding true to the Labor tradition that the disadvantaged are lifted up in society through education.

Gillard and Kevin Rudd are unequivocal in their aim: every child in Australia, no matter where they live, how much money their parents earn, or what language they speak, is entitled to a good education.

Every child is entitled to leave school able to read and write, to be given the opportunity to achieve the best they can at school and afterwards. Every school has a responsibility to give children that opportunity.

It’s that simple.

I do question the last sentence. I still feel there are issues here one could drive a truck through. For example, if School A is an academically selective school which fails, however, to achieve 100% Bands 5 and 6 in Advanced English in the HSC, while School B, a comprehensive with all its potential top students creamed off into selective or specialist schools and serving a “difficult” clientele, gets 5% Bands 5 and 6 in Advanced English in the HSC, which school is “underachieving”? We know which one looks best, but that’s not the same thing at all. It could be little short of miraculous that School B has any Advanced English students in Bands 5 or 6, while the selective school’s performance may actually be rather poor, given its starting point. I hasten to add that A and B are totally hypothetical, but they do illustrate a difficulty. Tie funding to such imponderables and a whole can of worms is opened.

In the same issue of The Australian Kevin Donnelly is comparatively happy. I always worry when Kevin is happy, particularly when, in trumpeting The Australian’s leadership on educational issues, he manages to add one or more of his personal hobby-horses into the equation.

There are a number of caveats. As discovered by the then Howard government when it sought to introduce A to E reporting, defend choice in education and get rid of post-modern gobbledegook in the curriculum, there are many opposed to reform.

The Australian Education Union, recalcitrant state governments and pressure groups such as the NSW Public Education Alliance are committed to the status quo. Rudd’s comment, “I know some will resist these changes”, is an understatement, and it will take political will to achieve change.

Holding schools accountable, while a worthy policy, is only fair if they are given the autonomy and flexibility to get on with the job. Allowing schools to hire and fire staff is a good start – it is also vital that schools are not overwhelmed with intrusive and time-consuming bureaucratic red tape.

Making school performance public is good in theory; the real test involves what is measured and how it is reported.

I’ve been there on the hobby-horses before, as some of you know: just search Donnelly here, for starters, or on Floating Life 04/06 ~ 11/07. But I am retired now, so I’m not bothering. Furthermore, though what we mean by it may differ, I do agree with that last sentence: “Making school performance public is good in theory; the real test involves what is measured and how it is reported.”

Supplement

Kevin Rudd’s education speech 27 August 2008.