Tech Tip of the Day. I helped my neighbours today, B had lost a file on her High School Laptop. Apparently they use the Cloud at High School now. Microsoft Cloud……..

I went back to the old ways, I opened a command prompt, I was in B’s home folder (/Users/studentid,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_directory).

I then ran the command “dir file_prefix* /s /b” where file_prefix was the first word in her lost file name, the * (star or asterix, obelisk is another guy) is the wildcard character.

In plain english this means anything starting with the word file_prefix, e.g. “find any file starting with important_assignment”.

Several files were found then the modified date (I was looking for the most recent date, ideally today) was reviewed and voila, we found the “lost” file.

I copied this file from its location to her Sky Drive or whatever its called and B was back on track.

I suggest you bookmark, save, store this information for a rainy day.

Depth of field is greatly influenced by the focal length, using a long lens, 300mm for example, means that F5.6 is like F4.0.

This photo shows this in action, the nice blurred background here is also aided by a good deal of depth in the subject as well, position yourself where you can get great depth in the photo. The depth will great enhance the depth if field.

 

 

How to get Brother Control Centre working for remote scanning on Windows Vista

 

Description of the problem

You’ve installed the Brother Control Centre software on your Windows Vista PC and can print, copy, fax and even scan using the software on the PC but you can’t use the buttons on the MFC scanner to ‘push’ a scan onto your PC.

 

Cause

Your firewall is blocking the incoming calls to the Brother Control Centre software.

 

Solution

Open ports 137UDP and 54925 UDP.

 

How to

For windows firewall users – Go to

Start – > Settings – > Control Panel -> Security Centre -> Firewall (on the left) -> Change Settings (you will need to approve this if UAC is enabled) -> Exceptions tab -> Add Port -> Use a name like "Brother Control Centre 1" and enter the port number 137 above and change to UDP. Repeat using port number 54925 and giving it another name -> OK

Try it now.

 

The 10 Commandments of Photography

 

Here’s something new. A photography article with no pictures.

There is one rule you need for taking great photographs. It was a favourite saying of noted British nature photographer Heather Angel and most of the 10 Commandments come from this simple phrase:

"f8 and be there"

Read on to see why that’s all you really need to know.

  1. You can’t take a picture without a camera. Take one with you everywhere because you never know what you will see or where or when.
  2. You can’t take a picture without the camera being ready. Keep it clean, fully charged and with enough memory/film to take the shots you find. You might well have a fairly small and simple one on you at all times. It will be the one you use when you’ve left the SLR in the car because it was too heavy.
  3. You can’t take a great picture without knowing how to use the camera. Learn how to turn it on and take a shot on auto without looking at it.
  4. You can’t take a great picture on auto. Well you can but it might well be better if you know how to override.
  5. You can’t take a picture without a subject. Get up and go somewhere with a camera, some time and a photographic intent.
  6. Shoot early, shoot often. Many opportunities are lost looking for the perfect shot. Take every shot, angle and subject as soon as you can. As the light or subject changes, shoot more. You can edit or delete later. Take your first shots on Auto and worry about fine control later.
  7. You need to ‘see’ the pictures that are there. This is practice and study. Take lots of photos and look at other peoples. Best of all go out for a shoot with another photographer. Learn what they see and how they render the same subject. You can learn both technical and graphical skills at the same time.
  8. Get the gear. While most cameras will do a decent job on everyday things, you need something better to take challenging images in challenging circumstances. Most people also don’t master the basic accessories of every camera – the flash and the tripod. Learn when and how to use them.
  9. Go to extremes. Most people can find everyday subject with everyday skills at the ordinary time of day. If you want to impress go for something they can’t shoot – an extreme close up, an ultra-wide shot, a super tele shot of a bird, a flower only you can find, a night shot of the city.
  10. You need to know how to throw away the images that are not strong. In the field that means keep shooting until you know you have the best you can get. At home it means editing and culling the duds. For showing it means only the best. Leave the audience wanting more.Show only the ‘wow’ images. Less is better.

 

I always find it hard to picture these BIG numbers in my head, so here they are in simple form with comma’s between the 0′s to give them a little length.

  • yocto — 10^-24 – 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,000,001
  • zepto — 10^-21 – 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,001
  • atto — 10^-18 – 0.000,000,000,000,000,001
  • femto — 10^-15 – 0.000,000,000,000,001
  • pico — 10^-12 – 0.000,000,000,001
  • nano — 10^-9 – 0.000,000,001
  • micro — 10^-6 – 0.000,001
  • milli — 10^-3 — 0.001
  • units — 10^0 — 1.0
  • kilo — 10^3 — 1,000
  • mega — 10^6 — 1,000,000
  • giga — 10^9 – 1,000,000,000
  • tera — 10^12 – 1,000,000,000,000 (1 mega x 1 mega)
  • exa — 10^15 – 1,000,000,000,000,000
  • peta — 10^18 – 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1 giga x 1 giga)
  • zetta — 10^21 – 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
  • yotta — 10^24 – 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1 tera x 1 tera)

by John Sinclair

A land rapidly losing its wildlife — Birds

As a concerned grandparent, I am conscious of the world we are bequeathing to future generations and try to compare my own childhood and youth with that of my grandchildren.  In this essay I discuss how they will miss the sound and sight of many of birds once so familiar.  

The decline of birds I am describing is anecdotal but they epitomise observations made by long term bird observers throughout Australia that bird populations are plunging in almost every habitat.  Some such as the beautiful Gouldian finches have gained their endangered status due to the trapping and trafficking.  Others such as bustards, emus, some ducks and pigeons have been heavily hunted for the pot.  Some like the Gull-billed terns and the Black swans are obviously responding to habitat disturbance.  Some like the seed eating birds are vanishing before our eyes because grazing pressure lets little grass grow to seed.  Some insectivorous bird populations are being impacted by pesticides. Some ground dwelling birds are falling prey to feral predators. Some species are declining through eating cane toads. Many species are suffering habitat loss through land clearing.  However there is no explanation for why bird populations in our National Parks are also declining.  Some birds are obviously being significantly impacted by climate change. Many reasons for the rapid decline can’t be explained.  

What is more worrying is that this is occurring in our lifetime almost passing almost unnoticed and unreported.   The first thing we need to do is to acknowledge that there is a significant and on-going impoverishment of our landscape because Australia’s bird populations are plummeting

Kimberley Emus: My alarm bells first began ringing when I realized that there were no emus left in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.  This was after about four trips in the early 1990s covering a total 20,000 kilometres and 70 days.  My groups were focussed on the bush and landscape. We should have seen some because we were on the look out for any wildlife that wriggled or flew, crawled or swam of any shape or dimension. Emus are large and quite visible They were once relatively common in the Kimberley.  Since they are diurnal (seen only in the day light) should have been an easy sighting.  However after four trips I realized that they were rare, so rare that I promised to shout the whole bus-load an iced coffee each if anyone saw them.  Although iced coffees are greatly prized so everyone was keenly looking out.  After more than 20 Kimberley trips nobody could authentically claim the iced coffees. After serious consultations with local Aborigines, I have reluctantly concluded that they are regionally extinct.

In the Kimberly Antilopine kangaroos are now almost as rare as the emu. Other once common species have become at least rare or  whose numbers have shrunk alarmingly. Bustards are also mow increasingly uncommon sightings.  So are brolgas and jabirus.  These are all large fauna and can be easily identified by almost layman. However experienced zoologists tell us that it is a similar story smaller birds and.  It has made me mindful of the other birds and animals that are vanishing during my lifetime leaving Australia with a much more impoverished landscape as a result.

Gull-billed terns: In 1977 the Bjelke-Petersen Government stripped away my position as an organizer of adult education in my home-town of Maryborough, effectively exiling me and deliberately moving me away from Fraser Island.  Relocated to the fifth floor of a high-rise building sitting atop the Kangaroo Point cliffs, I consoled myself by watching the traffic moving along the Brisbane River.  One of my more memorable observations was the regular flights of the Gull-billed terns that patrolled up and down the river.  Recently I have walked up and down the river and seen not one tern.  The disappearance of the terns from the urban scene went unnoticed and unremarked.  It epitomises what has been happening in the Australian environment over the last half-century.  Slowly but inexorably the wildlife we once knew is disappearing.  The decline of so many species goes largely unnoticed and not even commented on but our whole society becomes poorer with the loss of our natural inheritance. The disappearance of the elegant Gull-billed terns from the heart of Brisbane is only one symptom I have noted whilst travelling through the great landscapes of this increasingly ailing continent. Our children may never have the pleasures to experience what we have enjoyed.

Black Swans of Great Sandy Strait: My first encounter with plunging populations occurred more than 40 years ago.  I vividly remember the January day in 1958.  As our launch neared one of the many freshwater creeks hidden amongst the mangrove fringed shores of Fraser Island a prodigious flock of swans taking off simultaneously in a rhythmical and stunning spectacle as our launch approached.  The white undersides of the wings beat in tune contrasting with the black outstretched necks as the big birds became airborne as a mass of hundreds if not thousands.  It is such a vivid image I can never forget it.  Yet such events occur no more.  It is uncommon to ever see a swan along the leeward shores of Fraser Island.

I asked many observant veterans of Fraser Island whether my recollections of this vast flock of swans was a youthful fantasy and if it might have been a fluke of nature that I saw an infrequent mass assemblage of such elegant creatures.  I am always reassured that recollection and description is both real and accurate.  What more remarkable though is that it was only after I inquired that these veterans realized that the once vast flocks have disappeared.  Thus the loss of the swans went unreported and without comment.  People notice and report on new invasions but don’t seem to appreciate the decimations of wildlife which has occurred during their lifetimes.  That has prompted me ever since to become more alert to any bird or animal species that might be missing from the landscape.

Girraween’s Yellow-tufted honeyeaters: I remember taking my very young family to Girraween National Park near Stanthorpe for summer holidays in 1967.  I was just getting into birdwatching in a more serious way then and was enthralled by any new species sighted.  Thus I was blown away by the number of new birds that were unfamiliar to me then.  The most common bird I observed along Bald Rock Creek near our camp was the strikingly handsome Yellow-tufted honeyeater.  I have returned there many times since and noted many changes and a decline in bird numbers. I spent a week in December 2008 camping there with grandchildren when I was keen to point out to them the Yellow-tufted honeyeaters.  Here were none to be found in the time we were there.  Neither were there as many other species or the same numbers I recalled from forty years earlier.  Yet this is ain a National Park where there shouldn’t be a decline of bird populations of this proportion.

The story of Birdsville’s corellas:  I first went to Birdsville in 1990. I was overwhelmed by the number of corellas after which this village was so aptly named.  I remember the ground at the racecourse seeming to be covered with a large white carpet of corellas.  That night we camped outside of town on the steep banks of the Diamantina River.  It was a disturbing and comical place to camp because there was a constant cacophony of corellas calling all night long disturbing our sleep.  The vast flocks of corellas moved to occupy every branch of every River Red Gum lining the stream and there were lots.  However there wasn’t enough space on the branches to fit them all on despite their best attempts.  On each branch they would keep shuffling along to make room for another until at last the one on the outside would be pushed off and cause thewho platoon from that branch to fly off in fright before they attempted to resettle.  This pandemonium went on for countless branches all night.  It was an experience never to be forgotten and one I often recounted as I camped in many places throughout the continent.  Nowhere else were birds ever noisier at night.

In September 2009 I made a long awaited return to Birdsville keen to show my entourage in the safari the great flocks of birds for which the town was named. Unfortunately I was preoccupied with mechanical problems with the bus but as we left I realized that I missed seeing the anticipated flocks of corellas.  However, I hadn’t been specifically looking out for them.  So I kept on the lookout for the next 4000 kms through the Queensland Outback and estimate that I saw only about a hundred or so.  That was surprising because I have seen more than that on every previous visit to Longreach alone sitting around that town’s water tower.  In May 2010 I took another entourage on another Outback Odyssey following the same route I had travelled 8 months earlier but again after another season of well above average rains and this time I was really looking but again with the same disappointing results.  There aren’t too many long-term residents of Birdsville who would have memories going back 20 years.  Thus we decided to ask an elderly Aboriginal woman in Birdsville who had lived there all her life what had happened to the corellas.  The fact that they had disappeared from the landscape hadn’t really registered until we asked the question and then she agreed that they had certainly faded away.  What has inexplicably happened to the corellas is a story replicated for so many Australian wildlife species.  They are disappearing before we know it and nobody is ringing the alarm bells.

Woodswallows:  In July I drove back through Outback Queensland yet again determined to keep a more vigilant count of corellas.  Then an even more dismal scenario presented itself.  In 1984 I had been struck by the numbers of Woodswallows  on the open Mitchell grass downs. In July 2010 while driving from Brisbane to Darwin and back I had to acknowledge that those woodswallows were no longer there.  They had been there in 1986 when I went through to look for the elusive freshwater sharks in the Gulf of Carpentaria Rivers.  They had been there in the early 1990s when I took safaris through on my way to Lawn Hill Gorge (now Boodjamulla National Park).  But they were not there. I scanned over a thousand kilometres of fences hoping to see woodswallows — but there were none.  They haven’t quite disappeared because in the 6000 kilometre Queensland Outback Odyssey I had seen a few flocks near Cunnamulla and in the Channel Country but none along the Landsborough Highway

Budgerigars:  It was a similar story with budgerigars.  It always gives one a thrill to see a large flock of budgies wheeling in over the grassy plains like a vast squadron of precision aerobatic fliers doing loops and wheeling to dramatically catching the light.  They just registered but I didn’t keep count of the flocks.  In 2010 there were relatively few flocks of any size.  This is such a contrast to 1993 when we camped beside the famous billabong of Combo Waterhole made famous by “Waltzing Matilda”.  Then almost every hollow in a coolibah had a budgie peeping from it.  In 2010 we were lucky to catch a glimpse of just single budgie nesting. They still exist but after two wonderful seasons we failed to see any really big flocks.  There were relatively few flocks of any size.  I counted only five flocks between Boroloola and Blackall.

As I reflect I am reminded of the dramatic loss of Nankeen Kestrels.  These were once the most common raptor in Australia.  When I took up serious birdwatching in 1967 they were very frequent sightings.  Now they are uncommon.  So is the Black-shoulered kite.   Even the kookaburras laugh is heard much less frequently.

I first went to Lord Howe Island in 1988 and then for the next 21 years returned at the same time each year — the first week in May.  Over this period I have watched a declining population of seabirds and a noticeable change in the arrival and departure times  most of which means a shorter period on the island to raise their chicks. However more expert people than I surmise that it is the warmer sea temperatures that is causing Lord Howe Island to slowly but progressively become depopulated of its once signature seabirds.:

The Winners:  While the majority of birds species are in decline some species are winning.  Magpies, peewees, crows seem to be still in good number.  Wedge-tailed eagles, Black kites and Whistling kites seem to be doing very well out of the carnage along our highways that leaves many inland roads strewn with carcasses of kangaroos and other native fauna.  Most carrion eaters seem to be doing well (except for the Tassy Devil). I often ponder if human diseases may be affecting our wildlife with similar impacts to that of early European early colonists on indigenous human populations.  We do know that several species introduced by colonists such as Indian Mynas are thriving and spreading while many native bird species are continuing to decline.

Birds are amongst our most conspicuous wildlife.  Their flight, plumage and songs attract our attention.  They are unlike most of our Australian mammals that are small reclusive and/or nocturnal. The decline of birds is making for a very impoverished landscape for my grandchildren.

This essay is the first of a series of planned reports discussing the Australian landscape and its natural environment and how it has become significantly impoverished especially in recent years.

A land depleted of its natural heritage

After more than a half a century of exploring Australia to identify the best of its natural heritage, I must now reluctantly conclude that, despite the best efforts of conservationists and others determined to leave the world a better place for our grandchildren, we have failed.  Apart from the legacy of a world depleted of resources (their stolen inheritance), we are bequeathing them a world overpopulated by people and with a dramatically impoverished natural and cultural heritage.  

Fewer than 0.01% of Australians would have seen as much of the Australian continent as I have over the past quarter century.  Even fewer would have been assessing the quality of the natural environment as closely or as critically as I have. My observations lead me to reluctantly conclude that my grandchildren will inherit a very impoverished environment.

All my life I have been interested in the environment.  It began with farm holidays as a kid.  It was nurtured by my love of the bush and was developed through scouting, through travel as a student at Agricultural College specifically looking at land management, and then while traversing half a million miles to organize Rural Youth clubs throughout Queensland.  I have spent my last 43 years in the voluntary conservation movement including the last quarter of a century leading GO BUSH Safaris which explored natural areas and World Heritage sites in every state of Australia. It has been a wonderful adventurous life that has allowed me so see so much of the Australian continent and assess the quality of its many environments.

Unlike politicians and the media that prefer to measure progress and public welfare in monetary economic terms, in this series of essays I propose to measure the values of our landscape and how it has become impoverished.

Estate agents proclaim “Position! Position! Position!” as fundamental to the pricing of real estate.  However economic rationalists don’t consider the landscape or its contents to have any value unless it is a commodity to be sold.  Like the buyers of real estate, I believe that the landscape and all it contains has an enormous value.  These values need to be respected and properly considered.  The Australian natural environment has seriously suffered in ways that have gone largely uncommented on and disregarded for far too long.

Having already experienced many of the best natural areas of the continent by 1988, I craved to see still more, particularly of the best natural areas that I had only heard or read about.  That led me to establish my own business, GO BUSH Safaris, to explore still more particularly those areas that were being touted as having World Heritage qualities.  From 1988 to 2010 my travels have taken me far and wide across the continent from Kosciusko to the Kimberley from Torres Strait to Tasmania, from Lord Howe Island to Kakadu and countless points between. My travels have also taken me to every continent except Antarctica.  I have experienced some great adventures and have been privileged to travel with many wonderful people and I have enjoyed a lifestyle that would be the envy of most even though it kept me away from home about 250 days a year.  It has also allowed me to monitor the environmental quality of the places I visited over the period and draw several conclusions.

Australia is a land rapidly losing its wildlife.  While the political focus has been on the rarer animal species, particularly those with sex appeal that are clearly endangered, most Australians are failing to notice that even our more common species are becoming much rarer.  The laugh of the Kookaburra is now nowhere near as common; the once widespread raptor in Australia, the Australian Kestrel, is so much rarer.  I could go on with the list of observations and indeed I will in my next article on the depletion of wildlife.  In Australia, except for kangaroos, birds have traditionally been the most visible form of wildlife and certainly their songs and calls draw them to our attention.  However the populations of most bird species have been shrinking dramatically over the past 25 years.  There have been exceptions, particularly the among some species that are plain black, plain white or black and white such as crows, magpies,  butcherbirds and mudlarks.

Most native mammal species are also in decline.  This is probably better documented though than the birds because of our anthropocentric interest in other mammals.  However, the decline of populations of native reptile and fish species is much more dramatic with fewer people knowing or caring about the fate of these animals.  If the human population is largely unaware of the fate of these vertebrate animals, then they have even less concern for the massive number of invertebrates.

Coincidental with this decline of the wildlife has been the dramatic changes in the landscape and the progressive loss of soil and vegetation.

Because most Australians are urban dwellers they have been oblivious to the scale an extent of land clearing across the continent.  While our method of farming requires clearing for crop land, there has been little discrimination in determining what land needed to be cleared.  Steep land shouldn’t be cleared but far too much was with disastrous and self-exacerbating consequences.  This is contributing not only to soil erosion on the hills, but a loss of water quality in our streams and in some cases, in dramatically increased salinity.  Then there has been the most ill-advised land clearing carried out in marginally semi-arid lands.  The sum total of the land clearing has left the nation poorer because of the desire of some landholders to improve the productivity of their land.

I was concluding a seventeen-day safari through Outback Queensland on 23 September 2009 when we were overtaken by a dust storm.  That dramatic and well documented dust storm carried 18 millions tonnes of top soil from the Channel Country and other places we had just been and dumped most of it at sea.  The value of 18 million tonnes of top-soil is incalculable.  Soil formation takes decades or centuries and is almost a finite commodity.  Soil along with water, air and biodiversity is the very basis of life on earth.  It is the substance that produces the source of our food and fibre.  Top-soil is appropriately named because as well as comprising the upper layer, it also contains the most nutrients and soil biota on which plant life is dependent.  Every millimetre of top-soil is more precocious than the millimetre of soil (if any) lying beneath it.

The loss of such a vast quantity of Australian top-soil in just one storm was an environmental disaster on a scale that should be compared with the 2010 oil well blow-out in the Mexican Gulf. The value of this soil that should have been producing plants for centuries  to come is worth much more than the value of many of our mineral exports.

I was waiting to see the political reaction.  There was not a word I heard from any Federal politician about this national tragedy.  They were presumably passing responsibility to their state political colleagues.  In the end there was no response from any politician other than the Queensland Deputy Premier who said that the stringent water regulations prevailing in South East Queensland would be relaxed to allow people to wash the dust off their cars.

With such indifference to this environmental disaster prevailing, it isn’t surprising that politicians would also be almost oblivious to Australia becoming increasingly a land of alien species.  Of course there was a dramatic introduction of alien species with the arrival of the First Fleet.  Since then non-Aboriginal Australians have been dependent on alien introductions to provide almost every source of food and fibre we consume.  This includes all of our meat except for fish, almost all of our fruit and vegetables and all of our fabric fibres.  Since we imported domestic animals and crops as the basis of our survival, few people questioned the introduction of non domestic animals or even allowing domestic animals like goats, pigs, cats, camels, donkeys, horses, buffalo, etc. to run feral across the landscape.  To these were added animals never intended to be domesticated such as rabbits, cats and later cane toads.  Then there were the animals that were never intended to be introduced.  They just arrived here, adapted and spread across the face of the continent to change the ecology in many adverse ways.  Cockroaches, some flies and spiders, house mice, black rats and some garden earth-worms are just some unintended arrivals.  However the spread of these aliens still continues and they take over an ever-increasing area at a significant environmental cost as the spread of the cane toad epitomises.

Despite the impact of introduced animals on the ecology and the landscape, the combined impact of introduced plants is even greater.  Although we are aware of the impact of some scourges such as the cactus that at one stage in the early 20th century was expanding its territory at the rate of an acre per minute, we are still introducing and releasing other plant species and allowing them to go feral.  The list is almost endless.  Nasty ones such as lantana and mimosa and rubber vine get the headlines but the number of alien grasses represents a greater impact on the ecology.  Some such as buffel grass crowd out and smother native vegetation.  Other grasses exacerbate the impact of fire on the ecology.  The net effect of these many plant introductions has been to transform the landscape even further and while they may have been beneficial to some introduced species, many have had a devastating impact on the natural ecosystems.

More than just feral plants and animals have found their way into the Australian environment. Many pathogens and diseases have unintentionally arrived here. While quarantine measures try to stop further introductions of pathogens affecting our ecology, for many species the door was closed too late.

The transformation of our rivers and waterways following early land clearing was most dramatic.  In a few short years rivers such as the Clarence and Richmond silted up so severely that ships could no longer navigate the once deep waterways to places such as Grafton and Lismore.  Such changes continue but less dramatically.  The problem now though is less about keeping silt out of our rivers than getting more of the natural flow back into them.

I also plan to elaborate on other ways in which our landscape has become impoverished in forthcoming essays and I need to deal with the ways in which our grandchildren are going to inherit a much impoverished landscape because of the practices pursued over the past century (and particularly the latter part) that have transformed it.

In forthcoming papers I will expand on my extensive observations on Australia’s natural landscape.

A story from Kakadu July 2010 by John Sinclair for his grandchildren and others

 

When Connor lost his football in the tall dry grass while on holidays with his family in Kakadu he thought that was the end of the matter.  He and his sister and cousins had searched and searched in the long grass near their camp at Gunlom but they couldn’t find the ball that Connor had had for more than half his life and which he dearly loved.

Still Connor was having a marvellous holiday and Connor went on to explore other parts of Kakadu and discover some amazing Aboriginal rock art in the caves.

BUT the ball was lying in very dry tall grass and long after Connor and his family had returned to his home in Brisbane, an amazing series of events took place because of Connor’s football.  Perhaps it would be better to blame Connor’s lost ball AND a spark from a camper’s fire that set the long grass near Connor’s long lost ball.

In Kakadu there are two very distinct periods — the Wet and the Dry.  In the Wet the grass grows.  It is green and it grows very fast and very tall.  However when the dry period arrive in Kakadu, and that is usually the cooler months, the grass becomes very brown and crisp.  That was how it was when Connor kicked the ball into the long grass.  However in the weeks after Connor left the grass got even drier so it caught fire very easily.

The dead grass was piled up around Connor’s football.  That was the reason he and his family couldn’t find it.  That was the reason why the fire burnt extra fiercely when it got near the ball.  The air inside the football just got so hot that it caused the whole football to explode like a bomb.  The blast shook the ground around.

The explosion was so big that Roger Rodent, a native rat who was hiding away from the fire in a big crack in the ground, thought that it might be an earthquake.  If it was an earthquake, Roger thought that it wouldn’t be a good place to be hiding underground.  He might be safe from the fire underground but he could get crushed as the earth moved so he rushed out of his crack.

Roger had picked a bad time to show his face to the daylight. Just then Peter Python was wriggling past.  He was afraid of the fire and was also frightened by the big explosion so he was looking to get as far away from the fire and as fast as he could.  However when Roger bounced up in front of him Peter couldn’t believe his luck.  Rodents are favourite food for pythons.  Peter couldn’t help himself. He forgot the fire and began chasing Peter.  Both were also moving away from the fire.

The explosion of Connor’s football had alerted a National Park Ranger who was working nearby.  He came racing down in his Ranger fire truck to see that the fire wasn’t endangering camps.  While he didn’t see Roger Rodent he did see Peter Python just in time to avoid running over him.

While many people are frightened of any snakes, most Rangers love them and because Peter was an uncommon python, the ranger thought he had better pick him up and put him out of harm’s way before he went on to ensure that the fire wouldn’t harm any campsites.  So he gently grabbed Peter and put him in a little bag and placed him in the back of his fire truck.

Roger Rodent couldn’t believe his luck.  One minute he thought that he might have been a python’s dinner and now he thought he was safe.  So he stopped running and stopped puffing and looking about and congratulated himself.  In doing so he forgot to look out for other dangers.  He should have known that while many animals rush away from fires there are other critters start moving towards fires as soon as any smoke starts to rise anywhere in Kakadu.

That is why Billy Black Kite was rushing to the fire.  Billy was flying high looking for grasshoppers or anything small trying to get away from the fire.  Then suddenly from his eye in the sky he saw a relaxed and smiling Rodney Rodent casually sauntering along.  He thought to himself that Rodney looked like a three course Christmas dinner.  Normally the best catches that Billy got from any fires were grasshoppers but a fat rodent looked like being a rare feast.

Billy folded back his wings and dived.  He grabbed Roger in his talons and took him away for dinner.  So Roger Rodent who thought he was very lucky had his luck run out.  But Peter Python who thought he was going to be unlucky in missing out on Roger was lucky not to be run over by the Ranger so he was safe.  And Billy Black Kite was very lucky indeed because he had the biggest catch he had ever caught from any fire.

And all of this only happened because Connor couldn’t find his football in the long grass at Gunlom.

1. Always insist on a deposit that is large enough to cover your costs and inconvenience if things should go wrong. Many agents will tell you not to worry about it especially if there is a cooling off period. Don’t use those agents. Any purchaser truly keen on buying your home will get a deposit. $10,000 is a minimum.  Any less and their incentive to settle can disappear very fast.

2. Never forget your real estate agent is working for themselves not for you. Do not trust them. Do not believe them. Insist on seeing all documentation in particular the receupt for the deposit. Agents sometimes say they have received it when they have not.

3. Act promptly and decisively. If you are asked for extensions and the like and the market is not falling, refuse them and forfeit the depost and re-sell. This only works if you’ve seen the receipt showing the agent is holding a decent deposit.

4. Don’t go away during the settlement period espcially at critical dates when extensions are likely to be sought. You should remain contactable at all times.

5. Use a solicitor. They know what they are doing and if they stuff up, you can sue them.

6. Don’t accept contracts subject to the sale of the purchasers home. Keep marketing your property and tell them when they sell theirs they can come back to you with an unconditional offer. At most, accept their offer only in terms that you can keep marketing your home and if you get an better offers they have to match them or you can terminate and refund their deposit.

7. Keep settlement times short. The longer you wait the more things can go wrong. If the purchaser wants one, tell them to sort out whatever they need to and come back. At most, accept their offer only in terms that you can keep marketing your home and if you get an better offers they have to match them or you can terminate and refund their deposit.

8. Do not let the other party into possession until settlement. If you do you have a nightmare and lots of costs to remove them. They can go rent a motel while they sort out their problems. It keeps the pressure on them.

9. Never sell with an exclusive agency.

10. Watch that you and your solicitor have complied with any special conditions and that there are no issues over fixtures.