Documenting Problems That Were Difficult To Find The Answer To

Category Archives: Life

How Do I Add A Medicare Service To MyGov With A Linking Code?

So you’ve logged into your MyGov website and you’re attempting to add a Medicare service using a linking code that Medicare has provided you.

You’re confronted with a webpage like this:

  Enter your linking code:

  Select one of the online services you want to link:

  Enter your agency reference number for this online service (no spaces):

Your linking code is straightforward. It is what you were provided with (e.g. G12345678).

The online service you want to link is “Medicare”.

The agency reference number, however, is tricky. It is your 10 digit Medicare card number and your individual reference number without a gap. But what does this mean?

Your Medicare card number is the 10 digits along the top of the card. The individual reference number is the single digit next to your name underneath.

Use the 10 digits from the top plus the single digit next to your name

Use the 10 digits from the top plus the single digit next to your name

So the filled out form will look something like (for this example card):

Entering linking information for MyGov and Medicare

Entering linking information for MyGov and Medicare

Good luck! And if you have a problem you’ll have to call Medicare (not MyGov) on 132011, it took my 19 minutes to get through to an operator.

Areas in Melbourne With No Overhead Wires

Here are some streets/areas that have no above ground electricity or telecommunications cables in Melbourne.

  • Kilsyth
    • Alpine Way
  • Mooroolbark
    • Partridge Way
    • Sherwood Road
  • Wantirna
    • Teddington Way
  • Croydon
    • The Range Boulevard
  • Croydon Hills
    • Nangathan Way
  • Lillydale
    • The Gateway

Monopoly Deal Sort Order

From a new pack the cards are (bottom face down to top face down):

* (Brown) Old Kent Road
* (Brown) Whitechapel Road
* (Light Blue) Euston Road
* (Light Blue) Pentonville Road
* (Light Blue) The Angel, Islington
* (Purple) Northumberland Avenue
* (Purple) Pall Mall
* (Purple) Whitehall
* (Orange) Bow Street
* (Orange) Marlborough Street
* (Orange) Vine Street
* (Red) Fleet Street
* (Red) Strand
* (Red) Trafalgar Square
* (Yellow) Coventry Street
* (Yellow) Piccadilly
* (Yellow) Leicester Square
* (Green) Bond Street
* (Green) Oxford Street
* (Green) Regent Street
* (Rich Blue) Mayfair
* (Rich Blue) Park Lane
* (Black) Fenchurch St. Station
* (Black) Kings Cross Station
* (Black) Liverpool St. Station
* (Black) Marylebone Station
* (Pale Green) Electric Company
* (Pale Green) Water Works
* (Brown/Light Blue) Property Wild Card
* (Light Blue/Black) Property Wild Card
* (Purple/Orange) Property Wild Card
* (Purple/Orange) Property Wild Card
* (Red/Yellow) Property Wild Card
* (Red/Yellow) Property Wild Card
* (Green/Rich Blue) Property Wild Card
* (Green/Black) Property Wild Card
* (Black/Pale Green) Property Wild Card
* (Rainbow) Property Wild Card
* (Rainbow) Property Wild Card
* Deal Breaker
* Deal Breaker
* Forced Deal
* Forced Deal
* Forced Deal
* Sly Deal
* Sly Deal
* Sly Deal
* Just Say No
* Just Say No
* Just Say No
* Debt Collector
* Debt Collector
* Debt Collector
* It's My Birthday
* It's My Birthday
* It's My Birthday
* Double Rent
* Double Rent
* House
* House
* House
* Hotel
* Hotel
* Pass Go (x10)
* (Brown/Light Blue) Rent
* (Brown/Light Blue) Rent
* (Purple/Orange) Rent
* (Purple/Orange) Rent
* (Red/Yellow) Rent
* (Red/Yellow) Rent
* (Green/Rich Blue) Rent
* (Green/Rich Blue) Rent
* (Black/Pale Green) Rent
* (Black/Pale Green) Rent
* (Rainbow) Rent
* (Rainbow) Rent
* (Rainbow) Rent
* Bank 1M (x6)
* Bank 2M (x5)
* Bank 3M (x3)
* Bank 4M (x3)
* Bank 5M (x2)
* Bank 10M

Airbus and Two Pilots in an Emergency

As a regular flier few things scared me so much about flying as the Air France Flight 447 disaster on 2009-06-01. For the first time in a long time a modern airliner by one of the top tier airlines in the world just went inexplicably missing. I had been flying that same day but after hearing that news I did not take any flights again for more than a year.

The subsequent report on that flight 447 was concerning. One major issue was that when two pilots were attempting to control the aircraft at the same time they were not aware that they were both attempting to take control. Unlike a Boeing aircraft in which the steering columns both move when one pilot makes a manoeuvre the Airbus sidestick control provides no physical feedback in the event the other pilot is also issuing commands to the aircraft.

A news report released by the BBC on 2015-12-01 about the AirAsia flight 8501 disaster that occurred on 2014-12-28 stated:

  • At another point, the two men appeared to be pushing their controls in opposite directions

It would be more reassuring to Airbus passengers in future if Airbus provided some warning or feedback when two pilots attempt to give opposing instructions to the plane at the same time. Especially when the lack of a clear distinction of pilot-in-command on these aircraft can, and has, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.

How Long Does It Take a UK Citizenship Application to be Approved?

I took the posts in this forum topic and processed them to produce the below graph that illustrates the number of days various people have had to wait between having the UK Border Agency (UKBA) acknowledge receipt of their application, and approve their application.

Please note this is just a sampling of citizenship applications. The data source is by no means reliable. And my process may have been erroneous. Use this information for entertainment purposes only – it is not to be relied upon!

2011 to 2014 UK naturalisation application approval times

2011 to 2014 UK naturalisation application approval times

Improving Your Success Rate By Re-Taking A Test

I was reading that the pass rate for a particular test was 60%. That doesn’t sound very high – and if I take that exam I have a 40% chance of failing that test.

But what if I retry? Or retry two times? What are my odds of passing in that situation?

Let’s take the example where the average pass rate of an exam is 60%.

Description Math
Let Ppass be the probability of passing Ppass = 0.6
Probability of failing first time is Pfail Pfail = 1 – Ppass = 0.4
Probability of failing two times is Pfail2 Pfail_twice = Pfail * Pfail = 0.4 * 0.4 = 0.16
Probability of not failing two times in a row 1 – Pfail_twice = 1 – 0.16 = 0.84
Probability of not failing is the probability of succeeding 0.84

So if you budgeted to take a test two times, not just once, then the probability you pass the first or second time is a much higher 84%!

You could also calculate what your probability of success is if you took an exam three times!

Here’s a table of exams and what your success rate would be if you undertook exams a different number of times:

Description 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%
one attempt 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%
two attempts 19.0% 36.0% 51.0% 64.0% 75.0% 84.0% 91.0% 96.0% 99.0%
three attempts 27.1% 48.8% 65.7% 78.4% 87.5% 93.6% 97.3% 99.2% 99.9%
four attempts 34.4% 59.0% 76.0% 87.0% 93.8% 97.4% 99.2% 99.8% 100%

The moral of the story is: don’t fear a tough-looking exam with a mere 60% success rate. Know that if you budget the time and expense for taking the test twice you increase your odds of passing to a much higher 84%!

What Is The Fee For A Citizenship Ceremony In The UK?

What is the fee for a citizenship ceremony in the United Kingdom? Turns out that it varies by council and can vary by day of the week, too. Then there are public and private ceremonies – where private ceremonies are often more expensive. In fact the Nationality Checking Service fees vary significantly, too, and the days and times you can do this also vary.

So, what do some councils charge? Note all information shown is best-effort and may be completely inaccurate, use at own risk only. This is not a comprehensive list and was compiled on 2015-01-01 from publicly available information from Council websites.

NCS is the Nationality Checking Service which you can use to submit your application via (they copy your documents so you can retain them).

Council Public Ceremony Private Ceremony NCS (Adult) Link Notes
Wandsworth unknown 100 50 link
Newham free 85 55 link
Hillingdon free unknown 60 link
Haringey free 100 50 link
Hounslow unknown unknown 60 link Group ceremonies are held on a weekly basis
Greenwich unknown 100 unknown link Public ceremonies are held every Thursday
Ealing free 100 50 Mon-Fri, 60 Sat link group ceremonies on Tuesdays 9.15am, 10.45am, 1.15pm and 3.00pm
Westminster unknown 110 57 link public group ceremonies every Monday morning
Kingston unknown unknown 60 link only 2 ceremonies per month
Richmond free varies between 54 and 428 unknown link
Croydon free 100 50 link
Kensington and Chelsea free 180 70 link Group ceremonies are held once a fortnight
Hammersmith and Fulham unknown unknown 45 link group ceremonies every Wednesday morning
Tower Hamlets free 90 55 link
Essex free 130 75 link Ceremonies are normally held every first and third Wednesday of the month
Merton unknown unknown unknown link ceremonies are sometimes available on a Saturday
Kent unknown 175 65 link
Hampshire free 150 70 link
Surrey unknown unknown 78 link
Leeds free unknown 80 link
Manchester free 100 unknown link
Wokingham unknown 120 63 link Group ceremonies are generally held once a month, on a week day, at 2.30pm
Oxfordshire unknown unknown 75 link
Slough unknown unknown 72 link Two group ceremonies are held each month
Wiltshire unknown unknown unknown link
Reading free 70 75 link

Old Math Riddle/Joke Explained

In Season 5 Episode 1 of “Highway to Heaven” an old math riddle was quoted:

Three sailors check into a motel. At the front desk the clerk charges them $10 each for a total of $30.

The clerk later realises the room price was $25 and gives a bellhop $5 to take back to the sailors as a refund.

On the way to the room the bellhop decides to pocket $2 for himself – and hands each of the sailors $1 each.

Now each sailor had effectively paid $9 each ($10 minus the $1 refund). Three times nine is twenty-seven – $27. The bellhop had the other $2. That makes $29.

Where did the other dollar go?

Mentally it seems like a real puzzle – the men spent $27 on the room. And the bellhop had $2. If you add the two numbers it does result in $29.

The problem is the sign. Spending is the opposite of receiving. Which is why you can’t just add the two numbers. If somebody receives $2 (as the bellhop did) then they technically spent negative $2. So the sailors spent $27 and the bellhop spent $-2 making a total spending of $25.

Let’s do it with algebra:

let sailor’s original $10 spend be s s = 10
original spend on room 3s = 30
refund of $5 3s – 5 = 30 – 5
bellhop keeps $2 3s – (3 + b) = 25
bellhop b=2 3(s – 1) – b = 25
rearrange formula 3(s – 1) = 25 + b
substitute constants 3(10 – 1) = 25 + 2
finalise 27 = 27

There’s no imbalance.

Smart Computers Are No Threat

Stephen Hawking, in an article dated 2 December 2014, stated that artificial intelligence could end mankind.

Now in all likelihood Mr Hawking is considerably more intelligent than I. However I do not believe that there is anything to be worried about with intelligent computers.

Society has a small number of more intelligent beings than the rest of the population. Yet they are of no threat to the existence of the less intelligent. Why is this so?

It’s All About Power

I believe wars and nature have shown us that the threat to existence is solely attributable to power. Humans have wiped out other animal species not out of intent but because they had the power to do so and didn’t restrain themselves.

Our national leaders are rarely the most intelligent of people – again they are often from wealthy families and get where they are because of the networks they have and the people who would benefit from their compliance.

In the school yard intelligent people are routinely targeted for physical assault by those with more raw strength.

Society often demonstrates power against intelligence in the form of strike action by unions who can disrupt society through coordinated action.

And gangs can change/destroy lives through the use of sheer force.

So What Can a Smart Computer Do?

Not a lot! Humans can pull the plug.

Of course if you network a large number of computers and attach them to electrical sources they control along with physically strong mechanical systems – perhaps portable systems (e.g. robotic drones) – then you have a realistic power threat.

But nobody will be that stupid, right?

Is Intelligence Then No Value?

Intelligence does have value. But, by itself, is not a replacement for raw physical or political power. Intelligence helps gain a slight advantage where two parties have equal power. But intelligence is not enough to wipe out or control another.

How Can You Be Sure?

I’m not. This is a personal theory with no scientific evidence to back it up.

What is the Price of Closing a Motorway for an Accident?


Having personally been parked on a motorway for 3 hours without any choice in the matter I have a keen sense of sympathy for the many who have also experienced an unexpected and unwanted imprisonment in their lives.

The argument, of course, is that a fatality is a tragic thing and that such an event should be dealt with and the incident area investigated without contamination.

But at what point is the cost to the public as a whole greater than the value of an uncontaminated accident scene? To some that may not have a price – but to others there is a level of reasonableness to consider.

The question is: what is the price to the public of a tailback?

What Price a Tailback?

Let’s consider an event that occurred on 1 November 2011 where the M25 was closed for 3 hours causing a 19-mile tailback.

How many vehicles would have been caught up in this queue? Assuming that each car consists of at least one working adult (the driver) how much is their time worth? This should give as a very basic cost basis of such an incident to the general public (not including lorries and business impact).

How Many Cars?

  • length of a BMW 3 Series: 4.5 metres
  • number of car lengths between cars in a queue: 2.0 (conservative guess)
  • distance taken by a single car: (2.0 + 1.0) x 4.5 = 13.5 metres
  • cars per kilometre: 74
  • cars per mile: 119

In a 3-lane tailback for 19 miles there would be approximately 19 x 3 x 119 = 6,783 cars involved all parked for 3 hours.

What Price Delay?

Let’s conservatively assume that each car contains one adult of working age and that over the span of vehicles those adults earn the average UK wage. Let’s bill their time delayed by their income for those hours delayed.

So, for 6,783 cars delayed for 3 hours at an average earning rate of £12.48 per hour per car we have a total cost of £253,853. Over a quarter of a million pounds and that’s a conservative estimate!

Should a Motorway be Completely Blocked if it Costs the Public a Quarter Million Pounds?

I cannot answer that. But it should make you think the next time the police completely shut off a motorway.

Fatal accidents are complicated things. But if a few cars get written off in an accident it would be cheaper just to tow those things off the road and buy the people involved brand new cars rather than hold up the (uninvolved and innocent) public.

Insurer’s Responsibilities?

I would argue that insurers must bear the cost of compensating directly affected drivers for the cost of their delay. It would be, arguably, infeasible to process separate personalised claims by every driver caught in the tailback. But given a record of vehicles on the motorway section at the time (from camera logs) and a calculated average loss to the public – each motorist should at least get £36 compensation mailed to them from the insurer of the responsible vehicle.

Think about it: the person responsible will likely get a brand new car from the insurance company – even though they caused the accident. But thousands of innocent motorists have time stolen from them with no compensation at present – and this cannot be right.

It would be entirely appropriate for insurance companies to levy different fees for insurance depending on whether motorists use the motorways or not. If you crash on a backroad and affect nobody it is right that nobody else gets compensated. But if you block a motorway and directly prevent motorists from escaping or getting around the incident then you should bear full liability to those people you are directly affecting. You might not have crashed into their car but you could be causing them great pain – missing a wedding, a flight, or getting to a hospital to deliver a baby!


All numbers here are estimates only – very basic – and a number of assumptions may have been missed. However the number derived should be viewed as an absolute minimum of the impact to the public – the true cost is likely to be far higher when taking into consideration missed appointments, spoiled items in vehicles, lorries and commercial vehicles also trapped, and consequential incidents occurring in the tailback.