July 2022 – Page 2 – Michmutters

Rooftop solar panels, costing thousands of dollars, deemed fire hazard

Ricky Barone installed a solar system on his roof in 2014 to make the most of the North Queensland sun and save money on his electricity bills.

Since its installation, however, it has cost him thousands of dollars and years of sleepless nights.

It wasn’t until a so-called solar doctor inspected his rooftop panels this year that the Mackay man realized the potential hazard he was living under.

“I have [the solar inspector] basically said it’s badly installed and there’s a big chance it could catch fire,” Mr Barone said.

“I was so ticked off and I haven’t been sleeping well thinking about it.”

Mr Barone said it was a two-year wait to get a solar system installed by a local company, so he instead turned to a company based in Melbourne.

Ricky Barone and Son Solar
Ricky Barone and his son in Mackay.(ABC Tropical North: Hannah Walsh)

He said the problems started after about six months and then he had difficulty getting parts replaced, such as when the inverters failed after 18 months.

On one occasion a neighbor called Mr Barone to alert him to a fire.

“They blew up the meter box,” he said.

“It should have clicked from day one… we’ve had nothing but trouble with it.

“The system has never worked … we got it to try and save money to do some other renovations, but we haven’t been able to.”

Mr Barone said he wanted the company to uninstall it but the ABC understands the firm has not sold solar in a number of years.

“They just keep saying someone will get in contact, and they never do,” Mr Barone said.

“They’ve got a complaint site and there’s a lot of people in the same boat.”

The company has been contacted by the ABC for comment.

What is a solar doctor?

Jemal Solo started his own solar-inspection business in Mackay because he said no-one was advocating for home owners with solar installations.

A man sits in an office
Jemal Solo says most people do not consider getting their solar installations serviced.(ABC Tropical North: Hannah Walsh)

“We hold installers and manufacturers accountable for their products and workmanship,” Mr Solo said.

“We took this on because we saw nobody was addressing this … and when it comes to pensioners that’s when you get really upset because people buy this to save money.”

Mr Solo, who has installed solar panels and conducts inspections for the Clean Energy Regulator, said installers had a five-year defects liability period to fix their work.

“It’s your fault really if you find six years later that it hasn’t been installed properly,” he said.

“The problem is there’s no feedback loop … nobody is checking the installers’ work.

“The solar retailers don’t really care as long as they’re getting paid.”

Brian Richardson from the Queensland Electrical Safety Office said there had been instances in which interstate companies had come to Queensland without the appropriate licences.

Who can consumers turn to?

Australia does not have a national authority responsible for electrical safety.

Mr Barone said he had referred his case to the Queensland Office of Fair Trading as well as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Solar panels on a brick roof
A solar-inspection business in Mackay says no-one is advocating for home owners with solar installations.(Unsplash: ulleo: Public Domain)

He’s not alone.

The Office of Fair Trading deals with approximately 350 complaints a year involving solar products.

The Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) deals with complaints about solar billing and metering.

Jane Pires of the EWOQ said in the 2021–22 financial year, it received 142 complaints about solar billing errors, an increase of 92 per cent from the previous year.

It passed 153 cases related to installation and 17 related to solar warranties to the Office of Fair Trading.

Delia Ricard, deputy chair of the ACCC, said her organization was also receiving a large volume of complaints concerning consumers’ experience with retail solar panels and installation.

“If it is a small local regulator, we are likely to refer it to Queensland Fair Trading,” she said.

“Where it’s a larger national or more systematic problem, we may take enforcement or regulatory action.

“The Clean Energy Council and new tech codes are designed to lift the standards in terms of manufacture and installation of solar systems.

“While they are voluntary codes, in most states where there are rebates, you can only get the rebate if the system was purchased from somebody who comes under the code.”

There are currently no state or territory requirements for electricians to hold extra qualifications for solar.

A scheme introduced 22 years ago by the federal government aimed to address this but it will be phased out by 2030.

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme run by the Clean Energy Regulator provides households and businesses with financial incentives to install solar systems approved by the Clean Energy Council.

The scheme’s general manager, Matthew Power, said he had been consulting with states and territories to embed some of the scheme’s aspects into normal state and territorial electrical rules.

Man in high vis work gear closing his meter box.
It is recommended a solar installation be checked once a year.(ABC Tropical North: Hannah Walsh)

“The Commonwealth scheme is setting an obligation above and beyond the state and territory requirements that are already in place,” Mr Power said.

“The system needs to be installed by a Clean Energy Council-accredited installer who has done additional qualifications and training above their normal electrical licensing.”

‘Shoddy workmanship’ complaints



New PSVR 2 features, Quest 2 price hike and AI prompts as a commodity

New PSVR 2 features, Quest 2 price hike and AI prompts as a commodity

Image: Sony / MIXED

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Our weekly recap: Meta raises the price of Quest 2, Sony talks about Playstation VR 2 for eleven, and a marketplace deals with DALL-E 2 and GPT-3 prompts.

Inflation, investments, and so on

The Quest 2 has been on the market for about two years now – and has just become more expensive by about $100 anyway. Meta explains this unusual maneuver with high investments in the market and increased production costs. VR and gaming guru John Carmack, who was the head of technology at Oculus for a long time, finds these arguments strange. Is perhaps the renewed attack of the US antitrust authority FTC behind it, which stands in the way of Meta’s VR fitness expansion?

Playstation VR 2 … wasn’t there something?

Oh, that’s right, there will be a new VR headset from Sony one day. We still don’t know when that day will be, but at least we know we’ll know soon. And Sony has shown us some new features of PSVR 2 like room scanning that make us want more.

Video: Sony

Creativity in the AI ​​age

The age of AI could transform human creativity because AI breaks the link between creative thinking and manual dexterity. With imaginative “prompts,” simple text commands, we can get machines to output images, text, or in the future even 3D scenes the way we imagine them. Perhaps in this way, we will learn more about the interplay between thinking and doing.

In any case, a new marketplace senses a business model and wants to sell proven prompts for small money. This can save (even more) time and money than DALL-E 2 and Co. already do. If you prefer to be creative yourself, see our prompt guide for DALL-E 2.


Artful prompts are also needed for the DALL-E competitor Midjourney, which is now available in open beta.

At Midjourney, too, people have to develop the image idea themselves – and put it into a suitable prompt. Here, for example, a struggling Metaverse job market in cyberpunk style. | Image: Midjourney / MIXED

Fewer metaverse professionals wanted

Concerns about a weakening economy are leading to lower investment, especially in the technology sector. This is particularly evident in metaverse job postings. One survey shows that job postings in the US with “metaverse” in the title fell 81 percent between April and June. But this study only shows part of the story.

Malware films what you do in VR

A new malware can record the screen of a VR headset and send the footage back to the attacker. That’s according to New York-based cybersecurity firm Reasonlabs, which identified the threat. Potentially affected are Android headsets such as the Quest 2, Pico Neo 3 and Vive Focus 3. How does the malware work with “Big Brother”? And how can you protect yourself?


Georgia Godwin wins gymnastics gold for Australia

“It’s just there’s been a lot that I’ve had to get through,” she said. “I can’t put it into words. I came into this competition with no expectations. I just wanted to do my best.”


It was a brilliant performance on the beam, where Godwin put in a competition-high score of 13,750 as English stars Alice Kinsella and Ondine Achampong faltered, which set up her memorable victory.

She sealed the deal with a score of 12,900 on the floor. Godwin’s score of 53,550 secured her de ella first Commonwealth Games gold – an upgrade on her all-around silver on the Gold Coast – ahead of Achampong (53,000) and Canada’s Emma Spence (52,350)

And she did it all on adrenaline, admitting she barely slept the night before after the teams event. Even still, she stuck to her disciplined competition routines of rehabilitation and nutrition.

“I feel like I was just lying with my eyes closed for half the night. I honestly don’t know how much sleep I got, but you gotta get up, you gotta get to the gym, you got to do the best you can,” she said.

Georgia Godwin of Australia performs on the uneven bars during the women's all-around finals.

Georgia Godwin of Australia performs on the uneven bars during the women’s all-around finals.Credit:AP

After a late finish the night before, it was a tuna and cheese sandwich for dinner before bed, followed by a bowl of muesli and yoghurt for breakfast with a cup of tea. A banana was all she needed for lunch before she went out to strut her stuff.

“I try to keep it quite healthy and fresh, with what I need. Like some days, I will have a sandwich before, but today, I didn’t quite need it because of the late dinner last night,” she said.

The grueling routine – four consecutive days of competition – is a first for the Queenslander. Ella she’s not sold that’s it’s sustainable, but she is not one to complain.

“You can’t change the schedule,” she said. “You just have to get up and do the best you can.”

Godwin was the third-highest qualifier after Kinsella and Achampong, who were coming off helping England claim team gold ahead of Australia. The Australian was fifth after scoring 13,300 on the vault, but an outstanding uneven bars routine with a perfect landing delivered a score of 13,550 and lifted the Australian into third, 0,700 off leader Kinsella.

Then the competition opened up when leader Kinsella fell off the beam, failed to complete her routine and went over time. Godwin capitalized, completing a brilliant routine by dismounting with a double somersault in the pike position to earn a score of 13,750 and leap to the top of the leaderboard, ahead of Canada’s Emma Spence. Achampong then also fell off and recorded a score of 12,500, further opening the door for Godwin to triumph.

At 24, an athlete’s career is more often than not just beginning, but Godwin conceded this may be the peak. While she remains focused on the three individual events ahead – vault, uneven bars and beam – she is eyeing a break before she contemplates whether to go on to the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“I need to put my body and mental health as a priority,” she said.

“I’ll be taking a break, and then reassessing. I’d love to make Paris, but at the moment, it’s a day-by-day proposition by competition.”

Before that, a teary phone call with her parents, Gene and Mari, at home in Southport was the priority.

“They might be in bed, I’m not quite sure it is late in Australia,” she said. “But I’m sure the waterworks will start again after that.”

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Liberals deputy leader Stuart Ayres defends actions over US trade appointment

NSW deputy Liberals leader Stuart Ayres has defended his actions over the appointment of former deputy premier John Barilaro to a lucrative trade role in New York.

Mr Ayres has been under increasing pressure after documents released publicly to the parliament called into question his involvement in the recruitment process and whether he misled parliament.

The Premier is standing by Mr Ayres, who accompanied him on an overseas trade trip in his role as Trade Minister.

Mr Ayres maintains the recruitment process was conducted at arm’s length from government, and released a lengthy statement backing his actions on his Facebook page late yesterday.

He said he and Mr Barilaro were not close friends and he described his actions as being driven by his desire to “put the people of NSW first”.

“While I respected Mr Barilaro in his role as deputy premier, leader of the National Party and his passionate (and at times excessive) advocacy of regional NSW, I don’t think we ever called each other close friends,” he said.

Former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro
John Barilaro will appear before the inquiry into his appointment next week. (AAP: Joel Carrett)

“In fact, I can’t think of one time in the 11 years we were both in parliament together that we shared a meal or a beer together outside of a work function.



Kentucky floods kill at least 28 – ‘Everything is gone’

July 31 (Reuters) – Floods unleashed by torrential rains in eastern Kentucky have killed at least 28 people, including four children, Governor Andy Beshear said on Sunday as authorities worked to provide food and shelter for thousands of displaced residents.

Some homes in the hardest hit areas were swept away after days of heavy rainfall that Beshear has described as some of the worst in the US state’s history. Rescue teams guided motor boats through residential and commercial areas searching for victims.

“Everything is gone. Like, everything is gone. The whole office is gone,” one of the flood’s victims, Rachel Patton, told WCHS TV. Around her, houses were half-submerged in water.

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“We had to swim out, and it was cold. It was over my head, so yeah. It was scary.”

Officials warn the death toll may continue to rise with more expected rainfall potentially hampering rescue efforts. The National Weather Service forecasts several rounds of showers and storms through Tuesday, with a flood watch in effect through Monday morning in southern and eastern Kentucky.

“We are still focused on meeting the immediate needs of providing food, water and shelter for thousands of our fellow Kentuckians who have been displaced by this catastrophic flood,” Beshear said in a statement.

Beshear, who declared a state emergency over the floods, earlier told NBC that authorities will “be finding bodies for weeks” as rescuers fan out to more remote areas.

The floods were the second major national disaster to strike Kentucky in seven months, following a swarm of tornadoes that claimed nearly 80 lives in the western part of the state in December. read more

President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Kentucky on Friday, allowing federal funding to be allocated to the state. Beshear’s office said that affected residents could begin applying for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Power lines were widely damaged, with over 14,000 reports of outages on Sunday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.US.

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Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Rami Ayyub in Washington; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Lisa Shumaker and Sandra Maler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



Tins of SPAM are being locked up in some stores: ‘I’ve never seen this before’

A New York resident has shared a surprise discovery at a local store.

Willy Staley says he’s noticed tins of processed meats such as SPAM are being locked up to prevent theft.

He made the discovery at a Duane Reade store inside the Port Authority bus depot in Midtown Manhattan.

Celebrity ham has also been locked away.

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“I’ve never seen this before,” one of his followers commented.

Although others say they have seen SPAM locked up in stores in Hawaii.

“They have been locking up SPAM for years IN Hawaii,” added another.

Another said: “I visited family in Hawaii last year and was shocked to see this at their local Walmart. I never expected to see something at the level of Spam to be a focus of loss prevention. And I’m someone who actually likes the stuff!”

“SPAM gangs,” added another.

Others have reported that tins of SPAM aren’t even placed on shelves at their local stores for this reason, and are kept behind the counter.

SPAM not being kept on shelves at stores
One customer said SPAM isn’t being kept on the shelf of their premises. (twitter)

To this one person says: “Is retail theft that bad in Seattle? I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. Only stuff behind locks/counters I’ve ever seen is electronics and pricy makeup.”

“Is SPAM such a high theft item,” added another.

One person said: “Never expected to see a photo like this. My ex-husband would call Spam, ‘meat of questionable origin’. To see a can of Spam in a theft deterrent container is an unexpected Surprise.”

“I nominated this for Tweet of the Year,” added another.

SPAM locked up in New York store
SPAM is seemingly a prized possession and currently retails for $6.30 in Australia. (twitter)

It has been reported theft in midtown Manhattan has increased by 40 per cent, leading to measures such as this.

Some are blaming the increasing cost of food. Another’s point to the pandemic which has led to more homelessness.

In Australia tins of SPAM cost $6.30.

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Overwatch 2 skins could be as pricey as $45 USD

Get real.

Overwatch 2 skins could set you back as much as $45 USD, a new report suggests.

Twitter’s Porterguage has shared a survey that a friend received—so perhaps take this with a grain of salt—that queries users as to how much they’d be prepared to spend on the free-to-play sequel.

One question in particular asked, “How likely would you be to purchase a Mythic Skin at a price of $44.99?”

Other price-related questions involved weapon charms priced at $9.99 USD or a Legendary Skin set at $24.99 USD. Bundles with three sprays were potentially set at $4.99 USD, while a pack with a Legendary Skin, weapon charm, player icon, victory post, voice line, name card and spray could potentially set you back $29.99 USD.

This notion of free-to-play titles with big microtransactions certainly isn’t new; Devil Immortal has been raked through the coals over the notion that a single character requires $150,000 AUD of real-world money to be maxed out. Another new free-to-play game, MultiVersusoffers up a single Batman skin for a whopping $30 AUD.

Needless to say, fans over on Reddit weren’t thrilled.

“[Not goint to lie,] I was ready to comment, ‘oh $30 for the highest tier skins is normal in the industry,’ but goddamn they just kinda blew past that, huh,” wrote one user.

Overwatch 2 goes free-to-play on Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5 and Switch on 5 October 2022 here in Australia. We went in depth on what to expect from it here.

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Child expert shares tip for helping toddlers deal with separation anxiety at bedtime

Anyone who has had children knows how hard it can be getting little ones off to sleep.

If you think the baby stage is tough, it can be just as hard to get older children to sleep, with separation anxiety at night considered one of the top causes of toddler sleep regression.

Thankfully, an infant sleep consultant has shared a simple way to battle the problem — and it is taking the internet by storm. Best of all, you can try it at home with just some colored paper and a pair of scissors.

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An infant sleep consultant has shared a simple way to battle toddler separation anxiety at bedtime. (Tik Tok)

Michelle is a certified infant sleep consultant and mother-of-two who offers online resources and services to help families with sleep issues.

Her business, Goodnight Charley, was inspired by the problems she had getting her daughter Charley off to sleep, and she shares her tips on the websiteInstagram and TikTok account of the same name.

A video she uploaded this week suggests using cute cutout hearts to help toddlers cope with bedtime anxiety.

The video starts with Michelle using scissors to cut paper hearts out of colored paper.

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Michelle starts by cutting out colorful paper hearts. (Tik Tok)

“Tip for toddler separation anxiety at bedtime,” is written across the scene. “Cut out a whole bunch of hearts. Tell your toddler that you’ll come and check on them in the night, and each time you’ll leave a heart.

“When you say goodnight, give your toddler one of these hearts. Once they are asleep, sneak into their room and place the rest of the hearts in there.

Which she then gives to daughter Charley. (Tik Tok)

“In the morning when they wake up, there will be a bunch of hearts. Count them with your toddler, and tell them that’s how many times you were in their room to check on them and keep them safe.

“The goal is to help them feel safe and that they aren’t alone at night.”

The hearts are scattered around the bedroom during the night. (Tik Tok)

She uploaded the video with the comment, “Toddler sleep comes with a whole new set of challenges than baby sleep, and while separation anxiety has some peaks with babies as well, it hits different with toddlers because of increased imagination and the overall realization of how fun it is to be awake.

“It’s not uncommon at many toddler ages to experience this, but particularly age three we see a peak in separation anxiety.

“I have many families come to me saying their child is requesting they stay with them until they fall asleep, have more nightmares, want cuddles in the night, and much more!

“Now, there is nothing wrong with cuddling your child, laying with them, and helping them feel safe. I do this with Charley often. BUT why not try other tools to help them feel safe and secure. Especially, if this goes on long term and you want to find some ways to get your sleep back!”

She uploaded the video with the hashtags #babysleep, #toddlersleep, #momlife, #Momtok #selfsoothing #sleeptraining #sleepconsulting.

It has so far been viewed more than 180,000 times and received almost 30,000 likes.

Many commenters loved the idea. “Saving this for sure. Clever way to let them know they’re safe and loved,” wrote one. “I can’t wait to do this! Gorgeous idea,” said another.

“This is the sweetest depiction of love,” wrote another. “My son is eight and he still wants me to check on him. I love this idea. He will literally ask me as he’s falling asleep if I’m still going to check on him.”

But others were not sold on the idea.

“My daughter would stay awake to wait for me to come,” wrote one.

“If I went in my daughter’s room I guarantee I would wake her up,” said another.

Predictably, others thought it was a form of lying.

“Cute but I’m not gonna lie to her,” said one, to which Michelle responded, “If you’re here to comment and assume this is lying to your child, then don’t. This creates a visual for toddlers to understand you are checking on them. Because I do check on her through the monitor, enter her room, etc. Multiple times.”

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Adorable baby sleeping in blue bassinet with canopy at night.  Little boy in pajamas taking a nap in dark room with crib, lamp and toy bear.  Bed time for kids.  Indoor bedroom and nursery.

Songs that put babies to sleep


Bids roll in for multi-billion dollar AFL deal

Seven has exclusive rights to the grand finale but does not have the ability to broadcast weekly matches on its online platform, 7Plus. The group’s bid for the rights includes a request for games to be accessed digitally, via 7Plus. Sources close to Seven said it would not agree to any future deal without these rights.

A bid by cashed-up Paramount will include options to broadcast AFL and AFLW games across its free-to-air network, Ten, and its streaming service. Sources said Nine, which owns radio, television and publishing assets, has proposed a package of Thursday night games to the AFL. The AFL has previously split its matches across multiple networks, but it is unclear if there is still a desire to do so.

A Paramount bid could deliver a bigger broadcast deal for the AFL, but any offer would not be as high as $600 million per annum – or $3 billion over five years.

The AFL wants to secure a highly lucrative deal to increase payments to players, including AFLW players, who are pushing for a significant increase in their next collective bargaining agreement.

This masthead reported last week that Foxtel was seeking to use its own commentary team for all nine AFL games per round, rather than having to use Seven’s live call of the free-to-air games. Foxtel also wants to run a “Super Saturday,” which would allow it to exclusively broadcast Saturday games on pay TV during the regular season.

However, the AFL is facing pressure in Western Australia over the proposal. West Coast Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett, Fremantle Dockers coach Justin Longmuir, the Seven West-owned west australian newspaper and even WA Premier Mark McGowan have called for all games involving the WA clubs to be shown exclusively on free-to-air.

Should AFL matches involving the WA clubs – and the two South Australian teams (Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide) – be awarded exclusively to a free-to-air network, the value of the overall rights would almost certainly fail to reach the ambitious targets being eyed off by the AFL’s executive team, as the appeal to pay TV services would be lessened.


The AFL talks are coinciding with advanced discussions between media companies and NBC Universal, the US film studio behind popular shows such as The Office, Brave New World and gangs of london, which is offering streaming services a new licensing deal.

NBC Universal’s Asia Pacific managing director, Justin Che, was in town last week to talk to companies about licensing programs when the studio’s existing deals with Foxtel and Nine’s streaming service Stan expire later this year. With domestic cricket and tennis negotiations expected to kick off within the next six months, all media companies will be weighing up the best way to spend their money.

Meanwhile, the federal government is in the process of reviewing anti-siphoning laws, which were introduced in 1990 and give free-to-air broadcasters first dibs on rights to key sporting and cultural moments. The government is expected to tweak the anti-siphoning legislation, but it is unclear if a discussion paper will be ready before the AFL deal is complete.

Media companies have requested anti-siphoning laws be overhauled, given the rules do not apply to streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Paramount. Foxtel, which is restricted in broadcast negotiations because of the laws, wants them eased.

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Tasmanian government and UNESCO seemingly at odds over national park development: Greens

“Confused” is how Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor says she feels about the way the Tasmanian government is continuing to support development in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA).

Since 2014, the state government has been encouraging tourism operators to put forward their proposals for development in national parks, which it says will help create regional jobs.

Some proposals are up and running, but others are proving contentious.

With developers behind a proposal for Lake Malbena trying again to win approval, and plans for huts in a remote corner of the south-west yet to reach the approvals phase, will UNESCO’s stance on development have any impact?

What is the situation with the TWWHA?

UNESCO, the United Nations body that oversees World Heritage areas, in July 2021 urged the government “to avoid any development at the [TWWHA] before the detailed plan for a comprehensive cultural assessment is implemented”.