Sunday, 30 December 2007
Saturday, 29 December 2007
Three or four more tacks took us past some Hectors Dolphins and on to Godley Head at the north side of the harbour entrance, where we met a big rolling SE sea - with today's NE wind chop on top. That caused us to rock and roll somewhat as we eased sheets to a broad reach and sailed past Taylor's Mistake and Whitewash Head to Sumner Bay. In a light 20 footer, we were being bounced about quite a lot - if we'd been on a 40 footer we'd have said "Not too choppy today."
Once at Sumner, we hove-to and ate some lunch, but we were still slopping about a lot so we didn't hang around for long. We made a brief leg out to sea to gain some leeway to round the heads, then sailed back to the harbour. As the wind had built to nearly 20 knots, we opted to forgo the spinnaker and instead poled out the jib for a rolling surfing ride back down past the cruise ship to the inner harbour, where we lowered the sails before motoring back round to the club at Corsair Bay. Now I can go on holiday with happy memories of a great day's sailing.
Friday, 28 December 2007
Later in the day I went shopping for clothes. I purchased underwear and socks, a couple of shirts, and a pair of $100 Levis, taking less than an hour to spend $220. I should really buy a pair of shoes too, but that can wait. I can only stand so much shopping time in a week - I have sometimes bought an item that isn't really right, just to get out of the horrible retail environment. The idea that people would go to a mall voluntarily, for fun, appalls me - I guess I'm (yet again) showing my age.
We've postponed our sailing till tomorrow, partially to suit Stu's domestic arrangements and partly because the dying southerly is keeping things a little damp and cool. Tomorrow will be a much nicer day, as the next ridge of high pressure moves onto New Zealand.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007
I've re-done my links list on the right hand side of the blog page by breaking them into separate lists. It took ages - why couldn't I just put sub headings into a single list? Anyway, it's now a lot easier to find stuff. If this weather keeps up, I'll be forced to attack the filing cabinet in the study...
Later - plans are afoot for a big sailing day on Friday 28th - the long planned day trip out of the Lyttelton Heads and around to either Sumner (that's Plan A) or Port Levy, if the wind is too much from the north. Either way, I'd like to get us several km off the coast and out into the ocean swells, to give Schroeder a reality check about keeler sailing - before we commit ourselves to something bigger than we wanted. Watch this space.
And I forgot to mention our fancy Christmas dinner - it was terrific. The food and the service was everything you'd hope for $100 a head, and we really enjoyed taking several hours to sample and relax as we progressed from seafood entree to dessert and coffee.
Tuesday, 25 December 2007
Then tomorrow is my 59th birthday; not much to be said about that either...
Sunday, 23 December 2007
The McLeans Island track is aimed at parents and kids, and it's fantastic for that market. There were people with two year olds in kiddie seats, 10 year olds on their own bikes, and lots of parents. The track is huge fun, with a few small challenges to provide excitement, but nothing to freak out beginners.
I doubt that I'll go back there for a while, it's a 25 min drive to get there and Bottle Lake is just a few km from home. But I'm glad I've seen it.
Saturday, 22 December 2007
I'll buy our Christmas groceries this morning, then think about a few presents, and practise my relaxing a bit more.
Some good things I've discovered on the net recently;
- A depressed web server
- The Haj and Mecca from the air
- Peak Oil watch
- Scott Base webcams. . . and the South Pole
- Steve Martin and Keith Moon destroy a hotel room
Thursday, 20 December 2007
But the big news for me was the arrival of my new HP desktop PC. The first good sign was the weight; it is HEAVY! That means quality, I always say. I plugged it in (no noise from fans at all) and tested the video outputs. With minimal fiddling, and several thanks to Jess, we had two screens working, so that was Positive Step 2. I soon had it hooked up to my other gear (Logitech USB headset, Seagate USB 500GB external hard drive, Palm Tungsten PDA, etc) and started installing software for the third time in 6 weeks. (Don't ask...) It went pretty smoothly, and by 4pm I had most of the system back the way I wanted it.
Its Core Duo CPU is a quantum leap faster than my old P4. Google Earth renders lots faster, proving the bottleneck is not the network, as I'd always assumed, it's the graphics rendering. The twin 19" LCD screens with the tower case behind are great, and access to the back of the case is still easy.
And it has both a DVD player and a DVD-R drive! No floppy drive, but 7 USB ports, a 160GB disk, 2GB of RAM. Ooh ooh, more power, to quote Tim the Tool Man Taylor.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
I don't have his ability to reconcile the two views. I spend many moments in my working life wondering "How can Joe Desktop spend an hour tracking down a tiny error in a router configuration file because he knows there must be a cause, then believe that the world 'just happened' because a spiritual being said 'Let there be light'?"
Every day in the IT industry, people follow a rigid belief in causation and physical logic. Then quite a lot of them go to church and celebrate the great Christian mysteries; creation, the trinity, the resurrection, even the virgin birth if you want to go the whole hog.
What goes through their minds as they go off to sleep? "Maybe tomorrow printers will go on printing with no toner." "Maybe tomorrow 192.168.0.1 will be the way to heaven." "Maybe tomorrow binary number arithmetic will be easy." Maybe even "I said my prayers tonight, so tomorrow's backups will work for the first time this week."
I don't like "nonoverlapping magisteria" - I prefer "cognitive disconnect" - placing the blame in the human brain, where it belongs. There are no "magisteria" - they're just words coined by a biologist who didn't want to offend Christians. I am describing the ability of the brain to believe two things at once - that print queues follow the principles of computing, and that humans follow the Lord of Abraham.
Anyway, I see, on a daily basis, people who simultaneously believe that things happen for a reason, and that things happen for no reason. It makes me nervous - what on earth will they start believing next?
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
The NZ Met Service says: "This parameter (the number of isobars between Tahiti and Darwin) has been rising over the past three months and is now indicating that the atmosphere is indeed in a moderate LA NINA mode. A recent summer that behaved similarly was 1999/2000. If you can remember the weather you had around the turn of the millennium then that's much the same sort of patterns we are looking forward to this summer."
That was a particularly grey and damp summer in Canterbury, as I recall.
The NZ Met Service article goes on to say; "Typical weather patterns in a La Nina summer are larger-than-normal anticyclones taking a path across Tasmania and the South Tasman Sea. Some of these will then cross central New Zealand bringing periods of sunny warm dry weather, and others will slip around the seas to the south. These high-pressure systems then re-intensify east of New Zealand and bring a period of humid northerly or easterly wind that usually culminate in a period of rain affecting mainly northern and northeastern parts of the country for a few days.
Between these anticyclones the intervening troughs of low pressure with fronts and low pressure centres are likely to mainly roll in from the north Tasman Sea. Some of these troughs may be preceded by a northwesterly flow stretching back to Australia, bringing rain to the Southern Alps but exacerbating the fire risk in eastern South island areas with hot, dry, and gusty conditions. Some may well be followed by a few days of cooler south or southeasterly flows with welcome rain to eastern districts.
In a La Nina summer we are open to whatever weather systems the tropics to the north and northwest may send in our direction."
Sunday, 16 December 2007
Sunday got hotter by the hour, and even now at 9.40 pm it is still in the high 20s. We went round to Chris and Frances's place for farewell drinks and nibbles - they're off for 3 weeks in Northland. Home for cold meat and salad, and that's the weekend over. Like a metaphor for the human condition, really; short and not as unpleasant as it might have been.
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Not within Camtasia, though, which is the reason I'd bought the gadget. Hmm...
Back to Control Panel. I noticed that I had drivers installed for the now-unused proprietary sound card (I've already forgotten its name) so I uninstalled them and rebooted, in case they were still holding ports open. No better, but at least they weren't taking up RAM any more.
Back into Camtasia Recorder - I finally thought to open View>Toolbars, and hey, there's one named Input Device! Enable the toolbar, click Microphone, quick test video, thumbs up, off to the pub. WHY would you release software with the most useful toolbar hidden? It shouldn't be that hard...
Monday, 10 December 2007
That essay on why the British have always been sniffy about SF mentioned Fredric Brown’s story "Answer" - a brilliant little one-page story about the super computer that was asked if there is a god. Once you've had a quick read of that, what do you now think about the internet? Is SETI actually the first step in the machines' march to total control?
Or maybe the machines that take us over will be small and cute?
Time for bed...
Sunday, 9 December 2007
Late in the afternoon we drove to Southshore for a party at our friends Julian and Alma's house which is nestled in a sheltered hollow in the sand dunes beside the beach. It's a great spot, but it's a long way home after drinking, so we'd planned to catch a bus home and collect the car in the morning. At the party we met Lianne Dalziel, the Minister of Commerce, and her husband Rob, and after signing up Heather and me as Labour Party members for the first time since 1980 (Lianne whipped out a membership book from her handbag, she must do this on a regular basis) they offered us a ride home in her government-provided Prius. It is a spooky feeling to slide along city streets in total silence, though Rob reckoned that the actual fuel mileage is no better than a small hatchback.
Ater breakfast I'll take a bus and go to retrieve the car, then I'm not sure what we'll do with the day. But first, another cup of coffee...
That was 7am - at 9am I walked along the block and caught an Orbiter bus to the Eastgate Mall. I had a 25 minute wait there, but that passed pleasantly with some reading and listening to National Radio on my headphones. Then the #5 Southshore bus took me to New Brighton and down to the car. An hour had passed, but I'd travelled across half the city for $2 - that's a pretty good deal!
On the drive home, I diverted to a huge Mitre 10 store and bought a new padlock for the boat trailer coupling; the old one had been snapped off by a clumsy manoeuvre by someone from a park near us. (At least that's our assumption, based on the badly bent evidence.)
After lunch Heather and I drove to Lyttelton, where Heather went for a walk, while I painted the decks of the cockpit, then oiled the tiller and most of the wooden gunwales. I couldn't oil beside the decks I'd painted, so once the paint has dried I'll apply more oil a number of times over the next few weeks, until it is all fully impregnated and preserved. I'm darned if I want to keep sanding and varnishing woodwork, for no good reason other than appearance. Oil will preserve it just as well.
Then I made a salad from spinach and lettuce leaves from our garden, went to the pub for an hour, and came home to cook dinner. After a beautiful day, I am now reflecting on what a nice weekend it has been - I wouldn't be dead for quids!
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
We are also getting some HP laptops for use by UCTL staff, as well as the HP/Compaq Tablet that seems to have become mine as well. We are spoiled for choice!
Here's the new PC's specs:
"The Super Performance PC is at the high end of the HP Range. Boasting the Intel Core 2 Duo (1066FSB) Processor, and DDR2 667 Memory, and giving you the option to add a high performance graphics card, this PC is ideal for the serious user, either as a high end workstation in a department or for the serious gamer or home user."
As well as the Core Duo CPU and the 2GB of fast RAM, it has a 160GB drive, a DVD-RW drive, and an array of ports. Surprisingly, it sports an RS-232 serial port, a parallel printer port, and a couple of PS/2 connectors; some of those I thought were legacy ports for which you'd buy a converter card, but they're on board.
There's no floppy disk though; it's the first PC I've ever had without one. (Later - I realise that's not true, the iBook I'm using to type this has no floppy drive.) But to make up, the HP has 8 (eight!) USB 2.0 ports. There's a sign of the times...
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
We're doing hands-on work with the staff's own courses in workshops this week, then we'll follow up with personal visits to each person over the next 10 days to catch any problems on their own PCs and give more instruction. The hope is that this approach will lead to a more solid uptake of the system and less lip-service to online teaching.
Sunday, 2 December 2007
Friday, 30 November 2007
Back to the workshop it went, while I spent several days using my Intel iMac - it was fine, but again I did not have my shortcuts so everything was done from basic principles. There's the Mac, where my PC used to sit, with the PC twin screens pushed into the corner.
The PC reappeared at lunchtime yesterday, and I took Jess's advice about profiles (every so often, start with a clean one). I saved the old profile off the server so I had a copy of my bookmarks and other vital stuff, deleted the server copy, then logged in and started the long slow process of reinstalling all my utility applications and setting up shortcuts. I rely heavily on Keytext, a keyboard macro program (remember Sidekick?) to burp out chunks of text at a keystroke, I use two text editors (NoteTab and Notepad++) for different jobs, the wonderful 2xExplorer for file management, Faststone Image Viewer for managing pictures, plus applications like Dreamweaver, Photoshop, MindManager, and so on. I should have most of them set up today.
The first program I set up was Firefox, followed by my Palm calendar-sync software, as entering appointments into Outlook and the Palm separately was really annoying. At the first synchronisation, the Palm announced that it had been synced with another computer, and there might be duplication. The only choice was to carry on, and guess what? Double appointments, dozens of them! Aren't these wonderful labour-saving devices?
Then the final irony; I was informed on Friday afternoon that I'll be getting a new PC next week! I am due for a replacement next April, but as we have surplus capital funds this year, we are doing some of next year's purchasing. So I'll just nicely get this one set up, then start all over again with the new machine. I plan to purchase my present machine and one LCD screen, and replace the home PC in a "trickle down" process. I may keep the old home PC as a Linux server, or maybe donate it to Alice.
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
A group of us are going to go to see Joe Cocker perform at a winery in Waipara, in late January. It's $120 each for the ticket and the bus trip, but should be worth it. I saw Joe a few years ago, and he's better than ever now he's off the booze.
Which reminds me of a great clip I spotted on YouTube; it's an old Saturday Night Live episode, probably from the late 70s or early 80s. It has a considerably younger Cocker with John Belushi, who could do a horribly accurate Joe Cocker impersonation. Two Joe Cockers, what a treat!
Sunday, 25 November 2007
By coincidence, Heather mentioned that on Friday Kathryn Ryan of Radio NZ National interviewed Robin McKenzie, a New Zealand physiotherapist who developed the McKenzie Method of curing lower back pain in the 1960s. I found the interview on the list of podcasts (14MB MP3, opens in new window) and listened carefully. What he described is exactly what Lindsay Jago, the physiotherapist I've been seeing, has been working on with me. Now I'm going to get McKenzie's book, "Treat Your Own Back" and supplement Lindsay's efforts with the advice in that. And no biking for a while, sad to say.
Thursday, 22 November 2007
Coming from home (1.5km from the upper right) I ride one block on Bealey Avenue, then drop down to meet the Avon River, and follow it past the Fire Station along Oxford Terrace. Across Colombo St to Victoria Square, along Armagh St to Hagley Park, then through Deans Bush to the University. Armagh St is quieter than other streets; it is broken by tram tracks and other complications, so motorists avoid it. I used to bike along Kilmore St (pun intended), but motorists were always racing in front then cutting me off, just to get to a corner 1 sec ahead of me. That was scary, but this route is quiet and pleasant - and only a block away from the Me-First bastards of Kilmore St!
The afternoon easterly is a bit of a nuisance on the trip home, but pumping into it must be good for fitness. Eventually...
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Sunday, 18 November 2007
We flew our spinnaker most of the way back down to Quail Island, and even gybed it once, though we got in a bit of a mess bringing it back in from the starboard side after launching it to port. Then we went to Cass Bay and checked out a H28 keeler that is for sale.
On the way back upwind, we got a phone call from Chris Hutching, who was at Diamond Harbour in his small keeler, Henry Salad. (Don't ask...) We sailed up and met him there, then rafted up for a beer and a chat for half an hour or so. It was an awkward sail back to the club under jib and motor; the sea was on our starboard quarter and we rolled quite a lot as the swells passed under us.
There are a few little jobs to do before our next sail, to tidy up spinnaker sheet blocks and such, but we are very happy with our day. And we'll sleep really well tonight.
The other news of the weekend - my MP is a blushing bride. That's Tim Barnett on the right, and Ramon Maniapoto, celebrating their civil union yesterday.
Saturday, 17 November 2007
LATER - It was terrific, we're going sailing again tomorrow just to re-create the experience. Stu is a happy chappy.
Friday, 16 November 2007
Down by the Spencerville Beach starts a track which runs back down the sand dunes and in and out of the edge of Bottle Lake Forest, which is great fun on a mountain bike. Once we arrived at North Beach we carried on to New Brighton for a late lunch, then home with a tail wind, on the tracks beside the Avon. It was just on 30km, not a bad effort. (More photos at my Flickr site.)
I'm glad to report that apart from a few muscles that haven't been used much since July, the body is not complaining. (So far.) I think I'll start biking to work again this week.
Another goood thing - an article in the latest Spectator about the increasing closeness in style between London and New York. The writer suggests they are forming a new entity, NY-Lon. "Let’s call them Nylon City East and Nylon City West."
It's worth reading, just for the story of the all night campout vigil to get their little geniuses a place in the right nursery school. "Rubbing their eyes and checking their BlackBerrys, fathers were emerging from the tents. Within minutes the courtyard was buzzing with the sounds of bankers on conference calls to Tokyo. It sounded utterly surreal."
And back to Loony Zealand; Hone Kaa and the makutu-lifting have come to the notice of Richard Dawkins. International fame - for dippy "cultural sensitivity"! If we want international fame for something, I'd prefer Phill Jones's 3-pointer.
The US TV Writers' Strike is in its second week. They are doing a far more effective job with YouTube videos than the Viacom execs can manage without writers. Like this clip from some of the Daily Show writers. (Sorry about the clunky format, I saw the link on This Modern World and had to extract the embed URL from the source code.)
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
The Police, however, say they had evidence of serious nuttery in the hills behind Ruatoki. Now that charges are not going to be brought using this evidence, we'll probably never really know. Besides, jailing people for this kind of thing just makes martyrs out of them.
It's a short week, with Show Day on Friday. Nice.
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
- Anglican Archdeacon says curse-lifting ceremonies are common and safe - "if they're done right." Hang on, Hone - which religion are you playing for? You're an Anglican, shouldn't you be promoting Christian mumbo-jumbo and denigrating the non-Christian mumbo-jumbo?
- Tame Iti, the well known non-terrorist and loving grandfather, says he went to Fiji and came back with a message for Helen Clark from Frank Bainimarama. The Fiji Human Right Commission said that he hid from authorities for three days then was deported.
- A press release from the Catholic church says that the TV show Californication, which depicted a nun performing oral sex before a crucifix, is very bad. Not because it's lewd, or even cheap and opportunistic - but because it raises the question, "Would TV3 broadcast a similarly plotted scene set in a mosque, involving a burqa-clad woman?" So they want equal time for Muslim slappers - very decent of them.
- Robert Mugabe's latest price control decrees have brought the economy to a complete crunching halt. Still, it's better than being under the colonial yoke, you must admit. Go on, admit it - or you can spend a night in the Bulawayo Hilton, having one of our special manicures.
Monday, 12 November 2007
I'm a regular reader of I, Cringely - the blog/website of IT industry commentator Robert X Cringely. In a recent post, "The Next Microsoft", he details what he thinks is wrong with Google's strategy of world domination, including an algorithm change that has made many AdSense customers' revenue dry up.
"So Google says it will do the right thing and maybe even intends to do the right thing, but failures in its IT systems effectively keep it from doing the right thing, which brings us back to Microsoft, which has long been the poster child for inability to follow through because of IT failings."
He even says "monopoly" - has the shine gone off the GoogleBubble? Their current bids for market domination include a mobile phone OS, IMAP support for Gmail, Google Apps almost good enough for serious work computing, and now a "standard" for data interchange between personal networking sites like MySpace and Friendster. (Facebook hasn't joined.) Standard? Google's standard, that is - and they reserve the right to change it when they like. Sounds like market domination to me...
Don't get me wrong, I love Google's stuff. I'm an early Gmail adopter, I spend hours (all my life, actually, in a non-virtual sense) on Google Earth, and so on. And I like the company motto, "Don't Be Evil". But I also like having options.
Sunday, 11 November 2007
I returned the hire trailer and went to do the weekly grocery shopping, then home for an early lunch. After lunch I thought about taking my MTB out to the new McLeans Island circuit, but decided to take it conservatively and just took my road bike to the city library and back. That went fine, so I may be OK to bike to work soon. Now I'm cooking dinner while Heather does the ironing. It's a full life...
And now for something completely different. The excellent Lyttelton weather station is on-line courtesy of the Lyttelton Port Company, who put this message at the bottom of each web page:
"Right to Use Site and Content
You may access, view, reproduce and print the content on this Website provided you only use that content for informational, non-commercial purposes and any reproduction includes a prominent acknowledgement of our rights in the relevant content. If you wish to link to any part of this Website, you must obtain our prior written consent."
Hmm... Nope, wrong. It's the web, get it? Things link to each other, and if you want to join the game, you agree to its rules, including linking without permission. For example, Web Pages That Suck could use my site as an example, and there's nothing I can do about it.
I agree about acknowledgements, of course, but you can't stop people linking to your site - or lawyers assuming rights they don't actually possess. I had a chat with a law lecturer who specialises in internet and communications law, and he agreed with my take on this, so I think I'm on confident ground.
Saturday, 10 November 2007
Thursday, 8 November 2007
On an oblique view, it's obviously a bit longer than the wingspan of a Hercules, twin engined, painted grey and white. Very discreet, and invisible against high cloud. Somebody important was visiting.
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
The disk in question is #15, between the green and blue in the side-on spine diagram at right.
Once the scans etc are done I'll see the orthopaedic surgeon and if Voltaren and rest haven't settled the swelling down in a few weeks they might do keyhole surgery and nick off the swollen bit.
My sailing crew are getting mutinous about having had no fun yet, so I need to get mobile soon, for all our sakes.
We had a fascinating seminar this afternoon on digital copyright, from a technology-law lecturer and the University Librarian, who is also the University's Copyright Officer. The answer to all digital copyright questions, even after several years of the Digital Copyright Amendment going through Parliament's committees, is "it depends". Still, it was interesting, and has great implications for online learning.
Monday, 5 November 2007
Still, I do like the way two screens let you work. Both Jess and I work with Outlook permanently open on the left, and Firefox to do our web stuff on the right. Other applications (web and text editors, graphics programs, spreadsheet, remote server connections) are popped up and shrunk as required. If I need to open another web browser, to do a student log-in to Blackboard, I use Safari on my iMac.
There is still a Big Picture of another sort available, though. Rod McKay has expanded his Dalmore blog to include a sister-blog with news links.
Sunday, 4 November 2007
We went to an open home for a very nice two bedroom townhouse in Stapletons Rd, but it was too small for our needs. The situation was perfect, though, and it has been redecorated very well, with new carpets and paint.
Today we went to the new (and hideous) Mitre 10 megastore at Ferrymead, where we bought some tomato and vege plants, and a new 9kg gas cylinder for the barbecue - the old one ran out of gas while cooking last night, so the food was rushed into the kitchen. The cylinder was past its certification date, and with a new one only $42, compared to $30 or so to have the old one re-certified, it was a no-brainer to buy a new cylinder. Now what do I do with the old one?
Speaking of cooking, tonight's stir-fry veges looked so colourful that I just had to take a photo. With marinated beef strips and noodles, it was very yummy, too.
Friday, 2 November 2007
Yes, that's a rear-view mirror stuck to the lower left, so I can see people sneaking up behind me...
Wednesday, 31 October 2007
This is last month's usage bar chart.
You can drill down to a daily chart; this shows that I did a big download (downloads shown in red, uploads in orange) on the first day, and another at the end of the month. I received an email on the 28th, warning me that I was up to 80% of the quota.
Finally, using the "Select date" drop-down menu, here is last Saturday.
We had visitors staying last weekend, so there was much talking and eating (and even a little drinking), which meant I didn't notice that the download ended at 6pm on Saturday, while I was carving the roast and opening the wine. It was around 11am on Sunday that I turned off the BitTorrent client. Because I have throttled down the upload speed to 16kbps it didn't blow out the quota, and we ended the month with more than a gig to spare.
Monday, 29 October 2007
He placed a fist in the small of my back, said "Hold on!" and gave my spine an abrupt shove. When I finished yelping, I felt quite a lot better, and was able to bend to do up my shoes without wincing. That is definitely an improvement. I've been a bit stiff and sore today, but I'm not nearly as bad as I've been for the last 3 weeks.
I noticed tonight how my computing habits have changed over the last three years. Instead of a PC, I'm sitting in the dining room with a Mac laptop, running Firefox. The web browser has three tabs open; first is my default page, iGoogle, then this Blogger editing screen, and third is Gmail. In other words, I'm using an open source web browser, with three Google applications running. Are you listening, Bill Gates?
Friday, 26 October 2007
0800 - Physio. Made my leg feel good till I got back in the car and had to keep it bent. Getting more worried about this "spot of nerve damage".
1000 - Morning tea, downstairs outside in the sun. Very pleasant.
1200 - Over to IT to do the Last Turn Off for Cantwt, the faithful old WebCT 4 server that began life in 2001. I played the Last Post on the thumb trumpet, while Jess and Paul Arnold stood at attention.
1230 - Staff Club for lunch. Long wait for food, had to have second pint of very nice pale ale. Had the ploughmans, a great deal for $8.
1500 - Over to the Dovedale Campus (used to be the Teachers College, now where the College/Faculty of Education live, with lots of nice buildings) to accompany Jess, who was going to demonstrate clickers. I had nothing better to do so I invited myself along - but apart from Lindsey Conner, who organised the session, no-one showed up. So we chatted, then left.
1600 - Email from our "support" rep in Sydney, telling us how to fix a problem. Didn't work - I wonder if he even tested it.
1615 - Wrote a Perl script to read a huge log file and output the last field of each server access and its total. Worked after 3-4 minor debugs (about average, mostly punctuation errors) proving that we owe IT for 37GB of internet traffic. Oops.
1645 - Drove (painfully) to pub, talked about bloke stuff, went home. Reheated pasta and salad left by Heather - she and Nicky Sarson are at the movies.
2000 - Wrote blog post, finished little (187ml) bottle of merlot, made single plunger of coffee, listened to funky compilation CD of country rock music from the US Gulf Coast. Nice.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
I was filmed for a short video presentation this morning, too - I was interviewed about my job, what I do, good and bad parts, etc. I look forward to seeing the edited result.
Monday, 22 October 2007
We didn't sail, as the prospect of 20 knot south westerlies and being blown against the jetty while launching put us off - but we fitted another winch-handle holder and did quite a lot of touch up painting.
Sunday, 21 October 2007
Saturday, 20 October 2007
The Great Floating Alehouse of the River Thames
by Gregor McRonagall
Oh wonder of the modern age,
An alehouse floats
Upon a boat.
All the way from the Antipodes
To London, with much speed.
Where everyone agrees it’s great,
To drink fine ale from a man named Speight.
Oh alehouse on the river Thame
Your name is sure to bring much fame
And give renown to the Kiwi name
Without any blame.
And people say it’s really excellent
To drink Speights in London without dissent
And take some home, as a present.
What's it for? Speights beer are putting on a promotional event tomorrow, somehow associated with the opening of a Speights Ale House in London (which has been carried on a boat crewed by Kiwis, if you believe the TV ads), and there are prizes for songs and poems incorporating the product. Schroeder will declaim my words in the grand style. Should be worth a t-shirt, I reckon.
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
Today, however, I have some wisdom to impart.
- Postal voting is a big mistake.
- Bike helmet straps really do need to be done up.
- Educationalists possess a well demonstrated inability to utilise miniscule verbal utterances.
- Christchurch drivers are the laziest, greediest, pushiest, bunch of drongos I've ever been subjected to.
- Speights IS great.
- Getting older is less fun than it used to be.
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
Meanwhile, up on the 4th floor, we are relaxing after having lunch in the sunshine. Derek snapped me sitting at my desk, so I thought I'd add it to this post.
Computers visible (just) are an Apple //e (sentimental interest only), a side view of an Intel iMac, and the two LCD screens of my main workhorse, a two year old Cyclone PC.
Sunday, 14 October 2007
My leg is slowly getting better, but the physio advised me not to sail on Saturday. Since he crews on a boat that we race against, it would be a bit hard to defy him... Actually, the one thing that would really cause it to play up is the action of supporting my body on the side deck by pressing against the cockpit strakes, so logic tells me he's right. I'm sorry to let Schroeds and Stu down, though - maybe we'll get some practice time in over Labour Weekend.
Thursday, 11 October 2007
Work has gone very quiet on the Blackboard support side, allowing us to do lots of jobs we've deferred, such as planning end of year course resets, collaborating on a final newsletter (using Google Docs, which is a great way to work), and tidying up the mountain of documentation we've accumulated over the last two years. We're planning for the possibility of implementing a second web server in a two-node cluster, but the improvements in the system's back end may have made this unnecessary - still, we need to do the costings just in case.
Sunday, 7 October 2007
Then came this error message; who wants to visit a web site in order to be told off for not using a Microsoft browser? Has the dickhead who designed this site thought about what the "inter" part of "internet" means? I suspect that what this message really means is "I don't know how to design sites that work with all browsers", or "The marketing department wouldn't let us finish the cross-browser stuff and insisted that we go live before we were ready".
My leg is still very stiff and painful, so I'm off to the doctor first thing in the morning. Grump, grumble, moan...
Saturday, 6 October 2007
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
On the way home I parked the bike behind a fence at the local working mens club and went to a nearby bar for a couple of wines and conversation with some mates. When I got back to the bike, there was a note on it - "See Bex in the restaurant, some crim tried stealing your bags through the fence so we took the bags inside."
I went inside and said Hi to Bex the cook, a nice lady around 40, who told me they'd been outside for a cuppa and ciggy when they saw this Maori guy trying to reach through the fence and go through the handlebar bag and pannier. They yelled and chased him off, then grabbed the bags and took them inside till I got there. It's really nice to know that there are people who are prepared to look out for others' interests, it restored my faith in our sense of community.
So that's my first day back on the bike. I've revised my bag scheme now - I'll use my roomy Kathmandu bag on the carrier or over my shoulder, then it's easy to just get off the bike and take all my stuff with me. I can fit the fluoro nylon jacket and the bike lights in the bag, so I'm self contained. Urban warrior me - as if it wasn't hard enough avoiding cars, now I have to out-think the Stanmore Rd druggies...
Sunday, 30 September 2007
What does this have to do with bikes? When we got back to town at 2pm I biked to the library on my MTB, that's what. That went really well. After dinner I went to the pub and watched Canterbury lose the Ranfurly Shield (deservedly) to Auckland.
Today I decided to steel myself up to ride my Avanti Blade, the road bike I'd been riding when I was knocked off in late July. The bike is in perfect nick, and was still set in high gears, proving that I'd been travelling at speed when I was tapped from the left and catapulted onto a centre island. I straddled it and set off, sure that I'd feel nervous and timid, as I have when starting after previous crashes.
But no, I was fine from the start - my explanation is that because I was knocked out, my brain doesn't know that bikes and nasty pain go together. As far as my memory is concerned, it's "Crash? What crash?" Therefore, as far as my brain knows, there's no need to treat bikes with caution.
However, my rational part (my newly grown frontal cortex maybe?) has decreed that when I ride, my self imposed rules now include (a) no mp3 player/headphones, and (b) use footpaths and crossings at major intersections, especially after dark on the way home from the pub.
So I may bike to work on Monday. Watch this space...
Saturday, 29 September 2007
Spotted in the staff car park in front of our building this week was a mint condition 1985 Ferrari Mondial. Apparently this model is reliable and cheap to maintain - for a Ferrari. Anyway, it sure was pretty.
Thursday, 27 September 2007
following the rules. All in a good cause, I guess - if I can stay awake.
Monday, 24 September 2007
Next morning - yes, it was a solid concert with a pretty good selection of songs. They even played "Haitian Divorce", my favourite.
Sunday, 23 September 2007
And on a macro level, it's yet another occurrence of a young woman texting while driving; I don't care if she was reading or writing, it's just dumb.
Saturday, 22 September 2007
Intertwingularity: When Ideas Collide
Nelson himself gave a wonderfully wide ranging, yet somehow all-connected, lecture on the occasion of his 70th birthday earlier this year. The talk is available in little chunks on YouTube, starting here.
Googling around for "ted" also brings you to TED.com, where you will find numerous video clips of inspiring speakers giving 20 minute talks. With topics grouped under headings like Technology, Entertainment, Design, Business, Science, Culture, Arts, Global issues, it's a bit of a time trap. Bring lots of bandwidth and spare time, you'll be here a while! I've been totally absorbed in the talks about how the mind works, by world famous psychologists and linguists such as Dan Gilbert, Barry Schwartz, and Steven Pinker. There are several talks by Dan Dennett too, I've been saving them for a rainy day.
Monday, 17 September 2007
We drove places, though, like One Tree Hill on Saturday afternoon. I hope to have a nice panorama assembled in the next day or two. In the meantime, here's Heather and me being tourists - photo by Logan.
Friday, 14 September 2007
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
Sunday, 9 September 2007
While the house was open for viewing, we went for a drive and had lunch at a cafe. The old steam tug Lyttelton was out celebrating its centenary, and I managed to get a nice shot of it steaming past Purau Bay.