Sunday, 30 December 2007

Holiday preparations

Packing to go for a two week holiday. No pressure...

Saturday, 29 December 2007

To Sumner and back by sea

Today we finally did a sailing trip I've been thinking about for ages. We left Lyttelton's inner harbour at 10.45, after motoring in to the shelter of the harbour away from the chop so we could locate Schroeder's glasses, which he'd misplaced when applying sunscreen. It was building to 15 knots or so at that stage, and we left the harbour into a long port tack across to Diamond Harbour.

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

More biking, sailing postponed

I rode 7km to Bottle Lake Forest yesterday and rode the tracks for an hour or so. Even though the signs are pretty good, I still managed to get a little lost on the last leg of the southern loop heading back to the carpark. It was a really nice ride, so I'll definitely go back for some more exercise over the summer.

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

It's my birthday

We're celebrating my 59th birthday by mooching about the house doing nothing much. A cold southerly front arrived about 6am. The showers have been passing through about every 20-30 minutes and are not predicted to clear until evening. So it's a pretty dismal day, suitable for doing boring tasks that have been put off "for a rainy day".

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

Merry Christmas and a Happy Birthday

As an event, Christmas is a bit of a nonentity around here. I woke about 7.30 and had breakfast; Heather emerged about 8.30 and went out to water plants. Our presents are both cycling related. Mine is a very nice new handlebar bag for my road bike, and Heather has new cycling gloves - but we bought these several days ago and didn't bother with wrapping them for giving today.
Gregor's new handlebar bag clips off and on very easily.
The big event today is our Christmas Dinner, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It is not cheap, but the menu looks superb, and best of all, we don't have to do anything except show up and eat. Alice will join us for that, and will probably stay the night.

Then tomorrow is my 59th birthday; not much to be said about that either...

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Biking fun

This morning I threw my MTB in the back of the car and drove out to McLeans Forest Park to try the bike track. It's an easy 10km ride, with great banked corners among the trees, excellent signposting, and best of all, it's one way so you don't meet people coming at you.

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

The end is nigh

End of the year, anyway. Yesterday was my last day at work, and with so little to do I left at 2pm. Now I have 4 weeks of relaxation stretching out ahead of me, until I return on the 21st of January. I'll make the most of it too; with the battering my body has taken this year, I really need to recharge my batteries.

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;
And it's the summer solstice - mid winter in the Northern Hemisphere of course.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Christmas toys

We got an office full of toys today, beginning with three HP 530 laptops for use by UCTL staff who need to be mobile. The MacPersons have mostly got laptops already, plus screens & keyboards for use in the office, so we bought 3 PC laptops for Windows users; they'll be used for doing demos, taking to conferences, etc.

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

The IT Delusion

It never fails to amaze me that people I regard as experts in their particular field of IT can have "nonoverlapping magisteria" as Stephen Jay Gould put it. He meant two parallel, but only occasionally intersecting, worlds of rational and religious belief - that humans can simultaneously believe in cause and effect, and a magical reality with no physical proof, and that both viewpoints have areas of life where that view is valid.

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 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

Summer weather

Looks like we're in a La Nina phase for the summer; check here for daily updates on the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI).

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

Quiet weekend

Saturday was a dirty grey easterly until after lunch, then Heather Alice and I biked into the Art Gallery and Library. Home for dinner, nothing on telly worth watching, and that was the day over - and it was our 32nd wedding anniversary, too.

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

We have the technology...

But technology doesn't make good videos. I produced two Camtasia videos the other day, and they are BORING! I'll have to put some work into simplifying the scripts and brightening up the delivery.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

New Gadget Blues

A new piece of gear was waiting on my desk this afternoon; a Logitech ClearChat USB headset. It is a pair of padded medium-quality headphones plus a nice microphone boom, and under Windows XP it just worked. It has volume controls and a mute-mic button available on the right earpiece, doesn't need any installed drivers - nice!

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

Just thinking

One thing leads to another on the web, which I guess is why it is called a web in the first place. I followed a link from Arts and Letters Daily to an excellent piece in The Times by Brian Appleyard, "Why don't we love science fiction?"

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

Weekend fun

Sailing first; we launched the boat to take part in a series of sprint races yesterday, but when we hoisted the main, the 25 knots of wind caused the sail to flog badly, and a batten pocket ripped. Down came the sail, which I mut admit is getting rather elderly, and we motored about the harbour basin eating lunch and looking at the trawler fleet, then took the boat back to the yard. Our sailing season is not going very well so far!

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

New work PC - coming soon

Below is the spec for my new work desktop machine, which should be delivered before Christmas. It will also have dual 19" LCD screens. Zoom zoom zoom, as they say in the Mazda adverts!

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."

The numbers;
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

Busy week

It should be quiet at this time of year, but we've been doing daily training sessions for academic staff at AFIS, as the whole department has decided to adopt the use of Blackboard for their courses. I had to create about 30 courses from a template last Friday, after presenting the template and customising it on Thursday.

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

Summer days

Yesterday I took a few photos around the garden and of the river across the road - everything is so green and lush at present I could not resist.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Fun with computers

My work PC got a new hard drive three weeks ago, because the original drive was making funny noises. After two weeks the replacement drive suddenly started reporting bad sectors and corrupted files, and wouldn't load my Windows user profile. That meant that all my desktop shortcuts, and other goodies that speed up my work, had to be located and run manually.

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

Progress report and a golden oldie

A combination of Voltaren and resting with a lumbar roll under the small of my back has started to work. I slept with a roll under my back too, so I've had 6-8 hours of gentle backward flexion, and the pain is diminished somewhat, though far from the low level it was at last week.

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

Back again

After my "cycling is wonderful" outburst on Thursday, I woke on Saturday with pain in my leg again. Oh no! I think that the bent-forward posture of cycling has re-inflamed the disk, and the pain steadily built during Saturday. Now it's Sunday morning and I'm having quite strong leg pain, as I did three weeks ago. Exercises help a bit, so I hope this is temporary.

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

Bikes again

At the risk of becoming a bore on the subject, it has been fantastic riding to work the last three days. The weather is sunny and warm, and I think I've worked out the best route through town to avoid heavy traffic.

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

When is a name not a name?

Take a look at this for a stupid piece of search engine programming. I was looking for a new CD by country/jazz violinist Elana James (ex Hot Club of Cowtown), so I typed in her name in lower case, and up came the item. But I was wrong, apparenty - the search then asked me if I had really meant the version with capitals. Can anyone tell me when this distinction would be remotely useful? I blame sloppy programming for a piece of code that says "If they don't match, show the name in the database" - but the database had already happily served up the item, so obviously it didn't care about upper/lower case. All this does is tell the users that your site is a bit flaky - not good for an e-commerce site.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Work and bikes

I gave myself a rest day on Monday and took the car to work. I actually felt a bit dozy all day, exercise is a bit of a novelty at present. But today I biked - and it was great. The rest of the week looks perfect too, so I could be getting back to normal by next week or so.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Hello sailors

We had such a good time sailing yesterday that we went again today - so we are three tired but happy little sailor lads tonight. We set off about 12 and sailed up the harbour, a little past Parson's Rock, where we had some lunch and watched the keeler fleet coming back under spinnakers. There were 17 that I counted, it made a pretty impressive sight.

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

Sailing - really!

We're definitely going sailing today, but Stu has to work so there will just me Mark and me. Here's the morning's weather; the wind is varying from 10 to 14 knots, and the direction seems to go a bit northerly in the puffs. We'll try to be on port tack for the stronger periods so we get lifted on the way to the windward mark.

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

A Spencerville circuit

Nicky Sarson and Heather have been going for Friday bike rides. Today I joined them, to test out my body now that my leg nerve seems to be under control. It was a good ride, up through Mairehau and Marshlands then across to Spencerville on the scary Lower Styx Road. It seems that every second guy out there owns a big Holden or Falcon, and they buzzed us as close as they could, just to show us how macho they are.

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.

Great stuff!

A spectacular performance from Phill Jones of the NZ Breakers, as they beat the Wollongong Hawks 121-100 last night. Quoting from the report on Stuff, Jones's "...32 point-plus haul included an outrageous three pointer from deep in his own half at the three-quarter time buzzer..." In fact, he shot the goal from inside his own team's 3-point line! That's like Dan Carter kicking a drop goal from inside his own 22 metre line.

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

Be afraid...

The guy on the right is protesting at Parliament, on the grounds that police scared his kids by carrying weapons and wearing masks. A sense of irony is not recommended under such circumstances, unless you want to get your head kicked in.

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

What's up?

A wonderfully silly season for news is upon as at present. Try these items, for example;
There, that's enough fun for one day. Funny old world, isn't it?

Monday, 12 November 2007

Dirty tricks in IT Land

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

On the go

No sailing today, but it wasn't because of the weather, which was perfect, as the day's chart shows. A steady easterly built from 10 knots to 15 during the afternoon, but I couldn't find a crew. However, I compensated by hiring a trailer and taking away a big pile of foliage Heather had hacked out in the last month, plus some domestic junk. The refuse tip has an IT system that photographs your car registration, does some swift OCR, and assigns your ID through the weight station. As you return from dumping the garbage, another camera recognises you, up comes your record, and you're weighed the second time, then charged by the type of rubbish you brought in. It cost $7.20 for 100kgs of mixed garden and domestic junk - rubbish is quite valuable, 72c/kg!

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:
"© Lyttelton Port Company Limited 2005. Your use of this website is governed by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy"

The Terms of Use page has much arse-covering legalese, including this:
"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

The nearly-sailing day

We had all our ducks in a row - the three of us were healthy and on time, the boat is all sorted, the weather forecast said 10 knot easterlies - but it was actually calm and drizzling. We packed lunch, put the outboard in the back of the car, and drove to Lyttelton, where we walked around for an hour and decided that drifting in the drizzle wasn't our thing - so we came home at 1pm. And of course by 4pm it was fine...

Thursday, 8 November 2007

A (small) mystery

I was GoogleEarthing around tonight and took a look at Christchurch Airport. I don't know when the shot was taken, apart from "summer morning", but what's that jet at the US Antarctic base? It wasn't going to the ice, that's for sure.

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

Happy drugs

Well, one drug - Voltaren, "Vitamin V". The swelling has decreased remarkably since yesterday, after 3 75mg Voltarens. It's a wonder drug! The problem hasn't gone away, but at least I can conduct a normal day without freaking out. I had an x-ray today and will check with the doctor tomorrow and see what is to happen with the MRI scan.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Basics of backs

I got some definite information after seeing the doctor today about my back/leg/nerve problem. I go for X-Rays and MRI in the next few days, but basically my S1 disk is swollen as a result of the bike crash, and it's pressing on the S1 nerve which comes out of the top right hole in this drawing on the left - showing the sacral area, drawn from the tummy side. The swelling and pressure causes the pain over the buttock and down the left leg.

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

Back to the small picture

Sadly, my big dual-monitor screen layout had to go. I mentioned the problem with dialogue boxes being centred and split between screens, but then Faststone, my favourite graphics file viewer, insisted on doing the same. Seeing photos and other graphics split over two screens was horrible; it was definitely something I couldn't live with, so I'm back to two screens with the same background, and the Windows taskbar on the left (primary) screen.

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

Weekend diary

With my leg still giving trouble, I reluctantly cancelled sailing on Saturday. It was a shame, because it was a perfect day, but it's best not to overdo things at this stage.

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

Seeing the big picture

I've been tinkering with my dual monitor setup at work, and found that a section of a panorama taken at Treble Cone works beautifully as a wide screen desktop background. I used to have two monitors showing the same single picture; a rather abstract sky & clouds. That was a bit bland though, so I tinkered with the display settings and chose the single-picture option. The disadvantage of spreading the single screen across both monitors is that a lot of program dialogue boxes pop up in the dead centre, with half on each screen, but that's a minor problem.

Yes, that's a rear-view mirror stuck to the lower left, so I can see people sneaking up behind me...
This is the full panorama.

This is the selection, sized to fit the two monitors.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Broadband fun

My monthly Telstra broadband quota is 10GB, which isn't hard to use up if I get carried away with downloading documentaries or comedy shows. The other problem with BitTorrent is that you are an uploader as well as a downloader, and it is easy to forget that you have a download running, because they can take half a day. If the download finishes and you forget about it, your client software goes on happily uploading to the world. Fair enough, that's how it works, it's called peer-to-peer file sharing after all.

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

Grumbling on, in a non-Microsoft kind of way

Actually I'm less grumbly today, thanks to the magic ministrations of Lindsay the physiotherapist. He got me to do a few movements and tell him how each one felt, then said "That's a clue, lie on your side" and proceeded to haul me to a foetal position.

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

Another tough day at the office

Today's diary
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

Some good, some bad

Work is, as always, full of fascinating stuff. Today we did a video conference with some staff developers at Victoria University in Wellington, using the Access Grid - a multi-screen bidirectional high speed experience. Even allowing for the cruddy "lowest common codec" protocol, we got a pretty fair simulation of a face to face meeting. And Air New Zealand didn't get a cent!

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

Sailing - almost!

We checked the Lyttelton Port weather station frequently this morning, and agreed that the SW wind would fade as predicted and the easterly would arrive soon after. We went to the yacht club, but we were about 5 hours out; the day's trace shows that the change came at 4.30pm, not 11.30am as we'd hoped.

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

In the steps of McGonagall

I arrived at the pub, bought a $7 jug of Speights, waited for Schroeder, and informed him that no-one had shown any interest in verse, (just like McGonagall visiting Balmoral) so we had another drink and left. Sailing tomorrow, we hope.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Homage to McGonagall - and Speights

In homage to the great tragedian, William Topaz McGonagall of Dundee, I penned the following today;

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


Observant people with very little to do will see that this blog changes its template a lot. This is testament to Blogger's ease of customisation and my inability to leave well alone. Sometimes it means I've got nothing to say.

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.
There, that feels better.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

What a lovely day!

There might be terrorists in Happy Valley and the Ureweras (read Russell Brown's take on the fuss), but all is happiness filled here in Christchurch today. There's a warm NW wind, spring blossom and leaves on the trees, and the students are about to have their last lectures. As always with the last week before exams, lectures are full up, and so are the carparks. This is a snap of the 2 o'clock park-hunters circling in front the Law building.

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

Sunday night report

A rather ordinary weekend weather-wise; Saturday was OK but developed a very gloomy northwest arch, and Sunday was rainy and cold till after lunch. Our old buddy Peter King from Wanaka stayed for Saturday and left early on Sunday morning, so I was able to introduce him to my local pub and a few of my reprobate mates. We followed that with roast chicken and a big chat.

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

Wet week

It's been a good week to be stuck indoors with a sore leg - it's rained pretty much every day, and today's even wetter and colder than the others. I've had one session of physio for my leg, and it's helped a bit, but it's still a bit worrying - especially the numbness on the outside of my left foot. I have another session this morning. Isn't aging wonderful?

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

Things that make me cross

First today was the All Blacks' loss in the World Cup quarter final. I won't say any more, thousands of words are probably pouring onto the internet from people who care more about it than I do.

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

The trouble with bodies

I've had an odd thing happen; on Friday I woke suddenly with cramp in my left calf muscle, and since then I've had a lot of pain in the calf and thigh. Heather blames my cycling on Tuesday and Thursday, but I'm not so sure. I spent Friday squirming in my office chair, trying to get comfortable, and by the end of the day it was getting better. It didn't hurt while I slept, but once I got up this morning the pain returned - more in the calf than the thigh. It's put the damper on going sailing, darn it.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Back in the saddle

Corny but true, fans. Today I biked to work and back, and felt great. I have a bit of stiffness - in my bionic left hip, let's not think too deeply about this - but otherwise it was great. Riding through Hagley Park in the morning mist was nice, and I felt really ready to go when I got to the office.

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

"Surely you won't...

... ride a bike again"? ask the people of a nervous disposition. "Yes, of course I will", is the answer. This was a beautiful warm weekend for the start of Daylight Saving, perfect for biking. But first, Saturday - Schroeder and I went to Lyttelton and set the boat up for the start of racing. We fitted the mainsail and sail cover, plus the sail controls, organised the sails and lifejackets inside the cabin, set up the fuel tank, and generally got ready to start sailing. The only thing missing was a vehicle with a tow hitch (Heather has our Toyota in Dunedin) so we didn't launch the boat and race; instead we watched the starts from the shore.

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

Are UC staff well paid?

Are UC staff well paid? Looks like it...

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

But is it work?

I've finished work for the week - Thursday and Friday are taken up with a training course for Health and Safety reps from departments. I got coerced into "volunteering" by people from the AUS union, who want to ensure that union members are trained in this area, to keep the university administration
following the rules. All in a good cause, I guess - if I can stay awake.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Big night out

We're off to see Steely Dan tonight at the Westpac Arena. It's the last night of a long tour that began in May, so hopefully they'll pull out all the stops for this show.

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

Oh dear how sad...

I can't help that "Serves you right" feeling at times, and reading this story about Millie Holmes taking out a power pole definitely pressed my schadenfreude button. Young Millie really does seem to make a mess of things, though it's a shame that a nice Audi A3 was totalled in her latest bungle.

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

Tributes to Teds

I've been link-hopping around the web finding stuff about Ted Nelson, the (maybe) originator of the concept of hypertext. I've been interested in Nelson since the 80s, but his Xanadu project seems to always be "almost ready" - though his ideas are very influential. Like this:

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, 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

There and back

We had a nice weekend in Auckland, though we didn't visit a bunch of people we should have seen (sorry Chris'n'Jools, Gary, & others) but it turned out that I wasn't great at spending lengthy periods standing, which is what city life requires quite a lot of. So we did things in 30 minute expeditions.

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

Trouble with texting

Whether or not the kids who died in a car crash last weekend were texting while driving, I see it every day as I drive to and from work. In rush hour traffic on Bealey Ave, with stop-start queues and lane-dancers leaping from gap to gap, there's a better than 50% chance that any young woman in a hatchback will be texting as she drives. And I don't mean reading text messages, they are typing them - with occasional glances through the windscreen, but never a look in their mirrors. A few days ago I saw a car in Harper Ave which runs through Hagley Park, drift left into the parking lane (whick luckily was free of parked cars) before the driver looked up from her cell phone and swerved back into the lane. No wonder the roads of Christchurch are full of broken taillight glass.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Off to the big city

Auckland, here we come. Well, on Friday afternoon, back Monday afternoon. Good fun! There will be photos.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

House for sale - still

Today was our last open home, for a while at least. We haven't been getting much interest, so it makes sense to put the sale on the back burner and just wait and see if anything develops. We'll take the sign down, and stop the open homes, but leave the web listing. If people are interested they'll find it on the web, or the agents will mention it as a possibility, and they can bring any potential buyers for a look.

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.