Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Another sign of the times

First vinyl, then paper, now the CD-ROM! The old order crumbles.
The media outlets are shifting like jelly in an earthquake, no-one knows how the journalists will be paid, and the internet doesn't care - it just is.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Sailing report

Perfect conditions today, not a cloud in the sky and a steady 10 knot north easterly. We sailed to Pile Bay and rafted up with Chris Hutching's boat to have lunch and tell yarns.

Pile Bay - we were surprised to see a group of holiday houses tucked under the hill away from the easterly.

Chris's boat Henry Salad tied up beside us as we lay at anchor.

Chris Hutching dropped by for Sunday lunch.

Weekend bits & pieces

First and foremost, courtesy of Logan Moss's assiduous internet searching -
"No Time to Pray? No Problem! Your Computer Can Do It For You"

"...The program uses text-to-speech synthesizers to say prayers in a voice designed to emulate the volume and speed of an average praying person. Choose from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and if you’re unaffiliated, no problem! They’ve got options for you as well. Prices for the prayers vary, depending on the length..."

Logan comments; "leaving you time to get on with more important stuff" - more important than talking to God, that is.

Next, a warning. If a message like this shows up in your Inbox, don't believe it, delete it immediately. "...We are pleased to inform you that your email address has won an Award in the Google 10 Years Anniversary Award..."

Yes, of course it's a scam. I thought they had a nice touch, though, with their helpful sign-off message and some totally unrelated blather about Google's size;

"Please do not reply if you are NOT the owner of this email address

Congratulations!! Sincerely Yours,

Google Management
After 10 years of establishment, Google Inc is worth over 23 Billion US Dollars with over 20,000 workers worldwide making it the best and most successful online search engine in the world."

Isn't it good of them to be concerned about security?

We're off for a sail this morning, now that the City To Surf runners and walkers have mostly passed through the neighbourhood, and the roads are usable again. I'll try not to bash my head on the boom this time.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Sign of the times

Signs of spring in the US - tent cities are sprouting as the new homeless try to cope. Nice yard ornaments in the background. Arnie the Governator has actually moved this one, in California's state capital Sacramento, into the state fairgrounds, where they'll at least have some facilities and supervision.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


This year’s Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus pairs elephants with Bollywood dancers.

Quiet weekend

Not much happened in the weekend - it was cool with passing showers from the southwest, so we didn't do a lot outside.

I did catch an interesting snap at the supermarket on Saturday morning - I had just parked my Mazda AZ3 when an identical one came and parked nearby. Cute!

Two identical Mazdas - one has an XU plate, mine has an XY.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Friday at last

It's been a big week; first the MUA Day on Monday, then on Tuesday Bill Rosenberg, our group manager and deputy director of UCTL, announced he is leaving in May for a policy job at the CTU. Unions and economic analysis are Bill's passions, along with his work for CAFCA, so it's his dream job. However, it leaves us in the middle of the Moodle transition without a project director, and with significant staffing issues within our group. Watch this space.

On Thursday Moodle course requests flooded in, then today they tapered off - good thing too, as I had to organise the meeting to choose the Moodle "brand". By the time I'd done that it was the end of the day.

I hope to get some sailing done some time over the weekend, but Saturday looks a bit south-westerly. Maybe Sunday.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Busy busy busy...

We advertised Moodle workshops and course setups yesterday, and today I set up 50 courses! Jess is having a long weekend, so I was flat out keeping up with the incoming messages on the helpdesk application.

Still, I got time to take a photo with my webcam.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Big day

The inaugural meeting of MUA (Moodle Universities Aotearoa) was held today, with me - the guy with the scar and stitches on his head - organising. We had people from 5 universities (Auckland's College of Ed, Waikato, Massey, Canterbury, Lincoln - plus CPIT because we like them), 14 speakers (well, the last one was a discussion) and they all kept to time, and gave terrific talks with stimulating ideas. It sure does show that people in the open source world value their contacts and support networks. And we had lovely food.

The end result is that we agreed to form a loose association with a rep from each university (I'm Mr Canterbury) and a web site with links to each of our institutions and our projects. We'll form a sub group on moodle.org, and will lobby Moodle Central and the government when we want changes. Watch this space.

Some may say I've drunk the Moodle kool-aid. I just wish Moodle had a way to add a user to 20 courses at once - how did an LMS get this far down the track without such an elementary feature?

A total change of subject, to show you this amazing picture - and because I haven't put a picture to break up the last 3 or 4 posts.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Heads I lose

We were all set to start sailing today, when the boom gave me a sudden whack on the head and I started bleeding uncontrollably. We managed to get the boat back on the trailer, and then Mark drove me to the emergency surgery where I was cleaned up and had some stitches put in. I think I'll look a bit gruesome for our Moodle universities conference tomorrow, but I should be fine otherwise.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

The Bish and the boys come to town

This flyer arrived yesterday, in spite of our "No Junk Mail" sign. I was struck by the photo of His Bishness Brian Tamaki - hasn't he lost weight? The man bulging out of his collar during last year's election campaign is now an ethereal angel in white - yeah, right!

The man with the tall slender body and the strangely elongated head will be talking at the local intermediate school on Sunday. I might stand outside for a look, remembering how he appeared only six months ago. I'd like to see the way they stage manage his arrival, and to snap some pictures of the head gangster and his bully boys.

If this kind of arrogant manipulation of his image is an indication of the way his "church" views its victims devotees, then all I can say is that he's still a nasty piece of work. Taking advantage of the poor and unsophisticated, while promising them a simplistic new future, has been a favourite technique of demagogues, from Huey Long to Hitler to Rush Limbaugh. He still has plans to build his "holy city" in south Auckland - how many millions will he bleed from his poor flock to fund that?

Here's a humorous take on His Holiness "the bishop of bling" and his expensive tastes, from the satire show Eating Media Lunch.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Autumn arrives

Autumn arrived with a vengeance this week, just in time for the Ellerslie International Flower Show - which is held in Christchurch! The marketing geniuses in the City Council have not revealed what they paid for the name - or why we'd want an event named for an Auckland suburb, when they could have just started a Christchurch Flower Show for free.

Anyway, the event has made Hagley Park and Harper Avenue a no-go zone for those who have to traverse the area on the way to work, and apparently the show is getting huge crowds. The food and beverage services are struggling to cope, according to letters in today's Press. I wonder what people make of tropical garden exhibits with falling autumn leaves among the palms?

I tried to remove a stuck winch on my boat on Tuesday, and got driven away by a dramatic southerly front; I haven't had a chance to get back, so that will have to be tomorrow's job. We can sail without it, I suppose - I hope I can un-stick it once I get it off the cabin roof, otherwise we may have to buy a replacement!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Great weekend

The weather this past weekend was superb; I suspect it was a last taste of real summer before autumn settles in, but it was really lovely.

On Saturday Heather and went for a bike ride after a morning of domestic duties. We rode to North Beach then I left and set off on a bit of a charge into the northwest wind, across from the beaches, past Burwood and along QE2 Drive to Northcote. At the railway corridor I decided I'd had enough of headwinds so I turned south and rode the railway cycle track. I left that at Glandovey Rd and returned home via Rossall St, Carlton Mill Rd, and Bealey Ave - only 30km but 15km had been into a strong head wind.

Saturday night was good and bad; we had a lovely dinner of blue cod and salad, then I watched the Crusaders lose to the Highlanders, and had an early night.

An early start (for our crew) on Sunday morning saw us launching Impulsive at 10.30am, in conditions perfect for water skiing. It was so calm and sunny that we didn't even try to sail, but motored all the way up the harbour, around Adderley Head, and into Port Levy. We motored about 2/3 of the way down that harbour, past large mussel farms, and moored in a little bay at 1pm. We dropped the anchor about 40m off shore and eased in backwards until we were so close to the beach that Darren could step off and hardly get his feet wet - the beach was all boulders the size of softballs, and was so steep that we could float a metre away without touching ground.

Shot with a Flip Ultra, which is not great at long distance photography or finding dolphins. The clip jumps from lunch in the boat to a beer at the pub after sailing, because we were too busy sailing back to record any more video.

Darren's search for mussels came up empty-handed, so we ate lunch, hoisted the sails, and pulled up the anchor. We followed an intriguing twin masted cruising yacht out to the open sea in a good 10 knot easterly - which died as we arrived off Adderley Head, between the two harbours. I suspect that the headland acted like a rock in a river, with a "bow wave" upwind, and we were in it going nowhere, 200m from the waves breaking on the rocky cliffs.

We were about to start the motor, when along came our mate Chris Hutching, in his little cruising yacht Henry Salad (reputedly a Monty Python character, but I'm dubious about that). We motored on till we were in Lyttelton Harbour out of danger, then tied up with Chris and drifted about having a drink and a chat for half an hour, before parting company. That was followed by a terrific spinnaker run (with crackers and pate) back downthe harbour, in a 10 knot breeze. We gybed three times, twice successfully, but during the last gybe we let the spinnaker fall uncontrolled onto the forestay, where it tangled into a wineglass. (I must remember to tighten the sheet b efore gybing.) Rather than rip the sail, we gently lowered it and unwound it, and ended the day about 5pm.

Tired but happy, I slept extremely well.

Friday, 6 March 2009

This that what week

Busy week - flat out at work. Sold a motor mower on Trademe. Sailing this weekend. More later.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Something new to worry about

Societal collapse gets a year closer. How's this for a scenario? It comes from the weekly blog of James Howard Kunstler, oil and eco tragedian.
"...But what happens when farming collapses? The prospect for that is closer than most of us might realize. The way we produce our food has been organized at a scale that has ruinous consequences, not least its addiction to capital. Now that banking is in collapse, capital will be extremely scarce. Nobody in the cities reads farm news, or listens to farm reports on the radio. Guess what, though: we are entering the planting season. It will be interesting to learn how many farmers "out there" in the Cheez Doodle belt are not able to secure loans for this year's crop."
Oh no! No buns for the Whopper Cheese Burgers with Extra Everything! Seriously, a US public without wheat products and corn syrup will not be a pleasant crowd to deal with. They'll be meaner than a junkyard dog when they can't buy sweetened bread and peanut butter, or a box of Twinkies.

Rights? No thanks.

Politics makes strange bedfellows, the saying goes. How the Nats plan to keep the Maori Party and this neo-fascist happily in the same bed is not immediately obvious; I'll watch with interest.

"We've got too hung up on people's rights." says Mr Garrett - who then says that he's defending victims' rights.

Let's do away with defence lawyers, legal aid, and freedom of the press while we're at it. Wouldn't life be simpler and more efficient without fair trade, environmental, and workers' rights legislation as well? I bet Mr Garrett could come up with a Final Solution for South Auckland's Polynesian youth gangs - and he'd look very dashing in a brown uniform.