Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Moving again

An earthquake has done what Project STAR couldn't, and our group will soon be domiciled in the Wairarapa zone of the College of Education campus at Dovedale Avenue. We have hopes that we'll soon be allowed into the Library under supervision, to get gear out of our offices.

It's full circle for my teaching career too; this campus (though it was a lot smaller) is where I was trained in 1971.

There's still a long term plan to get us back into the Library, but that could be years away.

Friday, 25 March 2011


(This has been doing the electronic rounds, with more items being added as it goes.)

Geonet / ChristchurchQuakeMap is your homepage
The rest of the country offers you a place to stay
“Munted” and “buggered” are official technical terms
You go 'pfffff' when Wellington has a 4.5 earthquake that's 40km deep
You see a nice park in another city and think it would make a good evacuation point
You sleep in one suburb, shower in another and collect water from yet another
When you drive on the right side of the road and no one thinks it's wrong
You are happy two policemen came for a visit
When your bike becomes your best friend
You think it's fine for a soldier to be stationed at the end of your street
You see armoured vehicles driving down the road
It’s normal to greet people with “do you need a shower?”
A bucket of sh*t is no longer that old car you drive
Every house is a crack house
Instead of rushing to the clothes line to get clothes in when it rains, you put dirty washing on the line in the hope that it will rain enough to clean them
Going to Wellington to escape earthquakes makes sense
Your doctor recommends having a few stiff drinks before bed to help you sleep
You know how to start and refuel a generator
You have tied the pantry, liquor cabinet and all the cupboard doors closed and it's not to keep kids out
You prefer to sit under the table instead of at it
You think electronics that have "shock proof" should say to which earthquake magnitude
You know and actually understand the terms and conditions of your House and Contents insurance policies
You can see irony in claims about houses made of “permanent materials”
Your en-suite has a vege garden, dog kennel and grass
Your teenagers are only too happy to sleep in the same room as their parents
You stop using the term “built like a brick sh*t house”
Dressing up to "head into town" means putting on a hi-viz vest, hard hat and boots
Discussing toilet habits with total strangers is an everyday norm
Wee boys don't get excited when they see (another) digger or a dozer - but all the adults in the street cheer wildly
Voluntarily staying in Timaru for five days seems like a good idea
You know what that extra gear lever on your 4X4 is for
Metservice includes a graph for dust
You have dust mask tan lines
You can use the term "liquefaction" in everyday casual conversation, even your 3-year old can
When a massive group of students appears in your street, you feel overwhelmed with gratitude instead calling the Police. What’s more, the students leave the street in better condition than when they arrived
The answer to where anything is ... it’s on the floor
You smile at strangers and greet people like you’re one big family

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Rolling on

Life is settling into another routine - what the management experts are referring to as "the new normal", though I like to think of it as "the longer than usual temporary". Anyway, our surroundings at the CEPS building are comfortable enough, the company is excellent, and we sure are busy, so we can't complain about boredom. We had some good news today; a US software company will give us a 9 month free trial of some software that we've been thinking of buying, and now really need, given the increase in online teaching - and the impending demand for online assessment. Nothing like saying you've had an earthquake to get people's sympathy!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

EQC's web site again

Looks like the problem was mine, not EQC's; as well as working on Windows, the web site is fine on Macs as well. So I can only blame it on Firefox and Chrome. Funny that they both have the fault. Anyhoo, I phoned the EQC and got a very helpful person, and now it's all sorted.

Quite why we should make a claim for more damage, when the house is already a write-off, is a mystery of bureaucracies that I may never understand. The first claim from Sep 4th decreed that the house was dead. Now it's even more dead, apparently.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

EQC's Catch-22

Last evening I started to make an online claim for further damage to our house after 22 February. As the house is soon to be demolished, making a further claim seemed a bit stupid, but apparently that's what they want.

I filled in the first screen of the claim, and went on to an address details page. I could select my street and suburb from an unnecessarily clever "search as you type" list, and then I had to re-enter the house number and the street and suburb again. This seemed strange, as their whizzy code had just selected the street and suburb, but OK, I entered the house number and clicked into the street name field. The cursor sat in the field but I couldn't type anything; same for suburb and city. Oh well, I thought, they've already got that info and the fields don't have an asterisk for "Mandatory", so I completed the postal address details and clicked Next. Oh no, said an error pop-up, you must enter street, suburb, and city. Hmmm.

I went round this cycle twice, just to be sure, with the same results. The form wouldn't let me type in the very data it then complained about; how odd. So I right-clicked and selected "View page source". The page is heavy on Javascript, and among the form fields I found the three lines that request street, suburb, and city - and they're set to "read only"! No wonder I couldn't enter text in them.

Is this EQC's way of keeping their claim numbers down? Or just a case of web programmers being too clever for their own good?

UPDATE: Got to work, tried it on a Windows machine, all is well. Tough luck for Mac users...

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Been away

You can tell when I've been busy at work - this blog's post rate drops off. I haven't even been tweeting... much.

Our "techie" group within e-learning were moved again this week; we're now in the CEPS Printery building. The educational advisers remain in the NZi3 building. We've had a huge increase in the demand for e-learning support, and for streaming video - our server is struggling to cope, but we think we've got a solution worth trying. More later; better not start advertising too soon, in case we can't deliver.

I've had a major sort-out of photos from recent weeks, mostly to do with quake damage or our work arrangements; they're in a collection in Flickr, and I'll add a few here as a sample.

Our e-learning section in the NZi3 building. Jess, Lei, Paul, and I have since moved again.

A team of support staff from the IT dept ready to go out rescuing equipment from staff offices.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Weekend in limbo

No sailing, as my crew are dispersed between Kaikoura and St Albans. Next weekend is also problematic, but I think Chris Hutching and I will collaborate to get on the water, using either of our boats. I'd like to have a sail on his boat, as it's so unlike the high performance design of my Quintet. Sailing just for the fun of it, without worrying about VMG, would be a nice change.

Christchurch is a funny place at the moment. The city has become the malls, they are the centres of activity. The supermarkets are mostly at the malls of course, along with the few Warehouse stores left. Anyway, they are madhouses of middle class greed and assertiveness, best avoided by those of a sensitive disposition. There are no movie theatres, no central city, no buses (well, there are a few) - but where would you want to go, anyway?

University restarts tomorrow. I think we'll be busy.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Jolly Boys

Just like Amy Winehouse, but with fewer teeth - and better dancing. Check out more of The Jolly Boys. Better be quick, they may not be around much longer by the look of them.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Tent city

I got to visit the rising tent city on the Clyde Rd car park today; and left my camera behind. So I used my phone...
A 100 seat lecture tent. I was part of a 3 person team who laid the chairs out - my claim to fame!
IT network wizard Jerry Schave - well, actually he was sacked in last year's restructure, but who's counting things like that at the moment? Putting wireless networks into the tents for those students with any battery life left. We can't provide in-tent power; imagine if it rained.
More tents going up on the Clyde Rd car park.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Ready, set, panic!

The University is going to be open on Monday, with a phased restart of teaching, beginning with first year (100-level) classes. Some subjects are changing lecture formats, lots are putting material online, there is a lot of printing and DVD copying happening. Lectures and classes will be held in a tent city that is going up on the Clyde Rd and Law carparks. (Photos) The problem is that labs can't be held, computer workrooms are non existent (though plans are under way to put lots in some safe areas), and nobody knows where to park. I think I'll be biking or bussing from now on, taking a car is going to be too much hassle.

I feel we'll all muddle through, as long as people keep smiling and are prepared for a bit of give and take. There's certainly been all sorts of planning and hard work to get us to this point.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Restart time

The University restarts in a limited way on Monday 14th, aftershocks permitting. We are gearing up for a very busy couple of weeks. I used to say about the first two weeks of semester, that we got invited to share in everyone else's last minute crises; this year we don't need an invitation.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Back to work

The e-learning support bay in NZi3; Alan Hoskin in foreground, Rob Stowell and Herbert Thomas at left.

We started Monday and Tuesday by meeting at our team leader's undamaged house in Burnside, then set up operations in the University's NZi3 building; it's a high tech research centre, but the researchers have been displaced by a variety of essential administration groups. To my knowledge, the main floor's west end houses Facilities & Buildings, Enrolments, Student Services, College Offices & Managers. Then there are a couple of areas with sofas and coffee tables, for meetings and breaks. The eastern end has eLearning, Library, IT network and desktop support, IT Helpdesk, and phones/communications.

Library staff are getting online systems running, and working with publishers to provide electronic resources.

Our services are needed more than ever now, and we finally feel that someone is taking us seriously - the only teaching being done is on our systems, after all. Maybe we'll be believed now when we point out that a video recording and streaming service would have been useful - we've been asking and planning for it, students and staff want it, I suspect we'll now get it.

We're doing an 8-1pm and a 12-5pm shift, as we don't have room for everyone - and people need time to do domestic stuff, it's all taking twice as much time & effort. Alan lives in Burwood, with silt everywhere, no water or power, but he's coming to work and loving being busy. Me too, I must say - it's good to be doing something. We will soon have 100s of staff who've never done any online teaching wanting us to help them - and they're the reluctant learners, so it will be heavy going for our advisers.