Irregular Injection of Opinion
RSS 2.0|Atom 1.0|CDF

 Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Taking Nice Party Photos

So I’m a big fan of taking available light photos. This is particularly good fun at Wedding parties and Christmas parties.

I took a bunch of photos at the Intergen Office Christmas party last Friday night and I’ve had a bunch of people ask “what camera etc… were you using”. SO I thought I’d take a few minutes and write up a post with some notes on taking available light party photos.

So the trick to taking nice party photos is not using a flash. To do this you need a couple of things;

  1. A camera that has a decent High ISO noise level.
    ISO is an interesting term in that it goes back to the film days. The ISO (International Standards Organization) measure basically set a standard for the sensitivity of film to light. A high ISO film required less light to create an image, but, a high ISO film also typically produced photos with much more noticeable film grain. In the digital age we still use the term ISO but this time it’s basically referring to the amount of light required by the sensor in order to create an image; while the ISO of a roll of film was fixed we can change the camera ISO (sensitivity) at will because it’s basically just turning up the Gain (a camera sensor is effectively an analog-digital interface). If you’ve ever played with other things that have a Gain knob you’ll know if you put a small signal in and try and use the gain knob to boost it things can get a bit ugly- so it is with camera ISO if you turn the gain up too much things get noisy.
    So to get the nice party photos with available light (no flash and as such relying on not much light) you need a camera that lets you turn the gain up with out getting too noisy. The original ‘super amazing’ low light Camera was probably the Canon EOS 5D Mk II which is now about 3 years old. Indeed it is this camera that I used for most of the shots. It’s an expensive ($5k) body, but, over the past few years that super high ISO technology has filtered down such that you can get pretty decent looking shots from most $1000 bodies at ISO of 1600-6400 (to give you an idea of how revolutionary this is it would be very rare for anyone other than a professional to shoot film higher than ISO400 back in the day. Thus the modern digital cameras are several times more sensitive for the same level of noise than film was ever able to achieve)
    I’m a Canon person so that’s where my recommendations will sit and I think there’s not a lot wrong with the Canon 600D body in the $1000 price point. Take a look at these high ISO shots from DPReview. There will be similarly good options from Nikon in the price point which people can point out in the comments. The benefit of getting the $1000 body is you have more moolah to spend on lenses…
  2. The second thing you’ll need is a lens with a large maximum aperture.
    You can tell the maximum aperture of your lens by reading it off the lens. It will be expressed as a ratio on the front ring e.g. 1:1.8 but it’s typically shortened in conversation and marketing to just the denominator. For the tech boffins the F-Stop (Aperture) is basically expressed as a ratio of the focal length of the lens. The lower the F stop number the larger the aperture- a bit counter-intuitive I know.
    For a zoom lens about the largest F stop you’ll get is F2.8 and even then you’ll be paying big bikkies and they weight a ton. There are a few shots in the party photos that are taken using an 70-200mm F2.8 lens.
    What you really want is a ‘prime’ lens. This is a lens with no zoom. Most of the shots taken in the party set above were taken with a Sigma 50mm F1.4 lens (this is a mid-range prime lens in terms of cost) but, for the most part I have it ‘stopped down’ to F1.8. This is for two reasons 1) wide open a mid-range lens like this can lose a bit of sharpness particularly around the edges and 2) A side effect of a large aperture is a very shallow depth-of-field; in the case of F1.4 on a 5D MkII with the subject at 2m only 11cm of depth will be in sharp focus. You’ll see this shallow depth of field in most of the low light photos as either a nice blurry background or as an annoying fact that of two people in the photo only one is in focus.
    So. Which lens to get. This is a place where Canon has a real advantage. If you are not ken to spend much money there is a Canon lens, the 50mm F1.8 MkII (plastic fantastic) that for under $200 will let you take nice party photos too. To me this is almost as good a reason as any to prefer Canon over Nikon at the cheap pricepoint cameras.
    If you have a bit more money to spend both the Canon and Sigma 35mm/50mm/85mm primes are great for under $1000.
    And finally if you have plenty of money go buy a Canon 85m F1.2 for shots like this one I took on a borrowed lens.

So this post became a bit of a ramble. To answer the more direct question of what I used for the party photos.

Canon 7D Body (early evening) with a Canon 24-105 F4 zoom
Canon 5D (low light) with a mixture of Sigma 50mm 1.4, Carl Zeiss 85mm 1.4 and Canon 70-200mm 2.8


Intergen | Photography | Rambles|Tuesday, 13 December 2011 19:40:21 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 18 June 2009
Your Help Needed: Laptop Bags for Grant Braes Primary School in Dunedin

So a friend of mine is on the board of trustees of a school in Dunedin. They have just acquired 20 laptop computers. The first ever laptops at the school but they need bags for them.

I’ve hustled around the house and found a couple of Tech Ed bags (Tech Ed South Africa 2007 and Tech Ed New Zealand 2008).

I’m looking for others who are able to find an old bag they neither need nor want. If you can I’d love to be able to get it to Grant Braes primary school for you. I am flying down to Dunedin for work on Monday so anything that can get to Intergen in Wellington (Lvl 7, 126 Lambton Quay, Wellington)  tomorrow I can take down with me.

Rambles|Thursday, 18 June 2009 01:24:36 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Saturday, 09 May 2009
My Blog Ro9ll as an OPML File

So I needed to get this onto my iPhone. Thought the best way was to stick it up here and then others can take a look at it too if they want.

Blog Roll

Rambles|Saturday, 09 May 2009 21:16:14 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Really Liking Xero

So we're using Xero for one of my businesses, Locum Jobs company MedRecruit.

I'm in a non executive role and we're all scattered around the country so it provides a great way to peek at the balance sheet or cashflow forecast where-ever I am.

I really like the way that you can dril down through all the accounts to look at transactions in detail too.

I've used a few other desktop accounting packages in my time (I currently use Quickbooks for my personal company and family trust) and they really are all a complete pain in the arse to use for an infrequent user like myself. I'm sure if you learn how to use them they are fine but honestly I expect stuff to be so intuitive that a geek like me can just pick it up and run with it.

I've got good basic accounting knowledge and I've picked up all I need to know about Xero just by using it. No documentation required.

As a small business co-owner Xero really is the ducks nuts for keeping myself aware of the goings on.

Two thumbs up from me.

What I'd really love is a chopped down version with a limited number of transactions per month that will allow me to use it for my smaller stuff at a cost point that I can justify more easily to myself.



I am reliably advised that Xero has discounted rates for your second and subsequent businesses and even more discounted rates for non GST registered entities like your famil trust. So I've registered two of my other companies with Xero and my trust. Will blog how my move from casual observer to somewhat more active user goes.

Rambles|Tuesday, 13 May 2008 09:01:17 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 27 July 2006
Trademe Invest I Zoomin...

Tim has a post up titled 'Trademe Invest in Ruby on Rails'.... which is a bit misleading really.

It's more like 'Trademe invest in Zoomin, who happen to use Ruby on Rails'.

Good on Zoomin for gettig their claws ito Trademe on this one. I thik it's fantastic... but it's pushig it a bit far to note that 'Trade me have 'lauched their first Rails page'. If it were written in PHP they would have launched 'thier first PHP Page' and the same for JSP. Don't think it's too likely that Trademe will be making the move off ASP.NET anytime soon.

When you buy someone elses technology you generally get it as is where is :-)

A funny little example I saw this morning was Sysinternals Process Explorer. Microsoft now own this but there's still a right click menu option to 'Google' a process name.

Will be interesting to see how easy it is for them to Mashup the Zoomin stuff into Trademe though... in particular whether most of the 'mashing' occurs on the Ruby side or the ASP.NET side.

.NET | Human Aggregation | Rambles | Rants|Thursday, 27 July 2006 23:22:13 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 21 March 2006
At Last We Get One Back - Fairfax Paid Too Much

Kiwis have a long history of paying too much for Aussie companies- Ansett and AAPT are the best examples.

I think with the TradeMe/Fairfax deal we might just get one back.

While TradeMe is no lemon (the others arguably were) I really struggle to see how they can justify the price they paid.

If you stack it against even the exorbitant per connection fees pad during the electricity market de-regulation it just seems out of whack. Does anyone know how Fairfax proposes to grow their investment? Into Australia, maybe, but certainly I see ver little opportunity for growth beyond that- even Aus will be hard work.

Rambles|Tuesday, 21 March 2006 19:12:00 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 15 March 2006
Dollar Going Ker-Boom

Looks like the dollar is continuing to get NAILED. It was always going to happen- was just a matter of when.

At Kognition we've been holding quite a lot of our working capital in US$ lately in anticipation- it's nice that it's finally started doing something :-)

I think we've had the big fall now and we'll setlle in around 63-64 cents for a good few months. That said we could see a number of the mom and pop uridashi holders bail which could further catalyze things- good time to be holding forex anyway :-)

Rambles|Wednesday, 15 March 2006 02:33:47 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 09 March 2006
How We Are Being Disruptive @ Kognition

I had a great dicussion with my bank manager the other day- wen't something like:

CA: I need to be able to see the statment of account for my on call forex electronically via internet banking.

BM: We can't do that- you should use desk bank, our $30+ a month 'business' product.

CA: Hmmm... that feels like daylight robery... but do tell me more. Does it work over the internet.

BM: Well, sort of, you use a modem to dial into it.

CA: WTF!?! I thought modems went out long ago. I don't even have a phone line.

And so it is. We do not have analog telephone lines at all in Wellington. At the office we have a VOIP PABX (an Asterisk Linux Box) and attached to this we have some SIP phones. At home I am getting TelstraClear cable turned on (they now let you have the internet without a phoneline which is a darn lot better than Telecom) and we'll setup a VPN tunnel to the office and attach a SIP phone off the PABX at home too. We already have a great VPN tunnel; running between our ISA servers in Dunedin and Wellington and we are going to put an Asterisk box at the Dunedin end so that we can VOIP out onto the University or Otago phone network- we have a number of on campus customers. We are alos doing A LOT of Skype calling- several of our customers now use it as their primary communication mechanism with us- we can have multi party phone conferences, for 90 minutes, for FREE!

We're also really taking advantage of MSN Messenger a heap more now. We use the Remote Assistance feature for pairs based programming at a distance.

Other cool things that we are doing include using MS Virtual Server to run a number of our key servers- the real benefit for us is the ability to scale up more easily without doing a full rebuild each time. Just pick up the required server images and drop them on a new box.

So a lot of this stuff really excites me at the moment. I'm talking with a number of customers and friends about how this can help their business too. Finally we're looking at some new business opportunities that take advantage of all this stuff.

Exciting times ahead.

Kognition | Rambles | Toy Box|Thursday, 09 March 2006 01:26:05 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 10 February 2006
Adam Cogan Rules

I've just listened to Adam Cogan on Dot Net Rocks.

Adam talks about his cool rule enforcement applications for VS.Net and SQL.

You also get to find out that he takes his whole team (30 odd people) to a beach house once a year and they all get up and go for runs @ 6:30am..... Now there is an idea! It's a great DNR episode and it gives some great insight into why Adam is able to run such a tight development ship.

Listening on some new headphones that I just got. I find my Sennheiser HD25 muffs a bit uncomfortable for use at the office so I got some cheapish ($120 vs $600 for HD25) Sennheiser phones- HD465. They are open ear designs- i.e. they just sit as flat pads on your ears so REALLY comfortable.

Human Aggregation | Rambles|Friday, 10 February 2006 01:27:43 UTC|Comments [0]|    

Time To Break Radio Silence

Well. For the last few months I've pretty much fallen off the face of the Earth blogging wise. A few reasons:

  1. We've been working really hard.
    We've been polishing off some product development which means that we've had to work hard on both the product and ensuring that we remain profitable and able to pay the bills.
  2. I've shifted to Wellington
    So we've now opened a Wellington Office. Will post some piccies soon. This has meant some reasonable time spent geting stuff organised. Yesterday we got the ISA boxes at each end talking to each other. It's really cool so I now have a Dunedin IP subnet and a Wellington IP subnet and we can route between them over a L2TP over IPSec tunnel. Means I am getting 15ms pings from WLG to DUD- it really is just like being there.
  3. I've been putting in some good gym time
    Been doing a lot of Spinning at the Gym which is really kicking the BF% down. Have paired back the weights for the last wee while but I'm going to kick it back up again soon.
  4. MTBing.
    I'm back riding a mountain bike quite a bit again. Riding to work most days too. Got a nice 2nd hand Specialized Epic Pro on eBay that I picked up in Vancouver last month.

I'll blog a bit more detail on some of these things over the next wee while. But anyway- going to make a real effort to blog more 'cos I've been slack.

OH! And if you haven't already noticed I tend to majorly over use hyphens- not sure why- I just do. I've found someone elase who does too! I'm reading Robert Fisk's book on the Middle East at the moment- he apostrophises too... will post a detailed review on the book once I've finished. It is heavy going but very interesting.

Rambles|Friday, 10 February 2006 01:15:28 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 16 November 2005
My Knob Is Bigger and Better Than Rods Knob

Rod Drury wants a new Knob.

One of my mates @ e-Media had a knob like that.
It was certainly big... and it flashed when you turned it.

I have a different Knob. Mine's got buttons and all sorts. Quite nice really.

Rambles|Wednesday, 16 November 2005 03:28:50 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 09 November 2005
More On Tagging

O)K... so Phil came back and commented on my post from yesterday....

One suggestion was to support mapping between tags. I still have issues with ontological mapping like this as I think that it remains both error prone and a time consuming PITA. But, I did some thinking while abluting this morning (the little boys room is a great cognative stimulant) and I reckon that we must be getting close to being able to draw inference mappings from real world data.

What do I mean from this. Well. Google has a whole schwag of information on various sites around the world that would, IMHO, cover pretty much every conceivable topic. One would think that they should be able to use their Googlebase to build some sort of inference engine that would give a ranked inference between potential tag terms. So, from my example yesterday, Canoeing and Kayaking would sit very close together on the inference list. Thus tag ontologies and the mappings between them could become a fuzzy concept and we could use fuzzy algebra to help us build systems around them.

I played around with this sort of autmatic inferencing in music files in my final year AI paper @ varsity. Used Self Organising Maps to cluster similar music. Google could use some sort of Neural Net to cluster key words out of their database. Then this cluster map could be used to help map between concepts in a fuzzy fashion.

The advantage of this approach is that these maps could then be represented to the user in 2D or 3D space and coupled with some funky zooming could be used to help solve the UI problem that Phil talks about.

Rambles|Wednesday, 09 November 2005 20:18:27 UTC|Comments [0]|    


Phil Cockfield has been writing quite a bit on tagging recently.

He's currently talking about tagging emails at source rather than destination.

This is all well and good except that to work really well we need to either

a) Share the same set of tags

b) Alow the sender to 'pollute' the receivers tag list

And of course the whole semantics issue comes up....

For example if someone from the UK tags an email with 'Canoeing' I might miss it because I'm only interested in Kayaking.

Rambles|Wednesday, 09 November 2005 03:45:31 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 24 August 2005
Travel Madness Begins Once More

OK... so I'm pretty travel crazy over the next few weeks... blogiing may be light again for a bit

25 Aug DUD-AKL
31 Aug AKL-BNE
11 Sep DUD-LAX
16 Sep LAX-DUD
27 Sep DUD-SEA
31 Sep SEA-DUD

Done :-)

Rambles|Wednesday, 24 August 2005 22:20:31 UTC|Comments [6]|    

 Wednesday, 15 June 2005
First Class

Rod has some stuff on NZ's First Class experience.

I'm inclined to agree that it's not super but I reckon the seats are actually that bad... Much better than NZ business.

The NZ inflight entertainment experience is LAME LAME LAME. When I fly to Seattle this week it will be the Fourth time I have seen the same bloody movies in NZ in the past few months.

Roll on the new business class... it looks IMHO to be about the best business offering around (bar maybe Lufthansa but only cos I want in flight internet.... which they have even in coach).

FWIW. Like Rod we have a back of the plane company policy..... but the odd upgrade is nice :-)

Rod also comments on the lounge experiences...

IMHO the Air NZ lounges (Intl ones excepted) are pretty bloody good. Every other Star Alliance lounge I've been in recently has been pretty ass.... I mean in Singapore they even give you tyhe second class treatment by bouncing Gold Star Alliance to the 'Premiere Lounge'... Premiere my ass. I reckon Air NZs lounges and Koru Club in general spank the pants of most others...

Rambles|Wednesday, 15 June 2005 23:17:05 UTC|Comments [5]|    

 Monday, 16 May 2005
Brendon from Provoke. World Famous In Dunedin

Brendon from Provoke was in our student rag this week- in the Bunch of 5s Question and Answer section

Obviously down here trying to pilfer some student talent....

Pity I was in Perth otherwise I might have had to drag him out for a Tech Ed Geek Festesque Boozup @ a student pub.

Rambles|Monday, 16 May 2005 23:37:18 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 04 May 2005
ANZAC Day @ Kranji

My friend Sandy (in Singapore) has blogged about the ANZAC day service we attended there.

It was quite an amazing experience. I purchased a Poppy - my 3rd for the year having also purchased one in Shanghai @ the get together there, one at the Shell Station in Huntly (on the actual Friday before ANZAC in NZ).

As dawn broke I left my Poppy atop the headstone of 'An Unknown New Zealand Soldier'.

Rambles|Wednesday, 04 May 2005 01:35:25 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 04 April 2005
The Cool Things Blogs Have Done To Politics

We've now got Rodney Hide asking for suggestions for Parliamentary Question time on his blog.... really a rather funny situation.

Rambles|Monday, 04 April 2005 20:28:24 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 01 April 2005
The Power Question

Over on there is a discussion about power stations- we kayaker care very much about power stations.

here is my response...

I always get my ass kicked for this answer. But IMHO Nuclear is not a bad option. Only problem with it is it is BLOODY expensive.
But, for a clean green country like ours it is ideal.

Minimal emissions (Coal/Gas to some degree), just Nuke waste which is pretty manageable or at the very least exportable. Minimal visual polution (wind farms), no damming rivers (hydro), small in size (solar), reliable (all of the above save for Coal/Gas).

The other good thing we could do is stop selling Comalco electricity at below market rates. Comalco is basically just an electricity exporting mechanism. Ship the bauxite in, use the cheap power, ship the aluminium out. Export electricity.

Adventure Sports | Rambles|Friday, 01 April 2005 04:52:16 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 23 February 2005
Paul Is Off To Redmond

Paul Andrew, MS's Wellington based Dev Evangelist is moving on to Redmond. We'll be sad to see you go mate.... been great working with you. Next time I'm in Redmond we're sure hjas hell gonna get a group of the Kiwi expats together and go to Wades Gunshop for a blast up.

Human Aggregation | Rambles|Wednesday, 23 February 2005 22:00:57 UTC|Comments [0]|    


It's Orientation Week this week @ Otago University... The talent would leave even Tim Huffman speechless!

Rambles|Wednesday, 23 February 2005 04:09:16 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 22 February 2005
Cool Posts That Once Were Pt. I

I used to really love it on web forums where every once in a while someone would dredge up a cool post from times gone by....

S here is a post dredged out of the back blocks of my blog on Airline Excess Baggage Charges.....

Anyone have any similar insights?

Rambles | Rants|Tuesday, 22 February 2005 00:50:08 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 21 February 2005
A Suggestion for e-Bay

How about a link next to the expiry of an auction to allow me to add it to my Outlook calendar?

Rambles|Monday, 21 February 2005 00:43:58 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 07 February 2005
Hooray For Stupid People......

Yes Sir... that is correct.... your Subaru Lagacy really is only a 'Remuera' 4WD....

flood.wmv (391.74 KB)

* Remuera is a wealthy, old money suburb in Auckland, New Zealand notable for it’s palatial estates, four-wheel drives and middle-aged housewives who refer to each other as “daaahling.”

Rambles|Monday, 07 February 2005 20:23:30 UTC|Comments [2]|    

 Monday, 31 January 2005
More Alumni News....

It don't just rain... it pours....

Bob McNeill, who did some contracting for us at the end of last year has (once again) won the New Zealand Music award in the folk music section.... well done Bob!

RIANZ web site is STUFFED at the moment- some one please fix it for them!... So can't post a link to the award details....

Kognition | Rambles|Monday, 31 January 2005 20:59:00 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 25 January 2005
Wow! Baby Time....

One of my former work mates is a Dad... Congrats guys... what a cutie...

Makes me feel old... fact I'm getting married next Sat doesn't help :-)

Rambles|Tuesday, 25 January 2005 04:41:13 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 21 January 2005
The Crazy Sheep Stamp

There is much ado about a sheep on a recent postage stamp... Why on earth politicians like Katherine Rich (an otherwise generally intelligent polly) need to get involved I don't know.

But in that vein I've come to the concusion that the sheep stamp is the all but inevitable politically correct by-product of a United Future/Labour Coalition Govt.... it is a chemically castrated solo dad.

Politics | Rambles|Friday, 21 January 2005 01:06:25 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 17 January 2005
Back From The Brink.....

So I fell off the blogging wagon for a few months due to too much work. I'm back in action now... watch this space.

Rambles|Monday, 17 January 2005 22:30:23 UTC|Comments [7]|    

It's XML Stupid

Scoble has been fanning the flames around the copyright nature of blog material. Wearing my techno-legal guy hat for two secs... how about incorporating some sort of license metadata into the RSS standard... that's what XML is for isn't it? It's eXtensible for a reason.

This would allow publishers to indicate to aggregators how their content may be used- it's almost like DRM but without the big stick. Like an advanced form of robots.txt. It could allow things such as a copyright/attribution notice to be appended and so forth.

PoliTechLaw | Rambles|Monday, 17 January 2005 22:29:06 UTC|Comments [2]|    

 Tuesday, 02 November 2004
Contract IT Work in the UK

Someone asked about contracting in the UK on one of the mailing lists I subscribe to- a mate in Auckland who has been there done that posted a fantastic reply. Reproduced here for your information and pleasure.

Tims guide to working in the UK...

Cheat Sheet Version:


* Its way easier when you're there (if you're applying from here many aren't interested or wont take you seriously)

* Gift of the gab goes a long way ;-)

* Many agents are petty & classest - don't out-class the agent

* Be good, but not too good - most contracts will become rolling

* Good contractors rates can provide a cheap and enteraining night a some antipodean pub

* Register quick and flirt with agents for securing invites to xmas functions.

* Stock up on condoms

Long Winded Inane Banter Version:


Looking is always easy (no more difficult than doing single handed searches for porn on the web) - Securing a job is another story - I've found a lot of agencies and potential employers will ignore you if you're applying from here - however when you're there & they can see a face it makes all the difference (although I've also secured jobs remotely from here so it is possible - probably more so because they didn't actually get to see my face first).

Be good (quite easy because poms are lazy whining bastards - you'll seem like a breath of fresh air to management) but not so good that you have a high profile - most contracts will turn out to be rolling, ie if you're good and keep a low enough profile they'll just forget you're there and keep paying you. Here's a few other dubious tactics to increase your revenue:

- I've heard of some contractors billing more than 24 hours a day (dodgy)

- Also heard of some guys creating off shore accounts and invoicing from there (ie zippo tax), you just need to find an 'imaginative' accountant (very dodgy)

- I've also heard of contractors decreasing income (for tax purposes) by having a large entertainment account - the record I know of is one evening costing 1200quid for a few guys having dinner.

If you're a true billy-no-mates IT nerd then you'll probably have the social skills of a boy donkey's dingle dangle, fortuntately you're in luck, london is crawling with poor antipodean travelling scum who choose a socialistic view and correspondingly poorly paid bar jobs (unlike you with your superior capitalistic pig point of view and matching high paid job)- on any given night you can find a herd of these steaming social animals at a pub in Shepherd Bush who will be instant longlost mates if you buy a few rounds of snake bites with you're new found wealth (read: contractors rates). The down side is having to listen to their drivel and pretending that just because you were brought up 400kms apart that you have something in common..

The worst are the kiwis, after 12 pints you'll be expected to strip off and do the haka half naked on the bar. Another down side is the prevalence of STDs within this incestuous bunch.

Also, it goes without saying that regardless of whether you're a pure genius or a complete plonker who cant tell the difference between a virus and a visual development environment whose name ends in .NET and was developed by one of the biggest s/w companies, if you've got the gift of the gab and can spin a yarn or two about how you single handedly re-architected all the backend systems of a forbes 500 multinational then you're in with a grin.

Oh, one more thing, they're a cheesy classest society over there so it pays to target your self sales pitch to suit the audience, you know, if the agency is located in the east end then talk applesnpears cockney drivel or if its some snooty cow from knightsbridge then just drop a few names, like the time you & uncle steve ballimer went skiing in tahoe or that time you got drunk as a skunk on larry's yacht and fell overboard etc.

And lastly, now is a good time to go over there - some of the bigger agencies throw fantastic christmas functions, and some of their staff are really slutty (guys & girls - depends on which way you bend) ;-)

.NET | Human Aggregation | Rambles|Tuesday, 02 November 2004 19:30:57 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 05 October 2004
New Office

That's right. Kognition has shifted offices... again.

We shifted into the Centre for Innovation at Otago University.

We've pimp'd up the office pretty nicely (see photos below).

One is of the area we call the Glasshouse- it's got two all glass walls looking out onto the University and we've got nice leather couches, cacti and an air hockey table in there.

The other half of the room is where we work- though it also has our DJ Setup. It'll also be where our big ass server rack is gonna go when it arrives- servers have arrived, just no rack yet.

Anyway- check the photos.... Bill, come visit, Casey, export yaself here


IMAGE_00093.jpg (32.53 KB)

IMAGE_00094.jpg (26.49 KB)

IMAGE_00095.jpg (21.92 KB)

IMAGE_00096.jpg (32.87 KB)

Kognition | Rambles|Tuesday, 05 October 2004 05:06:20 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 15 September 2004
Full Text Feeds are back on

Scoble has the details here....

Dunno why the hell they changed it in the first place....

.NET | Human Aggregation | Rambles|Wednesday, 15 September 2004 21:49:12 UTC|Comments [3]|    

 Tuesday, 14 September 2004
Robert Levy Is Insane!

Ok... so Rob has re-ignited the flame @ and the first post back he talks about his car... and his insurance... the man is insane... let me quote a little.

Getting screwed on car insurance.  Now that I actually have my own car I gotta start paying insurance and boy does that suck.  Right now I'm paying over 250/month...

This is just mad...US$250 a month == NZ$384 a month... To put that in perspective, that is NZ$4 more than I pay to insure my Subaru GT Legacy Twin Turbo 206kw Extremely Nickable For Ram Raiding 'Space Rocket With Wheels'....

And more importantly that's NZ$380 per year, not per month.

Eee youch!.... Should I ever take the red pill I'll sure as hell be joining Ericgu @ the LBS  and buying myself a shiny new bike... can't believe Eric doesn't like the color scheme on the Litespeed..... Titanium is like... so sexy!

Rambles|Tuesday, 14 September 2004 11:03:45 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 09 September 2004
The run on self congratulation

Sorry to all of those RSS subscribers out there.... the recent run on self congratulatory blog posts is becuase I've decided to make the news page on our new look company web site simply a tap off a category on my blog. That way it is harder for me to neglect the all important comapny news... like I have done in the past.

So. Going forward you will get the odd PRish post coming out of this blog too..... should make a nice change from some of the other ranting I do.

Rambles|Thursday, 09 September 2004 22:37:42 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 25 August 2004
More Google Goodness

Just to show how wonderful the Google ranking system... Technology Head Me who gets most of his Google karma from links with technology sites is ranked @ #2 site for the search term Alison Annan

What a crazy world we live in.... I've posted on this before here, but I wonder if, in this age of all over the subject range blogs, Google are doing anything to correlate their ranking system with subject clustering.

Politics | Rambles|Wednesday, 25 August 2004 02:44:48 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 17 August 2004

OK, so I'm a day late... But monday was a snow day here in Dunedin. Nick thought I'd be cold... but not me! Office Dog and I were out by 8am in shorts and T Shirt (well he was in his birthday suit) going for a run. Herewith some photos... off my Smartphone I'm afraid...

Dog Blog | Rambles|Tuesday, 17 August 2004 00:12:20 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 10 August 2004
An Ilicit Developer Portal!?!

Iliciting suggestions for content/functionality for your theoretical internal developer portal

Oh yes please......

But seriously... developers work in all sorts of different ways- IMHO the last thing they want is some company wide uber portal to constrain their lives. Give me blogs and Google- that's a pretty good toolset to be completely honest. Google is my most important productivity tool- I'd just love some metrics on how many searches I do a day.


Rambles|Tuesday, 10 August 2004 11:56:05 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 09 August 2004
Tech Ed 2004 recap....

I'm pleased Mr Dee didn't come to my session on smart clients, Val and Gabe gt a bit of a roasting... :-) *

I'll have to write up my review sometime over the next few days... just REALLY busy..... and got to do GST today!

I agree on poor old Nic's session... the drilling was crazy... I left and stormed down to the speakers room and told some people to start rolling shit down hill!

[OK.... Quick Brainfart Below]

To be completely honest I'm not as keen on Sky City as a venue. I really liked the Aotea center because it was spread out, had lots of room and has some character. The rooms are not as good as Sky City maybe, but, they've just done a major refit.

I didn't actually get to many sessions at Tech Ed this year- was busy reworking my slide deck to remove all the content I presented @ Security Summit. In the end I only had two people who had been to the security summit presentations in my session so I could have represented some of that exciting content.

My session went pretty well. Got through a couple of Demos. My Smart Client deployment demo went well apart from the fact that I couldn't get my initial MSI deployment to work so I had to XCopy deploy. Deployment really is the best feature of smart clients. We have one of our applications deployed from invercargil to Kaitaia and updated automagically over the internet.... Really is useful.

I think that I spoke fairly well but that I could probably do with refining my slide deck a little- had a bit too much detail on some of the slides. I really wanted to make it an interactive session... but everyone was pretty tired :-) Daryl Burling and Brent Clarke helped kick things off though.

Will be interesting to see my feedback. Anyway... gotta go do some work. More on Tech Ed from me (including jumping off the Sky Tower) later!

*[UPDATE] Mr Dee did come to my first session (the DNUG Meeting) and said it was a 'must not miss' :-)

.NET | Mobility | Rambles|Monday, 09 August 2004 21:26:14 UTC|Comments [0]|    

The New Office Dog

We've now got an 'office' dog around Kognition.

Toby is a wee terror who has just today learnt to climb the stairs to the office. Provided he is good and stays relaxed on the bean bags I'll let him stay... otherwise he's going out the back!

Dog Blog | Rambles|Monday, 09 August 2004 20:59:31 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 06 August 2004
Interactive Tech Ed Sessions

Michael Kleef is talking about how he tried to make his session more interactive for Tech Ed this year...

I really want to start getting my sessions more interactive too- tried to get this years Tech Ed one more interactive. The fact that it was 2nd to last session made it a bit tough...

Looks like Michael was using bribes... must remember to take some bribes next time :-)

Will have to wait and see how my evals turn out....

.NET | Rambles|Friday, 06 August 2004 03:42:34 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 02 August 2004
Teh L0rdz Pr4y3r

Now you all know that I'm by no means a religious nutcase. But this is really funny...

Our Father, who 0wnz h34V3n, j00 r0ck!
May all 0ur base someday be belong to you!
May j00 0wn earth just like j00 0wn h34V3n.
Give us this day our warez, mp3z, and pr0n through a phat pipe.
And cut us some slack when we act like n00b lamerz, just as we teach n00bz
when they act lame on us.
Please don't give us root access on some poor d00d'z box when we're too
pissed off to think about what's right and wrong, and if you could keep the
fbi off our backs, we'd appreciate it.
For j00 0wn r00t on all our b0x3s 4ever and ever.


Human Aggregation | Rambles|Monday, 02 August 2004 20:50:47 UTC|Comments [2]|    

Tech Ed Day One

Got to a few sessions on Day one... in between sorting my deck and in particular my demos.

The 100 level Map Point session was prettty good- getting our hands on the map data for NZ (about 6mo out) will mean that we can start to do some really neat stuff with our utilities job dispatch application. Pity there is no support for writing your own plugins to the MLS- kinda precludes doing funky stuff like location over packet trunk radio.

Next session I hit was the stuff on Team System. I'm not completely convinced that the demarcaton of roles in Team system is going to work in an NZ context- we tend to be jack of all trades down here... but we'll see. The workflow looks good but I'm going to delegate all that hard stuff down to Nick :-)

Went to the Metropolis architecture talk, if only becuase it was The Metropolis talk. Harry did a good job, knew his stuff well.

Also went to the Data in SOA discussion that Harry gave. Again, a useful session if maybe a little assumptuous of the idea that we are all from big IT shops.

Finished the day with an early Dinner @ The Mexican Cafe with Nick. Saw the guys from Provoke and there were plenty of other Wellywood types- seemed they were all out for dinner with PAndrew.

.NET | Rambles|Monday, 02 August 2004 20:26:49 UTC|Comments [3]|    

 Sunday, 01 August 2004
Tech Ed Keynote

Blogging from the keynote this morning.... The room is filling quickly and as per usual people are STUPID and don't shift to the middle of the rows..... is it some innate fear of a sudden need to ablute that causes this phenomena?

The MS team have been a bit more adventurous with the keynote this year and chose a 'Professional Speaker' rather than an MS exec for the keynote. I think this should be cool- we never get one of the really BIG execs down here anyway.

.NET | Rambles|Sunday, 01 August 2004 20:43:19 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 26 July 2004
Holy Smoke Batman... It's a full house!

Seems that yet again Tech Ed New Zealand will fill one of NZ's largest conference venues to capacity.

I'll be there! Will you? Let me know in the comments and we can catch up.... talk some politics and have a beer maybe.

The Keynote looks fantastic... a great surprise to pull out of the box... checkout what you're missing.

Deviating from the usual TechEd keynote, we are very pleased to bring you Dr. Joseph MacInnis, one of the world's foremost explorers and innovative thinkers. Dr MacInnis was the first man to dive under the North Pole, was a consultant to the Titanic discovery team and the discoverer of the world's most northern shipwreck.

.NET | Rambles|Monday, 26 July 2004 21:15:58 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 16 July 2004
Cool Links for Friday Arvo

A very cool 'Your Potential Our Passion' Flash app from MS.

I have mixed feelings about the 'Your Potential Our Passion' thing.... I really love it as a feel good marketing series and cncept but it's been overused in silly places here in NZ... Like playing the advert at a rugby match...... what a waste. But this flash app is VERY cool..... love to know who did it and what they spent on it? No hints in the code unfortunatly.... :-(
It even has subtitles for disability accesibility!

Check out this piccie of a fully frozen PC still running Windows!.... I used to do a lot of work with these industrial style PCs... VERY cool shot.

No time to rip all your CD's? LoadPod will do it for you!  (Assuming you have an iPod and at least 50 CDs and are willing to pay $1.50 a CD and live in an area they service - which now includes Seattle).
Now what I want to know is will they rip Vinyl!... that's what I want done!.... Thinking about hiring a student to do it!

That is all... back to work for me!

Human Aggregation | Rambles|Friday, 16 July 2004 04:48:56 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 07 July 2004
Len Lye

Lukas notes the Len Lye movie being shown in Auckland at the moment... if you really want to see some cool Len Lye stuff the New Plymouth Govett Brewster Art Gallery is the place. They have some truely phenomenal kinetic sculptures from the man who must surely be the grand master of that art. A photo simply does not do Trilogy (below) justice...

[UPDATE] In case you haven't seen it the above sculpture is about 10 meters high and hangs from the ceiling of the art gallery.... when running the sound alone is truely awe inspiring... and quite frightening!

Human Aggregation | Rambles|Wednesday, 07 July 2004 03:41:44 UTC|Comments [0]|    

Tech Ed Aukcland 2004 - Chris Auld Speaking

You heard it there first I'll be speaking at Tech Ed in the second to last session of the whole conference... eeek....

More details as I prepare my content... be sure to look out for me... I'll be the one wearing the red shoes! I am allowed to wear my red shoes under the speaker dress code aren't I!?!

But who are the Keynote speakers this year???
Steve Riley?

Good to see Tony Goodhew back in this neck of the woods!

And Michael Howard... Nice one....

.NET | Kognition | Rambles|Wednesday, 07 July 2004 03:31:53 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 06 July 2004
DJ Mix Sets

When I get time I like to do the odd bit of DJing... Lukas has pointed to his sets from his radio show hosted @ Twisted. I also have some sets hosted at twisted... Listen to them here...

Rambles | Toy Box|Tuesday, 06 July 2004 22:46:34 UTC|Comments [0]|    

Life in Iraq.....

Ok so Army Steve (Smith) is now in Kuwait. If you have been following his blog it looks as though he has jumped through most of the usual military hoops to get there....

I received a very thoughtful piece through the email this morning... it filtered through our New Zealand Territorial Force (Reservist) command and through my dad to me... it makes quite touching reading. Google tells me it's been sydicated widely.. but it is well worth reading if you have not already.,13190,Galloway_062304,00.html

WASHINGTON - The Internet, which fills our inboxes with spam and scams every day and keeps our delete keys shiny, occasionally delivers a real keeper, such as the words below, which were written by a graduate of West Point, Class of 2003, who's now at war in Iraq.

We tracked down the author, who gave us permission to quote from his letter so long as we didn't reveal his name.

Old soldiers in the
Civil War coined a phrase for green troops who survived their first taste of battle: "He has seen the elephant." This Army lieutenant sums up the combat experience better than many a grizzled veteran:....

Human Aggregation | Rambles|Tuesday, 06 July 2004 21:41:41 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 30 June 2004
Air NZ Super Economy

Air New Zealand has just announced that they will be implementing a Super Economy class on their 747 fleet and the new 777 ERs and one assumes the 7E7s when they arrive. Details here.

The most significant thing is that there will be in seat power and an extra 5-6 inches of leg room. I'm sold already!

I just hope that 'Premium Service' doesn't mean that I'll have to pay for expensive NZ wines and fancy food.... Give me airline stodge and a can of coke any day as long as I can have a power socket for my PC!

Now if they would just install Boeing Connexion it'll be just about perfect.

Human Aggregation | Rambles|Wednesday, 30 June 2004 02:48:40 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 22 June 2004
Singapore/Beijing Trip D+1

OK... I'm sitting in Changi (Singapore) Airport bumming some free wireless so I thought I ought to blog about the past day.

I was delayed by 30 minutes out of DUnedin on the way up so connecting to my SQ flight @ CHC was a bit of a rush. Didn't get much of a look @ CHC international.

Flight over on SQ was a bit strange really. The scenery was great. Have some photos of Ayers Rock (Uluru) from 30,000 feet which is really cool. I was a little disappointed with the much vaunted Singapore Girl cabin service to be completely frank. THe crew were not particularly friendly and they duffed up the meal service something cronic- I missed out on half of my second meal :-( Food was OK though... as good as one can expect in coach. The entertainment system was pretty cool variety was great but the UI was pretty cludgy and slow- anyone want to tag team on a CE based plane/hotel video on demand system?

Singapore has been a blur. Arrived and took a Taxi into town with the guys I was sitting next to on the plane. Stayed @ the Furama Hotel booked via Rates To Go. Hotel was well priced (internet access a little expensive) and about 4 Star standard in NZ terms. Location was OK. I used the Subway (MRT) to get around- be sure to print out a copy of the subway map from the MRT site- it was very useful.

My body clock woke me up at some ungodly hour this morning but I had been well advised that most places don't open in Singapore until 10am. The exception is the 24 Hour Mustafa Center. I went there at about 8:30 following a brief buffet breakfast @ the hotel- worth having. The Mustafa Center is exactly what an Indian owned shopping center should be like- colorful and hideously over crowded. The stock ranged from complete junk through to high end (D70, EOS300D) cameras. I didn't buy anyhing there, but, it was worth a visit to scope out the prices. To get there you want to get off the subway at Farrer Park and follow your nose.

From here I went to Sim Lim Square- bad move. Unfortunatly, while the “things don't open till 10am adage” is broadly correct, Sim Lim doesn't open until about 11am. So I had an hour of going up and down the escalators waiting for the place to open. Sim Lim is hilarious! Imagine, if you will, taking all of the 'dodgy little IT shops' in a city the size of say Sydney and sticking them in a Six story early 80s era building. That is Sim Lim. It is well worth a look but I'd probably go to Furama (see below- Furama is more Department store style shops and less 'Neons and Quad Cooling Fans in your Case' style like Sim Lim) first. Anyway I kicked around Sim Lim looking at most everything. In the end I settled one of the larger (but no less dodgy) stores to buy my goodies. The arrangement g@ Sim Lim is interesting- the Wholesalers for the goods and the retail stores are in the same building. THe wholesalers will only bsell to the public @ a fixed RRP whereas the retailers can be squeezed a bit. The Wholesalers (being somewaht more professional) open earlier so I had already scoped the upper level of pricing before I started shopping proper. I bought some parts mainly:

  • D-Link WiFi Router- 'cos my Nokia isn't powerful enough to cover my whole house.
  • Wireless Powerpoint Remote - Paid a bit much for this really, but, needed one for Tech Ed and was getting sore and grumpy by this point.
  • Hauppage WinTV PVR250 Card- So I can build a Windows Media Center box.
  • 512MB CF Card- It was much cheaper that buying @ home- Got a SanDisk one too....

When it came time to pay my bloody Amex wouldn't work on their machine. THe Mag strip was stuffed- Mag strip is a stupid technolgoy IMHO anyway. Despite much coaching/coaxing by me to get them to manually enter the number it ended up going on my Visa Debit card== no airmiles and no interest free period. Needless to say I was pretty pissy so I got on the blower to Amex in USA then Japan then NZL. NZL rang Singapore and arranged for a replacement card for me to pick up that afternoon. Now that is was I call service! I was bloody stoked with Amex actually- they were most helpful.

Prior to going to pick up my card I wandered theough the Chinese Mal next to my hotel. I wanted to grab a digicam for Dad and ended up getting him a DSC-W1 @ S$699- which I thought was pretty good as it also had the international warranty and a free bag and 128MB memory stick. They guy was so friendly that I went back and got a Samsung Camera for my brother later in the afternoon.

When I went to pick up my Amex card the Taxi driver dropped me off in slightly the wrong place. This was great becuase I stumbled across a dive store. I had wanted to find a dive store to buy a new dive computer but hadn't rated my chances with only 24 hours in town. Anyway I went and picked up my card and came back down and purchased a Mares Airlab AI computer for S$731 which IMHO is a steal for the latest model AI computer- that's about 1/3 of what you'll pay for a Suunto Cobra in NZ. The AIrlab has IR computer integration and a proper RGBM algorithm to boot. VERY HAPPY with this purchase.

Went from here back to buy my brothers camera and finished the day with a chinese foot and back massage before catching the MRT to the airport.

Had a great time in Singapore. The shopping is so good that I am going to ban my girlfriend from even contemplating a trip here. Save for the Taxi drivers I didn't find Singaporeans overly friendly or helpful. Finally in Singapore there seems to be a prominently displayed penalty for pretty much any indiscretion that you can think of. Yet there seems to be little to no enforcement capability.

More from me tommorow. Gotta go and grab a feed- fli9ght to PEK (Beijing) leaves @ 1:30am *groan*

Rambles|Tuesday, 22 June 2004 15:01:49 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 18 June 2004
What is blogging doing for Googles rank system....

I wonder what sort of impact blogging is having on the Google ranking system.

The ranking system (search ranking based on number of inward links) was certainly a clever idea from Google but I wonder how much relavence it acutally has in the new Blogger oriented internet. My logic is that most blogs are extremely diverse in their content. For example I range from information on Windows Mobile Devices right the way through to some fairly abrasive commentary on religion and social freedoms. In the past I might have run three different sites to give my views on these issues, today they all get bundled as one.

Now if my Google ranking is boosted by a few inward links (particularly from 'A-List' sites) into one of my technical interest areas that ranking is also applied to the more controversial rants that I have too. It kinda means that the democratisation of information nut that Google had pretty well cracked runs into problems. I wonder if Google are doing any work to try and compensate for this phenomenon.... Maybe building some sort of content grouping mechanism to assgn search rank on a content basis...

Rambles|Friday, 18 June 2004 06:43:23 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 08 June 2004
If you specialize in but one thing....

Specialize in quickly becoming a specialist.

Bill and Casey are having a bit of a blogversation here, here and here about the trouble with being a specialist. Particularly when it comes to MS exams.

It's interesting to watch because I've yet to do these exams (have been meaning to for a while) and the same sorts of things concern me- Remoting (bleh!... an API just waiting to be deprecated), Printing  (urm XML->PDF or SQL Reporting Services for me please) and so forth...

But at a more fundamental level these guys have got me thinking. To some degree I am now an employer (of contractors) and when the guys ask me what sort of skill are important a specialist skill is the last thing that I would say. Instead, I think that the most fundamentally important skill in the IT industry is being able to quickly upskill yourself into any given specialty. When I look for potential contractors I'm generally going to look more for self starters who can quickly bring themselves up to speed on a piece of technology. Maybe this is a symptom of being in New Zealand where our limited labour pool makes this sort of JIT learning a necessity. But, I think it's a pretty good approach to take. If I wanted to be a deep level subject matter expert I would have been an academic.... can you say BORING!

Now there is some irony in this. Because, in the case of Casey at least*, the guy seems to have the most profound ability to upskill himself to a pretty detailed level of knowledge over a short period of time Just look at his articles- it's like 'oh.. this week I'm gonna learn Neural Nets' and then he plugs into the matrix and out comes an article...

What we really need is some metric/test/whatever that indicates a persons potential to be 'switched on'... maybe like an IQ and EQ test put together. I actually think being a Jack of All Trades is pretty important provided you can become an expert at light speed when necessary...

*I shall reserve judgement on Bill until after he has purchased me an Imported New Zealand Lager @ MVP Summit 2005.....

Rambles | Rants|Tuesday, 08 June 2004 04:33:53 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 04 June 2004
Kognition shifts offices....

We were running out of space in the old office.... So we shifted to a new one. We reckon this is the coolest office in Dunedin.

Features include:

  • A good PA class stereao system 
  • Full DJ rig including Pioneer CDJs, Technics Turntables and a Pioneer Mixer 
  • Xbox 
  • Best views in Dunedin 
  • Heat pump downstairs 
  • Lava Lamp!

It ROCKS! See photos and video shot on Smartphone.

Download: VIDEO_00001.avi

Rambles|Friday, 04 June 2004 05:09:29 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 30 May 2004
I Just got politipolled

Just got off the phone with the UMR (I think) research people....

Questions asked were the usual political support questions.
ACT for Party Vote last election and this.
Pete Hodgson for Candidate vote last election and probably this
Brash for preferred PM

Some what did you think of the budget questions
I thought the budget was bollocks as I have already alluded to several times.

Some questions on the proposed passport changes
I'm more than happy to pay more for a more secure passport.

A civil unions bill question
Surprise surprise I'm fully in favour

A raising the drinking age question
Against- if you can fight and die for your country then you should be entitled to get on the booze too.

If it's a poll of 1000 New Zealanders let's hope that I've added my 2 cents worth for the popularity of freedom.


Politics | Rambles|Sunday, 30 May 2004 23:06:32 UTC|Comments [0]|    

The Tax Bribe Thing.... Let's fight fire with fire...

It's budget week here in New Zealand.

It was, as you would expect from a Labour budget, full of bribes- most designed to kick in after the next election.

So anyway.... this, along with the title to a Blog Entry by Rodney Hide (What’s in it for me? ) got me thinking....

Ultimately we live in a democracy and as a libertarian with philosophical underpinnings that lean toward objectivisim “What's in it for me?” has an important ring to it. As human being we should, and as a general rule are, driven by self interest. This self interest becomes very important when we think of our democratic process wherein she with the most numbers takes the prize. Hence the incentive for 'progressive' taxation and wealth redistribution. Now I'm opposed to both of these in principle but I'm increasingly becoming resigned to their continued existence. So I've got an idea I've been kicking around for a few days and I'd like to kick it open to the floor for some comments (comment link is below).

Why don't we fight election bribe fire with fire.

The case for lower business taxes and a flat personal tax rate is a pretty tough sell in our political environment. Hell, even the Nats are not committing to bringing the 60k+ tax rate back to 33c. The lower tax rates lead to economic growth theory, though well underpinned by independent research, is hard to convince the general public of. It is a bit of a sorry indictment on the state of our society and our general education, but, people really need to see $$$ now.

So... where is all this waffle going....

I propose that we start an organisation of businesses, independant of any political party, the members of which commit to the following (or some close derivative thereof).

Each business member will commit that, on the implementation of a tax cut to the corporate tax rate, they will distribute 30% of of that cut evenly among their employees. So, if the next govt cuts the corporate rate to 30c, the business would commit to distributing 1c in the dollar among their employees.

Now the period of this distribution commitment is something that needs to be fleshed out. The two ideas I have thus far are:

1. From the implementation of the tax cut to the end of the parliamentary term.
2. From the implementation of the tax cut to the point at which govt. revenue returns to the level it was at prior to the cut.

Thoughts? PLEASE POST COMMENTS! Is it a good idea? A stupid idea? Reasons?

Politics | Rambles|Sunday, 30 May 2004 01:55:34 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 24 May 2004
Another ranter and raver!.....

My dodgy brother.... who is a little less libertarian than I might like is going to do a bit of ranting on here as well...

Look out for him!

Rambles|Monday, 24 May 2004 08:43:10 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 20 May 2004
Book Shoppin....

Buying some books and goodies from Amazon today...

Getting the following- will report back on how we find them.

Some of the other guys got some goodies as well....

Rambles|Thursday, 20 May 2004 00:42:03 UTC|Comments [0]|    

Amazon == Confused

Why does the bloody Amazon site recommend fruity electronic goods to me when they will not ship them to me!

I'm all for personalisation in sites but they really need to become more pervasive- to get insde my head..... Business intelligence in our age of information overload should consider these sorts of peripheral things.

Rambles|Thursday, 20 May 2004 00:09:15 UTC|Comments [0]|    

Bill is on my list of people t meet @ MVP Summit next year.....

So she starts talking about her theory on lottery tickets (no, it didn't involve any multiple linear regression models).  She was talking with her mouth full of cookies and a nice little chunk of cookie dough came flying out of her mouth and hit the plexiglass partition. It was about the most vile thing I've ever come across.....” [here]

Plus a whole load of great free market leaning political commentary over the last few days.... Bill... I'm buying you a beer!

PoliTechLaw | Rambles|Thursday, 20 May 2004 00:05:07 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 16 May 2004
I Love Debunking Sites

A site debunking much of the traffic enforcement legislation and policy in new Zealand... well worth a nosey.

Rambles|Sunday, 16 May 2004 20:55:48 UTC|Comments [6]|    

 Friday, 14 May 2004
If you want google to google your dasBlog site properly

Be sure to turn on URL Rewriting in the configuration.

Otherwise it is going to ignore the parameterised Permalinks

Rambles|Friday, 14 May 2004 21:05:52 UTC|Comments [6]|    

 Thursday, 13 May 2004
Tablet PCs while waiting inline.

Scoble blogs about using his tablet PC while waiting in line for planes and security.

I can so relate to that... I flew Air Canada from Honolulu to Vancouver last month and had to wait about 1.5 hours in their line.

I had my ruggedised tablet (a Panasonic Toughbook) with me just slung over my shoulder on a shoulder strap so I could just swing it up and surf/blog, then let it dangle again when the line started moving.... I'm sure everyone thought I was wierd... but then they were all freaks and geeks as well- they ran out of seatbelt extensions on the plane! Thank god I wasn't sitting in one of those rows... broad shouldered guy like me has precious enough room in coach as it is!

Rambles|Thursday, 13 May 2004 04:08:45 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 12 May 2004
Cellular Call Back- The day I dabbled with multilevel marketing.

Always one for a bargain, I decided to plunk down some dollars and give cellular callback a go. If you're not familiar with the concept here's roughly how it goes.

You initiate a call by making a request of a service centre... you do this by either using a piece of software if you are on your PC, or by txt messaging the number you want to call to a certain short code or phone number. Here's the slide deck...

The 'system' then rings you back on your mobile and, once you answer, rings the other party to the conversation for you... A few hoops to jump through, but, talk about CHEAP phone calls. US 5c per 30 seconds to all of the major countries.... and that's from your mobile. Voice quality is excellent- if it's using VOIP it's certainly not problematic for quality.

It's sold via some pyramid scheme, but, to be honest it makes for cheap phone calls so it got my $$$. Come join my pyramid- - well it's not a pyramid it some other sort of cell based, unlimied level paying... blah blah blah.... I've never been much of a fan of multilevel marketing (Away and all that garb) but it does make for cheap airtime, something I go through a lot of! Hopefully I might be able to move down a Vodafone Daytime minutes plan or two.... I think @ US10c per minute it works out just under 50% of the normal Vodafone price per minute.

Rambles | Toy Box|Wednesday, 12 May 2004 07:25:58 UTC|Comments [0]|    

Rallying behind Casey.....

Casey 'Brains n Brawn' Chesnut has been taking some flack over the content of his website from prospective employers. Bill Ryan has rolled in behind him... and I'm going to as well!

I think of all the fellow MVPs I HAD to meet when I was at the MVP Summit this year Casey was at the top of the list. Why? I had read his blog.... I had laughed my ass of a few times, but, had equally learnt some pretty cool things. He struck me as someone prepared to call a spade a spade... and with the intellectual horsepower to back it up...... Besides that he's another gym guy and I had to see if he was bigger and stronger than me...... which he is *grins*... but not by much!

As a prospective employer (which I am) I'd snap this man up in an instant (I just don't know that he'd think my NZ$ rates would be competitive when you turn them into US$).

I hope that Casey realises that an employment relationship is a two way street- he should be just as selective about who he chooses to work for!


UPDATE: There are some good echos in the chamber.....
Here , Here , Here

Rambles | Rants|Wednesday, 12 May 2004 04:42:25 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 04 May 2004
Weapons of Maths Instruction

via the email bollocks loop.....

At New York Kennedy airport, an individual later discovered to be a school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square and a calculator. US Attorney General John Ashcroft believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-gebra movement. He is being charged with possessing weapons of maths instruction. "Al-gebra is a very fearsome cult," Ashcroft said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on a tangent in search of ab absolute value. They consist of shadowy figures, with names like 'x' and 'y', and, although they are frequently referred to as 'unknowns', we know they belong to a common denominator and are part of the axis of mediaeval with co-ordinates in every country. As the great Greek philandered Isoceles used to say, there are three sides to every triangle." Asked to comment on the arrest, President George W. Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of maths instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.".

Rambles|Tuesday, 04 May 2004 21:45:09 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Saturday, 01 May 2004
Postlogue: The MS Security Summit

I spent most of this week travelling the country with Paul Andrew and a few others presenting at the MS Security Summit series.

I mentioned a few things in my presso.. one was a book title worth grabbing.

As Nick notes, we had fantastic turn outs.

Nick notes a few experiences along the way as well... I guess I should add mine.

  • The AirNZ check in system does indeed ROCK THIS WORLD. I have bagged AirNZ quite a bit in the past, but the Kiosk check system really is fantastic. The best ID to use is your Airpoints or Koru Club card. That way, if you are happy with a random seat assignment, yu can have your boarding pass in under 5 button presses. I'm a stickler for choosing my own seat though. Based something around the following heuristic (for 737s).
    • Outside seat one row behind exit row only if no one is in the middle seat. The outside seat has no seat in front of it, but you really need the seat next door to be empty so you can put ya lappie on the tray table.
    • Second preference are the aisle seats in row 1. Can stick your big legs into the corridor... and get off the damned plane first.
    • Middle seat of an otherwise empty row of seats in the back 5 rows. By taking the middle seat you can often luck in and not have anyone seated next to you. This tip is even more important on Air NZs ever half empty trans pacific services.... always take the second seat in from the aisle towards the back. This gives you the best chance of keeping a group of others out of your row and thus allowing you to sleep, reclined, the whole way back.
  • I could get CafeNet @ the Intercontinental..... but they were nice and upgraded me to their top floor rooms which have free net anyway. The intercontinental gets two thumbs up from me for net access.


.NET | Rambles|Saturday, 01 May 2004 00:33:17 UTC|Comments [57]|    

 Friday, 23 April 2004
Leaving reminders for oneself....

I'm out of town in Auckland at the moment... so I'm just leaving myself some reminders ;-)

Rambles|Friday, 23 April 2004 17:29:31 UTC|Comments [6]|    

 Thursday, 22 April 2004

Further to the on going NZPundit vs Russel Brown spat... the Pundit is calling for a Google Bomb

Who am I to deny the man his pleasures.... let's see if my Google Rank (currently 4) can do any good.

Herewith the Terzain Link

PoliTechLaw | Rambles|Thursday, 22 April 2004 21:33:17 UTC|Comments [3]|    

 Sunday, 18 April 2004
.NET maniac! G33ks with Real Guns

Nick and some of the Auckland DNUG crew went out for paintball today.... kinda reminded me to post my photos (and some words) about my fun with guns while in the US o' A earlier in the month.

I arrived in Seattle early for the MVP summit so my buddies and I decided to head out for some pistol shooting. We went to Wades Gunshop on Bel-Red Road, just down the road from the Redmond Campus. We hired a lane, paid our $12 for free range over the whole gun cabinet and set about firing every calibre they had bar one (the 500 Magnum which looked more like a handheld cannon).

We shot

  • .22LR
  • .38
  • .357 Magnum
  • 9mm
  • .40
  • .45

I think my favourite part of the day was emptying the whole clip (only 10 rounds these days) of a Glock Model 23 .40 cal pistol at 20 yards. Kinda makes you yearn to be an American and frightened to death of becoming so at the same time.

All in all it was a really fun day- I even wore my special g33k with a big handgun T-Shirt.



Rambles | Toy Box|Sunday, 18 April 2004 09:49:06 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Saturday, 17 April 2004
Personalised Plates

Mike Hall is blogging about personalised g33k plates.

Mine is 'XML'.

I have a friend with 'GOATCX'.... now that is a little more concerning... in fact it's concerning if you even know what it means.

Rambles|Saturday, 17 April 2004 07:16:17 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 16 April 2004
First Ever Speeding Fine

Well, it seems I have acrued my first ever speeding fine. One of those damned camera things.....

But the really cool thing is... you can pay for it with Amex... can you say *double airmiles*? At least there is some justice. Can't pay parking tickets with amex... tried that before... had plenty of those already!

Rambles|Friday, 16 April 2004 03:09:11 UTC|Comments [17]|    

 Thursday, 15 April 2004
Robert takes Flight- I get frustrated during installation thereof!

Robert Levy, one of the mobility peeps @ MS went for a fly with Paula (another mobility peep). He writes about it here.

I'm partial to the odd flight myself, but usually in a purely simulated environment. Thus it was that I found myself installing MS Flight Simulator 2004 the other night- hooray for the Microsoft Company Store @ MVP Summit.

Why does the thing take so bloody long to install!?! I think I watched a whole Simpson's episode and most of Queer Eye while waiting. Can we please have it ship on both CD and DVD media next time? I got so sick of waiting that once I did actually get up and running I lost interest almost immediately. Hmmm... maybe I'll try again this weekend.

Rambles|Thursday, 15 April 2004 21:40:21 UTC|Comments [6]|    

 Monday, 29 March 2004
Vancouver here I come...

I'm off to Vancouver for a couple of days as the next stop on my journey. Scoble was up there over the weekend and reckons that there is a good Iranian restaurant in North Hongcouver (where I'm staying) so I might check it out.

Rambles|Monday, 29 March 2004 21:15:12 UTC|Comments [0]|    

Getting to Redmond... the long way...

So I'm off to Redmond for the MVP Summit and going about it the long way.

I flew out of NZ on Thursday morning (NZST) and arrived in Oahu, HI, Wednesday Evening (Hawaii Time). Flew out on Air New Zealand and for all the bitching I've done about them in the past, they were a good choice. Easy flight and while back in coach (hard for a small businessman like me to justify the front few rows) I got 3 seats to myself. I kicked back and watched a couple of good movies- Love Actually (seen already and it is FANTASTIC) and Calendar Girls (OKish). Then I watched some DivX'd episodes of TopGear on my tablet PC for the rest of the time.

Got to Hawaii pretty ate on the Wednesday night and met up with a mate of mine who works as a computer geek for one of our NZ govt departments. He's staying at some pimptastic resort in Hawaii so we cruised back to his place for a few hours sleep before flying out to Kona, HI at about 6am the next morning on Aloha.

We got to Kona, picked up the rental car (a red Mustang Convertable) and then cruised down to the hotel to drop off some gear before we went diving.

We dived with a crowd called Sea  Paradise along the south Kona Coast. The highlight of the diving on Hawaii is the great volcanic structures you get to explore. Plenty of cavesw and tunnels- great fun. Having been spoilt rotten on the Great Barrier Reef last year it was hard to get too worked up about the marine life or the coral, but, it was good diving nonetheless. One guy on the trip flooded his Nikon Coolpix 5300 - moral of the story == don't take your nice US$700 camera to 20m in a shitty plastic bag housing!

That afternoon we cruized back to the hotel via Safeway (where they make amazing custom sub sammies) and pretty much crashed by the pool for the afternoon.

The next day we did 4 dives, two in the morning and two in the evening. Unfortunatly we didn't get to see the Manta Rays as despite being assured on the phone that our night dive would travel (a long way) north to go and see them we ended up doing out night dive south of the dive shop.

Saturday morning we cruised around the bottom of the island. We stopped at some Waikoloa gardens (or something like that) on the road down to the Place of Refuge for lunch- what a rip off! $10 + TAX AND TIPS for a scummy fish burger. The Place of Refuge was OK... wasn't really in a cultural sightseeing mood at the time though.

We kept cruising down the coast through small townships and got hungry pretty quickly so stopped at some crazy little Mexican place run by a genuine spanish speaking mexican matriach- great value! It was in the front of the theatre- look like it was popular with the locals. We got a yummy corn and chicken and bean thing wrapped in corn husk leaves.

We kept driving around towards the Volcano region. First stop was the Volcano Winery- this was a real highlight and is highly recommended - free tasting and it has to be the most exoctic winery that I have bought wine from. Got a couple of bottles to take home- novelty factor mainly. Then we cruised into the Volcanoes National Park. Stopped at the visitor center, which IMHO looks pretty average when you compare it to some of the National Park vistors centers in New Zealand. Then we drove down the Chain of Craters road looking at all of the lava flows and so forth. There wasn't much activity and no visible lava, but, it was an interesting and at times amazing drive.

Finally we drove from the Volcanoes into Hilo where we stayed the night and some big Hotel on the waterfront. Hawaii feels like a place that was in tourist boom mode about 20 years ago- all the big hotels now look a bit tired.

On our last day we drove up the coast from Hilo looking at the waterfalls along the way. THis was the most amazing piece of driving we did. All along the coast are rivers that come as steep rapids right down to the sea and the road runs over them by way of amazing bridges 50m high and more.

That afternoon we drove back out towards the Airport, grabbed some Jamba Juice which is REALLY good btw, and then got to the Airport fairly early. THe lovely ladies @ Aloha Airlines upgraded us to 'first' class. THis meant we got to sit in the big seats, have our drinks poured rather than from a sachet, and sit in the windowless (but airconditioned) room that is the Hilo First CLass Lounge. Just as well we did get to sit in the lounge though as when we came out the airport was chaos- note to self- do not fly out of Hilo on a Sunday night again.

...and that's about it...

Rambles|Monday, 29 March 2004 20:46:11 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 23 March 2004
OOohhh..... Famous!

I got a mention in Computer World this week!... Ya me!

*grins*... I got my Mugshot on the cover last year too ;-)

Nic and I are tied for 3 mentions a piece at the moment... Lukas is kicking our asses...

Rambles|Tuesday, 23 March 2004 23:44:06 UTC|Comments [5]|    

Planes, Trains and Automobiles.... Free stuff to read and watch

Well, I've got many hours on many forms of transport over the next couple of weeks so here's what's going on my Tablet...

Some back issues (and the April issue) of MSDN Mag in CHM format.... How cool is this! Free mags!

Many episodes of TopGear that I have yet to see.....

MapPoint 2004 - So I don't get lost...

Rambles | Toy Box|Tuesday, 23 March 2004 23:35:56 UTC|Comments [2]|    

 Friday, 19 March 2004
Some simple advice from bart Simpson

Rambles|Friday, 19 March 2004 00:09:31 UTC|Comments [17]|    

 Wednesday, 17 March 2004
Casey calling out....

Casey Chesnut has posted about the MSMobiles MVP league table...

Specifically he says

i'm linking this because i doubt anybody else has the balls to

Well.... I posted my thumbs down a few days ago *grins*. I'm defn. keen to have a beer with Casey @ the MVP summit if he's there though?

Rambles|Wednesday, 17 March 2004 03:40:01 UTC|Comments [18]|    

 Thursday, 11 March 2004
Help me find adventure....

It's time to see how good this blog thing really is.

I'm in WA (Seattle to be exact) in early April for the MVP Summit. I'm arriving a bit early and I am really keen to get some whitewater kayaking in. I'm a pretty decent paddler (if my ego does say so itself)- past NZ whitewater team member etc...

There aren't any commercial kayaking outfits that I have been able to find- apart from in rubber duckies... But there just have to be some people who are keen to take a Kiwi like me out boating! Who's keen? I'm mad as a hatter... will run most anything.

Any Seattlites? Any Microsofties wanna go boating with me?

I'm keen to go head out on Fri 2nd April and Sat 3rd or maybe Sun 4th.

Naturally I can reciprocate to any visitors to lovely New Zealand- I know some great 'secret creeks' me (chris[at]!

Rambles|Thursday, 11 March 2004 01:02:00 UTC|Comments [9]|    

 Tuesday, 09 March 2004
Thumbs down for me

Some joker has taken it upon themselves to do an 'audit' of all of the windows mobile MVPs...

I got a thumbs down :)

I don't know who this joker is, but at least I'm not Jason Dunn or Chris De Herrera.... they must have really pissedd him off...

Dale Coffing, proprieter of one of my favourite sites, and all around nice Christian guy got a thumbs down too.... Guess we'll have to drown our sorrows together at the MVP summit.


Rambles|Tuesday, 09 March 2004 10:20:59 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 08 March 2004
Maybe Scoble is more of a Wheezing Sneezing Superbug Carrier....

Are we seeing the rise of a new threat on the internet? That of Scoble 'Unsubscribing' you?

“Slate is a Microsoft company, but I will subscribe from the feed if they don't fix this. And soon. If I subscribe, that means I'll be far less likely to point to you and talk about you.”

Are we seeing the beginning of a whole new revolution in media? Scoble has been on about power over the past few weeks... This blogging thing seems to me to be bringing some of the disruptive power of peer to peer style communications into the more public arena of the web.

How much power does a single person have over the traffic of a site or the ranking on google? With the trickle down effect of posts and reposts through the blog hierarchy the decisions of an 'A-List' blogger must surely have quite wide ranging repercussions. Dare referenced some research being done by HP into some of these blog power network ideas (Blog Epidemic Analyser) and is fairly critical of it. I'm not so pessimistic- I think that some really cool ideas could come out of a temporal analysis of blog interlinking. It would be interesting to see how the migration of data through the internet over time might be related to viral propogation.

Maybe Scoble is more of a Wheezing Sneezing Superbug Carrier on the plane from Hong Kong....

Are there sub propogation structures within interest groups? i.e. Does a piece of information (a post or a link) travel more slowly between interest groups (countries) and then spread quickly within that interest group? Or is it, as I suspect, quite the opposite where links propogate quickly through 'hub' blogs but once they reach an interest group there is a reluctance to indulge in too much re-posting lest we end up with a caucophonous echo chamber?

How quickly does news travel through the blogosphere? How does it survive the trip accuracy wise? To what extent does blogging suffer from Chinese Whisper syndrome where everybody wants (or feels the need) to add their 2c worth. Are there mutation effects that can be easily identified where information is added, removed or spun to the posters views?

Maybe it does warrant some research after all..... I have got a Masters degree to complete shortly.... *ponders*... What do you think?


Others think Scoble is a sneezer too....

Rambles|Monday, 08 March 2004 03:36:40 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 29 February 2004
At last something decent on the Telly....

I've all but given up watching the TV these days. Apart from the 6pm news there appears to be little more than real world drama b/s played 24/7.

Recently however I have discovered the Sunday night pleasure that is Top Gear. Played every Sunday @ 7:30pm on Prime it is far more than a show for car nuts. Hell, I drive a Toyota 'Family' Wagon that would give presenter Jeremy Clarkson a heart attack. Top Gear is unashamadly Politically Incorrect in that dry British kind of way.

All in all, a great watch and especially good after we just managed to sneak home in the cricket!

Rambles|Sunday, 29 February 2004 08:21:50 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 25 February 2004
Note to Self: Write a blog entry on Code Rush

With all the hoopla starting to surround ReSharper I'm going to post some stuff on a REALLY cool competing tool that I'm using an early Beta of....... but I don't have time right now.... so I'm leaving blog notes to myself......

Rambles|Wednesday, 25 February 2004 20:54:20 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 17 February 2004
Anyone else really like Hummus?

Now as anyone who knows me would tell you, I'm far from being a tree huggin, yogurt slurpin, sandal shod hippie. But, I'm pretty partial to a well made Hummus Mediterainian Chickpea Dip. I make a pretty mean one myself but also buy quite a lot in the tubs from the  supermarket. I think I'm going to have to do a bit of a review of some of the brands that I have tried. They range from the divine to the downright nasty.... what do you think? Are you a chickpea muncher too?

Gastronomics | Rambles|Tuesday, 17 February 2004 10:38:02 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 15 February 2004

Dunno if you already know of it, but, the site might really spin your wheels. Basically it is a set of informal interviews with some big names in software engineering- think Stroustrup, Gosling, Eckel, Hejlsberg, Cunningham, Meyer etc....

It's actually really readable and suprisingly un Computer Science like. (maybe I'm just becoming more CS like... I don't know...)

Anyway. Well worth taking a look at.

.NET | PoliTechLaw | Rambles|Sunday, 15 February 2004 20:33:30 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 09 February 2004
The Speed of the Google Bot

Like a sentinel, it has only taken the GoogleBot four days to sweep down upon my blog.

Let's see how long the new MSN engine takes!

Rambles|Monday, 09 February 2004 22:22:40 UTC|Comments [2]|    

 Friday, 06 February 2004
A Whole New Look

I was originally going to call the place 'The Pool Room' after the great Aussie movie The Castle. But some other joker has taken that spot already so instead I've decided on something a little more abrasive.

Rambles|Friday, 06 February 2004 03:45:20 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 05 February 2004
Ye Gods It's Unleashed

Right. After resisting the urge for a hell of a long time I've finally decided to start doing this blog thing. It's been in my Outlook reminder list for about 3 weeks now.... but you know how it gets sometimes. I was almost frightened off by the breaking of the Scoble just a couple of days ago- I'm the sort of person that can get addicted to these sorts of things too!

The final straw was getting props from Nic Wise for pointing him in the direction of he linked back to me and had to link to my nasty corporate identity- bleh! So, here I am.

I'm a highly opinionated die hard libertarian technology weenie (who's not that weenie). I don't intend to exercise any self control or restraint when I start ranting on here. SO, if you find something offensive press the little green back button at the top of your screen and look for something more palatable.

Rambles|Thursday, 05 February 2004 09:02:39 UTC|Comments [18]|