Thursday, June 16, 2011
Real Venice and Fake Venice
So Deb and I were in Vegas at the Venetian this week. Just for shits and giggles we tried to recreate our photo of real Venice... How did we do for authenticity?
The Grand Canal in ‘Real Venice’
The Grand Canal in Fake Venice (Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas)
Trust Deb to ruin it by not wearing the same top!!! Me, ever reliable in my yellow cool-dry.
Frankly I’m torn. The chlorinated canals in Fake Venice smell much nicer than those in real Venice…
Travel|Thursday, June 16, 2011 4:32:33 PM UTC||
Monday, October 19, 2009
My Hopeless Gym Experience at the Mandalay Bay Spa
So… I genuinely object to paying US$20/day to use the hotel gym. But, needs must sometimes and so it was that I found myself at the Mandalay Bay Spa $20 the poorer this morning. Been working reasonably hard in the build up to the K1 road race in a couple of weeks so needed to get some time in on the stationary trainer.
Well, what an utterly useless experience that was. I got inside the Gym to find that;
- They had two consumer grade exercycles and that was it as far as bikes went.
- None of the cardio equipment was available anyway
So even if I had been able to get on the equipment it wouldn’t have been much good for the Interval workout I had planned- I ripped the crank off a consumer grade exercycle in Bangalore this year so it’s just downright dangerous.
In the end I threw my toys out of the cot, got myself a refund of my fees and went for a run up the strip.
Think I’ll try and find someone friendly at the Luxor for the Gym tomorrow and will not be staying at the Mandalay Bay for MIX10 next year that’s for sure.
Gettin Fit | SPC09 | Travel|Monday, October 19, 2009 2:43:18 PM UTC||
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
TechEd Africa – Session Recap and Bits
So I had a great time at TechEd Africa this year. Will definitely be trying to get an invite to come back next year.
As always you can contact me about my sessions email@example.com.
Here are the follow up notes from my sessions. I’m not going to provide the PowerPoint decks until I’ve done the other TechEd events around the globe. I’ve provided them to the event organizers who will stick them up on the password protected attendee site.
- DYN201 – xRM, Dynamics CRM as a Developer Platform
Good session in a smaller room. I had this one back to back with my other CRM session so this proved to be a good warm up with many people attending both. I used the demos and decks from the half day Business Action World Tour event that happened everywhere in the world *except* Africa so I thought it was appropriate to show the folks over here the content. I also talked about the fact that I eat my own dogfood- we’ve built a company that I’m major shareholder in called MedRecruit. Go and take a look at the site, it all back ends onto Dynamics CRM 4.0 and runs on Windows Server 2k8 on Hyper-V. If you like it… give us some Google-Juice from your blog and tell all your doctor friends. I’ll be eternally grateful!
If you want to take another look at the content from this session then check out the Business Action Virtual Tour.
- DYN303 – Souping up Dynamics CRM with Silverlight
This session is the one that Jian Sun is going to be delivering at Tech Ed Australia. He was responsibile for putting together the demos and I built the deck. This was probably the best session of the week for me. I felt the attendees got some great practical skills to go home with tomorrow and start building cool stuff. I promised a drop of the final demo solution that we built during the session. So here it is:
- AZP201 – A Lap Around the Azure Services Platform
I love doing this session because I know the content really well and as a 200 level architecture+business value session I get to put my own spin on things quite a bit. First time I’ve really had the chance to cut loose and talk about competitive cloud technologies at a Microsoft gig though- discussed AWS, AppEngine and Force.com all of which (along with Azure) take quite different approaches to the cloud. Will be interesting to see how things shake out.
- AZP302 – Programming .NET Services
Today was a deep dive on .NET Services. I thought this session went really well too, but, it’s always harder to really nail ‘ew stuff’ sessions because it’s not like you got a whole bunch of experiential wisdom that you can impart as best practice guidance. We covered the whole .NET Services platform with demos in 60 minutes. I also tried a new ‘demo’' to explain the Service Bus relay and Direct Connect upgrade via NAT Probing through having three volunteers throw foam balls. I thought it went pretty well- we’ll see what the evals say!
So. All in all a fantastic event. I’m looking forward to getting out to Australia and New Zealand Tech-Ed early next month now.
TechEd | Travel|Wednesday, August 05, 2009 5:17:16 PM UTC||
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Travel Essentials: The Hotel Area Network
All hotels these days will give you an Internet connection of some sort. ironically the most expensive hotels will charge you an arm and a leg for it and the cheapest with often throw it in for free.
For uber-tech-geek travellers there is a bit of a problem though- it’s often hard to use the hotel internet when you’ve got multiple devices. Often they’ll lock your ‘purchase’ to a single MAC address and this means one machine and one machine only. Not ideal and the workar9unds such as MAC address spoofing are equally shitty- you can’t have more than one machine connected at a time.
My solution is to take a Wireless Travel router.
I have a Linksys WRT54GC.
Really useful and well worth doing. I can now run multiple laptops either wired or wireless and my iPhone all off the one hotel internet purchase.
Toy Box | Travel|Sunday, May 10, 2009 12:02:40 AM UTC||
Friday, April 24, 2009
Monday, March 02, 2009
Travel Stats So Far This Year
18 Cities visited
9 Countries visited and it’s only March…
I should add a couple of extra cities this month (LA and Vegas) and should hit 100,000km by month end pretty easily.
Travel|Monday, March 02, 2009 7:34:31 PM UTC||
Monday, February 23, 2009
Copyright Amendment Delayed – And a Treatise On Singapore Airlines
So back online afterthe Blackout.. and whaddayaknow… they delayed it
Internet copyright law delayed
So I’m finally on the homeward stretch of a tour around Asia presenting on Microsoft CRM technology- currently sitting at the airport at Singapore waiting to get on my flight to Sydney. Will be my first flight on an A380 so I pretty buzzed!
I just posted a comment over on Cactus’ site where she’s having a whinge about Air New Zealand.
I’m sorry but I’ve tried a bunch of the *A carriers and while NZ is not perfect it’s the best of the bunch I think. As for calling out Singapore Airlines as a shining light- I’m sorry but until they fix the following that aren’t playing the game in my book
- Checking in *A Gold card holders at their business counters @ Changi T2 and T3- instead of having a special area to hide them away in.
In your place from the moment you step through those big glass doors.
The ‘Special’ Gold Card Holder check in area.
Note the tape fences to keep the Economy Class flying ‘swine’ in check!
Reserved for Proper Premium Service passengers only. No cattle here.
- Allowing *A gold card holders to use their business class lounge at Changi T2 and T3 the same way that every other bloody Star Alliance airline does for their frequent flyers. Instead *A Gold members get a ‘special’ lounge without showers and the other niceties one might expect. Back in the days before T3 they used to claim it was due to ‘space requirements’ but with the move to T3 this ‘excuse’ is categorically a complete load of bollocks- It’s peak time in the lounge right now with all the long haul flights leaving over the next couple of hours and the place is empty.
- Updating their priority boarding policy and priority boarding signs to make it clear that they actually give a shit about being part of a global alliance rather than just paying it lip service.
Star Alliance?!? What’s that?
For my next post, you’ll get my feelings on the behaviour of another behemoth of the Alliance, the perpetually bankrupt, United Airlines.
Deep down I really just want to fly on Spice Jet!
I hope the inflight service is as Spicy as it sounds! Though without the naked Cacti as I’m sure they’re sans a J cabin that would be up to standard.
PoliTechLaw | Travel|Monday, February 23, 2009 10:12:10 AM UTC||
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Dynamics CRM – Business Action World Tour
So I’ m doing a world tour (well a tour of Asia) running some ‘training’ events around Microsoft CRM. I call them ‘training’ events because it’s not really possible to train people to do much in a half day event- what they’re really about is exciting people about the potential of building line of business applications on top of Microsoft CRM.
I did a bunch of Intergen Twilights on this very topic last year but the BAWT events are a full half day looking at everything from WPF to Silverlight to UC/OCS and even Windows Azure. We’ll be following these up with a cool two day training course in April and May so if you’re not already involved in the Metro program for CRM you best be signing up!
I’m currently in Bangalore, flying out to Hong Kong tonight where we are running the event Friday morning, then Singapore on Monday, Sydney on Wednesday and Auckland on Friday.
If you’re based in Shanghai or Beijing then Jian Sun, one of my colleagues at Intergen, will be presenting the course in Mandarin Chinese in these cities in early March.
Looking at my tripit stats I’ve done 13 cities in 7 countries so far this year.
Travel|Wednesday, February 18, 2009 1:19:17 PM UTC||
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Singlehandedly Destroying Our Carbon Footprint
So I’ve done about 43,000km of travel so far this year….. YIKES! probably another 30,000 this month too.
I’ve decided to use Tripit to track my travel stats this year.
Travel|Tuesday, February 03, 2009 11:34:03 PM UTC||
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
“In the mornin’….. I’m havin’ Donkey!”
So Vittorio and I went out for a traditional Beijing Dinner last night. Was really good. We tried some adventurous things. We didn’t quite get to eating the Silk Worms, but, we did eat Donkey meat.
Donkey meat in the centre, behind the pickled cucumber circle. I felt a little queasy this morning… but no idea if that was food or just general exhaustion. I’m planning a quiet night with room service in the hotel this evening. Of course my hotel meal will usually cost the same for one as dinner last night cost for four!
Travel|Tuesday, January 20, 2009 12:40:05 AM UTC||
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Chaos in Los Angeles
So it’s Saturday night and I’ve just arrived in LAX- I had my sisters engagement party so caught NZ2, the late Air NZ flight.
It’s chaos here. The sky is blood red, freeways are closed, hundreds of homes have been lost.
It’s a truly ominous view out of my hotel room, the air over LAX is thick with smoke. They’re flying massive DC10 air tankers to drop water on the fires.
Travel|Sunday, November 16, 2008 12:41:43 AM UTC||
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Bravo Air New Zealand
AirNZ have announced a bunch of new things.
Highlights from where I sit.
1. All domestic flights including smartsavers now acrue status credits. THis is something I have advocated for sometime. I've never been super fussed on whether I get points for smartsaver fares but missing 0out on status credits really isn't great for encouraging brand loyalty. Very pleased to see this.
2. New Space+ seating on domestic flights. Forward rows on the NZ733, NZ766 and NZ320 aircraft will have new seating and more room. Againa bit bonus for those of us who *need* to spend timwe on the laptop doing emails on the plane. This was always a sore point for me becuase QF has heaps of room in those seats. A +ve change.
All in all very +ve.
Travel|Wednesday, June 18, 2008 9:50:46 PM UTC||
Friday, September 07, 2007
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Hydrostatic Releases Should Be Mandatory
Stuff has details on the refloating of the fishing vessel Kotuku.
Looking at the photo you can see what looks to be a Liferaft still strapped to the roof. Most vessels have the straps setup with hydrostatic releases so the lifeboat is released automatically if the boat sinkz. I wonder why this one did not.
Adventure Sports | Human Aggregation | Travel|Thursday, May 25, 2006 9:59:45 PM UTC||
Monday, April 17, 2006
Thou Shalt Always Check The Mobile Carrier While Roaming
Looked at my mobile bill last month and there was a $64 10 minute call from Aus to NZ......
Yes... that is like $6 per minute.... from Australia!
Turns out my phone had decided to roam on Optus instead of Vodafone for that call.
While AU-NZ on Vodafone AUS is $.49/min making the same call on Optus or Telstra is a mind numbing $6 odd per minute!.
Moral of the story is work out how to show the carrier name on your mobile... and make sure you look before you leap!
Travel|Monday, April 17, 2006 8:23:32 PM UTC||
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Avis Kicks Ass
Just organised a car with Avis- I'm in BNE for the day next Thursday. Not only were they about 30% cheaper than Budget, my usual rental place, but once I completed the booking they had a link to download a vCal... that just ROCKS- that's what I call trying harder
I'll be a happy repeat customer from here on in!
Travel|Wednesday, April 12, 2006 9:40:09 PM UTC||
Monday, March 27, 2006
Spandex is a Privilege Not A Right
There is this old lady @ my gym who wears entirely nasty gym gears... then I found ths picture in a shop in the Venetian in Vegas... I sooo thought of her. I've attached some of the other cool poster pics too.
Gettin Fit | Travel|Monday, March 27, 2006 9:22:31 AM UTC||
My Trip to North Dakota
So I sent Friday night and Saturday morning in Grand Forks, ND. I was visitig a custer and we went out Friday night t watch some COllege Hockey. It is amazing how much Americans are 'into' their College sport. Grnad Forks (popn. about 50k) has a $120 million Hockey Stadium. My customer has season tickets, front row right behid the goal.
We had a real blast. It was the finals for the Western Region.
1st game was Holy Cross vs University of Minnesota (the Gophers). THe Gophers were higly rated but were beaten in extra time. THis was like North Otago beating Auckland for the Ranfurly Shield. Of curse, North Dakotans are not great fans of the Gophers so the stadium went totally nuts.
2nd game was the home side, the might Sioux playing Michigan. They thrashed them.
Here are some photos and videos of the game.
The Cheerleading Skating Chicks With Nice Legs.... and the inside of the stadium
Travel|Monday, March 27, 2006 9:10:25 AM UTC||
Friday, March 17, 2006
I feel utterly violated......
The Airlineshave done a GREAT job of driving down the cost of flying. Particularly trans tasman, the fares are not really well priced.
Can't say the same for the stinking governemnts and monopolistic airports. $226 of taxes!!!!! Is it any wonder that all the major airports in NZ seem to have been doing themselves up of late- monopoly rents if ever there was an example.
Travel|Friday, March 17, 2006 1:51:30 AM UTC||
|| booking help
|Here is your itinerary. Please review, enter details for all travellers then CONTINUE.||
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
The Wonderful World Of Travel....
So mch for my regular blogging... But, I promise to live blog from Mix!
A number of others such as Rod and CJ have been having travel problems recently- I hope I don't catch that bug!
I'm in DUD at the moment, then out to MEL via CHC tommorow until next week then back to WLG via CHC. Then off to TGA for two days.... then it all goes a bit pear shaped and I travel to Singapore via MIX06, the Game Developers Conference and Fargo North Dakota. Something like:
1. NZ 462 Y 18MAR WLG AKL 1900 2000.
2. NZ 2 D 18MAR AKL LAX 2300 1355
3. UA 1566 Y 18MAR LAX LAS 1626 1738
4. US 8204 Y 22MAR LAS SJC 1146 1311
6. UA 530 A 24MAR SFO DEN 0600 0927
7. UA 6668 Y 24MAR DEN FAR 1007 1253
8. UA 6669 Y 25MAR FAR DEN 1251 1343
9. LH 467 D 25MAR DEN FRA 1725 #1145
10. LH 9762 D 26MAR FRA SIN 1300 #0700
11. SQ 219 D 31MAR SIN SYD 0930 1955 (Quick stop in Sydney for U2 Concert!)
12. NZ 144 D 03APR SYD WLG 1815 2325
13. NZ 446 Y 15JAN WLG AKL 1500 1600 (Clever Travel Agent stuff see here)
On a good note, Rod and CJ and I have been searching for a good way to enter flight times acoss multiple time zones. Gallileo's ViewTrip being a TOTAL LOAD OF CRAP there are not many options- all seem to end up having my LAX-LAS flight leave before my AKL-LAS.
So I've discovered the Star Alliance travel tools. The desktop app is great for gettin your routing right when trying to squeeze travel into a small space (as above). The Pocket PC app allows you to choose your flights then drop them straight ino your Pocket Outlook Calendar. Of courseit doesn't work for Blackberry.... but that's no great loss... unless you happen to be silly enough to use Blackberry....
CJ has a great wee tool for doing this here
Some feed back on it- it's be great if the time zones were sorted properly Apart from that it works really well.....
Travel|Tuesday, March 07, 2006 10:49:25 PM UTC||
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Why I Love My Travel Agent
OK... so the fundamenta principle of agency is that someone else endeavours on your behalf.
Such it is with travel agents. We are in an increasigly agent hostile world but I still get HUGE value out of using my agent- he thinks the way I think- craftily!
Here is todays clever piece of work.
I'm booking a round the world fare for next month- easiest way to hit LAS,SJC,FAR,SIN in the space of two weeks.
On the way back I'm stoping in Syndey and maybe Brisbane. The agent is like:
“As we have miles left you could use.....we could call Wellington a stop on the way back to Auckland or Christchurch...ie: BNE-WLG-AKL For the cost of the ticketable taxes (about $19) you'd get a flight from Wellington to either Auckland or Christchurch.....this would be date changeable and valid for up to a year from when we issue the ticket.
Which do you want? (AKL OR CHC?)”
I.e. I'll be stoppoing in WLG for as many months as I feel like and effectivly get a 'free' WLG-AKL fully flexi fare as part of the package! Now that's what I call effective agency!
If you want a kick ass agent like mine then you need to talk to Toby @ Flight Centre in Dunedin.firstname.lastname@example.org
Travel|Tuesday, February 28, 2006 10:42:04 PM UTC||
Friday, February 17, 2006
Mixng It Up In Vegas Baby.... YEAH!
So I'm just about fully confirmed for my Trip to MIX06. If you have been on another planet recently you may have missed out on learning that MIX is a conference about the next generation of the Web. MSFT are sponsoring/organising it, but it's gonna be really different to most other MS cons from what I can see.
I'm going there with anoter NZ ISV who I'm doing some architecture and strategy consulting with at the moment. We're going to hit the Game Developers Conference in San Jose on the ame trip so it's gonna be a CRAZY week.
There is a good http://channel9.msdn.com/showpost.aspx?postid=156677 that sets out some of the things that are going to be covered @ MIX.
It's kinda exciting for me because I've kind of eschewed 'the web' for the past few years and I've focused on Smart Clients. Funnily enough I wrot some of the first bits of published work on the sort of tenology that is now know as AJAX/ATLAS etc... (see my chapters in Practical XML For The Web)
I know I'm sure as hell looking orward to being part of the conversation.... be sure to keep a look out for my red shoes in Vegas. Come and say hi!
Oh... I'll be in Singapore the following week (Vista stuff)... so keep an eye out for the Red Shoes there too.....Gonna be some serious bum in a plane seat time put in over those to weeks!
.NET | Travel | Mix06|Friday, February 17, 2006 5:34:02 AM UTC||
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
ViewTrip.com - Update - It's a heap of steaming manure
Well.... I had high hopes... but unfortunatly ViewTrip is HOPELESS...
When you download to your calendar (using some shitty 3rd party app rather than plain old vCal entries) it does everything in a single timezone.
Thus I am flying SFO-YVR before I even start on my WLG-AKL-SFO leg of the journey. What a HEAP of SHIT.
The useless inert nothing who devised this shitty implementation would be fired on the spot from my software org. I mean that's just hopeless.... how hard would it be to do this properly with plain old vCal entries.
Travel|Wednesday, January 04, 2006 3:07:22 AM UTC||
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Great Minds Think Alike - I Discover ViewTrip
Looks like Rod is travelling shortly too.
I'm off to TechReady2 in the US (a big MSFT internal conference) to present on Windows Workflow Foundation. Leaving Friday. Spending a few extra days there... may go skiing if the weather is great and I'm not feeling too poor!
Anyway, I was about to fill in my Iteinerary into Outlook- which is a royal PITA and started my usual bleet about how airlines should send me vCal entries for all my flights and shit. Then I remembered that my friendly travel agent (Toby Mann @ Edinburgh Way FLight Center in Dunedin who is FANTASTIC) had sent me some details about this thing called ViewTrip. It turns out that Rod was thinking exactly the same thing at the same time....
ViewTrip talks directly to Galileo which is a big trave agent booking system and contans all your itinerary information along with the ability to d/l to your calendar. Marvelous!
See a sample here it includes rental cars and hotels and all that crap.... VERY cool!
From the FAQ:
11. What information is transferred from the ViewTrip itinerary to my electronic calendar?
Confirmed air segments will transfer as appointments into your calendar. Car and Hotel segments will transfer as events into your calendar. These appointments and events can be opened for further reservation segment details.
Travel|Tuesday, January 03, 2006 11:45:15 PM UTC||
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Livingspace in Christchurch
I needed a good pad to stay at in Christchurch last week and found a place called Livingspace. It looks like it’s designed primarily as long term student accommodation but they leave some of the studio rooms available for general hotel type use. It’s really central in Lichfield St. It’s actually built in an old building that used to be the flat of a friend of mine in Christchurch. Brought back some crazy memories of weekend Chch benders.
Has the cheapest hotel broadband I have ever seen. Cost me $2.68 for two nights worth of my usual work. Had CNN. No Gym but they assured me one is coming.
Hope we’ll see more of these sorts of places cropping up. At $85 per night it was perfect for my needs.
Travel|Saturday, December 24, 2005 7:58:49 AM UTC||
Cruising On The (Not) Interislander
*This post was written a while ago... just posting it now.
So I’m travelling from Picton to Wellington at the moment. Schedules meant that the best option was to sail on the MV Santa Regina with Bluebridge. I can’t remember if I ever blogged about my ‘Freaks and Geeks’ HNL-YVR Redeye with Air Canada, the one where all the cabin crew were 60+ and they ran out of seatbelt extenders (due to too many fat Americn passengers), but anyway, this is the maritime equivalent! No that’s a bit harsh but it is certainly arguable that cheap air travel has altered the average demographic of the ferries. It’s actually not that bad a boat and the Disney movies, Modern Day Cinderella and Freaky Friday with the hot wee chick off Mean Girls, help to pass the time.
The boat is full of passengers of the fury kind and they make the whole boat stink- they parked a whole load of stock trailers straight under the dining room… I guess most of the fury critters are headed for North Island farms (god knows why we interisland bloody livestock) although I think some will also be destined for Aro Valley and West Auckland and at least one looks set to get straight off the ferry and take himself and his blanket to Cuba Mall.
Anyway. What a bitchy post. It’s actually not at all bad. The schedule time was really convenient. It was well priced and it’s comfortable enough- great to see some competition on the route. I’ll be sure to consider the Bluebridge when I head back to the Coast for some boating later this year.
Rants | Travel|Saturday, December 24, 2005 7:56:00 AM UTC||
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Star Aliance Gold Flying Air NZ and United.... read this....
United, bless their souls, have a set of 'Premium' Economy seats in the front of coach. These are not paid for extras but are instead dished out on a first come first served basis.
If you are flying through to a US destination on NZ/UA combined you should ring 0800 747 400 (press 1 then 1) and they will generally be nice and stick you in this section of the plane
Travel|Thursday, September 22, 2005 9:29:54 PM UTC||
Sunday, September 04, 2005
Hotel Review: Sky City Grand
Bless them all, Microsoft put us up in the new Sky City Grand Hotel for Tech Ed this year.
Thought I'd pen a quick review of my thoughts on the place. I was there for 6 nights - had sessions on Fri, Tue and Wed.
General thoughts are that it was a bloody good pad. Room was comfortable, king size bed, seperate bath AND shower.
There was broadband in the room but I thought the cost was exorbitant going on extortionate. $33 per day is a bit rich in my mind.
The Gym was fantastic. A full suite of brand new equipment.
2 Treadmills, 2 Exercycles, 1 Cross Trainer, 1 Reclined Bike. All these were fancy new Technogym units so they integrated with my Polar HRM strap and also had built in Polar Own Zone adaptive training. i.e. resistance changes to keep you in zone.
Good set of weights machines including a lat machine, bench press machine and a more general cable machine. For legs they had quad and hamstring machines. I couldn't get the hamstring one to work- but I think that was ignorance as much as anything.
It would have been nice if they'd had a few more larger size dumbells- they topped out @ 10kg.
Anyway had a few good sessions in the gym.
Had room service a couple of times. Top quality but a bit rich and hard to spot the health options. My mussel chowder was VERY creamy and the corn fritters I ordered were done in a deep fried 'bannana fritter' style. Well presented, top quality, but a coronary waiting to happen.
Travel|Sunday, September 04, 2005 9:23:02 PM UTC||
Thursday, June 23, 2005
*whoops* It happened again....
Well I should get a good nights sleep tonight because Air NZ, bless their souls, have decided to let me sit in 2K on my AKL-SFO leg...So I can only conclude that Rod and I are not really getting 'First Class' but rather sitting as Business passengers in first class seats.
Still... I'm not complaining.... closest thing I'll get to the Lie Flat Businessman for a good wee while yet
Travel|Thursday, June 23, 2005 11:25:14 PM UTC||