Friday, July 09, 2004
More bitching on Air New Zealand
I'm trying to book some Air NZ flights at the moment.... I'm waiting in the phone service center queue (about 15 mins long) for the 3rd time today.....!!!!!
So I'm going to write a blog bitching about Air NZ and I'm going to keep bitching for as long as I remain on hold.
So here are the things that piss me off....
.... *and they answer*...
Rants|Friday, July 09, 2004 11:45:31 PM UTC||
We live in an insane country....
Answer to a parliamentary question...
Politics|Friday, July 09, 2004 9:16:48 AM UTC||
For the year ending March 2007, the highest marginal tax rate for a working family with household income of $60,000 will be 95.2%, comprised as follows: income tax 39%, Family Support Tax Credit / Child Tax Credit abatement 30%, Accommodation Supplement abatement 25%, ACC earner premium 1.2%.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
A Question for the Scobleizer
OK so Scoble is a Longhorn Evangelist still (I think) but I've barely heard a peep out of anybody wrt Longhorn recently. It seems that it went whizzzz.... after PDC last year and now it's gone POP! Plenty of time is being spent Channel 9ing but almost all of that seems to be focused on current and early future tech.... though that's not all that bad a thing.
Has Microsoft officially pulled back from evangelizing (hyping) Longhorn? Are we going to see yet more slippage and rearranging of release dates, and particularly features? Might we see some of the cool dev stuff (Indigo etc...) for 2k3 server prior to Longhorn shipping?
C'mon Rob, preach to us brother!
.NET|Thursday, July 08, 2004 8:57:40 AM UTC||
My Media B0x3n is a Go Go
OK so Scoble has been blogging about media center so I thinough I'd post some of my experiences getting my Media box all set up.
He asks what do we think?
Well I think that like him I'll be waiting till the next version which looks REALLY cool. Saw plenty of stuff about it @ The MVP summit... but if I told you I'd have to kill you.
So anyway.. wearing my hat I got the chance to eval Media Center 2004... but living down here in lil old New Zealand we don't have any settings in the MCE program guide for our country which meant I couldn't even get the channels to tune :-( I did spend about 7 hours trying to get it going though!
So... I'm waiting for the next version which should be released here to.
In the mean time I have taken the MCE remote that I was sent and coupled it with a couple of other bits of software to build a TV only solution.
- Snapstream Beyond TV to run the TV side of things and;
- Girder to run the remote control against Snapstream.
I have found a NZ TV listings site that is another 'tell you, kill you' sort of deal... but now I have pretty much everything I want in a Media box for the moment. Namely the ability to reduce the time I have to commit to watching the 6pm News from 1hr to about 20 minutes.
The Snapstream setup is pretty cool. Has a web interface for queuing sngs so all the crew here @ Kognition can queue up programs they want to watch and then pick them up over firewire onto their notebooks on the way home each day. I've got a Hauppauge PVR 250 tuner card which is just great. Snapstream have a MCE version of their application that supports movies and pictures and MP3s coming soon so maybe I'll change to that if MCE is still a wee way off. Snapstream also allows easy downsampling of recorded shows automagically into Pocket PC format! Now if I had to commute to work that would be just WIKKID!
Anyway.... the TV box is great- one of the guys I work with called it 'the coolest tech toy I've seen this year'... I'm inclined to agree.
Toy Box|Thursday, July 08, 2004 8:43:49 AM UTC||
The Progressives Against Progress
LMAO.... check out this stunt pulled by Beureaucrash over the weekend... press release here... video here...
Human Aggregation | Politics|Thursday, July 08, 2004 2:46:54 AM UTC||
For our first act, the Bureaucrash Players infiltrated the Green's convention, renting tabling space under the name, "The Progressives Against Progress."
Our mission for the day was to out progressive the progressives, with outrageous proposals for regulation & redistribution, based firmly in their own socialist philosophy. We would judge our success by seeing how many of the convention attendees we could get to sign our petitions for such measures, even as we explained them into absurdity.
The Progressives...s proposals didnt receive the first hint of disagreement until we decided to step it up a notch, and start distributing our Nominate Castro for President flyers to the crowds of delegates, preparing to cast the first ballot for the partys nomination.
One gentleman, upon seeing the Castro flyers on our table, said that he didnt think nominating him was realistic, but rejoiced in the idea of recognizing his accomplishments. He explained, something truly wonderful is happening here, after which he started doing this little dance thing, and singing Guantanamera.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
MSDN magazine for MSDN Subscribers
If you are an MSDN Universal Subscriber you can have MSDN Mag for free (in US or Canada) and $25 a year outside the US/Can.... Take a look for it under Special Offers in Subsciber Downloads
.NET|Wednesday, July 07, 2004 11:05:20 PM UTC||
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, July 07, 2004 3:41:44 AM UTC||
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???
Good to see Tony Goodhew back in this neck of the woods!
And Michael Howard... Nice one....
.NET | Kognition | Rambles|Wednesday, July 07, 2004 3:31:53 AM UTC||
Tuesday, July 06, 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, July 06, 2004 10:46:34 PM UTC||
Hikoi changes emergency travel benefit.
Well if the Foreshore and Seabed Hikoi achieved but one thing then it is the tightening of the rules around certain dole payments- specifically the $200 'emergency travel' benefit.
The ODT reported yesterday
Politics|Tuesday, July 06, 2004 10:31:59 PM UTC||
Wellington: The Government has moved to tighten emergency travel grant rules after May's foreshore and seabed hikoi highlighted problems with the regulations.
Thirteen of the 15,000 people who converged on Parliament on May 5 to protest the Foreshore and Seabed Bill had to claim emergency travel grants to get home after their travel plans fell through.
A spokesman for acting Social Development Minister Ruth Dyson yesterday said those people had not had to repay their grants but that the rules had been changed so that they would in future.
"People did need to prove that they were stranded, which in the regulations means that the previous travel arrangements that they had to return to their normal place of residence had fallen through and they were literally stranded in Wellington," the spokesman said.
"We did discover an inconsistency because if people get grants, for instance, to attend funerals or tangi, which we can also provide, they are recoverable, so people are required to pay them back."
Emergency travel grants had always been capped at $200 and now all would have to be paid back through regular deductions from an individual's benefit.
The grant also applied to a beneficiary's spouse and dependent children, with $200 able to be claimed for each person.
"We looked at it at the time of the hikoi. It was an obvious inconsistency," the spokesman said.
National MP Katherine Rich welcomed the change but doubted it would have happened without opposition pressure.
Many New Zealanders had believed it was unfair that some people had chosen to march to Wellington but said when they got there "hey, we haven't got enough money to get home", Mrs Rich said.
"The travellers who made a choice to come down to Wellington for the hikoi and then found themselves in a situation where they couldn't get home annoyed a lot of people, because one of the things you've got to do when you are on a benefit is be available for and searching for work," Mrs Rich said.
"In my view, you're not doing either of those things if you're on a hikoi."
The change was effective from July 1.
Enterprise Services Evolution in Whidbey
Angel is blogging some stuff on the new System.Transactions namespace in 2.0 of the Framework.
Looks very sweet- Distributed Transaction support baked right in. No more kludgy enterprise services stuff- I always found it a real pain- if I remember right to get declarative transaction support you had to be a context bound object, strng named and a few other contraints that just made things a pain to do....
.NET|Tuesday, July 06, 2004 10:25:15 PM UTC||
Some brief notes on Mono
Someone was asking about Mono on a mailing list that I subscribe to... so I waded in....
Well... I'll wade in with my two cents...
The obvious comparison is with Jboss... But in the end the .NET Framework (runtime and SDK) is free (as in beer not as in Stallman) anyway. This means that there is far less of a cost differential between Mono and .NET than say JBoss and a commercial J2EE platform. For me the cost incurred in running .NET, basically a Windows Server license, is money well spent if only for the fact that should I really hit major problems there is someone I can ring up and yell @ down the phone.
To me even at the hobbyist level the whole open source thing is political/cultural more than it is cost based. You can do a huge amount on the cheap/free (as in beer) with .NET as well. Now with the release of the Express Edition products it is even easier.
SQL Server 2005 Express (MSDE Yukon) is now far less throttled for typical applications. The thread throttle has gone and it now supports up to 4GB databases! But... I digress.
I'm not bagging the mono Project or anything. I think that it marks an important step in the evolution of .NET. In particular it makes it somewhat more palatable to the political zealots who seem to pervade the open source community*. But personally I'm more excited about building cool applications to run on the .NET platform than I am rebuilding the platform itself for the sake of a political point. I like to save my politics for important stuff like lowering my taxes and increasing social freedoms.
*It's already palatable to the political zealots who pervade the commercial software community .
.NET|Tuesday, July 06, 2004 10:17:06 PM UTC||
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.
Human Aggregation | Rambles|Tuesday, July 06, 2004 9:41:41 PM UTC||
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:....
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Steve Pratschner is blogging
Hi everyone My name is Steven Pratschner. Im the Program Manager for the CLR that ships as part of the .Net Compact Framework. I intend to use this blog to post information on various topics related to the Compact Framework, including versioning, interop, diagnostics, performance and so on. In many cases Ill cover topics that either havent been covered by the formal product documentation yet or are new in the publicly available pre-releases of Whidbey. Ill also look at features that behave slightly differently in the Compact Framework than they do on the full .Net Framework
I'd be keen on a bit of insight into how the Garbage Collecter differs from the desktop...
.NET | Human Aggregation|Wednesday, June 30, 2004 10:37:50 PM UTC||
Juice: Delicious juices to enjoy throughout the day
Pippa, my cousin, has written a book on Juice- my aunt sent me a copy to go with my new Juicer.
The book is nice and light on the 'health nut' side of juicing which is a good thing. Too much focus on 'liver cleansing wheat grass tonic' gives me visions of Jeanette Fitzsimplesimons and her merry band of hippies.
The book is set out based on times of the day. Don't know if my juicer cleaning skills are quite up the the degree of regularity encouraged by the book but there are some really bizarre but quite decadent sounding recipes in there. On my list for this weekend is Strawberry Must: Strawberries, Balsamic Vinegar, Cream, Honey.... sounds strangely divine ...
Thanks Pip! You're on juicing juty[sic] for my post wedding brunch in Feb!
Gastronomics|Wednesday, June 30, 2004 9:34:51 AM UTC||
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, June 30, 2004 2:48:40 AM UTC||
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Look Who Is Catching Up Now....
In his opening keynote at JavaOne on Monday, Sun Microsystems President and COO Jonathan Schwartz stressed the return of desktop Java and introduced new tools to provide a richer user experience.
Urm.... can you say Smart Client.... be sure to come and see me speak about all the cool things we've been doing with Smart Clients @ Tech Ed this year.
.NET|Tuesday, June 29, 2004 10:43:47 PM UTC||
Tuesday, June 22, 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, June 22, 2004 3:01:49 PM UTC||
Saturday, June 19, 2004