» Belkin WeMo This kind of looks like the future of home automation.
Belkin WeMo

Nice feature overview here.

X10 is cool but complicated; whereas this looks cool and simple.   |
» Bookcrossing A friend pointed me at Bookcrossing.

Seems like a great way to redistribute your old books and having some fun doing it.

The basic idea - label your old books with a unique identifier, then drop them off wherever you like. Log the 'drop' on the Bookcrossing website for someone to pick up. If they log the collection you can track who and where the book goes. Obviously there are the usual anonymity options and if a non-Bookcrossing person picks up the book they may choose not to join-up (its free, they make money selling accessories like custom labels and bookplates).

Pretty cool.   |
» Mailorder Beer A plug and a bit of a bookmark for myself - Beerstore in NZ does a great job of distributing beer of all kinds delivered to your door.

I've used them a few times now and they're quick and efficient - I even had one delivery with broken bottles which the couriers obviously screwed up and within a couple of days Beerstore had another order on my doorstep no questions asked. Now thats service !   |
» What is a karonkka? A friend of mine recently returned from Finland where he was examining a PhD defence - the process is called a Karonkka.

As well as getting decked out in a full-on tux & tails they actually had ceremonial swords to boot. How cool is that ?

Be sure to read Shauns other posts on the nature of research, patents, science and technology in New Zealand.   |
» TED Talks A friend of mine (cheers Eddie!) pointed me at the excellent TED Talk series.

Subscribe to their RSS feed now.

Theres always something you can set aside 15 minutes of your time to learn about or dump to your mp3 player to listen/watch while you commute.

Recent favourites of mine have included - 'Build a brain in a supercomputer', 'Our buggy moral code', 'What brain damage can point out about our mind', 'Why are babies cute? Why is cake sweet?'   |
» Useful Ways to be Persuasive I realised my Linkdump category hadn't been updated in a looong time so I'll kick start it with this link to some common-sense ways to be persuasive.

As per the link comments in the preamble, its a bit pop-psych but theres some useful stuff to help get your head around how you can get your point of view across to other people.   |
» Because you need to know - Tracking the $700 Billion Bailout It'll be interesting to see if the New York Times keeps this table up to date - Tracking the $700 Billion Bailout.

See which financial institutions receive money and how much they get.   |
» Good Music - Le Pop by Katzenjammer Discovered while reading Popmatters list of Also-rans for 2008 - Katzenjammers 'Le Pop' is one of those joyful albums by a band determined to put a stupid grin on your face at all costs or die trying (cf early Violent Femmes, Crowded House, Pogues).

Check out a couple of videos on YouTube - 'A bar in Amsterdam' and 'Aint no thang'   |
» Good Books - The Shock Doctrine Another excellent read from Naomi Klein - The Shock Doctrine. I have to admit I'm only halfway through this book - mans inhumanity to man makes for tough going - however its pretty much compulsory reading for anyone that wonders how the worlds free market economy's were lead down the track they're currently on.

Essentially what Klein does is posit the idea that free market economies and reforms can only be forced through on the back of an external crisis (sometimes real and sometimes engineered). As a result those people best placed to take advantage of the reforms do extraordinarily well and the vast majority of us end up worse off - with globalisation these disparities keep getting worse as multi-nationals cease to be bound by georgraphy.

As the recent recession and American bank / finance / auto bail-outs have shown - the free market has failed to a certain extent - their own calls for deregulation have bit them on the ass and now they're going cap in hand to the very regulatory bodies they once reviled for assistance.

So even when things go wrong for the wheelers and dealers of the world - they still come out on top.   |
» Good Books - Killing Rommel by Stephen Pressfield Another quick summer read - Killing Rommel is a return to form for Stephen Pressfield - his 'Gates of Fire' was a masterpiece but after that I found 'Tides of War' and 'Last of the Amazons' to be a little dry.

His latest novel tells the tale of the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) and their various exploits in the North African campaign, culminating in a mission to track down and kill Rommel.   |

Back Up And Running for 2013 !

Monday 01 April 2013 at 2:07 pm Sigh. More ne'er-do-wells messing with my site. Kudos to my webhost for picking up the oddball behaviour. The site itself was fine but someone was exploiting a Pivotx hole for nefarious mailing & storage purposes causing the hosts CPU to spike.

Not a great first post for 2013 but its taken a fair bit of motivation to get back onto the blogging bandwagon.

Website Hits from Suspect Locations

Saturday 13 March 2010 at 07:20 am Just trawling my site logs - traffic has slowed recently (a bit like my posting) - starting to get hits from China and the Ukraine originating from some odd source addresses. That doesn't sound good.

Better backup my site . . .

A Plug - The Corporate Woman’s Health & Fitness Journal

Friday 12 February 2010 at 06:36 am A plug for a friends new book - if you're into the fitness-thing then pop over here and check out The Corporate Woman’s Health & Fitness Journal.

A Plug - VillageGarden

Friday 12 February 2010 at 06:35 am A friend setup a website to buy/sell locally grown produce - pop on over to the VillageGarden and check it out.

SharePoint vs Drupal

Saturday 10 October 2009 at 07:29 am This is a little biased (he's obviously an open-source LAMP fan; specifically the Drupal CMS) but the points he raises as SharePoint difficulties are similar to the ones we've experienced.

Pop over and have a read of Drupal vs SharePoint

We've had ongoing issues, particularly items 1, 2, 3, 4, 6:

1.Setting up a local development environment is difficult and expensive.
We solved (if you can call it that) by just giving admin rights to the dev SharePoint boxes - the catch is that opportunities to customize the environment for a developer decreases moving through Systest, UAT and Production so its very easy for things to get out of synch.

2.Setting up an efficient development/deployment process is cumbersome.
We don't have a fix - apparently you can develop automated deployments from TFS (Team Foundation Server - the successor to Visual Source Safe) for SharePoint but most project managers wouldn't wear the additional expense of a foolproof scripted deployment for a one-off project. So we manually move between environments and every deployment brings with it new and odd problems (often the fix isn't regression tested which means going from UAT into Prod can bring new and unforeseen issue; often not helped by inconsistances from item #1).

3.Theming SharePoint is extremely difficult.
Doing anything thats not out of the box seems to cost a lot of time and money - very little of which seems to be re-usable.

4.Many SharePoint modules (aka webparts) are quirky and don't work as expected.

5.Lists and libraries are quirky and also often do not work as expected.

6.SharePoint is slow and does not give you real access to the database that powers it.
In fact - reinforcing this point - messing with the back-end SQL database will render your SharePoint environment unsupportable. Microsoft patches and hotfixes may just over-write anything you've added above and beyond the standard SharePoint working databases. Without telling you. Nice.

The comment from another developer in the discussion thread is interesting too and nails why the SharePoint push is so strong for IT management in terms of a seamless user experience for their clients:

"I would love to dump sharepoint altogether, but users simply will not accept a detaching, editing, and attaching workflow for documentation management. They simply want to click and go. It wouldn't matter if a drupal site could serve them coffee and cake-- they simply won't stand for the attachment method of document management."

What the article didn't point out is that a growing number of people (particularly the younger generation) write on the web for the web (ie don’t use Word) so the DMS paradigm is becoming less relevant. Check out The prospects of Microsoft Word in the wiki-based world.

All About Setting Up VPS Hosting

Saturday 11 July 2009 at 5:51 pm My sites relatively straightforward - however if you're after hosting with more than basic HTML then its worth looking into a VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosted solution.

This guy has knocked up a 20 step (each step is an article) process to getting your VPS up and running. Its worth a look - Set up an Unmanaged VPS for Newbies - The 20 Part Bible!

Google Wave

Monday 15 June 2009 at 2:24 pm I've been a little slow catching up on some of the new emerging web technologies but someone said I should check out Google Wave.

The demo video is an hour long but its definitely worth sitting through - even if you only view it in little 5-10 minute chunks.

Makes me wonder what Microsoft and IBM have up their sleeves to maintain the relevance of their groupware products (Exchange and Notes).

The Doors

Wednesday 27 May 2009 at 8:56 pm The front door - updates every 5 to 10 minutes

The back door - alternates between the catflap and french-doors

Pivot Upgrade Complete

Tuesday 26 May 2009 at 7:33 pm

Finally managed to upgrade to the new version of Pivot.

I ended up downloading my entire site, upgrading on my laptop and then re-uploading the entire site. The joy of completely relative links meant it all pretty much just worked.

There'll be oddball things going on for those few people that do visit on a regular basis until I iron out the kinks.

One thing to watch for is that it requires more memory allocated to PHP - the previous version of Pivot seemed to run with less than 8Mb allocated. The new one definitely needs more. Make sure whoever does you hosting is cool to fix this if you need it bumped up.

PivotX (Pivot v2) Has Been Released

Wednesday 20 May 2009 at 6:21 pm PivotX has finally been released after two years of pretty solid development.

If you're after a web CMS/Blog-engine that is pretty simple to setup and use that doesn't require to much messing around with SQL or Unix then this could be what you're after. All you need is a PHP enabled web server and you're set to go.

Go on and check it out - PivotX

I'll have to set aside some time to upgrade as a fair bit has changed under the hood.


Yet another blog about stuff.

The image in the header is mine.

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