Add some pages here, or start a new chapter.


» Free the Jena Six Craziness - Free The Jena Six. Its truly disturbing this kind of thing still goes on in the US.   |
» Groupware Bad JWZ opines - Groupware Bad. As it turns out the Hula project went nowhere and spawned a fork called Bongo. Before over-complicating your application be sure to read about what users really want.   |
» How the Meter is Measured Nice infographics - Weights and Measures. The US is keeping great company sticking with the imperial system. Check out their other awesome content at GoodMagazine.   |
» A4 vs US Letter 'Sane versus insane' would appear to be a better summary - a great comparison of 'A4 vs US Letter' and how best to avoid getting caught out when laying out pages for print.   |
» Best blog name ever From the worlds toughest programmer comes the blog of Mike Lee. Amusing domain too.   |
» WTF - Ballistic School Bag For those paranoid parents - Bulletproof school pack.

I guess if you goto school in the US or maybe work at the post office or maybe live in Iraq ?   |

SSD + MacBook = A couple of more years

Sunday 27 March 2011 at 5:15 pm My four year old MacBook was starting to get a bit long in the tooth. Since originally purchasing it I've added additional RAM and two disk upgrades to keep up with OS upgrades and burgeoning storage requirements.

However after all those years it was starting to suffer from cruft-accumulation. The disk was ticking, it refused to sleep and it'd freeze randomly. On top of that iPhoto was really starting to creak under a growing library of RAW files.

So, I replaced the laptop with an iMac for day to day processing and storage. There are some great deals on the Core i3 21" model these days.

For arm-chair surfing I contemplated the iPad but it still seemed limited. Instead, I went out and bought a 32Gb 2.5" SSD drive and got it installed (be warned - you'll need some of those annoying star-shaped torx screw driver heads to get the drive out of its tray). The drive itself was a relatively cheap ($150NZD) no-name brand unit.

After a clean OS X install, the MacBook now boots in 2/3's of the time it takes for a hard-drive. Apps launch marginally faster, the system seems a little more responsive and its marginally quieter.

Almost 90% of the applications I use are now web-based and I access my data from shares on my iMac so I'm hoping the small drive will extend the life of my MacBook by another couple of years.

SharePoint Conference - NZ

Thursday 17 March 2011 at 07:44 am Just wrapped up day two of the SharePoint New Zealand Community Conference.

Pretty good so far - Microsoft did a pretty awesome job with 2007 and now 2010. I think this is reflected in the rapid adoption of SharePoint as the de facto standard for Intranets worldwide.

The conference itself is good - the keynote was a little dull. Focussing on the building of global SharePoint user-groups and communities - it came across as a bit more of a travelogue rather than a 'SharePoint is awesome lets see how people do cool stuff with it'.

The second keynote to kick off day two was much better - Dux is quite the dynamo. Covers alot of ground in terms of a successful SharePoint platform deployment from a business perspective.

The other sessions were a bit hit or miss - but there were definitely good bits in every sessions to file away for future reference.

High-lights (there was lots of good stuff but being a pessimist at heart the Lows outwiegh the Highs)-
* Pingar Auto-Populating meta-data
* Who knew there was a SharePoint Developer Debugging Dashboard you could enable for every page ?
* WebParts360 demo - a bit over my head but building an order system without writing code in five minutes was cool
* Clear explanation of CRM/SharePoint strengths and weaknesses plus integration options
* Community Solution - helping a Not For Profit make the most of their SharePoint system through community aide

Low-Lights (note really bad its just from an Ops perspective its useful stuff I'd like to learn about) -
* Its interesting that a lot of SharePoint 'stuff' appears to be done by Government or Education - they get hefty discounts on SharePoint - for everyone else its painfully expensive (don't get me started on internet connector licenses !)
* People bandying around 'Document Management' for scanning solutions (you're not really going to tell me a Fuji Xerox Scan to SharePoint solution is in the same league as a FileNet or DocsFusion solution ?)
* People talking about sync and offline use while bagging Lotus Notes . . . Domino web-enabled all databases several years ago !
* No discussion about SharePoint working with Team Foundation Server for automated builds
* No discussion around packaging SharePoint solutions or best-practises for deployment between environments
* No discussion on DR, BCP or High Availability
* No discussion about forming a suitable support team
* No discussion about permissions, roles or security delegation

Definitely recommended - and as a community driven conference (rather than vendor) it was very well attended and professionally run. There would have been a thousand plus people and four simultaneous streams running over two days. Thats alot of organising and coordinating.

Hacked and Back

Wednesday 02 March 2011 at 9:49 pm Not the ideal first post for 2011 (March already - how time flies!)

A cautionary tale not to ignore a security alert concerning an exploit in old Pivotx versions. Luckily I did have a current site backup available to run an upgrade and re-load onto my hosting provider.

Thanks to an eagle eyed friend the hacked site wasn't up for to long. Must remember to keep the site updated lest it get completely out of date.


At least it was a good excuse to update the engine and I can now have a bit of a poke around under the hood to see what new features are available.

More posts to come :-)

Update - looks like some people from Turkey are being quite persistant (Turk Telekom & - we'll see if the newly patched Pivotx can hold-up.

Update - More hits from Turkey - must be hitting that Pivotx exploit (Turk Telekom & Vodafone Turkey 3g Ip Pools

Hands On - Samsung Galaxy S, HTC Nexus One, HTC Trophy 7

Tuesday 09 November 2010 at 6:36 pm Our corporate standard mobile is a simple Nokia with the Smartphone niche filled by the Nokia E63.

With the launch of the iPhone, execs and directors have been clamouring for it as the latest 'must have' device. It certainly leaves the Nokias wanting in the style and functionality department but the iPhone is a pricey status symbol.

As a result we're evaluating some handsets at work as possible cheaper alternatives (and its a chance to play with new toys . . .)

First the Android phones - the Samsung Galaxy S (v2.1) and the HTC Nexus One (v2.2). In terms of build quality and styling the HTC Nexus wins hands-down. It has a slightly smaller screen but over-all has a better feel and a feeling of solidity that the Samsung lacks. As for the versions of Android - 2.2 offers significant improvements; particularly in the area of ActiveSync (which you'll need if you want to be taken seriously as a corporate mobile device). In particular; the security policy applied to the phone in v2.1 can be easily circumvented compared to v2.2 - not an ideal scenario if your CEO losses their phone. The Samsung also had appalling battery life and grew pretty warm to the touch over time compared to the HTC.

The Windows 7 device was probably the most impressive of the three. Microsoft have worked pretty hard it shedding the dowdy Windows Mobile baggage. The interface is responsive and relatively intuitive - the feedback tiles pass more information than the Android icons (how hard is it to put a new mail count on an icon?). The biggest problem was trying to get the Vodafone Corporate Connect APN added to the available networks list - not a biggy for the average user but a company with a corporate mobile plan will need to do some tweaking to get it to work. There are a few articles on the web about this issue and more general posts around the targeting of the device for consumers rather than corporates - lets hope some of the niggles are fixed in subsequent releases.

I haven't used an iPhone so my baseline for comparison is the old corporate workhorse the Nokia E63 - its reasonably compact, robust, activesync works, battery life is great and wireless and 3G data work fine. Its not particularly flashy, the Symbian interface is clunky as ever and it also freezes every 3-4 days requiring a hard-reset. But it does its job and its cheaper than the majority of other Smart Phones (Android, iPhone, Blackberry or Windows Mobile).

The Mobile 7 was too new to try out any applications, the Android store had a huge selection of apps but like a lot of Open Source stuff quality-control means it can be a bit hit-or-miss in terms of interface design and functionality.

Hopefully with Android 2.3 and Mobile 7 SP 1 will bring the goods and give the iPhone a good run in the corporate sector. As a personal phone Mobile 7 definitely has more polish than the Android.

Mainframes + More

Sunday 07 November 2010 at 08:34 am Been a bit light on the updates - bit of a bumper crop coming up -

Say what you like but these anachronisms just aren't going away - Mainframe dark age. A profitable niche market for some !

Would love to add these to my pencil case - These machines kill fascists. Remember the only good fascist is dead one.

Nice and simple infographic of Risk perception and actual hazards.

Its starting to look pretty definitive - Vaccines don't cause autism.

A website dedicated to documenting the tricks used by site-designers to ensnare or mis-direct web-surfers - Dark Patterns.

We all know its going to get messy - Why the IPv4 to IPv6 will be ugly. I think a lot of people out there are in denial.

Douglas Coupland is the author of cult classic 'Microserf', here he outlines his vision of the next decade - A radical pessimist's guide to the next 10 years. Nice read.

iPad First Impressions

Sunday 19 September 2010 at 11:14 am I've got an iPad to mess around with for work.

First impressions are pretty positive -

+ Lovely build quality and finish (makes my MacBook feel cheap 'n nasty)
+ Instant on is great
+ Size is just about right
+ Screen is nice (but attracts finger prints and gunk so get a protector !)
+ Very responsive
+ Easy to read
+ Video playback is great
+ Battery life is great
- Doesn't appear to do Bonjour/Rendezvous OOTB - WTF ?! Why can't I see my shared iTunes/iPhoto libraries ? Sure its an oversized iPod but with built in wifi I should be able to share my media transparently
- I find the on-screen keyboard easy to use but the layout isn't great (and why are all the letters in caps regardless of which 'shift' mode you're in ?)
- No stereo speakers (granted a bit tricky depending on the orientation but still . . .)
- Loading apps is a serial experience - why can't I queue a bunch up instead of doing them one at a time and switching context backwards and forwards to the App Store ?
- Never having used the Apps Store before I find the 'lock-in' a bit disconcerting. Why do I need to sign in just to get free apps ?
- Doesn't appear to have a multi-user or 'guest' mode function (even the Newt had that)
- I know everyone bags hand-writing-recognition but it would be a nice to have for the note-taking apps even if you did the HWR afterwards

I've used a Psion, Palm, Newton and Blackberry and the iPad is a definite candidate as a PDA replacement. Its big enough to do a bit of casual work on while svelte enough to carry around. It remains to be seen as to wether or not it can supplant my MacBook as an armchair browsing system.

I don't think I'd consider buying one until it v2 came out with a camera and more polished apps (the hardware itself is great).

Medium Format Goodness

Saturday 28 August 2010 at 7:28 pm Digital is definitely here to stay but film has a certain something that you can only reproduce digitally by messing with the image. The current fad for camera phone apps that reproduce the polaroid, pin-hole or cheap russian camera look would appear to indicate a predilection for the imperfect.

The trend also manifests itself in the lomography movement - cheap film cameras that have flawed optics leading to quirky images. Lomography has also led to a resurgence in the use of medium-format film. Medium format film leads to much bigger pictures than 35mm film and allows for much more detail to be captured in a variety of sizes. Medium format cameras are now also very cheap and accessible as everyone off-loads their film cameras for digital.

I picked up a Mamiya RB67 for about $400 and a Rolleiflex for $500. This may seem a little pricey but these would have each cost a small fortune when purchased new. The RB67 takes 6cm x 7cm pictures and the Rollei takes 6cm x 6cm pictures. If you use a colour-slide film (like Velvia) you'll get a roll of developed negative from the developer you can shine a light through and project onto a wall. Its pretty darn cool.

Of the two I prefer the Rollei, its easier to carry, has a built in light-meter and the square 6 x 6 images look great. The Mamiya is a beast of a camera, it really needs a tripod and it will hurt your back carting it around (it weighs about 2.5kg!) - although when you see the sharpness of the pictures you will find the weight bearable.

Digital medium and large format photography also exists - but the cost is generally prohibitive. Getting a medium sized digital sensor camera package is going to set you back the equivalent of a mortgage down-payment on a house.

Some Collected Bits of Humour

Monday 14 June 2010 at 8:59 pm Brilliant sign - Safety First.

Create your own labels - Beer Labelizer.

These two are hilarious - Garfunkel and Oates. Check out all their videos.

Pull a Word Doc Contents into a Database + More

Monday 14 June 2010 at 8:55 pm Pretty funky - Parsing a Word document with PL/SQL. Given DOCX is essentially a compound file its pretty neat that you can dismantle it.

I'm a sucker for cool stationary - Paper and envelopes that look like icons.

Handy - Creating Active Directory Taskpads. Looks pretty straightforward.

All it takes is a little thought - Space Saving Furniture. Amazing stuff.

Impressive - SeaMicro - 512 servers in 10U.

New Header - Korokoro Dam Track

Sunday 23 May 2010 at 9:34 pm Since taking my last header picture I've acquired a couple more Olympus cameras - an OM-1n, Pen EES2 and a new EP1. Other manufacturers have fancier and better cameras but no one really seems to cover the breadth that Olympus achieved from the consumer Pen series in the 60's and 70's through to the Trip and pro-am OM in the 70's and 80's - they lost their way a bit in the 90's (although the OM 4Ti is regarded as one of the greatest manual SLR's ever) and 00's but came right at the tail end of 2009 with the revamped Pen EP1.

The EP1 is a fantastic camera - cult retro look combined with nice handling it takes some beautiful shots (obviously limited by the takers ability in my case!). Initially I thought the biggest drawback would be a lack of flash but its low light capabilities are actually pretty impressive.

I find the biggest problem (and this applies to digital cameras in general) is that the immediate feedback means you use it less; or you use it more but you tend to keep less. With a film camera you just have to keep shooting to see what comes out. As a result I'm actually shooting more rolls of film than digital pictures. In general I'm enjoying the results of film a lot more than digital; particularly shooting in black and white.

So todays header is from my Pen FT and some Fuji Provia 100 film - taken while walking along the Korokoro Dam track near Petone (a Wellington suburb).

I've had to crop and scale the picture so you don't get the grain of the film as much as you should. If I'd had more time I'd have liked to mess around with the Depth of Field a little more to try and get a lot more of a blur in the background ('bokeh') but thats life.

I'll definitely try and get some EP1 shots up next time.


Yet another blog about stuff.

The image in the header is mine.

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