Category Archives: General

Christchurch

Nostalgia is a wonderful experience. Visiting an old city, seeing old friends, visiting old bars, shops, and reliving the moments is an experience to be treasured. With Christchurch, we have been deprived.

I visited a full 3 years after the most devastating quake (February 22nd, 2011). In that time, much of the rubble has been cleared, and the city is starting to rebuild. But it was shocking just how much of the condemned old city remains, so long after the event.

I owe more than half my adult life to Christchurch, and I have many friends and family still residing there. It’s difficult to describe what it felt like to see it in this state.

Hopefully these pictures tell at least some of the story.

Homecoming

One thousand three hundred and thirty days.

That’s how long I’d been away from New Zealand, and how long since I’d seen my family in person.  But really, it didn’t feel that long.  Regular Skype contact and Facebook updates mean that keeping in touch with friends and family on the opposite side of the world is easier than it used to be.

Still, it’s a long time between drinks, and it’s surprising what’s changed.

A city has been levelled.  Fast food and beer are about a dollar more expensive.  An overweight German geek, whose name sounds like it was invented during a bubble in Y2K, is championing liberal tech policy.  State highway one is slightly less of an embarrassment.  Bars and shops I used to frequent have gone.  My parents have started winding down the old family home in Wairoa.  Brothers and cousins have grown up.  Friends have gotten married, brought houses, had kids.

But Auckland transport is still shit.

Experiences change your perspective and I’ve certainly had a few of those over the past 4 years.  It did feel as though I was looking at things through a different set of eyes.  Ironically it’s not until you go elsewhere that you realise what you took for granted, and the opportunities you missed.

What follows is a set of pictures from a very short 3-week trip back “home” to New Zealand.  In addition to catching up with great friends, my family and getting plenty of sunshine, this holiday also included a wedding in Wanaka, a 30th birthday on Waiheke Island,  Milford Sound and an emotional tour through the destroyed remnants of a city I once called home.  But that’s another blog post.

It’s nice to be right some times

Five short years ago I wrote an article about my desire for a Nokia N900. I was extremely enthusiastic about the device, which I saw as the future of computing and a sign of things to come. I also said:

Personally I think Linux usage overtaking Windows on personal computing devices is inevitable, and this is how it’s going to happen (although the capabilities of the N900 will have to move down to a much lower price point first). We’ll see if I’m right in 5-10 years time.

It’s now 4 years and 4 months later. I was right about Linux overtaking windows on personal computing devices, but I was wrong about how, and it happened far more quickly than I could have imagined. Continue reading

Which laptop to buy, 2014 edition

In what could only fall firmly into the first-world problems category, I’m currently suffering a dilemma as to what laptop I should buy. My requirements are common – a good balance of power, performance and portability. I’ve decided the specification I should go for is:

  • Intel Core i5 (4th generation, Haswell)
  • 8Gb ram
  • 256Gb SSD
  • 13″ display, resolution at least 1920×1080

I think these specs make for the best price / performance balance on most of the laptops I’ve priced up.

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The GX1 is a veritable bargain

Just picked one of these up at the airport on the way through. They have been going for around £350 for the GX1 body and 14-42mm Vario lens, or £330 with the standard 14-42mm lens. Originally an £800 kit, the discount is because Panasonic is clearing inventory to make way for the GX7, which looks amazing by the way. Far from 2.5x the price amazing however.

GX1

The Sony RX100 and Fuji X100S were also on my radar. The RX100 is a great camera and much more compact than the GX1, but it has a much smaller sensor and is still twice the price at around £600. The only snag is that I’m going to have to spend another £200 on a prime to exceed the low-light performance of the RX100, but the result is a more capable kit, and it’s still £100 cheaper!

I also made the mistake of handling the Fuji X100S. It was a mistake because it almost cost me £900, but I quickly realised this and put it down before I could get more attached! That is one sexy piece of kit, and is in a different league IQ and interface wise. I would LOVE one, but at nearly £1000 (!), it’s hard to justify with the GX1 being such a bargain.

The GX1 won’t replace my SLR (no affordable wide angle lens), or my old Canon S90 (not quite pocketable). But it is much much less of a burden to carry than an SLR, will go many places the SLR wouldn’t. I shall be putting it to good use while in Amsterdam!

Site move

Just moved this site to a larger VPS. If you can see this message you’re visiting the new host so the migration was clearly a success!

It should also be accessible over IPv6, although this has yet to be tested.

Google’s new app policy seems a little… hypocritical

Google updated its Play Store policy recently, and the changes appear to be designed to reign in spam on its app store. One of the policies reads “Product descriptions should not be misleading or loaded with keywords in an attempt to manipulate ranking or relevancy in the Store’s search results.”

Amusingly, the description for Google’s own Maps app contains a block of text which would do just that:

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