Archive for December, 2006

Apple Lisa: rare fruit in Kiwi land

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

After the umpteenth complaint from the spouse and sprogs about their XP machine not acquiring the wireless network or dropping the broadband connection, I thought I’d have a look around Trade Me (NZ’s eBay) for a Mac to replace the PC.  Among the G4s and iMacs, I came across an Apple Lisa One for sale.  I don’t imagine that there are too many Lisas anywhere these days, let alone sitting in rural Whakatane.

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Acorn founder gets a gong

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

As usual, the pop singers and sporting folks headed those getting New Year’s Honours today – not to mention a royal family member (there’s something not right about the Queen handing out an MBE to her granddaughter).  Tucked away down the list, you’ll find the influential Professor Andrew Hopper.  For those saying ‘Who?’ and ‘What do I care?’, here’s three reasons:

  1. Hopper founded Acorn Computers, makers of the BBC Micro computer that many of the current leading UK geeks cut their teeth on. 
  2. He went on to create Advanced RISC Machines, whose chip designs went into cutting edge PDAs like Apple Newtons.
  3. Not content with those contributions, he later pioneered a good number of the wireless technologies we now rely on in our daily ‘connected’ lives.

Professor Andy Hopper’s web site at Cambridge University includes a great cockpit video of landing his Cessna at the Courchevel snowfield airstrip in France.

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Homeward bound

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

Halfway down the departures board, I could see that Air New Zealand flight NZ39, bound for London via Hong Kong, was now open for check-in. The pit of my stomach was churning with unbidden feelings and the thought of twenty-four plus hours on a plane made me queasy. Not an hour previous, we’d all – friends and family – been sitting round the dinner table over steaming bowls of pasta and sauces, talking ten to the dozen about Christmas Eve barbecues on the beach, walks in the bush, surprise stockings on Christmas morning and how much wine we had drunk.

The easy friendship we had slipped out of focus, replaced by a stilted awkwardness and the quiet dread of parting that we had been carefully ignoring for days. The well-intentioned bonhomie of the greeting staff did nothing to lighten the mood. The baggage check-in was too quick to offer any delay of the inevitable moment. Tears, hugs, promises to write, more tears, make-sure-you-call-mes, hand-holding; the six of us taking turns, making sure we left no-one out. Then, moving quickly as if on an unspoken command, we walked away with pursed lips and lowered gazes, no-one daring to look around for that last glimpse.

Looking around, I checked the family were settled and made sure that, regardless of the tears, all had their belts fastened. Not one of us said a word, for there was really nothing to say; we knew that this situation could arise and now we faced it as best we could. Leaving good friends behind to head home was always going to be a factor but no amount of awareness prepared us for the heartache. With a deep breath, I looked over my shoulder one last time, pulled out into the traffic and headed home. In ten short days, we’d be back at the airport, standing in Arrivals, waiting to spot Granny and Grandad among the weary folks exiting the Customs Hall and starting the whole process all over again.

Ten of a hundred things

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Fathers tend to determine the height of their child, mothers their weight.

Coco Chanel started the trend for sun tans in 1923 when she got accidentally burnt on a cruise.

More than 90% of plane crashes have survivors.

Barbie’s full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts.

The medical name for the part of the brain associated with teenage sulking is "superior temporal sulcus".

The word "time" is the most common noun in the English language, according to the latest Oxford dictionary.

The egg came first.

In Bhutan government policy is based on Gross National Happiness; thus most street advertising is banned, as are tobacco and plastic bags.

Iceland has the highest concentration of broadband users in the world.

In the 1960s, the CIA used to watch Mission Impossible to get ideas about spying.

Just ten of the 100 things we didn’t know last year.


Thank you, James Brown

Friday, December 29th, 2006

In the grand scheme of things, it’s infinitesimal but thinking of James Brown will always make me smile and remind me of sleepless nights.  My eldest was unwell as an infant.  She spent her early weeks in SCBU, was consistently underweight due to rarely keeping a feed down and spent most nights in a fractious mood, screaming or crying.  For a long, long time, the one single thing that would settle her down was being held and ‘dancing’ with me to the sound of the James Brown band.  Not only was I grateful for the relief this brought but also the chance it gave me to get close and bond like few first time fathers do.

Obituary of James Brown

Boxing Day Biking

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

After the excesses of Christmas Day, of which there were several, who can resist the lure of the open road under a bright blue sky to blow away the cobwebs?  The sound of the cicadas, the smell of the pines and eucalypts and feel of the warm air wafting by brought smiles to the face of No.3 and I as we pedaled around the valley, exploring roads and tracks we’d never been down before.

Out by the old trotting track, we crossed the main freight line.  I paused on the crossing to ponder how different my daily commute might be if passenger services still came this far rather than terminate two stations south.  There’s a glimmer of hope with track upgrading currently taking place and rumours of extending services further north in the future.

NZ version of David Seah’s Compact Calendar

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006
David Seah has again offered up a Compact Calendar for the coming year as part of a multitude of productivity tools available form his site.  For the second year running, I am happy to provide a version with New Zealand public holidays to add to the growing number of localised versions.

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Christmas Day snapshots

Monday, December 25th, 2006

 Early morning baking: ciabatte for Christmas lunch bruschetta.

My best present: the bowling set, not the hair bands.

Our four plus friend from UK: the obligatory Christmas Day walk.

Fat, dumb & happy: the post-BBQ carnage.

Not just for Kinks fans

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

Dave of has posted a wonderfully evocative photo of a Waterloo sunset.  Make sure you click through to the full-size picture as the details make the picture.  Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster appear like a backdrop from an old Ealing comedy, while the Millennium Wheel and the footbridge are more reminiscent of futuristic dystopian landscapes of Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner.

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Sweet Revenge

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

You couldn’t make this up.  Like the villain in a spaghetti Western, a sweet shop boss in the Lake District has been run out of a Cumbrian town after making disparaging remarks about the town on his My Space blog.