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Saturday, March 26, 2005

Lunch at the Observatory

Limping

It must be a long weekend or something. Not only is there a lot of rain about, but after my shower this morning I managed to kick a chair leg. The toe next to the little toe is now swollen and a charming navy blue.

We had a family lunch planned for today, and Mum Dad and Michael were coming over to drop off my DVD player and mattress and pick up Mum's spade. My original plan was to cycle down to the restaurant and go on to the library and do some other shopping before returning home. With a sore toe I decided to hitch a ride down with them.

Sky Tower

We parked in the building, but getting in was still a bit of an effort, we went up in the lift to ground floor, then had to go back down in the lift to parking level 3 for the wheelchair access. Would have been nice if they'd publicised that a bit more. Got through that and Diana was waiting for us by the lifts. I hate that lift. Glass door, so I face away from it.

Seating

I wasn't impressed by the way they seated us. There were five people in our party and they had laid an extra place at a four person table. This would mean that someone, probably Dad would be sticking out into the walkway. Diana spoke up and asked to be moved to another table, the seating guy didn't want to, but could obviously see that we were serious, so moved us. He warned that there was a party of 20 at the next few tables, but we accepted this as the lesser of two evils.

Food

The Observatory is a buffet, and although the selection was relatively small there was a reasonable choice of food, except for the meat dishes. Seafood in the form of several types of shellfish, prawns, fish (marinated, crumbed, and salmon) was plentiful. Red meat was less so, roast smoked duck and ham. Not much on offer for those who keep to informal kosher or halal diets. Luckily I'm a practicing agnostic and can eat whatever I enjoy.

For $37.50 a head, I think the selection was a little lean, but not excessively so, and although this isn't the rotating restaurant, restaurants like this one are mainly trading on the view not the food, so I'll accept that it wasn't unreasonable.

My tastes have definitely changed in recent years and I really like the purity of taste found in some types of food, for example Japanese cooking. The salmon, ham, salads, potatoes, and to a lesser extent duck all gave me this. On the other hand there was plenty for those liking more muddled tastes. They had scallops in the shell on potatoes with a cheese sauce, Diana really liked them, I thought they were OK.

Service

Here I think they really let themselves down. One of the waiting staff was a gnome that darted up and snatched plates away, at least three times before we had finished with them. For me I became annoyed when she grabbed my pudding plate while I was still eating the pudding, then tried to do the same to Dad, but gave it back when he protested, finally she attempted to make off with my cheese plate while I still had a piece of cheese in my hand. I waved the cheese at her and said "do you mind?".

As Diana pointed out, they really should advise people that coffee isn't included in the meal price. Again, not a biggie, so it didn't worry me too much, although Mum was upset. What did annoy me was that the coffee took a long time coming and wasn't hot on arrival. Diana was having a cappuccino and noticed this so sent it back. Obviously they made it and left it sitting before bringing it out, I think they should take the gnome off plate-snatching duties and use her obvious energy and speed to get the coffee out to the customers. As I was having a long black I wasn't too worried, but it would have been nice to have had it fresh.

Final rating 5/10; they would have got 7/10 if they improved the service.

Finding my blog

Finally Google's listing my index page. The cache says it was spidered three days ago. I'm looking forward to finding the other pages searchable real soon.

Now to get into a few directories. Searching G for blog directories turned up 7 million hits, yikes! OK they're not all going to be directories, but even so. So apply for listing a few at a time seems a good move.

First-up

Enough for one day. Should only take me another million days to complete the list. Smiles.

One Security Technique

MSMS Alumni Association FAQ: "What went wrong and why:
As far as alumni were concerned, Garfield was pretty much the same at this point. But, since alumni and students could login, the firewall wasn't exactly serving its purpose. For example, Garfield was hacked by outside persons (non-alumni) and much havok was caused. In addition, a group of students were caught hacking garfield. This (plus the fact that if you can login to the proxy server you can circumvent the proxy server) caused a decision to be made to not allow telnet access to student or alumni. In fact, telnet access from the outside is disallowed completely. Mysteriously, login access disappeared for everyone, causing much confusion. It was at this point that I (David Bradley) came over to MSMS to discuss the status of garfield with the network administrator. Garfield (due to repeated security problems) was sent off to UrLabs to be reinstalled. As a consultant to MSMS at the time, I (David Bradley) zipped up all the user accounts, the website, mail, etc., and burned them to CDs because alumni couldn't exactly retrieve those files themselves. To this day, those CDs have remained on a shelf next to the server, waiting to be called upon in the event someone had a really important file in their account. When the machine returned from UrLabs, they have reinstalled everything, updated the version of the OS and the proxy software."

Well, yes, I suppose that they've secured their server. Disallow all access. Burn the content to CDROMs and keep them next to the server. But what a price.

Slashdot Moderation

Downgrading a post I agreed with

I logged into Slashdot this morning and for the second time this week I had moderation points. Slashdot's rules say you can't post and moderate in the same thread, so as I usually do I picked for moderation a reasonably new article where I would have no interest in posting. Today was one on Comprehensive Guide to the Windows Paging File . One of the posts basically said to dump Windows and install Linux. I'm a contented user of SuSE Linux, so this is something I have done myself, for my home machines at least, and advocate. Problem was that the comment wasn't relevant to the topic, and had been repeated several times, so the moderation was fair, but it felt strange. At least I've done my civic duty, got rid of the mod points and can go back to reading at score 2+

Friday, March 25, 2005

Thunder and lightning and a quiet lunch

The Storm

Woke to the sound of thunder. Looked outside to see the rain coming down interspersed with flashes, and bangs from the clouds. Some up close, some far away, one was right overhead. I mucked around a bit and started getting ready. The storm broke so I phoned Mum to let her know I'd be able to come over for lunch on my bike. So I left and started peddling, straight into my normal head wind. Grrrr. At least this time the wind didn't turn the corner to be in my face.

Lunch

When I arrived at Mum & Dad's Cathy was already there. She's changed her hair to a short spiky look and is looking much healthier than I've seen her look in a long time.

Lunch was Mum's usual pasta spirals, cheese and tomatoes with bacon. This was served with French Bread and this being Good Friday, a hot cross bun to finish. There were 5 of us there and a 1/2 dozen buns. Mum seemed confused that after everyone had a bun there was still one left. Before, during, and after the lunch Cathy was phrasing things in a strange way for her. Later in the afternoon she dropped a bit of a bombshell. Whatever, I hope she's happier with this latest choice than with the earlier one.

Cathy was saying that every time she got with the group she'd been mixing with they were so strange she wondered what she was doing there. It's really weird, but I mix with a group that's even less mainstream, and yet other than the obvious, they typically tend to be the most sane, middle of the road group of people I've ever met. Go figure.

Home time

I was tiring badly by this point. Mike suggested going out for dinner but I knew my legs wouldn't want to do that and then do lunch tomorrow. I rode home, but didn't make it in one go. I chose to go up Mount Eden Road, but I needed to stop for a brief rest at Three Kings and then again just before Balmoral road.

I'm pretty tired tonight and can't wait to shake this thing.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The bug

Went to the doctor's this morning. Complete waste of time. Nothing in the being run down he could help with. The cyst isn't developed enough to do much with & he couldn't cut it out. The vaccinations I need for the trip need to be done around August. Steve mentioned that he'd been having similar symptoms, since the trip, including a strange pain just above the hip. I hadn't even considered that this might be related.

Well That Was Easy

We've got a rush project on at work at the moment. We need to repackage the flagship product in a 'Light' version for faster, simpler, and so cheaper installs. The project sponsor have sent us a list of the windows tagged to show what should and shouldn't be available in 'Light' and I started on the coding today. Building the structures to control window availability was quite easy, and I took the spreadsheet listing of available windows & turned that into some code. Then I ran the built-in list of windows against that code to generate a control file. To make sure we hadn't missed anything I set it to log anything that wasn't on the list. I was surprised by the number of error messages I got about unspecified windows. One in particular raised a smile. On my way out the door for the Easter weekend I stuck my head around Jo's door and said "I've just finished [Light], well, at least nobody will be able to prove otherwise." "That's impossible" she said. "Not at all," I replied "The operator log in screen wasn't in the list of available windows." ... As the old saying goes, "It's hard to soar with the eagles when you roost with the turkeys."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Tickle.com IQ Test

LOL. Normally I don't click on banner ads, but I was on a dull site & there was one of those test your IQ banners. I was a bit bored so I clicked on it. Here's what they came up with:
Congratulations, Bruce! Your IQ score is 138 This number is based on a scientific formula that compares how many questions you answered correctly on the Classic IQ Test relative to others. Your Intellectual Type is Visionary Philosopher. This means you are highly intelligent and have a powerful mix of skills and insight that can be applied in a variety of different ways. Like Plato, your exceptional math and verbal skills make you very adept at explaining things to others — and at anticipating and predicting patterns. And that's just some of what we know about you from your IQ results. Find out more in your personalized 15-page IQ Report. It's ready right now!
Like Plato? Come off it. The key here is the personalised 15 page report, for which they want $19. Computer generated I'll bet, full of platitudes (or is that Platotudes?) No thanks. Weirdly enough I clicked my profile there and it looks like I took a very similar test back in August. That time I scored 135 and they said:
Your Intellectual Type is Visual Mathematician. This means you are gifted at spotting patterns both in pictures and in numbers. These talents combined with your overall high intelligence make you good at understanding the big picture, which is why people trust your instincts and turn to you for direction especially in the workplace. And that's just some of what we know about you from your test results.
Phhhhhhhhht! I guess I should try a similar test there in another 5 months & I'll get over 140.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Not my best day

Yes, I definitely have started coming down with something. By lunchtime I felt I had no energy. I'm not sure how I got through the afternoon. I had to cancel out of bridge tonight, shame because I was looking forward to it after missing out last week. I also suspect I've got another sebaceous cyst coming through .... Great, more antibiotics, so another 10 days of digestive upsets.

This would be a very bad time to take sick days, so I'm hoping I can soldier through to the weekend. Day at a time and all that.

Got an email from Google today. They have a new type of adsense that gives links to page search ads. I can't put a sample on here, so I've dummied up a page on bad.co.nz with one. Will try integrating them with my pages

Monday, March 21, 2005

Mexico For Kids

Stumbled across while browsing

"This site belongs to the Presidency of the Republic of Mexico." Available in English, Spanish, Italian, and French. A simply written explanation of Mexican history and Mexico today. The site is aimed at children. I would guess from the language that intermediate age children are the target audience. Well written for the target audience.

Monday

Somebody who shall remain nameless is writing this blog while sucking on some frozen Coca-Cola. Oh alright, seeing as you guessed, it's me, but I'm getting ahead of the story.

Q, 5, and 9

I got into a one-sided bidding war yesterday for q.net.nz I had an auto-bid on and as the end of bidding approached I watched the other person make bids, get instantly out-bid, pause, and increase until he reached my auto-bid limit. I thought about it and placed a higher auto-bid limit and watched him slowly stagger up to that value. Single letter domain names are interesting and rare, but only a sideline for me and I'd already decided that this was my limit so I let him have it. On Saturday when I first saw that q.net.nz was coming up for auction I did a little research and discovered that 5.net.nz and 9.net.nz were unregistered, so I grabbed them on the spot. This morning I wrote a letter to the winner of last night's auction congratulating him on his win & asking if he would be interested in these domain names as well. So far I haven't heard back. If I don't get a reply I'll probably auction them off in the near future anyway, they just aren't a good match for my little hobby.

Tourist

Spent the day with Mike. He drove over late morning and we caught the bus down to Symonds street, we then went for a wander. We walked the length of K-Road, and around the corner into Ponsonby Road. I tried to think what had changed in the last 20 odd years and point it out. Not sure how good a guide I was, but he didn't complain too much and after the first hour was too busy gnawing his arm off to escape to complain. We stopped at Otto Woo's for lunch . We both opted for the teriyaki chicken and I was underwhelmed. In retrospect I should have done my homework a little better. A recent review said "Otto Woo has really gone downhill, the food used to be fresh and fabulous and now I think your local Chinese takeout could easily surpass them in portion sizes and taste." Much how I felt about the meal myself. After lunch we continued up to the top of College Hill where I showed Mike where the first Willows store had been and caught the Link bus down to Queen street, then wandered up the road a bit and had coffee, after which it was off to the Auckland City Art Gallery. I quite enjoyed the walk around there, although another patron opened an alarmed door on the first floor so we wandered downstairs and looked around the ground floor for a while, then by the time we were ready to go back up the alarm was over. The main temporary exhibition was Handboek a retrospective of Ans Westra photographs. Ans is a Dutch immigrant who has been photographing Maori events for over 40 years. After that burst of culture we wandered down Queen Street and cut up to Albert street via the spiral-staircase-alley, whatever it's name make be, having another coffee at the cafe at the base of the stairs, once there I showed Mike where the second Willows store had been ... Immediately below the window that had been my office window 10 years earlier. Then down to The Viaduct and the old Americas Cup village. NZL 40 & 41 were there, as was the biggest private motor yacht I've ever seen. Three stories above the waterline! Finally down to Britomart and the new railway station where we caught the train back to Newmarket and walked back to my place and talked some more. Total elapsed time about 8 hours. It was good having a chance to catch up and I hope Mike liked it as much as I did.

Frozen Coke

With all that walking I was a little tired & decided to have some fruit juice, so I squeezed a couple of oranges and a lemon then went to put the juice in the freezer to chill down. When I opened the freezer door I was greeted by a sticky black liquid. It seems that I'd forgotten I'd put a can of coke in there & it had decided to explode. I took the can out of the freezer & noticed it was ticking! Weird, after looking at it for a while I decided it was the gasses trying to force their way out. I tossed the can upside down in a large glass & waited for the juice to cool. The juice was nice, but I wanted something else so out with the can opener & spooned out the "Sorbet". Once mixed with a fresh can of unfrozen drink it made a passable chilled drink.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Family Lunch

Met up with Mum, Dad, Michael, Diana, Cliff, Maia, and Milo at D-17 Chinese restaurant in Dominion road. As far as I can tell, after Valentines it's Mum & Dad's favourite eatery, so we seem to end up there a few times a year. Dad was really bad. Very white, red eyes, he seemed to have no energy. Except that he ate, I wasn't even sure he knew where he was. On the other hand he seems to like chili oil so I fetched him a side plate of that so he could dip his dumplings. I also slipped across the road to the Chinese supermarket there & bought him a jar of it so he could enjoy it at home. As Mum says he has so little in his life now that every little pleasure is appreciated. The funniest thing is Mum, who doesn't like (spicy) hot food asked me if the chili oil was hot & I said it was very hot. Later she took some of the oil from my side dish & put it on some of her food. After tasting it she said in a pained voice "You weren't joking when you said it was hot". The lunch was OK, but I kept looking over at Dad & didn't enjoy my meal as much as I have on previous occasions. Went back to Mum & Dad's afterwards. I stayed about an hour then cycled home. My body didn't like that & at the hilliest bit of Pah road I had to get off and walk for a bit. I've definitely got something. When I got home I reached in my pocket for my keys & pulled out Mum & Dad's car keys. I was so glad when Mum told me they have a spare set so I didn't need to cycle all the way back. I'm meeting up with Mike tomorrow & can give him the keys then.