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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mystery Gift

This morning while I was having my bath there was a knock at the door. Outside was a courier with a box clearly addressed to me. It had my name, street address, and suburb in large type with no clue as to the sender or the contents.I guess it was sent from somewhere in Auckland as it didn't name the city or country

I didn't open it as I thought it might be something Tessa had ordered and I wasn't supposed to see until the 25th. Tessa had already left for work and when I got the chance to ask her she was as much in the dark as I was.

It was the last night of bridge for the year and as I hadn't had a chance to come home before going up to the club, it was nearly 11PM when I got home and opened the box. Inside was a confectionery hamper from SweetzRUs a.k.a Lollies online with Toblerone chocolate, a teddy bear, some loose wrapped chocolates and three packets of Sweet Love products. Still no clue as to the sender.

I'm working on the basis that either there was a miscommunication and the card was accidentally left out or it was someone I've done a favour for over the last year who wished to do something nice for me anonymously, and if that person is reading this: thank you, it's appreciated, but you shouldn't have :)

While on the subject of giving, if there's anyone else out there thinking of doing something nice for a stranger or near stranger, can I suggest making a donation to the Tear Fund's Gift for life campaign, or a similar fund, they help people in the third world lift themselves out of poverty by providing a loan of livestock, tools, training, or capital to start a business.

I guess nothing much remains but to wish you all a very merry XMAS.

Seven unsolved medical mysteries - New Scientist

"In this week's issue of New Scientist [the author] edited a profile of a doctor who is the real-life version of TV's House MD. William Gahl recently set up the Undiagnosed Diseases Program to hunt for the answer to mysterious diseases that have defied all other medical experts (read the interview at New Scientist). "This got [him] thinking about ailments that have perplexed the medical profession. Here is a selection of the most unusual."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fertile women more open to corny chat-up lines

Psychologists carried out a test where men rated as good looking by women approached strange women and attempted to set up a drink later, getting their phone number. Afterwards the women were approached by a female researcher who asked questions designed to determine their fertility. The result, women are considerably more open to advances from good looking men when they are at their most fertile -- New Scientist

The surprise, of course, is that this is a surprise. You only need to consider the evolutionary pressure to reproduce and look at the behaviour of other mammals to understand why this makes perfect sense. The only reason it wouldn't make sense is if we believed that somehow the rules of evolution didn't apply to our species.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

John Key Joke

After being sworn in as Prime Minister, John Key walked out of Government house and got into his ministerial limousine for the first time. The chauffeur turned to him and said "Where to Mr Key?"

Without even a moment's hesitation Key replied "I'm National, so signal right and turn left, of course."

Ever wonder where jokes come from? This was originally a joke about Argentine President Juan Peron, only in his case it was signal left, turn right. I read it and felt it ideal for our own JK, so I translated -- Julia.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In Defense of Alchemy

Alchemy, and by that I mean the attempt to change base metal into gold (chrysopoeia), has a really bad name today, but was it as bad as we are led to believe?

Today we can look at alchemy and say it was pseudo-science, occultism, and just plain crazy. We have images of an unkempt train spotter (or should that be coach spotter?) in the medieval equivalent of an anorak hunched over his heated retort adding foaming chemicals to something nameless at the bottom. We know it was crazy because gold is an element and you can not change one element to another by chemical means. Copper will always be copper, and to change it you need the type of energy found in the heart of dying stars.

To understand alchemy it is necessary to understand a little about the cultural context and the knowledge of that era. Well before they learned how to make metal from ores, our ancestors probably discovered naturally occurring gold, the native American civilizations who never transitioned from the stone age certainly did. Some time in the late neolithic (stone age) our ancestors discovered how to use heat and chemicals to treat stones "ores" containing metallic salts and oxides to turn the compounds into metal. The metals created from this were soft ones like copper and tin. South Americans made sewing needles out of gold and Ötzi the Austrian Iceman carried a copper axe, so these primitive metals were usable.

Our ancestors were as smart as we are, and experimented and learned. After a while they discovered that if they mixed soft metals together they could make harder metals and the bronze age was born. Later came the discovery of iron, and how to mix iron with other chemicals to make harder forms of iron and eventually steel.

Meanwhile gold hadn't been forgotten, it was then as it is now a highly desirable and precious metal. Enter the alchemist who reasoned "If mixing different metals makes hard alloys, and I know that some ores make harder versions of the original metals, presumably because ores already contain more than one type of metal, and gold is soft, then if I can remove the impurities from other metals I should end up with gold and be rich." These alchemists didn't have our knowledge of elements, so the logic was entirely reasonable for that age. It was further enhanced by the "four elements" theory of antiquity, this held that all physical objects were made from different combinations of only 4 elements.

With the knowledge of the time, the alchemist's theory wasn't actually too bad. Mixtures are hard, I want soft, so I'll un-mix. Unfortunately the theory was flawed, and they began casting around for better theories, these theories led them further and further down unproductive roads, and further from what we now regard as the truth. Eventually starting with people like Robert Boyle and his book The Sceptical Chymist, the experimental and more logical aspects of alchemy became chemistry while the more bizarre elements wandered off to become a true pseudoscience. Robert Boyle himself is largely regarded as having his roots in alchemy, yet his book is regarded as the start of modern chemistry and chemistry as distinct from alchemy dates from its publication in 1661.

For over two thousand years (and possibly several thousand years, depending on when Egyptian alchemy began) alchemists slaved away in secret on their impossible mission, and in the meantime made a large number of important discoveries and laid the basis of modern inorganic chemistry including a lot of the laboratory equipment that early modern chemists used, in China the alchemists searched for and made medicinal discoveries some of which are in use today.

We should salute these explorers as early scientists and while we must never forget their excesses we need to balance these against the benefits they bought us.

Of course the final irony is that even if they had succeeded and found how to make virtually unlimited quantities of gold, rather than becoming incredibly rich they would have just devalued the value of gold and we'd be using it to roof houses. A similar thing happened in the time of the conquistadors when they brought large amounts of Aztec gold back to Spain and invented inflation.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Who Was Behind The Mumbai Terror Attack?

The world is reeling from the reports of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Attacks that were dealt with in a highly professional and effective manner by the Indian security forces, both police and army. Unfortunately before they were stopped the terrorists killed over 200 innocent people.

Now attention is turning to attributing the blame. We understand that one of the terrorists has been captured, but we don't yet know if he even knows who was behind the attacks. What we know, so far, is that they apparently hijacked an Indian trawler, killed all the crew, except one, and forced that crew member to sail them off the Mumbai coast. Based on a GPS found on the boat it seems that their route included Pakistan and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is an obvious candidate for being behind the attack, but is that really what happened?

As always the internet is abuzz with conspiracy theories and the finger has been pointed at the CIA, the ISI, the shadowy figures behind the Yorkshire 7/7 attacks, Dawood Ibrahim and even Al Quaeda. Personally I find the claims that the CIA was behind the attacks bizarre as they are reported as having alerted the Indian authorities to the possibility of an attack on the Mumbai Taj hotel.

Whoever was behind these attacks, they intended to damage India by attacking foreigners in India and frightening them into staying away. It's also highly likely that they intended to damage the slowly improving relationship between India and Pakistan. It's difficult to see how the government of Pakistan can see an advantage in goading India into an attack, which suggests that whoever in Pakistan assisted the attack was acting against the interests of their own country and their government. This suggests it is either some disaffected faction in Pakistan's security services or an extralegal force such as Ibriham or Al Quaeda. I wonder if the truth will ever be revealed.

Who do you think was behind the attack?

Originally published on Qondio

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giant Single Cells

I've been fascinated by something I read a couple of days back. Most cells are microscopic, the largest bacteria is a little under a millimetre in length and the largest amoebozoa (amoeba and similar protists) gets to about 3 millimetres and all is well with the world. These large bacteria and amoebozoa face difficulties with life as giant cells and many of them resort to having a large number of copies of their DNA (In the case of protists multiple nucleoli) in the cell. The giant bacteria can have 100,000 to 200,000 copies of its DNA.

Gromia sphaerica approaches three large cup corals growing on a half-buried sea urchin (Eurekalert.org).A few days back I read about a recent discovery, an even larger protoist named Gromia sphaerica There's a nicer photo of it on the Discovery web site. This is one weird looking beast, and I'd so like to know more about it.

But wait, there's more. It seems that gromia leaves trails as it crosses the sea floor ... trails that are identical to the pre-Cambrian trace fossils which were previously taken as evidence there were multicellular animals before the Cambrian explosion.

I remember being fascinated when I was much younger by the question "what's the largest cell" ... and the answer was "An ostrich egg", which it was, if in a fugacious way. Only now the answer isn't so simple. Sure an ostrich egg is a lot bigger than gromia, but it turns out there are even bigger candidates. Some seaweeds are made up of giant single cells Caulerpa can be up to three metres long, and it's all one cell! Sir Arthur Eddington was right when he said "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." and it isn't just the universe, there's enough here at home to baffle and amaze.

Photo credit Eurakalert.org.

Tessa's Graduation

Tessa's school NSIA had its graduation ceremony today and we attended. It's been about 6 weeks since the end of lessons and Tessa's been working as the baker at an Ellerslie cafe (which foolishly doesn't have a web-site) in the meanwhile. She's been really looking forward to the graduation.

We got there about 90 minutes before it was due to start and Tessa had a great time catching up with her classmates. She also showed me around the school and introduced me to several of the staff. Being an adult student, Tessa is more the age group of the staff than the students and with the NSIA's emphasis on foreign students was also only one of three (or possibly 4, I'm not sure about the heritage of the Brazilian student) Caucasians in the graduating class.

Each member of the class was called up in order, by name, except for Tessa. When the presiding tutor called her he said a few extra words about how good and how helpful she had been.

Afterwards the school put on a lunch and there was a chance to say goodbyes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Submitting sites to reciprocal directories

If you've tried getting your domains listed in reciprocal internet directories, you've probably noticed that it's getting a lot harder to get accepted than it used to be. What's more, it's going to get harder to get into any directory that vets submissions.

I own several directories and I'm getting so badly spammed by directory submission services that I've had to get a lot tougher.

The problems they present me with are that they completely ignore the submission guidelines and they attempt to trick me out of my reciprocal link. They do this by either having a links page that isn't linked to from the rest of the site or sometimes just trying to claim an existing link as their reciprocal ... in one case they had the cheek to claim a link on one of my own sites.

It's the reciprocal links that make my directories worthwhile and if they can't even be bothered supplying that I'm not interested in helping them out.

These spam submissions have increased my workload to the point where I have become quite brutal about deleting them. I used to try and help out submissions that almost made the grade, but now if I don't find exactly what I'm looking for I'm likely to just toss the submission. I know this is harsh, but that's the reality of a very marginal businesses, here just isn't a margin to support any more detailed examination. Occasionally I spot a really good site that almost makes the grade and I'll still email them to try and clear it up, but I'll only email once.

I'm sure other directory owners are finding themselves with much the same problem as I have and you can look for them taking a tough line. Sorry, but it's a matter of survival.

If you want to get your site listed in directories:

  • Read the guidelines ... if your site doesn't fit, move along to the next directory. There's thousands of them out there, you'll just save yourself time.
  • Create the required back-link. Put it on a page that's in your site map. If the directory requires some special condition for the back-link, either follow it or move along. It isn't worth your effort to try a submission that doesn't fit.
  • Describe your site in a real sentence or two. Have a look at the directory you are submitting to, if it's of any value, it will have real sentences, not just strings of keywords. I always slightly reword submissions to avoid duplicate content, but I like to have a sentence to start with. Other directories will simply incorporate your text, as long as it's real English.
  • Give a real email address that you actually monitor. It's possible that the directory owner might try and contact you, if you don't respond to the email your submission is history.
  • Now, and only now, submit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

Want to know the official way to SEO your site? Google have published a 22 page guide giving their preferred way for you to do it.

That's not really a fair summary. The guide does explain how to make your site list well on Google, how to make it display correctly in the search results and how to select which pages are indexed, but the 22 pages also offer a wealth of simple to understand gems on how to make a site that is both useful to your visitors while being easy for Google and other search engines to analyse and index. There is little in here that is new to the experienced designer of well indexed sites, but there is a lot that people who have never really considered the search engines could learn from it.

Finally, they've kindly published it under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Licence, so it would be possible for annotated versions to be produced, the guide is at http://www.google.com/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Yonkly Update

Back in April I had a brief look at a Twitter clone project called Yonkley.

I browsed back to their site tonight and its' still there and apparently business is growing despite the Yonkley site itself having very little traffic. They seem to have morphed the business from straight development to hosting private label Twitter clones.

The hosted sites allow advertising, mini-cms, editable profile pages and various other features.

I find this fascinating. I can't think of terribly many businesses that would benefit from a service like this, but iSweat.com is one. It's people doing regular exercise programs supporting each other to keep up with their programmes. I'm sure that there are lots of other special interests that could use a service like this.

It's also interesting to me because they have a product for an obscure niche and yet they can find enough customers to stay in business.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How Microsoft could kill Linux

Another from the oldie but goodie file. I wrote this in February 2005 on Slashdot I've rescued it from their archive so I don't lose touch with it. The discussion was on how Microsoft could use the dearth of Linux device drivers to kill Linux. As is typical with me I looked at the problem the other way around.

In my opinion, and it is just opinion I have no facts to support this at all, if Microsoft released a Linux it would become a nearly instant success in the corporate market.

Year -1 (Now)

System Administrator: blah blah blah so you see how Linux would improve our productivity PHB: No way. We're not having something put together by a bunch of hackers

Year 0

System Administrator: blah blah blah so you see how Linux would improve our productivity PHB: Hmmm, OK, as long as we do it quietly. To protect us we'd better be safe & go with Microsoft Linux

Year 1

System Administrator: blah blah blah so you see how Linux would improve our productivity

PHB: Good thinking. MS Linux gets great reviews in PHB Weekly. Just make sure you get service pack 6.2.

Year 5

PHB: The CEO wants to know why aren't we running Linux on our servers?

System Administrator: It's too unstable, Microsoft keep screwing up the updates.

The few PHBs that ever knew there was a Linux before MS got in the market would quickly forget that unpleasant fact. If they ever heard of them they'd probably think Debian SuSE & Redhat were either cheap clones or outright warez. In either case something to be avoided.

Although I'm glad they didn't, I've never understood why Microsoft haven't done this, it's well within their capabilities.

Why did Neanderthals go extinct?

Back in 2005 a report appeared on the US ABC that modern Humans and Neanderthals co-existed in what is now France for over 1,000 years before the Neanderthal gradually died out. In those days I used to frequent Slashdot and there was a typical Slashdot discussion filled with hype and in-jokes on why Neanderthals went extinct. I just decided to rescue my contribution to that discussion and archive it here. Enjoy

"They started receiving email

REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP

Dear Mr Neanderthal,

First I must solicit your strictest confidence of this transaction. This is by virtue of its nature as being utterly confidential and "Top Secret".

You must be surprised hearing from me in this manner as we have not previously communicated.

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am HOMO SAPIENS SAPIENS, descendant and heir of the late HOMO HEIDELBERGENSIS of AFRICA.

Before he passed away my late ancestor secreted one hundred thousand (ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND) african elephants (AFRICAN ELEPHANTS) in the plains of Africa and I seek your assistance to export these animals to Europe where the growing shortage of the similar "Woolly mammoths" would make them highly marketable.

While the seas and deserts separating Africa from Europe are easily overcome, African Animals are unable to tolerate cold and I will need a number of large fur coats to protect them for the journey.

In return for the suply of these furs and acting as my agent for the sale I would be delighted to offer you a full 50% of the realised market value.

Yours Faithfully

Homo Sapiens Sapiens, Lagos, Africa

Yeah, I know. but I like it, and it's my blog.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Goodbye to the Rat

I've just renamed this blog from the "Bruce / Kiore" name it's had since I started it to simply "Bruce Clement", my name. It feels a bit weird as I've been using the Kiore nickname for over 10 years, since I signed up for OKBridge in 1996 or 1997, and when I started this blog I was definitely at least partially in that persona. For the last couple of years this has been the last place I've been using it.

I was showing someone my blog today and they asked about the Kiore, as I explained it I realised that my head and thinking are definitely elsewhere and in October 2008 the name is fairly meaningless to me.

I'll be retaining the Kiore.com domain name though. The logical side of me says it's too much hassle to change the registration data on 1,500 domains . The sentimental side doesn't want to let go that finally.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Directories

As is usual for me I've got too many ideas & not enough time.

I have recently acquired Queensland.co.nz and will be creating a site of some kind on it, probably a travel portal. While I'm waiting for inspiration, I've invested some time in my long neglected directory portfolio.

I run a small number of directories, mostly monetized by Google Adsense, and currently have 4 private ones and 5 open submission ones operating. All the open ones are relevant to New Zealand and I run them as genuine directories. I choose to apply my own variation on the DMOZ rules for entries: real sentences, in English, normal capitalisation and not just a string of keywords; I also find and list sites I think worthwhile in a non-reciprocal manner so they are genuine directories. I'm determined to avoid duplicate content penalties & subtly vary the wording of entries, especially between the directories, but also when compared to other links.

I find legitimate SEO practitioners submit client sites for a while and then fade away. I realise that SEO practice wants to get the links and keywords repeated verbatim on many different websites while I on the other hand want traffic, so I get my ads clicked. The two desires differ, and surely with a little management could be converged, but this seems an idea that's difficult to convey. My way of looking at it is that I am running a genuine directory that is well indexed by Google, so there is still a benefit to listing on them. At the moment I'm getting spammed by so-called SEO experts in China who seem to think having an overwelming bot attack on my site's Capcha is a professional way to promote their customers. I just delete these turkeys on sight. I get a few very welcome submissions from web site owners, so growth continues.

The public directories are

  • SearchNewZealand.co.nz which has been around for a while and gets of the first page of Google for some searches. This was my first directory and has taught me how to run a smallish directory. Unfortunately some of the mistakes I made in the early days show in it, so I decided to create 2 others to experiment with different ways of presenting the same information.
  • SearchMe.co.nz is a site that sat around for a while with a small database doing very little. I've decided to repurpose it, initially as a near clone of Search New Zealand in terms of sites, but structured to have a flatter structure with more top level directories, and avoiding the deep directory structure I created for SearchNewZealand. I'm hoping this will make it more useful to visitors and better indexed. I'm copying the links across with light rewording. Longer term I'm going to aim more for paragraph length descriptions rather than the short DMOZ style sentences.
  • Weblinks.co.nz In its current incarnation is new. It's a looser version of Search New Zealand / Search Me that was initially build by merging the two databases (about 50% from each) with the Search Me structure and adding a list I had of sites that were OK, but weren't up to the quality I required for the other two directories. It will be interesting to see how it develops, I fear it will eventually become the main site, but I'll let the market decide.
  • SportsDirectory.co.nz was registered in late September 2008 and is for sports and sports related sites only (Although I do have reciprocal links to sites such as directories). I have no idea yet if the format will work, but I'm watching.
  • AffiliateDirectory.co.nz is a previously abandoned project I've recently resurrected. It's purely for affiliate programs, so won't be of interest to many people, but suits my needs. It's really hard to make though as I'm listing information about the affiliate program & many of them don't have all the information I want easily accessible. The logs show that I'm getting a few visitors who click through to read about the programs, so it's serving a purpose.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stand-up

Yesterday for the first time I tried my hand at stand-up comedy. The Classic Comedy Club (CCC) on Queen Street has an open mike night on Mondays, after a lot of thinking I decided to have a go.

When I say a lot of thinking, I mean a lot. I first thought about trying to do a stand-up routine when I lived in Wellington, and I moved back to Auckland in late 1998. This means it was at least 10 years back, and I'm sure it was a year or two before that. In those days there were no Comedy Clubs in Wellington, and I suspect none in New Zealand.

I was inspired to actually put my hand up for the open mike night when work was looking for suitable venues for our Christmas function. The CCC was short-listed, and this got me motivated to actually do something about this long term interest. I had a thought about what I could do on the bus into work one morning & brain dumped it over lunch. I didn't have the requisite 7 minutes of material, but I had enough to tell me I could do 7 minutes. Tessa went down to CCC that night and checked it out. The place seemed friendly and supportive, and the other raw talent we saw were (mostly) competent, but not so good that I'd fear for the quality of my likely effort.

A couple of days later I phoned them up and booked myself in for yesterday. Tessa listened to several early drafts of my material, and we went down the following Monday to have another look. Last night, I was up. Tessa, Angela, and I went off to dinner together and then wandered up to the club early as I had to check in at least 1/2 an hour before the start. Two other workmates came along to wish me well, Dazz arrived while we were waiting and Robert arrived with Ruth, his wife, a little later.

I was the first up in the second half of the evening. I chose to sit with my friends for the first half of the show before going up to the green room during the intermission. In retrospect I think from a technical viewpoint I would have been better off being in the green room & talking to the other performers, but from an emotional viewpoint I needed to be with my support network in the audience because as the moment I would have to stand up infront of the audience got closer and closer I was getting more and more stressed.

A professional comedian from Kaitaia named Figjam was the MC for the evening and when he introduced me I walked onto the stage and began my act. To my surprise I got a good laugh from my opening ... surprise because, althought I knew I had some good material, I regarded the opening as fairly weak ... but it got a better laugh than some of what I thought was my better material later in the show.

Everything went pretty well until about 3/4 of the way through the sketch, when I lost the plot a bit. I knew I was losing it and quickly went to the end. I left to a good laugh and went outside to calm down before rejoining my party in the audience.

With it being my first time I had no expectation of it going perfectly. On the whole I think I managed to present my material better than I expected. One part of the sketch was a fairly complex sequence of witicisms that I kept re-ordering during practice. I'd re-ordered it so many times that I was hopelessly confused how to present it, so I wrote the order on my hand. On the video Tessa did, I was obviously having trouble reading it off my hand ... despite the way that I liked it, the sequence got no laughs so I might as well not have bothered. There were a couple of other bits that I really liked, but which I completely forgot to use on the stage.

The other thing that was obvious to me on stage was that I was having problems with the microphone. Right at the start I wandered away from the mike, completely forgetting that I needed to take it with me. In a couple of places I needed both hands free, so I put the mike back on the stand.

I'm going to go back in a few weeks and have another go with the same material. Before that I'm going to review the video, eliminate the bits that didn't work and reinstate the bits I forgot to use. I'm also going to freeze my script a few days out so I can just practice the final version. Maybe I'll still ad-lib on stage a little, but I need to have a rock solid sequence I can return to to avoid getting lost again.

I'm also going so see if I can source a cheap radio mike. It would make it so much easier to be able to both walk around and have both hands free. For the future, I already have an idea for two other completely different sequences and so if I do decide to keep at it I'm sure I can keep up a supply of fresh material for quite a while.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

This wasn't supposed to happen

When I decided to split my blog into three it looked quite simple. Any domaining related posts to Domaining .NZ, my philosophical and similar views to ¿Que? & "Dear diary" type entries here.

The plan got it's first real test today & I'm not at all sure it's a success. I wrote an 1800 word article giving my opinions on Internet branding, or more precisely selecting a domain name for a business. It doesn't belong in ¿Que?, it doesn't belong in Domaining .NZ either, as it's talking about the end user process of selecting a domain name for their business and it doesn't really belong here either. In the end I decided to post it to ¿Que? blog with a link from Domaining .NZ.

It was really tough deciding where to put it, and this suggests that as I write more articles on general domain name related topics I'm goin to have to go through this process again. The thought has occurred to me that maybe I need a fourth blog, but I'm not going create one as its' already pretty obvious that I'm not going to have enough content to keep the three I already have going strong.

There's also a weird postscript to this, I'm going to need to write a follow-up on the wisdom of buying generic domains & that will need to go in Domaining NZ. So, am I actually writing three blogs, or just one with three pigeonholes?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Yonkly - Open Source clone of Twitter

Interesting development. Someone named Emad Ibrahim has launched an open source version of Twitter. Microblogs with links to your friends' entries and posting via the web or through txt messages. I'll be watching this one with interest.

More at Site

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Auckland Daily Photo

I just stumbled on this amazing photo blog by a Lachezar Karadzhov about whom I know absolutely nothing except he takes great photographs. According to the site he was a finalist in the Best Oceanian Photoblogs 2007 competition for his Lachezar's photo_notes site, and I can well believe this.

As the name suggests, he publishes a photograph of Auckland every day and he's been doing it for around 18 months. My favourite photo (so far) on his site is The corner which shows a cyclist at the corner of Alex Evans and upper Symonds Streets. He's manipulated the photo to enhance the colour of the advertising posters and made the rest of the photo black and white, except for the baleful red glare of two traffic lights.

Well worth a browse and I'll be returning frequently.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Auckland Wine and Food Show

I'm bushed. Tessa & I went down to the waterfront for the Foodtown sponsored Auckland Wine and Food Show. I spent about 7 hours, mostly on my feet wandering around the various stalls, taking in the outdoor entertainment and sampling, sampling, sampling.

The entertainment was varied stating with a light jazz act followed my a couple of mediocre pop music acts. Then came three impersonators, the first Brett Wallace as an excellent Neil Diamond impersonator. He looks a little like Diamond in the 70s, but when I closed my eyes I felt I was listening to the real Neil Diamond, especially during his Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show finale.

I wasn't impressed by Brendon Chase's Elvis Presley I think he should join the real Elvis on the checkout at Foodtown.

The last impersonator we watched was Steve Larkins as Freddy Mercury of Queen he had the moves right, the voice was great and he took the crowd with him. Full marks to him. As we drove home we discussed him and felt it was a shame that a man with his obvious talent hadn't managed to make it big as himself. He certainly had the talent.

Later on, Ben Lomis was booked to impersonate a pop singer, but we were tired and decided to go home. The show was set to wind up with Debbie Harwood about now, but we're already home.

The entertainment is really a side show & we were there to see and sample food. There wasn't much here that was new to me and it doesn't really compare to the much larger Auckland Food Show. It seems that about a third of the stalls were wine or beer, which is fair enough for a wine and food festival. There was a lot of bulk produced & semi-specialist cheese and smallgoods like sausages, and salami, a smaller number of stands with olives, pickles, etc and not a lot else. Tessa felt there were less stalls this year compared to last and I certainly felt there was a lot less variety.

Rating 5 out of 10. Worth going to, but I wouldn't worry if I missed it.

On the other hand, a bonus to Foodtown for handing out mini-fruit kebabs. Very refreshing.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Where's the postings gone?

As it's title suggests, this blog is supposed to be an occasional diary, basically talking about what I'm doing. It's had a lot of long silences and it's ended up being a confused mishmash of personal news, my views on the world and domaining related essays.

I've decided to split it into three. This, the original blog, will be for personal news & revert to the occasional diary status, and I've created two other blogs for the other postings: I'll be moving relevant postings here over to the other two blogs. I'll leave pointers to the new locations for the articles here for a while & then delete them.