Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Mmmm..... Fresh Petzolds....

These arrived today - my first new Petzold books for a few years (since 1995?).... Mmmmmm....

Programming in the Key of C#
Programming Windows with C# (Core Reference)

Happy Australia Day... and Happy Auckland Anniversary for Monday next!

27 degrees C here today - humid - feels about the same as 37 C in Sydney (with a Westerly at least)... enjoying it! :)

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Weird, Man...

OK, just have to show you this...

Freaky, Dude!

(Chip off the old block?)

Monday, January 17, 2005

My Cousin's Wedding!

Went to my cousin's wedding and reception - excellent!

Hanging out with family - my brother and family, and my parents came up from Wellington (700km/440mi south of here) for the occasion.

My two nieces were flower girls and pretty much stole the show :)

I took about 85 pictures - I'll post some soonish.

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Looks Like I May Have Some Work

Hmmm... looks like I may have a bit of work lined up - thru a friend locally here on the North Shore (of Auckland)...

A smallish marketing database in MS Access and VBA or VB...

...and some simple-ish HTML work....

...and maybe some technical-assistance work...

...all with different customers.

It all helps :)

I need to clarify what other avenues I don't want to fall by the wayside, i.e. not sacrificing the medium term for short-term gain.

The usual balancing act.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005


What the heck is Podcasting, I hear you ask... or if you ain't asking, I'll tell you anyways :)

Podcasting is the act of producing Podcasts.

Recently (August 2004 ?), several people (including Adam Curry and Dave Winer - now acknowledged as two of the 'pioneers' of Podcasting) formed a small community who produced short audio commentaries, as an adjunct to their blogs (Web Logs -> 'b'logs -> blogs).

These commentaries are integrated as mp3 audio file 'enclosures' into an RSS (Real Simple Syndication) 2.0 'feed' associated with a blog.

This means that essentially anyone with a computer connected to the Internet can 'subscribe' (via a special-purpose program such as iPodder, iPodderX or jPodder) to a number of such feeds, and have these short audio 'podcasts' automatically fetched (say, overnight) into their MP3 players (e.g. an Apple iPod - hence the name Podcast).

Having done this, the recipient is free to listen to (or skip over) the short programs at their leisure, using the MP3 player - while walking, cycling, driving, on airplanes, wherever the fancy takes them.

More recently, interest in this method of producing and distributing audio programs has exploded, and now major players in the broadcasting industry are sitting up and taking notice. The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), long known for high-quality and well-researched news and documentaries, now themselves produce at least one (no doubt many more to come) podcast feed - 'In Our Time' with Melvyn Bragg (of The South Bank Show arts review fame).

At the other extreme of the scale, it's relatively simple now for anyone with a computer, sound card and microphone to produce their own Podcasts - and many people are doing just that. Consequently some are saying that this will lead to a democratic revolution in broadcasting - no longer will broadcasting be the domain of the media barons such as Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Packer and their ilk.

What I would recommend you do is to download and install one of the players available at or - then subscribe to a few feeds (there are preloaded lists in the 'Podder programs, and you can add more feeds as you discover them), download some podcasts and listen to them in the MP3 player in your computer - just to get a sampling of what's out there. Come on in, the Podcasting's fine!!

A warning though: there's no censorship (yet!), and some of the podcasts are more- or less-liberally peppered with profanities - so you'll want to vet these to your own tastes and standards before, say, you let your children start listening regularly. There's also a spread of political view; most of the ones I've heard so far tend to be rather leftish.... Your Mileage May Vary!!

Some of my favourites (you should be able to find these readily in the preloaded lists) are:

In Our Time - The above-mentioned, very eclectic discussion panel programme by the BBC.
The G'Day World Podcast - tech-related stuff, Aussie Slang lessons, and all manner of other tangents.
The Engadget Podcast - more techie stuff :) - about PDA's, smart phones, media players, TiVo's etc. in particular.
The Firesign Podcast - oldish American comedy from the 60's - mostly pretty innocuous from what I've heard so far.
Adam Curry's Daily Source Code - One of the pioneers - profanity alert! - Serves as a 'hub' with references to a lot of what is happening in the Podcasting world.
Career Opportunities - some sage advice on careers in the Hi-Tech industry (much of it valuable in any industry).

Your tastes will no doubt differ from mine - but the thing is, get in there and see for yourself - then if you want, make your own Podcasts and share them with the rest of us!

Happy Podcasting!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

MP3 Players

I bought our 3 children MP3 players for Christmas (belatedly - after our return from my folks' place in Upper Hutt (near the capital, Wellington)).

These are 128MB Creative MuVo's, which are basically a USB memory device as far as the PC (or Mac) you plug them into is concerned. You just drag and drop mp3 files into the folder (directory) representing the device. If you use something like CDex (from - search for CDex), you can convert songs from your personal CD's to mp3 files which you can then put into the player.

We have tried similar things with WMA (Windows Media Audio) files, with less success - the players supposedly support this, but I think there's some weirdness going on with DRM (Digital Rights Management) - as attempting to load the player device with pre-existing .wma files from Windows Media Player results in that program hanging while trying to 'Inspect' a file - Bah!!

Just dragging and dropping the .wma files into the player folder results in the player skipping or ignoring them... go figure!

Perhaps I'll have to do something drastic like read the manual ;-)

Anyway, .mp3 files converted with CDex from their own CD's, and Podcast mp3's are keeping the children happy at present.

We'll keep an eye on the battery consumption - which so far looks OK - other people have reported as little as 45 mnutes out of an AAA cell - mind you, they did say they liked their music really loud, and the battery life will depend very heavily on the volume (louder music, less playtime). I encourage our kids not to blast their ears out...
OTOH, others have said 12 hours :)

Matt reckons he has probably had 7 hours or so playing time so far... not that we're measuring it scientifically. We're still using the batteries that came with the players.

The sound quality is pretty good with the supplied 'bud' earphones.

Nice Day Out

Hello Bloggary....

Had a nice day out today (4th of January 2005 - public holiday in lieu of 2nd of January, which fell on a Sunday this year)... my family (minus elder girl who stayed home watching various drivel on TV) went to One Tree Hill Domain (about 12 miles or so south of home, other side of Auckland city). Had a picnic lunch with friends from Parnell, then climbed to the top of the hill (volcanic cone about 500 ft (160m?) above sea level). I was a bit breathless and tight-chested at times - I definitely need more regular exercise... my intention is to let podcasts and MP3 player alleviate the [potential] boredom of many future long walks.

There's an excellent view from the top - especially on a fine day like today - you can see a large part of Auckland city and suburbs. Dunno why I didn't think to take a photo up there - I did have the el-cheapo digi-cam with me. Tried my son out on local geography, pointing out various hills, the Sky Tower and such things - he has at least some idea of where things are now - if he'll let himself try (I think he's too scared of being wrong :( ).

Walked down the road back to the observatory area where we had lunch, beating the others (who took a grassy short-cut thru one of the breached craters) back by about 8 minutes. It's a lot easier walking down the hill :)

We then all went to a small park at the north end of Parnell, for a picnic tea (dinner/evening meal)... in our case via Subway to get some yummy, healthy sandwiches. Ate, played volleyball and stuff until it got dark... then back to our friends' place for tea (cuppa), then home about 10:30 pm.