Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Veyron again...

VEY-RY NICE: The Bugatti Veyron is the world's fastest car, surpassing the McLaren F1 and capable of over 400km/h. If a McLaren passed a static Veyron at 190km/h the Bugatti would still hit 320km/h first.

Have I mentioned how much i want one of these? .. Although i was very impressed visiting the lamborghini dealership in south melbourne last week. I wouldn't say no to a new one of them either! (As long as i didn't have to pay for it!)

Friday, July 28, 2006

28 years old

And someone i don't feel that much different to when i was 27 :). I've had two birthday wishes so far, From my mother and a flight consultant i used a year ago. I wonder if anyone else will rememember?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Melbourne

Well, I've been in melbourne for over a week now, Working a lot but getting out and about a little, I've taken a lot of photos, in particular some fantastic sunset shots (a few hundred :) down at the St Kilda Pier. (I'll upload a few once I've had a chance to resize them).

I like melbourne, it's not a hot city, but winter feels more tolerable here than in wellington, maybe because it seems to be sunny more often, maybe because the biting wellington wind is absent, or maybe because of the unbelievable number of bars, clubs & restaurants in this city!

I've even run the idea of moving to melbourne through my head, I'm starting to believe the catch line, Melbourne really is one of the worlds most livable cities!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bugatti Veyron

Stuff has an article about the performance of the most expensive production car in the world (Approx $2.5Mil NZ)


But the almost two-tonne Bugatti ripped through the gears to hit 60mph (100kmh) in 2.8 seconds and 100mph (160kmh) in an astonishing 5.5 seconds. Towler
then managed to pull it to a standstill in just 3.4sec, which gave the car a
0-100-0mph time of 9.9sec.


I don't know about you, But I wouldn't say no to a car that pulls more G's than an F16 at take off :), I think my skyline would probably manage this test in about 25 seconds which might have been enough for me, If i wasn't aware of the veyron!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

First few photos from my 350d







Travelling to Melbourne

My work is sending me to australia again!, To melbourne this time for almost 2 weeks. I doubt i'll get much time to see the city as i'm expecting to be working pretty solidly, but I am hoping to get at least a couple of days at the end to explore. This should be a good chance to get some use of my new camera!

Another new Camera!

I've entered the world of Digital SLR's with my new Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT). Finally a fully fledged interchangable lens digital SLR with a reasonable sized sensor (APS-C sized, approx 2/3 of the size of a full frame 35mm camera). So far i've brought the camera, 2 GB of CompactFlash storage, 3 Lenses, 3 filters (polarising and UV) and I have a set of 'close up filters', a 52-58mm stepping ring and a spare battery yet to arrive. This is definately a more expensive package to own than a simple 'point and shoot', but I'm feeling much more comfortable, and much more powerfull with this camera than i was with my old Olympus C8080WZ Digital point and shoot camera.

The Camera

Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT), 8MP APS-C CMOS Sensor, Interchangable Lens Digital SLR, Canon 'EF' mount. This camera is very small for an SLR, its actually smaller and lighter in most dimensions than my olympus (unless you have a 300mm lens attached of course), A lot of the reviews on the web complain that this camera is too small for their hands, I'm over 6' and while i could possibly do with more finger room on the grip, I have no real complaint. Those coming from point and shoot cameras will find the 350d's size to be ample, I can see however, how those who are coming from full size SLR cameras may find the larger Canon 20D a more natural fit.

Compared to my old camera, the Canon focuses extremely quickly, starts up practically instantly, has virtually no shutter lag and can take continous shots with full autofocus at 3 frames per second,which, while not substantially faster than the olympus on paper, certainly feels faster!

The manual controls are easily accessible and despite what online reviewers have said, I've never had a problem pressing the wrong button by accident (perhaps this is just due to my computer programmer fingers, your mileage may vary)

Lenses

The camera came with an 18-55mm kit lens, This lens appears reasonably competent to an entry level photographer like myself although it does feel somewhat light and 'plastic'. For many of the users of this camera though, I believe the light, small lens will be a plus rather than a minus, being easy to carry while travelling or walking around.

I have also purchased a 90-300mm Canon USM lens and a 50mm F1.8 Canon prime lens, The 90-300mm has had minimal use so far, really requiring a tripod in all but the best light (those with steadier hands than me might get better results shooting hand held at 300mm, With the 1.6x crop factor of a digital slr, this is effectively a 480mm telephoto!) The 1.8 Lens has been my favourite so far, although it does present limitations in being a fixed focal length. I have enjoyed taking extremely shallow DOF (depth of field) photos with this Camera and lens, something virtually impossible with my olympus.

In total my lens selection, together with the 1.6x crop factor of the Digital sensor, gives me an effective 28-480mm zoom (about 17x) which provides plenty of flexibility, albeit requiring changing lens occasionally. If/When finances allow, I intend to move towards also having a canon 10-22mm lens for wide angle shots, a 17-85 mm IS (stabilised) lens (this is a 5x zoom, equivilent to my previous camera) and a stabilised 300mm+ telephoto.

In general I'm very happy with my new camera purchased, although i did agonise over spending an additional $500 to purchase a 20D or trading lens flexibility and some Canon features for the Image stablisation of the Minolta 5D, but i'm confident that with an amateurs budget and with the potential to upgrade in the future while keeping my Canon lenses, I made the right decision!

I'll be posting some pictures soon!

Are we too connected

The editor at Tucows thinks so ...


Am I TOO Connected?
Many of you are, and if you're honest with yourself, I
hope you'll realize it. Let the phone ring. Don't take your cell phone in the
car. Leave it in the car when you go into the store. Remember, things that are
too connected blow fuses and don't last as long.


Are we too connected? I for one don't always answer my cellphone, I don't always return sms messages, I'm happy to let the phone ring when i don't feel like answering it. But I know others who simply must answer whenever anyone tries to contact them, I've known people who are offended when their cellphone calls go unanswered.

Are we too connected?.. Every child has a cellphone these days it seems, training young minds to be a part of our 'global community' from earlier and earlier ages. Am I alone in believing that the birth of the 'global community' is heralding the death of 'real community' ?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Quick Redesign

I've just selected a new template and started to make some edits, with the good intentions, as always of starting to write a few more posts. Hopefully over the next few weeks i'll finish customising the template and at least have this blog looking the way i want.

Social Engineering

An article recently published, Social Engineering, The USB way shows again how critical the human element is in any data security environment. Social engineering, as practised by Kevin Mitnick refers to the technique of tricking or persuading users into giving access to sensitive resources, usually by providing passwords and login details to hackers who pose as company IT support on the phone. There are methods to mitigate the risk of social engineering, such as providing employees with rolling code devices such as those provided by RSA which goes some way towards removing the ability for a user to effectively 'delegate' their access to an unauthorised party. However, such methods are expensive, can require software redevelopment and may be resisted by users. The best security system in the world is worthless if you give away the key, but until business owners and users truely understand and appreciate the importance of IT security and their role in it, Social engineering will remain a serious threat.

WinFS is dead

Over on the microsoft blogs, there was a bombshell dropped last friday. The long awaited (it's been promised since NT4.0) winFS relational file system is no more. This may sink below the radar of the average windows user, but from a software development perspective, this was the single biggest cherry on the microsoft tree. Providing the ability to integrate unstructured binary files and relational meta data within a core OS filesystem, providing advanced features like folder truncation (delete a million files in a heartbeat rather than a lifetime), this was a developers dream. But, Like so many other dreams from redmond, it has faded with the morning light. The microsoft blog entries skirt the issue and wax lyrical about new features added into SQL Server and ADO.NET, and these are features i will certainly be happy to see, but they are not WinFS. A sad day for microsoft developers.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

More on Mohammed

One of the opinion writers on stuff (A New Zealand newspaper site) has made some excellent points about the whole cartoon mess http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3565956a1861,00.html

The latest news is that the islamic world wants the new UN human rights body to legislate against blasphemy http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3567029a12,00.html, What next?, will they make it compulsory for all westerners to pray 5 times a day to allah, just in case a muslim is offended by their lack of piety?

I for one am offended by the islamic response to these cartoons and by the concilitory approach of many western governments, but i'm not likely to walk into a crowded shopping mall and blow myself up, I'm not going to kidnap and execute tourists and aid workers, so nobody cares what i think.

The editors of the danish newspaper in question has said he wouldn't publish holocaust cartoons, i think perhaps i'm further down the free speech road than most as i believe that it is acceptable to publish cartoons about this, although i can't think of any possible cartoon with legitimate relevance (as the muslim cartoons have) regarding the holocaust. I'm happy for an islamic newspaper to publish whatever cartoons it wants about my religion (catholic), about my country (New Zealand) or anything else it should choose.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mohammad Cartoons

Since the holy crusades of the 12th century, a certain level of antagonism has existed between the Islamic world and the judeo-Christian world, an antagonism that is still alive and well as the latest conflict over certain Danish cartoons has revealed.

What is so offensive about the satirical depiction of a religious figure that embassies are attacked by firebombs and journalists fear for their lives?, Iranian leaders have claimed that the mere depiction of Mohammad is cause enough, but images of Mohammad have been plentiful throughout history, many originating from the middle east.
http://reiffonlife.blogspot.com/2006/02/mohammed-image-archive-depictions-of.html

Was this conflict engineered by Islamic extremists? Some reports have stated that the catalyst for the Islamic worlds anger was not simply the 12 cartoons published by J...., but rather a series of 43 images that were some months ago taken on a 'road-show' of Iran, some, notably more offensive than those published by the newspaper, purportedly generated by the extremists themselves as an exercise in generating anger among Muslims
http://counterterror.typepad.com/the_counterterrorism_blog/2006/02/fabricated_cart.html

I believe that the western world cannot afford to bow and scrape to the demands of Tehran to follow their religious laws, We cannot afford our enlightenment to be smothered by the middle eastern equivalent of the Spanish inquisition. I congratulate those news organizations that have decided to republish the cartoons throughout the western world.

I strongly believe that all speech should be free, I believe that this includes religious or racial denigration, holocaust denial and support for ideals which go against the grain of society because we cannot have a truly enlightened future if our ideals are shaped by deliberate exclusion of controversial material. I believe that governments have a right, no, a duty to express disapproval of what they deem 'dangerous' or unduly offensive, but I do not believe they have the moral right to decide what individuals may share among themselves.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Trademe addiction

I've recently become quite active at buying on the New Zealand auction site TradeMe, from hard to find second hand fantasy books for under $5 to a new Dell Axim PDA for $500, I've been busily watching and bidding on auctions, amazed by the ease with which person to person transactions can be carried out in this medium.

The online auction seems to have become a everyday fact of life, allowing buyers and sellers to meet and trade without any of the awkwardness or time wasting involved in ringing up classified advertisers, only to find the item has already been sold.

There are however some niggles with the service as currently provided, not least of which is the number of prolific commercial traders who clutter the listings with repeated items and make it ever more complicated to find the second hand bargains you were after, in particular, in the radio control aircraft section of trademe, an australian seller called 'revolutionshop' makes up a significant chunk of the listed items. With $50+ freight charges and long waits for delivery i would rather not purchase from this seller but have no way to exclude them from my search or to know who has listed an item before i click on it.

Niggles aside, I can see myself making a lot of future purchases, and hopefully, sales on TradeMe, however enhanced searching options, including the ability to exclude traders, would significantly improve my experience!.

Monday, January 30, 2006

GPS Maps for New Zealand

Well, the latest toy i'm considering is a bluetooth GPS unit for my PocketPC, Hopefully this will enable me to wander around the country while staring into the depths of my PDA screen (and probably get hit by a mac truck that for some reason wasn't included on the map) (Although so far finding affordable PocketPC GPS mapping software for New Zealand has been a problem).

Do you need a PDA?

The systems administrator brings his to every meeting, the corporate sales guy wears one around like the latest fashion accessory and the CEO is never seen on the golf course without it. The PDA (or Personal Digital Assistant) is almost ubiquitous in the corporate world today... But why would YOU want one?


Keeping track of Ex Girlfriends (or business associates)
It may not be the most glamorous function of the latest windows mobile or Palm OS offerings, but the basic address book functionality found in all PDA's (usually referred to as 'Contacts') is the bread and butter of the genre, being able to record the contact details of the hot new blond you just met at the bar (or the balding executive you just met a sales presentation) on the spot can save a lot of time searching for that elusive post-it note you were sure you put in your pocket, and a lot of drama when you fail to find it!.

Most modern cellphones include quite extensive addressbook/contact functionality however, so this is probably not a compelling reason of itself to purchase the latest and greatest VGA Pocket PC! However there are some advantages to using a more full featured solution like Pocket Informant on a PocketPC (my personal choice). I am able to store a photograph, multiple sets of contact information, notes, journal entries and more against each contact and then easily synchronize this information with the contacts stored on my PC. Perfect for keeping track of what you brought your mother in law last Christmas.


Remembering your dentist appointment
How many times have you missed a business meeting because you were away from your PC when the Outlook reminded popped up?, Have you ever forgotten about your wife's birthday until 5 minutes after the flower shop shuts? Calendar and Reminder functionality is another of the PDA staples and I personally find it quite relaxing to know that my handheld will remind me to get to the latest staff morning tea before the cakes have all gone!


Taking Note
This is my personal favorite, Being able to whip out the PDA and handwrite notes on the fly, have them automatically converted to typed text and then safely stored on my computer every time I synchronize my PocketPC, From recording sudden insights into the nature of life and love while you wait for your next pint to arrive, to composing sonnets on windswept hillsides (or possibly noting down network diagrams in an architecture meeting for those less artistically inclined) I have frequently found the ability to quickly, and reliably, record my thoughts to be indispensable.


A little light Reading
avantGo on the pocketPC allows you to easily view RSS feeds of your favorite blogs and all the latest news headlines while traveling to work on the train, synchronizing your email account will allow you to read and prepare responses to your most important business emails while you stagger between pubs, wondering where your mates went the last time you passed out (on second thoughts, maybe that's not such a good idea :) If you synchronized the RSS feed of this blog you could even be reading this while you wait in line for your caffeine hit at starbucks.


The outlook for Thursday
A Popular 'Today screen' plugin for PocketPC is an up to date weather report, There are several variants of this around and I personally use SPB Pocket Weather, This collects updated weather reports for the next few days for your home town whenever you synchronize your device and allows you to see at a glance if you'll be able to plead bad weather to get out of that BBQ you just invited your boss to.


Mobile Internet Access
Want to check out the online price of the new Terry Pratchett book while your standing in the bookstore? Coffee date going well, so you want to check out what time the next soppy romantic movie is on at the local cinema? With the constant growth in hotspot coverage and all the latest handhelds sporting Wi-Fi connectivity its now possible to be online practically everywhere and, particularly if you are a regular internet user, don't underestimate the usefulness of this!, I would strongly recommend that anyone buying a PDA today make sure they buy a Wi-Fi capable model! (WiFi Coverage is generally better within the US than without, but other countries, such as New Zealand are improving!)


Wasting Time
If you're just looking for an entertainment device there are many better, and often cheaper devices than PDA's available to choose. From portable media players with 20-100gb of movie and music storage to the Sony PSP offering console class games in the palm of your hand there are many forms of electronic entertainment that will set you back somewhat less than the amount of a high end PDA.

However, if some of the reasons above have already convinced you to buy a PDA then the music, video and gaming capabilities of your device are the icing on the cake. Today's PDAs are capable of playing DVD quality video (TCPMP is a highly recommended media player for PocketPC), better than CD quality audio and there are literally thousands of (mostly free or very cheap) games available to while away the idle minutes. In general you're probably not going to watch the last 5 seasons of stargate on your 3.5" PDA screen but you might catch a few highlights of last weeks episode while waiting for a plane, tune out to 'Eye of the Tiger' while going for your morning run or play a little Xonix while you should be working :)

Everything Else
From carrying around your favorite 10,000 photos to navigating your way around Thailand using a Bluetooth GPS unit today's PalmOS and PocketPC PDAs are flexible enough to undertake just about any computing task. Ticking off the shopping list and recording your expenses on the fly. Reviewing the company financials (or your personal budget) in pocket Excel. Planning a large scale jewelry heist (Disclaimer : if you use your PDA for organizing criminal activities I am not responsible!). Everybody is different and has different needs, but with the many thousands of applications now available for both major PDA platforms and many more being released every day there is sure to be something to fit your desires!








Should you buy one?, You'll have to decide that for yourself, but I'm sure that if you do, and make a commitment to using in on a regular basis you'll soon find it essential in ways you never expected. Like the internet is today taken for granted as a readily available source of news and information, Mobile computing is helping us manage an every increasing volume of personal information and as wireless networks become ubiquitous, allowing us to access the resources of the internet wherever and whenever we desire.

Personally I use a Dell Axim X50 PocketPC running Windows mobile 2003 SE and I'm pretty happy with it, although I have found myself idly browsing the reviews for the latest VGA models (these have a 640*480 pixel screen rather than the standard 320*240 pixel screen which makes the display much sharper), I've never personally used a PalmOS device but I have heard glowing reviews from owners who claim they would never use anything else! (The PocketPC does have more options available for the technically inclined)



Keywords : PDA , PocketPC , Mobile , Microsoft, Palm, Handheld, Dell, Ipaq, Wireless, Wifi, PIM, Electronics, PalmOS, HP, VGA, Games, Entertainment, MP3

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What to blog?

Well, After some consideration i've decided i'll be putting some focussed blog content together in the very near future around mobile electronics, starting with a few guides and reviews for pocketPC software.