I am a 30-something New Zealander who works in the Internet Industry, lives in Auckland, uses the Internet a lot and likes Indian and Thai Curries.

Moving blog and updates - Spliting off blog to new site

Blog Moved

I have moved my blog and general updates to a new site:

Posted 2007-10-30 | Permanent link to this post

Looking forward - Miniconf + Asus EEE PC + Electroma

Miniconfs and LCA

A few weeks ago the SysAdmin Minconf got accepted for linux.conf.au and we posted the Call for Presentations . Since then we have got several proposals (with more to come) so I am really hopeful about having a sucessful miniconf in January. This year the miniconf is only one day long due to lots of competition from other miniconfs which will probably mean a few proposals will have to be rejected but raises the average quality hopefully. We'll see how it goes and there is nearly two months before the close of submissions.

Asus Eee PC

A few weeks ago Morgan told me about (and posted about) the ASUS Eee PC . Since then I've been read about it and keeping an eye on www.eeeuser.com which is the best site for news.

The Eee PC is a small notebook, with flash based storage but otherwise standard (but fairly low speced) components (including USB, VGA out, Wifi and Ethernet) with what is initually announced as a target price of $US 199. Recently the price seems to have gone up and the spec of the bottom end models has gone down ( just 2G of flash and 256MB of RAM) but nothing has been finalised even though it is supposed to be released in September or October 2007.

I'm still very hopeful about the Eee PC though. Currently I don't have a laptop computer since the weight, lack of power and price combinations don't seem to work for me. However if the Eee PC ends up delivering then I will be able to get something that will:

  • be small enough to fit in my existing bag and carry about all the time.
  • be powerful enough to run standard apps linux Firefox, Openoffce and mplayer.
  • be cheap enough ( perhaps $300 - 400 NZ) that I can but it for myself as a Christmas present without having to worry too much if I don't use it.

Daft Punk's Electroma

While browsing around youtube I came across a few clips from Daft Punk's Electroma made the members of the music group Daft Punk . The movie itself isn't very mainstream but interesting enough somebody has posted a version to youtube that shows "the full movie, but in 170 odd frames to save you 70 minutes" which works quite well.

A clip I really liked from the very end of the movie and titled "The Burning Man".

Links here and here if the above doesn't work.

Posted 2007-09-01 | Permanent link to this post

Tip on Moving your blog + Google Video - Please tell people when you move + Google video loses .avi

Moving your blog

A little plea to bloggers out there. When you update your blogging software, move to a new site or otherwise change things please think about those who read your site via RSS.

Remember you have gone to a lot of trouble to attract these people who are subscribed to everything you write.

Thus it is NOT a good idea to just stop your RSS feed with no explanation when you move. We love what your write but seriously it might take us a few weeks to work out you have been quiet. Then we have to fire up our browsers, search for your new site and go though the process of subscribing again.

Over the last 24 hours I've had two of the sites I follow ( Freakonomics and Juha Saarinen (new URLs) ) move to new sites. Actually they both moved a couple of weeks ago but didn't see anything on their old feeds (freakonomics is trying to fix this now) so I only found out when I read about it somewhere else.

Even if your old site won't let you point to the new one a little farewell note with a subtle hint will at least alert your readers to the move.

Google Video

It looks like google video recently got rid of the ability to download their videos as .avi's . They are still available in a PSP orientated format which I seem to be able to play but the resolution is worse than the avi was.

Since the main thing I watched on google video was the Tech Talks of people speaking to google the extra resolution really helped with reading the slides on people's presentations. I'd ask google to provide a higher resolution format but there doesn't seem to be any contact available for Tech Talks. I left a note on google video feedback however.

I suspect the next move will be to shut it down and go streaming-only via youtube.

Posted 2007-08-18 | Permanent link to this post

Buildings talking to computers - Signs in the digital age.

A few months ago I read an article on how Gordon Bell is digitising and saving much of his life including all his email, web browsing and even wearing a camera all the time that takes a photo every few seconds.

The problem I can see with wearing a camera and microphone at all times is that sometimes you are going to be in situations where you don't want to record. The obvious ones would include areas like changing rooms and toilets where people are naked with an expectation of not being recorded and also places like research labs, airports, military bases and movie theatres where the residents forbid recording.

The problem is that if you are wearing a camera 80 percent of the time then you will sometimes forget to turn it off in the above areas which could cause embarrassment or even get you arrested.

The solution would seem to be that the camera can in some way sense that it should stop taking photos (at least without manual intervention). After a bit of thinking it occurs to me that using 2D bar codes like Sample bar code to encode regulations might work.

Using bar codes means that they would be automatically be picked up by the camera and acted on. The idea could be further developed by using a short range wireless technology to transmit the message to non-video equipped devices.

The actual message format should be something that is standardised to that different devices could understand it. Things like "No video recording" , "No audio recording" and "Mute speakers" come to mind. I guess somebody will create an XML standard. Some sort of authorisation could be added and normal fraud laws should be enough to stop me pining a sign on my shirt and turning off cellphones on the street.

Posted 2007-05-06 | Permanent link to this post

Busy + Food + DNS + LCA - A couple of updates

A busy last couple of weeks.
  • Work is as busy as ever, more interesting than usual though
  • I was down in Wellington today talking DNS with a few people, all very interesting and fun.
  • I'm a bit behind with a bunch of other projects but one thing I've done in the last couple of weeks was create a Linux.conf.au: First timers Guide , bit of fun and people seem to like it.
  • On the weekend various people and myself went to the Auckland International Cultural Festival , pretty good although a bit hot. I think some of the stall holders could have also got more sales but having smaller portions off food at lower prices. If you want to try out lots of different foods then paying $10 for a lot of food is not an attractive option.

Posted 2007-02-27 | Permanent link to this post

Karajoz Great Blend - Auckland Museum Feb 11th 2007

On Sunday night I went along to the Karajoz Great Blend at the Auckland Museum. Not too bad.
  • Morgan and Robyn have a few details, read them first.
  • The "Back of the Y" guys and the dancers were good.
  • No Soy Milk for the Sponsor's coffee bad
  • No Soft drinks bad
  • I agree with the comments by Morgan about the panel, it's didn't really gel. Rob McKinnon of theyworkforyou.co.nz was okay, although he sounded a little over-rehearsed. He was good to talk to afterwards.
  • Rick Ellis wasn't to bad, he seemed a little over confident though. I am interested that TVNZ is planning to use Akamai for content delivery. AFAIK they are fairly expensive for the sort of bulk stuff TVNZ will be doing to just a few ISPs. I also wonder how what ISPs will do when their Akamai clusters start trying to stream to a few hundred/thousand of their users. Putting them on the far side of their traffic shapers might be the first step.
  • I also found the music a little loud, I guess I'm getting old but I have trouble hearing conversation over the background noise. A more concentrated and quieter discussion area might have been a good idea.
  • The venue was very nice however.

Posted 2007-02-13 | Permanent link to this post

NZ Bloggers vs Wikipedia - New Zealand Baa Camp attendees want their Wikipedia article

A little disclaimer first. My total edits in this area are here , I have no access to deleted articles or other stuff the general public can't see.

Over the weekend there was a local version of Foo Camp called Baa Camp (There seems to be confusion as to the exact name) held north of Auckland. Various journalists, technical types and even a couple of government ministers attended. From all accounts much fun was had by all and interesting stuff took place.

The problem began however when local bloggers/journalists Russell Brown and Juha Saarinen decided to create a Wikipedia article about it.

The problem is that there are hundreds of conferences around the world every day ( like this ) and the majority of these do not justify a Wikipedia entry. So the Wikipedia editors are used to removing details about conferences that are non-notable.

One of the big things in Wikipedia is ( from Wikipedia:Notability ) :

A topic is notable if it has been the subject of multiple, non-trivial published works from sources that are reliable and independent of the subject itself and each other.

This bit is usually the minimum threshold that all articles must meet. So while the average Homeless guy is unknown this guy has a documentary and many articles about him.

So the Baa Camp people created an article which was quickly removed as spam ( sorry I don't have a copy) probably because it lacked links, external references and contained phrases like "The meeting marks a historical turning point for a country that is still focused on primary industries" ( see this old version ) .

Juha and Russell reacted with a little bit of shock that their article had been removed ( See blog posts here , and talk page here) and recreated the article a few times until it got a slower and more formal Articles for deletion nomination.

Things seem to have calmed down a little but it is interesting to watch Russell, Juha and friends run around of the Blogs and Wikipedia acting offended that they are being painted as spammers and subject to "needlessly hostile editing".

What they need to understand is that Wikipedia is there to create an Encyclopedia and articles that fall outside that criteria are not wanted. They created an article that looked a lot like spam, was for a not "obviously important" event, didn't contain external references (blogs don't count) and is in an area that commonly gets other non-notable articles.

It is very obvious from their posts that they have never edited Wikipedia before and have thus taken some of the processes as personal attacks against them. This is not the case. They just needed to take a little while (which they appear to have now) to calm down and work with everybody.

On a related note, if you live in or near Auckland there is a Meetup for Wikipedians taking place on Saturday the 10th in Mt Eden. See Wikipedia:Meetup/Auckland 2 for details.

Posted 2007-02-06 | Permanent link to this post

Linux.conf.au 2007 part1 - Going to Linux.conf.au in Sydney

I've been a little slack posting about my trip to LCA2007 in Sydney. So anyway.

Saturday and Sunday

I caught an early flight ( 05:45 ) from Auckland so I only got about an hours sleep on Friday night. For some reason the plane sat on the ground in Auckland for a good 45 minutes but we ended up on time. I sat next to a woman who was going over to Perth to meeting a guy she had been in a LDR with (for 3 months) for the first time, hope that went well, she seemed nice.

Landed in Sydney and caught a Taxi ( by myself, I saw a couple of guys in Gnome shirts at the taxi stand but didn't feel up to asking them to share) to Shalom College where I wa staying. Got my room okay but there was only one other guy from LCA there. I headed on the bus into the city ( ended up seeing Julien Goodwin on the bus and chatting a little to him ) to see Ed , Brent and Brent's family for lunch etc. Nice few hours wandering around Sydney, eating Pizza and chatting. I got back to Shalom around about 5pm and I was so tired I just went to sleep.

Me and Room in mirror Brent's Family, Brent, Ed

On Sunday I got up, had some nice Kosher breakfast and wandered up with a couple of people to look around the venue. There was a cricket match going on the the Oval just outside my window, all very nice. We wandered up to the venue but it was empty and nobody was around.

Around 1pm I caught a bus into town and then the Manly Ferry to go see my brother at his work. After that I looked around Manly I caught the Ferry back into town for the Sunday LCA dinner at the Lowenbrau Keller in The Rocks. Good fun and nice food. Everyone then caught a bus back home and chatted for a bit before bed.

More later. My Photo gallery should show up here .

Posted 2007-01-28 | Permanent link to this post

MTA Software survey - Someone does a survey of MTA software

Back in August 2006 Dan Shearer did A comparison of Mail Transfer Agents ( part 1 , part 2> ) in which he mentioned he was interested in doing a survey of MTA software to see what was the most common.

Some previous surveys had been done by D. J. Bernstein but nothing big for a few years. I talked a bit to Dan Shearer but I think he lost interest so I started myself.

However (as often happens) I only got half way though since the software I was using had a few bugs in it. My programming skills suck so I decided last week to rewrite the whole program in python (it is currently in perl) at some point.

Today it looks like I have been beaten to the punch, There is an article in O'Reilly SysAdmin titled Fingerprinting the World's Mail Servers by a commercial organisation that has done such a large survey.

Going though the article it looks like they did similar to what I was intending although their numbers look a little funny in places. They don't have full details published so it's hard to be sure.

The moral of the story is that some things are easy to do if you have the right tools and skills. My problem is that since my programming skills are not good enough I was beaten to the punch by somebody else.

I'll still look at doing the survey later this year however.

Posted 2007-01-06 | Permanent link to this post

Lightning Talks at Linux.conf.au - I am organising Lighting Talks at linux.conf.au on Thursday Jan 18th

On a slight spur of the moment I emailed the Linux.conf.au organisers and offered to run a lightning talk session.

A couple of days ago they accepted so a quick bit of work and the webpage and Call for presentations are out.

My main concern now is to nicely fill up the session, already I have one talk listed and another possible. Another ten or so should be about right.

I have a possible talk myself but I am trying to save that for emergancies

Posted 2007-01-04 | Permanent link to this post