Monday, 31 January 2005

A Festival of FREE Outdoor Entertainment

From my experience youth are never happy with the range of activities available to them. I've heard it here in Christchurch, in the mid-west of the US and even in Los Angeles. "There's nothing to do" is a common proclamation.

Well, aside from the usual activities happening in Christchurch, there's a range of special events that feature especially in Summer. There's the Buskers Festival and there's also the SummerTimes Festival. For the last 22 years the Christchurch City Council has been running the Festival and it's safe to say that it's an iconic part of Summer here in Christchurch.

Before I hop on the plane to Japan I will be going to these events. Not all of them, of course, as some days there are four things happening at once, but certainly the key events will be attended.

These events are one of the major draws of Christchurch for me. These events foster romance, family and friendship. They encourage physical activity, relaxation, artistic expression, cultural diversity and a range of other experiences.

Even if I stopped attending I would see the discontinuation of the SummerTimes festival as a major loss to the Christchurch community. Thank you Christchurch City Council for continuing the tradition.

One last thing: Since I'm still buzzing about the whole remote calendar thing I've whipped up the SummerTimes schedule as an ics Calendar.

Please note that geocities doesn't allow .ics so I've named it .ics.txt. This functions in Sunbird, but I'm not sure about iCal. Also, with Sunbird you can't just click on the link above, you must File->"Subscribe to a new Calendar" and paste the link into that dialog. If you find any errors in the .ics, please let me know.

World Buskers Festival

It's Summer here in New Zealand, and that means outdoor entertainment. The World Buskers Festival finished on Sunday, and I'm sad to say that I didn't see a single event. This is especially unfortunate since last year I participated.

Being a supervisor on the holiday programmes meant that I was busy during the daytime shows and too tired for the evening shows. And despite the fact that the I saw the Buskers every day (since they slept in my "office") most of the time I forgot that it was even an option.

Friday, 28 January 2005

Playing Along at Home

Apparently not everyone is happy with the canning, as demonstrated by the following email.

you suck! no more photo day. i look forward to the pretty pictures. i like pretty pictures. i dont care for your excuses either. it takes too long. my system is too slow. i dont have the right equipment. blah blah blah. i say good day to you sir. good day!

So I've decided to let you all play along at home. Here are some photos that were going to be used but got rejected. Two issues with the photos, incorrect spacing of the images and the two young lads walking at the same pace I was taking photos.

The linked images are 12.5% of their original size, but you can still get an idea for it. If you have any success with them, let me know.

Saturday, 22 January 2005

Why the canning?

Simple answer: I'm frustrated.

Longer answer: I'm really frustrated.

Verbose answer:

I'm lacking three things, hardware, software and time.

I really need a tripod in order to make the photos stitch better. I've been able to get away with hand holding for the most part, but I've had to reject a bunch of photos because of parallax errors.

Two things that would make life easier would be a telephoto lens and a higher resolution camera. No, these don't prevent me from making the images, but there'd be less work involved for the desired result with these. Actually, make that three. Owning a camera would also help.

Software is also an issue. The program that I've used for these is PTAssember. Another program that I've played around with is PTGui. I wish these guys would work together. PTGui's Panorama Editor is an excellent feature, however it's colour correction is useless. And since I've never made a successful multirow image with PTAssembler, there's no winner. (correction 2005-01-24) I have made multirow images with PTAssembler, but it's much easier with PTGui.

I even went to the extent of trying to hand polish the images. I wanted to get a photo of a rainbow, it took 11 shots and ended up being 16 megapixel uncropped. So, I've got an 11 layer image with 60+ megs of RAM being used per layer. My computer was not happy with me.

And lastly comes time. There are a lot of things that I could do to try and rectify the above, but they all take time. I started photo day as a fun way to get myself to use the blog instead of just thinking about using it. (OT: I never get around to posting most of the stuff that I think about posting.) However, it's more of a chore now.

If I have to give up slashdot then I can give up photo day.

Friday is (no longer) Photo Day

I have decided to can photo day. Here's the last entry in the series.

This was taken the same day the last weeks photo, this time at the far end of Akaroa.

Here are all the previous photo day entries: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Friday, 14 January 2005

Friday is Photo Day

Today's photo was taken from the Hilltop lookout going down into Akaroa Harbour. The clouds might remind you of the first photo day. As with the last photo, there's plenty of sheep to count.

Summer Delayed 1.5 Months

So I'm doing the holiday programme thing at the moment and the weather is finally starting to pick up. Wednesday we had the national high of 29° Celsius. And though that's less than 85° Fahrenheit it was still an inferno! Alas, even though the day heat felt extreme, the night heat wasn't as near comfortably warm as it was in Los Angeles growing up. There's nothing quite like shorts and tee at 3am.

I've got two more weeks of programmes that are scheduled for bulk outdoor time. Hopefully this weather can last that long.

Cage & Aquarium

I was thinking about adding zodiac information to my contact manager, but over the years I've heard many a confused person discussing different dates for different signs. So I looked up Zodiac on Wikipedia to try and figure out what was going on.

Turns out there's three separate ways to determine your sign. In two I'm Cancer and in the most accurate, but least common, I'm Gemini. Since the most basic of information is ambiguous I've decided to flag the idea of zodiac information.

And yes, the title is a reference to They Might Be Giants.

Saturday, 8 January 2005

Friday is (sometimes) Photo Day

This photo is taken from the top of Rapaki track at Witch Hill. If you're having trouble sleeping, zoom in and count the sheep.

I Think I'm Turning Japanese

No, this weeks photo is not "from inside."

The reference is more to the point that I've decided that I'll be moving to Japan to teach English. I'm currently looking at Nova and have had a few good resources for teachers pointed out.

I'm hoping for Tokyo or somewhere on Kyushu.

I need to put in my application, but I'm expecting to be out of New Zealand by March. Not sure what's going to happen with Photo day. Stay tuned.


Sunbird is a calendar application built by the Mozilla people. I tried it out today and quite like it. I've been using Outlook for my calendar needs and because of the "experimental stage" of Sunbird, have stayed away from it.

Today I found a reason to try it out. Sunbird is compatible with iCal from Apple and therefore can use iCal's remote calendars. If you follow that link you'll see that you can share calendars for a bunch of different things. Public holidays, sporting event schedules, etc. Sounded pretty cool, so I gave it a go. I added a few in, and then got an idea.

I've been writing my own web based contact manager. Not for any great reason except that I hate Hotmail's. During the process I wrote a page that displays when people are having their birthday, how old they are, etc. Well, it wasn't a big stretch from there to setting up my own remote calendar that contained all my contacts birthday information.

A quick browse of rfc 2445 (or "Internet Calendaring and Scheduling Core Object Specification" for those of you who don't like numbers) and a tweak here and there and I had my very own .ics.

I did say I was being more productive.

New Years Resolutions

I've never been a fan of New Years resolutions. I've figured if you want to do something then do it. Waiting around is just an excuse not to do the thing you're resolving to do. However, this year I can make claim to having a New Years resolution, with procrastination and all!

I decided a week or two ago that I really wasn't being too productive and I needed to do something about it. There's one thing in my life that takes up more time than can be justified and that thing is slashdot.

I'm not sure how long I've been reading it. It's either the end of 1998 or the start of 1999. The only two things I have to go by are my userid (29257) and my first post (8 May 1999). During that time Slashdot has become a large part of my life. It's my main connection to what's happening in geekdom. The amount of things that it exposes me to is enormous. Despite the changes that Slashdot has gone through from it's 50k readers to it's 850k readers I still like it. I still want it. I still need it!

But, it does take up a huge chunk of my time. I used to read almost everything. And up until very recently I used to read every blurb. Now I skim the blurbs and try not to click on too many comment pages. But, alas, this still isn't enough.

Action Plan 1... Go cold turkey. Give it up. Don't gaze upon the /.. Could I do it? I doubt it. Why? Because this is named Action Plan 1, so obviously I wasn't satisfied with it. Without slashdot I would be ignorant to so much, I must keep my slashdot. It's my precious.

Action Plan 2... Only read the blurbs. No comments at all! That would save bulk time! Yeah! I can still read slashdot! wOOt! ... However, it's the comments where the value lies. *grumble*

Action Plan 3... Some other compromise. This is my current plan. I've only read slashdot once this year. Which means there's 7 days that I haven't read it. Have I been more productive? Yes, I have. Have I craved slashdot. Yes, I have.

So I guess like most real New Years Resolutions this one is bound to fail. But, we'll see how long it can last for.

Absence of Posts

Yes, it's been more than half a month since my last post. I could claim it was because of the holiday season, but that would be a lie. I simple didn't get around to it.

A few things have happened since then, so lets get posting.