Friday, 26 December 2008

Photo Day - 43 - Delta Way

I've been going through my unpublished photos and found this one.

This is the sister photo to another sunset photo which appeared back in July 2005. The pair make up the earliest panos that are likely to appear here.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Photo Day Map

I've put together a map off all the photo day photos.

These are all georeferenced by hand, so don't expect them to be spot on.

This is something that I've wanted to get up for a while. In fact, except for the last two photos I had already georeferenced the photos back in mid 2006 using Picasa. I wasn't overly happy with the entire process and wanted to get things more refined. I had originally intended to use a Virtual Earth (e.g. Google Earth or NASA World Wind) and get the coordinates such that the view matched the photo, but it's literally been years since I last touched this project so I thought I should just get something going.

Who knows, maybe I'll start adding photos again.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Respecting the Haka

There's been a lot of talk over here in the UK about the All Blacks pre-match haka with regards to what is appropriate or not as a "response" to the haka.

There are some that believe that the haka is simply a war dance that's used to intimidate the opposition, and therefore any and every response is acceptable. Other's believe that the performance of the haka is a rugby tradition and, like the performance of the national anthems, it deserves respect. In fact the tradition of the All Blacks haka pre-dates the singing of national anthems at rugby games by about 20 years, with national anthems being introduced in the 1905 match between Wales and New Zealand.

The response to the haka from each of the teams during the November 2008 series was meet differently by the opposition players and crowd.

The Scottish response to the haka was pretty much the normal response. The team stood in unison while there were cheers of excitement from the crowd during the haka followed by mass applause.

The Irish response to the haka was again fairly typical, but to the Kapa o Pango haka. The team stood in unison and there were cheers from the crowd. However, before the final segment of the haka the crowd erupted into a sea of noise.

The Munster response to the haka was vastly different from the previous two and was anything but typical. As the Munster team were forming up to receive the haka, four members of the team stepped forward, all of them Kiwis. As they did so the Munster team bound tighter and gathered closer to their four team mates as they began the haka directed at the All Blacks. The crowd was in full support with cheers that downed out the sound of their players. Once finished the men kept their gaze on the All Blacks while they moved backwards to re-join and bind with their team mates. The All Blacks began their haka and the crowed fall silent, no cheering, no jeering, just simple silent immersion into the performance. With the final words having just escaped the lips of the All Blacks the crowed once again drowned out the stadium with their excitement and joy for what they had just seen and what was about to come. Several All Black players were later quoted as saying that the crowd had created the best atmosphere they had ever experienced, not just during the pre-match traditions but during the entire match; with the support they showed not only to the Munster team but to the All Blacks as well and they wished they had a crowd like that for every match.

The Welsh response to the haka had the crowd making a lot of random noise and then at the end joing in unison against the haka. Once the haka finished the Welsh players didn't move and forced a minute and a half stand-off against the All Blacks despite pleas by the referee to get both teams to move away. After the match a number of players condemned the actions of the Welsh players saying that it was disrespectful.

The English response to the haka was lead completely by the crowd. During the haka the crowed filled the stadium with the song "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot". I haven't heard any All Blacks comment on the matter, but I would suspect it was taken as being disrespectful. I also find it interesting that while the All Blacks performed Ka Mate, which is a celebration of life over death, the English were singing a song about wanting to die because of hope that the next life will be better than the current one.

My personal view on the last three...

The English crowd were disrespectful to tradition of the haka, just as the English players were disrespectful to the game of rugby; four yellow cards with 30 penalties in a single match isn't ill-disciplined, it's intentional poor sportsmanship.

While the Welsh response was dramatic, it too didn't show respect to 125 years of tradition and celebration of the game. Ma'a Nonu is quoted as saying "If you’re going to stand there like that then in the past people would have charged, but it’s a rugby match and you can’t do that."

As for Munster, not only was that incredible respect from the players and crowd it was also evident in the commentary from an additional clip of the Munster haka. I watched this match in an Irish pub and it was by far the most exciting and entertaining match of the entire tour. I have nothing but respect for the team and their fans.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

All Blacks Rugby 2008 Season Wrap-up

So the New Zealand All Blacks rugby season is over for 2008. Here's a brief run-down of the results for the season.

New Zealand beat Ireland and then England twice in the June test series held in New Zealand; they then won the Tri Nations series against Australia and South Africa; followed by winning a test match against Australia in Hong Kong and beating Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England in the November Test series held in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as a non Test match against Munster.

This means the All Blacks ended the season with the title Tri Nations Series champions for the ninth time, and accomplishing a Grand Slam Tour for the third time in a row. Additionally they contested and retained the Freedom Cup for a third year in a row, the Bledisloe Cup for a sixth year in a row, and became the first winner of the Hillary Shield. The All Blacks also finished the year ranked number one in the IRB World Rankings.

In addition to the on-field titles the International Rugby Board awarded the All Blacks International Team of the Year for the third time and International Coach of the Year to Graham Henry for the third time.

By most measures this would be heralded as an extreme accomplishment, as it should be. But read the press from a week ago and it'll be full off comments saying that the All Blacks aren't as good as they used be, that they are weak and sloppy and not much to rave about. Even All Black prop Tony Woodcock is quoted as saying the season deserves a "good" rating.

While it's true the season wasn't perfect, they lost 2 out of their 16 matches with both during the Tri Nations and having one win each for the two challenging nations, the season is well beyond what any other nation has ever accomplished. It'll be interesting to see what slant the news takes now that the season is over.

For those of you who will respond with some comment about last year's World Cup result, please take it up with the IRB review board who ruled that the incompetence of the referee Wayne Barnes determined the result of the match and that if the numerous errors by the referee had been called correctly that the All Blacks would have won the match. Anybody who claims otherwise is a troll or lacks the mental stamina to not realise that the All Blacks are so good that even after having a large portion of the team retire last year they can still accomplish the incredible.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Walking in London - Jubilee Walkway

I often see the silver discs in the road reading "Silver Jubilee Walkway 1977" with a crown and dome image on it. Eventually I decided that the path couldn't really be everywhere in London, so I wanted to know where it actually went.

I had a look at the official Jubilee Walkway website, but the maps don't have much detail so I decided to make my own map of the Jubilee Walkway with Google Maps.

It turns out the Jubilee Walkway goes pretty much everywhere I go. It's at my front door and a hundred odd metres from my work. I could even use it as a slightly longer but more scenic route home late one night when there aren't hoards of people on that path.

My Jubilee Walkway map was drawn out using the instructions in from the official site and from my knowledge of the area when the instructions didn't make sense or conflicted with their own map. So there may be some discrepancies with the silver discs, but it's as accurate as the official site, if not more so.

There are two areas that I know need to be tidied up. East of London Bridge, specifically entry and exit points for Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. And the paths in Barbican Estate, which I love but have only been to twice so don't know the paths by name yet.

If you do plan on walking the path, you can actually break it down into several walks using the alternate routes (which I've labelled bypasses) to shorten the walk. There are itineraries for five different loop walks on the official site.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Bank holidays in England

In planning my next trip to New Zealand I needed to know when the bank holidays are in England. I have been using a public calendar in Google Calendar for this purpose, however it didn't include next years holidays. I tried a few others and discovered that they are all missing days, which is appalling since there's only eight to keep track of. So I created my own calendar of bank holidays in England and marked it for public consumption. It's available in html, ics and xml.

The dates are taken from the UK governments Directgov website. An unusual fact is that most bank holidays aren't actually bank holidays until a royal proclamation is made saying so. So they dates are officially tentative but it's doubtful they will change, and I'll update the calendar if they do.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Secure email

Over two years ago I provided a tip for using Gmail securely. A month ago Google announced that they have made using Gmail securely a lot easier.

Please change that setting now, it only takes 20 seconds and it means we can both trust that we're the only people involved in the conversation.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Rapunga Google

Google search is now available in Māori.

I've checked the language selection page on occasion to see if Māori was available, but I wasn't overly surprised each time I discovered it wasn't. With only 725,000 Māori people and only 157,000 Māori language speakers I figured it wasn't a high priority.

So why is it that Māori has become available now? Because there were a dedicated group of volunteers that wanted to make it happen. Kudos to Google for making it possible.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Google Maps Walking Directions

Google maps now supports walking directions. The announcement mentions a lot limitations to the service but suggests these limitations are being worked on.

I have yet to get an optimal suggested route, but the initial directions serve as a good starting point, especially since you can drag and drop the path to try out a few alternate routes. From home to work the suggested path was 51 minutes, after tweaking to be more like the path I walk every day the estimate became 48 minutes.

On the subject of limitations, there is no way to specify how fast you walk and consequently all walking times are overestimations for me, e.g. it generally takes me 35 minutes to walk to work; you have to walk around parks and gardens instead of cutting straight through them; there's no knowledge of the Thames Path or other towpaths around London; T intersections don't allow initial travel down the stem; and some nonsensical directions appear.

I think the main limitation is going to be that with driving directions cars travel on named streets in predictable ways, people can walk anywhere in much less predictable ways. I suspect we will not see these directions become "walk along the Cathedral property line, go through the passage obscured between two pillars slightly on your right, follow that path up to Borough High Street, cross the street to Railway Approach, ..."

All that said, I had been using the TFL Journey Planner and Gmaps Pedometer to try and find the best paths to places, whereas Google Maps will probably be my first destination now.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Directions to your death!

I was looking up some directions for London in Google Maps and noticed a segment of the journey that will end in tragedy. If you were to view that in "Map" mode all would look good, but zooming in with "Satellite" you'll notice that the right hand turn takes you off a bridge.

I've written this here because apparently Google monitors blogs for feedback, and I got tired of looking for a "report directions that will kill people" link on their web site.