April 24th, 2011

A week ago Tania and I rode the Otago Central Rail Trail, and since it was a first proper holiday since our wedding 3+ months ago I think it counts as a honeymoon. The rail trail is 150km of old railway track that has been converted for use by bicycles and pedestrians. Because it was built for trains it never gets steeper than 1:50 and that’s quite achievable on a bike. We opted to work together on the long inclines and thus on Monday morning my aunt Janice drove us to Clyde and Altitude Adventures dropped off our rented tandem.

We’ve rented a tandem before and found it was a lot of fun. That time we were riding around a beach suburb in San Diego having to deal with pedestrians, “side walks” and occasionally traffic. This time was lot simpler. Most of the people we saw were heading our way and only one was on foot. Much like the PCT when everyone is on a trail with the same goal and similar traveling style there’s an easy camaraderie between strangers. We all have to deal with the same hills and are all getting sore bottoms (though some to a greater degree, do hardly riding a bike more than 5km for the last 15 years).

We were very lucky with the weather in what has been an unusually wet season. The fields were much greener than normal but we were late enough that the trees has started to change and it wasn’t the still dry air that can sit over the Canterbury plains. I’ve put a selection of photos in a MobileMe gallery page, but you really have to experience in person. I’ll gladly do it again and definitely encourage more people to go by tandem. It’s just so nice to have your other half within arms reach the entire time, a very sweet way to spend a few days in New Zealand.

January 3rd, 2011
  • Get back into running
  • Build a set of outdoor furniture
  • Publish my iPhone app
  • Sort my photos from Japan
  • Clear the land beside the driveway
  • Handstand pushups
  • Write on this blog more
    • Lego Moasic
    • DIY furniture, composter
    • Scrolling Javascript
  • Write up the PCT for The NZ Herald

May 4th, 2010

Just a quick note for people who use Elgato’s EyeTV on their Macs in New Zealand. I’ve got an Automator script here that will fetch a TV schedule and load it into EyeTV. It takes care of deleting the file it downloads but you might need to open it (use the Automator program) to change where it downloads to.

EyeTV nz epg downloader

As noted below by Darren you need to change the channels in your guide to xmltv.

Updated March 19th 2013 to new data source. Thanks Danny P

April 20th, 2010

Today is International Ayumi Meegan Appreciation Day. I’m not quite sure which year it started on, but it’s been going for almost 30 years and always falls on April 20th.

Four of us on Mount Fuji
Ayumi, Paul, Tania and Craig atop My Fuji

Why? Well she’s cool that’s why. I first met Ayumi in 2007 in San Francisco but I’d been reading her blog for a long time before that. Every other day she shares a little bit of her perspective on the world and it makes great reading. She’s also a published author and very talented vocal musician as you can see in as she sings Ella Fitzgerald’s “How High the Moon”.

So go check out and AyumiMeegan.com and drop her a line, she’s one of the nicest bloggers I know with an amazing imagination and it’ll add a bit more sparkle into your life.

April 19th, 2010

Back in January Google announced that the trikes, which shoot footage for Google Street View where the cars can’t go, were about to start roaming the outback in search of interesting off-road places. They started at Taronga Zoo and held a public vote to choose the rest. Well that’s all fantastic if you’re interested in seeing Australia. And thousands millions of people are. But I happen to think that New Zealand has some pretty awesome things to show off too so I’m starting a list of places that the trikes should visit when they come here.

1: Otago Rail Trail

The most obvious starting point. 150kms of trail graded gently enough for the trains of yesteryear. The trail might be a bit rutted and bumpy so I hope they’ve given those trikes some good suspension to protect the equipment as well as the rider.

2: Wai-o-tapu

It’s an amazing “thermal wonderland” not far south of Rotorua and though it looks really good from the sky you really need to get in amongst it to show off some of New Zealand’s famous geothermal features.

3: The Luge

Whilst they’re down in Rotorua they should definitely pay a visit to The Luge. It’s a set of paved downhill tracks each as wide as a single lane road over looking the city. But don’t spend anytime looking down there because you need to pay attention to the corners and other riders as you hurtle down the hill on your three wheeled carts. This is my favourite man-made tourist attraction in NZ by far, and features in any good road trip. There’s one in Auckland too but you can see most of it from the motorway and it doesn’t look half as exciting as the Rotorua one.

4: Rangitoto Island

The jewel of the Hauraki Gulf is a volcano with a few unsealed roads. Right now they are only used by the D.O.C. workers and the pull-along tourist tractor that takes those that can’t walk to the summit. The last 100m or so is on wooden steps that the trike couldn’t traverse so they’ll need to carry it. Which should get them in good practice for…

5: The Tongariro Crossing

One of the world’s best day hikes, and there in lies the problem. If Google can get the Street View equipment down to a size where two people can carry it I’d gladly be one of the sherpas.

6: Viaduct Harbour

Often touted as ‘party’ central for things like The America’s Cup, the Rugby World Cup and really any event that Auckland hosts. I made a Real Place for it a while ago but I think it could do with the Street View treatment, ideally on a day when some really interesting big yachts are in.

7: Rainbow’s End

New Zealand’s biggest theme park may not stack up against the some of the ones in the recent UK update but that doesn’t stop it being the best one we’ve got. As you can see on the map there’s enough space to be worth exploring and I reckon putting the trikes on the race track would be fun too. If only they could make a splash-proof version for the log flume :-) .

Any other suggestions?

GEarthBlog.com has some speculation that StreetView might be heading indoors. If this is true then I’d add Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum to the list of places to document. I think GEarthBlog’s idea is more of documenting the collections in proper posed photo shoots rather than riding a trike down the halls, but I like the idea of riding around the museum late at night when all the other visitors have gone home.

March 30th, 2010

In a little over 10 days I, along with 3 guys I hardly know (one of which I haven’t even met yet) will start the Oxfam Trailwalker. We’ll have 36 hours to complete the 100km course on foot but we’re hoping to do it in less than 30. The track itself is not particularly grueling, consisting mostly of rolling farmland and a few forest roads, its the time on the feet that causes the most problems. The last time I was in 2008 after training 12 hours per day every day for nearly three months whilst walking across Japan. I’ve not done much on that scale since getting back to New Zealand but I did try to do the Round The Mountain in one day, and only managed 60 of the 74km. Still, not bad for what is pitched as a “4-6 day hike”.

Hiker tan

Simon, Kirk, mystery man and I are the last of what has been a constantly shifting team landscape. Just last week our last remaining female member had to withdraw after serious warnings from her doctor about the need for toe surgery if she continued. Hence the last minute ring-in. Still, everyone’s heart is in the right place. The whole reason for the hike is to raise money for the good people at Oxfam. We’ve already stumped up the entrance fee so every cent we raise via sponsorship goes straight towards Oxfam’s fight against poverty around the world. If you’re not away of what Oxfam do then check out their website and if you are aware, or are just prepared to take my word for it, head over to our sponsorship page and make a donation. During the event I’ll be keep you up to date via dedicated site which will feature photos and tweets as well as a little figure tracking our progress along the course profile. I’ll try to get some form of comment system attached to the website, because you can be sure by 4am on day 2 we’re really going to need some encouragement, but if you’re a Twitter user the easiest way to get through to us is by following us @teamhappyfeet.

March 30th, 2010

In the land of Twitter and text-messages I can understand the need to shorten words, use TLAs or even resort to txt spk. But emails can be as long and verbose as you like. So why do people feel the need to bring the limits of Twitter to other forms of communication? Case in point: I’m trying to sell a car at the moment so I put it up on TradeMe.co.nz, NZ’s equivalent of eBay. I got a response from someone.

Hey, Dis is —-. I jst had a look at ur Curren. Nice car. I am interested in this. So may I plz knw dat does it have any major or minor problems, and what’s the last price you are looking for? Plz mail me on ——- or txt me on ——–. Thanx

So I responded, and told them we’d listed the car for $3600 and they could call if they wanted to see it. No response. Then a week later they emailed again. Same email, but this time using their surname.

Hi there, Dis iz —. jst had a luk at ur vehicle, looks nice. If its stil there, I am interested in it. So, may I knw dat does it have any problems(major or minor). And may I knw d last price to offer. Frankly saying, I’ve got only $2400 at d moment as I hv jst sold my car. So if u r ready, can I hv a luk? Thnx

Really? I mean “Rly?”. Do people really expect be to drop the price of the car by 1/3 just because they don’t have the cash? A car is worth what ever it is worth and if you can’t afford it don’t send me your illiterate msgs trying to get some special deal, because I don’t know you and I don’t care and I am not willing to effectively give you $1200.

Hi —/—-,
Stl no mjr probs, stl sme mnr paint dmg on bmpr. We r stl xpcting ovr $3k 4 it though, lke I sed lst tme, we lsted it @ $3600 so cme bak 2 us whn u’ve got d cash.

March 18th, 2010

Today marks 10 months since Tania and I bought this house but we haven’t had our house warming party yet. This is mostly because of the work we’ve had to put into securing the foundations, and partly because we’ve not as well organised as we appear. The work in the garage started in June ’09 I think and has invovled sloshing around in a foot of water, hauling almost 20 tonnes of dirt out from under the house and painting the new retaining wall with bitchumen. At least that was our part. We’ve also had a builder, who was too part-time for my liking, doing the skilled labour like placing steel-reinforcing and building the wall that now supports the house and an engineer to inspect it along the way. We knew the situation when we bought the place, and factored that into the cost, but neither of us expected it to take this long to resolve. People can grow human beings in less time, my mum even grew two!
Now that the digging is behind us, we’ve swept the floor for the last time and I’ve put a peg board above the workbench to hang my meagre tool-supply on, we it’s time to reveal it to our friends and family. Hardly any of them have been allowed down there until now. Noteable exceptions would be Dave, both Peters, Sam and Tania’s dad, all of whom have helped us with this.

Garage before
Garage after

These are the before and after shots but after is a relative term. Now that it’s all stable we’re going to live with it for a while, make sure it really is dry down there and then think about changing it again. We really want internal access and to make it a proper room of the house rather than a garage. Quite what ‘ll do with my work bench at that point I don’t know, but I’ll be glad for the extra Lego space :-)

December 22nd, 2009

So lets get the good news out of the way first, Tania said yes. Well actually she said “absolutely”, but in legal terms that counts as a yes and we’re getting married at Christmas next year. I had planned it to happen while hiking the Kepler Track but since we’d reached a major mile-stone in our renovations I was in a good mood and decided to pop the question right then. Which was good because she’d already guessed something was going to happen while hiking and I hate to be predictable. Anyway, I buried the ring in a geode in the wall of our recently finished hole and made her dig it out. It looked a little something like this:
The Proposal

So we’ve now got 12 months of planning and then the rest of our lives to reminisce about it. In other news we’re still working on the foundations. The builder is building a wall and the supports, all we have to do is to paint the back of it with a heavy duty waterproof paint, no more digging out tonnes of clay! We bought a nice safe family station wagon, used it to carry one set of bricks across town and then it got hit & run by a drunk driver. Thankfully there were no serious injuries, others stopped to help and through the power of MotoWeb the WhitePages and FaceBook I was able to track him down and hand the details over to our insurance company and the police. I look forward to the day I can stand in court and point my finger at that bastard.

Apart from that I’m busy trying to write iPhone apps, Tania is busy working and we’re both looking forward to a long lazy Christmas break. All the best to all of you, and once again I promise to update more often.

August 9th, 2009

Good weather and no builder on site meant Tania and I spent the weekend in the garden. The task for this weekend was to get the fruit trees that have been sitting on our front steps into the soil. My parents have apple and lemon trees in the their garden but they are so short and squat that mowing under them is a real pain. To avoid that I built three pretty simple boxes that cost just $40 NZD all up.

Six 15×62.5cm Radiata planks (for the fronts)
Six 15×57.5cm Radiata planks (for the sides)
Twelve x 30cm Radiata steaks: H3 treated
pack of galvanized nails (at least 72)
big tub of black acrylic paint.

The planks were purposefully cut to have a difference of 5cm between the front and side pieces. They are 2.5cm thick so the over lap at the corners makes them square.

tree boxes front panelstree boxes completed

Nail the steaks to the shorter planks, then the longer planks. It is best to nail to the steaks rather than each other so that if one ever comes off it doesn’t take the others with it.

You’ll want to remove the grass from beneath the boxes so it doesn’t grow up and smother what ever you’re planting there. Just place the box where you want it and then dig around the edge to mark the square, remove the box and cut lines across the area a couple of inches deep. Slide the spade under neath and you’ll be able to life the turf right off. Of course you can dig it however you want but we needed to transplant the grass to cover and area where I removed a tree stump.

Tree boxes removing soilPainting the boxesflattening the boxes

Be careful when pushing the boxes into the ground, you wouldn’t want one side to get ahead of the others incase it twists the wood. You could knock each corner one by one, but if you’ve got a lovely assistant *waves hands and Tania enters stage left* you could do it like we did and use four feet to push all corners in simultaneously.

The end result
So we now have lemon, lime and mandarin trees in the front garden. We’ve got plans for another four. Perhaps nectarine, apple, pear and plum. A veritable orchard I tell you :-)

All doneLime treetree boxes job done