August 3rd, 2009

It’s been over two months since Tania and I moved in to our first home, and as expected it is taking up a lot of our time. Due to the previous owner’s expansionist tendencies quite a few of our weekends have been spent under the house digging a trench into which new foundations can be poured. Together with a bit of help from my brother we shifted 9 cubic meters of dirt and now the builder has set out the boxing to shape the concrete. It’s a long process, only working on weekends, but we’re planning to be in this house for a long time so we want to do it right so we can live in it, not just palm it off to the next person.
Along side that we’ve each taken on little tasks around the house to make it more our own. Tania has got the vegetable patch started, I’ve removed some tree stumps. Tania made a pin board and hotwater bottle covers, I’ve made some shelves and installed network cables to my hidden backup harddrive. Together we made a photo wall. All in all it’s been a very productive time, but I’m still looking forward to summer. Due to my northern hemisphere trips over the last two years I’ve managed to miss winter since the beginning of 2007 so the constant rain and cold that has been hitting Auckland shocked me. If I wasn’t kept busy with little projects I’d have gone stir crazy. At a gathering of people just made redundant from my previous employer I was asked about my next adventure. I’ve got some things I’m interested in doing but so long as I have this mortgage I won’t be taking six months off to walk across another country, or the Okavango Delta :-) . In the meantime I do intend to update this blog more often with some little things we’re doing to personalise our house. Starting with the floating shelves I made.

May 17th, 2009

In just over 24 hours I expect to be picking up the keys to my first house. I expect it will be my only house for the next couple of decades. Not only is selling/buying houses expensive, it can also be extremely frustrating when solicitors forget to tell you things or print out vital documents that means taking the afternoon off work was a complete waste of time.
But come tomorrow that’ll all be over and Tania and I will be moving our belongings to the suburb of Birkdale where a number of friends have already bought houses. While we’ve been living in Point Chevalier with our friends Peter and Andy, Tania has been doing a lot of gardening. So it was by happy coincidence that while looking at a cardboard laptop stand I stumbled upon an excellent Suzanne Forsling Gutter Gardensystem for growing plants in reclaimed gutters along the side of a house devised by Suzanne Forsling. I’ve come up with an addition that’ll save some water and time. A bit of old piping laid along behind the gutter with holes drilled down the length of it would disperse water better than just watering one end of the plants, and if that pipe were fed from the downpipe of the roof-top guttering then it’d mean the system pretty much takes care of itself.
I’ve continued browsing the web for DIY projects and found lots onLifeHacker.com and GreenUpgrader.com.

A few of my favourites are:

March 10th, 2009

The latest incarnation of Apple’s iMovie has many cool new features and I’m coming around to using it rather than iMovie HD 6 that I’ve kept hold of all these years. Among them is an animated globe that draws a line Indiana Jones style.
Globe in iMovie '09 As great as that seems you’re stuck with the 1600 or so locations that Apple chose. You can rename them but not change the coordinates. That’s where iMovieLocationEditor comes in. It simply adds new locations along with the names you’ve chosen (can be changes within iMovie just like the originals). You can type in the coordinates in you know them but it’s much easier to find it in Google Earth and then press the big button to import it into iMovieLocationEditor.

Update
Apple changed something in iMovie 8.0.1. If you’re not seeing the changes appear in iMovie download version 1.03 and give that a try. If you think you’ve corrupted your location list you can download my backup.

February 18th, 2009

Anyone who would be interested has probably already heard about the Places feature of iPhoto ’09. Usinghidden tables in iPhoto database embedded Google Maps. Once you’ve done that you can browse photos by location and make some very nifty photo albums with maps. There’s more to it than that but I’d be about the millionth person to review the new features of iPhoto ’09 if I did so, so I won’t. Instead I’m going to tell you about a feature that is missing, but one that Apple have clearly been playing with.
My Geotagger program has been out for a few years now and people have been happily (and least I think so) geotagging their photos. If this is done before importing them to iPhoto everything is fine, but doing it once they are already in iPhoto’s database means that iPhoto doesn’t know about the change and consequentially won’t draw these photos on the nice new maps Apple have added. So to find a solution for this I’ve been digging around in iPhoto’s database file. It’s a simple SQLite database but I haven’t fully solved it that part of the equation yet.
The interesting thing I found, and the reason I’m telling you about this before I have finished an update to Geotagger, is that in the database I found two unused tables. For those of you that don’t know about database and tables pretend I said I just found two very interesting lists. The tables are called SqGpsTracks and GpsTracksEventsJoin. What this tells me is that Apple were working on the ability to link a GPS track with an iPhoto event for people that may have a GPS Datalogger and a camera as separate devices. iPhoto would then be able to match up the time a photo was taken with the GPS log and work out where the photo was taken. This process is pretty well documented already and I’ve been doing it for ages using Jeffrey Early’s excellent GPSPhotoLinker. It could also mean the display of routes on the embedded maps, but that can’t be proven at this stage.

Though I welcome this feature for the masses I have never fully trusted iPhoto to do any editing of my pictures. I”m quite happy doing all the editing and geotagging before hand and just using iPhoto to store and display pictures, but for those that want an integrated solution this would definitely be a step forward.

UPDATE: Others have been discovering similar things, Adam looked in the nib files and found more proof that Apple is working on interpolation.

February 11th, 2009

My video has been up on the site for a little while now but those of us not lucky enough to ever get listed as the most-recent applicants are struggling to get anywhere near the number of views those lucky few are receiving. Two days on the front page can bring in thousands of votes. So, I’m putting out a second post to encourage you to watch my video and give me a vote. I’ve heard that one New Zealander is guaranteed through to the next round and if you’re here to thank me for my software or after follwoing any of my travel blogs, the best thing you can do for me right now is a 5 star rating, and telling your friends about it too.

To try to drum up publicity I’ve created a page here on my site that I’ll keep up to date and voting progresses and a Facebook group that you’re welcome to join.

Here are those links again
Video: http://islandreefjob.com/applicants/watch/dF_InB2rFvY
Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=48534483691

February 10th, 2009

I don’t generally forward on chain emails, let alone post them on my site, but I really like this one.

 

I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit.

In order to earn that pay cheque, I work on a rig for a drilling contractor.
I am required to pass a random urine test, with which I have no problem.

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don’t have to pass a urine test. Shouldn’t one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare cheque because I have to pass one to earn it for them?

Please understand that I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do on the other hand have a problem with helping someone sit on their ass drinking beer and smoking dope.

 

 

Could you imagine how much money the government would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a welfare cheque?

February 6th, 2009

My first iPhone app has been published. It’s pretty simple, as most iPhone apps are, and I’m definitely catering for the current fad in entertainment. StrokeMe is $0.99 USD and was written in part to amuse my girlfriend. It shows a photo then plays a sound and vibrates when you stroke the screen. The idea was it’d be a way for her to pretend to play with her cat called Woods while she was at work. Of course, not many people will want to play with Woods (though he is nice enough) they’d want to take their own photos and record their own sound, which is exactly what StrokeMe is all about. Taking from the built in camera or the photo library users can configure the app to show what ever photo they want and record their own sound to play. I had thought it be good to keep a picture of your children and a recording of them where ever you go, but I’m getting the impression what people are taking photos of each other. What ever you want, StrokeMe is there to play with. So please give it a try, and tell your friends.

 

 

I’ve got a proper game in the works too, but the UI needs a lot of work. More on that soon.

February 3rd, 2009

Google Earth 5 has just been released and it includes some interesting features. Top of my list is that they have fixed the problem of only drawing the first image in a KMZ files (like those produced by my iPhotoToGoogleEarth plugin). There are other things like being able to look at historic data and under the (animated) sea, but I think you’ll agree seeing your own photos on the map is far more important. :)

January 28th, 2009

I was pleased to hear from a few friends of mine that I was the first (only?) person they thought of when news of the island reef job broke. It’s a simple gig: Sit on Hamilton Island, which sits above the incredible Great Barrier Reef, for six months and file regular reports on the amazing life you’re living thanks to Quuensland Tourism. Having done a fair bit of travel blogging in my time I think I’m pretty well suited to the job. So please check out my application video and pass it around to your friends.

Now this isn’t to say I don’t enjoy my current desk-job. And nothing else is tempting me away, but those six months would hone my writing/adventuring skills just that bit more while also making a substantial payment towards getting a house. If you’ve been using my software and not donating, consider giving me a favourable review and we’ll call it even :-)

January 14th, 2009

There are a few changes going on in my life, chiefly a new (ish) job, moving in with my girlfriend and soon we’ll be house hunting. The beginning of a new year gives me a good reason to sit back and do a bit of planning and thinking about the way I am heading. What do I want from life and how do I go about getting it. With the financial trouble that providing the newspapers with fresh doomsday headlines almost every day it occurred to me that it’s time for a rebalance. The commercialised and consumer centric society has had it’s day while the retailers were wailing about the public not spending “enough” this Christmas I was glad that the holiday season may return to being that, rather than the buying season it has become. So the retailers may go out of business, millions of jobs get lost. How can we cope? How about doing it ourselves? Tania and I are growing a few vegetables now and when we do buy a house we’re going to dedicate a large chunk of garden to feeding ourselves. It’s green and economical. My parents are doing the same after years of having an unproductive compost heap they now grow a full range of veges and my younger brothers are taking up fishing. This doesn’t quite stack up to Ayumi’s ideal of living in a fully self-sustainable community but it’s a good step along the way.

There are obviously people out there who are further down the track. My good friends The Noodleheads are two of those and have recently pledged to buy nothing new for a year, except essentials for hygiene & safety (think toothpaste and brake fluid). I’d like to get to that stage but with the potential for owning my first house this year and not having a lot of kitchen wear I doubt I’d be able to keep to the pledge. I can still do my part. I cycle to work now and only use my girlfriends’ car vary sparingly, thus reduction the amount of pollution I cause. I have only bought two shirts and a few pairs of socks in the last year, it’s not like I’m growing and my trousers haven’t quite worn out yet. I’m reusing shopping bags and those plastic boxes that (my flatmates’) takeaways come in and our recycling bin is filled quicker than the refuse one.

When we do get our house you can expect a few posts on the measures we’ll be installing to lower our impact on the planet and our wallets. Water troughs for the vegetable garden. If only solar panels were cleaner and cheaper to produce. I’d love to drop of the grid.