My occasional life

Here are my sporadic blog entries from over the years. I've never been great at talking about my day-to-day life, as it all seems a little bit boring!

  • My Favourite Games

    I don't play computer games very often, as it often feels like wasted time that could have been more productively spent elsewhere. However, I've come round to the idea that games can be used as down time, and that it's okay sometimes to just take time off and relax with a controller in hand. Funnily, a lot of the games I enjoy playing probably aren't considered relaxing. I tend to choose games that require a lot of thought - not strategy games but puzzlers, and also games that are artistic or different to the mainstream.

    12 min read, 2224 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Games , Tags: PC

  • Ticking On

    Once more unto the breach, with a seemlingly random post about what's been happening in my life.

    2 min read, 381 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: Work, Radio, NZARH

  • Games of my Youth

    As a kid, I played my fair share of video games - on arcade, console and PC. I thought it would be interesting to write down some of the games that I played a lot, along with where I played them, what system I played them on and what age I was at the time. Eventually I may turn this into a data table, or even just arrange it chronologically.

    9 min read, 1636 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Games , Tags: Arcade, Console, PC

  • It's been a busy weekend

    It's been a busy weekend. I've been to the local Jehovah's Witness convention (twice), written some code for our next CoderDojo session, made progess on the Ingoa website project (that I've been working on for a while now), made halloumi, played games with the kids and drank some very tasty beer and port with friends.

    1 min read, 77 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: JWs, Halloumi

  • My Skeptical Roots

    When I was in primary school, one of my school teachers (Mr Hanley) took it upon himself to encourage our intellectual curiosity. This was done through teaching us about classical greek geometry, telling us fables and stories with a moral lesson, promoting mathematics and science and teaching us about other cultures.

    3 min read, 555 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: Skepticism

  • A food kind of day

    It's my middle daughter's birthday today, and we've had a food centric day.

    2 min read, 208 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Birthday , Tags: Abigail

  • Changing Headlines

    I read the BBC News to keep myself informed, and the BBC News app on my iPhone is one of the most used of all my apps.

    4 min read, 800 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: News

  • Dealing with Racism

    This week I have been in Brisbane, Australia on a training course. Yesterday evening, while in a pub with an Australian colleague, one topic we discussed was the Aboriginal community.

    2 min read, 401 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: Racism

  • My new laptop keyboard

    Before Christmas my laptop keyboard started playing up, with the letters C and D working intermittently. I learned tricks to work around this - I kept the letter D in my copy buffer, and if I clicked the X key before clicking C, it would make it more likely for the C to work. I'd then just have to delete the X that I had typed. This quickly became second nature to me, but there were limitations.

    4 min read, 662 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Rights , Tags: Keyboard, HP

  • Oooooh, I'm scared!

    I've just received a silly spam email that is a little different to anything I've received before. This one is nefarious enough that I could imagine some people being scared enough that they end up sending money to the doofus at the other end. I'm guessing that the list of emails they're using is pretty old, as they tell me how many UK pounds I need to pay and I've not lived in England for 12 years now.

    4 min read, 606 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Software , Tags: Spam

  • JWs and Vue

    The other day a couple of friendly Jehovah's Witnesses, both of whom I've talked to over the past few years, came to my door to invite me to a conference - and so today I attended the Jehovah's Witness Convention in Te Rauparaha Arena in Wellington. It was great to be able to listen and observe, and I spent the time messaging an ex Jehovah's Witness friend and asking him to fill in some details about what I was seeing. It was great to get an insider's perspective of the event and the kinds of people who become Jehovah's Witnesses.

    1 min read, 182 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: JW, Software

  • Another Year

    Another year, another blog post.

    2 min read, 203 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: Submission, Work, Quiz, CoderDojo

  • MashUp

    Gosh, it's been exactly a year since my last post!

    1 min read, 89 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: CoderDojo

  • Happy Birthday

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! In a little over a month I will no longer be 39. I have no idea what I'll be doing to celebrate - probably a couple of quiet beers with a few friends in Wellington.

    1 min read, 40 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: Birthday

  • Skeptical Thoughts with Mark Honeychurch

    I filled in yesterday for Siouxsie Wiles yesterday on Graeme Hill's show on Radio Live - Skeptical Thoughts on Graeme's Weekend Variety Wireless show. Last night's episode was titled "Skeptical Thoughts with Mark Honeychurch". Yesterday's chat was a good opportunity for me to talk about all things skeptical, and a great opportunity to speak about some of the nonsense currently happening in New Zealand.

    1 min read, 68 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Radio

  • Skeptic Zone Interview

    I was interviewed the other day by Richard Saunders on the Skeptic Zone Podcast about what's been happening with the NZ Skeptics Society since I became Chair. Moose and moa were mulled over. I was also asked about Shuzi Qi, as the Australian Skeptics had a good result a few years ago dealing with them, and would like to see the NZ Skeptics attempting something similar. Skeptics in the Pub was mentioned, and we talked about how popular our local pub meetings are. Something else that came up was the new look of the NZ Skeptics, with a new journal, logo and website - but I'll cover that in more detail in a future post.

    1 min read, 186 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Podcast

  • CoderDojo at Glenview

    Leigh Hunt and I have just run the first CoderDojo session at Glenview school in Porirua East, a local Tokelauan school. One of the things we've wanted to do for a while now is to run CoderDojo sessions at schools, and our first session at Glenview was a good experience.

    1 min read, 106 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Software , Tags: Teaching, CoderDojo

  • End Blasphemy Laws

    I'm currently involved in an effort to have blasphemy laws in different parts of the world repealed. Locally in New Zealand we currently have a blasphemy law that, although it's only ever been used once, seems to be quite strict and has no place in today's society. Of course I think it would be good to have this law repealed, and I am working with the Humanist Society (of which I am currently the President) to pressure the NZ government to repeal the law. Various blasphemy laws exist in many countries around the world, including Canada and Ireland as well as here in NZ.

    1 min read, 200 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Religion , Tags: Humanism, Blasphemy

  • Psychic Cancelled due to Unforeseen Circumstances!

    A long-standing joke within skepticism is the idea that a psychic, who is able to see the future by communicating with spirits, would have to cancel an event due to "unforeseen" circumstances.

    1 min read, 177 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Pseudoscience , Tags: Psychic

  • Moving to Blogger

    I'm currently trying to move my old blog to Blogger, as this is the only free online service I can find that will let me use my own domain name for my blog (both Wordpress and Drupal Garden will only allow custom domain names as a paid service). In part this post is to help me export my old Drupal blog, by giving me an idea of what the XML file for import should look like.

    1 min read, 79 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Software , Tags: Website

  • MotorWeb's either dumb or devious

    A MotorWeb poster in my local VTNZ made a startling claim about (presumably for sale) cars in New Zealand:

    2 min read, 213 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Advertising , Tags: MotorWeb

  • The Hard Sell

    I saw the signs below in the back room of a travel agency in Wellington. Their brazenness shocked me - I've always known that underhanded tactics are used to sell, and upsell, in retail, but I'd kind of assumed that they were unspoken tactics - not officially sanctioned methods of selling to a customer.

    1 min read, 148 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Advertising , Tags: Travel

  • Accepted for the NXE

    I applied for the beta program for Microsoft's New XBox Experience and received an acceptance email today. Hopefully the new dashboard will be available for download tomorrow, so I'll have that and the new version of Ubuntu/Mythbuntu to download. Below is my acceptance email, as my way of gloating!

    3 min read, 472 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Software , Tags: XBox

  • The (wobbly) ground beneath our feet

    Here in NZ we have earthquakes fairly regularly. In fact, we've just had one - the house shook a little and made a bit of noise, but nothing major. A great place to keep an eye on these quakes (and to make sure that what you just experienced was an earthquake and not something more sinister, such as the unlikely event of a terrorist attack) is GeoNet. Below is an image of the GeoNet recordings from all New Zealand drums from just after the earthquake:

    1 min read, 114 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: Earthquake

  • Stay off the Roads!!

    This is an advanced warning for anyone driving in and around Wellington, NZ. I have finally (at the ripe old age of 32) passed my driving test, or at least the first of two here in New Zealand, and am now allowed to drive without anyone supervising me.

    1 min read, 85 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: Driving

  • The Spam Dilemma

    Well, it didn't take long for the spam to appear on my blog - just a week or two after I enabled comments. At least I now know that someone (or some spider) has spotted my blog (oh, and there's Merryn as well!).

    2 min read, 393 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Software , Tags: Blog, Spam

  • My Last Exam (for at least a month)

    Woo hoo!

    I've just passed my Microsoft 070-299: Implementing and Administering Security in a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network exam, which is the last exam I'll be taking until after Karen has left for England at the end of July. With this exam, I am now MCSA + Security certified. This complements the other Microsoft, Linux, NetApp, etc exams I have taken in the last few months.

    2 min read, 257 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Software , Tags: Exam

  • The Isles of Blurry

    Today I was perusing a KML file in Google Earth from the Nine Inch Nails. The Nine Inch Nails recently released an album called The Slip as a free download, something which I applaud and which a couple of other high profile bands, Radiohead and Saul Williams, have also done recently. While I was in Google Earth, I zoomed into the Isles of Scilly to see if they've been imaged at a decent resolution yet - and unfortunately, the islands are looking as smudged as ever!

    2 min read, 254 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: Scilly

  • LPI 201

    I'm taking my Linux LPI 201 exam tomorrow, and am studying from the O'Reilly book LPI Linux Certification in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition and IBM's series of LPI Tutorials. Both are very thorough, and between them they're steered me through LPI 101 and 102, but as I'd paid good money to have the O'Reilly book shipped over from the USA (don't even get me started on book prices over here in New Zealand!) I was disappointed when studying the 201 materials to find that the quality is lower than that for the 10x exams. After sending in a support request, O'Reilly support were nice enough to point me to the errata page, which I have now spotted as a link on the left of O'Reilly's page for the book.

    1 min read, 181 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Software , Tags: Exam


    My most recent stats for SETI@Home can be seen at BOINC Stats.

    1 min read, 16 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Software , Tags: SETI, Aliens

  • Trademe Complaint

    I recently sent a complaint to Trademe (New Zealand's eBay) about a trader called arenasports who appears to have been selling lots of GPL software at ridiculous prices, as well as claiming that he was the author of the software. Despite an automatic response from Trademe saying that I'd receive a proper response within 24 hours, I still haven't heard anything back. I have noticed, though, that most of the auctions (apart from the one for Proficient PM Software, which strangely keeps being advertised in the Vintage Computers section) have now been removed. From what I can tell, this guy has been on a VMware course recently, and has now discovered VMware's Virtual Appliances. For example, the Proficient PM Software above, which seems to be a fairly obscure piece of software from Technology for Solutions, has been released as a Virtual Appliance.

    3 min read, 574 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Complaint, TradeMe

  • Geeky/Funny number plates

    Personalised number plates are fairly cheap in New Zealand. This means that there are some good, and some bad, personalised cars on the roads. Here are some of the plates I've thought worthy of taking pictures of.

    1 min read, 111 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: Car

  • Queenstown has an Infection

    While visiting Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand, I noticed that the town was suffering from a rash of Tourist Information centres. I'm guessing that there's a financial incentive to offering yourself as a tourist information centre and selling tickets to some of the amazing nearby attractions, but do there need to be so many shops selling the same thing?

    1 min read, 100 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Life , Tags: NZ

  • Sneaky Domain Registrars

    Domain Registrars seem to be willing to resort to some pretty underhanded tactics when it comes to making money from you. Often the price offered for a domain name for the first year changes for subsequent years, quietly and without warning. A £10 domain name can become a £20 domain name with no explanation, for example.

    1 min read, 164 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Scam , Tags: Domain