Happy Holidays!

A quick holiday and photo update…

Now that the pixels have been processed, here’s our Christmas Day family photo!

The best we could do with busy boy! For a few more recent photos, click through to the albums for both Amy and Matt

So, what’s new with us? We’ve just returned from a nice break up on the Kapiti Coast, staying with Jenny, Brendon and their little Oliver – where both the weather and Santa were kind to us all!

As for the kids, with outstanding timing for Christmas, Amy (7.5 weeks) has started smiling at us big time – sooo cute! Meanwhile, Matthew (almost 2 years 5 months) continues to do everything at full speed and (amazingly for me) can now read numbers between 1-10 when shown at random – stay tuned for a vid of that one!

Looking back, it’s hard to believe 2008 is almost done! What a year. I started a new role at MetService in the Severe Weather section. Louise retired (again) for the arrival of our second child – Amy – who joined us within 45 minutes of arriving at the hospital! Three months earlier, Matthew turned two, and he is now Mr Independant(!) but also very helpful, a little chatterbox and a delight to talk to and play with. 🙂

So, if I don’t see you in the near future – Happy New Years! (a little early, but hey) Roll on ’09 with lots more fun…

Advertisements

Hidden speed cameras = revenue gathering

Time for a rant.

We’ve been staying on the Kapiti Coast and during my commuting over the last couple of days I’ve seen a few hidden speed cameras on the motorway. Yesterday however, I saw something that can only confirm the title of this post. Not one hidden speed camera – but two, only a few km’s apart on the same northbound lane of SH1. Why? One can only assume that they are hoping you see the first (even if it was a decoy), speed up and get snapped by the second!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning speeding and wasn’t snapped myself, but how does this make the road any safer? Honestly. These cameras were on the motorway – on two lanes of northbound traffic separated from the southbound lanes by not only by a wide grass verge but also a physical crash barrier. Not only is the risk of a head-on crash virtually nil, but it’s a relatively straight road with all corners on that section easily taken safely at 100km/hr. I find it hard to believe that those camera locations were placed in dangerous places aka “black spots”. If that were the case, how does a hidden camera help? Well, it doesn’t. A convincing cardboard cutout of a police car placed in plain sight would be a more effective traffic safety device – speeding motorists would see it and instantly slow down. Hidden cameras have zero effect on speeding traffic in real time. A ticket a week later has not made the busy road on a holiday day any safer. Anyone who thinks these hidden cameras are NOT revenue gatherers are kidding themselves.

What I would rather see is cameras outside schools morning and afternoon with ZERO tolerance for speeders. Or perhaps a bigger effort to target motorists who don’t stop at red lights or pedestrian crossings, who don’t wear seatbelts, or who insist on talking on cellphones while driving.

So yeah, I think speed cameras are misused and wrongly justified. And as a final question I don’t expect anyone can answer – where do the funds collected actually go? I’ll bet not into driver education, free courses or to the AA for example to actually educate and improve our motorists!

/rant.

Normal programming will now resume. 🙂

Merry Christmas

Just a quick post to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Hopefully you’re enjoying both with friends and family…

Thumbs down WCC and Aquatic Centre

Of all the dumb decisions made by councils, surely this one is up there…

Some genius has clearly decided that the first week of the school holidays, including the Christmas break, would be a good time to close the spray pools at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre to refurbish(?) them. WTF? Not only are these pools the most popular ones for kids to run around in, having fun in the fountains and dodging water canons, but they were brand new and only OPENED in Feb this year – a mere 10 months ago. Again WTF?

What really bugs me however is the lack of any info, alternative solutions, or some form of apology from staff for the inconvenience. How about a discount, or better, a voucher to come back and try out the “new” spray pools when they re-open (next year?).

All I can say is I hope the contractors are working 24/7 to get these pools open again soon and that the upgrade(?) is a damn good one.

If you want links for info about the Aquatic Centre check out the WCC website or Feeling Great – not that these will help mind you, as neither mentions the fact that the spray pools are closed.

Shame on you WCC. You disappointed my son and me.

Christmas Decorated Websites

With only 6 sleeps until Christmas, here’s a look at some kiwi websites that have added Christmas decorations. Santa hats adorning logos seem to be popular, but some have gone a little further…

NZ Post:

Kiwibank:

The Warehouse:

Dick Smith Electronics:

Ascent Technology:

Vodafone:

Telecom:

Mitre 10:

TradeMe: (changes daily)

Stuff.co.nz:

Mighty Ape:

Yahoo!Xtra: (animated)

Hitwise:

House of Travel:

Got any others I should include?

Gmail gets PDF viewer

Gmail just keeps getting better! Perhaps one day it will even be good enough to lose its “beta” tag! 😉

The latest addition is a PDF viewer which is not only super useful, but very well implemented.

When you receive a PDF document, look for the “View” link next to the attachment icon and info at the bottom of the email, eg,

This will open the document in a new tab in Google’s Viewer powered by their most excellent “Docs” service,

Along with a number of ways to navigate the document, you can easily change the number of pages displayed at a time, search, copy text, download and print.

This is a boon for those that regularly receive PDF docs via Gmail in that for full rendering of documents including graphics you no longer need to download the attachment to open in a separate PDF program. If you must however, I recommend you grab a copy of the lightweight Foxit Reader – a much better solution to Adobe’s offering in my opinion, and what’s more it’s free.

And while on the topic of working with PDF’s, if you want to view a PDF document in your browser directly from another website (without downloading it or emailing it to yourself), check out PdfMeNot.com.

But getting back on topic, I’m lovin’ the Gmail goodness. Thank you Google!

Sneak Peek Out Back

A week ago WordPress updated to v2.7 with a major overhaul of the backend interface for bloggers.

If you’re curious, here’s a sneak peek at a couple of screens I see and use behind the scenes…

The Dashboard,

And the “Add New Post” page,

For a complete list of features and changes, check out the WordPress.com blog and for a video introduction and some history head over to the WordPress.org Development blog.