Wild weather and meddling Americans

On my news radar this morning…

Re the Albany tornado:
‘Miracle’ only one death in Auckland tornado: MP
Forecasters had no warning of chaos
with photos and associated videos including here and here

Re the newly amended Copyright Law:
Internet users face flood of warnings
WikiLeaks: US offered to bankroll New Zealand piracy crackdown
IP-Address Is Not a Person, BitTorrent Case Judge Says

Christchurch Earthquake Online Resources

As everyone will know by now, a magnitude 6.3 earthqauke occurred at 12.51pm on February 22 2011, 10km southeast of Christchurch at a depth of just 5km. As someone from the city with many friends and family there, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone down in Christchurch. I am happy to say that my immediate family are safe and have heard from many friends that are ok also.

This quake is the largest in a vast number of earthquakes since the magnitude 7.1 at 4:35am on September 4 2010 that occurred west of the city near Darfield.

News has been flowing fast and raw in many cases, sadly with some mis-information and rumor mixed in. I’m not going to repeat news details here, but I will list some online resources that I’ve been using t get news.

First up twitter.
Many use it, yet many have never seen/understand it. Touted as a micro-blogging service, I like to think of it as a public SMS or TXT service were anyone can broadcast a short message to anyone in the world who cares to listen. These short messages are called “tweets” and you receive them by “following” people or organisations you care about. The beauty here is you can get messages in real-time, direct from the source and unfiltered, sometimes containing links to photos or videos. As such, Twitter is extremely powerful in a disaster situation since messages can be posted either online or via a mobile phone. Here’s some accounts and searches to check out:

Twitter Searches:
A search listing is the fastest way to see new and varied information – but remember to take care with sources. Tweets relating to the earthquake are being tagged with the primary hashtag #eqnz. Other tags also being used are #chch and #christchurch. A stream of tweets with these hashtags can be seen via a Twitter search but also via Google search where the page auto-updates:

Twitter Accounts:
Many individuals in Christchurch are tweeting, as are authorities and organisations. Here’s a few organisations that have been and continue to post relevant news:

Twitter aside, there are also many other websites providing information and advice to both those in need and those wanting to help. Here’s a selection…

Official emergency info:


Response and help info:


Local news:


Other sites:

  • www.facebook.com – a good place to keep in touch with friends/family, or post info about your friends if you know they are safe


So, there’s a start for some local online info and more links may be added in time.

You can link to this page via bit.ly with the URL: http://bit.ly/eqnzlinks


Donate to the NZ Red Cross
Donate to the NZ Red Cross at:


New website for Stuff.co.nz

My favourite local news site Stuff.co.nz got a major overhaul yesterday.

Sticking with recent style trends, they now have more whitespace, larger and more colourful headings, flashy draggable content and they now permit limited user customisation.

Below is a side-by-side of the old and the new homepage – the most obvious change being the page height!

The underlying three-column layout remains, but is now much cleaner and easier to read in my opinion. Obviously, the new site is much longer, requiring a lot more scrolling, but overall I like the layout.

Gone are the dropdown menus from the old site (which were badly broken in the second beta of IE8), but I have mixed views on this. While I like the new horizontal menu at the top of the page, you now have to click twice and pass through an intermediate page to get to some of the subsections, eg, National News, then Education. For this, the dropdown was faster.

The inclusion of a (customisable) weather box at the top left is nice – afterall, that data comes from MetService (my employer for disclosure!). The other side of the header leads to my biggest gripe – the site search, powered by Google. Sadly, only around 50% of the results (during my tests) have dates attached – which is next to useless for searching for specific news items. Bring back the old search! Seriously.

So thus far I think the update is a good one, despite slower navigation and broken search. Final judgement however will have to be reserved until I’ve used it some more…

Baby Names 2008

The annual list of top baby names in New Zealand is out from the Dept of Internal Affairs. We of course added an Amy to the list, which didn’t actually make the top 30. Here’s the most popular in 2008,


1. Sophie, 2. Olivia, 3. Ella, 4. Isabella, 5. Charlotte,
6. Lily, 7. Emma, 8. Emily, 9. Jessica, 10. Grace,
11. Hannah, 12. Chloe, 13. Ruby, 14. Lucy, 15. Ava,
16. Amelia, 17. Madison, 18. Maia, 19. Mia, 20. Holly,
21. Sophia, 22. Zoe, 23. Paige, 24. Georgia, 25. Kate,
26. Brooke, 27. Maddison, 28. Samantha, 29. Sienna, 30. Isla


1. Jack, 2. James, 3. William, 4. Samuel, 5. Joshua,
6. Riley, 7. Liam, 8. Oliver, 9. Benjamin, 10. Daniel,
11. Thomas, 12. Jacob, 13. Ethan, 14. Jayden, 15. Noah,
16. Ryan, 17. Lucas, 18. Luke, 19. Max, 20. Hunter,
21. Matthew, 22. Lachlan, 23. Alexander, 24. Dylan, 25. Connor,
26. Blake, 27. Tyler, 28. Caleb, 29. Charlie, 30. George

[Source: NZ Herald]

The Great – Dangerous – Outdoors

The top four stories currently on the National News page at Stuff.co.nz make for sobering reading, especially since we are a nation that enjoys the great outdoors in summer…

Please take care out there! We’ve done too many Search and Rescue forecasts this summer already… 😦  Be prepared and be safe.

Dads #1 teacher for sons

Yo fellow Dad’s out there!

Sons learn life skills from their dads

A new Father’s Day poll shows nearly 75 percent of Australian dads learned their most valuable and important life skills from their own fathers.

Top among those skills was how to drive a car, how to ride a bike, changing a tyre, changing a light bulb, building a fire and knotting a tie.

“We know from previous scientific research that boys who have active and involved fathers are more likely to do better academically, socially and emotionally,” he said in a statement.

via Stuff.co.nz (and archived via WebCite) …thanks Sarah!

And this coming Sunday (7th Sep) is of course Father’s Day here in New Zealand, so don’t forget to thank the old fella for your life skills!