New Zealand day 3 – the quirkies

Posted by jerry on April 1st, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Travel

This is more about the granular details in Auckland New Zealand – thought I’d share a few photos

In Auckland you can visit deserted beaches

deserted beach

There’s a whole wharf on which to go fishing


… just hope your name’s not Bill! The public will be the judge…


This fountain was a real delight, tucked away on Queen Street

rock fountain

And being on the coast – the seagulls keep watch over their land


More on Auckland’s great architecture tomorrow


New Zealand – Day 2 – Ergonomic desk

Posted by jerry on March 31st, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Technology, Travel

Picture if you will, a badly-designed ironing board. It has a non-removable iron holder at the wide end…

ironing board

Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s better than trying to iron a shirt on a table with a towel draped over, but it’s like they put the iron stand on the wrong end. So the shirt bunches up and you can’t get the whole shirt back or a whole shoulder on the board without creasing.

ironing board

But not all was lost – Ironing boards are perfect for improving the ergonomics of the desk when the chair is too low 🙂

ironing board

And yes, that’s a moleskine pocket cahier – perfect for short trips. It is leaning against the portable printer – canon bjc50 which has an IR connection so I can print direct from the iPaq2750. And that is an iPaq bluetooth keyboard which makes typing sooo much easier!


New Zealand – Day 1

Posted by jerry on March 30th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Travel

The flight from Sydney was only about 4 hours – a short one by Aussie travel standards. And the first sight of New Zealand was actually just before touchdown – they aren’t kidding when they say this is the land of the long white cloud!

The hotel is on a wharf near the Maritime Museum and offers a great view over Auckland

Auckland Harbour NZ
The ferry berth, Auckland New Zealand

The view the other way is into the Bay of Islands – and you quickly see why this nation has more boats per head of population than anywhere else on earth! The scenery is breathtaking.

Auckland Harbour

Near the Maritime Museum there are several tall ships moored. This one is the Søren Larsen – the boat that starred in The Onedin Line and is a brigantine rigged vessel displacing 300 tonnes. It is 145 feet in length and 25 feet across the beam. And the masts soar to 98 feet providing 6750 feet of sail area. This is an impressive ship that has completed many world tours. And it conducts regular cruises under sail to the heart of the Pacific Islands.

Auckland Harbour
The Søren Larsen

The next few posts are a few days behind, as the wifi provider in the hotel did not support Windows ppc (pocket windows used on my iPaq PDA). This is the first country I’ve found so far that has not been able to provide internet service to my PDA – so on the next visit to NZ it might just be worth taking a laptop – there was cable internet to the room, and I was assured that I was the very first person unable to connect a wifi device to their service. To their credit, the hotel did refund the price of the card, despite my having scratched open the access code. Moreover, they allowed access to their business centre to enable me to check email. However their machines did not have card readers. Now if only I had brought the portable CD burner, I might have been able to achieve a workaround, and maintained the blog while I was away.

And so to dinner on the evening of the first day – there’s a great Japanese sushi bar on Queens Street in Auckland New Zealand.


Sony Handycam – travel technology

Posted by jerry on March 24th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Technology, Travel

Looking online for info about digital video cameras was frustrating. Whether Canon, Sony, JVC or Hitachi no-one seemed to be able to tell us whether these would connect easily to a mac. So this post is going to give you the info you don’t get on the web.

Sony handycam

In the end we had to take a gamble – none of the shops would fire up the cameras – even on external power supply so there was no way to verify manufacturers claims about close focus, image stabilisation – let alone compatibility with a mac G5 running Mac OS X (10.4.2). That put me off buying one duty-free as it would be difficult to return a camera if it proved autistic and refused to talk to the mac.

As luck would have it, despite their no-power-up policy and despite them having macs in the store we still bought from Dick Smith, because of all the shops we went to, theirs was the only one with a ‘change-of-mind returns policy – we could test it for two weeks and if it didn’t do what we hoped, then we could return it for a full refund.

The on we gambled on was a SONY DCRHC38E MiniDV Handycam AU$548. This camera has a Zeiss lens, 40x optical zoom, and up to 2000x digital zoom. So the optical zoom is about twice that of other cameras in its class.

Connecting up
The manual says this is a USB camera, but we bought a firewire cable and found that it fitted the DV OUT port on the camera. After shooting a short piece of video, I fired up the mac, connected the firewire cable and launched iMovie. The camera was recognised straight away and withing minutes the video was downloaded and ready to edit in iMovie. No extra software installation. Just plug and play. So ignore the USB stuff – use the firewire cable straight to the mac.

Now if they had just said so on the various camera websites we could have saved a lot of angst about whether it would connect or not.

The image quality is good, and the camera will focus close enough to show stitching in some detail. The “sport” mode provides image stabilisation, and there is a low-light night setting that uses infra-red to enhance the picture quality. There’s a heap of other settings to capture good colour for sunsets and sunrises, touch screen spot focus, deep shadow settings, and so on. Here’s a short sample showing my complete ignorance, both of video camera operation and editing in iMovie 🙂

I haven’t found any still camera settings yet – but then I bought it for its qualities as a video camera.

It’ll get a good workout in Auckland New Zealand next week, and I’ll blog a bit more about my travels as time and internet connections permit.

Anyhow, so far I’m a happy customer 🙂


Bags of power!

Posted by jerry on March 6th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Technology, Travel

A backpack that recharges your laptop/PDA/phone – now that’s what I’d like! Great for folk festivals where the power isn’t always plentiful, but you really need to keep things running – like an MP3 recorder for the music sessions to help you learn a new tune. All you need now is a backpack that recharges with a little ray of sunshine – and in a five year drought there’s plenty of that in Australia 🙂

solar bag

The Reware Juice Bag is just that – a backpack covered with flexible solar cells. They come in bright colours and with a built-in car lighter socket to plug in your adapter for whatever you need to keep charged – your camera, your laptop your PDA or phone. The thing is water resistant, light and padded to keep your electronics safe. And they’re made from recycled drink plastic drink bottles woven into a strong textile fibre.
I guess there are two things that give me pause before jumping straight in with my credit card. The first is price – these things aren’t cheap at around US$275, and the second, and bigger concern is how they travel through airports these days. I can just see the security guys having a sense of humour failure as they run it through the x-ray machines and see all those wires … Anyone been through an airport lately with one of these? I’d love to hear from you if you have.

And for the more fashion conscious there are other more discreet handbags – that actually look more like fashion bags than technology.

Solarjo power purse

But it’s a question of taste – Sharon would prefer more of a shoulder tote bag than either a backpack or a bag that just keeps your hands full. So the technology is coming – but I guess the designers still have a bit of a way to go yet 🙂

Some go part way, like this Eclipse shoulder bag – but it kinda looks like an anti-fashion statement
Eclipse shoulder bag

But these Voltaic ones are starting to look the part

Voltaic bag

Either way I like the direction this is going – would’ve been really handy in the aftermath of the Great Fire of Canberra when we were without power for a week.

It has the potential to be great travel technology if they can keep it tough enough and flexible enough to take the wear. Thanks to Popgadget via Angela’s blog