Friday, November 24, 2006

Visiting the States

In late October, Kel and I came over to the states for a week and a half. We spent a few days in Minnesota catching up with family and friends.

Claire and Kel

Next we headed over to New York City to meet up with Kel's friend Claire from London. While we were there we caught a Rangers Hockey game at Madison Square Garden and the musical Wicked on Broadway.

We spent the last few days in upstate New York at a surprise birthday party for my friend Jon.
Jeff, Alex, and Jon at the Altamont

It was great to see everyone again, even if only for a few hours each. That's the only bummer about living in New Zealand, we're so damn far from everywhere.

Hopefully we'll be back again for Christmas next year. In the meantime, I'm working on convincing as many people as possible to come down to visit. I'll post some stuff on Rich and Peter's visit next.

Jen and Jon's Neighborhood

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Catching Up

As I was pulling pictures off my cameras the other night, it occurred to me that I'm way behind on personal news on this blog. So here go the headlines:

I went to my first Allblacks game! (That's New Zealand's national rugby team for those of you back home). Not only that, but it was NZ vs Australia! (Think Vikings vs Packers). We had fantastic seats and the Allblacks won 34-27.

I wish I'd known that they didn't mind cameras in the stadium, I'd have brought my SLR. Instead, I've got some cameraphone pics.

For Kel's birthday, we went to see INXS. The new INXS with the lead singer they picked out in their Reality TV show (J.D. Fortune). Really great show. We were in th e superfan section, everyone in front of us jumped up and started dancing from the very first song. J.D. had some kind of problem with the zipper on his pants, despite some roadie assistance, his fly was open the whole show.

Kel and I were in the states for a week or so. We stopped in Minnesota to vist friends and family, then headed on to New York City to meet up with her friend Claire from London. After a couple days there we headed on to upstate New York for my friend Jon's surprise (super early) birthday party. I'll post some stuff on this set of trips once I get all the relevant photos up to Flickr.

My friends Peter and Rich have come over to New Zealand to visit. I took a few days off work to hang out with them while they've been here on the North Island. Definitely more on this coming up.

Right, that's all for now, one monkey off my back. Gotta run.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Synching GMail with Mobile Phones

Cool, I've been looking for something like this for a while. This plugin lets you pull an iCal into Outlook. Then your mobile phone software, (like Nokia PCSuite) should be able to do the rest. I'll post the results (along with lots of catch-up stuff) later.

Incorporate Google Calendar into Outlook.

File Under: Technology,

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Auckland Marathon

I ran the Auckland Marathon yesterday.

It turned out to be a great day for it: overcast, and not too hot. It eventually started raining, but not until just after I finished.

The course is great, no major hills (the harbor bridge isn't as tough as it looks). It's completely flat along the waterfront for the last half. My only complaint is that the outward portion of the out-and-back along the waterfront felt like it would never end. That said, once we hit the turnaround, the trip back seemed to fly.

I'm quite happy with my time, considering my lack of training (again). I'd picked up a 4:30 pace band, but once I started running, I was thinking about pushing as close to 4:00 as I could. That lasted until just after 30k. Just before that, the split button jammed on my watch, so I have no split times for the last 1/4 of the race.

I did notice that I was just a few seconds over 3:00 at 30k. At 7min per k for the next 10k, my 40k split should have been about 4:10, adding 14 min for the last 2.2k would be 4:24. So the lack of training once again shows up in the last few miles. My actual finishing time was 4:28:16.

It was nice having the markers every kilometer, that's providing pace feedback almost twice as often as the mile markers I'm used to.

Physical damage was amazingly low. One tiny blister and legs that won't bend, but I'll probably be walking normally by Wednesday, maybe running again next week!

Here are the raw splits:

1 6:19
2 (5:42)
3 (5:42)11:24
4 5:29
5 (5:36)
6 (5:37)11:13
7 5:12
8 5:32
9 5:46
10 5:31 **Elapsed 56:28**
11 5:50
12 5:32
13 (6:22)
14 (6:22)
15 (6:22)
16 (6:22)
17 (6:21)31:49
18 (5:48)
19 (5:48)
20 (5:48)17:24 **Elapsed 1:57:05**
21 5:40
21 5:49
23 6:37
24 6:07
25 6:06
26 5:52
27 (6:28)
28 (6:27)12:55 **Elapsed 2:46:15**

**Button Stuck on Watch**
**Approximately 7:00 k's from here out**

Finish 4:28:16

Note to self:
Buy new running watch. ;-)

Here are the photos from the official race photographers: - 533

and the official results:

No. First Surname Grade Group Overall Net Time
533 Robert ENGBERG M0134 255 771 4:28:16

Next up: Rotorua Marathon, Saturday April 28th 2007!
With decent training this time. :-)

File Under: Training,

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Reinventing the Wheel . . . Makes Hulk Angry


Every time I join a new ASP.Net project I get bitten by these two things, and every time I end up working them out again. This time I'm writing them down. :-)

Joining a project configured as a web project(s) by opening the solution file:

  • If practical configure your local web server with the project on the same path.

  • If not, open the SLN file and fix everything that looks like a URL (you won't be able to fix it from VS.Net)

  • Presumably, making a new solution will solve it too. As I was getting pretty close to turning green and digging out the purple pants, I didn't pursue that path to its smoking, pulverized computer end

  • Don't even get me started on VS.Net 2003 VSS integration.

Adding a Strong Name Key Pair to a Local Key Container

  • If there's a line like this in the Assemblyinfo.cs
    [assembly: AssemblyKeyName("containerName")]

  • Or you get "Cryptographic Failure" errors on the first compile of the project

  • Find the .snk file and run this command line:
    sn -i keyfile.snk containerName

File Under: Technology,

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cool New Flickr Mapping Feature

Flickr has just added some fantastic new features for adding geographic data to photos. Including a new map interface in the Organizr that lets you drag and drop photos onto a map. Check it out:

Once you've pinned a photo to the map, a new link appears on the photo page that says "Taken in (map)". Clicking the map link opens up a little map with the thumbnail photo pin. That map gives you the option to view all photos on a user specific map, or view all photos taken nearby. Way cool, I've been looking for something like this for a while. The only drawback is that it's Yahoo maps, not Google maps (Google has much better New Zealand data).

Here's the Flickr Blog writeup:
Flickr Blog: Great shot - where'd you take that?

I've also been messing around with a couple of websites which integrate with the new Google maps API. None of them have exactly everything I want, but they're getting close. The one I like best is called Platial. It lets you create maps, pin locations, describe and tag locations, and associate photos with locations. It does integrate with Flickr, but it's a bit difficult to locate specific photos (it does a search on all photos marked with a Creative Commons license, so you need some distinguishing text in your photo page to find your own stuff).

In any case, I've been using Platial to gradually assemble a map of things to do on the North Island if any of my friends or family come to visit. Take a look:

Platial Map: Stuff to do in a Week on the North Island

File Under: Technology,

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

XNA Game Studio

Hmmm . . . this looks interesting:

The Framework looks like a replacement for Managed DirectX 2.0. Might be fun.

File Under: Technology,

Friday, August 18, 2006

VS.Net 2003 to 2005 Web Project Conversion Problems

This one is a bit obscure, and the solution may be a bit obvious, but it might just turn up in Google and save someone a couple hours of detective work.

So . . . while attempting to load a VS.Net 2003 web project into VS.Net 2005, I was continually blocked by this error:

"The project file must be opened in the Visual Studio IDE and converted to the latest version before it can be built by MSBuild"

Hmm . . . I thought I just did open it in the IDE.

Our next strategy was to create a new 2005 web project and import all the files from the previous project.

Oddly, there was no option available to create a new web project. It turns out that the previous owner of my dev environment had never installed the Visual Web Developer feature.

Once that feature was installed it ripped right into the conversion.

File Under: Technology,

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cold Snap

I've had frost on my windshield the last couple of mornings. It's been about 3°C at 7am or so. That's left just enough frost to need to blast the heat and run the wipers for a few minutes.

That's made me think: Winter is almost over down here, and that's all there is to it . . . we won't even see a real frost, the kind that leaves you running late, so you have to chip a hole through the ice and go, hunched over and peering out like a tank driver.

What's really a bummer is thinking of "winter" going by without one of these!


I'm not sure when I'll get a dose of snow and cold this year. It's not looking good for a trip to the South Island or Mount Ruapehu anytime soon.

On the bright side, I will definitely be back in Minnesota for my favorite time of year!


File Under: New Zealand,

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

My TechEd NZ Schedule

Sunday, August 20
2:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Registration and Hands on Labs Open SkyCity

Monday, August 21
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Keynote New Zealand Rooms, SkyCity

10:30 AM - 11:45 AM

CON301 (.NET 3.0) Introduction to the .NET Framework 3.0

11:55 AM - 1:10 PM

CON203 (.NET 3.0) Windows Workflow Foundation: Introduction

1:10 PM - 2:00 PM


1:20 PM - 1:50 PM
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

OFC304 Securing and Deploying Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Microsoft Office (VSTO) Solutions + what's Coming in version 3.0:

3:35 PM - 4:50 PM

ARC209 Patterns and Anti-Patterns for Service-Oriented Architectures

5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

MGT304 PowerShell: Next Generation Command Line Scripting

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Ask the Experts Evening MarketPlace, SkyCity

Tuesday, August 22
9:00 AM - 10:15 AM

ARC205 Putting the User Back in to SOA

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

CON308 (.NET 3.0) Windows Communication Foundation: Building Secure Services

12:10 PM - 1:25 PM

CON311 (.NET 3.0) Windows Workflow Foundation: Building Rules-Based Workflows

1:25 PM - 2:20 PM


1:35 PM - 2:05 PM
2:20 PM - 3:35 PM

ARC207 Guerilla SOA

3:45 PM - 5:00 PM

WEB211 Developing Data-Driven Web Applications with .NET Language Integrated Query

5:10 PM - 6:25 PM

WEB310 ASP.NET: Creating High-Performance, Enterprise-Scale Web Applications Using Visual Studio 2005 Team System

6:30 PM - 11:30 PM

TechFest St James Theatre, Queen St

Wednesday, August 23
9:00 AM - 10:15 AM

WEB312 ASP.NET 2.0 Tips and Tricks

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

CON319 .NET 2.0 to .NET 3.0: How WCF will change the way you’re developing Service Oriented solutions

12:10 PM - 1:25 PM

CON316 (BTS) "And I thought I knew everything about BizTalk"

1:25 PM - 2:20 PM


1:35 PM - 2:05 PM
2:20 PM - 3:35 PM

CLI311 Developing a Windows Presentation Foundation Application

3:45 PM - 5:00 PM

CON204 (BTS) Planning and Designing Enterprise Class BizTalk Server Solutions

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Farewell Drinks MarketPlace, SkyCity

File Under: Technology,

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Returning a Recordset from an Oracle Stored Procedure to a .Net Caller

You wouldn't think this would be difficult, but every example I googled up was either incomplete, excessive, or needlessly confusing. So for my own future reference as much as anything, here it goes. . .

The minimalist implementation of a Stored Procedure that returns a recordset:

Oracle side:

OPEN my_cursor FOR

.Net Side

using Oracle.DataAccess.Client;

OracleConnection OraConn = new OracleConnection();
OraConn.ConnectionString =
"Data Source=DBName;User Id=MyUser;Password=MyPW;";
OracleCommand OraComm = new OracleCommand("RobCursorTestProc", OraConn);
OraComm.CommandType = CommandType.StoredProcedure;
("Cursor", OracleDbType.RefCursor, ParameterDirection.Output );
OracleDataReader OraDR = OraComm.ExecuteReader();
if (OraDR.Read())

Here's a bit more user friendly view:

File Under: Technology,

Tech Ed NZ

Oh Yeah!

File Under: Technology,

NZ Health Care

While my shoulder was out, it was hard to think about anything else, but somewhere in the back of my mind I was tallying up the bill for my accident:

Ambulance ride: $

Emergency room visit $$

Two X-Rays of my shoulder $$$

Letter from ACC telling me that they've been notified of my injury, have agreed to cover the cost, and as I was treated in a public hospital, they have in fact already paid my bill: priceless. :-)

Note that this may not work so well for those of you who come over to visit. So as Super-Moto always says: "Rubber side down!"

File Under: New Zealand,

Monday, July 31, 2006

USB Drive Annoyances

If you plug in your USB drive, the drivers install properly, but it doesn't appear as a drive letter, it might be conflicting with an existing network drive.

The solution is to go into the Disk Manager (Computer Managment) locate the storage drive, and change the drive letter.

Driver conflicts can usually be solved by removing the device from the device manager, then plugging it back in again.

File Under: Technology,

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Busy Weekend

So I finally have some free time to catch up on my blogging (more on this in a moment).

Sky Tower, Auckland
This weekend started with Kel's work party downtown. Partners weren't invited, but we decided to go out afterwards. So I picked her up at the party, and we went up to Sky tower for dessert and coffees.

Kel in Sky Tower

Saturday, I spent the morning finishing (mostly) a shed I'd been building to put in our parking lane. About mid afternoon, we headed out to the Bay of Plenty. I was planning to ride in the N-Duro mountain bike race in the redwood forests of Rotorua, so we planned on spending the night at Kel's mother's place in Whakatane (about 45 minutes away).

Matamata Sign On the way we passed through Matamata, near the location where they filmed The Shire scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies. We'd stopped for ice cream, so I just had to grab a photo of their sign.

Sunday morning, we got up and headed into Rotorua. As I'd mentioned previously, I've just purchased a new bike. I was also using disc brakes and clipless pedals for the first time on a mountain bike. You can probably see where this is headed. ;-)

So the race starts, there were a couple hundred riders in the 25k race. It begins with a long uphill climb on doubletrack forest road. Then it gets into some winding switchback singletrack (a lot like Lebanon hills). Then another long uphill climb on a forest road.

N-Duro 2006After that there was some clay mud rolling singletrack. After this stuff my shoes were so packed with mud I could barely get clipped in. Not that it mattered too much, we soon hit wicked downhill mud slopes where the track down the middle was a steep 'V' carved into the mud. You just had to settle your weight way back, and keep a good grip on the brakes.

I was doing pretty well with the terrain (not so well speed-wise), but I started getting sloppy as I could see the end of the technical stuff approaching. Down the last hill before we hit open road again, there were a series of log drops in the trail. One of them had a little banked turn immediately after it. I went off the drop, botched the turn, and went over the handlebars. This isn't a huge problem, I'd already fallen a couple times. But unfortunately I landed with my arm out, and felt a sickening jolt of pain in my shoulder as I landed. Still not a problem, I'm thinking, my shoulder does this disturbingly often. I've done it several times kayaking, and it always pops right back in.

As I tumbled to a stop and sat up, I noticed that my right arm wouldn't move. I could feel my fingers, and my lower arm would move, but I couldn't lift my elbow from the side of my body. As I sat there, I noticed the first aid guy sprinting up the hill. (Luckily, I'd taken my header not 50 meters from the aid and water station.) He stopped and looked at me, asked me a few questions, and felt my shoulder. He immediately said "That's dislocated mate.". Sure enough, when I reached over to feel it, there was a big squishy feeling space where my shoulder should have been.

So they loaded me into a van, and took me down to meet an ambulance at the race start/finish. Kel grabbed my equipment and headed to the hospital after us.

My Ambulance leaving the race.  :-( At the hospital, they had me roll over on my front, hang my arm over the side of the bed, and they taped a sandbag to my wrist. After a few minutes, (and some nitrous assistance with relaxing my muscles) I felt the joint settle back in. It immediately felt about 90% better.

Today it's feeling stiff, and a fair amount worse than the times I've popped it on my own, but it should be back to normal before too long. The doctor recommended that I keep it low and close to my body for a couple weeks, then talk to an orthopaedic surgeon.

I think I'll be keeping the mountain bike on happy little forest roads for a little while, and my next few races will be on my own two feet. ;-)

File Under: New Zealand,

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Piha Mud-Fest 06

Piha Mudfest AftermathYes, this was 4 weeks ago, but it was my first big sporting event in New Zealand. In fact it turns out that it was the largest event of it's kind ever held in NZ.

Piha 06 Race Report

For those of you unfamiliar with the sport of orienteering, a rogaine is an orienteering meet in which you can visit checkpoints in any order you like. There is a time limit, and checkpoints are worth varying numbers of points depending on their difficulty. Whichever team collects the most points within the time limit wins.

The race we did was 3 hours, we pulled in 350 points, placing us in the lower part of the men's open division, but solidly in the middle overall.

Piha Sunset The race was held in Piha, on the west coast about an hour from Albany. It's one of New Zealand's surf beaches. Very cool area, I'll definitely have to head back there sometime.

After several days of rain, the course was quite muddy. People climbing and sliding around ahead of us had churned everything into a sticky mess and made all the downhills into slides. Good fun!

That said, after stopping to check out the beach on the way home I'm not sure why it seemed like a good idea to spend the day scrambling over slippery rocks and roots in the Waitakere bush when we could have been running on the beach. ;-)

File Under: Adventure Racing,

Monday, July 03, 2006

Quick Update

Right, I realize it's been quite a while since I've posted anything. At the moment, I've only got time to put in a quick update, but here are the headlines:

  • My work permit and work visa are all done. I don't have to do anything regarding immigration until just before my passport expires in 2008. (Woohoo!!)

  • I ran the Piha Rogaine (which turned out to be the largest ever in New Zealand). That was good muddy fun!

  • I bought a mountain bike: Giant XTC 3

  • I ran the King of the Mountain Half Marathon down in Mt. Wellington: I came in 50th (of 134) with a time of 1:57

  • I'll try to put in a post on each of these in the next day or two. I've also got some new photos to put up as soon as I can get around to pulling them out of the camera.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Reporting Services: Index was Outside the Bounds of the Array

    You'll see this error if you try to cache a report which uses a shared data source and requires windows Authentication to run.

    Report Caching in Reporting Services

    Reporting Services Error

    An error has occurred during report processing. (rsProcessingAborted) Get Online Help
    Index was outside the bounds of the array.

    Microsoft Reporting Services

    File Under: Technology,

    Sunday, June 11, 2006

    Power Outages in Auckland

    We've been hit with a big cold front this morning. Winds have been up to 120k, the news this morning was showing harbor waves breaking over the motorway. We've had power cuts here in the CBD but things seem to be ok on the generators now. No power problems at home on the North Shore apparently. Hopefully the high winds won't close the harbor bridge before I head home.

    Power Blackout Causes Chaos in Auckland

    "A Vector spokeswoman said the cause of the Auckland blackout was a fault on the Transpower network. She said: "An earth wire has snapped and fallen across the 110 kv feeder from the Otahuhu substation.

    'All efforts are focused on restoring power as soon as possible.'

    Transpower's Chris Roberts said 1000 megawatts of supply had been lost and at this time on a winter's morning, close to 2000 megawatts would normally be used.

    Transpower presumed the power failure was weather related but could not rule out a maintenance-related problem, he said."

    File Under: New Zealand,

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Race on Saturday

    Finally doing something outdoors this weekend! There is a big (100+ teams) orienteering race out in Piha, in the Waitakeri Ranges. I'm doing the 3 hour event with a random partner I picked up at the prerace meeting. Should be a good time. The forecast is looking better than it was yesterday.

    Lactic Turkey - Piha Rogaine

    File Under: Adventure Racing,

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    Down with Pennies and Nickles!

    New Zealand took 1-cent coins out of circulation a while ago. Prices are just marked at the nearest 5 cents.

    Now they've announced that they're taking the 5-cent coin out of circulation and replacing their HUMONGOUS 50-cent and 20-cent coins with smaller lighter versions! Sweet!

    Coin Changeover

    File Under: New Zealand,

    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    Email to txt on Vodafone

    Turns out that there is a gateway to do this, but it's not free. They want a $199 "set up fee" for access. Pass.

    File Under: Technology,

    When did Google Eat Everything?

    Before I left the states, I'd picked up a new laptop. Since I was leaving my nice sheltered existance in the big corporate world, I thought I'd start checking into some of the open source and freeware alternatives to the big ticket software I've had free access to via MSDN for all these years. So I was installing Open Office, GIMP, Mozilla, etc.

    I've definitely become a Firefox convert, but out of everything I tried, the stuff I liked the most were all the new "Web 2.0" applications online. It's nice to be able to keep links, calendars, contacts, etc. in one universally accessible location (some even accessible by mobile phone browser). It's especially nice now that I'm contracting and could be at multiple client sites and multiple computers in a day. Anyway, before I left, here's what I was using: - bookmarks. - task lists, project tracking (mostly trying not to drop the ball on moving and immigration stuff) - calendar - with scheduled iCal export to Mozilla Sunbird and Sunbird Tray notifier. and Evernote - web clipping.
    SiteMeter - blog web statistics. - RSS Feeds
    Flickr - photos

    I've only been offline for two months, but while I was gone, Google grabbed a good chunk of that space.

    First was Google Analytics. SiteMeter is good, but the free account has limitations. Google Analytics is completely free, and has some really nice functionality. I think I'll still keep SiteMeter for the individual hit drilldown, but I use GA more now.

    Next came Google Calendar. It does everything Hipcal does, plus it has nice integration with GMail. You can't beat the one-click "Add to Calendar" from webmail. Now I just need to figure out how to get SMS reminders working here on the NZ Vodafone network.

    After those two, I thought I'd better take a look at the Google labs page and see what they were up to. Sure enough, Google Notebook takes the place of the "scrap book" application I'd been after for months. If you haven't seen Google Notebook or eSnips, check them out. They're a perfect place to store all those critical little things you run across that are gone the next time you need them. Like the forum post on how to get your Uncle Wiggley TV Tuner card to work with GB-PVR or the email address to use to send an SMS message to a Vodafone NZ customer (still looking).

    Bloglines seems to be safe for the moment, I can't stand the Google Reader UI. ;-)

    Anyway, I'm not complaining, I like most of the Google stuff (blogspot), I'm just hoping they don't get big, fat and complacent (at least not until the next generation of cool stuff comes along).

    File Under: Technology,

    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Back Online! !

    I finally have broadband again! I don't think I'd been without it for this long since Craig and I had the ISDN line run into our place in Roseville.

    Over here, it's pretty much self-setup. I ordered service, then went to the store to shop for ADSL modems. I picked up a nice Netgear combination ADSL Modem, Firewall, 4 port Ethernet hub and 801.2g Access Point. I'm pretty sure there's a bottle opener on there somewhere too. ;-)

    I unpacked the thing, read the setup guide, and parked the box next to the phone jack. I was expecting to get a phone call telling me that I needed to hang around the apartment for some 4 hour window for Telecom to drop by and fiddle with something.

    Instead, two weeks went by and we didn't heard anything, just for the hell of it I thought I'd unpack the modem and plug it in. Sure enough, green light!! After a bit of twiddling with the ADSL settings, we've got wireless internet connectivity! Excellent! Time to fire up Warcraft. :-)

    File Under: Technology,

    Monday, May 29, 2006

    Google Maps Down Under

    Sorry it's been a while. I've been busy with the new job, email me for details. I don't want to post anything on my employer here as these things tend to turn up suspiciously high in google searches.

    Speaking of which, Google Maps recently updated their road data for Australia and New Zealand!

    Google Earth Blog - 18 May

    They look a lot like the maps from, but I much prefer the Google Maps interface. Here's our Albany neighborhood in Google Maps.

    I also have an update on the last wildlife post: Kel tells me that the parakeets out back are actually Eastern Rosellas, an introduced species. Kakariki are actually quite rare, like a lot of NZ birds, they're now limited to some of the isolated regions without predators (usually offshore islands).

    File Under: New Zealand,

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Last of the Backyard Wildlife

    Since I expect that having a job will seriously cut into my birdwatching time (woot!), this may be the last of the New Zealand wildlife posts for a while (at least until I start getting some quality expedition time on the weekends).

    ParakeetAnyway, there are big flocks of parakeets that swing through in the mornings. I'd need a bigger lens to catch a decent shot, but you can at least see what it is from this one:
    Kakariki - Red Crowned Parakeet It doesn't look quite like the picture of the native bird, so maybe it's some kind of hybrid. Or maybe we're looking at a big flock of feral parakeets on the rampage.

    I caught another picture of the Kingfisher, still not a great one, but better I think.

    And finally a huge spider that briefly took up residence on our balcony (the broom is a little over two inches wide). No ID on this one, though I'm thinking it may be a sheetweb.



    File Under: New Zealand,

    Woohoo! !

    I've finally found a job! Ironically, after all this time, it's with the first company where I interviewed, and the first recruiter that saw my C.V. (I was up to five of them as of yesterday!). They want me to start a.s.a.p. and they're highly motivated to help me get my immigration paperwork through.

    As for what I'm doing: it's Microsoft Systems Architecture for a consulting company. To start with I'll be jumping right in to rescue some project that's in hot water, we'll see where things go from there. Just like old times. ;-)

    File Under: New Zealand,

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Kayaking North Harbour

    How sweet is this?

    I'd mentioned earlier that there's a creek down the hill from the new place. Well, it turns out that that creek joins Lucas creek about 200 meters downstream. Then Lucas creek is navigable all the way down to Waitemata harbor, which is only about 12k away.

    So the bottom line is that I can put my kayak in at Wharf road (about 5 blocks away), and be paddling the edges of Auckland harbor within an hour. I could go the other way and paddle up to my backyard in a few minutes if the tide is in.

    Now I just need to figure out this tide thing. Looks like it slips about 20 minutes later each day. So the one high tide that occurs at a decent hour will be 40 minutes later every day. My book on kayaking the North Island didn't mention any tidal flow or current hazards in the Lucas creek area, but it says it turns into a shallow muddy mangrove slog at low tide. A quick look at the landing this afternoon confirmed that. It looked pretty shallow and mucky even as the tide was coming in.

    File Under: New Zealand,

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    I Pity the Fool

    How awesome is this!

    I Pity the Fool

    80's icon Mr. T travels the country dispensing wisdom and advice (and no jibba jabba) to fans in need.

    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    New Zealand Birds III

    Lots of birds out back this weekend.

    There was a New Zealand Kingfisher (Kotare) in the dead tree right off our balcony. It was just there for a second, but I see them out there quite often, so they must hang out around the creek at the bottom of the hill.

    There was also a little flock of Wax-eyes zipping around in the weeds by the fence.
    Wax Eye

    Wax Eye

    And last but not least, I managed to get some much better pictures of the Tui that hangs around our balcony.



    File Under: New Zealand,

    Sunday, April 30, 2006


    These are a very New Zealand thing: Feijoas.

    They grow all over the place down here and fall off the tree by the boatload at this time of year. Kel's aunt gave us a huge bag of them.

    I'd say they tast a bit like a tart pear and definitely have the same sort of gritty texture. They're related to guavas so maybe they really taste more like a guava, but since I can't remember ever having a plain guava, I couldn't say.



    File Under: New Zealand,

    New Neighborhood and Random Stuff

    So here's a (badly stitched) panoramic of the new neighborhood as seen from across the street and up the hill.

    On the left is the North Harbour stadium, center (with the red roofs) is Massey University, and on the right (white buildings near the horizon) is the old neighborhood.

    New Neighborhood

    I also found an upcoming event which might be a good break in for a new kayak and a new mountain bike:

    Whakatane Great Outdoors - Montys Revenge
    Bush Run 12km MTB 23km Kayak 20km
    June 24th

    I can't find entry stuff online, but we should be back in Whakatane sometime between now and then.

    And now the random part . . . some pictures of the mantises which were everywhere in Whakatane two weekends ago.


    File Under: New Zealand,

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    Upcoming Events

    Sadly I still haven't done any outoor stuff down here yet (other than some local trail running). I'm just not feeling comfortable with splashing out on new equipment until I have a job. All I've really done is drool over my research on local parks and event calendars.

    That said, if my interviews go well in the next few days, I may pick up a mountain bike at one of the fall sales. I'm feeling better about driving, so I think it's time to hit some of those parks.

    Here are a couple events I've been watching:

    Cambridge to Hamilton Kayak Race and Cruise Sunday May 7th.
    Definitely not going to have a kayak by then. I could just get a kayak rack and rent a boat, but I'd better make up my mind pretty quick, registration deadline is May 1st.

    The Ohope Ordeal Saturday May 27th
    This one's a bit more likely. It's right in Kel's hometown. So if we're in Whakatane that weekend I've got no excuse. Back in Minnesota, I'd have happily driven there and back for the day (3hrs), but over here it takes over $100 of petrol to get there and back. :-(

    This one I would LOVE to do, again right in Whakatane, but I'm not physically ready, I'm missing half the gear, and I don't know 3 other crazy people down here.
    Whakatane Great Outdoors 24hr Adventure Race May 12-14th.

    This one's a no-brainer, all I need is a new pair of running shoes. I discovered last fall that I can just get off the couch and run a marathon, but I think I'll train for this one. ;-)

    Auckland Marathon October 29th.

    File Under: Adventure Racing,

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    New Zealand Birds II

    As I'd mentioned in a previous post, I'm working on collecting (decent) photos of as many New Zealand birds as possible. I've got two more to add to the collection:





    The Tui is also the symbol of a local beer (haven't tried it yet).

    I also had a perfect shot at a Wood Pigeon (a.k.a. Kereru) yesterday. It was sitting on a branch about 5 feet from my car! (Imagine a pigeon the size of a Red-Tailed Hawk.) Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera on me. That'll teach me to keep my little Fuji point-and-shoot in my pocket.

    File Under: New Zealand,

    Moving Photos

    So here's the old place:
    Old Flat

    Old Flat

    Here's the new place before moving in:
    New Flat - Before

    New Flat - Before

    I love the huge sliding doors at the new place. They open most of the length of the room, so the living room is practically outside! The view is great as well. Wooded hillside all the way down to a creek at the bottom of a ravine. On the other side of the ravine, mixed woods and pasture of some sort. It looks like there's some trails out that way. I'll have to do some running over in that direction. I've already discovered a set of trails that follow the creek through a big preserve.

    Here's the new place after moving in (plus some new furniture):
    New Flat

    Up the hall (to the right in the photo) are two bedrooms (pretty standard apartment rooms) but we now have plenty of closet space.

    There's a nice view of the neighborhood from the hill out front. I'll post a few pictures from up there later.

    File Under: New Zealand,

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    Moving again

    Fun, fun fun . . . we're moving to a bigger place just up the road. Still in Albany, not far from the Speight's Ale House. :-)

    It's a really cool place. I took some before pictures while it was empty. I'll post them and some after pictures once we're done moving. That should be Thursday. I may have a job interview lined up for Friday. This weekend I may start on my PADI certification.

    File Under: New Zealand

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Warcrack Withdrawl

    Nooooooooo! ! ! ! !

    Over 33.6 I'm looking at a minimum of 23 hours and 45 minutes to download the latest patch for WoW. Damn. That's not gonna happen anytime soon.

    On a more productive note, I talked to a recruiter today. Looks like there are a few really nice positions close to here. Agents work on commision for placements down here, so they told me to relax and they'll bring jobs to me! Sounds great. Time to take the suit to the dry cleaners to get the luggage rumples out. ;-)

    File Under: World of Warcraft,New Zealand

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    NZ TV Commercials

    New Zealand TV has a few fantastic commercials. I love these Trumpet Ice Cream "Simplifying Summer" commercials. Maybe it's because the narrator sounds like the voice of the Hitchhiker's Guide from the old BBC radio production. Anyway, check them out, hilarious:


    Hair Whip

    I haven't seen the other three in the series yet (curse this dial up connection) but I'm sure they're on par with the first two.

    Go In The Ocean

    Stomach Hold In

    Pop Out

    File Under: New Zealand,

    New Owner's Manual . . . .

    Doh! The whole thing is in Japanese. On the bright side, it does have lots more pictures than the typical American car owners manual. The colorful ones in the "Safety Tips" book are particularly nice:

    Safety Tips

    Japanese CRV Owner's Manual

    I hope Honda has Owner's Manual PDFs on their site.

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    New Vehicle

    So here's the new vehicle.
    1996 Honda CRV
    By the way, this photo also shows the parking lot of the current flat and a pretty good example of the weather we've been having here this week: warm, partly cloudy, scattered showers.

    I took it around on a few errands this afternoon. It's not as hard as I was expecting driving on the other side of the road and handling the roundabouts. The automatic transmission definitely helps. My main problems are remembering that the blinkers are on the right side of the steering column, and merging in and out of the bigger multi-lane roundabouts.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Back Online (sort of)

    Wow, I never thought I'd find myself poring over modem logs looking at this stuff again.

    Recv: CONNECT 45333
    Interpreted response: Connect
    Connection established at 45333bps.
    Error-control on.
    Data compression on.
    Read: Total: 167, Per/Sec: 0, Written: Total: 557, Per/Sec: 16
    Hanging up the modem.
    Hardware hangup by lowering DTR.
    Detected CD dropped from lowering DTR
    Timed out waiting for response from modem

    I thought I was done with that sort of thing in the mid 90's. Kelhi's laptop connects just fine, but mine seems to have some kind of difficulty with her ISP. In any case, after dialing connection after connection, listening to the modem screech, and poring over the modem log, I've found a way to get a reliable connection, if not a fast one. So here I am dialed in at 31.2 kbps with all the V92 features turned off and my modem in "safe mode". *sigh*

    As I'd mentioned previously, it's been a busy first week down here. The morning I arrived, we went to look at a couple potential new flats.

    The first one we looked at didn't make much of an impression on us. But the second one (in the same block) was fantastic. It has a huge open main room, with sliding glass doors and a long balcony running the length of the room. We jumped right on it, we'll be moving in the week after Easter. (Oh, joy! Moving again!) ;-)

    At least we can order broadband once we get there. :-)

    Sunday, Kel had a badminton match with the Indonesian team up in Orewa.
    4-2-2006-Badminton 025
    (B.T.W. Flickr is great fun over dial-up)

    Monday we played squash after work. Fun game, but Kel and her friend Dubravko are both pretty good at it. I'm still sore, 4 days later.

    I opened a couple of bank accounts down here, but getting money over from the states is proving to be a pain. I think the easiest way is going to be to have my parents stop in at the old bank and authorize a transfer.

    Once that goes through it's time to shop for a car and to start getting used to driving on the other side of the road.

    Think I'm going to go for a run now. I need to poke around the neighborhood a bit so I don't get lost so easily.

    File Under: New Zealand,

    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    Kia Ora New Zealand!

    Just got in on Saturday. The flight was about what you'd expect. I know I dozed off here and there, but I don't think I really slept. However, I did finally get to see the newest Harry Potter movie. ;-)

    Already it's been a busy weekend. More later.

    File Under: New Zealand,

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    .Net Framework Applications Writing to the Windows Root Directory (Part II)

    As I expected, Microsoft had the answer for this one right away. In fact it was so simple I can't believe it didn't occur to me. I suppose it's an aspect of .Net that you take for granted these days: The temp directory in question is created by the JIT compiler while it's compiling the native image from the MSIL executable. It can't assume that the codebase directory is available for that since you could be running off of a CD or a read only network share. Although, I think %TEMP% would have been a better choice of location. In any case, they recommended that we try using NGen.exe to pre-compile the Winform apps we're deploying to Citrix.

    That worked at first. Until I started playing around. I tried the debug switch, and I tried precompiling release and debug versions side-by-side. At some point I seem to have broken something on my machine. I am still seeing NGen store files under Assembly/NativeImages, and it appears from Fusion Viewer that they're loading from there, but FileMon is showing the temporary folder being used again. I've tried NGen /delete, and messed around with renaming/relocating the files, but no luck. Looks like we're going to have to find a solution that involves moving that temporary compilation folder.

    Here's the Fusion Log Output when the native image is found. If you don't NGen the Exe, Fusion Log shows nothing.

    *** Assembly Binder Log Entry (3/20/2006 @ 3:07:00 PM) ***

    The operation was successful.
    Bind result: hr = 0x0. The operation completed successfully.

    Assembly manager loaded from: C:\WINNT\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v1.1.4322\fusion.dll
    Running under executable C:\Data\Experiments\ConsoleTest\bin\Release\ConsoleTest.exe
    --- A detailed error log follows.

    === Pre-bind state information ===
    LOG: DisplayName = ConsoleTest, Version=1.0.2270.26987, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null
    LOG: Appbase = C:\Data\Experiments\ConsoleTest\bin\ReleaseLOG: Initial PrivatePath = NULL
    LOG: Dynamic Base = NULL
    LOG: Cache Base = NULL
    LOG: AppName = NULL
    Calling assembly : (Unknown).

    LOG: Not processing DEVPATH because this is a pre-jit assembly bind.
    LOG: Policy not being applied to reference at this time (private, custom, partial, or location-based assembly bind).
    LOG: Post-policy reference: ConsoleTest, Version=1.0.2270.26987, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null
    LOG: Found assembly by looking in the cache.

    File Under: Technology,

    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    .Net Framework Applications Writing to the Windows Root Directory

    After deploying a Winform app to Citrix yesterday, we could not get it to run. It would throw a hard exception and die before it ever displayed anything. After a little poking around, we discovered that the fault was an "Access Denied" message while trying to create a randomly named folder in the Windows root directory.

    I used .Net Reflector to look into the application code a bit, but quickly became irritated by the complexity of the startup routine and decided to write a simple repro. After making my repro as simple a .Net app as you can run, it seems that every .Net application writes some sort of randomly named test folder to the windows root directory at startup.

    Here's the repro code:

    class Class1
    static void Main(string[] args)

    And here's what FileMon says it's doing:

    This wouldn't be too big a deal on a regular desktop, but it is really not acceptable to have to give every Citrix user the rights to delete arbitrary files from the Windows root directory!

    Anybody know of a good place to read up on the behavior of the framework as it loads up a process? I think we'll be opening a PSS case on this one.

    File Under: Technology,

    Going-Away Present from Minnesota

    Breaking Trail at Hyland
    Ever since the snowless Afton race I've been driving around with my skis and a bag of ski clothes in my car. In all that time we've had barely a flake of snow. So last week I gave up on winter an hauled all the stuff upstairs. Sure enough, this week we've had two big storms dropping 6 inches or more on the Twin Cities. Fantastic!

    I made it over to Hyland for a big loop around the park on Tuesday. The conditions were as nice as I've skied there. Amazingly, I was the first person to ski in from across the street.

    I think I'll head over again after work today.

    Hyland Trails

    File Under: Adventure,