You can click all the pictures to make them bigger.
I changed jobs in February…
…and turned 40 in February also. Quite a month. I had a lovely party with friends and family all in attendance. This axe was my mid-life crisis acquisition – it’s been loads of fun.
The new job’s offices had a pretty different vibe to the last one, in fairness.
I spent a lot of time this year watching cricket and tweeting about it, happy days.
This is a traffic light that looks like a TIE fighter.
Straight to the pool room.
Wee fella and wee girl. Family is going great.
I tried to lay off the bad food photography this year, but… you know.
We got serious about lego this year.
I got right on board the selfie boom.
So I went to Bangladesh with the BLACKCAPS. This was Chittagong.
I never get tired of posting this – signing a bat at Hotel Agrabad over breakfast.
I saw a number of cool modes of transport in Bangladesh.
This was my last meal in Bangladesh. Bloody good it was too.
Someone did some pretty sweet burnouts on our street.
Colleague sorts out hipster DJ at Christmas party.
Watching the Ashes while BBQing was a bit of a highlight. Merry 2014 all!
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Hobbiton was ace.
Today’s announcement that the English Premier League will only be available over the internet has caused a little angst among people worried about their broadband speed. Because many folk aren’t getting the best out of the broadband connection they have, here’s the best single thing you can do to improve things at your place*. Your experience may vary of course.
What is a master filter or splitter?
It’s a piece of equipment that separates your broadband signal from the other things that run over your copper landline phone line, like phone(s), MySKy or burglar alarms. Mine sits somewhere under my house, I haven’t laid eyes on it since it was installed.
Why should I get one?
Separating the signal means your broadband has its own dedicated line and interference from all those other things is dramatically reduced, so you can go faster, have a more stable connection etc.
|Your master filter at work – image nicked from here.|
But sir, my house wiring has not skipped a beat for the last 40 years etc.
Most people’s houses were built before broadband internet connections shared phone lines, and their home wiring was not designed to accommodate these new fangled thingos comfortably. A master filter or splitter is the most cost effective way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your existing broadband connection.
How much does it cost and how do I get one?
I paid $150, and I understand it still costs about the same, give or take. It’s a one-off fee. You get one by calling your internet service provider, and they’ll arrange for Chorus to come and install it, whoever your ISP is. Some electricians and cabling specialists can do it too, have a Google.
My own experience
I live in Auckland’s East Coast Bays, a few hundred metres from our local broadband cabinet**. When I first had a splitter installed back in 2008, my connection went from 2 Megabits Per Second to 6MBPs. When our cabinet went live, that went up again to 8-10MBPs, and when Chorus came out to do some other work in the area, noticed our wires were corroded and replaced them, that went up to 12-14MBPs. Ours is nothing special, a bog standard connection, I’m on a standard full speed retail broadband plan.
I can download iTunes music, watch YouTube, use Apple TV and surf the internet on my desktop machine, iPad or our work laptops over WiFi just fine, we’re very happy with the speed and reliability. Here’s a speed test I just did, in the mid evening, peak time for internet use. I imagine if I sign up for this Premier League carry on, that will work great too.
I have an ADSL2+ enabled router (or modem), which means I can go as fast as I can on standard modern broadband. It cost about $120, ring up your ISP if you’re not sure what yours is, they’ll tell you. Most modems or routers ISPs supply these days are ADSL2+, it’s in your ISP’s interests that you’re a happy customer.
Don’t take my word for it
Here’s a fairly typical experience – Helen Twose of the Herald increased her speed by 30%, and there’s more here. Geekzone is full of examples like this, I’ve found Geekzone an extremely helpful place to find information and ask for advice.
I want to go faster
Fibre and UFB is coming. And it’ll be great, but it’s a few years away for many. A master filter or splitter is not a silver bullet to Korean-internet-cafe-speeds, but a sensible way to maximise what you have now in a reasonably economic fashion. If you care about your home internet connection, it’s worth investigating.
* This is meant to be a plain language version of Steve Biddle’s excellent and comprehensive post on the same subject. If you’re more technical than me (that’s most of you), go there, you’ll learn something.
** You can check your own situation ADSL2+ or fibre wise on Chorus’ map.
I enjoyed doing this post so much last year, I’m doing it again. 2012 was ‘a bit calmer than 2011, but a bit more exhausting’.
At New Year’s at the Mount, there was still Rena debris washing up.
Thanks to my four year old, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the wacky world of model railways.
I did a lot of bad food photography – I’ve left most of it off this post, except for CHIPS OMELETTE! H/T The Kitchen Maid.
Lunch at Euro. Recommended.
I baked a lot of bread this year.
I also started blogging as part of the Corporate Lunchbox team – it’s fair to say my contributions have been sporadic so far. These burgers are from Char Grill.
I did enjoy a lovely meal at Depot.
The fantastic @cateowen let me sit in the 3 News chair. In fact, most of the cool shit I did this year is thanks to Cate. Ta
I got to be Jeremy Clarkson for a weekend.
And here is THE JUDGE!
Had yet another v. successful Lads Weekend, at ‘catching fish’ and ‘binge drinking’ levels.
Work-wise, I enjoyed myself thoroughly, even though it was another challenging year. Lot of issues, lot of change. I was even on the bloody telly at one point. I’m missing a lot of the folk in this picture.
The Telecom ONE unconference was another raging success, with bonus manly-disregard for safe trailer stacking practise.
My rugby team The Chiefs only went and bloody won the title. I was very happy.
The 40th birthday parties kicked right in.
Two childhood flashbacks – I fished these MAD magazine paperpacks from a paper recycling facility because HOW COULD YOU THROW THEM AWAY?!?!, and commandeered the family lego for my kids.
I got on Instagram, and found it’s useful mainly for taking photos of ‘things’, or close up photos of objects. They could be it Def Leppard tapes or drawings of a man with a toilet for a hat. For proper photos, it’s still Flickr.
I met Hillary Barry. She was lovely and didn’t mind having her photo taken with Mr Arkward arm.
I had a STORMING year, tech-wise.
This photo is the remains of my beloved HTC ONE X – which I smashed, to be replaced (thanks to me bursting into tears in front of our FANTASTIC device team in a most un-manly fashion), with Samsung’s S3, which I also lurve. Both these phones are big, with bright, vivid screens and superb cameras. Fast. You name it. I rely on it / them a lot to get stuff done, whether it’s work, organising our chaotic weekends or just fecking about on the bus.
At home, I obtained an iPad 3 and the Apple TV for home. Will save the in-depth run down for a future post, but yeah, they’re all fantastic.
My wee chap and my wee girl (she’s a bit bigger now). Family is the whole point, team.
A few thoughts on the recent The Project [R]Evolution conference.
I thoroughly enjoyed Dan Neely from the Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office – his points about responding fast, but accurately in a crisis resonated with me. It takes some maturity in an organisation to get on social media and say “we know there’s a crisis – we’re still finding out what’s happened, but we’ll let you know when we *do* have news.” It’s a reflection of today’s ‘always on’ society that Dan, like me, probably sits on his couch of an evening with a sneaking voice in the back of his mind saying ‘I wonder if something’s going wrong?’. Ahem.
Conference regulars Brown, Brislen and McDonald held an entertaining panel – there was refreshing honesty, and I enjoyed seeing panellists who didn’t completely agree on every point under discussion.
Alec Ross, Hillary Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Innovation was everywhere in his time in NZ, on the telly, radio, giving interviews and mixing it up with the locals on Twitter – impressively, showing up in conversations he wasn’t even taking part in. He stepped on stage looking like he’d just popped in from the set of the West Wing – his Powerpoint with huge ‘Power’ and ‘$’ slides created a slightly OTT and surreal feeling. His content was heavy on the history but light on the war stories from the Obama campaign, which the crowd (well, me) had come to see, but still, I enjoyed seeing a guy on top of his game present. His killer lines (“it’s a bad time to be a control freak”) were delivered with relish and style. Things got slightly lively in the Q+A with a Wikileaks question and half hearted heckle, but Ross handled it like a pro, defining the terms on which he was going to address it, then addressing it and moving quickly on. He’ll probably run the world one day.
I missed the most part of day two, but pitched up late afternoon, just in time for Christopher Barger – like I tweeted, I found much of what he said affirming and common sense, and I thoroughly enjoyed his tough guy myth busting shtick. If you were a largeish corporate business who’d never attempted social media before (are there any left?), his preso would be an excellent place to start.
Richard MacManus and Emily Banks were the ‘future web journalism’ one-two to end the day. Richard, who I imagine gets asked by checkout operators and service station attendants what hot new web publishing platforms they should be checking out, talked us through this blog post mainly, neatly summarising the developments that are slowly creeping up on our monitors and mobiles. Banks talked us through how Mashable approaches the new journalism landscape, as well as some more nefarious approaches. Which were, um, really intriguing. I’ve ordered a copy. Interestingly, she chose the ‘Coldplay’ clip from opinion-dividing The Newsroom to illustrate the ‘first’ and ‘not wrong for long’ pressures modern news outlets face.
Overall, the conference had a great tone, loosely based around change through technology, as well as a broader, historic perspective. Presenters like Michael Jones and Tim Forseman offered much food for thought. Jennifer Duval Smith‘s panel and the quickfire speakers (yay!) gave a board range of local angles. Refreshingly, social media was part of the mix, but not the focus. Which is better, I reckon. We *may* be at the point where we move beyond ‘hey, the internet exists, isn’t it awesome?’ and talk about what we do with it next. Well done to all the organisers.
As usual, the number one highlight of the conference for me was catching up with folk I don’t get to talk to very often, and meeting folk I felt like I knew already from the Twitter and that. It was a great turn-out.
PS: Here’s the slides.
On paper, it’s easy to wonder if Al Brown‘s Depot is playing a Keyser Soze-magnitude trick on Auckland. No bookings, crowds to battle, wait for ages to sit outside drinking wine out of a tumbler, before being granted access to sit at the bar and eat upper-mid-range-priced food on sharing plates? Well, we did all the above, and still loved it.
We didn’t show up at Depot until after eight on Saturday night, which is quite possibly the worst time to go, but we gained entry at around half nine. The waiting-so-long-for-a-table blow is softened by Depot’s team – everyone is warm, welcoming and scarily efficient. There’s no mucking about once you’re in, drink and food orders are taken immediately, and dishes arrive magically on time as you finish the one previous. I guess the service HAS to be good – it was still absolutely heaving at almost eleven o’clock, and I can imagine Auckland’s dining public, hyped on Metro reviews and awards can be tricky to manage if things get out of shape.
As for the food – we shared the snapper tortillas (delicate and delicious), lamb ribs (melt in mouth stuff) and the Pork Hock as a main. With a crispy layer on top of some extremely tender meat, along with salsa verde and creamy mash potato, the challenge was to create little spicy, creamy, cracking perfect forkfuls every time. My only criticism of the food was the extremely generous servings of fat on the lamb and the pork, the kind you’d cut off if you were at home, but you wolf down when you’re out, ‘cos it’s a special occasion. There’s no doubt fat is tasty, and Depot is not afraid, to say the least.
We left plenty on the menu to explore (LIKE DESERT!), and we’ll be back, probably targeting a less frantic time of the week. I hear their breakfasts are very good. Depot is fantastic – and probably deserves its supreme award in the Metro. It’s a really different night out and the busyness and buzzyness are infectious. Recommended.
During our wait for a table, we snuck across to Bellotta – and had a great time. It’s a neat room, and two of the little tapas we had were sublime, the cassava chips and the dish with two types of sausages, fava beans and grapes. We’re keen to go back and try some more dishes there too, also recommended.
This last couple of weeks I was lucky enough to:
Speak at the Social Media and Mobile Apps forum, with a Telecom case study; “Social and corporate values – making them play nicely”
Attend The Flying Social Network’s The Social Media Breakfast
Both were fine events, and they made me think about conferences and expectations. If there’s one thing ‘social’ ‘media’ has been good at, it’s creating conferences. And nobody is happy about them, if you read the Twitter commentary. They’re too ‘101’. They’re just an argument about why you should do social media. The presenters just read this shit on Mashable this morning*.
I’m just wondering what people expect. In the information-diarrhoea age we live in, there is no shortage of social media how-tos, gossip, case studies and news on the internet. It’s highly unlikely that a presenter will give birth, live on stage, to a unique information snowflake that will instantly make everything crystal clear and can be readily adapted to make your own SM strategy roar like a some kind of online Harley Davidson.
It’s worth remembering that this stuff is still new to most people, especially if they’re not among the daily-Mashable-reading set. It seemed to me that at the SoMo forum in particular, many of the audience WERE there for a 101. Fair enough, and that’s pretty much what they got for their money.
Over at Air NZ’s event, Wildfire’s Jessica Gilmartin gave a fairly 101 level presentation and the twitter hashtags lit up, railing against the basic level it was pitched at, as well as a lack of local case studies. But when Randi Zuckerburg gave her top ten ‘what’s hot’ tips, which included mobile, gamification and curation, the audience gave her a considerably easier ride than Gilmartin, despite many of the hot tips having been around long enough to cool off somewhat by now. It helped that RZ was generous with the war stories about Facebook’s early days and appeared relaxed, charming and to be thoroughly enjoying herself. She’s a great presenter, so folk were willing to forgive the content, which I dare say you could have largely googled up yourself, saving yourself the early start and $75.
So what about conferences then? Should you bother? Yes, because there’s other actual humans there articulating the problems and solutions they’re working on, both on stage and over shit coffee. There’s a limited pool of both presenters and potential attendees for social media conferences in NZ, so maybe we should just decide if we can take the time to attend, and if we can, STFU and take the day on its merits and enjoy meeting new folk and catching up with old ones. Or maybe I shouldn’t read so much into the Twitter conversation.
*Incidentally, at both these events, at least one presenter advised reading Mashable. One specified ‘every day’.
The NZ top Tweeter lists (one, two, three) probably did exactly what the Herald wanted it to – create a lot of page views. MUCH debate ensued as to whether your own humble tweet collection of chatter with your mates, with the odd artful zinger is as worthy as some breakfast jock’s.
Only you and your sense of self worth can decide that of course, but I bet I wasn’t the only one dialling up the Herald stories on the bus to see if their undiscovered genius had been validated by the paper with the sharks on it.
Yes, some of the people on the lists deserved to be on a list, some didn’t, and some people who should have been there weren’t. No shit. And surely trying to put a rank or value on the community, comedy and creativity we Kiwis produce 140 characters at a time every single day misses the point of Twitter itself.
Anyway. Part of the fun of Twitter is figuring out how it works and who to follow. I can highly recommend the people I like to talk to on Twitter, both the ones that are on the Herald’s lists and the ones that aren’t. Me, I like my Twitter stupid, and in the interests of drawing a veil on the whole debate, while making your Twitter more stupid, here are my favourite comedy Twitter accounts. Your results may vary, etc.
@Humblebrag – celebs with no filter
@WOMANATBIGSAVE – Like the ads. I’m convinced I know who does this
@clientsfh – What designers say when you put the phone down
@willielose – The big fella struggling manfully through a cruel, cruel world
@big_ben_clock – BONG
@timeskull – I’ve got no idea what’s happening here, but I love it
@watershitdown – Biting political insight
@WeirdHorse – What it says on the tin
@ruthbourdain – Weird food
@ShittingtonUK – Just follow
@fireland – Comedy stylings, etc
There was a lot packed in to 2011. Earthquakes, an election, a world cup. A new baby and family stuff. Work. Here’s a summary in mobile phone photos, an idea I’ve pinched.
Update – here’s even more.
Our office moved to Victoria Street, and I’m lucky enough to have this view – I spent a lot of time staring out the window at the bustle of the harbor. It’s beautiful. I’m lucky.
A beer in the sun at Tauranga’s Harbourside restaurant on my birthday.
This was Telecom’s ‘war room’ table on the 2nd or 3rd day after the 22 February Christchurch earthquake. Work wise, I love crisis communication. The downside, of course, that to experience and develop your crisis comms skills, there has to be a crisis.
I haven’t been to Christchurch for years, and like most people not there, can’t imagine what it’s like to live with aftershock after aftershock – I have the greatest admiration for a mate living there with his young family determined to be part of the rebuild. It’s hard enough having a young family up here in wussy stable-ground Auckland, let alone among seismic uncertainty. For what it’s worth, I hope for a better 2012 for Canterbury.
Double Zs while in Hawke’s Bay
Thomas The Tank Engine gave me a new channel to express anal retentivity.
My fav street photo I took this year.
2011 was an excellent year for Pizza.
The wee fella – I don’t like to share much about my kids in public online. Just know I love the crap out of them and my partner. We are very blessed.
The finish line – I’ve never been so ready for a holiday / alcohol.