Just heaps of dolphins

This was on the return from a trip to Astrolabe Reef to scatter my uncle’s ashes.

It was an emotional and fascinating day. He was a mad keen diver from the days where you wore a rugby jersey rather than a wet suit and saying goodbye in such a beautiful spot with perfect seas and weather felt appropriate.

It was the first time I’d been out and talking to his diving mates about their trips there and how well the Rena crew had done to hit that itty bitty reef in the massive, vast ocean brought home what a fluke it was. A bloody shame. There was a coast guard boat out there keeping an eye on the area, it’s always there, along with a handful of fishing boats who seemed to be going all right, and a seal.

These dolphins joined us for a while on the way back. Apologies for portrait video but it seemed right for capturing the moment, and I was crapping myself about dropping the work phone over the side.

2015 in mobile phone photos

Here’s a ramble through 2015 expressed in the ‘photos I took on my phone’ medium. I’ve actually tried to take the DSLR actually out of its bag more often this year in order to get slightly nicer, slightly more considered photos happening, but that’s, erm, a work in progress. Anyway. Onward.

See also: 2014 (at sportreview.net.nz), 2013, 2012 and 2011.

See also: sportreview.net.nz’s year in review.


Just some sweet garden gnomes I was kindly gifted.


In the middle of scoring 237 against in the CWC quarter final, Martin Guptill hit one on the roof of the packed Westpac Stadium. A few minutes later, this bloke went up there to get it.


And after everyone went home from THAT semi final at Eden Park, these guys went in the middle for a pretend game and selfies. They got in trouble.


Some goober at the MCG.


I’ve largely given up food photography but holy balls, when you’re basically served real-life Fred Flintsone ribs, you can’t not. Recommended.


So, I work at Fonterra now. I got to go to Fieldays and met a long-time hero. Background woman spectacularly unimpressed.


This is my reality now.


We got cats, Sweetpea and Fred. Once the former stopped chewing through every phone charger cable in the house, we got on fine.


Proud moment.


Some neighbour’s plant. In my dream compound / Led Zep-style country estate, I would like a whole garden of these.




Dorking out next to a sweet Falcon at The Mount.


Halloween decoration or Klansman? You be the judge. 


My attempt to make a baked pancake turned out kind of weird, but kind of compelling.


Kids cricket at East Coast Bays. Have to say, I loved being a cricket dad kind of more than being a football dad, it’s much more relaxing watching kids sport in tee shirt and shorts with a shit flat white in your hands.


Joseph Parker Stalkipedia. He was a cool guy and later casually jumped on the bar’s guitar and piano and kicked arse.


Ray Columbus hotel portrait. Unexpected and a little bit terrifying, if I’m honest.


This Mount Victoria fire was obviously worrying for all concerned, but looked pretty sweet from our office. 

2013 in mobile phone pictures

Third instalment of mobile phone photos of the year, here’s 2011 and 2012. Big year this year, with new job and a big work trip, and trying to fit everything in.

You can click all the pictures to make them bigger.

2013-01-09 10.05.54

I changed jobs in February…

Ibanez Talman

…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.

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I spent a lot of time this year watching cricket and tweeting about it, happy days.

2013-05-16 16.44.12

This is a traffic light that looks like a TIE fighter.

2013-05-11 15.47.09

Straight to the pool room.

2013-06-30 08.44.36

Wee fella.


Wee fella and wee girl. Family is going great.

2013-12-08 19.21.45


So this was dinner

I tried to lay off the bad food photography this year, but… you know.

Fire walk with me.


Most bad-ass birthday cake awardee here.

We got serious about lego this year.

Quick selfie

I got right on board the selfie boom.

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So I went to Bangladesh with the BLACKCAPS. This was Chittagong.

2013-10-14 07.30.05

I never get tired of posting this – signing a bat at Hotel Agrabad over breakfast.

2013-10-14 10.40.03

2013-10-21 14.32.35

I saw a number of cool modes of transport in Bangladesh.

2013-10-20 14.39.05

2013-10-20 14.41.24


2013-11-06 17.32.07

This was my last meal in Bangladesh. Bloody good it was too.

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Someone did some pretty sweet burnouts on our street.

2013-11-23 09.22.10

Colleague sorts out hipster DJ at Christmas party.

2013-11-23 17.40.05

Watching the Ashes while BBQing was a bit of a highlight. Merry 2014 all!

Plain language guide to faster broadband with a master filter or splitter

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.

What else?
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.

2012 in mobile phone photos

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 Mount Maunganui, there's piles of timber people have dragged up from the water every couple hundred meters #rena

At New Year’s at the Mount, there was still Rena debris washing up.

70s era Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet as seen at Tauranga model railway club expo

Thanks to my four year old, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the wacky world of model railways.

There we have it, chips omelette

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.

Doh! #foodtweet

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.

Just hangin' out reading the news and that cc @cateowen

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!

#ladsweekend prep coming along nicely

Had yet another v. successful Lads Weekend, at ‘catching fish’ and ‘binge drinking’ levels.

Fish for tea #ladsweekend



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.



Scenes from last night #aintnopartylikeahamiltonparty

The 40th birthday parties kicked right in.

Retrieved these from someone's paper recyling. Bit weirded out but mostly stoked.

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.

In other Lego news, a bad-ass spaceship.

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.

Top parenting tip: multiboxes and coaxial cable make great toys for ten month olds


Project [R]Evolution

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, radiogiving 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.

Depot (and Bellota)


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.

What did we learn?

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’.