Leon at LCA2006

06 February 2006

Taieri gorgeous

These were taken on the way back down, there will be more from the trip up sooner or later.

Middlemarch pub

Lovely old stone building. Nice chips, too. The whole town is about 2x2 blocks, takes about two minutes to circumnavigate on a pushbike.

beaches on the river

Beaches on the river.

rail bridge

One of many scenic railway bridges on the track.

river flowing

The river doesn’t look fast or anything, and the water is lovely and crystal clear, but every so often the flow bunches up a bit and you start to get a hint of how much water really is flowing through there.

view along the gorge

Shot along one of the straighter bits near the top of the gorge.

the light at the end of the tunnel

One of many dark and exciting tunnels. Some were bare rock, a few were cement-lined, many were brick-lined, a few had some combination of the above. The tunnel has a peak to let the smoke escape.

long way to fall

Some the drops right alongside (or even under) the track were substantial.

driftwood accumulated at a rapids

Some of the rapids accumulated quite a bit of driftwood. We have running water, fish, firewood and shelter, sounds like an excellent place to camp.

rocks in the gorge

The rock formations run from measly to reasonably grand. Most of the rock seems to be the wood-grain-looking stuff I saw on the beach a few days ealier.

05 February 2006

Photos from the trip home

swapping icecream on the Tairi Gorge Railway

The Taieri Gorge train stopped on the way back to dump all of its icecream on the afternoon train, which had already consumed fearful amounts of it (and was packed with Japanese tourists who looked like they regarded Dunedin as being unpleasantly warm despite the airconditioned carriages).

swapping coaches

This is the coach swap happening a little way north of Timaru. Ritchies’ reputation preceded them, so we weren’t looking forward to this.

rack full of PCsThis is the rack full of PCs at Base in Christchurch, and below is a shot of te Linux-based router controlling them all.

The Internet system was operated by small pre-paid tickets which allowed you to log in to an XP session, and kicked you off when your time expired. There was no continuity and from what I could see the system was set up to do a quick reimage on logout.

A UTP cable taped to the floor of the Internet room led away to one of the dorms, so I suspect that (given the unlocked rack door) bypassing the PCs with your own laptop and cable would not exactly be rocket science.

Linux-based PC rack controller

botanical gardens fountain

This was a truly ornate fountain on the grounds of the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch. There were many nice plants in evidence — as one would expect — so I’ll take time to cull out some pictures of those for you later.

CHC water cooler

This was a simple and obvious fitting in the Christchurch Airport departure lounge which I don’t see in Australian airports. It requires no paperwork or money for access, and works for all races, creeds, genders etc. I guess if the Aussies do implement these, they’ll have a coin-slot and a boarding-pass reader.

sydney hangar

Transferring from International to Domestic within Sydney Airport took us past some repair hangers. Master Six was very impressed by the size of all of the gear. Not much else leaped out and said “photograph me!” in the two hours I had there.

clouds on the way out of sydney

Here is some of the excellent cloudscape which presented itself to the fading sun on the way across New South Wales towards home.

01 February 2006

Gawrsh! Can't wait to see...

...what they say about LCA2008 being held in Broome. (-:

31 January 2006

Home again, home again, jiggety jig

Neither Customs nor Immigration blinked (or even, apparently, checked anything), so here I am in Perth. I’ll post the promised Taieri Gorge pictures after getting urgent local stuff out of the way.

My bike, however, is back in Dunedin. I missed the rendezvous in Dunedin, so put the bike on the bus for use in Christchurch. The coach going the other way broke down, and InterCity needed to swap ours for it because they didn’t have a replacement with enough seats. The replacement (from Ritchies’) didn’t have any cargo area large nough to take a pushbike, either, so happy Dunedin resident Robin is now the proud owner of the much-travelled $10 bike.

The slower, nboisier, much less comfortable replacement coach also needed its headlight wiring fixed before we could set sail (a real confidence builder, that one), so my laptop became a temporary cinema for the dozen or so people within earshot, who followed the antics of Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman as they coped with a zoo transfer gone seriously haywire (with the aid of some remarkable penguins — “just smile and wave, boys, smile and wave” and the irrepressible King Julian).

I got to share a ’plane with lesser FOSS royalty GNOME (and now LaunchPad) hacker James Henstridge, and for the second leg actually got a window seat (pictures from that later too).

29 January 2006

Taieri Gorge is magnificent

Definitely on my Recommended To Visit list. I’ll post photos in a day or so (currently sitting in The Octagon connected through SpongeFromHoyts.net.nz and nibbling on dinner in preparation for coaching up the coast to Christchurch) but for what is basically a big hole in the ground with lotsa rocks and some water, it’s amazing.

Ten of the LCA crew headed out this morning. We calculate well over a thousand photographs between four of us and were wondering how far from VR capability we are.

The web booking system for the train confirmed acceptance of my card on Friday, but this morning there was no sign of the transaction having ever happened. And incidentally, it had allowed me to book for a trip that they don’t run on Sunday mornings. Yay, a web application. Leap. Click.

The train staff were very friendly and helpful. The run is basically up from Dunedin, turn right at Green Island and wiggle up the Gorge to a blinkanyamistit on the shoulder of the range behind. The Gorge itself is gorgeous, a pretty river flowing at the bottom of a deep groove in the landscape sporting some impressive rock formations. The water is very clear, so you can see all of the bottom all of the time even if it is tinged with green. There are nice beaches and “interesting” beaches (rounded rocks or sharp rocks), rocky shelves, bushy bits, foresty bits, pools, rapids, bridges spanning impressive chasms, a couple of idyllic farm-stay thingies (one of them accessible only by rail) and so on. Magnificent!

28 January 2006

Random post-conf ramblings

A pair of sea-lions stopped to sunbake at Allens’ Beach. This is a truly impressive beach. It has wide, clean, hard-packed sand reminiscent of (surprise) Broome’s beaches.

The furry lump in the foreground is the lass of the sea-lion pair sunbaking near the high-tide mark. A bunch of Yankee tourists (drunk and sunburned) managed to bother the male enough for him to chase them, but he quickly gave up and found a nice piece of driftwood to scratch on before undertaking his own siesta.

Taieroa Head has its own set of “organ pipes” albeit not as spectacular as the set in the bush across the harbour.

The incredibly tough seaweed which grows right on the breaker line around here is still incredibly tough after it dies. I can squeeze this sample for all I’m worth and it won’t even creak. Yet it’s mostly air and weighs diddly squat.

I also wonder how it manages to grow so densely amidst such tumultuous waves and not ever get tangled up. If you could chemically supply the same property to human hair, you’d be a millionaire overnight.

It’s kind of un-nerving to have the sky go from bringht and sunny to overcast and gloomy within about 15 minutes, but this did indeed happen.

Driving back down the Otago Peninsula along the ridge road saw fog hastening across, both up and down the hill in different places. In WestOz, the same breeze which hastened the fog along would also disspiate it, but evidently Otago fog is made of sterner stuff.

I’ll be taking a coach to Christchurch tomorrow night, then flying Qantas (QF46 dep CHC 15:35(GMT+13) arr SYD 16:55(GMT+11), QF583 dep SYD 19:25 arr PER 21:10(GMT+08) at Domestic Terminal 2) home on Monday. If DIMIA will let me back in.

27 January 2006


lanarch castle closed

This after pushing a bike up 3km of road which looked, to quote Cash McCall’s song Black Bear Road, “like a whole bunch’a zees and dubyas all strung together” (note fragments of road visible at stage left and diving behind some pines near centre stage).

view of MacAndrew Bay including portions of road up to castle

The “Camp Track” behind the castle was very pretty:

lanarch castle 'camp track'

...as was the scenery on the way back down. This was a shot over Glenfalloch and MacAndrews Bay to Sawyers Bay. The “wee train” (it seems that “wee” things can actually be reasonably large; this is a 20+ car goods train) goes past Sawyers Bay and Port Chalmers about every hour or so, and makes an incredible amount of noise for its size.

glenfalloch and sawyers bay from road

Note that coasting downhill on a pushbike at ≅60km/h for ≅10 minutes through Dunedin’s sixteen-degree (Celsius) late-afternoon air leaves one f-f-f-fa-fa-far too cold at the end of the run.

Come to Broome in 2008

If you missed my Broome slideshow at the keynote this morning, here is the main slideshow and also the followup slideshow (shown looping; and the animations don’t survive translation to web) both of them to this tune.

cable beach club   cable beach club

I’ve already had three different non-sandgroper volunteers front up and want to help out. If you’re amongst them (or not! :-), please email me (whatever at cyberknights com au) so I can collate a list and get organised.

How SaMBa happens

how samba happens

how samba happens

  1. Get an idea
  2. Stop, drop and roll out code
  3. Profit!
I wonder how much the adoption of tools like laptops has helped the march of technology by simply enabling the capture of ideas on the spot instead of having to wait, or hastily scribble a reminder note (only to lose it or inadvertantly feed it to the washing machine), each step of which costs you some (maybe all) of the gestalt surrounding the original inspiration.