Single speed Z-Biking

Back in the 90′s, before most of you were born, yours truly Dino Borelli flirted very briefly with a little Triathlon around the Waikato region. I puffed my through a lot of sprint-length Tris, some Olympic distance ones, eventually admitting I totally sucked at the Swimming component and didn’t particularly enjoy gargling cow-shed run-off in the Waikato river so gave it up to focus on the wonders of Cycling.

I bought the pictured O’Brien 653 Reynolds frame from my mate Rene who managed then Pinn’s Cycles in Hamilton. The Pinn’s guys built it up for me using some new components, and some borrowed from my old Bosomworth (fabulous name, and a nice bike, wish I’d kept it) and I had the frame painted in the Z-Team colours as at the time I was a fan of the mighty Greg Le Mond (my first, last and likely only American idol).

Resplendent in it’s retro livery I spent many a Sunday bunch-ride and work lunch-hour abusing the eye-sockets of fellow riders. Eventually the bikes running gear fell into disrepair and I had also discovered the wonders of powered cycles. Thus, tragically the O’Brien steadily gathered dust at the back of the car-port with the only thing protecting it from complete annihilation being the excess of chain-oil from its final few rides.

With my recent change in employment status (another story perhaps) and following a couple of weeks of watching of the relatively drug-news-free Tour de France and Vuelta a España I got a terrible case of the guilts. Subsequently I set aside an entire day of sub-employment to strip down and deep clean the old girl and prep it for conversion to single-speed as all the cool kids (myself obviously included) seem to be doing.

The bare frame and rims were shuttled down to Cycle Time on Kahikeatea Drive in Hamilton, a quick chat with one of the mechanics and a couple of days later the bike you see in the photo above was back in my hot little hands. Lost the 53t chain-ring and all but one sprocket on the cassette (now a 42×16). Original free-wheel hub is still there as I aint manly enough to go fixed-wheel, at least not yet. Had a tensioner pulley fitted as the drop-outs not suitable to allow for chain adjustment etc, had new handle-bar tape and hood covers fitted, dropped a pair of bullet-proof 23mm diameter tires on her, replaced the brake-pads, and now she’s all good to go.

All I gotta do know is pluck up the courage to get on the roads in the morning and get a few commutes under my belt to the new job. Watch out Hamilton… here comes Z-Team !!!

Fun with .. Cardboard

We had our fair share of rain at Hahei last week, so one day I ripped open a cardboard box, attacked it with scissors and cellotape and made Paige this fort to play with.

Well boys would call it a “Fort”, she called it a “Fairy Princess Castle”. It was a TOTAL HIT. Pretty much the whole day was spent dabbling about with it using chess pieces as Princes and Princesses. Great fun, and FREE !!

It was the little details that seemed to make the difference. e.g. the gate made P’s game-play much more involved and introduced rules Kym and I had to to follow on no uncertain terms, oh and I built some wall-walks around the top of each wall thinking this would be defensive places for guards and archers but no … turns out these were to be seats for watching the dancing performances that ensued in the courtyard !!! kids are funny

Asia/Pacific repaints for the Simcheck Airbus A300

I’m a recent convert to the lovely Simcheck A300 Airbus model for Microsoft’s FSX simulator and I love it. The A300 was the first Airbus aircraft model and the first of any manufacturer to explore fly-by-wire technology. I really have a soft spot for the old 300 and this Simcheck model is fantastic.

I figuired I’d turn my hand to some repaints and thought why not do a few from the Asia/Pacific region (esp as I live in New Zealand). I’ve done three so far and all have been uploaded to but will hopefully be hosted at eventually if they think they’re ok. Do a search for the filenames I mention following.

First one was an Air Hong Kong freighter (rego B-LDD). It’s actually a 600-series so slightly fictional but its a cool livery so grabbed my attention. (filename:…
Air Hong Kong A300

Next up was a Qantas Pax 200 series (rego: VH-TAA) which was operated by Qantas after they inherited the TAA (Trans Austrailan Airlines) fleet following an acquisition in the 90′s. Were some interesting details on this one, the retro Kangaroo and QANTAS font, and added some freight door detailing which wasnt in the repaint kit, so was fun to do
Qantas A300

Finally tonight I finished an Air Macau A300-203F (rego: N504TA) using the cargo kit. Macau leased a 200 series from Tradewinds (a US based cargo carrier) in the 90′s, I’ve done two repaints, both with the Air Macau tail and fuselage livery but one with the original Tradewinds logo, the other with the hastily overlayed “Air Macau Cargo” details that the real-world machine wore briefly in 1995. Was an interesting repaint to do, had an additional outlet port of some sort on the engine casings, and trying to keep the look of the temporary overlays was a challenge (filename: A300-AirMacau-Simcheck)
Air Macau Cargo A300

I’m planning to carry on and do a few more real world repaints from this region (e.g. Air Niugini, Garuda, Malaysian etc) so will see how many I can crank out over christmas. And if I have time I may even get to fly the old bird :)

The Meet-up is dead, long live

Auckland web developers meetup – 23/June/2011 is one of those many web services people flocked to enthusiastically a few years back when it first appeared on the virtual social landscape. I signed up for a bunch of meetup groups imagining my cloud community horizons expanding explosively and began mentally preparing to get along to events and actually meet people face-to-face.

People I had previously only read, not met as such.

The reality was, of course, that events came and went (to be fair the Meetup community in NZ is pretty small, and I don’t think anyone else in Hamilton NZ knows it exists) and I never actually got a long to a single meetup….. Not one.

Until last Thursday that is.

For the last few years a bunch of Auckland web developers and designers have been using to have gatherings every month or so, and it was one of these sessions I went to last week. This is no-back-of-the-pub gathering of a handful of socially awkward boffins (though they do adjourn to the pub after the meetup, a post-meetup-meetup if you will).

No, this is a popular enough event that numbers are capped using the RSVP system at meetup. Take last week for example, there were 180 web folks in attendance, and 220 had registered interest before the event.

Without going into the details of the three sessions (links to them follow) which by the way were all very useful and entertaining (two often incongruous elements of a tech talk), the thing I was most impressed by was the healthy number of people who were prepared to brave rush-hour Auckland traffic to get along to a venue they’ve never been to, to listen to and mix and mingle with folks they may have never met.

OK so the free Pizza and Epic beer probably helped (thank you Orion Heath)

The other thing that tickled my fancy was geek-superstar Mozilla hacker Robert O’Callahan doing an awesome slides-optional presentation where he lost connectivity and talked for about 20mins with a “Server not found” error on the monitor behind him. Didn’t matter squat, he couldn’t have cared less, but sure looked funny thinking about it now.

Anyway, a big virtual-ups to the awesomely funny and larger than life John Ballinger (you can pay me later big fellah) and KarlVR and anyone else who’s involved in organising these things. Punters don’t appreciate how much effort goes into pulling something like this off on a semi-regular basis, especially when its a not-for-profit activity, and a fairly narrow slice of the community.

I’m all for the social web, but you really can’t beat face-to-face. I’m so relieved other people still see value in it too. See you at the next one.


What is the new Workspace?

Photo by Michael Cardus. used under CC licenceThe Cisco Collaboration Community hosted another live chat via Twitter today as part of the series of open discussions about collaboration and unified communications. This latest session was focused on “new collaborative workspaces, how they’re effecting the way we work, and the key technologies that are driving these changes”

Twitter performance seemed a little slow today (ok, so when isnt it :) so the lag between responses made the experience more disconnected than usual. An interesting conversation developed nonetheless amongst a mix of Cisco and independent contributors. The transcript of the session will be archived soon but the posts themselves are available now via a search on the #CollabChat tag at Twitter.

Rather than reproduce the conversation I’ll stick to including my own reflections on the discussion and the changing workspace:

Enterprises and their solutions have often rubber-stamped physical and virtual forms of workplace interaction amongst teams, have set boundaries, defined policies, rules and roles, sandboxes and security, times for meetings and formats for content and communication.

Those legacy features may be desirable in regulated, sensitive or corporate environments but a big challenge for today’s workspace is we now have ever increasing opportunities to participate in diverse and distributed virtual teams and projects, and to use services and resources that may exist outside the corporate firewall. Workspace members come and go, their patterns of work, availability and timezones are varied, the tools or resources they use, content and tasks they perform and collaborate on are increasingly diverse.

As a member of a virtualised team an individual may and should be able to view their workspace differently to the way others see or make contact with theirs. They each focus on different requirements, and contribute in different ways. The workspace may be addressable (say via a URL or such like, thanks @LLiu) but it will be distinctive and personalised, and temporal.

The workspace is multiple people, one or more places, multiple resources and devices, interacting at various times. Documents, video, voice, meetings, messaging, asynchronously or synchronously etc etc. As @MikeGotta mentioned the modern workspace landscape is surely challenging the desktop metaphor we are accustomed to.

We need IT to bridge across the entities, times and locations, to support us as we interact with and contribute to the workspace outcomes.

Various technologies come and go, some stay, some outlive their welcome. Email, document and content managements systems, portals, blogs, forums, wikis, virtual worlds etc. A best of breed of any one may be great for many workspace requirements but certainly not for all. Experiments like GoogleWave offered a lot but possibly overwhelmed the user with choice and direction.

Telepresence in its various forms, desktop sharing and conferencing, and recording and streaming of audio, video or other captured activity are IT functions that already support us with live face to face or time-shifted asycnhronous participation in distributed teams and workspaces. Other tools like SocialMiner from Cisco can play an interesting role and reach out to open channels and provide clues about disconnected conversations on a topic related to your workspace activities.

The challenge for the workspace of today and tomorrow and the tools used within it is ensuring sure these tools are relevant to the individual, the team and their activities. To present them and be flexible in applying them in various contexts. To be innovative and malleable to support changing demands, and inter-operate with other emerging platforms and standards. And importantly, not overwhelm the user with choice or features, yet provide the functionality they desire when they need it.

Should be easy right? :-)