Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Hot Spot

First up in the taste challenge to find the best mobile coffee in Wellington is Expresso Republic in Featherston Street. I'll be there from 11:45ish on Monday 1st May '06 and will place an order for a Latte and test the result. I'll be posting a photo of the brew as I taste it and writing a review in-situ. If it's good (and I quietly expect it will be having been there many times) I may order lunch and become a mobile lunch critic too.

Feel free to join me; two cups are better than one!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Your mission, should you choose to accept it

A mobile milestone was reached today. I have successfully taken a picture with a very sexy Casio Ex-Z55, popped the SD card into my Dell Axim X51v, uploaded it to Flickr via my iHug e-mail account, which I logged into via Opera, (GMail wouldn't let me attach files for some reason), then went into Flickr and wrote a blog entry and successfully posted it. Quite a lot of work actually in signing in to the different accounts but a pretty good experience.

So how to test this "in the wild" as it were. Well here is what I propose. I am going to visit a different Wellington Cafe every day next week, order a decent Latte, take a photo of said lovely drinky, upload the photo of the cafe and the coffee, and write a live tasting session of the liquid heaven and the surroundings. I am fully charged with a
CafeNet account and some Telecom Hotspot credits and I'm ready to go. The question is where?

This is a list of all of the CafeNet covered sites.
This is a list of all the Telecom Hotspot covered sites.

I'll start at
Espresso Republic as the benchmark as I know the coffee quality is consistently high. I am going to measure on price, presentation, speed from order to delivery, of course taste, ambiance of the cafe and whether or not I am abused for being a geek typing on a dinky keyboard whilst gargling and gurgling coffee in my mouth. I shall resist the temptation to check the bouquet and spit it out onto the floor....

I'd prefer to stick around Lambton Quay/Willis Street but will travel further if the coffee recommendation is good. So how about it? I have Monday sorted, where to on Tuesday onwards? I will aim to be in each cafe at 11:45am before the lunchtime rush and can hopefully get some comparative serving times! I'll put the name of each venue cafe the evening before I go and feel free to join me! I'll be easy to spot as I'll be swearing at a wee screen and trying to connect to invisible wireless forces, all in the interest of science!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Road to Hell...

The Road to Hell...
Originally uploaded by Mr Reasonable.

I’ve just spent a few days up in Taupo with my brother who was over for a flying visit from the UK. We set off at 6:30am on Wednesday, had lunch on the way, stopped at the Army Museum in Waiouru (to remind us how stupid war and humans are) and then headed over the Desert Road.

I am a pretty courteous driver and as a father of small kids absolutely never break the speed limit through towns. Seriously I don’t. Life can be cruel and one rare unfortunate event can lead to an accident that nobody could foresee.

However, the open road is a strange drug and it is very tough on the fabulous straights to keep it down. The regular little white crosses on the side of the roads are a good reminder though and some of the sign-posts are simple and direct.

Having driven for many years in the UK I became very used to bright orange speed cameras and the many signs advising of upcoming cameras or speed check zones. No such courtesies appear to exist in NZ where there is an art to hiding cameras and unmarked Police Cars. The strategy in the UK is to warn drivers so that they do actually moderate speed in the areas where it is vital and/or dangerous such as schools or accident black spots. The motorway speed limit is 70mph but most drivers (and I do mean most) will hit the fast lane of the motorway and travel an entire journey between 80-90mph. This is tolerated as everyone is driving fast and there is an understanding about where it is safe.

The big difference in NZ is that the cameras appear to be simply there to derive revenue and boy are they well hidden. They are unmarked and cleverly concealed and rather than regulate speed in dangerous areas they simple seem to make drivers take risks in areas that they know a camera simply couldn’t be, like a very short but straight bit if road leading to a sharp corner. I witnessed many acts of madness.

But I remain confused. If I am travelling behind a vehicle at 85kph in a 100kph zone, am I permitted to exceed the speed limit to safely pass? Can I accelerate past the limit, zip past the caravan/car and then just drift back under once I am a safe distance past? Or am I supposed to get to 100kph, slowly pass the car on the wrong side of the road and then immediately get back into the left lane?

I actually opted for the latter. The car we were in generates 225bhp or 165kw, is turbo charged, has an intercooler and a 0-100kph slightly more than 6 seconds. It also has a top speed of over 240kph and so can really move. Needless to say, I have never approached these speeds on NZ roads; really, I haven’t.

We were on a long straight and up ahead there was a caravan which was travelling at a pace. It would have been around 30kph on the bends and then up to 95-100kph in the straights and looked very unsteady. I opted to blitz past. The road was clear for miles ahead; I could see several dips but nothing had been on the horizon for some time. 3rd gear (of 6) was selected and I moved out, pressed down and was gone. I pulled back into the left in a flash, the caravan a long way back, and came over a rise my foot easing off the go juice pedal but not braking, preferring to drift back down to a more reasonable speed. And there he was. Just down the rise, and invisible until the last second. A white van, dark windows. Smug.

So, am I guilty or innocent? The entire journey was made within the legal limits, yet when you overtake in a safe manner to limit the time on the right hand side of the road, do you opt for a slow lumbering overtake manoeuvre or a rapid in and out? What would you do?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Is it me or is there something odd about my kids?

Is it me or is there somehing odd about my kids?
Originally uploaded by Mr Reasonable.

I have noticed some subtle changes in my kids behaviour. I suggested to Mrs R that we cut back on the chocolate as they get a bit hyper at night but she thinks that it is just a phase. We've had to hide the phone as the little buggers keep wanting to call home which is odd. We haven't seen the cats for a while either; every since Miss R said she thought the cat looked a bit "fat and juicy".

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Forever Young...

Originally uploaded by Mr Reasonable.

I rarely listen to the incessant ramblings of DJs on the radio at weekends although I do strangely enjoy "The Morning Crew" on ZM during the week as it lightens my drive to work but everything else just interrupts the music. Today I was driving along when a track I recognised as a classic from my early 80's collection began to play. The very second I heard "Let's dance in style, Let's dance for a while..." I was transported back over 10 years. The DJ raved what a great new track it was by a new group and what great song writers they were; I nearly went off the road.

Sadly, it has been covered by a band called Youth Group - the song, Forever Young, was a masterpiece by a little known German group, Alphaville, and was hot on the heals of their iconic ballad, Big in Japan. This was all back in 1984 when the world was a different place; damn do I feel old! Big in Japan and Forever Young (from their first album of the same name) were the major hits and although they continued to push out some great stuff, they never really made it in the UK after that.

A few years later, they released their second album, "Afternoons in Utopia" quickly followed in 1987 by "The Breathtaking Blue". I managed to stumble across the second album in the back streets of Amsterdam in the late 80's and grabbed the third from a store in London in 1990 and it too has some great tracks. It also was "the first compact disc to be encoded with CD+Graphics" (so says the label) but I have never been able to get this to work and have tried on every computer I have owned since 1990! Any ideas how to view these greatly received.

My music tastes changed shortly thereafter and I lost touch with the group but continued to listen to the various tracks over the years on Walkmans, Discmans and MiniDiscs. This cover version has got me to dust off the discs and wizz them over to WMA so that I can enjoy them once again. I have also just ordered my latest toy, a set of Motorola Bluetooth headphones so that I can wander around the house/office and enjoy my music with no wires. Strange to think that these tracks were released shortly after the very first Walkman and in the year that Sony launched the Discman.

I remember having coils of wires inside my old car from the cigarette lighter and into the Discman and then back across and into the tape deck. Running over a small pebble resulted in a skipped track and the batteries lasted nearly a whole album. And here I am, an entire CD collection on one music player with no moving parts and that broadcasts the music to a pair of headphones with a rechargeable battery that could put a man on the moon or power a small village in Darkest Peru.

The original of Forever Young is substantially better than the new cover. The best part of the new release is that it helped me step back in time and has given me back some long forgotten memories. It also stirred me to track down the band and I'll be damned if they ain't still going. Looks like I'll be going onto Amazon soon......