Thursday, May 25, 2006

Motorola HT820 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones

It's been a while since I bought a gadget, well at least a month anyway, but this latest toy is bloody amazing and is simply magic. No, honest it is actually magic - I'm talking David Copperfield flying around the room stuff here.

Picture this:

You are walking down the road, you're wearing headphones and listening to a bit of some funky old track such as the 1991 remix of Tainted Love (that came in a very camp little leather pouch). You reach behind your left ear and turn it up a bit. Then you decide to skip to the next track. You reach behind the right ear, press the little button and in kicks an old favourite, Sugerbox from Then Jerico. Nice but nothing clever there, hey? But wait, there's more. Closer inspection reveals no wires here mate. "What's that?", you say. How is the music getting from that little Dell Axim X51v (that appears to have been surgically implanted into your hand) and across thin air and into the rather neat looking little chrome and black wrap-around headphones.

Ah, the power of Bluetooth and a Stereo Wireless Bluetooth stack (whatever that is). Turn on your PDA, activate the headphones, and within seconds they are "talking" and through the power of magic, beautiful music is in your head. Simple. No fuss, no mess, no wires. You can shake your head, or wiggle your butt (as taught here by Martha), either way, the music keeps pumpin' and the quality is brilliant. Nothing short of magic.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Simply OK

After 20 years, Simple Minds were back in Wellington. It was time to recapture my youth and we went, along with a whole lot of other 30-somethings, a few 40-somethings and a scattering of 50-pluses. Attire was firmly jeans, casual top and comfortable shoes for guys - the middle age uber-cool. For the women, it was mostly stylish with the occasional victim of the 80's who hadn't quite got over the era. Women are genetically better at dressing than men and know how to look good as they age. Us guys seem to let it go, as if we ever had it....

The first surprise was that this was not a sell-out. There were plenty of spare seats but at $120 a pop, this was not a cheap concert. A lot of people turned up after the support group but there was plenty of room for more. The support band (whose name I have no recollection of) were interesting and unknown and are likely to remain so. They had a couple of catchy tunes which could make it and the lead singer enjoyed himself with a few mild mannered hecklers. Their last song was their best and at least got the crowd a bit excited.

When the main event started, there was a buzz, and Kerr captured the mood like a pro with the it's been 20 years and it's great to be back and we'll do our best opening. A couple of avid female fans ran to the front of the stage and just managed not to throw knickers - this was pretty fortunate as I suspect that there were girdles involved. This inspired a whole sea of wannabees to head to the front - huge similarities to my last concert at Michael Fowler which was Hi-5 when all the "cool" kids get up to dance. Sadly, I suspect that some of those groupies had to get to the front as they couldn't see so well from the back as their eyes weren't quite what they used to be. I think some of them had forgotten why they were there and wanted to simply find the toilet.

Kerr banged out some good tracks and the dancing group (about 150 by now) waved their arms and bounced around. By the 4th track, the arm waving noticeably slowed as age took hold. They were a resilient lot though and kept going all night up there. This could have been down to the fact that a) they had lost feeling in their legs b) they couldn't quite remember where they were sitting or c) is this the queue for the toilet?

Kerr had enormous energy and hit the notes. Burchill strolled around the stage chewing gum and occasionally mimed a few words but he appeared to be a song behind. He played great all night though and is a happy fellow having played the big number two for so long. The light show was classic 80's flashes and strobes glaring out into the crowd. Nicely done and good for the paramedics to find their way around. The occasional reflection off of a bald head would cast nice mirror ball effects around the hall which was nice. You could feel the energy off the boppers, and the static charge building up from so many acrylic sweaters rubbing together could have lit up all of the waterfront.

There were two encores and we got treated to some more good tracks. Kerr kept the crowd eating out of his hand with some good banter and by swinging his mike around for a chorus. It was a good night but I came away a bit disappointed for some reason. Don't get me wrong, it was a good concert, and musically it was everything that you would expect, but it just didn't hit the mark for me. There were a lot of people dancing about but way more sitting and shoe tapping. It took you back a few years but it didn't blast you there and shake you into a frenzy. I guess 20 years is a long time and the memories are sometimes better than the reality.

I know I shouldn't but I couldn't help comparing the experience to David Gray from a few weeks back - this is a bit like comparing a modern rugby player like Jerry Collins with a star of 20 years ago. In their day they were the best, but somehow, they breed them bigger and stronger and more talented today and side by side, there is a world of difference. This doesn't take anything away from the stars of yesteryear, it is just that the world has moved on and we've got older and more picky. Still, a bloody good night out without the kids and my comfortable shoes tapped for most of the night.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Broadband Busted

We are webless, without net, that net is dead. Sometime on Monday our connection vanished and we are no longer connected. We have spent hours now on the phone to ihug and it appears that good old Telecom have disabled our line to iHug. This means that we have no e-mail (oh the humanity) and since I cannot log into my web mail at work (I think it interrupts our productivity) I find myself in a cafe picking up my mail via wireles CafeNet and enjoying a coffee. Now that is how to screw productivity! Oh, I have an e-mail from iHug asking how their customer service is. Pretty good actually, once you get through. Sadly, we have to rely on Telecom to get off their arse and check the line which they appear to have blocked in their latest "urgent upgrade at the exchange". So much for unbundling the local loop then........

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Simple Minds - New Zealand Tour of 1986

Simple Minds - The Evening Post

20 years is a long time. Things change. People change. Music changes. Good music lives forever.....

It was November 1986 and Jim Kerr and the rest of the band "Simple Minds" were in Wellington, New Zealand. The newspaper clipping pictured above (courtesy of a work colleague with an allergy to geeks - tar RD) has a great quote from Jim: "It would be naive of us to think we'll always be around. Simple Minds might be nothing next year." Whilst the band has featured many new faces over the years, Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill remain and the old tracks are such a part of my growing up in the 80's that I can still remember the release of "Don't You (Forget About Me)" and then watching The Breakfast Club of which I am so not proud.

A lot changes in 20 years - for a start Kerr was 28 years old in 1986 so that makes him closer to 50 now (and me closer to 40!). Still if the Stones can still do it, I'm sure Kerr can. I have also got a copy of a full page spread from The Evening Post dated Saturday 8th November 1986 which gives a good insight into Christchurch back then. There is mention of a "new" nightclub, The Palladium, and I wonder if it is still around? Perhaps Mike could check it out for us? Kerr also has long hair and I guessing that these days it might be somewhat shorter...

Either way, I am sure the music will be a great time machine for me and I'm looking forward to the night on 15th May 2006 in Wellington when Kerr and Burchill get back on stage and I can dance like I did when I was 16. I am worried that Mrs R will think I'm having a senior moment and before I know it, two paramedics will be trying to hold me down whilst they zap me with a defibrillator.....

Saturday, May 06, 2006

What have I learnt this week....

I learnt a lot this week during my mobile coffee experiment.

I learnt that it is very easy to surf and blog on the move in Wellington. Connecting to a wireless network with a wireless enabled PDA is a breeze. There is nothing to it at all; just press a button, sign-in and you are done. As to whether this is useful is another matter. Maybe for maps, and local information, but an essential service? Nah, I don't think so but damn useful at times I'm sure.

I learnt that CafeNet offer really fast connectivity and Telecom don't. Telecom also bill for time connected, by the second, rather than data traffic which is ludicrous. It takes time to write a posting yet not a lot of traffic moves around whilst you are writing. They charge $9.95 per hour to dial-up users or pre-paid cards (nothing to broadband users until 31st August but I couldn't get this to work when I was with Telecom Broadband). CafeNet will give you a whole 24 hours access for $10. CafeNet also offer a more sensible option of a data allowance and $20 gets you 70Mb but $80 gets a whopping 350Mb.

I learnt that all the coffee in Wellington is good and some is excellent. Prices vary slightly but are almost exactly the same with overtones of a price cartel! Price is not a measure of quality and $3.60/80 is a good range to keep in your head.

I learnt that I am the only person to have ever logged into CafeNet or a Telecom Hotpsot in Wellington EVER. It just isn't done. I had many stares and it makes me wonder if people even know about wireless access; it certainly isn't promoted too well. I guess that once mobile devices start becoming cheaper and more functional, people will begin to use them more and more. In the meantime, it is a brave investor who spends cash supporting a start-up wireless company but it could become a goldmine.

So who was the ultimate winner in this experiment? It has to be Mojo I think. Consistently good coffee and a great location. They also offer a pre-pay Mojo VIP Club card which gives users a 10% discount on not only coffee but coffee beans too. Nice touch. Mine is now loaded up in advance so I am actually saving money when I buy coffee........

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Originally uploaded by Mr Reasonable.

4th May 2006
Here I am at Fresco....

Fresco is on Lambton Quay, above The Body Shop. There are a lot of tables and despite the time, it is easy to find a place to sit. Some of the tables are these small round metal numbers which are wobbly, but if you're early there are plenty of decent wooden tables over by the window. I am perched above the escalator and it offers an interesting perspective.

The place is very busy but not too noisy - the big open area in this atrium absorbs a lot of sound and I could have a deep and meaningful conversation with someone if i wasn't all alone! Billy no mates me...

My coffee arrives in 7 minutes 34 seconds - not bad given the time. It is a beaut. Well made and with a bit of art or at least an attempt at a pattern. First taste confirms that it is fresh and well made. I also ordered a panini and it is well presented and tasty. Total cost was $11.00 and it is good value with a bit of dressing with the food.

The connection to CafeNet is quite fast and makes for easy surfing. The artwork is good but a bit boring. I guess you just have to get lucky when you visit. Today has a fruit theme which does not interest me in the least. I'd much rather see boobies or at least something a bit more interesting.

Overall, the coffee rates as a 8 1\2. I notice that the toys that used to live in the corner are gone and I understand that they are not coming back. Pity as they used to keep the kids amused whilst Mrs R and I ate lunch.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Originally uploaded by Mr Reasonable.

Following our excellent lunch at Pod, we decided to go for a second cuppa to help with digestion. This time we headed over to Mojo. This is our usual cafe and there is never any question about that. If you are after consistent quality, Mojo is your best best. They supply beans to a few of the cafes around town and are known for their quality.

We are usually take-out customers but in the interests of good research, we were "innies" today. Mojo is located at one end of The Old Bank Arcade. For those of you not in Wellington, this building is a piece of history. The tiled floor is simply amazing and it retains the atmosphere of an esteemed financial institution. Conversations occur in hushed tones and footsteps echo down the banking chamber as shoppers wander down past the boutiques.

Our coffee arrives very quickly and it looks good. Great head and lovely body (gee, that'll get the Google hits) and in a tall glass. Some of the cafes in town superheat the glass in a small blast furnace prior to delivery to you - this results in burnt fingers and it takes nearly 4 hours to drink. This one was perfectly hot to drink and easy to gulp with no skin scorched to the glass. As usual, a great flavour, with a smoothe creamy consistency. We are in 9 territory and Alan took this close-up on his wizzy camera phone.

There was one disappointment in that I couldn't connect to either CafeNet or a Telcom Hotspot. This is despite being smack in the middle of town. However, there is a Starbucks at the other end of the arcade and I would suggest that you buy your Mojo and then wander down there to connect, if you must. Take a look at the great clock whilst you are down there.

Despite the lack of connectivity, a great cafe and a neat place to sit and drink and watch the world go by. A firm 9 and the leader of the pack so far.


Originally uploaded by Mr Reasonable.

First up Pod.

We were there for lunch so it would have been impolite to type away at a small screen and ignore the group, particularly as the lunch was in honour of the esteemed Alan. I did however test the wireless functionality of my Dell Axim X51v and was disappointed that I couldn't connect to CafeNet. This might have been due to the fact that we were behind a large concrete wall but nonetheless you still expect a connection. I did manage to connect via a Telecom hotspot but as in all things Telecom, efficiency is not a priority as pages loaded with a less than satisfactory speed.

It was unfair to time the coffee delivery after lunch as it was a large order but all of the drinks arrived promptly and by that time we had drunk a small amount of wine and time was no longer an issue; in fact slow would have been just fine thank you. The waiter took 6 (maybe 7) hot drink orders and without the need to write anything down got everything to us perfectly.

The coffee was good. Nice and strong, clearly fresh beans and very smoothe. I have been a bit disappointed so far not to have encountered any coffee art and again none here. I have noticed that the best art is strangely over at the airport where they always come up with great patterns but that is a bit far to go in a lunchtime. There was no bitterness at all and all-in an excellent drop of black gold.

I have no idea about price but the meal was bloody good, the service excellent and the environment clean, functional and discrete. There are lots of tables that can give privacy and it is easy to have a conversation without shouting, unlike some of the more cosy cafes about town. I have been to Pod many times and have never had a bad cup yet.
This has to be an 8.


Todays cafe will be Pod but due to unforseen circumstances cannot be live........

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Rise Cafe

Rise Cafe
Originally uploaded by Mr Reasonable.

Alan: While Mr Reasonable wolfs his beef roll, I shall pontificate on Rise, the cafe of today.

Initial impressions were not that good: a coldly cavernous space; concrete floor; a bit dark and cold and lacking in ambience.

Coffee's not too bad though, and it arrived reasonably promptly, as did our rolls. I won't do a detailed description: that's up to Mr Reasonable. However, I thought my latte was a little bland to my taste, although well-constructed.

Over to Mr Reasonable.

MrR: Agree with Alan, it is cold and a bit unwelcoming. Coffee arrived in 5 minutes and 32 seconds and looked good. Initial taste was reasonable, and certainly better than yesterday. Not fantastic though and a little short of some establishments about town. Beef roll was good and the bill, at $10.50, for roll and Latte was OK.

Second taste of coffee as expected - a perfectly good cup, nice mix of top and body, no aftertaste and very smoothe if not a bit weak. I could've ordered an extra shot and will know to do that next time.

The cafe is sparse, nice artwork but it is cold which means that we are going to eat, post and leave......
7 1/2 overall.

We had a few technical difficulties today for some reason. The connection to CafeNet is FAST, much faster than I expected and faster than other portals I've used. Response times are as quick as my home connection through iHug at 2.5mbs and it is a pleasure to surf here. Couldn't get Blogger to accept any updates though although the text of the post was saved. Maybe I need to get myself an offline writer. Flickr upload was a breeze and even sending the large photo file took way less than 1 minute. Impressive stuff. Cold though, damn cold.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Espresso Republic

Espresso Republic
Originally uploaded by Mr Reasonable.

Review in Progress

1st May 2006

Well a good start as I am connected to CafeNet and have uploaded the above photo!
Espresso Republic is located on Featherston Street, just opposite the Hotel Ibis.

I walked into the cafe at 11:40am accompanied by Alan and as there was no queue, went straight to the counter and ordered a Latte and a Panini. This was at 11:41am.

The coffee arrived 3 minutes and 26 seconds later.....

Hmm, colour was a bit on the thin side although the top looked creamy enough. First taste was a bit disappointing (damn I miss that Google task bar for spell checking). It is all in the milk and this was clearly not up to the usual standard here.

The nice throthy top covered a reasonable brew though and whilst a tad bitter very drinkable. Since I would actually drink coffee from the used bowl of a bulldog, not in itself a recommendation but not a bad cup nonetheless.

Quick look around. Alan has left me to go do some "work" and I am a lone geek....

There is a great piece of art in front of me. It is by Bill Burke - Using Opera lets me open a new tab and check out his web site. This piece is of a woman on a beach and strangely makes me think about Caroline. Everything else about the cafe is classic simple decor, lots of suits meeting with suits and an absence of kids. Not one. Good, I think having spent two days with mine!

Coffee finished. A small aftertaste, again a bit bitter. This is my benchmark coffee and is sadly a rather weak 6 1/2 out of 10. I have had clear 10`s here in the past so I am shocked. The panini was delicious though and the price for one latte, one Earl Gray Tea and the Panini was $16.00 which ain't bad. The delivery of the coffee was excellent and the food not long after. Alans tea arrived in about 2 minutes which is a great achievement. They clearly gear up for lunch with the aim of getting you in and out quickly. Just what you want really.

I'm ready to leave. My table has been cleared and I am guilty of taking up space with no food! I am amazed that everything on the technology side worked so well. I only had one issue when the wireless network from the Hotel Ibis rudely tried to take over my connection but in terms of speed and connectivity, this is almost as good as being at home.

We live in an extraordinary age - fully connected wherever you go (in and around the CBD) and with research portals and search engines like Google at your disposal there is nothing that you cannot know/do/find out. All we need now is a screen 3 times the size that can fold away and we are there.....

Tomorrow, Rise on The Terrace

A few edits now completed for broken links etc. Also, I have copied some of the review here.