Rob v2.1 (Tobias John Inskeep)

For those of you waiting for news of my sons arrival, here it is…

Hi all,

We are delighted to share our news that Tobias John Inskeep arrived  safely into this world at 14:07 today (16/10/2008) weighing in at 3.590 Kg at North Shore Hospital.   (convert here if you’re still rejecting the metric system introduced to New Zealand almost 32 years ago)

Amanda and Toby are doing well,  Rob  is seeking recommendations for a good vasman, and Hadley, Max and William will be introduced to their new brother later today .  Amanda will most likely be in the hospital until Monday if you feel like a visit (hours 2-8pm).

It took us most of the pregnancy to decide on name we both liked and that had the family connections and significant meanings that were important to us, but we are stoked with Tobias  (after Amanda’s great uncle Toby, meaning God is good) and John (after Rob’s Dad, meaning God is gracious ) and we all feel truly blessed to have our newest addition.

We have already been asked about gift ideas….. but given Toby is our 4th beautiful son we really do not need any gifts (boys clothes and toys coming out our ears). However for those of you who really insist, a meal or baking for the freezer, would be an awesome help in the weeks to come.

Hope you enjoy the photos attached. For some more photos over the coming days, Rob will undoubtedly pop something up on his blog, (he’s probably already Tweeted the arrival) and those of you on facebook can link to Amanda’s photo album for #4 here, or to our Flickr account set here (registration and ‘friending’ required – please send your name so we can accept the friend/family request).

That’s us for now ,

Love
Rob, Amanda, Hadley, Max, William and of course Toby!

Tobias John Inskeep

So – no real need to publish photos here (is there? I’ll ceed to the will of the commenters). Mum and bub are fine and short of discussing how and what technology was untilised in creating and distributing this announcement, I guess there’s little more of relevance to this blog 🙂

Big Mother (or Father) is watching…

I’m not 100% sure I like the idea of this, but several US insurance companies are now offering devices to be installed in the cars driven by teenagers which report on unsafe and inattentive driving behaviours.
Reading this article, it appears that the participants are almost ambivilent about the intrusion into their behaviour away from the watchful eyes of their parents, but the results are positive.
A study of drivers who have had this equipment installed saw an 80% drop in ‘driving risk scores’ in the first 16 weeks.

So, here’s the theroy… Install this equipment, provided by your insurance company and setup some limits on range from home and speed as well as other more granular information such as heavy braking or cornering too fast. If your teen doesn’t cover up the camera after it’s installed and instead buys into the program, you can then expect to recieve texts if these limits are exceeded or be able to review recordings around ‘unsafe driving events’ for later discussion with your child.

It has it’s uses I guess, but I think it’s just replacing trust with technology and I’d like to think that by the time my kids are driving that we’d have a relationship where they would respect my instructions on where and how they can drive a car. If not we’re all in trouble because I’m sure my wife would be having a few ‘discussions’ around my driving behaviours that she would then have on tape 🙂

What do you think?

Virtually there

Todays entry was sparked by a story from WoW Insider, one of many sites which features in my RSS feeds. The column, from Azeroth Interrupted, tells a story of two brothers who are using the WoW universe to reunite and learn about what has happened in the many years that they have been seperated.

This got me to thinking of my own WoW interactions (I use that word because it scares me less than the ‘addiction’ word 🙂 ). I’ve been playing for little over a year now and have made many friends, some of them quite close and most of them I’ve never met in real life. My collegue Karen started around that same time as me (in fact, she babysat me through the Night-Elf starting zone and explained the acronyms that everyone was using) and we are both Guild Masters (well GM2’s) in our guild Searing Sun (Guild Site / Armory Profile). It’s been loads of fun and we’ve even got my wife to play after much initial reluctance – and now she’s loving it! (and hating it, pretty standard feelings for most WoW players I think). Anyway, on the back of this ‘getting to know each other’ story, I started reflecting on the relationships that I’ve made in the game. There was the husband and wife team who invited me to their guild whose marrage since dissolved (along with the guild), there was the annoying twink guy who bugs my banker toon whenever I log in to check my auctions with continual duel requests, and there’s my other family – the people in my (our) guild. Things in our World of Warcraft guild have taken a turn of late, and I too must admit to starting to become disengaged once more…

Backtracking a little for context, WoW is a game which used to have a level cap at 60 (i.e. you could get to Level 60 and that was it, no more levels for you – go kill some super l33t monsters to get awesome gear so you can… kill some more super l33t monsters).
At this point a number of our high level players branched off to for an ‘Elite’ guild so those characters could focus on end-game raiding. Things get pretty serious in these kinds of guilds as people are solely focussed on gear and, due to the difficulty of the monsters you must now face, mistakes by anyone can kill the whole party. We stayed in our guild, happily helping out the lower levels get to 60, and building our own alts (other characters). Then came the release of the Burning Crusade, with a level cap of 70 and a whole new world to explore and better gear to get. The ‘Elite’ guild had imploded by this stage due to a number of reasons, but mainly due to the personality issues between the members of the guild, some who were taking things too seriously, some who just wanted to enjoy their game. These guild members all went off to join other guilds, and we got a number of them returning ‘home’ to us. With their experience and drive, we all started heading to 70, then trying to get the reputation and quests needed so we could all head to the big scary end game zones (where the cool gear drops). We found ourselves getting ‘too serious’ and we’d lost the culture of assistance which we’d previously been so proud of. Our guild master (mistress?) pulled the plug on the drive toward raiding, asking us to focus on recovering our previous culture. Interestingly, the week after she did this we started getting a large number of new recruits, I started back on leveling up my priest alongside my wife (who also plays) and all was well… almost.
The people who were looking forward to raiding (and I count myself amonst that number) started to leave, unrelated reasons of course, we lost our main tank (MT) and main healer (MH) to another guild on another server where they were going to meet up with their friends from school, our Raid Leader soon followed them, others left for raiding guilds within our own server. The interesting thing was, by and large, most of them left one or more of their alts in our guild, so they could come back and say hi. Our raid leader even went so far as to create an identical character to the one who had left, albeit without the level 70ishness and the funky gear 🙂

And now, on our guilds forum is a posting from our guild master – she too has left the server to follow her friends. She has been the rock on which the guild has been built and the glue which has held it together. Following her announcment, we lost 2 more of our high level players to the same server and it will be interesting to watch and see how the guild reacts to the news over the next few weeks and months. It’s with a heavy heart that I watch the changes which are happening to my group of close, but virtual friends – What started out as an investigation into the psyche of MMOGs and the people who play them has almost become a lifestyle. I am missing the people who have left already and am tempted, if they don’t plan on playing their alts too often, to start looking for a new home myself – time will tell, we’ll wait and see.

Disaster Recovery

I came across this link a few days ago which covers off some strategies for making technology work for you in terms of organising yourself in case of an emergency.

It kind of resonates with my recent posting on backups, but then takes it a step further into the analogue world and makes some suggestions as to what information you need to make avalible to those close to you should you be incapacitated.
While I don’t agree with some of the recommented digital storage mechinisms (especially since usernames and passwords are involved – I think that analogue is more secure, as long as the copy is physically secured too – much identity theft is perpetrated by family members after all). I would have to add the Domain certificates and authentications to this list, along with my many many identities on the forums around the web to which I belong.

Perhaps I should update my will with a brief note to be copied and pasted into the forums of all these sites, excusing me from any future interactions due to my death, kind of a posthumous adios 🙂

Migrating my Mail

I’ve been running a mail server in-house (home) for the last 4 or so years. Initially I had previously tried a few different Linux distros, mainly because the hardware I was running the mail server on was a little… underpowered (Tecra 8000 Celeron with 64MB ram). But also because I wanted some geek-cred points in being able to run my own Linux based mail server.
Anyway – I kind of had things working under Linux but then figured that since there would be waaay more people out there who knew a lot more about *nix and mail servers than I did, the possibility of getting my machine turned into a remote mailbot to serve some evil spamming purpose was kinda high, so back to the safety familiarity of a windows based mail platform.

Through a recommendation of a colleague at work, I looked at and finally settled on a product called 602LAN Suite which, provided a free 5 user, personal use version which was easy to setup and administer, integrated well with another freeware product for Anti-virus scanning and all and all allowed me to do what I wanted, have a catch all address hosted offsite, which I could then go pickup my incoming mail and sort/distribute the incoming messages to their relevant recipients.

Unfortunately for me, the product enjoyed a lot of success over the years that I used it to the point that the developers could no longer support a free licence community and sent out a, kind of terse (I thought) message back on the 13th of March which read as follows:

Subject: 602LAN SUITE freeware has been discontinued

Hello Rob,

Effective immediately, distribution, registration and support of 602LAN SUITE freeware has ended. You will NOT be able to re-register your server software in the future unless you upgrade to the commercial version.
…

You can read the press release if you’re interested here.

So, anyway – I’m always looking to reduce my operational costs of being a geek (as I foolishly continue to believe that it will afford me more CAPEX budget with which I will be able to upgrade my gear/buy new gadgets). The end-of-life of the 602 Freeware platform was a catalyst to transfer my personal domain over to my web hosting company ‘Dreamhost’ who offer email services, however, in discussions with another colleague who’s done similar things on a number of his domains, he suggested that I give Google Apps a try – and a brilliant idea it was!!

To HD or Not HD – That is the question…

Given the work I’ve been doing over the last few years in the DVR/PVR/Television space, I’m now being (rightly or wrongly) sought out by my friends and family for advice as to what to buy when they’re replacing their Television sets. I’ve written an entry on this previously, but figure it’s probably worth another post as my thinking on the matter solidifies.

I’m of the opinion (which is subject to change pending convincing technical arguments, or a Lotto win) that buying an HD set is a good idea, but not worthy of sinking the kids education fund into at the moment as there are still a number of up and coming technologies (aren’t there always?) which require serious consideration.

So – my current response to inquirers is “get an HD set, and make sure it can do HD, but don’t spend too much as you’ll be wanting to replace the unit in around 5 years when OLED or SED make it to market, and HDMI 1.3 (or whatever supersedes that) becomes commonplace.”

The biggie here is to make sure the screen does what you’ve asked for as sales people seem to be economical with the truth and, while being technically correct, HD ready and actual HD display can be different. To this end, I’ve added a resolution table to the end of my ‘Getting High‘ post which you should check off against to ensure your display will do what you want it to. Once you’ve established the resolution you want to run, for goodness sake – make sure the set includes an HDMI port which inturn needs to support the HDCP content protection ‘standard’ – otherwise you’ll end up with a device on your wall which can display HD content, but no HD content which is broadcast (or purchased as a HD-DVD/Blu-Ray/Whatever) will be allowed to get sent to it. There’s some links in the last sentence there – follow them and get informed so at least you know what you’re talking about when the sales guy in the local electronics store tries to tell you about high-definition.

Too Cold for Technology?

Well, I’ve spent a few hours on and off over the last few weeks looking out for some technology to recommend to Kevin who is about to head off to the south pole to have himself another adventure. The Kiwis on Ice Expedition is almost ready to go and they’re on the lookout for a couple of last minute bits of technology – the main one being a GPS unit which can survive the sub-zero temperatures, and be power friendly enough to not require too much in the way of charging.

Obviously this is pretty specialised technology and Kiwis being Kiwis, Kevin doesn’t seem too concerned about having to jury rig up something to deliver what he needs, regardless, I’ve pointed him toward the lads at Navman, who are a New Zealand based GPS technology firm in the hope that someone there may be able to lend their expertise.

I gave Kevin a quick overview of blogging and introduced him to WordPress so now he’s stood up his website and has got his hands on a developer type to tweak the template they are using and provide a bit more eye candy. I’ll be watching their progress with interest over the next few weeks. Good luck guys!

l33+ $p34k – OMFG I’m ROTFLMFAOTIPMP…

Our lovely (/ poor long suffering) grad student was up in Auckland yesterday and, harking from Wellington it seemed like a good idea to change her personal message on her IM client to “I LOVE Auckland”.

This provided us with some amusement, which compounded this morning when we noticed she’d not changed it back
Continue reading “l33+ $p34k – OMFG I’m ROTFLMFAOTIPMP…”

My Wife, the WoW Widow…

I really feel for my wife Amanda, she is a patient, understanding lady who has suffered my recent immersion into the World of Warcraft with only a few ‘discussions’ as to how long I should spend “playing *&%@#ing computer games” :).

For those of you fortunate enough to not have been exposed to what has been described as ‘online crack’ – World of Warcraft (WoW) is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMPOG / MMOG) which has over 5 million subscribers all paying Blizzard Entertainment USD$14.99/mth to play on their servers. As part of my role at work, I’ve created a character and am currently addicted to the game and the fascinating social networking which goes on within it. Continue reading “My Wife, the WoW Widow…”

Blogging from my Browser…

Okay, I’m supposed to be on holiday, but since the in-laws are running a Bed & Breakfast called The Olde Millhouse B&B in Renwick, Marlborough they have got themselves broadband (yep – ADSL ‘JetStream’ is even avalible in the South Island!) so they can stay on top of their guests emails and stuff.
Anyway, it would have been a shame to go away without being able to access the interweb thingy, so I duly packed my notebook and my Linksys SRX wireless access point and setup when I got here.
Continue reading “Blogging from my Browser…”