Wednesday, 9 April 2008

HTPC woes

Well the HTPC is packing a sad on a nightly basis so i've had to order some replacement hardware to combat the troubles.

I've ordered the following:
AMD Phenom 9500 CPU
Gigabyte MA-78Gxxxx mobo
2GB of DDR2 8500 ram
and a new 500GB HDD for recordings

With any luck this will fix the crashes i've been experiencing.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

51 weeks and counting

Well, it's been almost 51 weeks to the day since the last update, seems like it was only a few months ago really.

Not a lot has happened though really, just the usual holidays around the place and buying up bits and pieces. I'll try and post a few tid bits if information in the coming days as i see fit.

I'm 100% sure that nobody reads this these days so it's more for personal satisfaction than informing the masses so i don't want to hear any complaints on the content :P

Until next time folks, peace out.

Friday, 6 April 2007

I survived

Well, i am still around. A few updates.

Emily moved in with me the other week. It got to the point where she was staying at my flat all the time eating all my food and wasting a bunch of power so i made the executive decision to make her move in with me... all is going well so far.

I have just completed my 3 month stint at MAP and everything seems to be good. I'll try and organise a time to sit down with the three wise men about a possible pay rise next week some time.

In other news i've been slowly accumulating pieces of my new toy... a new RC car... I've wanted a nitro powered RC car for as long as i can remember so now that i have a regular income i have bought this dream to fruition. I'm just waiting on some batteries, a starter box and a charger and i'll be all ready to run the motor in and then try it all out.

I'll get round to posting some pictures later, but for those that care it's an Xray XB8R model car.

Monday, 19 February 2007

More ramblings

Well, it looks like NIN have been/had some songs leaked to the world and a nice site has opened up to share them with us all easily. They sound authentic to me, and not too bad either.

On another note i went to see Babel at the Regent on Worcester movie theater last week and thought it was fantastic. The actors are mostly all good, even the unknown ones. Brad Pitt also didn't make me want to throttle him like he often does. All in all, i'm pleased i paid to see it.

Work, pretty plain to be honest.

There are a few other things too, have a look on wikipedia for Open Source Cola and see if you can make it and whether it tastes anything like branded stuff. I think i might try when i can be bothered and have the money to be able to afford some of the ingredients. Let me know.

Lastly i'm very intrigued by the creation of High Dynamic Range (HDR) images. There are thousands of amazing images out there to look at and marvel over and i am going to start trying to take all my pictures this way. It might in fact even make me think about my pictures a little more and take the time to compose a shot before blindly clicking.

HDR images are created with three or more bracketed images. This means one image is under exposed, one is about right, and another is over exposed. This allows for all the areas that are good in each picture to be merged to create something more faithful to what your eye saw as opposed to what the camera saw.

A few before and after shots to explain things: 1, 2, 3

There is an option of making an HDR image out of a single image too, but it is best to be done with a RAW picture as opposed to a JPEG so we'll see how that goes.

I'm going to try Photomatix as the software of choice as it seems to be the trade preference... i've tried a few conversions already and will keep you informed.

Friday, 9 February 2007

It's been a while

Well it has certainly been a while since my last post...

As of a few weeks ago i have been back in NZ and as of last monday i have been working studiously in my new job as an architectural draughtsman for a local firm here called MAP.

So far the job has been going alright, the usual hiccups for the new staff but i guess thats all part of the parcel huh.

I have been trawling through the thousands of pictures that I and the others took on the trip and have as of yesterday finished uploading all the best ones (i think) up onto the Flickr website i use for my pictures.

Really not all that much else to say really, the last few weeks have been nice and boring in comparison to the weeks before that.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Lake Titikaka and the end

So we had a few days in Puno and Lake Titikaka lined up for us all, including a home stay in one of the villages on an island.

After a full day in Puno with very little to do as it is literally just a port town we headed off on a slow boat around some of the Lakes highlights in that area.

The big one is the Isla Flotanes. These are Islands people live on that are made from reeds found growing profusely all around the bay. Every month the families need to add more reeds to their floor as they old ones dry out and decay. Thus losing their bouyancy.

The families pay no tax for their islands and often join or separate them as required to make larger more diverse groups. We got to have a walk around some of them and see what they did for a living and also take a ride on one of their rafts. We paid $5 Sol for the privelige of the ride and one of the small local girls came too and promptly sang a few childrens songs... in about 7 different languages. We were all impressed even though english was the only one we knew.

All the children have some sort of money making scheme going on. The follow you around playing drums and things and then expect you to pay them even though you never asked them in the first place. There are more things they try and do. The worst being pickpockets, their latest trick is to spit on you and then get their mate to rob you while you are preoccupied with the most feral throat bomb you have ever seen clinging to your arm. Joy

Aaaanyways back to the lake. After a bit of a potter around we headed to our island we were going to be staying on. After meeting our host mama or papa (yes that is what they want to be called) you get taken off to their house.

You have to understand that at 3800m high the lake itself is pretty damn high and makes it tough to breath when you are walkign around. So when we had to walk about another 100m up the side of the island to get to the houses we were pretty buggered. Our hosts then made us a late lunch and allowed us to walk around and see things before dinner at 7pm.

At dinner i tried to have a bit of a chat to my hosts but with them speaking a language called Quechuan and me speaking English it was tough. We both knew a little spanish so i got that they had 3 children all older and studying in Puno and a few other mindless details to boot. Its fair to say that dinner was quiet.

Then after dinner we got dressed up in local traditional garb and taken to a dance that the locals had put on for us. I only lasted a couple of dances before my eyes were droopy and i needed sleep.

In the morning we were treated to breakfast by the hosts and then taken down to the docks so we could head off to another island and the end of our Lake Titikaka stay.

The other island was nearby and we had a wander around for an hour or two and then had some lunch at a restaurant there. It had the most fantastic view off of a small balcony they had.

Finally it was a boat ride back to Puno. It was going to be a long ride (2-3hours) so we got settled in for a bit of sunning and games on the top of the boat. Not long into it we were alwanting a swim so we got the captain to stop the boat and we had a few bomb competitions.

Apparently every minute spent in the water adds ten years to your life. The water is crystal clear and has supposed healing properties you see. I spent maybe 5 min in there so Emily had better watch out or i`ll out live her easy.

Back in Puno we got told that there were road blocks on the way to La Paz in Bolivia so we might not get through very easily. As it happened the next morning we left for La Paz and had no trouble at all.

La Paz is an amazing city. Its nestled into a huge valley and the slums feed up the sides of the valley for miles and miles. La Paz is a bit odd in the fact that the poor have all the views of the city from the hill sides and the rich have no views because they live down in the bottom of the valley.

Our first night in La Paz was fairly uneventful. We went out to a restaurant which was pretty cool but i wasnt up for a big night so headed back to the hotel and bed nice and early.

The morning after a group of us went on a city tour and saw some of the citys highlights and a few views of the city from miradores (viewing places) We saw the witches markets which are full of talismans and dried Llama foetuses (no im not kidding) Apparently the Llama foetuses have the power of being able to bring wealth...

We also saw the black markets. There is so much fake merchandise its hard to tell what is real. The electronics section only has a few fakes but things like iPods arent any cheaper than buying from the internet so i haven´t bothered with getting anything yet.

Today i went and perused the markets a bit more and looked at the leather jackets which are made from Argentinian leather (nice) and cost about NZD$70 for the expensive ones.

Tonight is going to be quiet as i need more sleep again but i only have a few more days to go until im back in Christchurch so tomorrow im thinking about taking a bus and going to see some famous ruins nearby.

Well i think thats all for now so i´ll probably be in touch again before i leave for the airport on Wednesday morning.

I´ve loved this trip but i cant wait to get back right now. South American culture has its moments.

Over and Out

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Machu Picchu and stuff

Well, its been some time since my last entry so i may have forgotten a few things along the way so bear with me.

The colca canyon was pretty cool for its sheer size but we were all a bit dissapointed by the lack of Condors. Apparently there arent many there anyways but instead of hanging around they flew around on the up drafts until high enough to bugger off to the ocean so we only had a few minutes of seeing them.

It was still amazing to see a bird that weighs 13kg and has a wing span of about 2m cruising around without flapping its wings.

After the colca canyon we had to do a big drive day to get to Cusco. I ended up in the front cab of the truck with Phil, our driver, for the last 3 hours to keep him company. We ended up chatting about the similarities between eastern philosophies and quantum physics... It was interesting to say the least.

Cusco is at about 3300m so you definately get a bit worn out when you walk around but it only takes a day or two to acclimatize. We had one full day free in Cusco to chill out and see a few sites so i went and saw an Inca museum but was a bit dissapointed with it as there wasnt much inca stuff there at all. Apparently all the good things are in other countries which is a bit shit.

And now, its the Inca trail.

We had to travel to a town called Ollantaytambo which is in the Sacred Valley. The area is named such as it is amazingly green and lush with life. There are tropical fruit trees and everything like that which is great.

We did a one day tour of the valley and some ruins which was okay. Not that i didnt like it, but there are only so many ruins you can see before you get a bit tired of them. The ruins in Ollantaytambo are arranged in the shape of a llama when seen from the air. Those Incas were pretty into the organization of their citys. Cusco is in the shape of a leopard and Machu Picchu is in the shape of a condor. There was another place we were told about that is in the shape of a corn cob. The streets are arranged to give definition to actual bits of corn on the cob.


The first day of the trek started with a 1 hour bus ride to kilometer 82 which is the start of the trail. We were on a one way dirt road with a raging river on one side and a whole lot of trees on the other and ended up meeting about 8 massive trucks coming the other way so had to do some very scary passing manouvers.

After checking into the trail we got our passports stamped to prove we went and started on our way. We had 14km to cover in the day and the sun was starting to peek through the clouds so we all got pretty hot and sweaty. Even when it rained it was hot, walking for so long gets you hot no matter what you do, especially when you carry your own gear like i did. The whole day was gently up hill and is supposed to be the easiest and a good starter to the trek. It wasnt easy but i didnt have too much trouble really.

Lunch and dinner were great. Always started with a hot drink and then soup and then a hot meal. We were never hungry.

Sleeping was in tents and there were no real issues there other than they were a bit too small. We were all very comfortable in them.

Day two is the hardest day as we needed to do 17km and go up 900m of pretty steep country from 3300m to 4200m before lunch. By the time we got to Dead Womans Pass (the highest point of the trek) we were pretty stuffed with the altitude. We had spread out alot by this stage so i was only at the top with two others. We only had about 5min up there as it must have been about 5 degrees and raining before we had to go down 700m to our lunch camp. My knees were aching pretty bad by this stage so going down was a bit rough. We were told that we should be getting to the lunch site around midday but the faster guys in the group arrived at 9am and i got there about 10am even with my slow down hill technique.

After lunch we had 400m up to go before heading down 300m to our final camp site. This didnt take too long either so we had a bit of free time at camp to chill out.

Day three was amazing. The scenery on this day was the best yet. We had views of snow capped mountains and lush green forest the whole time. The walk was all down hill and about 15km long. Most of us took this day pretty slow which was nice as we needed a bit of a rest. The day was fairly uneventful except for the 4 guys who wanted to go fast. They ended up making it to camp about 10am and continued onto Machu Picchu because they had time. Once there they took a few photos and had about 2 min left until they had to leave before they got pulled up by the police and asked for their tickets, which they didnt have... Our guide politely forgot to tell them they needed them to get in. 2 Hours spent in the holding cells and a whole lot of back and forth they were let out and escorted back to the camp site.

I got to the camp site around 2pm and we chiled out and bought some beer from the youth hostal that was there. Many games of bastard were played too to burn some time. That evening there was a disco for all of the tourists there and we stayed up late and drank a bit too much.

We had to be up at 4am the next morning to get to Machu Picchu before sun rise so all of us that stayed up were feelign a bit groggy. It was pissing down with rain at this point too so that didnt help at all either. The walk was only about 5km so we took it slow with the rain. When we got to the sun gate it was as foggy as anything so we didnt get to see the ruins from far away.

Another short walk later and we got to the ruins true. There was still a lot of fog around so we waited for a few hours until we took pictures and started a 2 hour tour around. We were allowed to walk around the ruins on our own after that for a few hours.

Once finished we headed down to Aguas Callientes (sp?) (Literal meaning: Water Hot) to have a swim in the hot pools which was great on the aching muscles. About 5pm we headed off on the train back to Ollantaytambo where we got a bus back to Cusco. Back in Cusco we were all really tired but there was a pact to do a 24 hour challenge. So we got up at 4am that morning and had to go till 4am the next in town. All but two of us made it and are thus feeling a bit worse for wear today.

Today has been a complete relax day which has been great. I got up at lunch time and am stil a bit tired. The muscles from the trek are only a touch sore which is good.

Tomorrow we head off to Puno and Lake Titicaca (The highest navigatable lake in the world) In 12 days ill be back in NZ so need to go do some shopping i reckon.

Until next time...