Roswell

USA road-trip in detail

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USA ROAD TRIP 2012

My last post was a quick one on driving in the US.  This one is much more detailed, and contains a full list of where I went, along with the highlights of each day.

Firstly, here is a map of our trip. I’ve indicated below which cities we stayed at overnight, as well as those we stopped at on the way thru during the day.

I should also mention we stayed at 3 star type accommodation most of the time.  Easy to find in the US, and super cheap – often $40 US a night inducing wifi and breakfast (for 2).  TripAdvisor helped heaps here!  So not an expensive trip compared to hotels in many other places.  Petrol (gas) is also crazy cheap – especially when you are driving a hybrid using less than 5l/100km (50mpg+).


View US Road Trip in a larger map

(more…)

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dallas interchange

Driving in the US of A

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I have recently (like 3 days ago), finished a road-trip through the US southern states.  We drove from Los Angeles California (which is on the west coast), to Florida (the east cost in case you didn’t know) and back again in around 3 weeks.   That’s like 10,000km+ (or 6,000 miles+ if you’re from the US).  If you’re from Texas, it means we drove more than Texas :-)

Anyway, I’ll have LOTS of updates on this soon, with lots of good blog topics from the trip, but wanted to touch on one thing first: Driving in the US, and US drivers.

The black and white version of driving in the US:

  • Interstates rock!  You can actually get the signposted speed 99% of the time (in fact mostly much more, see below)
  • Almost everyone speeds, like 10-20 miles over the limit.  If you go on the limit EVERYONE including trucks passes you
  • US drivers tailgate on interstates and state highways.  Like 1m behind you @ 70miles and hour (100km/hr+).
  • Less than 5% of the drivers indicate.  Especially noticeable for lane changes.

As an aside, interstates and highways are pretty easy to navigate, and are very well signposted.

Anyone in New Zealand will know about spaghetti junction in Auckland.  Well the photo for this post is for the Dallas/Fort Worth interchange.  I think that must be the spaghetti factory there!  And yes, I did drive it!

Black and White Version: Driving in the US was surprisingly easy.  Interstates are fast and easy, and drivers are (mainly) good – but they sure do tailgate, and don’t indicate.

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waiting sign

It’s been a while eh?

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For my regular readers (yes both of you), you may have noticed my blog posting has been rather slow of late.

This is partly due to the fact that I have done heaps of traveling in the last 3 months (Italy, UK in Nov, and then Canada/US for 5 weeks in Dec/Jan 2012).

Anyway, enuf excuses, you’ll see a whole bunch of posts in the next day or 3.

Black and White Version: Yes, I am blogging again :-)

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Awesome Gay Short Film

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I was emailed a link today, and asked to blog about it.  90% of the time I don’t, coz either the link is spam, or I don’t support the message being pushed.

Today was an exception.  Here is a truly awesome gay short film.

WARNING SEXUAL THEMES (well more to the point, actual sex).

 

“306″ Short Gay Film from Elliot London on Vimeo.

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Siri

iPhone 4s review for use in New Zealand

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Despite my earlier thoughts, I did buy an iPhone 4s in Sydney last Friday.  (My iPhone 4s pre-review is here)

So, after almost a solid week using it, here are my cut to the chase, black and white, observations:

What’s it like? FAST (and awesome).
What’s Siri like to use? Entertaining (see Siri quotes here), and super useful even with the limitations of no location search outside the US. Speech recognition is AMAZING!  Very intelligent.  This is no standard dictate only app, it’s very smart.  Things like What’s the weather like and What’s the weather forecast in Wellington tomorrow all work seamlessly.  Oh, and yes, you can dictate to it too (which is handy when driving).
Other stuff? Well iOS5 rocks – love iMessage integration of text and data messaging. iCloud will take smartphone convenience to the next level for many users (especially the ones that don’t back up!)
Camera This is a point and shoot camera killer.I am not that interested in 8 vs 5MP, but the speed of focus, and between shot time (under a second) and the fast lens (this means it lets more light in, so brighter pics) is SUCH a pleasant surprise.  Add in iCloud integration, and I take a pic, and 10 seconds later it’s on my home PC and also my iPad (as soon as I am in Wifi range that is).If I was CEO of Canon et al, I’d be worried. (Just like Hallmark cards should be)
Should I get one if I have an iPhone 4? Well, probably you don’t NEED one.  But do you WANT one?
Actually, upgrade to iOS5 1st, then decide if Siri+camera+speed is what you are after.
Should I get one if I have a 3Gs or earlier? Or don’t have an iPhone? If you want a smart phone, IMHO, the iPhone 4s is the best on the planet as of today’s date.
 NZ issues
  • We can’t buy them yet (even from Apple).
  • Siri will work, but not with location based stuff (yet).
  • It’s BLOODY expensive (relative to other countries that offer large carrier subsidies).
iOS5 Just like lots of the cool stuff about the iPhone 4 was iOS4, iOS5 rocks.   In my view it’s the most significant upgrade since they added multi-tasking.    Ironically the issue for many when upgrade the iOS is things like oh, I lost my music coz my PC crashed last year or My app settings got lost coz I forgot to back them up, and the ONE thing that will stop that from happening again is the very OS they are upgrading it to.  iOS5 + iCloud allows for truly PC-less backups/OS upgrades etc.
More on back ups etc To show you how cool iCloud/iOS5 is, my friend in Sydney had already migrated to iCloud on his iPhone 4, and upgraded that to iOS5.  On Saturday he goes into a store, gets an iPhone 4s, tethers to my iPhone (ie on WiFi) and withing 60 minutes has ALL his apps (in folders), settings, contacts, the WORKS on his phone.  No PC, no iTunes, nothing, just a WiFi connection and a “yes, please download my stuff” clicked once.  Apple are onto a winner here.   My acid test is could I give it to my mum to use, and the answer is yes, it’s that simple.
What don’t I like? Minor gripe is despite same basic form factor (shape and size) as the iPhone 4, the side controls (mute switch and volume controls) are are few mm lower than on the iPhone 4.  This means buying a new case OR putting up with every so slightly mis-aligned holes.  Not a major, but annoying.  FYI, all others line up (camera, dock,headphones etc)

Some observations on buying one:

  • It was SUPER easy.  Apple know how to make stuff work, including retail sales.
  • It was SUPER quick – 15 minutes queue @ 1.30pm on Friday 14th October (the 1st day of sale) for the Sydney main store on George St
  • Staff very helpful
  • Apple staff rock!

Black and White Version: The 4s is an awesome phone.  Like the iPad 1>2 upgrade it is more incremental, but Siri and the camera are super nice additions, and the speed is REALLY amazing.  iOS5 + iCloud ROCKS!

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The REAL big ben

Big Ben on a lean? No, media got that headline wrong (again).

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The REAL big ben

Today the NZ Herald reports that Pisa expert says Big Ben leaning.  Using the text Monitoring instruments suggest the tower’s tilt has increased by about a centimetre a year since 2003 below a picture of the tower.

I am gonna call them on that one and say I can guarantee it’s not.  How do I know this?  Coz as anyone who’s done a tour of London knows Big Ben is NOT the clock tower, it’s the big bell inside it.   So the headline should read Tower hosting Big Ben is on a lean says Pisa expert. (or something like it).

Sure, it doesn’t REALLY matter to 99% of people, and lots of people do call the tower Big Ben, BUT journalists do this for a job – this isn’t a twitter post, or a FaceBook status update.  They need to do their homework.

End of rant.

Black and White Version: Sometimes Journalists are lazy.  Sometimes that annoys me.  Sometimes I blog about it.

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iphone 5

iPhone 4S – Black and White Pre-Review

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Just like I did with the iPad 2, here is my black and white review of the iPhone 4S.

Note: It’s a pre-review since I don’t have one yet (nor does anyone else, except maybe this guy).

Btw, if you don’t like Apple (or secretly do, but like complaining about features it doesn’t have – go here)

UPDATE 20/10/11: I ended up buying one.  My iPhone 4s review is here.

Item Comment
Killer Feature Battery life (read that several times – got it yet?)
Anything else? Yes, iOS 5 (but you can get that on the 4, or 3GS)
What else is new/improved Camera, faster processor, it’s thinner, blah blah (sounds like iPad > iPad 2 eh?).  Full iPhone comparison here
What’s everyone talking about Siri - it’s where you can speak commands to your phone
What’s everyone bitching about? It’s not called and iPhone 5, and its shape is the same
Should I get one? If you want to.   Your call.  If you say “There are no new features” then you missed the killer feature of battery life.
Will I get one? For now I will say maybe. And like the iPad 2, the more I look at it, the more it will probably be a yes :)
There is a TINY WINY problem in that it won’t be avail in NZ for ages – so I guess I will have to order online and get it delivered to a mate overseas like I did with my iPad.  Or maybe a(nother) wee trip overseas?

Anyone with a smart phone (and who actually uses it as one) knows the frustration of battery life.  While it’s fine when you use it for calls and text, once internet use comes in to the picture, a FULL days work is hard to get on a phone.  Apple nailed that with battery life on the iPad, and now, have MAJORLY improved it on the iPhone.  To me that’s the true revolution of the iPhone 4S.

Black and White Version: iPhone 4S’s killer feature if battery life.  iOS rocks, and Siri is a “oh .. nice”. 

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This is just awesome – the Lost Generation

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I reserve posting random YouTube clips for the awesome ones.  This is one of them:

Watch it till the end.

Black and White Version: Just awesome! (share it).

Hat Tip: Shannon’s BlogSpot

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Pam-Ann

Pam Ann – not funny with Aids FaceBook post

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Comedian Pam Ann crossed the line today in a rather stupid outburst on Facebook.

Known to have a HUGE gay following (I would estimate three quarters of her audience are gay, due to the theme of her work), and Pam make constant references to her gays during both her stage acts, and here regular FaceBook posts.

Today, in reference to Ryan Air’s new beds and blowjobs business class (link to Youtube if you wanna watch it) across the Atlantic (that’s Ryan Airs marketing for it!), Pam decided to be TRY to be funny and made the following post:

Blowjobs on Ryanair’s long haul business class I’d rather catch aids in Africa lol

I fully get that some humor will be offend some people, and I am all for pushing the boundaries, but this crossed the line.  WAY over.  And based on comments from those on FaceBook, many would agree.

Of course people can make mistakes.  Comedians included.  So LOTS comments asked Pam to delete the post, and apologise.  I think the matter would have ended there.

But instead Pam left the post up, and clearly seeing the backlash from her gays, changed her profile picture to a rainbow flag.

Sorry Pam – this makes it worse.  You clearly see the issue, but choose to try to make up for it by pretending to be gay friendly, when clearly you are EXTREMELY ignorant on both Aids, and in particular those in Africa who suffer from it.

So, this post is all about exposing Pam for who and what she is.

Comments welcome!

Black and White Version: Pam’s funny, but she needs to remember her core audience and how hurtful her ill-thought out comment was. When you’re a one trick pony, best not to p*ss off your audience. Apologise now Pam, please. (quoted directly from Tania on FaceBook)

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CCC plan

Christchurch City Council’s Draft Development Plan

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Yesterday the Christchurch City Council released its draft plan for the development of Christchurch post the recent earthquakes.

If you click on the link above you will get an online flip page style book, or if you prefer something you can download, here’s the pdf version of the CCC plan.

Let’s cut to the chase here:

This document ROCKS! (and not in a bad, earthquake way, excuse the unintended pun).  I strongly recommend any Christchurch resident reads it and gives feedback.

IMHO, it’s the right balance of vision (it gives us all something to think/look forward to) with some practical now stuff.

To balance off my praise for the CCC, I give a HUGE brick bat to Gerry Brownlee, who has been the ONLY poor performer out of ALL the agencies and people involved in the earthquake recovery:

  • CCC have done a good job (and a great job on this plan)
  • EQC an average job (too slow, but OK)
  • The Government have done a good job (with a very fair compensation package to red zoners who can’t rebuild).  Key, in particular, has come across as very reasonable and level headed.
  • CERA have done a good job – getting the right CE was probably half of that!

But Browlee has performed poorly.  Why?  Because less than one week prior to announce the compensation packages for homeowners that were not able to rebuild their homes, he arrogantly refused to give ANY idea of when info would come out on it.  Instead of saying I can not confirm an exact date, but we hope to have information out to those effected in a matter of weeks, not months. But no, he just said I know, but I am not telling you, it’s complex. (Note: I have paraphrased here, he didn’t say these exact words)  Can you say Arrogant Prick any louder, Gerry?

But it gets worse; Brownlee was reported as commenting on the CCC plan (link includes a video of Mayor Parker’s presentation)

However, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee called the plan “a pretty big wish list”.

Gee, thanks Gerry, that was constructive! (in case you missed it, that was me being sarcastic).

Contrast this with how Key responded:

Prime Minister John Key is a fan of light rail for earthquake-hit Christchurch but he’s less clear on who should pay for the city’s $2 billion rebuild plan.

To to a degree, both are right, coz they say the same message, but in totally different ways.  There’s a lot not costed in the plan.  The CCC says about half will be paid for by the Council (ie ratepayers) and half by a mix of Government and private investment. So yes, the issue of where the money comes from needs to be answered at some stage.  But notice how Key’s message is  Yes, but … and Gerry says No, unless … even though they have a similar message of who’s gonna pay?.  Gerry you could learn so much from your leader!

Anyway, back to the plan, it rocks, read it and give feedback.

Black and White Version: The CCC have the right mix of vision and practicality in their latest plan.  The challenge will be funding it, but now is the best time to try for things like this.

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