Tag Archives: postaday2011

Becoming Spiderman

It was my nephew’s 4th birthday this week! 

So on the weekend, we made a trip into Toys’R’Us to try and find a present.

Being a father to daughters only for 11 odd years, I have been brainwashed into “girl” toys – you know, Barbie, Bratz, dolls, cutesy stuff that is pink in colour, crafty things, diaries and stationery, bags, earrings, headbands, etc. 

But walking into the store with my mind on boy toys – ALRIGHT!  I could buy something like cars, scalectrix kits, remote control cars, boy lego, figurines, fake weapons and more.  Ahh, the stuff I missed from my fatherhood 🙂 

We ended up buying something I could not resist – a SPIDERMAN outfit! 


When he had it on, I could literally FEEL the testosterone radiating from him. 

There must have been something magical about the outfit because as soon as he put it on, he was immediately posing, hands on hips – admiring his unbelievably huge muscles. 

Ahh.. boys…

Failing at Rubik’s 4×4 Revenge Cube

A friend left their 4×4 Rubik’s revenge cube at our place a few weeks ago.

Miss 10 and Miss 11 didn’t even take a second look at it. 

But it was there, on the table… staring at me..  DARING me… to try and solve it.

Everytime I walked past, it was as if it was taunting “COME ON!!  TRY AND SOLVE ME!  YOU KNOW YOU CAN!” in an evil Voldemort voice.

So I tried.

I wrote down the colours, and figured out which ones should go on which face.    But after doing 1 layer, this is as far as I got.

I was STUCK!! Aaarghhhh..   stupid cube.  I knew it..  I shouldn’t have taken up your Voldemort challenge.  Because I’ve now failed!

But aha!  Not yet..  I have a secret weapon – the “internet”.  I quickly punched up “Rubik 4×4 solution” into Google and found a whole stack of walk throughs.

I WILL have my revenge…   when I have some time..  maybe this weekend?  🙂

Online resources for NZ quake info

I can’t stop thinking about the destruction and loss of life in Christchurch due to the large earthquake yesterday.

Is it just me, or has 2011 seemed to have started with an unusually large number of natural disasters?   Cyclones and flooding in Queensland, cyclones up in the North West of WA, flooding in the Eastern States, large storms in rural WA, bush fires in Perth, and now major earthquake damage in our neighbour New Zealand.    The loss of life and injuries, the impact on people’s lives, families, work and income is terrible and saddening.   However, all these events are making me appreciate how precious life is and how insignificant we, as a “species” inhabiting this planet, are. 

The surreal images, personal stories and news footage coming from New Zealand is sad and scary.   My thoughts and prayers go out to all affected and to all those in the search and rescue efforts.  

Initially I had thought there was just one major earthquake/aftershock from the big one last year, but no…   that area of New Zealand is currently experiencing an extremely large number of aftershocks. 

Here are some internet sites that help put the seriousness and instability of the land in more perspective:

Christchurch Quake Map – lets you play back all the recent quakes for a specified day and plotted out on a map in accelerated time.  

QuakeMap NZ – plots out all the latest quakes statically on a Google map.   Yep, there’s a stack of them all centered around Christchurch.  

GeoNet – has a list of the latest quakes

And Google has a Christchurch Earthquake Crisis Response page that lets you find missing friends/relatives, keep up to date with the latest information and has emergency numbers.   Good if you have internet connection, but for those in Christchurch with no power, water and congested mobile networks, not so good.

Yummy Chinese steamboat dinner

On the weekend, we had all of my wife’s side of the family over for a belated Chinese New Year meal together.

The theme for this dinner?   Steamboat!

We don’t have steamboat very often, but it’s a family favourite. 

The best way to explain what steamboat is, is that it’s like a hotpot.  We normally put out trays of various uncooked foods (sliced meats like sliced beef or chicken, balls like beef balls, fish balls, crab balls, tofu balls, etc) and each guest will put what they want into a boiling steamboat pot in the middle of the table to cook their own food.  Then you spoon it out and have it with noodles, vegies and some of the broth – sort of like a noodle soup 🙂

In Perth, one of the best (and only?) places to buy the bits and pieces for steamboat is Emma’s Yong Tau Foo shop in William Street in Northbridge.

I actually hadn’t gone in there before, always dropping Wifey out the front.  But on the weekend I ventured inside this unassuming shop.

And it’s like a TARDIS!

It’s a massively packed Chinese grocery shop, and towards the back is a massive counter full of bags of balls and other goodies.  My mouth was watering just looking at all the food, and as usual, we ended up buying way too much!

Way too much to choose from

Wifey had to pull me away from the Chinese New Year food display they had there too – very…  hard… to… resist..  Kueh Bankit…

Chinese New Year delights

If you’re not sure what to buy, I noticed they sold some combination/assorted bags if you want to try different things first.

Or just do what we do – buy a few bags of single items, eat as much as you can on the day, and chuck the rest in the freezer to have with noodles for the next few weeks 🙂

Some of the goodies we bought

Emma’s Yong Tau Foo shop is located on the corner of William St and Newcastle St in Northbridge:  http://www.whereis.com/WA/Northbridge/317-William-St/#session=MTE=

Look for this shop! (Image from Google Maps)

Miss 11 on camp

Last week, Miss 11 was on a school camp for 3 nights.  She arrived back on Friday – pretty tired from early starts and late nights chatting to friends.

Even though she’s not the “noisy” one in our family, the house definitely felt empty and our family missing a piece…

Empty bed
Lonely lunchbox
Expired todo list

Updating the map on the Garmin Nuvi 260W

A few years ago, I bought my Dad a Garmin Nuvi 260W GPS.   It was a good GPS in its day – but I think now its interface is a little basic.

Well, it seemed to be working fine for my Dad until he wanted to go to some place up in Landsdale.   And for some reason, the Garmin GPS just did not want to navigate to a specific address up there.  It was as if the address did not exist.  Actually, it seemed like there were only 2 or 3 addresses on Landsdale Road!   What happened to all the other houses and businesses?

I thought that it would be a good time to update the maps on his GPS.   Luckily, when I registered the Nuvi, we were informed that he could get one free map upgrade!  Awesome!   (Although, I was thinking – shouldn’t EVERYONE get free map upgrades for their GPS?   I’m somehow getting free updates for my TomTom GPS on the iPhone.  Aarghh, it seems that some recent purchasers do get free lifetime map upgrades – http://www.smarthouse.com.au/Automotive/Navigation/E3S5J9V3)

So, the GPS was connected, I pressed the buttons to update the map, but no..   I got an error message saying that there wasn’t enough memory!

What the?!?

I’m scouring the net trying to figure out how to get around this.

There was some text on the Garmin website that said “In some instances, your Garmin product might not have sufficient memory remaining for you to load an update to the same map Data originally included with your Garmin product (or purchased separately, as the case may be), in which case you will need to select reduced map Data coverage for your updates.

Unfortunately, when going through the screens to download the maps, I only have one choice – full coverage of Australian and New Zealand!

In a similar thread on the Garmin website, someone seemed to indicate that the software will assist you in freeing up some space – but I didn’t see any prompt like this, maybe it’s for the Windows version only?

Some other posts on the net start delving into removing or moving files off the GPS.   And I started playing around with this.   One useful thing about the Nuvi is that the files inside it appear as a USB drive.   So I could see that it only had 33MB free of 250MB.   Not good.

I first copied ALL the files over to my laptop, and then progressed to deleting off Voice and Text files for languages that my Dad wouldn’t need and deleting off the example images in the JPEG folder.   I might have even deleted the gmapprom.img and gmapprom.sum files (the pre-loaded maps).

And then it was all OK!  The update worked fine.  The GPS still booted up and had maps on it.

And it found the weird address in Landsdale that my Dad was looking for.

So, if you’re having problems updating maps – check out how much free space there is left in your GPS, take a backup (copy) of everything on there, clear out unnecessary files, and google “gmapprom.img” if you need to move the pre-loaded maps off.

Another D7000 review

Don’t you love it when you stumble upon a great blog or website that you’ve never visited before?

For me – I thought I had seen all the good photography sites out there, but no..  of course not!

Nasim and Lola are a married couple (with two kids) who are both photographers!   They’re reviews are really personal, full of good information and hands on experience with the gear.

Here’s Nasim’s review on the D7000 – http://mansurovs.com/nikon-d7000-review

He’s also written a good article on full frame versus cropped frames here that’s worth a read if you’re having the same problems as me deciding!  http://mansurovs.com/nikon-dx-vs-fx




D7000 or D700 full frame?


I want to upgrade my camera this year, but I really can’t decide.

Stick with the DX crop sensor and lenses and get the Nikon D7000?

Or make the shift to full frame, get a Nikon D700, and have to sell my Tokina 12-24 F4 DX and Nikon 17-55 F2.8 DX lenses and upgrade to perhaps the Nikon 24-70 F2.8 FX lens?   (Luckily my other lenses are full frame ready).

I know the D700 route will be much more expensive in the end, but will it be more worth it in the long run?

Nikon D7000 – http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond7000/ and http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/d7000.htm

Nikon D700 – http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond700/ and http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/d700.htm

Looks like I’m not the only one pondering this question!




[Update 9 March 2011]

I’ve finally decided to go full frame.  At the back of my head, if I went DX, I would always think that the low light, high ISO performance wouldn’t be the best I could get within my budget.   One useful site I’ve found is snapsort, which lets you compare features of cameras.

Here is the comparison between the D700 and D7000 – http://snapsort.com/compare/Nikon_D700-vs-Nikon_D7000

The thing that swayed me is the noise performance.  According to DXOMark, a picture at ISO 1167 on a D7000 will have the same amount of noise as a picture taken at ISO 2303 on a D700.  Wow – a full stop! 

And comparing to my current D80 – http://snapsort.com/compare/Nikon_D700-vs-Nikon_D80

D80 ISO 524 is equivalent to D700’s ISO 2303.    That’s just mind boggling.

I’m thinking – you can always invest in new lenses, but the noise in the sensor is fixed by your body.  A D700 with a 50mm 1.4 lens, or a mid range 2.8 zoom would be amazing.

New queueing strategy in Target and other stores

At the front of the Target checkout queue

Notice the new way the queues to the checkouts work in Target, K-Mart, Big W?   Everyone is in one big queue, served by many checkouts – rather than separate queues for each checkout.

Does it really work?  The line is dismally longer, making me feel like it’s going to take a really long time based on my previous experiences.  Target sneakily makes everyone walk past their confectionery and other knick knacks.  However, it seems that the line does move more often.  But do you wait any shorter than you used to?  According to queueing theory – the study of queues – you’re meant to!

By making everyone queue in one queue only, in a FIFO (first in first out) mode, this is meant to reduce the average wait time and improve the feeling of all those in the queue.

Think about it:

  • The customer to be served next is always the customer who has been waiting the LONGEST.  In this regard, it is fair.
  • A side effect of this is you don’t end up comparing the speed of your queue with the one next to you.   EVERYONE is in the same queue, being processed at the same rate.  So you should be happier 🙂
  • And since there is only ONE queue, you don’t have scan all the queues to figure out which one to choose.  There is only one to choose!
  • Hold ups in one register will not hold up the next person in the queue as they will be served by the next available register.   In the old system, if one queue was held up, then EVERY person in that queue would be held up too, magnifying the cumulative waiting time for all customers.
  • Because the one queue is being serviced by multiple registers, it moves faster, hence giving you, the customer, the perception that the checkout register people are actually working.
  • The shop can open up another register with no need to re-organise the people in the queue.

So Target thinks they have improved their queueing system, and they have!

But can their system be improved?

Here are some of my suggestions:

  • Introduce some indication to customers how long it will take to get to the front of the line.   This is done in Disneyland and some other queues where it can take a long time.  Maybe it’s not required in Target if the wait is only a few minutes, but around Christmas time and big sales time, placing a notification like this will help let customers tune their expectations, and hence make them happier.
  • Always staff the registers closest to the queue first.   On the weekend, I noticed that many of the registers near the queue were empty.  The problem with this is, once register X has finished with the last transaction, they press their buzzer to call the next customer Y.  But if register X is far away, there is much lost time waiting for customer Y to reach the register.  The registers farthest away might have to wait 15-30 seconds for the customer to make their way to them.  This is wasted time.    They didn’t have this problem with the old system since the next customer was probably just a metre away.    If I were Target, I’d do some measurement of how long each register spends between customers and see if there is a correlation between time and where they are positioned.

Some other posts I stumbled on that you may also find interesting:

Queueing Theory in Action – http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ericlippert/archive/2009/08/20/queueing-theory-in-action-plus-frogs.aspx
How not to design a Supermarket checkout – http://www.katherinealsop.com/2009/11/17/how-not-to-re-design-a-supermarket-checkout/
The Checkout Line – Why is it so slow?  – http://www.betterprojects.net/2011/01/checkout-line-why-is-it-so-slow.html