New Cars

Top 10 Features on the Automobiles for the American Market

1.    Quick release Wheels
2.     Rear-vision Mirror Lipstick Holders
3.    Cycle friendly Doors
4.     Instead of an Airbag – Secret Drug Compartment
5.    Machinegun
6.    Durable lead paint finish
7.    Soft asbestos seat covers
8.    Pizza Tray
9.    Heated Hamburger Slot
10.    Beer Can holder

PC Club 2004

Review of a Christchurch PC Club Meeting

Thursday 4 November 2004
Graeme Stewart (club president) showed us his toys. He started with a few USB micro drives, explaining that he used them to transfer his personal files between work and home. He had a problem with windows not recognizing the new drive letter for the microdrive, other programs found it but not in the windows setting. The problem was rectified when the discovered that TWEAKUI has deactivated the drive letter. Something used in older versions of Windows to speed up operations as this stopped windows scanning all possible drives.

He showed a how Roboform (fills HTML forms) and Leechget (downloader) worked.
Then his most interesting toy, a photographic printer. He used to use a ink-jet to print photos, but found that unless used frequently, the jets clogged and he needed a new cartridge.

The HiTi 630PL printer doesn’t have that problem. It is a home printer for about $400 that produces continuous tone prints that are identical to those produced by a commercial photolab. The 6×4 paper and printing cartridge comes in packs of 50 for $80 ($1.60 per sheet). Graeme had his camera and took a photo of the group. In a few minutes he had a print. Great little printer for home use. The only problem I have is that it doesn’t print images large enough for my CD covers. However its big brother, the 730PL prints on 6×8 paper, just the size I need.

After the talk I met a interesting chap, John Everingham, webmaster of the Elvis Costello Home Page.

A very impressive site with lots of info. He is doing CD covers like me, but all his are of bootleg Elvis Costello shows.

Chocolate Biscuits

My Favorite Biscuit Recipe

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
100g Butter
1 Egg
Vanilla Essence
Tablespoon Golden Syrup
1 Cup Flour
Teaspoon Baking Powder

Melt Butter & Golden Syrup, add and beat in egg, vanilla essence.
Add to flour and baking powder.
Spoon into 40gram balls and press flat on baking tray.
Cook about 20minutes until firm.

Ice & Fire

A Song of Ice and Fire
by George R. R. Martin

My reviews of the five published books. Read from April to July 2011. That’s EIGHT years ago. If you can remember character and plot details, then I suggest attending a Quiz. Meanwhile, the TV series is now in it’s eighth and final series (starts April 14, 2019).

A Games of Thrones (1996)
The magnum opus that started the madness. Slow to start but soon becomes compelling reading.

A Clash of Kings (1998)
Still compelling and interesting

A Storm of Swords (20002)
Now the books are getting longer. This one is split into two volumes. The plot starts to thin, the number of characters increase and the pacing slows.

A Feast for Crows (2005)
While still a good read, occasional plot developments keep the reader interested. By now we have realised that the journey is more important than the destination

A Dance with Dragons (2012)
Long, tedious and dull.

Two Women

This is a detail from a small area of a 1.3 megapixel photograph I took over 10 years ago. The background was separated and blurred. Filters were applied to the hair.


Sam the Spider

There once was a spider called Sam,
whose web from a window he spun
He had some fun, adding knots and clocks and cute locks.
It was such a treat, all the insects stomped their feet.
So he weaved and he leaved, more things to decieve.
As more came to grin, he coloured it in.
But he built such a good web, he never got fed.
And now (how sad) poor Sam, is dangling dead from a thread.

(c) Nigel Baker

Message From Mars

Message From Mars

Greetings Earthlings

We, the amoebae collective of mars, send you a message of explanation. We are aware that you now know of our presence. This was unforeseen and has prompted this response.

We had intended to evolve as you had, from sea slug to fish to a
quadruped to a bipedal of limited intelligence.

Instead we decided to wait and observe your behavior before
commencing our evolution. We have witnessed your move from a tribal species to one that can create great civilizations. Your achievements have been impressive.

However we became concerned with your social and technological changes in the last century. As a result of considerable debate, we decided to remain as we are and wait for a better role model.

Good luck with your experiments.

(c) Nigel Baker circa 2005

Robin Hobb

The Liveship Traders Trilogy
by Robin Hobb

Books in the Series:

  • Ship of Magic (1998)
  • The Mad Ship (1998)
  • Ship of Destiny (2000)

The Liveship Trader’s Trilogy  follows the lives of Bingtown Trader families and takes place in Jamaillia and the Pirate Isles, on the coast of the Six Duchies. The war in the north has interrupted the trade that is the lifeblood of Bingtown, and the Liveship Traders have fallen on hard times.

At one time, possession of a Liveship, constructed of magical wizard wood, guaranteed a Trader’s family prosperity. Only a Liveship can brave the dangers of the Rain Wild River and trade with the legendary Rain Wild Traders and their mysterious magical goods. Althea Vestrit expects her families to adhere to tradition, and pass the family Liveship on to her when it quickens at the death of her father. Instead, the Vivacia goes to her sister Keffria and her scheming Chalcedean husband Kyle. The proud Liveship becomes a transport vessel for the despised but highly profitable slave trade.

Althea, cast out on her own, resolves to make her own way in the world and somehow regain control of her family’s living ship. Her old shipmate Brashen Trell, the enigmatic woodcarver Amber and the Paragon, the notorious mad Liveship are the only allies she can rally to her cause. Pirates, a slave rebellion, migrating sea serpents and a newly hatched dragon are but a few of the obstacles she must face.

The three books span nearly 2,700 pages.

The epic and sweeping narrative carries events to a fever pitch over the excellently paced and plotted books.
This is the best Robin Hobb trilogy and the most memorable fantasy trilogy of modern times.

It’s recommended to read the Assassin trilogy first, but this can be read separately to her other trilogies.

Other Series:
The Farseer Trilogy

  • Assassin’s Apprentice (1995)
  • Royal Assassin (1996)
  • Assassin’s Quest (1997)

These books follow the life of FitzChivalry Farseer (Fitz), a trained assassin, in a kingdom called The Six Duchies as his uncle, Prince Verity attempts to wage war on the Red-Ship Raiders from The OutIslands who are attacking the shores of the kingdom by turning the people of the Six Duchies into Forged ones; a form of zombification which makes them emotionless. Meanwhile Prince Regal’s jealousy and the indulgence of his own selfish whims threatens to destroy Six Duchies.
Written in first person, this series was fascinating from the first page. The pacing is slow, but the characterisation and storytelling is always compelling. The only reason this is second to the Liveships trilogy is that is has a weaker ending.


The Tawny Man Trilogy

  • Fool’s Errand (2001)
  • The Golden Fool (2002)
  • Fool’s Fate (2003)

This trilogy is where the slow pacing, work building and repetitive themes catch up with Robin Hobb. By the third book, it becomes a slog to get through the story.


The Rain Wild Chronicles

  • Dragon Keeper (2009)
  • Dragon Haven (2010)
  • City of Dragons (2011)
  • Blood of Dragons (2013)

Yet to be read.

Total Recall

Total Recall (2012)

A factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after visiting Rekall – a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led – goes wrong and he finds himself on the run.

Colin Farrell
Kate Beckinsale
Jessica Biel
Bryan Cranston
Bill Nighy

Based on the better film with Arnold, this was better than I though it would be. The central idea that there is an elevator through the middle of the earth is preposterous, however there is sufficient adventure and action to keep the story going for an entertaining movie.