Otaki Forks in the Tararua Forest Park

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If the roadways of New Zealand are considered majestic then imagine how beautiful the countryside is when you go off the road into specifically designated national forests. We haven’t visited the famous hills of The Sound of Music – yet, but I would have to assume they are similar to these. Since pictures (and video) are worth a thousand words let’s make it easy and have you check out the hyperlapse video below that I took of our hike through the Tararua Forest Park.

As I mentioned the video, the countryside is more of a rolling plains type visual, were as all the forest we visited had more of a tropical foliage landscape.

 

The Feijoa is a uniquely tasty Kiwi fruit

When we asked our New Zealand friends what we should try while we were there they responded quickly with “The Feijoa!”

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I have no idea why this fruit can’t be found anywhere else than New Zealand. It taste just like candy and would go over well with kids if they had to make these part of their daily fruit and veggie regiment. We also found the fruit in soft drinks – which were delicious as well.

I didn’t clarify well at the end of the video but you get the idea. It really does taste like a sweet tart type candy. So much so that it is a bit of a surprise when you eat it. You brain says, I’m about to eat a fruit, but your mouth says “I just ate candy right?”

One side note: We noticed that all the produce in the super market was either labeled “product of New Zealand” or “product of U.S.A” No other country was listed. Thought that was interesting, NZ prefers our produce over their neighbors.

A must visit to Waiheke Island

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If I had to sum it up I’d say Waiheke island was a cross between Sausalito, CA and OBX, VA. There are wineries, beautiful mountain views with glistening bays between. We really enjoyed our time here. To make the visit even more unique and special Jackie got us a Glamping tent on AirBnB for our stay.

We happened to have arrived during the Waiheke Jazz festival so most restaurants had bands playing. We strolled through the countryside and stopped at a few wineries. Our first was by far our favorite, Kennedy Point Vinyards. Not only was there a great selection of wine, but the staff was incredible helpful and fun.

The staff explaining a flight of Sarah from freshly picked grapes to aged ones.

Allie, one of the staff at Kennedy Point, saw us walking down the street later in the day and offered a ride home. Our feet were pretty tired so we took it! One conversation led to another and we ended up going to one of the Jazz show with her and her husband Felix. They were such a wonderful couple and we had a awesome time.

The other wineries we visited on Waiheke island were Stoney Ridge, which had an amazing view from it’s balcony, but it was a bit on the pricey side (shown below); and Wild on Waiheke, which didn’t have the friendliest staff and boasted archery and games on the vineyard but the came with an hour wait and around $30 price tag per person.

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Marokopa Falls

DSCN0241On our way to the Waitomo Work Caves we made a stop at the Marokopa Falls. It was a brief walk through the jungle-like bush before we could hear the force of the falls against the rocks in the distance. We started recording right before we first layed eyes on the falls so we could capture our reaction on film. It was a magnificent display of mother nature.

The king of the Kava ritual

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Kava is a traditional drink of Fiji that has special sedative power and is used in daily social gatherings. Luckily for us, our hotel hosted a kava ceremony while we were there and we jumped at the opportunity to participate.

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We were the first to arrive and struck up a conversation with the Wise, the host of the ceremony, while he was churning the kava filled bag in water. You can see his explanation of how the ceremony goes below.

Since I was the first one there I was bestowed the honor of being the Chief (I know I said King in the title – alliteration sounded better)  of the kava ceremony. With that, my responsibility was to make sure everyone clapped appropriately to ask for their drink and determine when it was time to give the group another round.

Kava tastes like – tingling, numbing, dirt. It isn’t pleasant but the effects on the mouth after pushing back a coconut filled cup of the stuff is an experience. You have to drink six or more cups of this stuff and even if you get past the taste the sheer quantity of liquid consumed is hard to swallow. Everyone did their best to keep up but it didn’t take long for people to back out, myself included.

I was hoping for a peaceful deep sleep as the kava promises, but neither I or Jackie got one. I don’t think it worked on us, but to each their own.

Google Hangouts Finally Work!

I have been trying Google Hangouts sporadically for the last … 6 months or so. Using it once a month to handle a group chat or video chat instead of my regular Skype, phone, or webex usage. It improved tremedously each month, but since in the first few months it wouldnt evenload correctlt thta wasnt saying much. By the time it finally started loading correctly for me it was dropping calls left and right and very choppy in the UI.

All that being said, it was a great day in the video conference world today: our team at Socialize used Hangouts for a group call and it worked flawlessly! Hooray, finally a group video chat system that actually works. Of course I am holding back a little bit since most video chat services are hit or miss, but I must admit that the steady growth of improvement on Google Hangouts is nice, and if it keeps up this trajectory it will be the goto for me and my team.

 

Some cool features that come with GHang:

1 – You can schedule a hangout on your calendar

2 – You can video chat with multiple poeple for free

3 – It comes with the standard “effects” sweet people know and love. We had a good time using the “applause” effect for each persons update, and the “gong” effect when the meeting was over.

4 – You can screen share to the group pretty easily

5 – You can pull in your Google Drive data into the chat. Which is nice for us since we use GDrive a lot. I haven’t tried it yet, but presentations in GDrive should integrate well…

Give Google Hangouts a shot, and let me know if it worked smoothly for you too, or if my glee is premature.

 

Some more good documentries

Art & Copy
Art & Copy

Art & Copy

The moment I saw the previews for this movie I wanted to see it. In your face PR and Marketing that stands up in the face of have-to’s and mediocrity. You will not watch this movie an feel uninspired, especially if you have an idea or two bouncing around in your head.


Crips & Bloods
Crips & Bloods

Crips and Bloods

An etymological look at the notorious gangs formed in LA known as the Bloods and Crips. It was interesting to see the movie’s point of view on how slavery, civil rights and unrest and racism slowly and with little stabs at this south LA community created resentment and hate the bubbled up into an uncontrollable burst of violence. It was also interesting to see the physiological introspection and consciousness that the gangsters in this movie possessed. They are able to self reflect even with a low education, low income and low social awareness communities which makes for an interesting view. Honestly they made some pretty good points about the one-sided nature of history related to south LA and gangs. Another interesting moment is how 3 boys described how they wanted to be in the Boy Scouts of America and were not allowed because they were black and how it turned out to be the 3 creators of what ended up being the seed to what grew into the Bloods and Crips and LA gangs as we know it in its stead. Yes, this movie is pretty one-sided from the view point of the gangster as a victim but walking through the history I would be pretty pissed too.


Afghan Star
Afghan Star

Afghan Star

Pretty maddening Movie. This movie tracks the stars of the new show Afghan Star (An Afghan rip-off of American idol) after Afghanistan had recently softened its stance on singing, TV and entertainment being banned from the country. The maddening part is watching people praise their new found freedom and love for the ability to finally express themselves as being “an empty house finally filled in their soul” and then having to watch those same people shake their head in disgust when a woman on the show decides to dance on TV to express her joy and passion for music. Watch this movie and step back and think how often are we so short-sided with freedom, vs real freedom. (Bloods and Crips also has a — when is freedom freedom aspect to it as well in a very different way).


Helvetica
Helvetica

Helvetica

Okay, when I saw this movie I was really intrigued so I was looking forward to watching it. For one, how much can a movie dive into one font? Secondly, these people are passionate about design. In all honesty it was kind of long and it got old halfway through but the first half was full of info and good tidbits on design, business and how a font can be so influential and have such history. To be honest I never finished it.

iPhone, Safari, and HTML5, Oh My!

iPhone Video
iPhone Video

iPhone Safari is purpoted to be trying to release HTML5’s newest spec that allows video tags. This means that we will soon be able to watch video inline easily not only on the web in general but on our pretty little phones.

Some of you may be saying, “I already can playvideo on my phone”. Which although true isnt really the whole picture. Have you noticed that when there is video you must play in in a seperate quicktime panel that pops out. Witht the inclusion of this new spec you will be ale to just press play from within the web  page.

For developers this also menas that including images in a pahge will be as easy as using a simple <video> tag as appose to needing to use a plugin like quicktime or flash. As Isaac put it, we are one step closer to getting rid of flash.

Example:

<video src=”http://www.ananova.com/about/vap_windows_check.wmv”&gt;
your browser does not support the video tag
</video>

Boxee

Boxee
Boxee

Isaac just demoed a great peice of software for the mac or PC called Boxee. Boxee is loaded on your computer and plays online video from hundreds of sources including videos from your local hard drive, hulu, youtube, and digg. Simply hook your computer up to your TV and watch these shows and click through options and menus with your remote. Best of all its an open source project so downloading is free and you are able to improve the product or add your own video modukes as you please.

Since Boxee allows you to login to your favorite social networks you can see what friends are watching while you watch and more. The bads: since it’s open source and downloaded software when a web site  that boxee pulls from is changed those interfaces in Boxee fail as well until you download a newer build. Its a great tool and relly merges computer with tv experience, definitly a project that has been needed for a long time and meant for the open soure community.

See more about what Boxee can do below:

Wu-hooo! New Wu-Tang Album

Chamber Music
Chamber Music

Wu-Tang, Chamber Music

Found this new album on http://newmusic4.us (Shows recently released albums and a sle of ways to get them from torrent to youtube to amazon etc….)

It’s very Wu and it’s new and thats all I could ask for. Some times I want a completly new take and some evolution form a musician sometimes I just want more of what I like….This is just more of what I like as far as I cant tell.