March of the Penguin

Michaela and I went to see March of the Penguin on Tuesday night. It was a very beautiful movie. I’m really glad I saw on the big screen.

The pan shoots of 1000’s of emperor penguins waking in single file was amazing. The complexity of the birthing process, and the dedication both partners have to raising the pup (not sure that’s the correct word for baby penguin). The complexity of survival and thinking about how it would have evolved left we with a feeling of owe, for how simple most animals life cycle is.

I found Morgan Freeman’s voice as the narrator, very relaxing and fitting to the movie.

Deflation – What Happens When Prices Fall

Deflation – What happens when prices fall by Chris Farrell. It took me a three weeks to complete this as it wasn’t the most gripping of books I had in my reading pile, but it was good enough that I wanted to finish it.

The book is written for a US audience, so covered US economy and the issues the US has that interact with inflation/deflation.

The book looks at the relationship between deflation and depressions. How the was deflation in the 1900, without depression. About monetary policy and how the Fed and Government affected (prolonged and worsened) the great depression of the 1930’s and hyper-inflation of the 1970’s. Ending with how he would structure public policy to enable the US to have a growth economy, and maintain is world power.

Investing In A Post Enron World

Investing in a post Enron world by Paul Jordan was a great read. It was not so much a, this is what Enron did wrong, but more of a this is how to not get involved, and recognize and leave a company once it starts down this path that Enron took.

What were the dirty accounting and company structural tricks Enron (and others like WorldCom) were up too that allowed them to appear so good (pumping there stock value) while increasing their risk of collapse.

Why they got into the position of having pump there stock and be earnings obsessed.

The warning signs for companies behaving in an earnings obsessed way, where the hints are hidden in the quarterly and yearly filings.

I liked how each chapter ended with lessons for an investor section, as this related the story (of evils and wrong doing) to how to proceed with investing.

One of the major points a took from the book is that companies paying dividends were/are more stable than companies relying on capital growth.

Playing Farmer Brown

In the weekend I went out to my brother’s farm to help with some lavender planting. Form a learning perspective it was great. From a doing it, it was trying hard work. We planted 4000 small cuttings. After a couple of hours bending over to place each cutting into the ground every 80cm (you work in pairs so the plants are spaced 40cm apart), your back get very tired.

So while it was hard work, it felt good getting it done, and the rows look quite nice.

Attached is a picture of a similar tracker attachment to the one we used. But we where a little higher up, by ~10cm. The image was sourced from here.

Microsoft Connect ‘06

Well it was a week ago that I went to the Microsoft Connect ’06 event here in Christchurch.

My very first impression was it took me three weeks to register for it, as there where problems with the registration server. Darryl mentioned it on the 13th of April, and the site did not work until Nathan mentioned it on 3rd on May.

Second impression was, when you have yummy chicken at home, and you’re going to a Microsoft event, leave the chicken in the fridge. Do not make the yummiest chicken sandwiches, because Microsoft caters the event. Yes I heard complainers about the quality of the food, but put that aside, keep you beloved chicken safe at home. I plead for the reset of you not to make this same fatal mistake. Also without the need to put my sandwiches in something I would have left my bag at home, and thus looked professional like every one else, and not like some student. <zen> But then we are all students in life.</zen>

Third impression is that big screen TVs are big, and that Sean‘s Xbox 360 looked sweet on the big screen. It (the Xbox 360) looked even better once it was turned onto high definition mode. I played a few games, and Peter opinioned on the mailing list I was hogging the unit, I rebut this, but noticed for the second half of lunch he was standing in the foyer talk to Brent and Andrew.

So after been impressed by all the non-core things at Connect I come to the day’s topics, Vista and Office 2007.

I mainly went to this to see the Office ribbon bar that I’d heard a bit about and see all the new gleam in Vista. The key note was key notey. Darryl’s talk on Office was interesting, but I have no problems to solve, so the open API and architecture of the docx format earns brownie points, but not really a must buy feature for me.

What I did enjoy though was Jeremy’s two part talk on Vista. I had heard a lot of complaining from developer circles about the new security system in Vista, but I think it’s great. For the average user, who does only log on as Admin (mom and dad type, oh and me), you now get asked. Yes to admin things will be more annoying, and for some forms of dev work you’ll have to turn it off, but that’s fine, you are then taking power users steps to declare responsibility for the machine. Fare enough. I also found the WCF demo impressive.

Afterwards the Christchurch .Net user group had a small (4 people plus 2 later comers) gathering at Spagalimis. Where Peter handed out some developer magazines, we chatted about the day, and any impacts this may have.

So in summary: Vista looks really cool, XBox 360 is fun (especially Geometry Wars), and leave your chicken at home.