Sunday, February 24

making a western - yee-hah!

What a great team Mike and Inge have assembled for this movie. Everyone is passionate about film-making and each their craft, be it sound, makeup, photography or our awesome Assistant Director Rebecca Rowe. Glynn and I on the other hand have lost our own appetite for food and catering. Our ability to judge amounts has become more sporadic as the numbers joining the crew fluctuate, tonight running out of potatoes being a good example. We get hugs from the crew though so we must be doing something right.

Just spent the week in Tekapo which had some awesome locations for cowboys and was such a lovely wee town, reminding me of Wanaka when I was a little kid. Kind of untouched and still serviced by a small Four Square supermarket. Everyone knows everyone and most of the locals double-up roles in the town - like Stuie Inch who pulled up in a scooter one day to tell me he was the postman for the town and had a package delivery for us up at the Post Office, and then the next day appeared across the fence to return a saddle in his role as manager of the sale yards next door to our holiday home.

We've settled in our Cromwell digs and are here to stay for the next 15 days. We now have an internet connection at the house which is just making a huge difference to the amount of work Glynn and I can get done in between catering... and to the amount of posts that can be put up on the mifilms blog. Important as we now have a loyal band of followers pestering us for updates.

There have been so many highlights and its only been a week - the team dynamic, the weather, the fact that Dad has come up and been such a great help, particularly for Glynn and I. The community spirit of Jenny and Peter Rayne who let us literally camp at their at their B & B in Tekapo during the day and work online using their wifi - and made the crew muffins!! The farmers who have been so generous with access to their land and to the stunt cowboys who came 4 days running with their horses and saddles. And tonight seeing a first rough cut of the film - amazing to see the hard work and attention to detail coming to life. Everyone is stoked.

Saturday, February 23

webstock wrap up

What an amazing few days at webstock. An incredible lineup of speakers. My notebook was full at the end with advice, ideas and loads of recommended reading.

Favourite sessions for me:

Tom Coates spoke about how web platforms create best value by being repositories of data, on which other things can be built. Platforms that facilitate connectivity between other third party applications - "must play nicely with others".

Simon Willeson gave a tutorial on OpenID. A practical explanation and a walk through the authorisation process making the benefits of OpenID really clear and understandable. A webplatform can use OpenID in different ways - but I was particularly interested in its use to authenticate third party business applications attached to platforms.

Jason Santa Maria talked about how design can not help but communicate messages to users, whether good or bad. He emphasised that having a strong story is key to a good design structure and providing "high value information" to users an important principle. "Design so web development is driven by the message not technology".

There were several other talks that I also *loved* including the very frank fireside chat Rowan Simpson had with Sam Morgan. It must be weird when people you don't know just start referring to you by your first name, like you're part of the family. I really enjoyed hearing about the types of investments he's made post the sale of TradeMe and the reasons why.

Glad the sessions will be posted on the webstock site so I can see the ones I missed.

Thanks to the webstock team for giving me the opportunity to attend via the scholarship programme - I had a blast and learnt heaps of practical tips I can apply to my own project.

Tuesday, February 12

mike culver speaking in wellington next week

Gutted I will miss a talk by mike culver next week at Creative HQ while away down south feeding cowboys. Catalyst IT and Unlimited Potential host on Tuesday from 6pm till 8pm. The spiel sounds great -

"Amazon spent over a decade developing a world-class technology and content platform that powers Amazon web sites for millions of customers every day. Most people think "" when they hear the word; however developers and entrepreneurs are excited to learn that there is a separate technology arm of the company, known as Amazon Web Services or AWS. Using AWS, software developers can build applications leveraging the same robust, scalable, and reliable technology that powers retail business. AWS has now launched ten services with open API's for developers to build applications, with the result that almost 330,000 developers have registered on Amazon's developer site to create applications based on these services.

Mike Culver joined the Developer Relations Group of Amazon Web Services in 2006. Mike brings with him fifteen years of technology leadership experience, including at companies such as Microsoft. In addition Mr. Culver has a strong background running an IT organization, with over a decade of experience in the U.S. Electrical Wholesale Distribution (fittings) industry. And as a Web Services Evangelist at Amazon, he helps developers take advantage of disruptive technologies that are going to change the way we think about computer applications, and the way that businesses compete."

Interested to see his take on the next generation of web platforms and how they are re-orientating the interaction between consumers and third parties. Impressed with what I've heard about Amazon's storage services and would love to hear more about other the many other API's Amazon has released. Word has it that a videocast might be made so that chumps like me that can't make it, can still hear what he has to say. Sweet.

Monday, February 11

pavlova western

Last time my brother asked me to help him shoot a movie I was given $100 and asked to cater for the weekend on location at his flat. On the way to the shoot Mike called and asked me to bring my hair dryer and make up. On arrival I was instantly promoted to the position of hair and makeup artist and second assistant director. That was a long time ago and thankfully this time they have a slightly larger crew. Last year Glynn and I made a promise to my brother Mike and his fiancée Inge that we would cater their movie. Consequently we are off to Central Otago at the end of the week to film a western. You can follow the exploits of independent film-making at its best on the pavlova western blog that has just been set up - see

Glynn and I will also be working while down there, in between peeling potatoes and making muffins. While we both have an ability to work from anywhere - we will be putting that concept to the ultimate test by heading into rural New Zealand. Today Glynn and the production manager will be checking out whether Telecom New Zealand can deliver the goods and ultimately the bandwidth for Glynn to be able to communicate with his team in San Francisco, and so I can skype and liaise with Wellington. Fun and games.

Wednesday, February 6


Kiwifoo provides a huge opportunity to meet people doing amazing things in technology and other fields - and to share ideas and innovation, and thoughts about the future. All sorts of ideas can come about when you get smart people in a room from different disciplines, firing off each other and kiwifoo feels just like a giant thinktank. Those returning had a keen appreciation of how discussions at foo last year had an ongoing impact on the ICT sector. My observation was that it meant many sessions this year were well focussed on an outcome that meant further action post foo.

Like others have said the conversations sometimes shared in the corridors and over Russell Brown's coffee machine are the gold nuggets of foo. Some highlights for me were a session with thefreenet and others about establishing a free mesh wifi network in Wellington's CBD - mauricio provides a good summary of what's going on with the project. During a break I had a great discussion with Nic Steenhout from Mambo about how a start up like me can go about ensuring usability and accessibility in the development of web platforms. Who knew all these amazing people are working away right here in New Zealand. Lots of fun playing werewolf till all hours and awesome food - Glynn and I took note as we're off soon to cater my brother's movie down south so we listened out for positive comments and there were lots of them.

Nat and Jenine organise a great event, and make everyone feel welcome. Thanks heaps for inviting me and for having Glynn and I around for cockle hunting and kayaking on Monday - great foo related fun.

Tuesday, February 5

kiwifoo 08

Back this afternoon from another awesome kiwifoo experience in Warkworth, north of Auckland. Some discussions there about the use of the internet to provide better accessibility to legislation and policy issues before Parliament. As well as working on my web start up I am a part-time consultant training others about the Machinery of Government and Parliament, so I am supportive of initiatives that help demystify the evolution of policy and the law.

Much work has already been done by those responsible for the administration of Parliament and the legislative process to ensure that legislation is available in an up-to-date digital format for the public to view over the internet at However, the legislation is more meaningful set in context - what stage is it at? has it been amended? what did the select committee think about the bill?

Parliament through its website is now aggregating information in a more meaningful way for members of the public, media, lobby groups and even the MPs themselves. For example, you can search on the Parliamentary site for the Copyright Bill . If you click on that link you see a quick summary of the bill's progress to date, and if look to the right under the downloads panel you can access a copy of the latest version of the bill. It's called "Bill 102-2", which essentially means it was the 102nd bill of this Parliament and that it's the second (-2) version of the bill as amended by the select committee. From this page you can also access the First Reading debate and see what the MPs said in the House when the Bill was first introduced. You can view the select committee's report on its consideration recommending changes to the bill and setting out the reasons why. In a relatively recent development a select committee summary links to a page where you can access all the submissions received and advice provided by officials to the select committee. One MP has already circulated proposed amendments for debate at Committee of the Whole House stage (the last opportunity for amendments before the bill is passed into law) - see SOP 154. SOP stands for Supplementary Order Paper - effectively an advertisement of proposed amendments to bills in draft form. All parties can circulate amendments by way of SOP, including the Government. If accepted by a majority in Parliament they will be incorporated into the bill.

Most people rely on others to interpret the processes and policy developments for them, rather than seek information from the original source. However, if you want it straight from the horse's mouth so to speak - try exploring the Parliamentary website and check out all the party websites. Ministerial press releases and speeches are aggregated at and you can even stream question time live to your desktop.

Some ability to decipher the legal language, the processes and political spin will still be required to help demystify what's going on in relation to certain policy issues, but the Parliamentary website is certainly a great leap forward in making the laws and Parliament more accessible to us all.