In other news---

Beautiful Bank Holidays!

View of London from Hampstead Heath This weekend was a holiday weekend...  as usual our plans fell through due to lack of planning (this time we were intending to go to Wales and stop at the spots where our Grandparents grew up, but there were no rental cars left!)  But I think it worked out for the best, cause it was a wonderful weekend to stay in London - it was beautiful, hot, sunny and empty cause everyone else was away!  We did lots of cycling, eating of ice creams and tripping around - the photo was taken from the hill at Hampstead Heath - I think it's the best view of the city!

Dear hand bag theives...

... please return my hand bag.  Feel free to take all £3 cash that was in it, but please return my wallet which I was rather fond of as I bought it while our friends Jonny & Naomi were here so it reminds me of our outing to the markets that day.  Don't bother trying to use the debit card, I've already blocked it.  Feel free to take the cell phone, but please return the sim card so that I don't miss any calls, there was only about £2 credit on it so you're not missing out on anything there.  Please hand the stuff you don't want (but is still meaningful and useful for me) back into the Ping Pong restaurant.  Thank you in advance!  Rachel.

My new Canon 450D

Orchid Thanks to an extremely generous leaving present from my boss in NZ, today I finally bought a digital SLR! I chose the Canon 450D, just with the kit lens at the moment. The orchid was handy and pretty, so here's my first shot! Thank you so much Graeme I'm gonna go nuts with this thing on all of our travels!! :-) I realised that this is actually my first ever camera after 10 years of photography,  up till now I've always had my dad's old film SLR. I wonder what difference the digital camera will make to my photography...

My art history geek out

Today we visited Cambridge Museum... It is a cool building - all Roman like, with the columns and stuff. I knew there was an exhibition on about Chinese flower paintings, so we thought we were going into that, but instead walked straight into a room filled with French Impressionist paintings. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! Monet, Pissaro, Cezanne, they were all there - for free!!! I was just in a trance; beautiful,  beautiful artwork. We wandered through a huge variety of stuff, antique furniture, sculpture, English china (Mum - you would love that!), medieval artwork (it was nice to see such decadent ikons after visiting Ely Cathedral, so bare and empty). There was a late renaissance gallery of Italian work which I liked, very emotive and passionate. Then there was an English artwork gallery that ironically had French cubism and early modernism in it - more Cezanne, and one of my absolute favourite high cubism pieces - JUST SITTING THERE ON THE WALL IN CAMBRIDGE!!!! So yeah I was blown away.

Then we went downstairs and saw ancient carvings, like 750BC stuff, and then more ancient Egyptian stuff, ancient Greek things, it was amazing. Then there was a gallery of medieval European armour, that was really scary - huge double handed swords taller than I am, and a setup of a knight on a horse, that freaked me out too cause my vivid imagination was thinking he was going to attack me. Very scary.  And that was our adventure and I was very excited for the rest of the day :-)


Craftstock posterIn the webstandards email today they announced a combination of two of my favourite events... Craft 2.0 and Webstock blended becomes CraftStock! It is such a cool idea and normally I would be writing a post that used an excessive amount of exclamation marks to convey my excitement... but this is almost like salt in a wound for me... (so instead there are excessive amounts of ...s to convey my sadness...)

I can't make it to Webstock this year because a close friend of ours is getting married at a farm two hours drive from Kaikoura over the 14th - 17th February, and Aaron is going to be the best man. Andrew is the sorta guy that is so lovely and such good friends to Aaron that he considers him more of a brother than a friend. There is totally no way I can go to both, and family/friends comes first.

But it's still gutting because there are so many awesome speakers - I was especially looking forward to meeting Jason Santa Maria - and it's encouraging and refreshing to go to a conference like this and get that input to your day to day work.

BUT no doubt the wedding will be lovely and will be well worth the sacrifice ;-) After the wedding we're going on a holiday around the top of the South Island, it will be very nice to relax, get some sunshine, and have a break.

Drawing tablets are fun!

Today I *finally* got my wacom tablet. Courier Post had it for almost a week, didn't deliver it correctly, were rude to me on the phone and so much for next day delivery aye! But that's another story - just don't use Courier Post if you want to get your stuff delivered professionally!! :-P Aside from that - the tablet is awesome it is so nice to use. (For anyone not so techy - it's a sensitive square and a special pen that allows you to write into your computer and also has pressure sensitivity.) I just got a basic wacom graphire, the cheapest on the market at $160.

By far the best is Photoshops understanding of it, the paint brushes are so much easier to use with the pressure sensitivity and it is so much faster to cut photos out of their backgrounds. I did this little photo cut-out and drawing this afternoon.

I have to say that this also made me discover something that I like about Vista - the built in tablet stuff is really useful. You can write in any application. To start with it couldn't understand my handwriting so well, but in the short time that I did it either I was learning or the computer was! it is still a much slower method than typing tho and too easy to make mistakes. One thing did dash my hopes tho - you can set customisation for an item and so i was hoping to set the right-click method to be Ctrl-click cause that's what I'm used to on a Mac and found I was doing it by habit on Windows. But no, the customisation in Windows seems to be limited to a couple of pre-setup options :-(

On the mac, the input is brought even another level cause the mac understands the pressure sensitivity as well as the handwriting. it is much easier to do the handwriting on a mac, not sure why but it comes out less scribbled. But unfortunately the character recognition is really bad, it could only understand one in every few words I wrote. But then I do have an older version of Mac OSX - I'll be excited to see if there has been development on this.

It will definitely be something that I'll use day to day instead of a mouse and for painting/drawing. :-D The writing thing is cool but typing is just faster and more accurate for me.

Photojojo and blueberry pancakes

My photo of blueberry pancakes Today I got an email from Amit - one of the guys from a brilliant photography email newsletter called Photojojo. One of their upcoming projects is making a photo notebook, and for it they want to use a photo from the Flickr Photojojo group - and this photo of mine has been picked as one of the three possibilities. They're doing a trial run to see which one suits best, wouldn't it be cool if this one works out!? :D

The magical powers of computer people

Today I decided to print out the wedding invites. My boss has been very generous and said I could print them out on the work colour printer which does a lovely job. So I start printing and almost every page gets stuck in the printer and need to reset the printer and print all over again... after 40 minutes I had 8 invites!!! Then my web-developer work mate comes back from lunch and I tell him what a frustrating time I've been having! And so he stands there, and the printer works absolutely perfectly!!

I am sure most of us can relate to this... you're having this HUGE problem or computer errors or something techincal like that, but as soon as someone like a developer, programmer, computer technician turns up the thing works fine and they look at you as if to say "what are you on?!" It's like they have this magical presence or something that makes machines obey!