New Zealand honeymoon planning 2.0

17 October 2007 » Travel

Cat and I have been finalizing our agenda for the post-wedding trip to New Zealand. We’ll be spending two weeks there in late November through early December – early summer in the southern hemisphere.

Update: We’re back from the trip. This was an ambitious agenda for two weeks, and we did change up some things before we left… like leaving out about half of what we planned on doing below…

Here are the pictures from what we did get to see. What a great trip. Highly recommended. :)

We’re not thrill seekers (Cat still gives me grief about bungee jumping 5 years before we met), so we intend to spend most of our time on the North Island relaxing on the beach or hitting the wineries and chowing on local seafood.

Most of the recommendations we’ve gotten from friends and colleagues have been for the more adventurous lower South Island, unfortunately.

So I’m looking to tap the wisdom of crowds (well the 4 of you that regularly read this blog anyway) for North Island and/or northern South Island tips. That’s where the 2.0 comes in (no, neither of us has been married before, thank you very much).

Here’s our the preliminary agenda. Plus ones? Vote downs? Things we’ve overlooked completely?

Day 1: Thursday

  • Arrive in Auckland early morning
  • Sky Tower
  • Auckland Domain
  • Parnell Village
  • Dinner options:
    • Dine by Peter Gordon (in Sky City)
    • White
    • The French Cafe
  • Stay in Auckland

Day 2: Friday

Day 3: Saturday

Day 4: Sunday

Day 5: Monday

  • Kiwi 360
  • Lunch in Bay of Plenty
  • Stay in Rotorua

Day 6: Tuesday

Day 7: Wednesday

Day 8: Thursday

Day 9: Friday

  • Shopping in Wellington morning
  • Take Ferry to Picton
  • Dinner at: ?
  • Stay in Blenheim

Day 10: Saturday

  • Wine tour day
  • Dinner options:
    • Herzog
    • Hunter’s Vineyard
  • Stay in Blenheim

Day 11: Sunday

  • Drive south
  • Lunch in Kaikoura
    • White Morph Restaurant
  • Dinner options:
    • Indochine
    • 50 on Park
  • Stay in Christchurch

Day 12: Monday

Day 13: Tuesday

Day 14: Wednesday

Day 15: Thursday

  • Drive to Auckland
  • Dinner at: ?
  • Depart from Auckland in the evening

Thanks in advance for any tips. Folks with great pointers get a nice postcard. :)

Southern California

10 April 2007 » Photos, Travel

I’ve finally posted pictures from the trip Cat and I took to Southern California at the end of February. I’m working on a better method of paging through them, but for now, enjoy.

Update: Added a paging mechanism.

The San Diego Zoo and Disneyland

01 March 2007 » Photos, Potpourri, Travel

Cat and I spent a long weekend in Southern California. We managed to pack in the San Diego Zoo, La Jolla, Carlsbad, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Disneyland.

We’ve still got about 500 pictures to sort out, but my favorites are the two we didn’t take:

At the zoo. At Disneyland.

Four great IBM locations

20 November 2006 » Travel

My job responsibilities don’t normally call for travel, but I had the good fortune to visit several IBM facilities over the past year.

There’s something about a few of these places that contributes enormously to my productivity. IBM is a unique company whose size and age have led to interesting architecture and inspirational workspaces in diverse locations.

I’ve created Google Earth placemarks for my favorites to provide a sense of the building and environs. If you’re an IBM employee, you should stop by and see the place in person. If you’re not an IBMer, visit someone who is :)

590 Madison Avenue, New York, New York

IBM’s flagship location in New York City is primarily used for customer-facing events and training. New York PHP holds its monthly meetings on the 12th floor.

  • Environment
    This facility is in the heart of midtown Manhattan, located adjacent to the Trump Tower just south of Central Park. There’s always something going on, and the sounds of the city seep into each floor, particularly when there are parades going down Fifth Avenue. While serenity complements the other locations, the din here provides a motivating soundtrack.
  • Atrium
    The glass-enclosed public atrium is home to a rotating art collection, coffee stand and tables, bamboo shoots, a handful of birds, and the odd concert. The Dahesh Museum also has an entrance here.
  • Floor plan
    Each of the floors are triangular and sheathed in glass. On the long edge, this gives an open, airy feel to the place. At the opposite corner, conference rooms overlooking Madison Avenue and 57th Street are bright. The large entry way on the first floor is also home to vibrant, oversized artwork.

Almaden Research Center, San Jose, California

The Almaden Research Center is considered the birthplace of the relational database and many innovations in hard drive technology.

  • Environment
    ARC is set in the hills next to Santa Teresa County Park and is accessed from the Santa Clara valley via a winding mountain road supplemented by a bicycle path. Signs warn the visitor to watch for resident wildlife. On a wet day, you might catch a rainbow on the way home from the facility.
  • Hall of Fame
    Near the entrance is a hallway lined with plaques honoring the many Distinguished Engineers and IBM Fellows who occupy the building.
  • Library
    There is something odd about a work location which has a library, though this is common to all research facilities, I suppose. This one has a collegiate feel, and has a broad view of Japanese Flowering Crabapple trees and the mountains to the west. A surreal hailstorm occurred during one visit here.

Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, New York

Yorktown Heights is one of the three sites comprising the Thomas J. Watson Research Center, the headquarters of IBM’s research division.

  • Architecture
    Eero Saarinen, of St. Louis Gateway Arch fame, designed this research facility in New York state. A curtain of glass stretches for three floors and spans nearly a half-mile of hallway on the long edge of this crescent-shaped building.
  • Library
    The library and its furniture were also designed by Saarinen. It’s dated, and reminiscent of an airport terminal, but at the same time a great place to get work done.
  • Environment
    Yorktown overlooks scenic Westchester county near the Taconic Parkway. The foliage in fall makes for a dramatic backdrop.

Silicon Valley Laboratory, San Jose, California

SVL is the home of the group developing DB2 and other Information Management software.

  • Environment
    This facility is near the Almaden Research Center and also shares a border with the Santa Teresa County Park. There are orchards and recreational facilities surrounding its location in Coyote Valley.
  • Architecture
    The laboratory was designed by the same firm that designed ARC. The distinguishing features of this location are the brightly-colored, cross-shaped buildings with offices designed by Gerald McCue to best suit the work habits of software developers.
  • Server rooms
    SVL houses one of the largest server rooms west of the Mississippi, at close to an acre. It occupies the lower level of the facility below the courtyard and the hardware is visible from the glass hallways which surround it. In the winter, the entire facility is actually warmed by the heat generated by the computers.

Mobile Metro-North

27 October 2006 » Travel, Web development

Update: You can download NYC North Trains for free, over-the-air. I’ve tested it on OS 5 and 6 devices such as the Curve, Style, Storm 2, Bold, Tour and Torch. Like the simple Web interface I’ve provided for nearly five years, the native app offers an interface to the MTA schedule data optimized for mobile devices. However, it also offers some features that make the experience quite a bit more convenient for BlackBerry users.

I travel to New York City from the Connecticut and New York suburbs on a regular basis. Most of the time I use the MTA Metro-North Railroad. It’s easy to look up the train schedule from a regular computer before I head in, but often times I don’t have a set return time and am not near a PC when I make plans to come home.

I’ve tried accessing mta.info from the browser on my BlackBerry, but the UI is pretty painful on a wireless device. For some reason the MTA doesn’t supply an interface for gadgets like this, nor does it provide a Web service to provide results to third parties. So instead I created my own tool to provide a text-only interface to the Metro-North schedules.

At some point I intend to mash it up with a map, but for now, enjoy.

Oregon

25 August 2006 » Photos, Travel

Cat and I spent a few days in Oregon for a wedding last weekend. Beautiful place, great weather, stellar seafood.

The world is flat

26 June 2006 » Photos, Politics, Travel

I’m in Närpes, Finland working from my grandmother’s house for 10 days. It’s a very rural area, and as kids this place seemed so remote that after spending 6 summer weeks here it felt like you were coming home to an entirely different world. Your friends had changed, a season full of events had passed and you were an outsider when you returned.

It’s been a completely opposite experience this time. My grandmother’s 200 year old farm house has a 10 megabit fiber connection – twice as fast as the top-of-the line DSL package in the New York metropolitan area – and voice over IP lets me join conference calls with better comfort and clarity than my cell phone.

All this coincides with observations about the world of business and communications in the book I’ve finally gotten around to reading, The World Is Flat, by Thomas Friedman. Unless I explicitly remind my friends and coworkers, they can’t really tell where I am.

I have some pictures posted, but will spend more time making them presentable when I return.

Update: I’ve returned and posted my pictures in a better thumbnail format.

Dallas and St. Louis

30 May 2006 » Photos, Travel

I spent the last two weekends in Dallas and St. Louis, respectively.

My college frat brother Janet was married in Texas to my good friend Mike from high school. Unfortunately, I left my camera in my hotel room the day of the ceremony and reception, so my pics aren’t too hot. I wish Clive had done the same when karaoke broke out in the wee hours…

The trip to St. Louis involved a 19 hour, 1000 mile road trip on the way out from Connecticut, and a 16 hour return trip. I accumulated a bug collection the likes of which the Peabody would be proud. I prefer to forget all the time on the road, but Missouri itself was nice.

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