Saturday, January 28, 2006

Happy Australia Day - 26th January 2006

There's something to be said about National Pride, its magic. As we gathered at Sydney's Harbourside Play-town, Darling Harbour, we knew that something special was in the air. We arrived at three in the afternoon and made our way to ‘I Thai’ restaurant on Cockle Bay Wharf (Lime Street side). The walk there was a visual feast of Patriotism and Nationalism, dancing with colour, and sound, designed to unite all attendees.

We ate our Coconut infused prawn entrée’s followed by curried vegetables and topped with sticky rice pudding for dessert. It was exciting now for my four year old, aware of the significance of this day, to partake in a form of controlled hooliganism. Later we strolled through a sea of Aussies and made our way to the paddle boats. There, as a young family, we revitalized our thighs by peddling our way around the manmade Darling Harbour Lake. “I want to climb” he yells, as we all grab an eye-full of the climbing rock. $6 later and the four year old, now 10 feet above me, is stuck, petrified, about the descent back down to street level. “Grab the rope with two hands”, she chastises, and he slowly descends back to us.

It’s now 8 O’clock in the evening and we’ve nestled ourselves amongst our brethren. “Come-on Aussie”, belts out the Irish chap in front of me, “G’day Buddy”, mumbles the Indian grandfather next to me – Australia, you see, is still a land loved by all and inhabited by many. It doesn’t really matter where you're from to the Citizens of this Nation. What matters is your soul, and whether or not “a fair go” means a lot more to you than simply equality; as an Aussie ‘a fair go’ means a level of acceptance and safety known to us as a state of mind.

8:50pm and this huddle of 100,000 plus nationalists are delighted by bursts of colour created by $1,000,000 worth of fireworks. We cheer, we cry and somehow we bond - not by touch, smell or even language, but by merely participating. All our favourite theme songs of our childhood are played back to us, accompanied by this feast of redden above us.

Now 2 hours have passed and my son, Leon, remains on my shoulders. He high-fives those willing and makes whistle-like noises with high pitched screams. The car park is cluttered yet we all implausibly wave and smile while idly waiting our turn to exit. I must admit that on most given opportunities I’m neither too parochial or too evangelistic about my chosen Nationality, however, on this occasion I unconsciously dial my brother and wish him an Happy Australia Day, followed by my Mum & Dad, an Auntie, several friends and a Buddy now based in Tokyo.

Happy Australia Day and may you all be blessed in your country of choice as we are here.

  • Where do you come from?
  • How do you celebrate your Nations Day?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The day Dr. Neil came to my house.

He's a learned man, our Dr. Neil. A man of focus, passion and determined to be of significance. Ironically we met in the elevator of an apartment block my wife and I inhabited. It was 2001 and we were living in the beachside suburb of Dee Why, found on the Northern Peninsula of Sydney. I’d just completed my MCP and was feeling optimistic and invigorated. My first encounter with Dr. Neil wasn’t as memorable for me as I’d now like to recall, but it was eventful. I know that we connected at an umbilical level and shortly formed a sibling like relationship that would later encircle both our partners and my son Leon.

Four years on and Dr. Neil was in the country for yet another short stint. He’d left several messages that I’d ashamedly not replied to. Finally on the third day we connected and were able to talk. “I’ve got to come and see you”, he says, “There’s something you need to see”.

Fidgeting and restless, Dr. Neil hurriedly ate his meal. “I’ve got to show you that thing I told you about”, he proclaims wile masticating his last mouthful. We head to the lounge room and gather around an ottoman, dishes left idle at the dining table.

Falling in love, an event witnessed by many, is an emotion sometimes impetuous, sometimes cruel but always potent. Not knowing that my still rather untamed passion for IT was about to have a very rude awakening, I sat and waited. Dr. Neil ripped open the Velcro clad slip case and slid out the most attractive, most visually satisfying computer hardware I’d ever seen – a Tablet PC, and in this case the iTablet Slate PC.

iTablet Slate PC, now known as the Sahara in Australia

As unaware as I had been about the event about to unfold, I was also now unable to reply to this assault on my senses. “It’s a Tablet PC I found in the U.S”, he states, while simultaneously booting the device and ceremoniously drawing the digitizer pen from the screen itself. I found myself awed by the device and find it extremely difficult to contain my enthusiasm.

Dr. Neil Roodyn studied Software Architectures for Real Time Systems at University College London, for which he received a PhD, and is a Microsoft Tablet PC MVP; he’s an Author of two Tablet PC e-books and a textbook on Extreme Programming for .NET. We spent the rest of the evening going through the intricacies, the pro’s and con’s and a brief history of the device. I know that evening left a huge impact on my life as I’ve since become an owner of three different tablets, sampled tones of them and more recently got involved with distributing the devices in Australia and New Zealand. Had I known that Dr. Neil would have such a grand influence that very evening I probably would have spit polished my shoes, vacuumed, mopped and perhaps showered…oops. I’m forever indebted to that elevator in Dee Why and perhaps blessed in ways yet to become apparent. I know that Tablet PC, in all its majestic printed circuitry, is a device yet to make the splash it intended. When that splash eventually turns into a ripple however, and later a Tsunami, I’ll be surfing the bastard for all it’s worth!

  • Have you met Dr. Neil Roodyn?
  • Do you remember the first time you played with a Tablet PC? (kind of like, where were you when JFK was shot? or Princess Diana was killed?)

Friday, January 20, 2006

When Poogie spoke at Microsoft's Hallowed Turf

The following is a re-enactment of the day Hugo ‘poogie’ Ortega first preached Tablet PC behind the hallowed doors of Microsoft Head Quarters in Sydney, Australia.

Tuesday 17th January, 2006

Finally I'd done it - got MCE running on my Touch Tablet - so I had to call someone and let them know. Neil, yeh Neil! So I'm in the car going to a meeting and there I am telling my mate, and Microsoft MVP, Author Dr. Neil Roodyn, about how cool it was running the Tablet via remote control, and how pleasing it was to add the kinaesthetic quality of the 'Touch Tablet' with it too. Neil proclaims, "I know some geeks that will love to see that, come to the .NET User Group, at Microsoft".

Wednesday 18th January, 2006

Driving into the industrial estate that houses many-a-muscle in the IT space was a truly fun experience, Oh, there's Fuji! “Take the next left”, says Neil... “There’s the driveway on your next right...turn now”.

Holy smokes, I'm here! There it was, Microsoft Head Office Australia. As we pull into the driveway Dr. Neil orders me to take one of the Visitor spots, to which I happily oblige. I grab my Tablets and walk the Granite coble stones to the front door.

I can't distinctly remember wether we pushed the doors open, or if they slid open, but there I was! As I stood in the Marble infested lobby, ridden with huge panes of glass, I glance to my right. There’s the Microsoft Café in which dwell 10, maybe 20, Uber.Geeks like me, hacking away at there cheesecakes and taking mouthfuls of laptop while they conjure a hive of activity and passion. We walk left and past a new set of branded glass doors into the reception room. "Hi Neil", she says. [I'm nine years old and in Disneyland again]. Dr. Neil punches in our details and thermally impregnates our names on some Visitor Passes.

We wait!

A brisk walk, in-step with our host, and we're lead into our room for the evening; not before having past through two more sets of branded doors. We grab a desk, we plug into the cat-5 network, we extend our desktops onto the huge Projector screen, and we're ready.

Usually held on the 3rd Wednesday of every month, the Sydney .NET Users Group covers Microsoft Winforms, Webforms, VB .NET, C#, Access, SQL Server, XML, Exchange Server and SharePoint Portal Server, new products, legal issues of software development and tips and tricks. The meeting starts with Industry news, new products and developments then moves on to the feature topic. Afterwards a problem solving session is held where development problems are heard and suggestions put forward by the attendees (you're sure to get an answer to your questions). For more info visit:

Our emcee for the evening, Microsoft MVP and Chief Architect at SSW, Adam Cogan opens the evening…“There's Subway in the foyer, go eat and we'll get stuck into it". OK! I'll do it! Two subways ‘with the lot’ and I'm back in the room.

They talk, he talks, they talk some more, he talks heaps more, the atmosphere is candid and I get the impression that I'm sitting amongst friends. He talks some more, they all .NET all over each other and then it's my turn.

"Blah, Blah, Tablet, Me, You...hahaha, Tablet, Tablet, Me, Me, You, You...hahaha!" I can't believe it, my ten minutes are up. "Let’s all thank Hugo", bellows Cogan. Clap, Clap, Clap and I take a seat.

Dr. Neil then takes the stage and begins to preach Virtual Earth to our congregation. He awes the audience with wit, charisma and occasionally lovingly chastises the group to enforce some of his principles. Clap, Clap, Clap and Cogan holds courts once more.

Neil and I take an exit while the group .NET for several hours still. We exit the auditorium to find Uber.Geek, Jeff Alexander, IT Pro Evangelist - Microsoft, and a small clan talk'n Tablet. Jeff is a fellow Preacher and a one-eyed monster when it comes to Microsoft MCE. He welcomes the Tablet talk [as you might the Prodigal Son, had you of been the Dad]. We talk Turkey and share stories over roasted marshmallows (the marshmallow bit isn’t true).

Clap, Clap, Clap..."we'll see you next month", trumpets Cogan. I head out the labyrinth that is my new Friend and as I hit the cobbled granite once more I try and conceal the longing that has already drowned my soul. Will she call? Will she remember me tomorrow? I left her my number, and a good impression... Microsoft, oh Microsoft, I hope I did enough to win your affection.

The .NET User group, a warm bunch of scripting aficionados, had 10 minutes of my take on what is Tablet PC. From the 3 Tablet PC owners in that room of 60+ I could gather but one thing - my work has only just begun!

  • Have you ever been invited to Speak at Microsft offices?
  • Are you part of a User Group you'd like us to hear about?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

NAFA meets Sahara Slate PC

August 15th, 2005

The Attic Bar, at the ArtHouse Hotel in Sydney, saw guest speaker Hugo 'Poogie' Ortega run a workshop called frontiers in filmmaking.

While this was it's first session it has since become an annual calendar event for NAFA. View the promotional PDF here.

NAFA (Networking Action For Actors) originally characterised a group of pro-active actors who decided to do something about the perceived lack of opportunities in the industry. The group began by organizing monthly forums based on the ideas of networking and education. It soon realized the importance of linking-up with filmmakers and writers, a mutually beneficial move that has resulted in many collaborative film projects. In fact NAFA has been revised to stand for Networking Action for Filmmakers & Actors.

Poogie was called in to display the latest technology in relation to the filmmaking industry, a task he took a little too seriously ;-)

Equipment list:

  • 2x Apple G5 PowerMacs - dual 2.3GHz with 2.0 gigabytes of ram in each and 500GB Hard Drive capacity;
  • 2x 23" Apple Cinema Displays;
  • 1x Sony SD 42" Plasma Display (yes 42"); Sony Z1 HDV Camera;
  • 2x Sahara Tablet PC's (2 tablets of only 10 of their kind in Australia);
  • Unwired internet, wireless router, VOIP Telephony (which decided not to work on the evening) and much more...

While Uber.Poogie was pleased to have the opportunity to share some key features of new technology he did not fail to take the microphone and once again preach TABLET! The room full of budding Actors, Producers and Directors were in awe of the hand writing capabilities and the sheer sexiness of the device.

NAFA has invited Poogie to present the 'Frontiers in Filmmaking' session again this year - and yes I'm certain that Tablet PC will be featured once more.

Photos of the evening may be viewed at:

  • Were you at the NAFA event that evening?
  • Do Tablet PC have a space in the Movie Industry?