OnPoint by Keith Ng


Things I know

25th December is also known as Christmas

I wasn't quite sure, until I saw it being reported on TV3...

Presenter: Today, the 25th December, is a traditional day of celebration across the Western world. To make sure that this is in fact the case, we bring you live to our Christchurch newsroom to talk to our correspondent there.
Correspondent: Yes, it's indeed the 25th of December today here in Christchurch. The locals here call it “Christmas”, and it's a traditional time of celebration for them.
Presenter: How are people celebrating Christmas there?
Correspondent: Well, many people are spending these holidays with family and friends. And... stuff.
Presenter: So, people are celebrating Christmas with friends and family?
Correspondent: Yes, that is correct.
Presenter: ...
Correspondent: ...
Presenter: So...
Correspondent: ...
Presenter: Got anything else to fill our 55-minute, no-ads news hour? Our orphan reel is only 25-minutes long, we only managed to get two stories from the zoo and we used up all our traffic allowance doing the first three YouTube pieces.
Correspondent: Did I mention that it's Christmas?
Presenter: Yes, I understand that it's Christmas. Can you confirm for our viewers at home that it is, in fact, still Christmas in Christchurch?
Correspondent: Yes. Yes it is.

Next year, for Christ's sake, take a holiday. (And making you fill a no-ad news hour on a no-news day is really, really cruel.)

Best burger in Wellington is at...

...Offbeats Originals, on Left Bank, Cuba Mall. The eccentric little place does awesome, juicy gourmet burgers, and also happens to be an “artglass, ceremics and collectibles” store. Go figure. I can't confirm if transubstantiation actually takes place, but damn, it is a tasty burger. They are superior to Burger Fuel, have less variety and smaller portions than Burger Wisconsin, but would still win on a purist, pound-for-pound burger comparison. They don't have chips, however, as that would dilute their burger purity, apparently. They're on Left Bank – they have a licence to be weird.

The most gorgeous barista in Wellington is at Ernesto's


Inner-city living in Wellington is awesome

See above.

Season 2 of Heroes suck ass

I'm sorry to be the one to break it to you. But it does.

The whole season 2 arc is half-arsed, with a rambling 10-episode set-up and a dry, 3-minute, “No, Peter, he's the bad guy.” “Oh.” climax which is the worst pay-off ever. It's probably the result of a villian who's really old, doesn't get out much, hasn't done a lot of work on his evil scheme and just generally isn't very good at it.

And as if master-of-space-and-time and 2x as-many-superpower-as-he-can-get-his-hands-on aren't enough, another deus ex machina is introduced to ensure that nobody on the show can just die.

While the first season was all about discovery and convergence, the new characters in season 2 get led by the collar and still don't do anything. Blazingly obvious questions arise – What's with the identical superpowers? What can the old generation of heroes do, apart from being shadowy? – and never even get asked.

I blame the unions.

What to pack if you're doing localised time travel in San Francisco between 1970 and 2007

Historical currency, forged ID, really old cellphone. Sensible time-travel tips from Journeyman, the series about a journalist and involuntary time traveller, played by Kevin McKidd (Lucius Vorenus on Rome , the second season of which was great, BTW). It's basically Quantum Leap transposed onto the modern series structure, with the long what-the-hell-is-going-on arc, a I-married-my-brother's-ex-after-my-girlfriend-died-in-a-mysterious-plane-crash relationship matrix, and the obligatory inner-demon. It's strangely funny and disconcerting to see him time travel to 2000, and to have Livin' la Vida Loca playing on the radio. The crackpot time-travel science (tachyons did it) takes a bit of suspension of disbelief, but it's fun while it lasts, which isn't very long, as it got the chop after the first season.

Linux is now sexy

After settling into my new flat, I spent a few days being a geek hermit, putting the Linux distribution Ubuntu on my desktop and two laptops, then formatting them all and putting an even slimmer version – Xubuntu – on instead. It was the first time I've used a live install CD – it's pretty creepy when you put the CD in, walk off, and come back to find a functional operating system just sitting there.

“Um... but I haven't pressed the install button yet.”

As it turns out, being an early adopter of Linux has meant that I had become a complete luddite. I started using Debian in 2000, and have steadily accumulated and built tools to suit my own needs; a handpicked, meticulously maintained, blazing fast system that looked like it belonged in the late 80s. Having shunned all the bells and whistles, I never realised that Linux these days worked out of the box and was pretty as hell. Having been a staunch advocate of the text console, I found myself powerless to resist the lure of 3D animated workspaces, with windows that zoomed and zapped all over the place, transparency and all that jazz. I would go so far as to say – and I would say this, even to Russell's face – that it's sexier than Macs.

Running Xubuntu also means that it's a really frugal system, which means that my laptop battery lasts more than twice as long. (No bells and whistles on the laptop, though.) Honest to god, it's really easy to install and to use. Try it out with a live CD – just stick it in and play around with it. Just remember that it's running off the CD, so it'll be much faster once it's installed.

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