Songs from Dad to Daughter


Lots of people have been reading my blog about my new song Watch Me daddy. Obviously lots of fathers are looking for something special for their precious girl, especially when she gets married.

Here’s my song. Why not drop me a line and see if I can come up with a version that fits your precious daughter. I can put together a slideshow with your photos and rewrite some of the lyrics so that they tell your story together.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

Skyscrapers and high society


The race is on to build the world’s tallest building, yet again. In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia they are working on the first building the will be a mile high. No this isn’t a joke, it will be more then 1600 metres tall and will be called Mile High Tower. It is due for completion in 2012. You could join the mile high club without getting on a plane!

I’ve been to the top of buildings like the Twin Towers (and grateful for the experience and respect to those who died or were injured when she came down) and Sears Tower, well this is almost 3 times as high as Chicago’s ediface.

Why are they building it? In this case mostly I suspect because they can. Because Prince al-Walid bin Talal, who owns the Savoy, can. Is he doing something that is needed because of a shortage of land in Jeddah? I don’t think so. I wonder if he hsa a very large ego that he needs to house. If the Sears Tower contains 4.4 million square feet the Mile High Tould have to have close to 10 times that amount of space because the base would have to be enormous to hold up the rest of the structure.

Aside from all the issues of building and trying to pump wet concrete a mile into the sky, there are also power issues. Imagine how much electricity it would take to power a building like that? Suggestions are that the building can house a huge number of solar panels and in many cases it’s height could mean that while it is raining on lower floors, the higher floors will be basking in sunshine. maybe the ecosystem could capture boh the sun and water and try to head towards self sufficiency. As to energy use, I wonder how much energy it would take to send a room service meal from the ground to the penthouse?

This is the stuff that they have been writing about in Science Fiction for years. Imagine having a penthouse apartment that is so high up that you can’t go onto your balcony without an oxygen mask because the air is too thin. They say that from the penthouse you will be able to see the Middle East, the Pacific Ocean and Africa.

Because of the height and technology involved you would need to have 10 or more lifts just to get to your apartment. Imagine what would happen if you had to evacuate it in hurry.

A building that big would be like a medium sized town. You would have everything you need in a homogenous environment. Schools, shops, busineses, you would have your own hospital, police station, everything.

But who would want to live in such a building. Sure it would be great to have an apartment in it so that you can say you do. It would be great for corporate events. But would you want to live on the 351st floor of an apartment building? Imagine if the power went out and you had to climb down 350 sets of stairs to get to the ground.

I’ve never lived in an apartment. I’ve enjoyed staying in hotel rooms 30 floors above the ground, but this is something entirely different. I don’t much like gardening, but I do like living in a free standing home where I can turn the stereo up loud and go and sit by the pool or potter around in my rock garden. I find the whole idea of living in a building which for practical reasons, you never have to live, to be quite claustrophobic, but it will happen. Many others feel the same.

If the future means that more and more people live at great heights, this might help with the development of new transport technologies as they try to find more economic ways to move around. Who wants to spend 15 minutes standing in lifts to get to the ground floor. They won’t be able to go too fast because you are likely to suffer effects of gravity and air pressure. There will off course be helipads, but that’s a little expensive for the average person.

I’ll leave the last word to BOB with his 15 reasons to live in a skyscraper :)

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

Proposed carbon tax for new and used car imports into New Zealand


I was surprised to read this one in the Herald this morning, where the Government is considering a levy on all car imports coming into New Zealand, based on their CO2 emissions. According to National’s finance spokesman Bill English, this could add $10,000 to a Holden Commodore based on $150 per gram of CO2 emitted per kilometre travelled, above the standard of 214g CO2/km.

Sound like more revenue gathering to you? It does to me. They want levy’s on our petrol, they are going to build PPP toll roads (as long as there are alternatives I don’t have a problem with this one) and as always are very innovative in taking back any income tax reductions that they offer us in other ways.

If they do this, have no doubt that this will affect you, just as their engineering of interest rates has affected the whole economy and is driving some people out of their homes. The thing is that people are already straining the public transport systems a increased fuel costs bite into their home budgets forcing them to leave their cars at home.

Yesterday, on my way back from visiting some car manufacturers (ironically), I had to turn off my air vents because a bus was blowing great plumes of smelly diesel smoke right into my car’s air con system. A little further on the motorway I got stuck behind one of those Japanese import refrigerated trucks that was likewise blowing exhaust soot at me. The back of the truck was almost black from soot that has come out of its exhaust. I’m not sure I’d be keen to buy the food he was transporting.

So here’s the thing. Instead of taxing vehicles as they come into the country and penalise everyone indiscriminately (and yes I do understand that CO2 is not the same as the soot smoke I was complaining about), why not tax all cars at the time of Warrant of Fitness testing for the percentage of pollutants they have control over. Make the owners of smoky, sooty, poorly tuned cars pay the levy, or just like any other warrant failure, go back to the garage, get their car correctly tuned and go back for another try.

It seem to me that, because many countries already have stringent motor vehicle emission standards, the quality of the exhaust output on new cars is going to continuosly improve. It’s the cars, vans, trucks and buses that we have here already that are the problem and if we cause enough pain for those vehicles to be tuned up, a lot of the problems will go away.

The Government is very keen on users pay, so make the real polluters pay, not just a blanket levy on every vehicle that comes into our country. It’s very simple really. It’s transparent and the Government will not be opening themselves up to complaints of revenue gathering. It would be far more consistent with their user pay policies and their claims that they want to reduce pollution by bringing in these levy’s.

As a footnote, a question for someone. Do the bus companies have their own testing station and produce their own Warrants of Fitness? How is it that there are so many smelly buses on the road puffing great clouds of black smoke at pedestrians and cars behind them. Why do people have to hold their breath as these buses go past. How do they get away with it?

Using CAPTCHA to digitse old books


This morning in the shower I was listening to Digital Planet, one of my favourite podcasts from the BBC. No I’m not sad, I just like to maximise my time:)

They interviewed Luis von Ahn about how Carnegie Mellon University is are using CAPTCHA technology to help digitse very old books that are in the public domain.

What is CAPTCHA? It is an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers & Humans Apart” You will have found that many times when you register to use an application on the web, or perhaps when you want to invite someone to be your ‘friend’ on MySpace or leave a message, you will see a small clump of letters and you have to enter what you see into a text box.

The reason for this is because spammers and hackers create bots, that allow them to access information and pretend that they are real people. For example there are people running businesses where they can guarantee you lots of ‘friends’ on MySpace for a fee. Personally I am against this and ultimately it is a waste of time, because just being able to say that you have thousands of friends, doesn’t actually help you in any way.

Just to sidetrack for a moment. I have lots of ‘friends’ on my MySpace page, 3967 at last count. They are people who have requested my ‘friendship’ or vice versa and because of that personal relationship, wherever possible, I have a fan base that I can use when I have a concert or gig that I am performing. I can use this to make contact with them, even by geography, but that is really a topic for my About Songwriting blog.

Anyway, many organisations are trying to digitise as many books as possible to allow them to be read as eBooks. The best known of these is Project Gutenburg, which has already digitsed more than 25,000 books.

The problem with older books, especially those prior to 1900 is that the pages are fading and the fonts are harder to read by OCR (Optical Character Recognition) tools, which themselves are still not 100% reliable. On a tangent, I hate reading books that are not perfect. My eBook Unleashing the Road Warrior was edited 12 times to get it as good as possible and I was dissapointed to find an error on page 309 of Stephen King’s latest book, Dumas Key, but that’s another story:)

So what the Carnegie Mellon people have done is to scan the pages and have created a tool which grabs 2 at a time and feeds them into the CAPTCHA environment. So now when you complete a CAPTCHA that has 2 words instead of random letters, what you are actually doing is not only autheticating that you are indeed a human, you are also helping transcribe these old books and ensuring their texts are protected for future generations to enjoy, is that cool or what?

Personally I find CAPTCHAS a pain in the proverbial, but having learned this, I am feeling a lot better about them.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

Pharmac funds flavoured condoms


A couple of nights ago I was in an urgent chemist with my daughter to fill a prescription who was suffering an allergic reaction to something. We were discussing generic drugs.

In New Zealand, many drugs are subsidised by Pharmac who are a government agency. we were talking about Zyrtec which is an antihystamine which works very well for sinusitis and related allergies. This drug used to be subsidised but has been replaced with a cheaper generic drug, which according to Pharmac is identical.

The chemist said that he himself suffers from the condition and has tried the generic, which didn’t work for him and Zyrtec which does. he further went on to say that he spoke to people who work for the generic drug manufacturer at an international coference and they told him that the majority of the factory staff will not use the generic drugs they manufacture themselves, and favour the original manufacturers product.

It’s all about money and I understand that many asthma sufferers in New Zealand also had major problems when their Ventolin inhalers were replaced with another generic. I wonder how much it costs the taxpayer when people get prescribed cheaper drugs which are ineffective or less effective and end up in hospital.

So to the story today, I just received a tweet from the NZ Herald to say that Pharmac is now funding flavored, ribbed and otherwise enhanced condoms. I am all for free condoms to reduce unwanted pregnancies, STD’s and any other consequences of unprotected sex, but if they can cough up for fancy prophylactics, surely they could also fund effective drugs and help patients access what their doctors want them to take?

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

The Trouble with Orcon


I note that many people are reading my blog about Orcon and the trouble I have had since I signed up, so I feel obliged to give you an update.

Things have improved to some degree, I frequently have days where my connection only drops out 1 or 2 times, but I am still experiencing dropouts, disconnections this week:

  • Saturday 16
  • Sunday 31
  • Monday 27

I also noted that people have found me when searching about the 2 for 1 movie tickets for a year that were promised as part of the connection deal. Well I signed up 4 months ago and still haven’t seen them. If they do arrive, I hope they will still be valid for 12 months and not the remainder of the year. But at this stage I’m not holding my breath on ever seeing them.

I don’t know if it is because of the interleaving, but our Caller ID doesn’t work on the phone about 50% of the time, which is annoying.

My wife wants me to go back to Telecom and thinks I’m an idiot for putting up with Orcon’s poor service. As a footnote, Orcon did come up with a $100 credit for my troubles. Funny thing is that a couple of weeks ago, even though my payment is made automatically by direct credit from my American Express Card, and I had the $100 credit, I got an email saying that my account was overdue and asking me to do something about it urgently. I was tempted to send one back saying that their service was overdue and could they give me a reliable connection urgently.

So, the bottom line? Still having plenty of disconnections, no 2 for 1 movie tickets as promised, intermittent caller id and no satisfaction. Should I be calling Fair Go?

Support for Valerie Vili at the Olympics


This evening on the New Zealand TV One News there were complaints that Valerie would not talk to the press. Valerie is a wonderful athlete and person who gives lots of her time to the fans and the industry. I met her at a major sports event a year or so ago where she was supporting Drug Free Sport and their pledge and education program. She was so accessible to her fans and happy to sign autographs and be in photos.

She is in Beijing to win a medal and hopefully gold and given that she has trained hard for he event, she has every right to do whatever she feels she needs to do to achieve her goals. She owes the media nothing. I am loving the Olympics and TV One is doing a fantastic job with the coverage, both on TV and with the live broadband coverage. But if the athletes want to focus on winning medals and not giving interviews beforehand, don’t get prissy, respect them for sticking to their guns.

She is an awsome role model for young Kiwi athletes.

A footnote. Last night I stayed up till about 3 o’clock flicking between the All Blacks mighty win over the Springboks, the first time they have held the South African’s scoreless, while they got a magic 19 points, which was great consdering the kicking from a usually flawless Dan Carter was a little off.

Anyway, Valerie won the Gold Medal from her first shotput throw which you can watch here, and I had to restrain myself from jumping for joy and waking the rest of the household. Of course everyone got there interviews as I knew they would. Valerie will probably spend a lot of time in the rest of this year giving back to her coach and supporters.

Just another day with Orcon


For those that are following this blog, just a quick update. First of all, I still haven’t got the 2 for one movie tickets that they “send out every week”. I’ve had quite a good week until Saturday, only averaging about 2 disconnections a day, I can live with that.

I did get a bill saying I was overdue with $20 odd dollars on my account after they gave me a compensatory credit of $100 which is strange because I set up an autopayment with American Express to make sure I was always on time.

On Saturday I lost my connection 11 times and yesterday 21, but the good news is that for one of them, most Orcon subscribers lost their connections. Most of mine were in the morning when there were no olympics on the net yet, but the early evening crash was surely an ISP (not Orcon according to the voice message so it must have been Xtra) that didn’t take into account that TVNZ were showing the Olympics on TV. I watched it for a short while and planned to go back when the boxing started, but of course by then there was no connection at all.

So or those of you who couldn’t see some of the awesome streaming video on TVNZ’s website (and it was awesome while it lasted), you know how I feel. The only thing is that for me it is a regualr occurrence. I could have gone to the movies with my new 2 for 1 tickets I was promised, but they didn’t arrive, a bit like the service really.

Want to write a hit song? What are your peeps listening to?


Some great advoce I picked up somewhere was that if you want to write a hit song, you need to know what people are listening to. Whilst its true that there are song pluggers and the radio is very much influenced by the record companies, the fact is that if he radio are regularly playing songs, whether it is because they have an incentive or for any other reason, the net result is people listen to them.

I think it was Jimmy Webb at the S3 conference who said that if you listen to a song at least 5 times, it will grow on you and you will start to like it. This is a formula that they use to get you to buy or follow a track. The lyrics become familiar, the hook becomes entrenched in your mind and if it is pleasing to you, you may well find yourself singing along.

Hit’s are here the money is in songwriting. If you write a hit song, you will be well remunerated and also you will become noticed and in demand by artists and their team, looking for a new song, hoping that you weren’t a one hit wonder.

So is there a magical secret? Magical no, but the key thing is knowing what people like, what are they listening to today. It’s easy to find a market for your songs in today’s world with so many internet vehicles like MySpace, FaceBook, iTunes, Music Forte and hundreds if not thousands of others. But these are less likely to get you a hit for music’s sake, than the radio, which isn’t going away anywhere fast. Radio plays mainstream and mainstream is what it means, i.e. what most people are listening to today.

So in my humble opinion, if you want to write a hit song, rather than (as Ralph Murphy says) be a self indulgent songwriter, writing songs to play in bars after 10 P.M. when people are drunk or t least merry and mostly don’t care, you need to write something different. Something uplifting, which is often very different to what the average songwriter puts together. Murphy says that the hits are the songs that people listen to on the way to work in the morning when they want a lift.

So the first thing to do is to find out what they are listening to. I live in New Zealand, so if I want to write a hit song for the local market, I would go to RIANZ. “The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand Inc (RIANZ) is a non-profit organisation representing major and independent record producers, distributors and recording artists throughout New Zealand.”

RIANZ publishes the weekly New Zealand Top 40 Singles Chart. “The Top 40 Singles Chart is compiled based on a 75:25 split between physical / digital singles sales figures and radio play information gathered by radio data collection agency Radioscope.”They also publish a number of other charts including the Top 10 Radio Airplay Chart.

Like all charts they show the position this week, last week and weeks on the chart. A quick look through these will tell you what is popular in your local world. These charts are a mixture of everything, local and international. To give you an idea, the Top 40 as at Monday 28 July included 5 local acts and Number One on the chart was Phil Collins, In The Air Tonight which this time has been on the NZ charts for 21 weeks! Always on My Mind by Tiki Taane is number 3 still and has been on the charts for 14 weeks.

In my opinion, Always On My Mind is very much a polynesian sound and will be hugely popular locally with our youth and with a reggae flavour has some legs internationally, but I can’t see it being on the charts at Billboard, the other place I look to see what is popular, especially on the Country Charts because Country Music has a huge following in the USA, my major songwriting target market.

So now you know what people are listening to on the radio and what they are buying. What do you do next? Subscibe to my blog and I will tell you more, this isn’t a book after all lol.

If you think this blog is helpful, tell a friend. If you want to hear some of my songs, check out my MySpace page. Oh and please do leave a comment. Is my blog intesting? Is it helpful? Are there things you would like me to write about?

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

GPS Tracking of Elderly People Update and Orcon Update


First of all I’d like to give you a quick update on the personal tracking unit I’ve been testing. It’s going really well. Please note I do not work for the company who is developing it, although if they go to market they will be using our mapping data, which I have been testing it with.

So I have tried it out in various parts of the country and it can track me wherever I go. If you had the logon and password to my account you could see where I have been on a map. You can play back my travels around Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. When I was in my car you could see emergancy button

how fast I was driving and my exact route.

If I hit the red emergency button a text message gets sent to a phone (in this case mine). I had it sent to my wife when I first set it up because then she cpould see what I was up to and I thought that would be interesting. Stupid really because I couldn’t see if it was working and she was geting really worried because on some days she would get lots of messages saying that I had an emergency.

Basically the message gives my name and says I had an emergency. If I was inside at the time I sent the emergancy it gives the last known street address, which is usually the correct address because it has a movement sensor and will take a fix every time the device moves which obviously was set off last time I got out of the car. It uses the GeoSmart Reverse GeoCoder to retrieve the nearest street address to the co-ordinates where it was taken. The reason it gives the last address, is because with current satellite technology it can’t get a fix inside the house unless I am in an optimal position. This will of course improve when the Gallileo

It operates as a phone so a call centre can call me if they think there is a problem. It also can function as a phone with a number of preset buttons, which is great for elderly people who only have a few people they need to ring and find mobiles confusing.

A footnote on Orcon, I got a call today saying that they are onto it this time. They said the engineers that have been visiting don’t have sophisticated enough test gear to test a phone line for interference that wouldn’t affect phones and event ordinary ADSL. So hopefully I will see an engineer, at least this time they phoned me:)