Nick MacKechnie
#8 wire kinda guy.....

The New Adventure

Thursday, 26 May 2011 08:06 by Nick MacKechnie

So… it’s the first chapter of a new book! Liam, Lachlan and I spent our last weekend together at my place before repairs began from the September the 4th Christchurch earthquake. It’s somewhat of a surreal experience moving out of your own house, having your things packed up, possessions taken away and stored, then having your ‘home’ pulled to pieces. Smile It’s been a challenging road working through the minefield of talking to and dealing with the Earthquake Commission (EQC), Insurance Companies, Loss Adjustor, Construction companies etc., however the persistence has paid off.

On Tuesday this week I completed relocating to alternative living accommodation (thanks mum), moved the work/home office and Falcon Construction began work. The February quake rendered my work office inaccessible as it’s located in the CBD / No Access zone.

The construction work at home will take approximately 16 weeks and involves lifting the house up 1.5 metres in height, removing the old foundations and piles, replacing, before lowering the house back down and then the restoration starts. The house needs to be bought up to current building compliance/standards, which means removing all internal gib, relining, adding insulation where there isn’t etc. – Effectively gutting the place, and starting again.

The house was built in 1955, located rurally in the south west of Christchurch. I’m in the very fortunate position where I am one of the first cabs off the rank in terms of these types of repairs. I’m looking forward to adding things new front and back decking, new kitchen, new doors etc. as well as fully cabling the house for everything geeky Smile.

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POST Christchurch Earthquake–22nd of February 2011 #eqc #chch

Tuesday, 1 March 2011 00:19 by Nick MacKechnie

Firstly I wanted to pass on my sincere thanks to all of you for your kind words, emails, texts and phone calls.  It’s been a tough week and hearing some friendly voices has made things more ‘normal’, so thanks!  All family and friends are safe and accounted for so I feel very fortunate. Our Christchurch office survived surprisingly well, however most buildings around us are decimated – we were very lucky to come out relatively unscathed ->a third of the CBD is unlikely to survive.

I thought I’d share some of my experiences from the Christchurch quake that hit on the 22nd of February 2011. I was in our building catching up with friends who work at Exeed (HP Distributors) before heading to lunch when the quake occurred. Our building shook extensively, we headed for something to shelter under as we saw plumes of dust and fly debris out the office window. After making sure everyone was OK, and the aftershocks subsided, we headed for the ground floor and out into High Street. We were greeted with something I can only describe as a war zone.

Here are some photos of the devastation I saw as I walked out the door. There was carnage everywhere, people running, screaming, yelling, standing still, trapped, cars abandoned etc. I encouraged those standing under things to move along and follow the crowd, and checked on a number of people who were clearly not in a good space. Like many, my car wasn’t accessible (and won’t be for along time) so I started my journey home. Given the amount of debris and the aftershocks still happening, walking out of the city was a long process. It took me a good few hours to walk out of the city and arrive at home. Sights of people walking and stepping into liquefaction and sinking knee height weren’t uncommon. Traffic was banked up for hours with people trying to rescue those who were without transport.  80% of Christchurch was without power at this stage, cell sites overloaded/on battery, no water, sewage, queues of people filling up at gas stations etc. – It gives you appreciation of how reliant we’ve become on technology. I was unable to make phone calls, texts and tweets were flying in, however I was couldn’t respond as there clearly wasn’t the bandwidth available. I eventually made contact with mum and my kids so it was a huge relief to know they were safe – I put them on a flight to Auckland as soon as I could.

I have taken refuge at a friends place, they have been spectacular in looking after me, having an open home to the many friends that have dropped in who have needed food and power to charge gadgets.

Workwise we have kicked off our response team to assist customers, partners, small businesses and the government where we can add the most value. Microsoft New Zealand is making the following support offerings available to affected customers and business partners. We hope this will help our customers as they respond to the disaster and rebuild their IT capability in the coming weeks and months. This offer is available for customers in the Canterbury Region for an initial 90 day period – Microsoft will review the offer and the period as we learn more about the precise assistance most commonly needed. Go here for more information.

The sense of helplessness is felt by many across the country/globe, equally for those of us on the ground the sentiments are similar. It’s a time to pull together as a community/country and help each other out. I believe that out of these types of events, there’s more of an opportunity to learn, grow and achieve some great outcomes if we work together. Hope, determination, smart decisions and some kiwi-know-how will get us through this. We are down, but not out – Thanks all for your continuing thoughts, calls, texts, prayers and assistance – it means alot and is appreciated.

Here’s a view of the city after the earthquake.

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Please visit the Canterbury Response website for the latest information on the Earthquake.

Nick.

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So what about the rain eh...... 61.2 mm since midnight

Monday, 9 August 2010 09:25 by Nick MacKechnie

Hi All,

So I’ve decided enough is enough… let’s see where this journey takes us. Here’s the email I’ve just sent to the Christchurch City Council complaints department and our local MP about the drainage challenges we’ve been having at home..

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Update – 9th August 2010

For those that know me well will know that I’m a stickler for principles (sometimes a good thing, sometimes not so much) and since peoples personal safety is at risk, I followed up again this morning to try and achieve an acknowledgement of the issue from the Council.

So…I fired off an email to some other potentially interested parties, as I hadn’t heard anything by lunchtime, and I was quickly greeted with a response from the Mayors Office, as well as a confirmation from the Christchurch City Council complaints resolution department stating that they had received my emails, and they will be in contact within 10 working days. 

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So we’ll see what the next 10 working days brings J

Update - 26 August 2010

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Update - 27th of August 2010

I just had a call from the Christchurch City Council in the wake of last nights email (above). Thanks Owen Southen (Senior Contract Manager, Land Drainage) for the phone call, and speaking and listening to common sense – I should receive a letter from the Majors office over the next few days - CCC are aware of the issue, and are working with the park rangers across the road into how they can address this flooding issue – most probably replacing the drainage pipe that isn’t coping well with the large volume of water.

Owen apologised  for the lack of response until now, and was more than happy to supply his direct contact details. So once I receive the letter and see the contents, I’ll then be back in contact to see where to from here.

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Dance Festival, Liam being Invested @ Keas and Lachie gettn’ jiggy wif it

Friday, 26 September 2008 02:18 by Nick MacKechnie

Hi All,

Yesterday was a busy day for the kids! Halswell School have been learning about dance and yesterday they put on a show for the parents. Vanessa and Lachie went to watch Liam perform, Lachie wasn’t too interested and found some nice dirt to play with outside.

Liam has been going to Keas now for quite a few weeks, and last night he was invested (it isn’t as painful as it sounds) – This basically means you join, say your promise and receive your scarf , woggle and shirt. In a few weeks time we’re off to his first camp at Kaikoura, where we’ll stay for a couple of nights, do whale watching, mini golf, have mass produced food, and the adults will probably enjoy a few ales – Quite looking forward to it!<a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=606b7e0a-88bd-4411-8b50-376f3f9d9c95" target="_new" title="Dance Festival @ Halswell School">Video: Dance Festival @ Halswell School</a>

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Lachie attends Mainly music on Tuesday, so when the fun outside began, (It was the end of term party of Keas).. he decided to put on his dancing shoes…

<a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=d7be2ee2-f975-4d9b-8d08-708f8dc18769" target="_new" title="Jiggy!">Video: Jiggy!</a>

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Customer Service!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008 04:10 by Nick MacKechnie

Hi All,

So I thought I’d give some praise where it’s due :-) My wife is having an operation tomorrow at St Georges here in Christchurch and naturally I will be spending a fair amount of time up at the hospital with her over the next few days. We’re currently investigating our options around what mobile broadband provider and device we will purchase, so I’ll be at a bit of a loss tomorrow – well maybe not!

I wandered downstairs to the lads at Snap, and they give me a device to try, unfortunately the sim card was no longer active so it wasn’t going to fly. They did however give me the details of a gentleman to contact at St Georges, who was more than happy to assist. They are currently trialling broadband in rooms (and investigating wifi options for guests) and therefore, all you need is an Ethernet cable and to connect to any website and authenticate and away you go.

Great job Snap, and Great job St Georges!

Nick.

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Breaky, snow, lunch, beer and rugby!

Sunday, 17 August 2008 11:49 by Nick MacKechnie

Hi All,

Well today started off earlier than other typical weekends. We’ve had alot of snow in the Canterbury Region, and we haven’t really had a good chance to go and have a play in it – So we headed south to Lake Coleridge in search of some snow. We stopped at Darfield and enjoyed a hot breakfast with some decent carb loading :-). It’s easy to get stuck in the routine of life, so we decided to enjoy our surroundings, and headed an hour south – the boys had a blast!

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For more photos go here - http://www.thenet.gen.nz/Home/Photos.aspx?AlbumID=133

For videos of Liam and Lachie playing in the snow go here - http://www.thenet.gen.nz/Home/Movies.aspx

We had lunch out at Lincoln with Vanessa’s brother, wife and kids, then Liam and I headed off to the Canterbury vs Auckland Rugby game at AMI Stadium.

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Great result with Canterbury taking it to Auckland 34 - 3 – It was our first ‘take a kid to footy’ night. (Take a kid to footy costs $25 for an Adult and Child, and they receive a ‘loot bag’ with a drink, chips, some bangers and some face paint) – Cheap night out! It was pretty cold, however Liam was keen to stay until the end.

A few more photos here - http://www.thenet.gen.nz/Home/Photos.aspx?AlbumID=134

Nick.

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Country prepares for chaos on roads – Tomorrow!

Friday, 4 July 2008 05:04 by Nick MacKechnie

Police are urging motorists and commuters across the country to either get to work early tomorrow morning or take the day off work to avoid getting caught up in planned action by truckies over increases in road charges.

Auckland

Police have advised motorists to arrive at work before 7.30am or to avoid travelling on the region's motorways and streets altogether, so as not to get caught up in what will likely be hours of gridlock.

Police have been advised that up to 2,000 heavy trucks will converge on Auckland's CBD after travelling along northern, southern, eastern and western feeder motorways from about 7.30am.

police have predicted that even if the truck numbers are significantly less, there will be heavy congestion around the CBD until midday.

Acting Inspector Ross Endicott-Davies of the Auckland City Police District said police will be doing their best to manage the event and work with the trucking industry.

"Traffic movements within the city will be controlled by SCATS (Sydney Controlled Automated Traffic System) but traffic flows are not expected to get back to normal for several hours after the protest has finished."

He advised people travelling to the airport for early morning flights, to get there well in advance or to consider staying overnight in a hotel, or similar accommodation, near the airport.

Wellington

Wellington police have also advised commuters to avoid motorways and the CBD.

More than 100 trucks were expected to travel in convoy on State Highways 1 and 2, leaving McKays Crossing and Seaview, near Petone, from 7am.

Inspector Simon Perry said the volume of trucks would cause huge delays on the motorway systems, and gridlock the central city.

"This protest is happening in peak time and the convoys may merge as they approach the CBD.

"We expect motorists will need to factor an extra 90 minutes delay into their travel time."

Christchurch

Christchurch police said to expect delays in the north and south of Christchurch.

The truckers are planning to approach the city in convoy from Kaiapoi in the north, via Main North Rd and Papanui Rd.

In the south truckies will protest along Sockburn Rd and Blenheim Rd.

Inspector Derek Erasmus of Christchurch police said the Road Transport Forum had assured police that all truckies would be following rules, they would comply with traffic signs and road rules.

Motorists should take the obvious precautions of allowing extra time, avoiding the main two routes where possible and to be patient.

In town motorists should expect extra trucks on the road. It is believed they will mostly circle the city center and leave via Victoria Street.

Inspector Erasmus says he is unsure how many will be involved but is expecting up to 200 extra trucks on Christchurch roads.

"Obviously depending on their size there will be delays at intersections in Christchurch. Convoys will become broken as they progress through intersections."

"We expect drivers will behave responsibly and comply with law," said Erasmus. "The main issue will be congestion."

Nick.

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Work/Life Balance..

Wednesday, 18 June 2008 00:49 by Nick MacKechnie

Hi All,

I thought I’d share a bit of a perspective on working for a company I enjoy working for, in a city I enjoy living in. I’m working for a large US multinational, we make some cool stuff, have the ability to solve business problems through smart adoption and deployment of technology, we innovate and invest heavily in R&D and I’m living in Christchurch, New Zealand – sound terrible so far?

We lived in Auckland for 9 years and our intention was always to come back and settle with family and friends, the challenge we had was that I love working for Microsoft and I wasn’t ready to close that book. Microsoft as an employer invests heavily in training, soft skills, has a great culture and provides a wealth of opportunities to employees in New Zealand as well as around the globe. So I wanted the best of all worlds – and I managed to get it.

If I look back at the decision making process of moving back down to Christchurch, and some of the conversations I had with my management, One of the questions that stands out for me, was “How effective do you think you can be down South?” – My response is simple – Microsoft is a technology company, we have designed, built, tested and released a wealth of solutions that enable people to work from pretty much anywhere in the world. I’m not a person who gives up easily, and distance will be no barrier to me being able to do my job based in Christchurch, as well as contributing to the New Zealand business and beyond.

So rather than preaching, I thought I’d flip it around and ask some questions -

Where else can you work for a company that:

· Has a strong focus on helping the greater good of people through giving programmes for Health and Education as well as enabling staff to do payed volunteer work

· Wants to retain great staff and enables them to live and work from most locations around the world

· Make it right – If we do fall over our feet, will stand up, we are accountable and ensure the customer is looked after appropriately

· Has changed the way we live our lives though self belief, hard work, great people, technology, and research and development

· Drives employee behaviour heavily by customer satisfaction – the reality is that happy customers buy more

· Has a very long term view of research and development – Out of failures comes an opportunity to learn and grow and ability to re-use learnings

· If at first we don’t succeed, we try, try again

· Has produced some kick-arse software and hardware

· Has a flat management structure and promotes the ability to escalate and communicate when appropriate

· Has nice finishing touches to make your working week easier – fresh fruit to all floors, an acceptance that we all work hard, and therefore also need to play hard, recognises that people may have different work styles and measures on output rather than legacy work patterns

Why am I bleating on about this? Since moving back down in Christchurch, I’ve come across a lot of old friends, who are happy-ish with their job, and see this as it. I find myself very fortunate to be paid to do my hobby, work for an organisation that I enjoy working for, and living in a great city that offers what we are looking for as a family, and to be apart of something bigger than Christchurch and New Zealand. Moral of the Story – If you are going to spend a large amount of you’re life doing something, why the hell not do something you enjoy doing!

Nick.

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Bulletin Board Systems - What are you talking about?

Monday, 9 June 2008 09:28 by Nick MacKechnie

Hi All,

So it wasn't too long ago that there was no public Internet, and what is now known as the Internet was only available to the US Government and Universities - so what existed before WWW?

A Bulletin Board System, or BBS, is a computer system running software that allows users to dial into the system over a phone line (or Telnet) and, using a terminal program, perform functions such as downloading software and data, uploading data, reading news, and exchanging messages with other users (sound familiar??).

During its heyday from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s, many BBSes were run as a hobby free of charge by the system operator (or "sysop"), while other BBSes charged their users a subscription fee for access, or were operated by a business as a means of supporting their customers. Why am I telling you this? Well this year marks the 20th! year of The Trashcan BBS, here in Christchurch, New Zealand - go here for a  history lesson. It's interesting to see there are still a bunch hobbyists running them, and the old message networks like Fidonet are still alive and running!

If you want to have a look at real history, feel free to logon and have a look!

Nick.

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