Balloon Internet from Google

It seems NewZealand has an unusual Stratospheric wind pattern.
On Saturday Google Scientists from the technology giant released up to 30 helium-filled test balloons flying 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) above Christchurch in New Zealand Saturday, carrying antennae linked to ground base stations.
While still in the early stages, Project Loon hopes eventually to launch thousands of balloons to provide Internet to remote parts of the world, allowing the more than four billion people with no access to get online.
It could also be used to help after natural disasters, when existing communication infrastructure is affected.
“Project Loon is an experimental technology for balloon-powered Internet access,” the company said on its latest project from its clandestine Google (x), “where we work on radical, sci-fi-sounding technology solutions to solve really big world problems”.
“Balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, can beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster,” it added.
“It is very early days, but we think a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, might be a way to provide affordable Internet access to rural, remote, and underserved areas down on earth below, or help after disasters, when existing communication infrastructure is affected.”
It works by ground stations connecting to the local Internet infrastructure and beaming signals to the balloons, which are self-powered by solar panels.
The balloons, which once in the stratosphere will be twice as high as commercial airliners and barely visible to the naked eye, are then able to communicate with each other, forming a mesh network in the sky.
Users below have an Internet antennae they attach the side of their house which can send and receive data signals from the balloons passing overhead.
Some 50 people were chosen to take part in the trial and were able to link to the Internet.
The first person to get Google Balloon Internet access was Charles Nimmo, a farmer and entrepreneur in the small town of Leeston who signed up for the experiment.
He told the New Zealand Herald he received Internet access for about 15 minutes before the transmitting balloon he was relying on floated out of range.
“It’s been weird,” he told the newspaper. “But it’s been exciting to be part of something new.”
Google’s ultimate goal is to have a ring of balloons — each the length of a small light aircraft when fully inflated — circling the Earth, ensuring there is no part of the globe that cannot access the web.
It did not say how much it was investing in the project.
“The idea may sound a bit crazy – and that’s part of the reason we’re calling it Project Loon – but there’s solid science behind it,” Google said, but added: “This is still highly experimental technology and we have a long way to go.”
Project leader Mike Cassidy told reporters that if successful, the technology might allow countries to leapfrog the expense of installing fibre-optic cable.
“It’s a huge moonshot, a really big goal to go after,” he said.
“The power of the Internet is probably one of the most transformative technologies of our time.”
Google said that over time it wanted to set up other pilot projects in countries at the same latitude as New Zealand, including Australia and Argentina, due to the stratospheric conditions.

A Chinese Rip-Off

21 Jan

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This story about the Chinese Tourists getting a FREE meal at the City Mission just won’t go away .
They now say a rogue tour operator in Auckland promised them visits to farms, geyser parks and buffet dinners – but instead took them to free public facilities and charitable events, including the City Mission’s annual Christmas dinner. Ming Xi, a visitor from Wuhan, said he and 10 other Chinese tourists were taken to the City Mission lunch by the tour leader, who told them the event was an annual “buffet treat” the New Zealand Government organised for citizens and visitors.
The tourists arrived last month as part of a tour group on a four-day North Island tour.
They decided to extend their visit to experience how Christmas was celebrated in a Western country. They were approached by the Mandarin-speaking tour leader as they left the i-Site Visitor Information Centre in Quay St, Auckland, the week before Christmas and offered a discounted daily rate of $88 a person for the tour, which included meals and all activities and entry charges.
The itinerary would include visits to a wildlife reserve, a farm park, gardens and a geyser park, and meals would include a Kiwi barbecue, a cultural dinner and a grand Christmas buffet.

Thinking they had real bargain, they decided to go with him was because it would be handy to have a local guide who spoke Mandarin.
The Kiwi barbecue was a sausage sizzle at a public barbecue pit, and the cultural dinner was a vegetarian meal at an “Indian” spiritual gathering where the group were asked to chant, sing and dance before eating.
The offer
*A grand Christmas buffet, cultural dinner and a great Kiwi barbecue

*Admission to a farm park with farm shows, shearing and milking

*Visit to a wildlife reserve with endangered native birds

*Geysers, mud pools and a soak in Rotorua hot mineral pool

What they got:

*Auckland City Mission charity Christmas lunch

*Vegetarian dinner by an “Indian” spiritual group, for which they had to chant, sing and dance

*A sausage sizzle on a public barbecue pit

*Council-funded Ambury Farm Park and Western Springs

*Rotorua’s public Kuirau Park and a soak at its free foot bath

Supposedly this operator is not one of the accredited Chinese Tourism Operators in New Zealand.
Personally, I have to admit its a great story…….

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Homeless Meal For Chinese Tour Group

Being in the Accommodation Industry at Eden Park Bed and Breakfast in Auckland ,I like to read the latest reports and keep up with the news pertaining to the Tourism Industry. So when I read about the Auckland City Mission Free Lunch and the Chinese Tour Operator, I have to laugh!
Every year the Auckland City Mission’s Christmas Free lunch is presented to the homeless. This year 2800 people attended.
TVNZ caught a Chinese Tour Operator at a table of 10 Chinese having a free meal. When it’s reporter attempted to speak to the woman the agent fell back on to the wise words of “no speak English”
I would love to know if the Chinese Agent on-charged its tour group for that meal….
With all the hoopla about the Chinese Tourism Market and how we should be learning the basics of conversation , maybe we should be teaching them the meaning of the
English Word ” CHEAP”.

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The X-37B flys again

15 Dec

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Before we reopened Eden Park Bed and Breakfast ,the wife and I lived the the USA for 6 years. We saw a lot of things and the influence of the military is everywhere; so I find the X-37B very cool.

The X-37B unmanned space plane will be undergoing its third launch, set upon a top secret mission by the Air Force. The spacecraft has a payload capacity about the size of a small truck bed, the contents of which are unknown.
X-37B will be hitching a ride aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket at 1:03 p.m. on Tuesday. Although the launch window is open until just after 6:00 p.m., there is just a 30 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for liftoff.
The mini-space shuttle is about a quarter of the size of the retired NASA orbiters and is both a reusable and a robotic vehicle.
The vehicle has no crew cabin, no support life systems, and is solar-powered, designed to remain up in orbit for 270 days. Although its max life is supposed to be 270 days, the second X-37B mission flew for 469 days.
X-37B is also famous for being able to launch, orbit the Earth and re-enter our planet’s atmosphere, all autonomously.
Many theorists have opinions on what the super secret spacecraft is tasked with doing. Some believe that the X-37B harbors the capability of striking anywhere in the world in less than an hour.
Some believe that the vehicle is meant to keep an eye on China and Russia, particularly China’s new space endeavors. Amateur astronomers keeping an eye on X-37B’s orbital patterns say that the spacecraft is following closely on China’s Tiangong 1 orbit.
Others simply believe that X-37B is just a platform to allow the Air Force to perform experiments in space, or that it is a test bed for advanced sensors or secret missions.
Whatever it does this is one seriously cool piece of hardware produced by the US of A.

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Earthquake in the South Island

Friday Morning at Eden Park Bed and Breakfast in Auckland. Breakfast for the guests is finished and just waithing for check-outs and then into the room turnovers. So… Its coffee time and a quick update on the news of the day. I see that the West Coast of New Zealand got a shaky start to their morning today when a magnitude 5.3 earthquake rocked the West Coast and Otago this morning. The quake struck at 7.38am, and was centred 40km southwest of Haast, 70km northwest of Wanaka, at a depth of 5km.
The quake was reported to have been felt in Wanaka, Alexandra, and Lake Hawea, and as far away as Westport and Dunedin.
Woopie doo…. Great way to start a Friday!

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This is the X-51A

18 Aug

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And now for the latest in USA Military Tech.
An unmanned experimental aircraft designed to fly six times the speed of sound broke apart over the Pacific Ocean seconds into a military test flight due to a faulty control fin, the U.S. Air Force said on Wednesday. The problem with the fin on the craft known as the Waverider or X-51A was identified in a test flight on Tuesday, 16 seconds after a rocket booster on the remotely monitored craft was ignited to propel it forward. Fifteen seconds later, when the X-51A separated from the rocket booster, it lost control due to a faulty-control fin.The 31 seconds of flight fell far short of the military’s goal for the X-51A to fly for five minutes.
The aircraft broke apart immediately and fell into the Pacific Ocean near Point Mugu northwest of Los Angeles.
The Waverider was designed to reach speeds of Mach 6 or above, six times the speed of sound and fast enough to zoom from New York to London in less than an hour. The military has its eye on using the Waverider program to develop missiles with non-nuclear explosives that could strike anywhere in the world within an hour.
The cost of the experimental aircraft, which military officials said was dropped from a B-52 bomber before its rocket booster was ignited, has not been disclosed because many details of the program are classified. The aircraft is known as the Waverider because it stays airborne, in part, with lift generated by the shock waves of its own flight. The Boeing Co’s Phantom Works division performed design and assembly on the craft.
This was the third of four X-51A aircraft built for the military, one of which flew for over three minutes at nearly five times the speed of sound during a 2010 test flight.
The Waverider is part of efforts by the U.S. military to develop a prompt global strike capability to hit targets anywhere in the world within an hour. Over the years, the global strike program will likely eat up billions of dollars in development costs. If the program becomes operational, targets could include conventional military sites or militants.
A missile would likely not be fired from a vehicle like the X-51A, but the craft itself would be the missile.
That the test flight crashed early due to a problem with a fin would likely be frustrating for the military because that part was relatively easy to build, unlike the largely untested Scramjet engine
which uses the forward motion of the craft to compress air for fuel combustion.

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Undiscovered Pyramids Found..(Maybe!!)

Just when you think all has been discovered in the world up pops a great story.
It’s raining in Auckland today and at Eden Park Bed and Breakfast I’m just reading the news and BINGO.
It seems a satellite archaeology researcher has discovered two undiscovered Pyramids in Egypt.The two sites are around 144 kilometres apart in Upper Egypt. (Possibly !)
The images contain some unusual features, including four mounds with triangular plateaus.
Field research is needed to verify they are, in fact, pyramids but the images speak for themselves.(maybe!)
Very Cool !

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More Shake, Rattle And Roll in New Zealand

22 Jul

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And now we have some more good news to share with you in the land of Hobbits and Middle Earth.
Scientists have raised the Volcano Alert Level at Mt Tongariro after a series of quakes beneath the volcanic complex. GeoNet said typically Tongariro experienced two such quakes – magnitude 2.5 or less – a year, but there had been more than 20 since July 13.
In a Volcanic Alert Bulletin issued this afternoon, it said the sequence started on July 13 and declined for a period, before restarting on July 18 and increasing in number yesterday.These earthquakes are small (magnitudes <2.5) and have only been well recorded by a few of the seismometers in our permanent network. The earthquakes cluster in a zone between Emerald Crater and the Te Mari craters at 2-7km depth. Tongariro is a massive complex of volcanic cones and craters formed by eruptions from at least 12 vents over more than 275,000 years ago.
GNS Science volcanologist Brad Scott said the increased activity "just means that something has upset Tongariro, and some subterranean process is occurring".
That's all very nice to hear but we have a fault line right through the country and underneath this volcano.....

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Don't be cheap Huka Lodge

When you are in the Accommodation industry you get to hear of some crazy stories about other properties. This one is a pure hoot of a story about a high class property forgetting about the small details
A Danish family who have spent thousands of dollars visiting exclusive Huka Lodge were horrified the driver organised by the resort was arrested on the way back to Auckland – leaving the family stranded at a McDonald’s. Kare Schultz, his girlfriend Marianne Schnor and her four children, had spent four days at Huka Lodge in Taupo and were about halfway between Taupo and Hamilton when their driver was pulled over by police on Thursday. The driver was arrested for giving false details and the family were told by an officer he had no driver’s licence and was known to them.
Appalled, they contacted Huka Lodge and were told they could have a 50 per cent refund, only to have the offer withdrawn by the general manager the next day and a lesser amount promised.
The resort’s general manager last night said they were reviewing their links with the transport company and the driver involved refused to comment. Mr Schultz and his family arrived in Auckland on July 15 and met the driver who would take them to Taupo at the airport. The transport had been arranged by the resort when they booked and cost $1000 each way.
At Eden park Bed and Breakfast we provide Airport Transfers but use a legal transportation company called Supercare4u.com

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Auckland's top Restaurants offer Terrific food, served with great charm and efficiency in a smart but probably somewhat informal atmosphere.

Brief overview of upcoming events in Auckland City

A short walk from Eden Park makes us the perfect destination for all their sporting fixtures.