Discovering Jean-Michel Jarre

I was introduced to Jean-Michel Jarre at one of the first Laser Tag arenas in New Zealand, possibly the world.

It was called “Futron” and was in a large warehouse next to a popular theme park in West Auckland.

It was multi-level, filled with fog machines and lasers and Star Trek style doors that opened when you shot them, and Jean-Michel Jarre played as a constant soundtrack.

I remember there were TV screens giving instructions to each team, and we have to successfully tag four pyramid “flags” throughout the playing area.

It was truely magical for a space-and-sci-fi obsessed preteen.

My friends and I only went a couple of times before it turned into paintball, which wasn’t as much fun for 11yr olds!

As a direct results of Futon, Jarre’s Rendez-vous was one of the first vinyls I ever bought and I remember playing it over and over again on weekend mornings when my parents were still in bed, happily drumming along on the sofa.

Fourth Rendez-Vous was my favourite, but by coincidence, Jarre also featured on New Zealand TV with Equinoxe, Pt. 4 used as at the theme for a popular wildlife show, Our World.

Hearing it now still gives me late 80’s family TV night flashbacks.

The Mystrons

When I was much younger I wrote an epic sci-fi graphic novel. Because talent like this should not be lost to time, I present in all it’s glory – The Mystrons. (Not to be confused with The Mysterons – I assume there was some sort of copyright issue)

(With apologies to Gerry Anderson)

(I suspect NASA did not receive their copy.)

One day when I was putting the milk out I got (hit) by a laser beam. It hit my foot. I did cry. Some more came I hid behind the letter box. Then it stopped. I went back inside. I found that it came from the moon. I wondered how?

It was the next day. I saw a flying saucer. I tried to take a photo of it but when it was developed it was blank. I saw it again I tried to take a photo of it again but the same happened so I did not (try) it again. But then…….

The next day it landed on our drive when I was getting the paper. Then a voice said “This is the voice of the Mystrons”

A ramp came down. A man stepped out. He caught me. I shouted “help”. Russell looked out of his window. He came to help but he got caught as well. They took us in

We bit them they bit us it hurt. They took us into a room and locked us up. The guards came in they came into the room. They left the door open . But if we moved they would shoot us with a gun you would (not) die. But if you moved again you would.

Then the Mystrons started to attack but when we attacked our bullets just blew up so we gave up. They landed and kidnapped everyone they could see.

Meanwhile, on earth they were getting ready to attack. When they were high they took us to the door and made us jump our of the door. The people on earth saw us but didn’t do anything then they noticed who is was and they rescued us

Me and Russell were the only ones on earth because all over the world they were attacking. We ran to Whenuapai airport. We jumped into an Orion but did not know how to drive one we just guessed. We took off we rescued everyone and never landed again.


  • I’m not 100 per cent how old I was – 7 or 8 I think
  • The final page is drawn in crayon. I have no idea why
  • “Russell” was my next door neighbour.

Nine 90’s “Hacker” movies you should watch

Seeing “Sneakers” on sale on Apple TV reminded me that there are some movies younger geeks might not know they should watch. So, here is a helpful list of 90’s “hacker” movies to watch or not ordered by how much I like them.

Sneakers (1992) – Pen testing, social engineering, cryptography and lasers. What more could a teenage geek want? I could watch this 100 times and not get board. Also, Cooties Rat Semen.

Office Space (1999) – Before Silicon Valley there was Office Space. Painfully true to life for anyone who has had a ‘corporate’ IT job.

The Matrix (1999) – Mind blowing for a young systems engineer. Everyone wanted the cool Nokia slide phone. This was perhaps one of the first times I’d seen a movie that presented “hackers” as cool.

War Games (1983) – Its a little bit pre-90s, but its really good. You may be surprised to learn it was written but the same screenwriter as Sneakers.

Disclosure (1994) – Its mostly gender politics set in a tech startup, but its pretty good. As with most movies based on Michael Crichton books, the book is better (see also: Jurassic Park)

Hackers (1995) – From what I remember its a lot of style over substance. Hacking into “The Gibson” etc. Give it a miss unless you are desperate.

(A lot of people on reddit disagree with me about this. I might have to rewatch it.)

The Net (1995) – Terrible movie but Sandra Bullock is hot. Fight me.

Antitrust (2001) Ryan Phillippe as a hacker. Not great.

Swordfish (2001) – Hugh Jackman was a hacker before he was Wolverine. Famous for that particular scene with Halle Berry.

Honourable Mentions:

The Manhattan Project (1986) – kid builds a nuclear bomb. While waking up from general anaesthetic I told a nurse I knew how to build a nuclear bomb on the basis of watching this movie. I was a special child.

Short Circuit (1986) – Sentient robot (but also kinda racist)

Code Rush (2000) – Documentary about Netscape open sourcing as Mozilla. Features the illustrious jwz.

Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999) – Biopic about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs starting out. I got a lifetime ban from our local Blockbuster because I refused to pay an overdue fine for this movie on the basis that I hadn’t rented it from them. They closed two weeks later. Suck on that, Blockbuster.

I’m sure there are others but these are the ones that stick out.

This post was originally published on Reddit.

Seven beginner’s thoughts on blogging with Jekyll

Themes are a nightmare. It’s a miracle they ever work

If you are lucky you can just copy the files in, but then you have to start messing around with Gemfiles and missing or duplicated _layout patterns and all sorts. I suppose attaching to Github is supposed to help with that? But that leads me to..

An obsession with Github

Yes, I know they are closely linked but it seems like you can’t go five minutes without having to “git the clone repo master branch” (or a similar sort of foreign language that Git users probably understand)

You have to be reasonably comfortable with troubleshooting to make any real progress

This is especially true when your operating system doesn’t behave like the tutorials say it will. I have no idea how many copies of Ruby I have installed now or where they live. I guess thats ok? Who knows.

Googling error messages is my friend again

So far I haven’t had to look at Ruby code. This is a good thing

One of the things that put me off most static generators in the first place was the fanatical nature of the platform they are built on. Fortunately, like all good software, I can “use” Jekyll without needing to know how it works under the hood – so far anyway.

Local development and testing works well

Being able to play with things live on my local machine is lovely. And I haven’t had to install a database!

Github hosting seems like it should be easier

Either I’m watching really complicated tutorials or getting static hosting working on Github Pages is like some kind of mysterious incantation. I haven’t really looked into this yet so maybe its easier. It doesn’t help that old tutorials come up but the actual process has been updated since they were published.

Yes, I am having FUN!

I used to install Linux on 386s and try and make winmodems and graphics cards work. So despite all my issues above, I am really enjoying tinkering with something and overcoming the challenges of making it go. I suspect that over time I’ll figure out all my issues and actually have a website I’m happy with.