Working at Microsoft Ignite New Zealand Conference

It’s been such an amazing opportunity to work as an Events Usher at Microsoft Ignite NZ Conference at Skycity Convention Centre, Auckland. It’s my first time working at a large scale event and I’ve had a wonderful time meeting people from different companies and occupations.

Microsoft Ignite NZ Conference is New Zealand’s largest IT Conference and there are approximately 2000 delegates attending this year. It is a 3 day conference running from Wednesday 2nd September to Friday 4th September.  It is mainly targeted towards people who work in the IT industry or who have an interest in technology. There are a wide range of conference sessions on topics such as innovation, app development, coding, using Microsoft software, public speaking and much more.

Today, I got the chance to attend a conference session by Microsoft Researcher, Ethan Jackson who is running Project Premonition (a system which aims to identify and prevent infectious disease outbreaks). However, this project was really unique because it involved using mosquitoes, drones and cloud computing. The project uses drones and robotic mosquito traps to capture mosquitoes and analyse them for pathogens. Using gene sequencing, pathogens are detected and cloud computing is used for data analysis. Mosquitoes were utilised for this project because of their ability to locate and sample the blood of different species of animals which means they can be used to monitor infectious diseases carried by wild animals. By collecting and analysing data about viruses, this system is an innovative method of tracking the movement of pathogens before they can cause disease outbreaks in the human population. I am looking forward to seeing how this form of technology can help us to solve problems in the present and future.

For more information about this project go to: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/projects/projectpremonition/default.aspx

Another highlight of Microsoft Ignite conference was learning how to use hand-held scanners to scan the name tags of delegates before they enter the conference sessions. This enabled us to provide valuable information about the number of attendees per session to the Microsoft Ignite conference staff. Today was a really busy day and there were nearly 700 attendees in the Skycity Theatre at the conference session on “Introduction to Microsoft Hololens”. If you haven’t heard of Microsoft Hololens, I encourage you to look it up because it is the first fully untethered, see-through, holographic computer. It enables you to make notes, view and interact with holograms and play games. It hasn’t been released yet but I definitely hope to try it out one day if I get the chance.

For more information check out: https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us/experience

Another highlight for me was meeting people from different companies. Here is a photo of Master Chief from Halo and I at the Intergen company stall.

Here is a photo of a cow from Provoke Solutions that was roaming around the conference.

So far, I’m really enjoying the Microsoft Ignite NZ Conference and I am looking forward to seeing what the final day of the conference will be like. Stay tuned! 😀

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Queens Wharf Block Party

It was a rainy day and I heard that there was a free festival with live music, art and crafts happening at the Cloud today. So I decided to go and check it out.

Inside the Cloud, there was a small market with people selling various arts and crafts, vintage clothing, paintings, jewellery and perfumes made from essential oils.

It was nice to explore the different areas of the block party and there were different spaces for different activities such as an interactive art zone, a live performance area with mats for the audience, free sports activities and food stalls.

I enjoyed meeting different craftspeople, bloggers and business owners from different backgrounds and walks of life. It was inspiring to meet the lovely ladies from Axes and Arrows and Laura from Heyman Bowties. I think it’s great that people can make a living from selling vintage, handmade clothing and accessories.

I also met Sarah from Sewloveteado. She owns a sewing lounge in St Kevin’s Arcade and runs a blog. She runs sewing courses, does alterations and sells handmade products. We had a great conversation about sewing and using patterns. I have decided that I would like to learn how to sew over the summer holidays and brush up on my skills with a sewing machine. I remembered the last time I had touched a sewing machine was back in my year 12 Textiles and Design class in high school. I have memories of sewing my first dress and following a pattern. Unfortunately, by the time I had finished sewing the dress it did not fit me and it had plenty of holes from my unpicking. I am hoping that one day I will be able to make my own clothes and do my own sewing repairs. So with that in mind, I decided to buy my own mini sewing kit from Sarah’s stall for $5. It contains a few buttons, needles, black and blue thread. I guess it’s not a bad place to start…

I also had the privilege of meeting Rose from Decadia Vintage who was doing free vintage hair styling and makeovers. It was interesting because I discovered that Rose had studied Geography at the university I am currently attending. However, she decided to go into a different field. I really enjoyed listening to Rose’s story about her career path as she was styling my hair into 1940’s victory rolls.

I’m glad that I decided to walk into the Cloud today despite the wet weather in Auckland. I learned a lot from meeting different people from different walks of life. I’m sure that Auckland would definitely benefit from having more arts and crafts events and opportunities for people to interact through a shared space. I hope to see more activities held at Queen’s Wharf in the future. It’s always great to have something fun to do on a rainy day like this in Auckland.

Highlights from the Go Green Expo

On Sunday, I volunteered at the Go Green Expo in Auckland at the ticket gate. This involved greeting people at the door, answering queries and accepting people’s tickets for entry.

If you haven’t heard of the Go Green Expo, it’s the largest annual sustainability and organics expo in New Zealand. If you want to find out more, check out the website here: http://www.gogreenexpo.co.nz/

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2014 is the first year that the Go Green Expo has exhibited in Auckland. As you can imagine, the expo had a range of different businesses/companies including: Raw dessert businesses, organic vegetable box suppliers, sustainable building design and even electric bike suppliers.

It was incredibly inspiring for me to meet and interact with naturopaths/herbalists, organic food businesses and the wonderful people from The Organic Mechanic and The Raw Kitchen.

One of my highlights from the Go Green Expo was ordering a green smoothie from The Organic Mechanic. If you haven’t heard of them before, The Organic Mechanic is an organic smoothie business with a mission to change the world, one smoothie at a time. Through values like peace, community, and consciousness, the guys from The Organic Mechanic seek to educate people about the benefits of green smoothies and living a healthier lifestyle.

There was a queue at The Organic Mechanic’s stall at the Expo, but that didn’t stop me from ordering a smoothie. As soon as I walked up to the stall, I was greeted with a smile and I ordered an “Athena” smoothie from the menu. The “Athena” is an epic green smoothie containing kale and feijoas. It was well worth the 15 minutes waiting time, in fact it gave me an excellent opportunity to observe the guys chopping fruit, blending and serving smoothies.

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After I finished my “Athena” smoothie, I headed straight back to the entrance doors to continue greeting people and checking their tickets. The fresh, organic fruit and vegetables in the smoothie gave me an incredible burst of energy and I was able to continue serving people at the doors.

Another highlight for me, was meeting Olivia from The Raw Kitchen at the Go Green Expo. Olivia has recently started up a business of making raw cheesecakes using fruit, nuts, seeds and edible flowers. If you ever need a cake for a special occasion, you should definitely check out The Raw Kitchen. Olivia’s raw cakes are made with fresh ingredients and are free from refined sugar. This is great if you are looking for healthier dessert alternatives which won’t compromise your health. At the Go Green Expo, Olivia’s raw desserts had sold out by 3pm in the afternoon on both days which simply proved how popular her raw dessert creations were.

After volunteering at the Go Green Expo, I walked away feeling inspired by the movement of businesses and people who are world changers in sustainability and pursuing an environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

Raw Blueberry Cheesecake

Do you love cheesecake? Try out this healthy, fruit dessert.

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Crust:
2 c raw macadamias or cashews
1/2 c pitted dates
1/4 c dried coconut

Spread coconut on bottom of pie pan. Blend raw nuts and dates in food processor. Press crust onto coconut.

Cheese: 
3 c raw cashews. Soaked for 1-2 hours
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 c honey or maple syrup
3/4 c coconut oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla

Blend all and 1/2 cup water together to a cheese-like consistency. pour over crust. Tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles. Place in freezer until frozen . 

Blueberry sauce: 
1-2 c frozen blueberries
1/2 c dates pitted

Process blueberries and dates in a blender until it has a smooth consistency. Pour over cheesecake before serving.

Enjoy!

Variations:

-You can use any other types of frozen fruit like raspberries or mango.

-decorate with mint leaves or fresh fruit to serve.

Dinner at Sunflower Thai Vegetarian Restaurant

A group of friends and I decided we would go out for dinner tonight and we ended up going to Sunflower Thai  Vegetarian Restaurant based on the good recommendations. It is tucked away on High Street in Auckland city and has a great range of delicious dishes. The vegetarians and non-vegetarians walked away equally satisfied.

We decided to start off with sampling the appetizers. 

The Money Bags were a real favourite with everyone. We ordered 2 plates and finished them pretty quickly. On the left are the red bean pancakes which were also quite popular. The pancakes were sweet and crispy.

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I ordered the Mapo Tofu on Rice and decided to ask for multigrain rice for an extra 50 cents.
$11 for a big platter of rice and tofu with gravy was a reasonable price. It was a little bit spicy but had a nice flavor.

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One of my friends ordered a chicken fried rice with veges and cashew nuts. It was beautifully presented, very filling and tasty.

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Another friend ordered hot plate noodles with vegetables and her dish arrived last but was highly anticipated. The dish was smoking and sizzling when it reached the table. It looked amazing.

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A few people in our group decided to sample each other’s dishes and they really enjoyed trying the different foods. One person was feeling adventurous and decided to order the Soy Duck with veges on rice. Basically, it was strips of fake duck that tasted just like the real thing.

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Everyone was satisfied after a great meal. We had a great time at the restaurant.Image

 

Rating: 8/10

Tip: Share the dishes with each other because the portion sizes are generous.

 

Top 5 Facts about Green Smoothies:

Top 5 Facts about Green Smoothies:

1.Green Smoothies are super healthy, packed full of nutrients and a great energy booster. If you don’t feel like eating your veggies try drinking them instead.

2. A typical green smoothie contains a ratio of about 60% fruit and 40% greens. This means it is a great way to get the optimal amount of nutrients.

3.Green Smoothies are a complete food because they contain fibre (unlike juicing). This will also keep you full for longer.

4. Green smoothies contain chlorophyll (the green pigment in plants/vegetables) which is beneficial for cleansing and detoxifying your body. Chlorophyll delivers a constant amount of energy into our bloodstream and increases the red blood cell count in our bodies. This increases the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen and deliver higher levels of oxygen. Disease-causing bacteria can’t survive in the presence of oxygen so this means it will help to prevent you from getting sick.

5. Darker greens such as kale and swiss chard tend to have more chlorophyll, so using these in smoothies will definitely help to boost your immune system and detoxify your body.

Here is my green smoothie recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Half a celery
  • Half an apple
  • Handful of baby spinach leaves
  • Handful of ice

Slice up celery and apple. Place these ingredients in the blender with a handful of baby spinach leaves and ice. Blend until smooth.

Variations:

-You can use nut milk or coconut milk instead of water.

-You can add a teaspoon of a healthy fat such as coconut oil, nut butter, or avocado for a protein boost.

Top 5 Father’s Day Activities in New Zealand

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Father’s Day is fast approaching!

Sometimes it can be a little difficult to find the right present or activity to treat your Dad on his special day (see the nzgirl gift guide here if you are struggling!). It’s also nice to just have a day out and do something fun with your Dad!

Here is our top five activities to do with your Dad this Father’s day.

Dino

1. Play a game of minigolf at Lost in Time.

If your dad loves minigolf you should definitely check out Lost in Time Minigolf under the Queen Street metro centre. It’s only $10 for an adult which is quite affordable. This 18 hole course will take you on a trip through New Zealand’s history. It features World War II, dinosaurs and a glow-in-the-dark version of the Waihi Gold Mine.

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2. Head along to a Father’s Day advance screening of White House Down at Event Cinemas nationwide.

Make Father’s day special for dad by treating him to an advance screening of White House Down. This film features Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. It’s an action film about an attack on the White House by a military group and a police officer who tries to stop them. Tickets are only $10 and the screening will be held on Sunday 1st September at 3pm.

Rugby

3. Watch a rugby game with Dad this weekend.

The ITM Cup is New Zealand’s highest level national Rugby Union competition. There are 14 teams with 26 players representing different regions in the North and South Island. There are several upcoming matches this Father’s Day weekend. On 31st August there will be a match with Auckland vs Bay of Plenty at 2:35pm at Eden Park Stadium. Tickets are $10 for adults and can be bought online from Ticketmaster.

On Father’s Day there is a Wellington vs Manawatu Rugby Match at 2:35pm. There is a Father’s Day special and tickets are $15 for both adults and kids.

In Dunedin there will be an Otago vs  Hawke’s Bay match at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Tickets are $25 each for adults and can be bought online from Ticketdirect.

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4. Go on the Waiheke Island Explorer Tour.

Take a cruise to Waiheke Island and spend the day with dad. There are beautiful beaches, restaurants, native bush walks and vineyards. I would recommend heading along to Oneroa Beach or Onetangi Beach if you are keen for a swim. The tour comes with a complimentary all-day bus pass which allows you to hop and hop off at various places. You also have the option of staying on the island. Tours depart daily at: 10am, 11am and 12 noon from the Downtown Ferry Terminal. Adult tour passes cost $49.

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5. Head out to Stardome Observatory and Planetarium.

Stardome Observatory and Planetarium have a special offer this Father’s Day. If you go to Stardome you can take your dad along to any show for free. Adult tickets are $10 each and child tickets are $8.

How are you going to be celebrating?