Syringe.Net.Nz
Irregular Injection of Opinion
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 Monday, 01 June 2009
Who Exactly is the ODF Alliance a Lobbyist For? Or Against?

So with all the brouhaha over the past few weeks following the Office SP2 release that supports ODF I found myself reading a ‘Summary of initial test results’ from the ODF Alliance. It’s piqued my interest somewhat. Here’s why.

One generally expects test results to be presented in a very objective way: something about the scientific method and all that jazz. Yet this document from the ODF Alliance includes such paragraphs as:

Microsoft has a rich history of implementing down-level versions of open standards; e.g., Java
in  Internet  Explorer,  where Microsoft  pre-installed an  incompatible version with proprietary
extensions and then to let it languish, failing to update it as the Java technology evolved.

There are indeed test results in the document as well and I’m happy to take those on face value- I’ve no doubt that as a first cut implementation on a de-novo code base the Microsoft implementation isn’t perfect, though I do note that they’ve been reasonably open about some ‘by-design’ choices not to implement proprietary extensions.

But back to the ‘Test Results’. For an organization that “seeks to promote and advance the use of OpenDocument Format” I would have expected a greater degree of objectivity in such a technical report. Didn’t seem like cricket really. None of the other implementers seem to have been singled out for a special series of tests and certainly none of the other implementers appear to have been singled out for rebuke of the sort I pasted above.

Time for a little more digging then. Who exactly is this organization?

They’ve got a pretty long member list but I couldn’t find any details on either a constitution of the organization or any sort of governance structure. They do appear to have some local chapters but these appear to be even less objective and more hostile than the parent organization: take a look at OpenMalaysiaBlog.com for an example thereof. There are big names among the member list too; Sun, IBM and Google were all there so it’s definitely got some vendor backing there somewhere- but were these active members? Is there some sort of governance structure here? Is the above what the likes of De Bortoli Wines (makes of Australia’s most famous sticky) signed up to?

About the only thing to go on was the Contact page- But even that was limited to an email address and a phone number (area code 202 so Washington DC). Back to Google then.

I Googled ‘Marino Marcich’ and at the bottom of the page found a reference to the Software & Information Industry Association ironically in a mailing list post noting his removal from the OASIS ODF Mailing List. Past job maybe? A bit more Googling led me to the ODF Alliance Wikipedia page. Now I know you shouldn’t  believe everything you find on Wikipedia, but, it makes for Interesting reading: highly recommended to interested parties.

It looks to be closely related to the SIIA; Sharing offices (reportedly  but hard to confirm), sharing PR companies and indeed the SIIA is noted as one of the primary founders of the organization. But the Wikipedia article also notes, as I have above, the paucity of information about the actual governance of the organization.

The ODF Alliance was a key lobbyist against OpenXML (ECMA 376 now ratified as IS 29500) which I guess is fair enough in so far as that rather ‘robust’ process was concerned. But, I struggle to see why they should not now be taking a far more objective and constructive approach to the Microsoft implementation of ODF?

One has to wonder just what sort of Lobbyist the ODF Foundation actually is? A Lobbyist *for* ODF? Or a Lobbyist against Microsoft?

Rants|Monday, 01 June 2009 06:17:20 UTC|Comments [1]|    

Bing. The Cool New Stuff is for US Eyes Only

Why oh Why oh Why.

All the cool stuff in Bing appears to be available in the US localized version only.

E.g. Here is the canonical ‘Ford Focus’ search

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With Locale set to New Zealand

image 
With Locale set to US. Note that the US version is a ‘preview’ and not a ‘beta’ and note the different links appearing on the left side of the page.

A few other gripes.

The travel feature doesn’t seem to be that discoverable yet.

image
Flights from BOI to SEA in NZ locale

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Flights from BOI to SEA in US locale

The same search on Google makes the whole flight search feature visible immediately

image

By actually going to the travel feature you can access this really cool functionality.
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But it’s implemented in Flash!

Rants|Monday, 01 June 2009 05:56:52 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 01 April 2009
@Twitchhiker is a total tool!

So it appears that Paul Smith, the TwitchHiker has decided that:

“wherever you go in New Zealand, residents will complain how utterly frustrating the technology is, one born of a telecommunications monopoly and the country's remote placing on the planet”

http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/2307100/Twitchhike-stumbles-at-last-hurdle/

Is our telecommunications infrastructure really that obviously ‘one born out of a telecommunications monopoly’?

I’ve travelled the globe, hell, I’ve travelled the globe in just the past 3 months and our infrastructure in new Zealand is as accessible, as fast and as useful as any other country I’ve visited recently. If Paul Smith wants to fly over here on the generosity of New Zealanders (@flyairnz and others) and then spout his mouth off about out internet infrastructure then he can $%&^$^ off back to Newcastle as far as I’m concerned.

Clueless tool!

[Update]

In the comments someone asked me to back my statements up saying that Mr Smith backed his statements up. Well. Mr Smith just regurgitated the same old ‘Telecom is a monopolistic provider’ crap that seems to do the rounds. And I struggle to see how he could really lay claim to his experience unless he spent his entire time in a hermetically sealed Maui campervan.

So some facts to back it up then.

I travel the country and indeed the world. (9 Countries, 23 cities/airports, 130,000km and 59 days on the road just this year). My iPhone 3G and Tablet PC (with UMTS inbuilt) travel with me everywhere. In NZ this year I’ve been to TUO, HLZ, ROT, DUD, CHC, ZQN, AKL, MRO, NPE, NSN and a bunch of places in between when it’s been via vehicular rather than winged transport. From memory the only place I’ve been without Broadband when I’ve wanted it was at the Outdoor Pursuits Center in the middle of bloody nowhereville near National Park. Anywhere else I’ve had at a bare minimum sufficient GPRS signal to check my mail(I had GPRS at SEHOPC but I wanted broadband) , tweet my tweets and, should I have wanted to, cry poverty and try and sponge some more free travel. While not as ubiquitous as in the USA or Canada, the availability of good quality WiFi (back hauled no doubt by monopoly provided ADSL) is just fine here in NZ and as good as Australia or any other country that I’ve been to recently in South East Asia bar maybe Singapore.

Rants|Wednesday, 01 April 2009 12:11:41 UTC|Comments [4]|    

 Sunday, 29 March 2009
FFS Air New Zealand- Sort Your Filtering Out

I need to grab some files over Live Sync to review on the plane….. look what I get

image

I’ve been meaning to write a Blog post praising your use of this technology…. but this stuff is just STUPID!!!!

Rants|Sunday, 29 March 2009 23:09:43 UTC|Comments [1]|    

 Saturday, 28 March 2009
Reduce, Reuse but please don’t pay to Recycle!

So an recent article by The Visible Hand In Economics has managed to get me off my bum and get me writing this long overdue blog post. Now I’m a bit of a closet Greenie- it’s hard not to be when you’re into the outdoors, like paddling free flowing rivers and skiing snow  covered mountain peaks. Of course I’m not a Watermelon type Greenie, but, those discussions are for another day.

One of the things I’m big on is Reducing the amount of packaging and other crap I consume. One of the things I’m less into is paying to Recycle that crap that I do, despite my best efforts, end up saddled with. This blog post is about why I think paying for recycling is wrong- it’s focussed mainly on Economic arguments and I certainly can’t claim them to be original, but, it’s nice to get your own views down on paper.

If it costs (I’m talking about the Economic concept of Cost here not just the money you have to pay for something) more money to
recycle something than it does to simply dispose of it then I think it’s bad personal policy to recycle.
Take a Glass bottle for example (numbers hypothetical, but, it does cost REAL money to recycle- the costs outweigh the value of the raw material recovered):
It costs a manufacturer 5 cents for the raw materials to make a bottle
When I’ve finished drinking the beer time it costs 2 cents to collect the glass from my curb-side, it requires 2 cents of labour and 4 cents of energy to turn the glass back into slag glass that can be sold for 2 cents.
If I just dump it it costs 2 cents for the curb-side collection and 2 cents to provide the landfill services.

So the net ‘cost’ of recycling = (2 + 2 + 4) – 2 = 6 cents
The net costs of dumping to landfill = 2 + 2 = 4 cents

I’m paying 2 cents to recycle. What I am getting for this two cents? Some would say that it costs more to recycle because the landfill cost doesn’t fully factor the externalities (environmental impact etc…) so sure, you could argue that I am ‘paying a premium’ to protect the environment. But, whatever the case that is a 2 cent cost in resources- the question to ask is ‘could those resources be put to better use’? So, for example, if I chose instead to dump to landfill and instead donate the two cents to a University doing research into glass bottles, twice as strong as normal but containing half the glass, might that be a better idea?

It’s even more of a problem, as noted in the article I posted at the top, when the costs are totally hidden from us. Do we think properly about reducing consumption of glass bottles when recycling them is ‘free’?

Rants|Saturday, 28 March 2009 22:53:59 UTC|Comments [3]|    

The “Open” Cloud Manifesto

So I’ve been head down and arse up this week; I’ve barely had enough time to get on top of my email inbox let alone my unread blog entries. Finally made some progress this evening at YVR and now on NZ83 en route YVR-AKL.

So while I was underwater a stink kicked up around a thing called the ‘Cloud Manifesto’. Meant to be being released Monday, it was leaked here (all 6 pages of it) a few days early. From my reading between the lines of the thinly veiled blog post by Steve Martin from Microsoft it looks like the document has been written, by an as yet undisclosed group, and is being farmed around a bunch of companies for them to ‘sign up’. There is a posting on the Cloud Computing Interop Forum (on Google Groups) by Reuven Cohen (who I’ve never heard of) who is the ‘Creator of the Enomalism Elastic Computing Platform’ (which I have to admit I’ve never heard of either). Reuven is also involved in Cloud Camp (which I have heard of). I tell you all this and encourage you to go and have a sniff around some of the links above and some of the press coverage so far so that you have some context before continuing.

http://www.techcrunchit.com/2009/03/26/out-of-order-20/ Steve Gillmor from TechCrunch

http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=15341 – Amazon expressing their antipathy towards the whole thing

http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Cloud-Computing/Microsoft-Calls-for-Open-Cloud-Standards-538212/ Darryl Taft

I provide the above to give some background. Now for some of my thoughts.

The Emperors New Clothes*

So reading the document itself most of it feels so obvious it barely warrants saying- it’s PR puffery really. I’m going to cherry pick a few statements from the document to discuss.

“We believe that these core principles are rooted in the belief that cloud computing should be as open as all other IT technologies.  “

I hate to break it, but, other IT technologies aren’t that open. As I’ll set out below I’m a big believer that in most cases openness and interoperability are emergent aspects of technology and not something you should really set out to engineer.

“To reassure their customers, cloud providers must offer a high degree of transparency into their operations.”

So I just don’t know how realistic this is. Certainly Microsoft and even more so Google are highly protective of their data center operation details. A measure of security through obscurity is important here still I think. I would also disagree with the authors that moving data into a shared infrastructure necessarily exposes one to more potential for unauthorized exposure.

“Cloud providers must use and adopt existing standards wherever appropriate.  The IT industry has invested heavily in existing standards and standards organizations; there is no need to duplicate or reinvent them. “

So this is bang on target and to be honest the biggest thing that the Cloud Providers can do to ensure *useful* openness is to ensure they use existing standards wherever possible. But do we need this sort of industry bickering to state the bleeding obvious?

“Any community effort around the open cloud should be driven by customer needs, not merely the technical needs of cloud providers, and should be tested or verified against real customer requirements.  “

Would be interesting to know what level of customer involvement there was in the Manifesto document? Were folks like SmugMug (who are my favourite example of a great Cloud operated business) or enterprise customers (I know there is at least one airline using EC2 for some of their stuff) involved? It all feels like a bit much of a simplistic puff piece at the moment- though according to the CCIP group post ‘major players’ have been involved.

“Cloud computing standards organizations, advocacy groups, and communities should work together and stay coordinated, making sure that efforts do not conflict or overlap. “

Haven’t really gotten off to the best start in this regard to be honest.

This document is meant to begin the conversation, not define it.

I’m afraid I agree with a number of the commentators (both vested interests and ‘independent’ voices) at the top of this post. It was a pretty shitty way to ‘begin the conversation’.

Who’s Actually Behind It All

So a big question in my mind is who is actually driving this thing?

To be honest if it were just a group of bit players stroking and stoking their egos then I don’t actually think it would have generated the level of interest and posturing (from MS and Amazon to date) that we’ve seen.

Gillmor looks at the obvious candidates, IBM and Google (Amazon having declared they’re outside the tent). It seems inconceivable that Microsoft and Amazon would not be invited to be involved in this at the earliest opportunity. Even if it were the ‘Anything But Microsoft Brigade’ you’d still expect Amazon to be seated at the table- hell their model of a high scale application operator selling their dog food to others embodies for me much of what the cloud is about.

I have no idea how Cohen can, with a straight face, say:

“Given the nature of this document we have attempted to be
as inclusive as possible inviting most of the major names in technology to
participate in the initial draft.”

Given that this Manifesto appears to be largely driven by East Coast companies I can’t help but think that IBM have got their finger in this somehow. It’ll be somewhat ironic if this the case, as a key proponent of the standardization of Office Open XML (now ISO29500) I’ve had first hand knowledge of IBM’s ‘do as we say’; might this be their ‘not as we do’ moment?

I guess all will be revealed come Monday.

On The Substantive Matter- Or Why I Only Kind Of Give a Crap About Interop in the Cloud

Standards stifle innovation. There, I said it. Friends of mine will probably bitch at me for being so blunt, but, I genuinely believe that standardizing technologies is, in most cases, best left until they have reached a reasonable level of maturity.

Once something is standardized pace becomes glacially slow and the ability for innovators to recover a return on intellectual property becomes nigh on impossible. There are, of course, some business whom this model is de rigueur- I guess we’ve got to wait until Moday to find out more.

For the most part we’ll be building our applications using the same protocols and technologies that we’ve always done. At least for the stuff that spins my wheels, high scale applications, there’s not a lot that’s new in the cloud; it’s really just an interesting new way to deploy and dynamically scale the same architectures I’ve been working on since I was building SaaS apps in the Dot Bomb days.

The new stuff really comes down to the cloud fabric^ and the management thereof and frankly I think it’s too early to think about standards. Amazon scales at the unit of a virtual machine, Microsoft does the same but with sugar on the top to hide the fact that it’s really Windows at all. Let’s see what sort of models shake out best for customers before we try and anoint one king.

I Guess We Wait Until Monday

As someone looking to ship a pretty significant Cloud delivered app later this year what I really want is;

  • For my Cloud provider of choice to ship their bits!
  • For my travel schedule to slow down a bit- my Tripit stats are truly horrendous and I’m flying to Bangalore Monday morning.
  • For the Manifesto authors, whoever and wherever they might be to read a little Hayek.

Let’s see was happens Monday.

*So worth nothing this wasn’t my turn of phrase. Used here first but I liked it so much I pinched it!
^Call it what you will, this is the term I use when talking about Windows Azure at least.

PoliTechLaw | Rants | Windows Azure|Saturday, 28 March 2009 19:53:37 UTC|Comments [0]|    

FAIL: When Content Filtering Goes Bad I Can’t Access Live Mesh

image

At YVR, stupid tools have blocked MESH so I can’t login to accept an invitation to a MESH folder.

Elite Fail for YVR.

Somewhat of a FAIL for Microsoft too- surely you can let me accept invitations from the MESH client!

Rants|Saturday, 28 March 2009 00:45:53 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Westpac and their Xero Setup Fee

So I'm a real fan of Xero now having been using it for several months across a number of my businesses. I am, however, a Westpac customer so until now have not been able to automate my statement data feeds.

This has now changed. Well done to the Xero team for finally getting Westpac sorted.

The sting in the tail though is that Westpac want to charge me $25 for setting this feature up.

This was noted by both Rowan and Ben commenting that Westpac just don't 'get it'.

I have already sent a *wild* please explain email to my bank manager and await a reply. To be honest Westpac have never really *got* small business. I remember the first time I applied for a mortgage was when I was running Kognition. They declined my application even though I had solid cashflow forecasts. The irony was that when I finally came to settle on the house I had the full purchase price actually sitting in the business account (it was a small house in Dunedin... don't go getting any ideas of vast wealth...).

So Westpac. Sort your shit out!

I'll post any updates here... But have every intention to throw my toys over this one...

resonant.cer (.48 KB) Rants|Wednesday, 30 July 2008 20:23:59 UTC|Comments [1]|    

 Sunday, 14 January 2007
The iPhone

Well, a number of people have blogged about the iPhone over the past few days... I've not had a bundle of time but here are some of my thoughts.

1. They are going to have to do a REALLY kick ass job with Touchscreen for me to like it. I've tried phones withiout buttons plenty of times both MSFT and other devices. I hate them with a vengence.

2. Only EDGE!?! Bleh! THis rules out streaming video to take advantage of the screen and over the air music purchases too. I GUARANTEE this will change prior to launch.

3. As to be expected from Apple the UI looks sexy as sin!

4. The webbrowsing looks evolutionary rather than revolutionary. We'll see just what sort of a job they end up doing.

5. The google maps doesn't look as good as the new MSN Mobile Live Search IMHO/

6. The user interaction design. Is, as per usual up to Apples high standard... let's just see if they can pull off a good touch screen.

7. God damn it's expensive!

THose are my thoughts... as I said... gonna be hard to get me off my candy bar smartphone... but we'll see.

Thought I might just a address a few of Rods points while I am at it.

“The Microsoft Mobile team must be performing hari-kiri. They have had 5+ years and did not make it about the software. They wasted Microsoft’s key advantage. They could have easily done a soft keyboard but did not innovate. The mobile software was just a scaled down PC interface that doesn’t really work. Compare Pocket Outlook to the Blackberry Message Stream interface. Microsoft squandered the opportunity to make it about Software. Heads will roll. BillG must be pissed.“

Urm... Windows Mobile has always been about the platform. It is a generic platform that supports a huge array of devices. The range of different form factors trumps even Symbian. More importantly the platform is all about enabling developers. The reason that enterprise developers especially prefer Windows Mobile over Palm/Symbian etc... is that it is a doddle to develop software for. The platform is VERY welll supported across the whole gamut of tools, from core driver level stuff (allowing easy addition of peripherals at the OS level- Symbol, HHP, Navman) through to simple developer tools (eVB, .NET Compact Framework). It is trivial for someone to pick up the Windows Mobile platform and tailor it to their needs be they a multinational hardware vendor or a small ISV.

OSX as a multitasking Interface should suit mobile networks as it allows background downloading.“

This is a complete marketechture red herring. People have been doing multitasking for ages. I can happily surf the web on my Windows Mobile device while mail is downloading. Same with Palm.

"They have eliminated a device. The iPhone really is an iPod + Phone. With the iTunes infrastructure there are many opportunities for monetizing over the air downloads. This will guarantee carrier support.“

Urm... I use Plays for Sure support on my windows mobile phone. It syncs really nicely with my Media Center PC pulling down not only audio but also video. And... the fact that it's build on a broad and simple to develop for platform means that I can have rich additional content such as DRM'd eBooks and Audio books supported in unique ways as well. iPhone only eliminates the iPod in so far as one might insist on having an iPod.

“The iPhone is a compelling wireless Internet device. The inclusion of Safari is compelling.“

No it's not. Unless they add decent WWAN support (at least UMTS) it's a MOST uncompelling wireless internet device. The inclusion of Safari has great potential... but again... hamstrung by bandwidth.

 

.NET | Mobility | Rants|Sunday, 14 January 2007 23:24:38 UTC|Comments [2]|    

 Tuesday, 03 October 2006
Telstra Clear Need to Sort Out Their Call Center

20 minutes is too long to wait. it really is painful listening to elevator music for that long.

The crazy thing is...

Once someone answers (in this case Philipa) the service is just totally fantastic.

And of course Telstra Cable Broadband eats ADLS for breakfast... it is just so nice not having to use crappy old twisted copper.

So, Telstra, find a few more Philipa types and boost your call center numbers up a bit.

Rants|Tuesday, 03 October 2006 07:39:50 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 27 July 2006
Trademe Invest I Zoomin...

Tim has a post up titled 'Trademe Invest in Ruby on Rails'.... which is a bit misleading really.

It's more like 'Trademe invest in Zoomin, who happen to use Ruby on Rails'.

Good on Zoomin for gettig their claws ito Trademe on this one. I thik it's fantastic... but it's pushig it a bit far to note that 'Trade me have 'lauched their first Rails page'. If it were written in PHP they would have launched 'thier first PHP Page' and the same for JSP. Don't think it's too likely that Trademe will be making the move off ASP.NET anytime soon.

When you buy someone elses technology you generally get it as is where is :-)

A funny little example I saw this morning was Sysinternals Process Explorer. Microsoft now own this but there's still a right click menu option to 'Google' a process name.

Will be interesting to see how easy it is for them to Mashup the Zoomin stuff into Trademe though... in particular whether most of the 'mashing' occurs on the Ruby side or the ASP.NET side.

.NET | Human Aggregation | Rambles | Rants|Thursday, 27 July 2006 23:22:13 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 18 May 2006
Unleash The Fury

Peter Jones of sometimes Dot Net User Group has launched a new more politically oriented Blog site.

Vent

“Vent is here to help.  Use it to have a random rant.  Blow off some steam and get it out of your system.  Send a warning to others.  Enlist an army to take on the ‘system’.  Let people know where you have had bad service, seen a crappy over-hyped movie, witnessed some road rage… whatever you like.   Things may not change but you’ll feel a lot better for it.”

Looks like it's gonna be a hoot.

PoliTechLaw | Politics | Rants | Taxpayer Ripoffs|Thursday, 18 May 2006 22:10:37 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 19 April 2006
I Mean Come On.... Really!!!

Rod is SUPER excited because his new Smackberry has some great new features... like..

  • Bluetooth
  • Handsfree
  • Phone Buttons
  • A Calculator

I mean come on! Really? WOW!My nanna had those on her Sony t610 about 4 years ago.

My shiny new(ish- it's a few monthsold now) iMate SP5 has

  • WiFi... yes real 802.1 WiFi. That way I don't pay $30/MB while roaming the world.
  • A Megapixel Camera which is great for using with servces like Scanr
  • A media player that happily plays all the nice content off my 1GB mini SD card- oh... it syncs with my Media Center to so I can get my news straight onto my phone.
  • A web browser- with frames and Javascript support.
  • Smack down yo' Smackberry ass whoopin development environment called the Compact Framework that lets me take all my desktop/server dev skills and apply them to the mobile world. If my device doesn't have a *sexy* calculator... I can write one...
  • A DIRECT push connection to my Exchange server. (Oh... and it works if you run Small Business Server too!)
  • A look that is more 'suave urbane clubber' than 'oh lord I wish I hadn't spilt that soup down my tie in house counsel'

Who's laughing now Rod!!!!

Anyway. You can see Rod and myself discussing future technology in software and other great things at CodeCamp this weekend... Look forward to seeing you all there.

Mobility | Rants|Wednesday, 19 April 2006 02:49:53 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 03 April 2006
It's sooo much fun, everyone should get to do it...

It's tax time again... *joy*.... which means I get to log into internet banking and send exorbitant sums to the revenue. Sums for which I, personally, actually receive little to no direct benefit from.

Most people get their tax whisked out of their pay packet (in a process called PAYE which is basically funded/subsidised by employers) silently each pay round. This means they never really get to face the true horror of having to send the government their hard earned cash.

I think this should be changed- I think that everybody should get the chance to feel the pain of pressing that button and watching their money siphon off into the Government coffers.

Rants | Taxpayer Ripoffs|Monday, 03 April 2006 20:55:32 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Saturday, 24 December 2005
Cruising On The (Not) Interislander

*This post was written a while ago... just posting it now.

So I’m travelling from Picton to Wellington at the moment. Schedules meant that the best option was to sail on the MV Santa Regina with Bluebridge. I can’t remember if I ever blogged about my ‘Freaks and Geeks’ HNL-YVR Redeye with Air Canada, the one where all the cabin crew were 60+ and they ran out of seatbelt extenders (due to too many fat Americn passengers), but anyway, this is the maritime equivalent! No that’s a bit harsh but it is certainly arguable that cheap air travel has altered the average demographic of the ferries. It’s actually not that bad a boat and the Disney movies, Modern Day Cinderella and Freaky Friday with the hot wee chick off Mean Girls, help to pass the time.

 

The boat is full of passengers of the fury kind and they make the whole boat stink- they parked a whole load of stock trailers straight under the dining room… I guess most of the fury critters are headed for North Island farms (god knows why we interisland bloody livestock) although I think some will also be destined for Aro Valley and West Auckland and at least one looks set to get straight off the ferry and take himself and his blanket to Cuba Mall.

 

Anyway. What a bitchy post. It’s actually not at all bad. The schedule time was really convenient. It was well priced and it’s comfortable enough- great to see some competition on the route. I’ll be sure to consider the Bluebridge when I head back to the Coast for some boating later this year.

Rants | Travel|Saturday, 24 December 2005 07:56:00 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 22 November 2005
Don't Use DHL to Ship to Dunedin, New Zealand

OK. So I had something really important shipped SEA to DUD recently. Shipped out by DHL, took no time to get from the US to AKL but then took a bloody age to get from AKL to DUD. Reasn being was that DHL send things for Dunedin to Christchurch first and then on to Dunedin by road.

The reason is pretty obvious. They probably have their own air service AKL-CHC and then they use a 3rd party for the rest of the journey. This has hapened to me several times before.

Frankly this PISSES ME OFF.

It would be faster for me to terminate the DHL service in Auckland and send my normal Domestic and International Express company, TNT, around to pick it up and overnight it down to me.

So.If you are shipping to DUD, avoid DHL. I've had pretty good results from TNT and also UPS.

Oh, and one other thing. DHL don't do Saturday delivery in DUD. So your essential shipment that cost over $100 to send (for a DVD) spends the weekend sitting in their store room- kinda makes a mockery of all of their super expeditious logistics up o that point really.

Rants|Tuesday, 22 November 2005 20:11:19 UTC|Comments [3]|    

 Monday, 14 November 2005
Stick This Up Your Barista

I'm am ^&%&*%ing sick of the Latte Revolution.

These days when I go to a restaurant or cafe it seems that rather than being served I must hang around twidling my thumbs while the swarms of staff, you know the type that such places tend to employ, swoon around the La Cimbali or Astoria doing everything BUT being useful and of service to me. Is it too much to ask for some god damn service! I know that coffee is cool and trendy. I know that there are a good group of slutty little souls who will shag a Barista, self styled or otherwise, on sight. Hell I even know that people regard coffee making as a 'profession' now. But if you ask me, professionals see that their customers are served and happy and frankly this ain't happening.

 

Rants|Monday, 14 November 2005 02:29:51 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 16 September 2005
Dear Air New Bloody Zealand

I'm currently sitting in the Maple Leaf (Air Canada) Lounge @ LAX. It is a tiny, overcrowded hovel with nasty processed cheese at the food bar.

But, it has Internet, whereas your swanky pants brand new luxurious and spacious lounge next door, does not.

Do you have rocks in your head or something?

You upgrade the 747 fleet and don't put internet in them..... OK... you could arguably make that decision on reasonable grounds...>. But to get to the new lounge and find no internet! Come on!

[UPDATE] They have hard wired internet here..... so bring your travel WiFi router (I left mine @ Home this time)......

Rants|Friday, 16 September 2005 23:26:20 UTC|Comments [6]|    

 Tuesday, 19 April 2005
Plane Blogging

SO I knocked up a few blog entries on the plane on the way over... I'll post them now. Might fill in some links on em later on as the internet here is BORKED.

First post is a bit of a rant... oh welll I'll post it anyway.

So the Sunday Start Times has engaged Mr Mike Hosking (yes that breakfast show guy) to do wine reviews of all things. But the guy is a fruitloop....

He's there talking about stuff that arrived in his in tray this week. The new Moby CD he says. Moby is a wierdo says Mr Hosking (his A list status means he's met him), but a brilliant musician... like he'd know. Third CD's no good though he says. Is Mike talking about the latest CD? Can't be the same Moby I'm thinking about. I couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't like to guess from my armchair (OK, shitty Air NZ coach seat) as to how many Albums Moby has produced but it sure as hell ain't three- I've got at least that many of his on the rack at home that well and truely predate 'Play', his 'first' album? I'll tell you what though- they'd be well wasted on the Mike Hoskings of the world- not brilliant wine snob music that's for sure- really 'wierd' stuff.

Rants|Tuesday, 19 April 2005 11:57:54 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 03 April 2005
THe Irony of John Cambell

There is a decent chunk of irony in John Cambell discussing 'proper language' on Monday night. This being the very John Cambell that opened his new show by greeting viewers - “Hey yous Guys!”

Rants|Sunday, 03 April 2005 07:46:57 UTC|Comments [25]|    

 Sunday, 20 March 2005
Do Auir New Zealand have ANY staff in ther call centers?

Everytime I have called Air New Zealand over the past month I have spent upwards of 5 minutes on hold......

It seems that 'exceptional' caller demands is a 24/7 thing in the travel industry.....

Rants|Sunday, 20 March 2005 01:03:58 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 10 March 2005
Dear www.chinaembassy.org.nz

Please fix your website! Finding the Visa application form is like pulling teeth....

Rants|Thursday, 10 March 2005 20:56:23 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 22 February 2005
Cool Posts That Once Were Pt. I

I used to really love it on web forums where every once in a while someone would dredge up a cool post from times gone by....

S here is a post dredged out of the back blocks of my blog on Airline Excess Baggage Charges.....

Anyone have any similar insights?

Rambles | Rants|Tuesday, 22 February 2005 00:50:08 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 17 February 2005
Minister of Culture and Heritage

I'm all in agreement with The Right Honourable The Prime Minister with regard this John Farnham singing @ Anzac Cove. A bit insentive really.

But, what I think is also insensitive is for our Minister of Culture and Heritage to be so uncultured as to not know of, nor have ever heard music by probably the most famous popular artist of our nearest geographical neighbor. Talk about small minded!

Politics | Rants|Thursday, 17 February 2005 21:39:51 UTC|Comments [6]|    

 Tuesday, 02 November 2004
Shitty Linux Box Firewalls

OK... so I've been spending a bit of time working on infrastructural things over the past few weeks and I've come upon an interesting phenomenon that I shall call the 'Shitty Linux Box Firewall Phenomenon'.

It can be described thus:

For some reason it seems that a broad group of technical people subscribed to the Linux box as a firewall approach to internet security. Now this is probably not an altogether bad thing- we're running a software on OS firewall here too. But, they seem to think that because Linux can run on the smell of an oily rag, their firewall should be run on the smell of an oily rag. e.g. 'Oh we keep a whole heap of old hardware floating around for when we install firewalls at customer premises'.

What's with this. If you value your network connectivity, and judging by the expletives bandied around here at our currently shitty pipe most people do, then you want your firewall to be running on your best hardware, not your worst.

A firewall (particularly a software one) represents an pretty risky single point of failure for your network. It's not like you can just ring up Cisco or Watchguard and ask for a forward replacement when it shits itself. So why run it on shitty gear! I ain't got no problem with the concept of Linux as a firewall but put it on a decent box- ideally something with redundancy such that you can swap out a decent chunk of the machine without turning it off. Things like hot swap power supplies and Raid 1 with a hotspare drive.

Anyway rant over.

Rants | Toy Box|Tuesday, 02 November 2004 06:55:25 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 20 September 2004
This Is Not The Weather Channel

Kirk posted something titled 

They don't talk politics on ESPN or The Weather Channel

Bill and Casey are quick off the mark on this one and given my propensity to rant and rave on everything from politics to religion I'm gonna pop my two cents in as well.

I have the advantage that I'm not beholden to anybody when it comes to blogging. I'm my own boss, host my blog on my own server and as such tend to blog about what I feel like. I feel absolutely no obligation to people who read this blog other than to try my darnedest to be accurate and substantial in the things that I post. If you don't like my politics (devout libertarianism) then don't go near my politics category. If you don't like my religious views (devout atheism) then avoid my sacreligion category.... simple huh! Oh, and if you don't like my spelling, typos and grammar... bugger off right now!

I'm no 'self proclaimed expert', but, I take an active interest in politics and in my wonderful democracy that's a darn site better than many useless inert nothings manage. Kirks post almost infers that ones aptitude or capability in different pursuits are wholly unrelated. I think quite the contrary is true- from what i have observed if someone is a clued up cookie in one aspect of life (say technology) then chances are they'll be pretty smart in other areas as well. It's my submission that if your technical content is sufficiently useful to warrant someone like Kirk subscribing then you are most unlikely to be the sort of person who would make 'vote for X' or 'Y is a moron' posts. Rather, you are probably likely to be the sort of person who will at least have something useful, thought provoking and insightful to say on politics- whichever side you happen to say it about.

*Please note that the above applies to politics only. I shall continue to feel unrestrained in so far as calling religious people closed minded moronic idiots (in the nicest possible way). Religion being a fantasy about which nothing useful, thought provoking or insightful can ever be said.

Politics | Rants | Sacrilegion|Monday, 20 September 2004 21:50:05 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 17 August 2004
Office SP1 - Oh the pain!

OK... so I'm trying to install Office 2k3 SP1 so I can test some Infopath stuff we've been working on. Thus far I have probably blown about 2 hours on it.... and I'm getting extremely PISSED OFF!

The install blows up at the end of the process claiming that it can't find SKU111.cab. It doesn't give me an option to help it find SKU111.cab... it just dies.

I am currently uninstalling office and then will reinstall it again to see if that helps. If none of that works I'm going to ring up PSS and yell at them.

Rants|Tuesday, 17 August 2004 23:16:59 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 30 July 2004
The Whole Airpoints Thing...

DPF is moving to Qantas.... and I'm a long time bitcher on the state of Air New Zealand so I'd better have my say.

I'm not too fussed about the whole Airpoints thing as much these days to be honest.... Fares are now becoming so checp that it's easier just to buy them- Taes and levies make up a huge proportion of the fare anyway and Airpoints doesn't pay for these.

What is important to me are those Status credit things. Reason being is that Air NZ is a shitty little South Pacific Airline and in order for me to get anywhere around the world I'm likely to have to travel with both Air NZ and one of their Star Alliance partners. Now I've got a Koru Club membership, but that doesn't mean DIDDLES when you are flying on a Singapore Airlines SGN-BJS sector. I'm big enough and ugly enough to look aftermyself down the back of the plane, but, I appreciate a nice shower at either end.

Hence the need for Status credits- a Gold status level lets you use Star Alliance Lounges internationally. Now Air NZ have markedly cut back on my ability to earn these credits and they are still tied to the Airpoints system. I would ike to see them seperated from the Airpoints system and still earnt on Smart Saver flights. Another option would be to set up a policy that Koru Club members earn credits and maybe even airpoints on all flights. We have after all plumped up with a decent cash commitment to the airline in terms of loyalty and we are probably the group of customers that they would like to be most loyal- I probably do about 30-40 flights of mixed domestic and international a year. Status credits are a threshold based loyalty system. They expire anually and aren't worth anything if you don't meet the threshold. I believe that they are the key mechanism to ensuring loyalty from SME business travelers in this hot market.

Rants|Friday, 30 July 2004 00:04:33 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 22 July 2004
Another bloody blogger that doesn't use capitals!

Grrrrrr......

Such good content but no bloody capital letters!

http://tatochip.com/archive/2004/07/19/2678.aspx

http://www.brains-N-brawn.com

Rants|Thursday, 22 July 2004 05:29:54 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 09 July 2004
More bitching on Air New Zealand

I'm trying to book some Air NZ flights at the moment.... I'm waiting in the phone service center queue (about 15 mins long) for the 3rd time today.....!!!!!

So I'm going to write a blog bitching about Air NZ and I'm going to keep bitching for as long as I remain on hold.

So here are the things that piss me off....

.... *and they answer*...

Rants|Friday, 09 July 2004 23:45:31 UTC|Comments [4]|    

 Friday, 18 June 2004
Excuse Me Mr Coppa

I went to the Cop shop the other day. What I wanted to acheive was trivially simple- I needed a copy of a bank statement and my drivers licensed certified as copies.

So the first station I go to is the little community station and I'm told that only the senior sgt. (or above) can sign the documents for me and he is away on a call. Fair enuf says I... so I head into the main station in the middle of town.

I get there and rock up to the counter and a coppa comes out who is either;

  • Extremely ignorant
  • Extremely rude
  • All of the above

He was about as much help as tits on a bull. I had copied both the statement and drivers license onto a single sheet of paper. he refused to sign them on this basis- or at least I think that's what I could make out from his mumbles and grumbles. No effort was made to be helpful though... no 'oh I'll just pop out the back and make another copy for you'... just a 'piss off and come back later thanks very much'.

Now this pisses me off something cronic. Our Police seem to have lost the community focus that they really should maintain. If they want people to be helpful when they need to investigate serious offences and the like then they should be a bit nicer when we law abiding citizens go asking for a favour.

So anyway... I buggered off and have yet to get this stuff certified. When I got home I thought I look up a bit more on the guy in question to see if he was some big cheese - maybe I had pissed him off by asking such a menial task of him. He did look about ready to Perf. But no... he was a Senior Constable (kinda like going from Private to Lance Corporal in the Army on the basis of 'long service')... so he would have been a fat lot of good when it came to signing it anyway.

Last time I try that approach- next time I'll try a nice friendly, elderly Justice of the Peace.

Rants|Friday, 18 June 2004 06:56:56 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Friday, 11 June 2004
Are you a rates mug?

Federated Farmers has launched a campaign to highlight the fact that farmers are being screwed by local govt. rates.

Federation members wanting to join the 10K Rates Club will have an opportunity at Mystery Creek Field Days on June 16-19. Members who bring to the Federation's stand a copy of their general rates demand which shows rates in excess of $10,000 a year will be given the official club mug, which is emblazoned with the club motto "I'm A Rates Mug". The Federation's site is in the main pavilion at PB71 and 72.

Whats more we are now in a situation in this country whereby, in may cases, absentee landowners are denied a vote in local body elections.... It's been a while since I've been to the fielddays... but they are great fun.... well worth a visit if you are in the North Island.

Human Aggregation | Politics | Rants|Friday, 11 June 2004 01:15:02 UTC|Comments [96]|    

 Tuesday, 08 June 2004
If you specialize in but one thing....

Specialize in quickly becoming a specialist.

Bill and Casey are having a bit of a blogversation here, here and here about the trouble with being a specialist. Particularly when it comes to MS exams.

It's interesting to watch because I've yet to do these exams (have been meaning to for a while) and the same sorts of things concern me- Remoting (bleh!... an API just waiting to be deprecated), Printing  (urm XML->PDF or SQL Reporting Services for me please) and so forth...

But at a more fundamental level these guys have got me thinking. To some degree I am now an employer (of contractors) and when the guys ask me what sort of skill are important a specialist skill is the last thing that I would say. Instead, I think that the most fundamentally important skill in the IT industry is being able to quickly upskill yourself into any given specialty. When I look for potential contractors I'm generally going to look more for self starters who can quickly bring themselves up to speed on a piece of technology. Maybe this is a symptom of being in New Zealand where our limited labour pool makes this sort of JIT learning a necessity. But, I think it's a pretty good approach to take. If I wanted to be a deep level subject matter expert I would have been an academic.... can you say BORING!

Now there is some irony in this. Because, in the case of Casey at least*, the guy seems to have the most profound ability to upskill himself to a pretty detailed level of knowledge over a short period of time Just look at his articles- it's like 'oh.. this week I'm gonna learn Neural Nets' and then he plugs into the matrix and out comes an article...

What we really need is some metric/test/whatever that indicates a persons potential to be 'switched on'... maybe like an IQ and EQ test put together. I actually think being a Jack of All Trades is pretty important provided you can become an expert at light speed when necessary...

*I shall reserve judgement on Bill until after he has purchased me an Imported New Zealand Lager @ MVP Summit 2005.....

Rambles | Rants|Tuesday, 08 June 2004 04:33:53 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 31 May 2004
Hooray.... a blogversation has started.

Berend has posted some replies to my recent rant and I actually think that we probably agree on what the end result should be....

I essentially agree with Chris point of view. But again, this isn't an integrated package. It doesn't remove state paid child care for example.

*nods*... If only it were an integrated package! I think that we could actually quite easily agree on what the end result should/could be... we are just divided on how to get there....

Labour wants to change the law. Do we really believe a Labour law will give more freedom to the people? It doesn't. It will have huge impact on who you can employ as a business or who you can appoint as teacher at your school.

To be completely honest I think the horse has unfortunatly already bolted on these. I think that the Human Rights Act already makes it nearly impossible to discriminate in the hiring process. I don't think that the Civil Unions Bill will have a great effect on the hiring/firing thing.

It affirms that the government has something to say about marriage and can define what it is. I thought real Libertarians denied the government could do this. So how can it be a step in the good direction?

But the crucial point is that it DOESNT try and say anything about marriage. The bill says that the goverment will recognise the legal union of two people of the same sex and that this recognition is categoricaly NOT marriage as the current statutory definition defines it. It's the christian brigade who say that that is something akin to marriage. I do deny that the government should be involved in marriage- get them the hell out. Let the churches have the concept of marriage back to offer as the icing on the relationship cake to those who abide by their beliefs.

The quote that ACT has steadfastly opposed each of the anti-family Bills that it has introduced came from a column of Muriel Newman.

Of all the ACT MPs she is probably the one that would look least out of place in United Future so it is an unsurprising comment. But, let's quickly flick through those bills- I'm going off the cuff here so I may totally stuff up and make some invalid assumptions about the contents of these bills but here goes...

Property (Relationships) Amendment Bill.
I would hope that the problem that most (Muriel obviously excepted) ACT MPs had with this bill was that it forced unchosen obligations onto people who, in many cases, had made a deliberate choice not to enter into a statutory relationship.

Families Commission Bill
Can't really remember enough about the Bill to comment- always seemed to be a let's create a social construct so that we can throw money at it Bill to me anyway. Bills that contain the workding 'for the good of Families' scare me almost as much as bills with the wording 'for the good of Society'....

Care of Children Bill
Muriel complains about it making it easier for gay partners to become guardians of children. I personally think that we should set a far higher standard than we currently do before awarding guardianship... but, I don't have a problem with gay people caring for children. I'm inclined to agree that the lack of a shared parening clause is unfortunate.

DPB....
I would hope that my statements on the 'family friendly' budget give some indication as to my feelings for have a child earn another buck govt. funding programs.

Civil Union Bill...
Already discussed in the last article. Neuman rolls out the usual 'bad for marriage' stuff... It's not marriage nor does it pretend to be marriage. it is something quite distinct. Hell, if it were available it might make a good option for those of us heterosexual people who aren't really into the whole Christian concept of marriage. It's sure as hell a better idea that the stupid 'deemed civil union' shit that came through in the  Property (Relationships) Amendment Bill.

 

So hopefully there are some areas in which Berend on the conservative side and myself on the liberal side can agree on. Here are a couple of questions for him and others...*puts on his utopian crystal ball gazer hat*

1. In the ideal world the government would not have anything to do with marriage except for enforcing marriage contracts in the same way as they might enforce any other contract.
2. In the ideal world the government would not be dishing out any favours or 'rights' on the basis of relation status, be that attached or unattached.

Politics | Rants|Monday, 31 May 2004 10:49:12 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Wednesday, 12 May 2004
Rallying behind Casey.....

Casey 'Brains n Brawn' Chesnut has been taking some flack over the content of his website from prospective employers. Bill Ryan has rolled in behind him... and I'm going to as well!

I think of all the fellow MVPs I HAD to meet when I was at the MVP Summit this year Casey was at the top of the list. Why? I had read his blog.... I had laughed my ass of a few times, but, had equally learnt some pretty cool things. He struck me as someone prepared to call a spade a spade... and with the intellectual horsepower to back it up...... Besides that he's another gym guy and I had to see if he was bigger and stronger than me...... which he is *grins*... but not by much!

As a prospective employer (which I am) I'd snap this man up in an instant (I just don't know that he'd think my NZ$ rates would be competitive when you turn them into US$).

I hope that Casey realises that an employment relationship is a two way street- he should be just as selective about who he chooses to work for!

 

UPDATE: There are some good echos in the chamber.....
Here , Here , Here

Rambles | Rants|Wednesday, 12 May 2004 04:42:25 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 22 April 2004
Someone sell NZ Telecom a new billing system.... PLEASE!

Just made the steps to get my Jetstart ADSL changed to JetStream Surf....

Easy enough you'd think... all I'm doing is changing plans.....

NOPE!.... I have to wait until the 'anniversary date' of getting my ADSL connection before Telecom will do the change over. Which means, in turn, I have to go back to my ISP and ask them to keep my Jetstream account active for another 1/2 a month... which in turn costs me money....

Would someone please sort out the shitfight that must be Telecom's Billing System..... talk about Mickey Mouse... even the CSR said so.

Rants|Thursday, 22 April 2004 01:28:32 UTC|Comments [16]|    

 Wednesday, 10 March 2004
Airport censorship.....

They've got internet @ Sydney Airport.....

But the bloody thing is censored according to David Farrar.... now that would really piss me off.

Human Aggregation | Rants|Wednesday, 10 March 2004 20:49:56 UTC|Comments [6]|    

 Thursday, 04 March 2004
Who's copying who....????

Someone on the Left must agree with me because I posted
Answering NZPundit at 10am

I personally don't see why race can't establish a valid need in the medical area. I certainly think that culture can never establish medical need, but race almost certainly can.

...and by 2pm No Right Turn had
Typical

The fact is that in the case of health at least, race is need. And all the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the right over the failure of the world to conform to their ideology is not going to change that one iota.

 

Rants|Thursday, 04 March 2004 19:52:55 UTC|Comments [3]|    

 Wednesday, 03 March 2004
Answering NZPundit

NZPundit has posed a challenge based around the following article....
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,2833404a10,00.html

Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences researcher Tony Blakely has released the latest findings of the New Zealand Census-Mortality Study to show that health policies cannot be based solely on economic need.

Dr Blakely, of the University of Otago, said that in response to the current political debate over health funding he had decided to pre-release the findings of an unpublished study that looked at death rates in terms of both ethnicity and income levels.

Death rates are commonly used as an indicator of health need. Dr Blakely said the results were "too critical" to leave until they were formally published

The challenge relates to the need based vs race based funding debate.

Without actually diving into the statistics and scientific method as NZPundit does....

I personally don't see why race can't establish a valid need in the medical area. I certainly think that culture can never establish medical need, but race almost certainly can. If a certain genetic line is predisposed towards a certain illnesses then there most certainly is a need established. The problem is that any time anyone talks about genetic predispositions and/or genetic flaws on a racial basis they get labled racist.

Rants|Wednesday, 03 March 2004 20:55:51 UTC|Comments [6]|    

The Camels Back Has Been Broken

That's it....

Air NZ, bucket carrier of the wrolds greatest travellers, has just announced that they are putting up the price of Business Class airpoints rewards tickets!... By 20%

So now, not only is it harder to earn airpoints with AirNZ, it's harder to redeem them. They have removed the one loyalty incentive that is not directly price/service based from their arsenal. I've already had a bleet about their baggage allowance rules this month and now they decide to do this!

AirNZ have also put the price up for points transfers from other programmes- so no more American Express points to AirNZ in 2005....

So stuff em! I'm gonna burn up my last few airpoints on some pre increase business class trips to Cairns to go diving and then I'm outa here..... Qantas and One World here I come!

 

 

Rants|Wednesday, 03 March 2004 00:48:27 UTC|Comments [15]|    

 Monday, 01 March 2004
Wilsons Carpark Ripoff....

Lukas has posted an entry on his mate getting ripped off at a car park.
The use of extortionate towing fees and 'kickbacks' to the parking companies is rife in this country.

My suggestion to Lukas is have his mate take them to the Small Claims Court for a little Small Claims Sport.....

Human Aggregation | Rants|Monday, 01 March 2004 22:27:37 UTC|Comments [3]|    

 Sunday, 29 February 2004
Oh the irony... "Church groups must wait for Passion review"

Usually when we hear of Church groups and other such parties bitching about a Film and Literature Classification it's because they want something banned- or at least tightly restricted.

Yet now we have them grizzling because a rating is too high- they actually want something unbanned. Such is the irony that has come about due to the R16 (Restricted to persons 16 years and over) rating on the Passion of Christ. It seems all of the religionists want to be able to take their kid to see the film- as if weekly happy clappy indoctrination at Sunday 'School' was not enough.

Now I'm not big on religion*, apart from an aberrant 3rd form as a male chorister I spent most of my 'church time' at high school blissfully asleep in my bed. I'm even less big on Catholicism- due mainly to their <flamebait>ingrained bigotry, conservatism and recently uncovered unhealthy enthusiasm for forbidden fruits</flamebait>. So, to be completely honest, I'm not going to be rushing to the box office to the the Passion of Christ, but, freedom is freedom and I'm no fan of banning stuff for the sake of a little blood and guts so I'm with the Churchies on this one.... but rest assured I'll be the first to jump up and down should their morals get in the way of my principles any time in the future.

*In fact I think it is a complete load of bollocks but saying that would have ruined the flow of my paragraph.

Rants|Sunday, 29 February 2004 09:13:21 UTC|Comments [14]|    

 Thursday, 26 February 2004
All necklaces are equal... but some necklaces are more equal than others...

NZPundit had a post this morning linking to a Herald article on the ongoing necklace debate at Marlborough Girls College. Briefly...

“A Pakeha student whose necklace was forcibly removed by a teacher - even though Maori students are allowed to wear their taonga (treasures) - has quit school over the incident.”

While I'm no fan of the Human Rights Commisariat this looks like a fine time to have a good go at the establishment. On that note I've got a NZ$50 note to kick off a legal fighting fund for anyone who's interested in having a go at:

  • The Ministry of Ed
  • The school, the board of trustees or the principal especially
  • The teacher who forcibly removed the necklace
PoliTechLaw | Rants|Thursday, 26 February 2004 21:36:15 UTC|Comments [6]|    

Robert Scoble vs The Hornets Nest

Well, Well, Well...... Scoble has stirred up a hornets nest with his post on Gay Marriage. He posts some follow up here.

Die hard Libertarian that I am I can't let it go without comment.

In the ideal world I don't think that the government would have anything to do with marriage save for enforcing any properly made contract that might stem from a marriage. In the same way I don't think the government should have anything to do with what goes on in your bedroom. ...or what sort of crack you like to smoke.... etc...

Marriage and participation therein should be left up to the churches. Most of them are die hard bigots but there are increasingly tolerant people among both clergy and parish. The important thing though is that churches are private organizations and in a free world private organizations and individuals should be free to be as discriminatory or tolerant as they see fit. If non religious people like me want to get married then we can also start a private organization to record the commitments that we make.

But, we don't live in the ideal Libertarian Utopia (yet!) do we. So my current feelings are that while the government continues to bring the concept of marriage under a legal framework then the law should apply to, and the protection thereunder be available to, all people no matter who they share their life with. Ultimately I believe that private people should be free to discriminate as they see fit, the government should not.

PoliTechLaw | Rants|Thursday, 26 February 2004 21:23:07 UTC|Comments [5]|    

 Monday, 16 February 2004
Lies, Damn Lies and Slack Left Wing Statistic Quoting

David Slack, another Public Addressee, posted an interesting wee survey on the Treaty of Waitangi. The purpose of the carefully selected questions (and even more carefully selected answers) is obviously to encourage us to all conclude that this Don Brash Orewa Speech thing is just a big beat up.

Unfortunately Mr Slack is just that. Let's go through and take a look at some of the selective statistics that he is referencing. (Question in Bold, Answer in Plain, my ranting in italics)

Question 1.
What has been the approximate total cost of Treaty of Waitangi settlements since 1989?
According to the Office of Treaty Settlements, the total cost of settlements since 1989 has been $596 million.
OK. But is this really the full extent of all of the settlements? He lists them below in another question. Most notably absent is the true cost (both up front and ongoing) of the Waitangi Fisheries Settlement. Looking at this site we can see that the Sealord component alone of this settlement cost $350 million- a sum which if added to the Slack answer would make a not inconsiderable difference. Whats more this settlement commits the crown to substantial ongoing liabilities the value of which must surely measure into the hundred of millions of dollars.

What was the approximate size of Telecom's profit for the year ending June 2003?
Telecom's net profit for the year ending June 2003 was $709 million. In 2001, it was $643 million; in 2000, $783 million; and in 1999, $822 million.
The only year in which it did not achieve a net profit greater than the total value of of all treaty settlements was in 2002, when it had to write off $725 million of its investment in the Australian company AAPT. This was more than four times the total value of the settlement with Tainui, who have found themselves pilloried in the business press for making poor investment decisions.
This is the 'Big Bad Multinational Corporate Greed' component that necessarily comes with almost any left wing social commentary. If the share holders of Telecom want to they are able to get stroppy about any such losses and wasteful use of resources. One might say that the New Zealand taxpayers (as 'shareholders' in the country) are getting stroppy also- as is their right. If the shareholders of Telecom have been slack in reprimanding their board then so what. Let us not as a country be slack in reprimanding our governors.

How much revenue did the Government collect for the year ending June 2003?
According to Treasury, the Government collected $57 billion in total for the year ending June 2003.
And just how did they collect said revenue? By taking it forcibly of you and I; the people who had to work their asses off to earn it. I don't know about you but we seem to be being lined up for a 'if the government only pisses away 0.01% of the annual tax take then that is OK' statement. If the government wants to take my money by force (and that is a discussion for another time) then the least they can do is be responsible with the money! Slack standards of accountability are not acceptable no matter what proportion of the kete is at stake.

Of all the money the New Zealand Government has spent in the last five years, what proportion of that has been spent on Treaty settlements?
According to Treasury , in the past five years, the Government has spent $227 billion.
Treaty settlements in that period totaled $248 million, or 0.109% of total spending.
If you paid $1,000,000 in tax in the last five years, your contribution to treaty settlements was $1090. If you paid $100,000 in tax in the last five years, your contribution to treaty settlements was $109.
And what proportion has been spent through other agencies such as Te Mangai Paho? Te Puni Kokiri? the Pipi Foundation? The Treaty Settlement process is but a drop in the ocean in terms of $$$. If anything successive governments have been slack in making full and final recompense for justifiable grievances- viz just and proper Treaty settlements. It's the 'recompense' that is being provided for completely unjustifiable reasons that is the real concern for most New Zealanders.

How many Treaty claims have been settled?

According to the Office of Treaty Settlements, there have been 15 completed settlements since 1989:
Ngati Tama
$14.5 million
Ngati Ruanui
$41,000,000
Te Uri o Hau
$15,600,000
Pouakani
$2,650,000
Ngati Turangitukua
$5,000,000
Ngai Tahu
$170,000,000
Te Maunga
$129,032
Rotoma
$43,931
Waimakuku
$375,000
Waikato/Tainui raupatu
$170,000,000
Ngati Whakaue
$5,210,000
Haui
$715,682
Commercial Fisheries
$170,000,000
Ngati Rangiteaorere
$760,000
Waitomo
The Crown transferred land at the Waitomo Caves to the claimant group, subject to a lease, and provided a loan $1,000,000.
Date of Deed 1989
A good question to have asked might have been: 'Of the 15 aggrieved groups with whom a settlement has been reached, how many are back already for another bite of the cherry? And, how many had had full and final settlements or similar in the past?'. The last National Government was particularly slack at upholding past settlement agreements. Much of the furore over the recent Foreshore and Seabed decision is centered on Marine Farming rights- something that is surely covered by the definition of fishing in the Fisheries Claims Settlement Act. We need to resolve past grievances. We need to resolve them swiftly, fully and finally.

How many Treaty claims have been heard by the Waitangi Tribunal and are approaching settlement?
You can read about progress at this web site, which reports that there are twelve claims at various stages of settlement.
According to the Office of Treaty Settlements, progress in historical Treaty settlement negotiations is best measured by the number of claimant groups moving toward settlement of all their claims. Many separate claims may be lodged by individuals from the same tribal group. The number of registered claims therefore gives an inflated picture of how many settlements will be required.
Settlements are currently occurring at a rate of about one every six months.
And what of those making claim to tax dollars on the basis of race outside the Treaty settlement process? What is this wonderful euphemism 'historical' Treaty settlement process? Is the also a 'fanciful future opportunities' Treaty settlement process? As noted above successive governments have been slack at tidying this mess up; hence where we are today. It is surely line in the sand time!

Who has the final say in a Treaty settlement?
Parliament has the final say. Click here to read about the process of Treaty negotiations and settlements.
Hence the outstanding promise shown by poll results such as these. This is far more than the second major party taking up the political slack. It was a truly phenomenal polling turn around founded on a single political issue.

Tertiary students have access to 1451 scholarships for study. How many more scholarships are available solely to Maori?
The Sunday Star Times reports here that Maori students can apply for an additional 154 scholarships not open to others.
Funny how the Sunday Star Times didn't note the number of scholarships that 'orange haired and be-freckled but otherwise slack beer swilling' students could apply for to the exclusion of others. Once again, we should be appalled that such racially based scholarships exist irrespective of the actual proportion of them. Let's have a tertiary education system with acceptance on color and class blind merit and assistance on need. Enough of our student load fueled 'shotgun' approach to tertiary enducation. Enough dodgy tertiary institutions masquerading as Universities.

The Government presently spends about $7.7 billion per year on health. Maori represent 14.7% of the population. What approximate proportion of the health vote do they receive, including special grants for Maori health?
The Sunday Star Times reports here that the Ministry of Health estimates that last year it spent $1105 million on Maori health through its mainstream funding 14.7% of the total health spending of $7.7 billion.
Additional money targeted specifically at Maori lLast year amounted to $158m, about 2% of the total.
As above, what proportion was targeted at 'orange haired and freckle faced people' purely on the basis of their skin color and ethnic lineage? There is no slack in our health system. We have long waiting lists for most quality of life restoring elective surgery. Playing favorites programs do not have a place in a need based health system.

Last year, the Court of Appeal gave a decision which gave rise to the current debate about ownership of the foreshore. What did that case decide?
The Court of Appeal held that the Maori Land Court has jurisdiction to consider whether the foreshore and seabed are Maori customary land.
You can find concise analysis of the case by Damian Stone, of Bell Gully, here.
Oh lordy a question the sentiment of which I agree with entirely. The Court of Appeal ruling was little more than jurisdictional. The Labour government (and I suspect one member more than others) got their knickers in a twist over nothing. I bet you thought it was only the Waikato Law School admission criteria that were hopeless! *grins* If you want something even more concise ask Damian Stone for a list of his Bell Gully colleagues who are Waikato graduates!

If the Government passes a law that declares who owns the foreshore, who can fully and finally over-rule them?
A large enough group of voters is the only group that can effectively fully and finally over-rule a Government law, by voting in a new Government capable of passing new legislation that overturns previous legislation, or over-rules any finding of any court or tribunal.
Click here to read about New Zealand's constitutional arrangements.
Governments do not pass laws, Parliament does. But in practical terms Mr Slack is correct here. Parliament is sovereign and we live in a democracy so a large enough block of voters could potentially amass sufficient Parliamentary power to overturn any previous enactments. Or... we could just have a bloody revolution... *rubs hands with glee*

Which of the following is not a treaty which was entered into many years ago?
The right to issue a writ of Habeas Corpus is not a treaty. It is, however, very old law and yet, curiously, many people continue to find it helpful in defending their human rights.
I bet he put this one in for Margaret! You'd have to be a pretty slack law student or polly not to get it. It kinda stands out as the 'so bloody what' question of the bunch. The concept of Habeas Corpus well predates the legal formalism thereof in the Habeas Corpus Act 1679. But anyway.... so what, the liberties that it protects are in fact important and would (or at least should) be protected still even if it were thrown out tomorrow.

PoliTechLaw | Rants|Monday, 16 February 2004 08:52:41 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 08 February 2004
Airline Baggage Charges

As part of their move to become the 'Bucket Carrier' of repute in this part of the world the national carrier, Air New Zealand, has introduced excess baggage charges on both Domestic Flights and their new trans Tasman 'Express Class' flights. The Baggage limit is 20kg and the excess charges are $5 domestic and $20 trans Tasman. The discount subsidiary carrier of Air NZ has been charging $5 trans Tasman for some time. Now this may not seem too unreasonable, but, when you travel on holiday like I do with a whole schwag of kitesurfing and scuba diving gear then it is a royal pain in the ass. I thought I'd get out my calculator and do some sums to work out just how nasty these charges really are.

Let's start with a few basic figures.
When loading an aircraft the airline makes some calculations based on the average passenger weight. In New Zealand this is governed by Parts 121, 125 and 135 of the Civil Aviation Rules. While the rules currently state that the prescribed weight is 77kg, a recent survey by the CAA found that the average weight was in fact closer to 85kg. Passenger weighting is currently under review so we'll be generous and use the 77kg figure.

Given our average weight of 77kg and excess baggage charges of $5 and $20 respectively we can calculate the cost of a maximum luggage carrying passenger as follows.

(Avg Passenger Weight) + (Carry On Allowance of 7kg) + (Checked Allowance of 20kg)
= 104kg
Multiply this by the excess baggage charges and we get
$ 520 for Domestic
$ 2080 for Trans Tasman

If the excess baggage charges are levied on a cost recovery basis then air travel both domestically and trans Tasman for passengers is extremely cheap.

Let's compare our situation trans Tasman with some other fares. For around $2000 I should be able to get to Seattle and back for the MVP Summit in April. Whats more, my baggage allowance will be a whopping 64kg! It would cost me $1760 (44kg excess * $20/kg * each way) to have that sort of baggage allowance to Sydney, Australia, a distance of about 1/4 of what it will take me to get to Seattle. Someone is getting ROYALLY screwed here.

Let's try some calculations from a different angle. On Freedom Air you don't get any in flight service. You can however buy a can of Coke for $1- a bargain even on the ground these days. A standard can of Coke is 355ml- assuming that Coke is the same density as water then we get 355gm of Coke plus say 10 grams worth of aluminum. Now if it costs $5 a kg to carry something on a Freedom flight then each can of coke is costing the airline $1.80 (.36kg * $5) to carry on the plane. Even if they sold every one of the cans they they placed on each flight they'd still be losing money hand over fist. And that's Freedom @ $5/kg for excess. It 'costs' Air New Zealand a whopping $7.20 to carry a can of Coke across the Tasman Sea!
Letter to Ralph Norris:
Dear Ralph,
Next time I travel Trans Tasman can I buy Coke off the aircraft for $1 a can and replace it with baggage of equivalent weight?

Were I to be able to do this my excess baggage charges would be a much more reasonable $2.80 (2.8 cans of coke per kilo * $1 per can) per kilo and I'd have a few cans of coke to go with my duty free Bourbon on returning to New Zealand. Raplh would still be making a margin on his cans of coke and wouldn't be potentially losing $6.20 carting them back and forth across the oceans.

Rants|Sunday, 08 February 2004 01:58:39 UTC|Comments [10]|    

 Friday, 06 February 2004
Silly Restaurateurs

*rant*

Just been out for a nice Friday dinner out. I'm partial to a nice drop of olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and good bread to dunk therein. It seems however that restauranteurs at several of the establishments I have dined at recently slept through basic high school chemistry. Here's the problem:

If you put the olive oil and the balsamic in the same dipping bowl they seperate- oil on the top, balsamic (being water based) on the bottom. Now the problem with this is when you dunk your bread it must pass through the oil before reaching the vinegar. Because olive oil is a hydrophobic substance the nice coating of oil that the bread receives on the way through prevents any absorbtion of vinegar.

Moral of the story- two bowls. One for vinegar, one for oil. Dunk the vinegar first.

Rants | Gastronomics|Friday, 06 February 2004 09:23:33 UTC|Comments [0]|