Random Rants

After having to challenge yet another unsolicited connection attempt on LinkedIn today I was inspired to throw some words into Google and see if anyone else had published anything regarding LinkedIn Connections.

I came across the following interesting reads:

So... it's been a while since I blogged - and i'll detail more on that elsewhere - but I felt singularly inspired after a story my wife told me tonight, about NZ Couriers. Again.

She arrived home yesterday afternoon shortly after 4pm to find some courier-delivered packages on the doorstep.
This on it's own wouldn't be a problem except that at least one of them was 'signature required'. That is, it's not meant to be delivered unless someone signs for it.

So Liz hits up the NZ Couriers website and does a track-trace on the delivery ID - to discover that it was signed for at 2.25pm - when she wasn't home!! (I know this as she was in the CBD with me... !)

Seriously, what the hell?

So... Delivery guy forges the addressee's signature and just leaves it on the doorstep. Today Liz gets a response from NZ Couriers to say that this is "industry standard practisr". Err... Wut?

Not the first time we've had problems with NZ Couriers, to be honest. Late last year Liz ordered an item from a company based in Penrose and was to have it couriered to to our home in Birkdale. The company tried to tell us that if we wanted delivery during the month of December we'd be best to pick it up from their depot (in Mt Wellington). (For those who aren't aware, Mt Wellington and Penrose are immediately adjacent, on the wrong side of the Harbour Bridge from Birkdale!) Track-and-tracing of the item at the time showed that it never got beyond being picked up by the courier. Then they couldn't find it. Then after much nagging on our part, the courier finally found it and delivered it... but had to get his teenage daughter to come to our door as he couldn't face up to us!!

I was surprised at the stink that the use of the term in a Police Media Release apparently caused.
Mainstream Media in NZ didn't use the term themselves in much of their coverage but the Police themselves issued an apology.

Here's some coverage from Radio NZ News.

A google search suggests that i'm not the only one who's posed this question before now.

Growing up in Manurewa - the middle of South Auckland and a cultural melting-pot of ethnicities and skin colours - I didn't think twice when folks used the term.
So I was surprised at the furore that erupted here.

Good grief folks, is this the PC brigade gone-mad - or is there something to this in your opinion?

I came across http://vilain.net/blog/2010/12/93-vilain-v-vodafone.html via Twitter yesterday. I've met Sam Vilain, though I don't know him well - but I know him by reputation as a clever guy. That, and this being an issue I have strong interest in, had me keeping my ear to ground for the outcome of events.

In short, Sam was taking Vodafone to the Disputes Tribunal over the cost of international roaming on his Vodafone cellphone.
For anyone who travels frequently, you'll be aware of the facts involved - that roaming is horrendously expensive and that there's no way that the end-user costs associated with roaming data are in any way proportional to the actual operating costs of the service. Indeed there's plenty of media coverage about the insane costs of roaming (despite Vodafone making such a big deal about it's worldwide service).

A simple Google Search reveals headlines like:

So I share in Sam's dissapointment at the ruling but will also be interested in the followup. From my perspective:

- Vodafone have been far too inspecific about the costs of data use in their billing system; if a customer wants by-session information they should be able to have it!! Landline broadband can already do this.
- The rates are expensive; the fact it's cheaper to buy a local sim card than use your own number is actually a bit of a joke when it's usually pretty obvious that at a network level, costs are barely above local data costs. The host networks own local charging rates should sent the benchmark for a roaming guest. This case is serving to give yet more exposure to what many consider is a rort.

I've been dreaming about setting up a dash-cam for ages, as I get to see this sorta crap daily. Motorists, seriously, wtf?

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Up until recently i've been a stalwart supporter of Dick Smith Electronics - yes, I'm a former employee. That was 10 years ago, however.

Sadly though they've seen fit over the last few years to drop out of a lot of their 'specialist' electronics stuff and focus instead on the consumerware that is otherwise found in places like Harvey Norman and Noel Leemings. DSE have the advantage of being far more numerous, and thus, more accessible. I used to also believe their staff were sharper, but this remains to be proven in the current climate.

Of course, DSE still carry more 'eclectic' stuff (they're a hybrid Harvey Norman -> Jaycar bridge, now, really) but there's one thing you need to be very careful of with DSE; check the pricing on what you're after and make sure it's infact sane.

Here's an example.
End of last year I picked up a Bluetooth Handsfree Kit (aided by the law change requiring their use).
The unit I picked based on cost:benefit was the DSE EA0054.

Here's their photo ripped from their website:

This retails at $79.95. Pretty sure that's about what I paid for it nearly a year ago, too.

Then I spied this at the local supermarket the other day:

It's the same damn unit with a different brand name printed on the front. And it's $49.95. Or 62% of the price.

Frustrating, really. I'm seeing no significant advantage to having the DSE brand name on my handsfree unit. Not enough to translate to nearly half-price at my even more ubiquitous supermarket.

So, DSE; what's your markup on EA0054? Can you justify being that much more expensive?

As previously blogged our company (the one Liz and I operate privately) has received unsolicited advertising from 'Pieroth Wines NZ' at least once before. They gain our details via the Companies Office Register.

This has been further validated; Last week Liz updated our details with the Companies Office now we've relocated to Auckland.
It didn't take long to receive more junk from Pieroth, addressed to 'Dear Lover of Fine Wines' at our registered address.

DO NOT EVER TRADE WITH PIEROTH WINES! This sort of harrassment-style direct marketing is rude and obnoxious. I'm not a wine lover, no matter how many times you try to suck me in with your faux-manners!

Most of my previous rant on this subject remains entirely valid. It's postal direct marketing, so it doesn't fall under the UEM Act... It could potentially be argued that using the Companies Register for purposes other than for which it is provided, is in breach of its terms of use. Yeah, that'll stand up to scruitiny... ??

Are people stupid enough to actually respond to these mailouts with enough frequency to make the cost of doing them worth the grief?

Why do I have to live with the fact there's absolutely no way to protect myself from this sorta crap?

How can we claim to be fans of equal rights and equal opportunities when so many dads get shafted?. An insane situation - C'mon Government, fix it!! (I know Dads who're paying child support, in some cases the terms are reasonable but in others, utterly not!!)

Seriously pisses me off when I read stuff like this, which it appears the government is not paying any attention to whatsoever.

I don't usually rant about the Government, but this annoys me no end.

After yesterdays news that motor vehicle registrations would be going up substantially - particularly for motorcyclists, utilities, light vans and so on - I can't say i'm also surprised to hear that Fuel Prices are also going up thanks to the Emmissions Trading Scheme.

And yet a part of me is still shocked. I wonder if the Government realises that when the net result is negative, the taxpayer is no better off?

Yes we've had tax cuts. But we've had taxes move to other places, and in the end, are we truly better off?

But wait, there's more. The Prime Minister is quoted as follows:

"But Mr Key said taxpayers would still be ahead as wage increases were expected to outstrip overall inflation."

Wait. Government is now promising folks pay rises?

As a former government employee, I can tell you right now that I havn't seen an inflation-related wage increase since early 2006. And i'm under no illusions as to whether these are promised at all, to be honest. I'm more likely to negotiate a salary increase by way of performance, than to see any sort of committment around adjustments due to inflation!

The article linked above seems to be noticing a similar trend, as the reporter notes: "Households and businesses also face other rising costs in the form of October's GST increase, and higher ACC levies and vehicle registration fees.". Yet the above quote from Mr Key is a direct response to this.

What planet are you on, PM? When it comes down to it, consumers are hurting because of increased cost-of-living all over the place. Don't be under any illusions that a reshuffle of _how_ the money is collected is going to in any way improve the situation for joe-public, especially when you're taking on new, taxpayer-funded initiatives like ETS. I don't disagree with the need to start taking the cost of managing our environment into consideration - but lets be realistic, please! This is going to hurt a lot of people, and no amount of pulling-the-wool is going to change it.

Went noseying for lunch on Saturday when I was in the Wairau Valley on the North Shore.

Came across an 'open 7 days' bakery. *cough*

.

Now... last time I checked... 7 days literally meant... Monday to Sunday... and yet we can see that (at the time of signwriting last update) this joint was most definately closed on Sundays. At some stage more recently they've obviously taken to closing on Saturdays as well (thus the paper covering the signwriting, instead of getting it properly done).

So our '6 days' bakery is actually only open '5 days'. Good grief, mate. stupidmuch? How about fixing your signwriting up so that it actually portrays your services accurately, instead of making you look awful .. well.. silly?

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