About / Welcome

This site was originally a Forum for family / friends to act as an alternative to using Facebook, however never achieved adoption and subsequently evolved into a personal general blog that it is today (serving as my personal self-hosted surrogate to Facebook).

As always, the views expressed here are my own and (unless otherwise explicitly stated) I do not purport that any of my views to be factually correct and opinions on any given topic are most certainly subjected to change. The intended audience of this blog is Family and friends and the content here should be regarded in the same vein as a series of personal public Facebook posts as opposed to a fully-fledged blog.

Ngā mihi nui


Fergus Young
www.nui.nz

About / Welcome

Leave your chainsaw in your vehicle

Ray White Open home sign in Rolleston…

Welcome to our open home… Use your brain… Think for yourself… Use common sense… Leave your chainsaw in your Vehicle!!

A family has now moved in to the property I purchased, with an Alarm system to go in very shortly along with some landscaping to be done to make it nice.

I have noticed many houses that were for sale have since gone straight into the rental pool. Anecdotally, it appears to be happening all around the country. Consequently, should the trend continue, I would not be surprised to see that we eventually end up with a nationwide Rental glut at some point. May be the tables will then finally turn in favour of tenants and instead of Renters scrambling for properties to rent, Landlords would be scrambling for Tenants.

We don’t know how long this low interest rate environment is going to last. The government to be honest (both current and past) have been exceedingly coy as to their apparent lack of will do actually do anything concrete about the housing affordability and the accelerating inequality in this country.

Leave your chainsaw in your vehicle

RBNZ Misallocation and inflated housing market

For those who don’t yet know, I ended up buying a house in Rolleston. Essentially the RBNZ’s so called “money printing” finally got to me. I feel I had to act to stop any further erosion of my savings base.

The financial system seems to have evolved to rewarding property investments and speculating as opposed to encouraging economically productive activities such as hard work, toil and enterprise. The money simply isn’t getting to the small and medium business which I feel matter most to the economy.

There still remains several unanswered questions as to why LVR’s were removed on Investment property in the first place which I still assert was a rather ill thought out move. People seem to have turned to defending the RBNZ as simply being a bystander in all of this but I personally still hold them jointly culpable (along with the Government) for Housing affordability issues.

RBNZ Misallocation and inflated housing market

Reduction of LVR on Investment property questioned

In my mind, the Loan to Value ratios (LVR) for investment properties should have never been reduced by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand from 35% to 20% and I struggle to understand why it has.

Will probably now join the investing hordes in this Property pile up owing to a decade of a dearth of any real investment opportunities. There’s only one or two areas in the South Island of NZ which I feel still presents value, every other area in NZ has gone full euphoric FOMO. May be the continuous money pump will never turn off (or won’t turn off for the foreseeable future) and the pull back of global asset bubbles may not eventuate in any significant sustained scary way. No one knows.

Seems to be also a lot easier today to get pre-approved for a loan in New Zealand than it was say a few years ago, the banks appear to be willingly to lend more (In my view, a jaw dropping and gobsmackingly lot more) and going through the process earlier this week does perhaps make it easier to understand why the Housing Market bubble refuses to burst and instead continues to inflate.

Again, the only risk factors to the asset markets on the radar is food security (which appears to have receded recently) and Civil Unrest which appears to be subjectively growing around the world, but still appears to be relatively benign (not raucous enough to enact any real change). Seems with all other threats the Central banks seem to be able to just add a few zeros at the end of the Global Money supply and “she’ll be right”. But who the flip knows…?

Reduction of LVR on Investment property questioned

The NRMA and NRMA Insurance are not the same company

Be aware that NRMA Insurance and NRMA Motoring and services (“The NRMA”) are NOT the same company and have been separate entities since 2000 despite the two companies sharing the same brand. Yes, indeed this is confusing as anything whereby even Australians to this day do not even realise the distinction.

I occasionally observe NRMA clients complain about an acrimonious experience on either the insurance or roadside assistance side, mentioned they’ve been members for years or decades, and then state they will now move both their insurance policies and roadside assistance to another provider as retribution.

NRMA Insurance and more recently, NRMA Motorserve (now rebranded simply to “Motorserve”) are actually owned by Insurance Australia Group (IAG).

“The NRMA” (Motoring and Services) have largely evolved in my mind to be more of a travel and tourism company. Their traditional roadside assistance services appear to be increasingly supplied by another, separate company called ClubAssist whose personnel (staff and contractors) are supplied with NRMA branded Vehicles and Uniforms while actually being employed by Club-Assist.

The NRMA and NRMA Insurance are not the same company

Cold calls from Georgeson a Computershare subsidiary

Turns out the phone calls from +61 3 9415 5000 I’ve been receiving is from Georgesons, a Computershare subsidiary who are using the same outbound number and probably utilizing the same call centre staff as Computershare. While my view may certainly be debatable, I feel personally this impacts on Computershare’s reputation of impartiality as a share registry and Administrative service.

“Georgesons” acting on behalf of APVG (wishing to take over MetLife Care) have repeatedly called me on my number stating the directors of APVG are encouraging MetLife Care shareholders like me to vote yes to the take over offer.

They also wanted me to advise right there and then on the spot which way I would be voting. I repeatedly replied saying that “I have yet to review the information and I am unable to provide you an answer right at this point in time”. I suspect that Georgeson staff are given incentives.

Have finally got around to reviewing the documentation and will personally be voting ‘No’ to the take over offer. In a high level (superficial) nutshell…

  • Offer I feel is a little bit too low for the potential future gain I will be leaving on the table.
  • (To be direct) Tired of losing access to an ever diminishing range of investment opportunities, given the global liquidity glut courtesy of central bank endless money pump.

NZ Shareholder’s association have also provided their views to their members with the view of voting against the take over offer.

 

 

Cold calls from Georgeson a Computershare subsidiary

Security Warning – Click Hijack investigation

Investigations so far suggest that there is some type of conditional redirect exploit/hijack being planted on many WordPress websites redirecting search engine referred visitors to fake award/survey sites such as “applefacetook”, “hurryexpectsugar”, “mouthtroubleask”, “ondiesmall”, “thendownmeat”, “makemodernfive”, “sayhitome”, “whateyeweight” among several others typically ending in a “.live” address. While this Hijack, as far as I have seen appear to predominantly affect WordPress websites, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this possibly affects other types of websites as well.

In my experience, for sites that are affected, to replicate…
(These most certainly could differ depending on the site affected)

  1. Prerequisites…
    • Needs to be done from an IP address that has yet to access the site in question. (e.g Mobile Data Connection, activate and deactivate airplane mode to get a new IP address)
    • Chrome or Firefox browser (Win 10 or Android) in Incognito Mode (No plugins). Reportedly in other variations of the exploit, it only occurs on Safari under iOS
  2. Search for your site in Google search
  3. Click on the search result that points to your website. Instead of loading up your website as expected, you get redirected to a hijack site.

The hijack will not fire If you access your site directly. This appears to be some conditional exploit based on visitors coming from Search Engines. (e.g by typing the site URL directly into the Address bar, you won’t get redirected) and it looks like it will only fire once per IP Address.

I probably should add that many so called WordPress vulnerability scanners online I’ve discovered aren’t even set up to detected this sort of hijack. The scanners based on “Securi” certainly will not detect this exploit, I’ve found.

Other resources…

Original Post (Old):
Noticing some apparent weird intermittent redirect hijack on the general web where some sites are allegedly redirecting to some dodgy website with names such as “mouthtroubleask”

Update – 2020-09-11T06:55:00+12:00: Added steps to replicate (from my own experience)

Update – 2020-09-12T18:20:00+12:00: Added note to mention that all of the online WordPress malware scanners I’ve tried won’t detect this sort of hijack.

 

 

Security Warning – Click Hijack investigation

Facebook Alleged Arbitrary Bans

Apparently when someone appears as deactivated in one’s friends list, this may not always be the case and can sometimes mean they’ve been thrown into Facebook Jail. Usually the first thing I noticed when a friend has their account deactivated (voluntarily or not) is that their profile picture has disappeared and then when you click on the friend’s profile, this message comes up…

Friends’ Facebook Account shows as deactivated, but she claims that Facebook has banned her. This friend also happened to be a huge fan / supporter / advocate for using Facebook.

Have had some friends over the years mentioning they were blocked without any sort of warning and it has taken ages, sometimes a month before they are allowed back on. Often they show up as being deactivated in my friends list.

This is a timely reminder that we shouldn’t rely solely on Facebook, run by a single for-profit company, as our sole means of staying in contact with Friends and Family, ever.

Remember, you aren’t the customer here (you don’t pay anything financially towards using Facebook), you’re the product being milked for your personal data.

I have been hearing more and more of these anecdotes and in behoves that people ensure they maintain a separate means of contact, least you end up like this guy mentioned in the Elliot Advocacy article, who has been unable to ever get his account back.

As an aside, a mass concerted movement off of Facebook I strongly feel is long past overdue. I would also even go as far as to state there is perhaps a moral obligation for the more tech inclined among us to lead the way and make the effort to make ourselves available on other (preferably federated, decentralized) platforms and gradually remove our dependence on Facebook for the purposes of staying in contact with friends and family.

I will also confess that I did buy shares in Facebook Inc. a few years go as a mental analgesic. As contradictory as this may be, my indignation and moral displeasure towards the company’s conduct started growing to the point where it began impacting an increasing part of my life and the purchase was designed to take the edge off of this.

 

 

Facebook Alleged Arbitrary Bans

Pi-Hole on a Raspberry Pi 4

Experimented with running Pi-hole on the Raspberry Pi 4 that I have.

5 Minutes in, Pi-Hole showing how tragically ad ridden the modern web has become.

The Set up at least for the more tech inclined is very easy, all you had to do was launch a command line prompt and type this command…

curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash

After running it for an evening. Thoughts and findings so far…

  • Predominantly Does a DNS level block with a blocklist of known advertisement serving IP addresses.
  • YouTube is a moving target whereby ads are served from youtube.com itself and therefore very difficult to (completely) block with Pi-Hole.
  • Mobile devices with Ad laden apps will perhaps see the greatest reduction in ads.
  • The default configuration doesn’t block nearly as many ads as say uBlock Origin installed on Desktop Firefox. This is not a replacement to having Client side ad blocking.

Curiously noticed these appearing in the query-log…

  • www.collab.apps.mil
  • www.gov.teams.microsoft.us
  • www.dod.teams.microsoft.us

Why would Teams try and poll for these addresses is beyond me. It does raise a sufficient level of curiosity that I will be checking this out.

 

Pi-Hole on a Raspberry Pi 4

Australian Consumer Protections + Regulatory frameworks

Update: 15 July 2020 – Rewritten to correct some of my own views and information.

I concede this is more of an unquantified feeling at this stage and this post will likely be added to or otherwise edited…

While Australia has both Consumer and Retail investor Protection regulatory frameworks in place, the supervision and enforcement of I feel of is rather weak and probably weaker than anyone, even Australians actually realise. This extends to their financial sector as well In terms of retail investments and retail banking. Continue reading “Australian Consumer Protections + Regulatory frameworks”

Australian Consumer Protections + Regulatory frameworks

NextCloud Snap Packages updated to version 18

Just saw a notification that the Snap NextCloud installation I had running had been updated to version 18.0.4. For me this is fairly significant in that you can now self host your own office suite with “ONLYOFFICE” community edition and if you are ambitious enough, allowing the option to move away from the likes of Google and Microsoft (Office 365).

The catch is that you have to set it up yourself by installing the needed Apps.  To do this, go into Profile, then Apps and enable “Hub Bundle” (or at the very least “Community Document Server” and “ONLYOFFICE”)

Upon doing that, I ran into headaches with this vague and unhelpful error message…

Diving into the nextcloud.log… (the location of which is going to be different depending on your installation. Helpful I know.)

"message":"Allowed memory size of 134217728 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 315857416 bytes)

I had to fire up an SSH session and send the following commands (applicable to Ubuntu Linux). One to increase the memory limit to 512 Megabytes and the 2nd one to restart the NextCloud service….

sudo snap set nextcloud php.memory-limit=512M 
sudo snap restart nextcloud

Back in NextCloud’s web interface, navigated back to Apps section and tried Enabling the Hub bundle again. Still got a flipping error!

"Cannot declare class OCA\\Talk\\Migration\\Version2000Date20170707093535, because the name is already in use at xxxxxxxxxxx"

At a loss as to now what to do, I then went through for each App under the Hub Bundle, clicking on Enable one by one and it worked for some completely and disconcertingly unknown reason (No errors happened this time around… have no idea why, sorry.)

After that, I went back to my Files and had a play at creating new word documents… (Success I guess)

Seems to work pretty well for a family user set up, even on the lowest tier VPS plan with my provider. (1CPU / 2GB RAM). Included with the ONLYOFFICE suite is a Word Processor, Spread Sheet and Presentation (slides) application. At the moment, the biggest issue I can see is the lack of a working spell checker on the community server plugin as reported here and here which I feel is fairly fundamental to a Word Processor. Little bit concerning is that the web browser based (core or plugin based) spell checkers don’t appear to work inside of it either.

I think at this stage, for word processing, will stick with using the visual Markdown editor “Text” (by Julius Härtl) and continue trailing out the Spread Sheet application by doing my Tax return on it and then reporting back here.

Despite the messing around and troubleshooting to get it working I’m overall pretty otherwise pleased with the “Only Office” implementation (Community Server plugin) as a proof of concept.

 

NextCloud Snap Packages updated to version 18

Recommend Abolishing the National Lottery

I have to admit, the oft used slogans in Lotto NZ’s marketing… “Got to be in to win” and “Imagine…” troubles me quite intensely, in so much that I feel it traps the more vulnerable people into a dopamine driven false sense of hope and psychological impression that the odds of winning the big one is magnitudes larger than either logic or statistics could ever justify.

It is also I feel serves as another function to distract quite a few people away from their meagre lives and contributing to drawing public attention away from the issues that really need attention and debate. (e.g The Value of Working, Provision of pathways and opportunities to progress and contribute meaningfully to the community, Ending the over-commoditization and downright pitiful rampant speculation on housing, etc)

People argue that Lottery organizations are charities and they give back to the community by way of grants as merely an excuse to keep these schemes around, however I firmly feel the impact (Addictions, distractions) outweighs any community good. Like the Pokie machines (“One arm bandits” I call them), the poor and the ones who can least afford to engage in such pursuits, seem to be the biggest patrons of them.

There I’ve said it… I strongly felt that I needed to at least get this off of my chest.

Recommend Abolishing the National Lottery

Financial Crystal ball gazing 2020

These are pretty much “Stab in the dark” predictions please acknowledge disclaimer

Have quietly Pilot bought into OTC:GBTC, while everyone attention wise appears to focusing their mind elsewhere. However I believe that in the shorter to medium term that prices for the asset class may continue to be soft and may even halve from its present day price (in which case, it would be an opportunity to add to the position)

We may see another parabolic run up in the next 2-3 years, provided some one doesn’t somehow manage to compromise the integrity of this particular asset in the meantime. Even if my “stab in the dark” prediction materializes, I feel the next BTC run up bubble is unlikely to be anywhere near as great (in terms of multiples of gains) as the last few parabolic run ups, given the trend of each such run up has been less than the preceding run up

Equity markets and asset prices behaving as per last observation and have seemingly started accelerating. However I am still cautiously feeling the pulse and this may change at short notice given financial system is behaving I believe well outside historical norms. I still assert things have been deeply distorted due to central banks unleashing the biggest ever liquidity glut known and a significant sustained correction I further assert is extraordinarily well past long overdue.

Away from the purely financial side of things, my prior concerns over global food supply and security have been increasing. How the world can best mitigate such an eventuality, I don’t yet know of an idea.

We’ve been in a very long period of relative calm and abundance (in the developed nations) but see a lot of risk factors that could potentially unseat this in the next decade or so.

Financial Crystal ball gazing 2020

Seeing straight through Thrifty Car Rental Australia “Smiles all the way” marketing

I have had largely reasonable experiences with this car rental brand in Australia. Vehicles provided have predominantly been received in clean, tidy and good condition. Majority of hires have been smooth with one disappointing experience in the middle involving one of their licensees operating in Suburban Melbourne who I felt were dishonest and were also caught posting fake reviews to boot (Dandenong Thrifty / Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd). Continue reading “Seeing straight through Thrifty Car Rental Australia “Smiles all the way” marketing”

Seeing straight through Thrifty Car Rental Australia “Smiles all the way” marketing

More site Maintenance.

In the latest round of website maintenance issues… In the latest version of Chrome, v79 for Android, it was found the Tiled Galleries weren’t displaying / resizing properly anymore and were ending up being cut off on the right hand side. The funny thing was that the Desktop and iOS variants of Chrome (v79) were unaffected. Similarly, all the other browsers (Such as Brave and Firefox) on Android would display the same galleries fine.

Decided to try and debug it. After much blooming mucking around trying to get Chrome PC DevTools to recognize my phone. Managed to start walking through the code and identify where it was flipping out… but not necessarily understanding why.

PC Desktop Chrome v79 Devtools Debug freaking out and closing the USB Debugging connection

All I know was at the highlighted line, it would skip right out without error. Often at the same time it would cause my USB Debugging / ADB connection to the phone to die, requiring me to revoke all Debugging access permissions on my phone and then trying to re-authorize the connection to get it going again.

The section of code checks if all the images have been loaded up prior to executing the actual resizing / re-scaling of the Tiled Gallery images.

Anyway, have since identified and implemented a workaround in code and I am now testing it out on all the browsers I have access to. I am thinking however that this isn’t anywhere near the last of the challenges I will be facing while maintaining my own web presence and services going forward (as opposed to relying on Facebook / Instagram for that). Facebook have whole dedicated teams to troubleshoot shit like this.

More site Maintenance.