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 Facebook posts as opposed to a fully-fledged blog.

Ngā mihi nui


Fergus Young
www.nui.nz

About / Welcome

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.

 

 

Facebook Alleged Arbitrary Bans

Need to maintain vigilance regarding COVID-19

I feel Ashley Bloomfield’s (NZ’s Director General of Health) concerns are valid. Feeling the pulse in general, I am sensing…

  • An up tick of sentiment against the counter measures in general, including the prospect of lock downs and mask wearing in New Zealand, particularly on the more conservative side of the political spectrum.
  • People not getting tested or otherwise refusing a test when showing respiratory symptoms or when otherwise directed to do so by their doctor.
  • A general feeling that most people have become unduly complacent, prematurely patting ourselves on the back and living like the Virus won’t ever come back.

The thing I feel is that all it takes is one case to come undetected into the community and can possibly see this whole situation go up in flames like a tinderbox.

Need to maintain vigilance regarding COVID-19

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

This picture can not be explained

Update: 1st August 2020 – The Agent rang thanking me and mentioned it was given to someone in Ngāruawāhia intended to be distributed by local children for a local letterbox drop (possibly as part of a fundraiser I believe). Still strange where it ended up though.

Box of about 1,500 Real Estate flyers left under a tree in a ditch at the Waterworks Dam on Hakarimata Trail. I really don’t understand why anyone would go to the trouble of hiking in a box load of glossy flyers, then leave it under a tree all alone. Very weird and odd…

Box of Real Estate flyers dumped on Hakarimata Trail

Initially though it was gear or supplies for track maintenance and/or weed control, but seemed really weird to keep it in a cardboard box, so peered through the opening.

Took the box out of the reserve and dropped it off to Lugtons (Hamilton based Real Estate agency). While I was initially hesitant to touch it, It didn’t appear to be used to transport/hide drugs or any other nefarious activity, and I did not think the colourful flyers made for healthy fertilizer hence the reason to remove it.

In hindsight… Could be as innocuous as someone wanting extra weight to hill train with but simply aborted the idea halfway with the intention of picking the box back up upon coming back down (but never did or otherwise forgot).

This picture can not be explained

Stream of Consciousness Week 13rd July 2020

Stream of consciousness and other personal thoughts garnered throughout the week and which will be added to as the week rolls on. These thoughts are unrefined, unquantified, unverified, and raw. Any of these may be either be edited, deleted or otherwise spawn out into its own separate post…

  • Grant Imahara of Mythbusters has tragically passed away very suddenly. Have to admit, his passing probably hit me a lot more than any other Celebrity.
  • Apparently those who were previously infected by CoVid-19 are susceptible to getting it again. I do wonder if we are actually looking at the same Coronavirus or a different strain? Appears the world are having repeated recurrent waves of this thing.
  • Quiet weekend away down Waikato way. Visiting various historical sites and doing another walk up the Kauri grove loop track at the northern end of the Hakarimata range.
  • Finally got my Raspberry Pi 4 (with 8GB Ram), have set it up as a Desktop PC and it appears to do the job surprisingly well. Seems to choke when I try to run Firefox browser though (hence why it seems they went with Chromium as part of the default install)
  • Coming to the conclusion that Branding increasingly in a lot of cases can end up leading to misplaced loyalty on the part of consumers.

Older Stream of Consciousness thoughts can be found here.

Stream of Consciousness Week 13rd July 2020

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

Money Printing, the ultimate treatment for financial market ailments?

Disclaimer: Not financial advice (as with anything else in this blog)

With endless money ‘printing’ and liquidity injection, the US Financial Markets have almost completely (if not completely) decoupled from their underlying real economy. Financial markets globally no longer represent the general health of their respective economies by any reasonable measure I feel.

The decoupling I believe started way back in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 when liquidity creation was employed to restart the economies. So far since then, it seems when any sort of crises happens to spook the market, the treatment response has been to pump even more liquidity into the system and it seems to have been surprisingly extremely effective at least at treating any symptoms for the last 12 years.

What the end game is? I don’t know. It goes back to a post I penned back in November 2019 where I asked what would be a trigger to a sustained correction? (Not just short sharp corrections of the types we’ve been having recently)

One potential threat which could end up defeating the effectiveness of such monetary policy would include some sort of catastrophic, devastating and tragic famine by way of insect plague or widespread natural disaster where food security gets impacted and food supply contracts causing food prices to spiral out of control (by way of hyper inflation) where people find themselves being forced to sell assets into a sliding market to feed themselves and their families just to survive. Continue reading “Money Printing, the ultimate treatment for financial market ailments?”

Money Printing, the ultimate treatment for financial market ailments?

Bull Trap Warning still in force (currently)

Update: 6th June 2020 – The Bull trap assessment, as a prelude to a sustained bear market, is increasingly looking shaky with the current short term bull market likely to challenge previous highs. Longer term Secular Sideways market view, with large bull and bear cycles, still stands.

The S&P 500 is still behaving in a way that signals a possible (rather than probable) bull trap. Again, nothing can be said for certain and this assessment is very much certainly subjected to change and re-evaluation on a dime.

Main concerns at the moment is the inherently delayed corporate and economic reporting (including unemployment rates) where the full of effects of the measures behind CoVid-19 may not be fully realized and reported on until a few months down the track. The effect and global reaction so far has been sufficiently deep as to invoke a long-lasting change in the way we go about our lives going forward. At the moment, my feeling is that the latest bull leg (given the unexpectedly large magnitude and severity of the preceding fall was certainly to be anticipated) has mis-priced the effect of the measures surrounding CoVid-19 I feel.

Laying out the possible scenarios in a very broad and general way for my own edification… Continue reading “Bull Trap Warning still in force (currently)”

Bull Trap Warning still in force (currently)

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

Current Personal Take regarding CoViD-19

Indeed, my views have shifted over time. This is a rapidly evolving situation where frankly anything can go. I do agree that CoVid-19 is serious enough to warrant extra and utmost caution including taking measures such as proper and thorough hand washing, staying well away from others if you’re sick (CoVid-19 or not), and drastically limiting any non-essential travel. This is more so with protecting the more vulnerable in our communities (such as those who are elderly, who have pre-existing medical conditions, who are immunocompromised) along with flattening the curve to avoid overloading our health services (which includes the many hard-working health personnel on the front line).

At the moment, I am of the feeling that the lockdowns happening around the world on balance will save lives but a question does hover over whether these measures will ultimately be a net positive for people’s livelihood in terms of situational (e.g access to gainful employment, individual “agency”) and mental well-being overall in the longer term.

While I agree this situation is indeed serious, I am still of the opinion that many of the commercial mainstream media outlets globally have been irresponsibly fanning a counter-productive, unhelpful, and needless level of panic among the general population by cherry-picking the most extreme stories to come out of this. It would appear that a lot of people on the regular social media channels have been induced in to talking themselves in to a funk including lapping up what I consider as needlessly extreme apocalyptic fearporn doom scenarios and this appears to be getting more pronounced as the situation rolls on. I have been avoiding through blocking as much as possible, my own consumption of any mass media or social media during this period.

I don’t begrudge our own Government imposing a lock down. Given how globalised we were, The New Zealand Government had to do something (or at least been seen to do something) and it appears to be having at least a visible and measurable positive effect by way of decline in new cases each day. In saying that, as the lock down rolls on, I am seeing a lot of people’s mental well-being starting to decline being holed up in their homes and I am concerned that we could see a bit of increasing push back happening in the form of defiance or disobedience among a few of our own citizens.

People I feel need to be mindful that the Data, particularly surrounding death rates, coming out globally may be skewed until such time we can broaden testing availability to more of the general population. The people who will be most often tested at this stage of the cycle naturally will be the ones showing the worse symptoms.

Once this current situation recedes, It will be interesting to see if we will also be taking more consideration of other potentially deadly respiratory diseases such as influenza from here on in. I’m picking physical distancing (more commonly referred to as social distancing) will become a matter of habit for a few years after CoVid-19 comes to pass and may even be something encouraged as a matter of common courtesy every flu season.

Again, like any view expressed in this blog, my views are most certainly subjected to change as events unfold and as new information comes to light.

Current Personal Take regarding CoViD-19

I fear the panic more than the virus itself

In confession, I currently feel greater anxiety towards the panic and public reaction over the COVID-19 virus more than the virus itself. This sentiment of mine is no doubt subject to change however as events unfold.

Yes, Take positive proactive steps to safe guard yourself and your community, friends and family including such precautions like proper and thorough hand washing, staying away from others if you’re sick. But please don’t be an idiot and fan the fear around social media or hoard stuff like toilet paper.

That said, yes, I believe the New Zealand government could be doing more to safe guard our borders and taking stricter quarantine measures at our major ports, at least to slow any spread down and minimize overloading our Health services (by way of helping to “Flatten the Curve”).

I fear the panic more than the virus itself

Drowning does NOT look like drowning

An interactive website I found that provides information on recognising signs of drowning in a child along with the opportunity to practice recognising these signs.

URL: http://spotthedrowningchild.com/

The key take away here is that… Drowning does NOT look like drowning

Quoted from the site… “Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.”

Recognise Drowning in a pool

The Youtube videos utilized on the site are from the Lifeguard Rescue (Channel)

Drowning does NOT look like drowning

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

Update: 14 July 2020 – Have decided to move much of the commentary around Australian Consumer Protections to another post here instead.

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