Sub-reddit /r/newzealand headed for far-left extremism?

In the same way that far right extremism (actually any sort of extremism) is undesired and troublesome, the “/r/newzealand” subreddit on Reddit I would say is fast approaching an example of far-left extremism cultivating very divisive pile-on attitudes by way of epic group think and will admit, I’ve started to be become troubled by some of the views expressed in that forum recently.

It’s been a while since I last visited, but I think I will continue staying away (just as I stay away from far right extremist sites). New Zealand society I feel can ill afford to tolerate groups that seek to cultivate an “us versus them” and “all or nothing” mentality. The Echo chamber effect I feel is accelerating.

An example of this (out of several) is the unrestrained carte blanche hatred for anyone who so much as declares as being an owner of even a single investment property. Further more, I’ve noticed many members are taking the most extreme example of poor landlord conduct and using that to tar all investors with the same brush. I can assure you landlords most certainly are not all like this, far from it and would urge people not to let the conduct of a minority colour us all.

I will caution that the /r/newzealand subreddit I feel is getting less and less representative of the views held by mainstream New Zealanders in general and would further plead that people please engage their brains before being swept up by the mob mentality and jumping on the bandwagon.

Some balance, please, people. Surely we are not savages and should not aspire to become such. We’re better than this.

 

Sub-reddit /r/newzealand headed for far-left extremism?

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

No new active COVID-19 cases in NZ

There are officially no more known ‘Active’ COVID-19 cases in New Zealand. We move down in to Alert Level 1 tonight.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/418524/prime-minister-jacinda-ardern-reveals-move-to-level-1-from-midnight

Still need to be vigilant obviously.

“We will almost certainly see cases here again. That is not a sign we have failed.”

“If we get one or two cases in the future – which will remain possible for some time to come due to the global situation and nature of the virus – we need to shut down those cases fast. The last thing … we want to do is move up the alert level system again.”

My feeling is though, heading into the Winter seasons in future years, it may still be a good idea to practice some sort of social distancing primarily to protect the more vulnerable in our communities.

No new active COVID-19 cases in NZ

Stream of Consciousness Week 27th April 2020

Stream of conciousness 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 it’s own separate post…

  • bull trap warning still in force (for now). Discussed in another post. Currently Looking cautiously at the US unemployment figures due out on the 8th May (U.S. time). As with all view expressed in this blog, views and sentiments may change on a dime.
  • I’m running out of space on my Main VPS (hosting NUI.NZ). The consolidation of KAHA into NUI.NZ is going to have to be deferred.
  • Franchising as a business model I feel is increasingly on the rocks in Australia, and this was before CoVid-19 ever hit.

Older Stream of Conciousness thoughts can be found here.

Stream of Consciousness Week 27th April 2020

Stream of Consciousness Week 20th April 2020

Stream of conciousness 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 it’s own separate post…

  • Looks like we are indeed going to need to be a lot more cognizant of all respiratory diseases and not just Coronaviruses going forward I feel. If CoVid-19 is causing this much concern, then Influenza while not the focus at the moment I assert is also a bit of a worry. Even though we have Vaccines for seasonal Influenza, my current feeling is that they have been pretty woefully ineffective in recent times, particularly in the elderly. Some sort of social distancing and social counter measures every flu season is likely to remain for the foreseeable future.
  • Bull trap warning still in place. Still trying to feel the pulse, but signals are all over the place at the moment. Can go either way. At this very point in time, it smells very much like a classic bull trap, but again, given the erratic nature of everything at the moment, anything could happen. May take the opportunity to reduce equity exposure further, then do a pre-emptive buy back later on the track (in the guise of catching a falling knife mind you).

Older Stream of Conciousness thoughts can be found here.

Stream of Consciousness Week 20th April 2020

FaceBorg – Privacy? How about we talk about the concentration of power?

To be honest, privacy issues aside, I am significantly far more concerned around our continued almost exclusive reliance on Facebook’s products to communicate with our friends and family and subsequently helping Facebook, a sole for profit entity, gain a very concerning amount of control over our lives collectively.

Facebook Inc. aren’t some benevolent entity, they are a business and their first and foremost mandate ahead of anything else (including a head of wider social concerns) is to ultimately maximise profits to their owners.

Decades on, I desperately struggle to see why more of us aren’t concerned about this. Please, can someone enlighten me as to the faults in my thinking here? Please?

Also, Custom Audiences. I know I am alone in this thinking, But I consider businesses uploading my personal client information as part of a Custom Audience List to Facebook a breach of my privacy. You are effectively giving my personal information over to a 3rd party and that is not OK.

Facebook use that information to their advantage by matching up information as to where I have been, where I have shopped, etc.

We really don’t need to be rewarding nor supporting Facebook’s on going track record of behaviour, and we really don’t need to help support such a company (particularly a for-profit one) taking so much power and subsequently control over our lives.

FaceBorg – Privacy? How about we talk about the concentration of power?

Stream of Consciousness Week 13th April 2020

Stream of conciousness 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 it’s own separate post…

  • My intuition is signalling a potential medium term bull trap warning in the financial markets globally. Again though, “who the flip knows?” would be pertinent statement in this situation. I’d say the secular sideways market actually started back in 2018. The correction was a long time coming and even then, surprised it hasn’t tanked further than it has before doing it’s first reversal
  • The streets over the Easter Break were full of people along with family groups walking and riding around the neighbourhood enjoying the sunny weather.
  • The :matrix.org channel had E2E Encryption enabled by one of the Mods (an action that can’t be reversed at present). At the moment, not too sure I favour doing this for a channel that is intended to be publicly accessible and viewable by the public anyway. Currently, considering where to drive this… Will let current room members ultimately gauge how they feel about it. Picking I will retain the current now encrypted channel for more discrete and casual banter and then create a new unencrypted channel for Public NZ discussions and easier community on boarding. Technically, should be fairly easy to swap over if needed.
  • It’s not just COVID-19 we all have to be mindful of I feel. It feels as if we are also losing the war against influenza with the Flu shot seemingly showing a trend of gradual loss of efficacy over the years. There’s been a few anecdotes last year of Influenza outbreaks (Causing several deaths) in several rest homes across the United States despite vaccinating all their residents along with Nurses at those facilities exclaiming how useless the vaccine was. In that vein, yes I’d expect that the physical distancing (“Social distancing”) measures implemented will become mainstream for years to come after COVID-19 subsides, particularly in the flu seasons.
  • Anecdotally, would seem the Earth has started to heal, but it’s early days yet.
  • It is also probably a time for making us more mindful of what actually matters most to us.
  • With all these layers of software infrastructure and application development. What really is the point? Would this ultimately extend human life and make it more meaningful? We appear to be getting to that crest where we are using tools for the sake of it. Have we lost sight of the more root objective?
    To add: This popped up on HackerNews… Ask HN.

  • That said, have recently dropped Hacker-News from my personal links and from my daily visitation. I feel there has been a bit of probable Astroturfing and too many short “Wow! This is so cool!” type posts that add little to the discussion. There are indeed still some good posts and comments to read, but the time spent sifting out the good from the pointless became just a bit too much for me personally (Seems to be something that befalls all Internet forums admittedly)

Older Stream of Conciousness thoughts can be found here.

Stream of Consciousness Week 13th April 2020

Mass Clinical Trial of potential treatments against CoVid-19

Clinical trials of potential candidates for CoVid-19 treatments are now currently underway to see if any of the below mentioned drug combinations offer any efficacy in slowing down or reducing the effect of CoVid-19 on patients.

Science Mag: WHO launches global mega trial of the four most promising treatments

Potential treatment candidates include…

  • Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine
  • Remdesivir
  • Ritonavir/lopinavir
  • Ritonavir/lopinavir + interferon beta

I’d expect there will be other potential treatments in the pipeline coming online to be ready for clinical trials.

In my own non-professional opinion, if any of these clinical trials are actually successful, the earliest we could perhaps see these treatments becoming mainstream is may be 5-9 months. I would currently pick in reality this could be over a year, but again I reiterate this is a stab in the dark prediction.

CoVid19 is indeed a very serious series of viruses and firm + swift proactive steps need to be taken, particularly with protecting the most vulnerable in our community (e.g The elderly, those who are immunocompromised and those with serious pre-existing medical conditions). At the same time, I still assert that I see a totally needless, unhelpful and counter-productive level of group think, panic and herd mentality that is being perpetuated in an epic unprecedented feedback loop across social media channels and the majority of the Mainstream media / Mass media outlets globally.

Mass Clinical Trial of potential treatments against CoVid-19

.NZ Domain Yearly registration prices are to rise.

The .nz Domain prices are to rise after InternetNZ announces wholesale price increases. Claim is that registrations are falling. Monthly Registration statistics can be found here… https://docs.internetnz.nz/reports/

I believe a lot of the more recent new domain registrations were speculative after the release of the direct second level registrations under .nz and feel that may be it’s just a gradual decline back to the mean.

Increasing prices in my view will no doubt accelerate the so-called decline. I plan to have a look into their financials when I get a chance. (I don’t expect to find any irregularities – though worth checking for my own edification)

.NZ Domain Yearly registration prices are to rise.

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

Huawei P30 Pro Camera – Hybrid zoom

Update 13 October 2019 – So took the Huawei P30 Pro and compared it to the Panasonic TZ110 and another quick test…

At x5 zoom…
Native zoom for the P30 Pro’s x5 Camera. To my untrained eye, it is fairly similar enough in detail. The TZ110 may be a touch more natural in detail and colour reproduction.

Continue reading “Huawei P30 Pro Camera – Hybrid zoom”

Huawei P30 Pro Camera – Hybrid zoom

Auckland Local Body Elections

Admittedly, it’s been difficult to figure out who to put a tick against for the Mayor vote for the Auckland Local Body elections. I’ve spent at least two hours in total reading about and researching all the candidates over the last week.

Some may argue that spending two hours is a total overkill, but admittedly, I do hold Civic responsibility quite seriously, and the fact that we do get to vote as part of a democratic nation is something I consider extremely important.

Resources reviewed and canvassed include…

  • The Voting instruction booklet / Candidate information. Same information is available on the Auckland Council Website. (Just click “+ More search options” then “Show mayoral candidates”)
  • The Spinoff NZ – Local Policy Website
  • Radio NZ – Mayoral Candidate Debates
  • The Candidates own resources, such as their own personal (campaign) website and social media accounts.

So far my research has come up rather inconclusive. The decision made more difficult is the candidate information appears to vary between mediums (i.e Candidate information booklet vs the Candidate’s website).

Auckland Local Body Elections

Flu session really took me out

I’m still recovering from this dry cough / chest infection from a full blown flu earlier last month. Tried to go for a walk today primarily to start the process of getting my fitness back, but my lungs wouldn’t have a bar of it. Coughing fits like crazy as soon as an step up the intensity beyond a flat walk in the park.

Looks like I may have had a relapse last week, which hasn’t helped matters. (a 2nd bout, in spite of getting the flu shot this season)

Estimate time of recovery is next coming weekend. Then I need to blooming get my fitness back and see how much of it I loss over the month that I have been unwell.

Immune system wise, I seem to able be bash through bushes, get cut up everywhere, be leaking blood out from my limbs without knowing it and never have a problem. But in terms of respiratory ailments, my immune system is rather weak in that regard.

Flu session really took me out

Thrifty Car Rental Franchise Caught Posting Fake Reviews

Update: June 2019 – Thrifty Australian Head Office have also since been notified and have advised they have since started working with their Dandenong based Licensee, Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, to gradually remove the offending reviews posted by franchise staff.

Have also been fielding the occasional E-mail from those purporting to be past employees of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, describing Working Conditions, Internal Culture issues, etc, however have chosen not to elaborate on those here in this particular blog post.

Topping off personally my single most disappointing consumer experience to date either side of the Tasman that I can recall… upon looking to place a review regarding my last hire experience with Thrifty Car Rental out of Mickelham Road, (Melbourne), discovered that the franchise owner along with certain senior staff of franchise operation Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, had posted several of their own reviews whilst failing to disclose their commercial and/or employment connection to the business…

Lawrence (Vic.) Pty Ltd. T/A Thrifty Vic Car and Truck rental – Glenn Lawrence…
Personally I think that these guys are the best rental company in Victoria. They always have great service a delivery on time with a smile. I would recommend them to anybody.“ 
– S
ource: Google Maps
(This has since been removed upon advising I had referred the matter to the ACCC and CAV)

Thrifty Franchise owner Lawrence (Vic.) Pty Ltd for Dandenong, posting a 5 star review of his own business. This has since been removed.

…Being the owner, of course he would think and say that about his own business. Some disclosure in his review would have been nice.

Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s Chief Financial Officer, Peter Sowinski, was also discovered to have placed multiple 5 star ratings of a number of Thrifty Car and Truck rental locations…

Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s Chief Financial Officer, Peter Sowinski, placing 5 star ratings for various Thrifty locations. (Weipa Thrifty is owned by a different Franchise)

Some more ratings placed by the same individual. He has placed 5 star ratings on at least 8 (possibly more) locations owned by Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd along with 5 star ratings for a handful of other Thrifty Locations owned by other business units.

Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s Chief Financial Officer placing several 5 star ratings for Thrifty Car Rental locations owned and operated by Lawrence Vic Pty. ltd.

 

Also came across this… Known employees (confirmed upon glancing at their profiles) including the owner of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd are seen posting fake ratings and reviews for Thrifty Vehicle Sales location that they operate in Dandenong. (These have since been removed in haste upon advising I have turned the matter over to the ACCC and Consumer Affairs Victoria)

Fake Reviews posted to the Thrifty Vehicle Sales page in Dandenong by those in the employ of the reviewed business (Lawrence Vic Pty ltd). These have now been removed after advising I had referred the matter to the ACCC and CAV

Furthermore, if you glance at the rest of the profiles from where the ratings and reviews have come from, quite a few of them I feel appeared (at least to me) to be from direct friends to one of the Staff in question (Profiles liking and commenting on posts from the staffer’s profile and vice versa or more apparent, the staffer appearing on the friends widget of those profiles).

While friends of staff are well within their right to place a review if they are genuine customers, a potential conflict of interest is present and this should really be disclosed within any review they post as per the ACCC Guidelines in respect to asking friends to leave a review.

More Lawrence Thrifty staff posting positive reviews, this time for Thrifty Weipa. (While this may be a different business unit to Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, they are still part of the Australian Thrifty Car Rental network and any such review should disclose this)

Thrifty Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd employees posting reviews for Thrifty Weipa. While a different Franchise, they are still part of the same network and should be disclosed.

 

An older review from 3 years ago posted by another employee of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd…

Another Google self review from a Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd staffer for Thrifty Car and Truck Rental Campbellfield.

 

Here’s a more recent glowing review for Thrifty Car and Truck Rental for Footscray…
(the statement “…team that works together to achieve their goals” caught my eye as it’s not normally something posted by a genuine customer)

(The review below was quickly removed after I posted a temporary review publicly challenging it)

Glowing review of Footscray Thrifty Car and Truck Rental posted by a staff member of Thrifty Footscray. This was quickly removed after posting my own review to challenge it.

From then I looked at the reviewer’s other review for Coles Express, a service station very close by Thrifty Car and Truck Rental Footscray where he mentions “…as part of my job for a rental car company…”

Same employee mentioning he worked for a car rental firm. No surprises which one.

 

…All the above fake reviews were the ones that were known about and could be directly linked to Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd personnel.

The last fake testimonial above was only caught by virtue that the staff member in question had posted in another review mentioning he worked for a rental car company.

In my mind, it certainly raises the question…
How many of the other customer testimonials could also be fake or otherwise have been posted by Thrifty Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd personnel?

Wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd management possibly encouraged their employees to engage in the practice particularly since the owner himself was seen placing at least a couple of his own fake reviews.

Reviews posted to Lawrence Vic Pty ltd. New location: Thrifty Coburg in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. While an individual review from a profile where this is their only review is not sufficient by itself to raise a red flag, the ratio of such reviews do raise a red flag with me.

Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s newer location, Thrifty Coburg, Melbourne, Victoria. 4 out of 6 reviews revealed anomalies. 3 out of 6 reviews were posted by people with only 1 review with a 4th review from below…

The reason why this looks fishy…

  • The ratio. Out of 6 total reviews, 3 were made by reviewers with only 1 review,
  • One of them being especially and suspiciously hyperbolic. “Wow, what an experience” is a sizable red flag to me as such reviews have in the past often been found to be fake upon my own investigation. How often would one be so over the moon renting from a car hire place?
  • A 4th review was made by a reviewer who has a total of 5 Google reviews to her name. However, out of those 5 reviews, 4 of them are for Thrifty locations all operated by Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd, another red flag…

 

This reviewer has a total of 5 Google reviews to their name. 4 of them for Thrifty locations, all operated by Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd. I suspect this is more than a coincidence.

There is a Michael Nguyen who works as a manager for Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s Thrifty Footscray location. Whether he is the same Michael Nguyen who posted this (in my view) rather anomalous, “written like an advert” review for Thrifty Vehicle Sales Dandenong is not able to be definitively confirmed as there are a ton of People called Michael Nguyen in the Melbourne Area, Never the less, the prose is very unlike a customer would normally write.

While I acknowledge that Lawrence Vic Pty ltd isn’t alone in such antics (Far from it), Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd is the first business (that isn’t an outright cold calling boiler room “wire” scam operation) who I have both personally had any sort of interaction with and seen engaging in the posting of falsified testimonials.

Overall my hire experience with Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd was far removed from my usually smooth hire experience under the Thrifty brand in Australia. I will admit to letting my guard down in this instance due to trust built up from multiple positive hiring experiences before hand under the Thrifty brand. Issues with the Lawrence Franchise include…

  • Failure to disclose upfront the full fee structure in their written legal documentation in respect to minor damage caused by a small Roo jumping into the side of the vehicle. An undisclosed and non-specific 3.5% Administrative fee was levied on top of other Administrative fees and was not disclosed to me verbally nor in writing. (I understand as of September 2020, Thrifty Australia have now rewritten their Terms and Conditions to better disclose this to cover their network of outlets and franchises, however, was not disclosed as per their terms and conditions as of 2018 at the time of the hire)
    Note March 2021: Have since had a large portion of that refunded back to me.
  • Upon contacting the Licensee’s HQ at Dandenong thinking that these matters would be easy to clarify, I was instead met with a defensive attitude from one of their accountants (who I now learn has since left the organization) with the chain of communication abruptly closing at “Thanks for your feedback on our disclosure” with no further attempt by Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd to explain or otherwise point out where in the written agreement these charges applied.
  • Failure to provide a copy of the agreement at initiation of the hire requiring several follow ups. (This doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident with Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd.)
  • Upon eventual receipt of the above, discovered a break down add on I never requested and which I strongly believe was snuck on by the RSO under IMO obvious pressure by his bosses to meet his monthly sales target. The RSO agent I strongly believe highlighted the agreement in such a way to conceal this and had most certainly purposely drew my attention away from it during the walk through of the said agreement.
  • On presenting a New Zealand Driver’s license, Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd demanded 2 x Australian Phone numbers and an Australian Address. No where was this stated anywhere on booking nor the unified thrifty.com.au Website. This is different from Thrifty Melbourne Airport and Thrifty Melbourne city (Spencer st) where no such requirement exists.

Their employment ads suggest a rather Sales driven culture I feel (“…totally focused on achieving targets and budgets”) and this has been emphasized in Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s ads far more than for Front line roles advertised by other Vehicle Rental agencies (operating under the Thrifty banner or otherwise) I feel.

I have also since dropped a note to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) to let them know of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd’s conduct.

If would be fair to say that I hold the management of Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd personally responsible for the matters arising out of my hire with them. Nor have I ruled out possibly taking out a case against Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) when I’m next back over the ditch on business.

To date, this remains by far and away my single most acrimonious experience as a customer to any business either side of the Tasman. I would expect to see these sorts of business antics 20 years ago in Mainland China (when things there were less developed) and not in a country such as Australia.

While I have since continued to rent through other ‘Thrifty’ branded business units in Australia without experiencing anywhere near the same sorts of issues, my continued custom with Thrifty as a brand is now under review (particularly so now that NZ AA and Thrifty Australia between them seems to have ended the hire car deals for us NZ AA Members).

In a nutshell…
I consider trust extremely important in any transaction I undertake and Lawrence Vic Pty Ltd through their conduct I feel have completely failed to demonstrate this.

 

Status

Branding Effects + Roadblocks to Web Decentralization

(This post is a sort of a lead in from my previous post about Meetup.com)

Anecdotally, it seems the majority of groups which have left the Meetup.com platform have moved their group to Facebook. Branding I’ve come to realize is at play here with Facebook’s seemingly relentless march to take control as much of the web as humanely possible.

While I’ve found many people announce that they “Hate” Facebook saying it’s crap, to them, it’s a familiar sort of ‘Crap’, people subconsciously lean to Familiar because Familiar is “Safe”. Another words… “Better the Devil you know than the Devil you don’t”.

Like ‘McDonalds’ is to fast food, People may criticize their food as ‘plastic’, but yet keep coming back to it because there is some psychological guarantee that it will be the same ‘Plastic’ food they they know of. Take this, if you landed in a new country, would you try some unfamiliar food outlet selling unfamiliar food or head straight towards the Big illuminated ‘M’?  This is something that came to my mind when I was setting up a Test Instance of Oxwall and is something us Decentralization / Open web advocates are going to need to consider.

 

Branding Effects + Roadblocks to Web Decentralization

Flight Centre Travel Expo

Attended the Flight Centre Travel Expo briefly in the morning just to have a quick look. While it perhaps didn’t really inspire me to go traveling more than I currently do, it did put in perspective just how much people were willing to pay for convenience by buying a pre-arranged tour, even with the 15% Flight Centre Expo discount applied. Seems 180-450 per day per person is the norm and that is excluding flights.

Inside a Tour coach (Flight Centre Travel Expo)

While people will no doubt have differing views, based on one’s circumstances (You’re time poor, you have a family to look after, etc). I feel that planning a holiday yourself and researching in detail where to go, what to do, etc,is a large part of the Holiday experience.

I think it was the same deal with my Victoria, Australia trip to both the Grampians [Photos] and 12 Apostles [Photos]. Looked at tours available then in the end, decided to book a rental car myself and book accommodation myself for a much cheaper overall rate.

For those in a position to do so, self arranged holidays provided some advantages…

  • Not being rushed and hearded around. Take it at your leisure. Increased chances for better photo opportunities.
  • More flexibility to see what you want, do want you want.
  • Even for a solo traveler, booking your own transport and accommodation worked out cheaper than taking a pre-packaged tour.

 


Comments have been disabled for this post due to spam.

Flight Centre Travel Expo

Unethics

Indeed, I personally knew the guy behind Ronovationz… but that was 10 or so years ago.  Please don’t go asking me about him and his recently exposed behaviour in the media.

In context, it looks like he pushed it a little bit too far over the edge, particularly considering given the climate of housing unaffordability issues which really are a political hot potato at the moment. (There is no two ways about it, Australasian property prices in the main centres are way out of line relative to things globally… being other real estate markets in the world, and relative to other economic factors)

The fact that “Every investor does it”, doesn’t make it right as such.

Unethics

Site speed and Maintenance

Did some very superficial improvements to eek out a few microseconds for KAHA .

Decided to kill off a few install scripts, mostly examples / evaluation prototypes from the “Forum Feasibility Project” and this seems to have lightened the load a minuscule. Performance speed of this site fails due to having not many of the usual server side optimizations in place (G Zip compression), also haven’t bothered to make much use of many if any Contend Distribution Networks (CDNs).

Regarding “Time to First Byte” (TTFB), running to about 2-8 seconds. Not quite sure what’s up with that, seems even a static html test page will take a long time for the server to start serving it up. After the tweaks, it still hasn’t improved… Seems to be quite stubborn. Disabling plugins seem to reduce the TTFB by about 20%, but still not as much as I would like.

Have since found the impacting factor is actually SSL. Turn that off and make everything just regular HTTP as opposed to HTTPS, the TTFB reduces to nothing. Re-enable SSL and it jumps back up to a few seconds.

NUI.NZ will always be slow(er). It’s practically a photo gallery.

Site speed and Maintenance

On Digital Cameras

I’ve Been on the look out for a better camera to replace my Olympus TG-3 with it’s small sensor and in confession, rather frustratingly excessively heavy noise reduction (that you can’t disable)… something that is weather proof, can fit in my pocket, has a 1 inch sensor, acceptable low light performance, and has zoom.

After much searching, the conclusion that I’ve come to is that in the digital compact point and shoot camera market has almost completely stalled. Neither Olympus, Sony, Panasonic haven’t updated their Waterproof Camera line for something like 2-3 years, with the actual hardware itself hardly having shifted for the last perhaps five years (later models it seems simply predominantly had firmware updates and then sold as a new camera)

It appears Smart phones are eating up the space that was formerly occupied by compact point and shoot cameras.  The problem this presents is that the middle ground between commoners who simply take photos for social media and more professional consumers is sorely uncatered for.

  • Phone Cameras I feel are still lacking in the image quality department, while the likes of Samsung have done quite well, the others haven’t done so well. Additionally, They still lack optical zoom.
  • I’ve tried lugging around a DSLR, it just doesn’t work (for me), the case is too large and is always bouncing around against my body.
  • At the same time, the water proof compacts (the segment I’m looking at) seem to still be bundled with small sensors (unchanged from 5 years ago), rather over aggressive noise reduction you can’t turn off, and pictures that look all smudge except in the brightest of sunny days… Zoom in to this example here – and you will see what I mean

At the moment, In the absence of anything more suited to my present situation, will retain the TG-3, however, the camera is now well over 2 years old, has taken the best part of perhaps 30,000 snaps, and is already faulting out (Unable to Focus until power cycled / Crashes) on an increasingly regular basis, so am keen to find a possible replacement soon before it finally gives up the ghost completely.

On Digital Cameras