Saturday, August 01, 2009

Crazy Offspring

Going to start putting my random conversations with my kids over here:

I'm using StripGenerator for the cartoons:

No idea where this'll go but it entertains me and the girls so I don't care!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Bargains Everywhere? Not that I can see....

So we're in a recession, officially.  Stores are under pressure and there is evidence of heavy discounting on large electrical goods.  These are all big ticket items and in most cases it would seem, old models and clearance stock.  I don't see any evidence of what I'd term "real deals"; the true "everything must go" sales.  Mitre 10 had a sale this weekend and it was the same vouchers as last year; normal prices appear to be the same, or slightly higher.

So what's going on.  Well, we know for a fact that it is biting in the UK.  Jobs losses both there, and in the US, are incredible.  Big stores are folding; bargains are to be had and there is very little discretionary spend.  Discretionary spend is essentially the bit of cash you have left over after all the bills and essentials (rent or mortgage) are paid; it is the bit you can choose to save or spend.

In NZ, discretionary spend over the last few years has all been borrowed i.e. you had nothing left after you paid the bills but felt so good about your house value and your job was safe, so you happily borrowed from the bank of Harvey Norman.....incidentally, I notice that the current rate on a GE Crediline Card is a truly ruinous 25.65% - as cash rates dropped (and borrowing rates), they haven't dropped a cent which is scandalous, greedy and perfectly legal.

So what to do?  There are very few real deals, and staple goods (food etc) are still expensive it seems; wage inflation is kept in check by the employee fear of losing their job (and so not making much fuss with their 2-4% pay rise) and apathy/arrogance by the dominant retail players.

The only way to force a bargain is to actually take a more conscious decision about how you spend your discretionary dollar and to shop around.  Alan has written a great summary of Powershop which offers a new way to control non-discretionary spend (which I'm also in two minds for the effort vs the risk) but your spare cash, which tends to be for the higher margin stuff, is where you have the power and can demand better pricing.  Power prices will always be dictated and the effort to manage this (as Alan points out) is high.

Since I've been in NZ, I have been bemused by the pricing of electrical goods and the absolute lack of stock; trying to buy an item and then refusing the "show model" which is the only one available has made me walk out of quite a few stores.  My latest hunt was for a Wii Remote so that the girls would stop fighting when we play a family game and have to share.  TradeMe Prices are in the $80 to $90 range, and Dick Smith offer $99.87 for the remote or $109 if you buy Wii Play which comes with a Wii Remote.  The Nunchuck comes in at an extra $49.87.

So what to do?  Well, since none of the Wellington stores (DSE, JB etc) have any, and the waiting list is "maybe a few weeks", I checked out eBay, ordered and today received a brand new Wii Remote and Nunchuck combo for the total cost, including shipping of $26, for NZ$90.78 from a lovely bloke in Hong Kong; that's only 60% of the price I'd pay here including the actual shipping.

Vote with your wallets and get smarter on discretionary spend; it's the only way to force down the high margins on those bargains that ain't.  The sad downside is such a tactic will undoubtedly cause at lease one retailer to fail, but that's greed for ya....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Guilt Upon Accusation law "Section 92A"

All blacked out: Stand up against "Guilt Upon Accusation" for New Zealand

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Google Street View Nailed Me.....

.....but I got them back.
Wilton Bush
Back on 8th August, we took the family across to the Wilton Bush Reserve as it was a lovely Sunday afternoon and we fancied a walk. When we pulled into the car park, the Google Street View car was parked there and the poor fella was changing his tyre. He was an Aussie over in NZ doing the mapping and he had been through a fair number of tyres. He wasn't too happy owing to the shitty coverage in Wellington which was making mapping a damn hard job. He told me that the satellite signal kept fading in and out because of all the "bloody hills". I wondered if we'd get snapped by him, so I pulled out my iPhone and snapped him first!
Google Street Maps Car
Our car is the gray Hyundai and the Google Car is to the right, if you scroll below. Preserved for ever, ah, the power of Google.

View Larger Map

Saturday, July 26, 2008

2G iPhone on Version 2.0

Well, I thought I'd better check out all the new cool iPhone stuff on the Apple Store.  Now, this was gonna be a bit of a challenge for me as I'm using a jailbroken 1.14 (2G) iPhone and the only way to get to the store is by upgrading to version 2.0 which will immediately brick my "non-approved, pre-vodafone deal" phone.  Not happy with paying through the nose to Vodafone for a new 3G and getting locked into some ludicrous contract, I set out to upgrade the good old fashioned hackers way.

It is a somewhat nervy process and you're never far from tears as you go through a few steps that basically brick your phone and then reopen it.  It took me about an hour all up and now I have version 2.0 nicely installed and all applications working. I've even bought my first application at the Apple store.

To be honest, it took a bit of effort to get everything back up and running and you'll need to have SSH installed (and WinSCP if you're a PC user like me) to be able to get into some local folders to tweak stuff.  I'm missing some of the really neat applications that the dev community put out on the 1.14 but I installed the Cydia installer as part of my custom built v2.0 and it is only a matter of time before they are ported I'm sure. 

I've noticed that a lot of the stuff that was free and well refined for jailbroken 1.14's is now in the Apple Store.  I think that the iPhone versions up to 1.14 were nothing but a giant global beta test of how people would use the device and where Apple should concentrate........all the good stuff is worth paying for and I'm happy to shell out some dollars for a good ebook reader and RPN calculator.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ponoko Rocks

I'd been a bit nervous of trying out the very cool Ponoko and then I met a Ponokoite and he gave me a two minute overview.  Deeply inspired I went home and with Miss R (age 6 3/4) we drew up some designs together and I loaded up Inkscape.

After about an hour we were ready to upload our designs to the Ponoko web site and began the exciting wait to see how they would come out.  We got update e-mails as the design was turned into our goodies and I went into their offices today to pick up our test run.

We got out the beads tonight, some leather twine and hey presto, personalised jewellery.  Can't wait to try out some more complex stuff now we've mastered the basics.  One more thing that technology lets me and my daughters learn together; nothing beats turning a paper design into a real world item!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


It is officially the coldest morning this year for me, brrrrrr.  It is also one of those spectacular winter days in Wellington that we all talk about.  Absolutely crisp and still outside with the sun shining and the spring flowers coming through.  Perfect day to take a flight to Nelson which is what I'm about to to love this country.

Audi TT Dash

Wellington Harbour from Khandallah