Thank You Captain Obvious

One for the “duh!” category…

While researching wireless router+modem “all-in-one” units I emailed a question to a retailer regarding the NetGear DG834G. In short, I wanted to know what version it was to be sure that it would be the latest and greatest in the event I ordered it. Here’s my question and the less than stellar response,

Me: “I’m interested in the DG834G but would like to know which version I’d be getting if I order one. Can you please advise if it is the latest v5 with both the power and wifi power switches.

Them: “Our supplier has had a look at the box and it doesn’t mention what version it is, but they said it does have “WiFi” written on the box.

OMG! Really?! You mean to say that a wireless router has “WiFi” written on the box? Thank you very much! Sheesh.

Sometimes you just gotta laugh. 😀

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Thumbs down Canon and Philips

Time to dish some shame – although maybe it should be LV Martin & Son and not Philips on the receiving end in one case…

Two Christmas presents to ourselves have brought about this rant, not because they don’t work (now, anyway) but because they weren’t up to scratch at purchase time.

First up, our Philips 160GB HDD DVD player and recorder (model # DVDR3455H/75). The unit we grabbed was the last display model at LV Martin & Son in Paraparaumu and as a result we scored a nice little discount in the post-Christmas sale madness. Out of the box it worked fine for the most part, but we quickly discovered it (a) didn’t have a manual, and (b) the right arrow button jumped two DVD menu items at a time. Both problems were solved – by finding and downloading a PDF manual and updating the firmware – although I can’t help thinking that this would be outside the skill set of many non-geeks out there. The reason I reckon Philips or LV Martin need to be shamed is that the firmware update was released on 15 May 2007 – yes a full year and a half ago! In my opinion, there is no excuse for selling a unit with an annoying functional flaw that should/could have been remedied long ago.

Secondly, we also purchased a new Canon Digital Camera (an IXUS 80IS) in the Christmas sales – this time from Noel Leeming. Again, we got a nice little discount and I honestly can’t fault the camera and its functions (I love Canon gear). However, shipping a pitifully small 32MB SD card with an 8 megapixel camera is just plain ridiculous – and is actually bordering on being “not fit for purpose” under the Consumer Guarantees Act. Afterall, that size memory card can’t even hold a 20 second video and is only good for ~15 photos! Given how cheap flash-based memory cards are these days there is no excuse for digital camera manufacturers to not bundle a 1GB, 2GB or even 4GB card in the box. This is akin to buying a car and then having to pay to upgrade the fuel tank to a capacity that is actually usable! Would you buy a car with a one litre fuel tank?!

As a useful tip (so you actually get something out of reading this post!), if you want to buy extra memory cards or camera batteries, DO NOT purchase them from the big electronic retailers (eg Noel Leeming etc). You WILL get ripped off – eg the cheapest listed 2GB SD card at Noel Leeming is $39.99 whereas Ascent have one listed at $16.09! Instead check out PriceSpy.co.nz to find the best prices in the country, or visit my favourite local retailer Ascent.co.nz for memory cards and DC-Battery.co.nz for digital camera batteries.

So yeah, thumbs down to Philips and/or LV Martin & Son along with Canon. Our Christmas presents from you guys needed “fixing” when they shouldn’t have.

Hidden speed cameras = revenue gathering

Time for a rant.

We’ve been staying on the Kapiti Coast and during my commuting over the last couple of days I’ve seen a few hidden speed cameras on the motorway. Yesterday however, I saw something that can only confirm the title of this post. Not one hidden speed camera – but two, only a few km’s apart on the same northbound lane of SH1. Why? One can only assume that they are hoping you see the first (even if it was a decoy), speed up and get snapped by the second!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning speeding and wasn’t snapped myself, but how does this make the road any safer? Honestly. These cameras were on the motorway – on two lanes of northbound traffic separated from the southbound lanes by not only by a wide grass verge but also a physical crash barrier. Not only is the risk of a head-on crash virtually nil, but it’s a relatively straight road with all corners on that section easily taken safely at 100km/hr. I find it hard to believe that those camera locations were placed in dangerous places aka “black spots”. If that were the case, how does a hidden camera help? Well, it doesn’t. A convincing cardboard cutout of a police car placed in plain sight would be a more effective traffic safety device – speeding motorists would see it and instantly slow down. Hidden cameras have zero effect on speeding traffic in real time. A ticket a week later has not made the busy road on a holiday day any safer. Anyone who thinks these hidden cameras are NOT revenue gatherers are kidding themselves.

What I would rather see is cameras outside schools morning and afternoon with ZERO tolerance for speeders. Or perhaps a bigger effort to target motorists who don’t stop at red lights or pedestrian crossings, who don’t wear seatbelts, or who insist on talking on cellphones while driving.

So yeah, I think speed cameras are misused and wrongly justified. And as a final question I don’t expect anyone can answer – where do the funds collected actually go? I’ll bet not into driver education, free courses or to the AA for example to actually educate and improve our motorists!

/rant.

Normal programming will now resume. 🙂

Thumbs down WCC and Aquatic Centre

Of all the dumb decisions made by councils, surely this one is up there…

Some genius has clearly decided that the first week of the school holidays, including the Christmas break, would be a good time to close the spray pools at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre to refurbish(?) them. WTF? Not only are these pools the most popular ones for kids to run around in, having fun in the fountains and dodging water canons, but they were brand new and only OPENED in Feb this year – a mere 10 months ago. Again WTF?

What really bugs me however is the lack of any info, alternative solutions, or some form of apology from staff for the inconvenience. How about a discount, or better, a voucher to come back and try out the “new” spray pools when they re-open (next year?).

All I can say is I hope the contractors are working 24/7 to get these pools open again soon and that the upgrade(?) is a damn good one.

If you want links for info about the Aquatic Centre check out the WCC website or Feeling Great – not that these will help mind you, as neither mentions the fact that the spray pools are closed.

Shame on you WCC. You disappointed my son and me.

PC Gone Mad

Time for a rant…

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS HAS GONE MAD!!!

Yes I am shouting! What sparked this outburst is news from Australia that Santas at shopping malls this Christmas have been instructed not to say “ho ho ho” as it is derogatory to women and might frighten children (see here and here). Good grief people! In that context “ho ho ho” is NOT derogatory at all and the suggested alternative “ha ha ha” is far more sinister (think about the situation for a minute…).

The saving grace for kiwi kids is that Santas here will be allowed to say “ho ho ho” (as reported here). And rightly so.

While on the subject, too many kids these days are wrapped in cotton wool. Yes I’m precious about my boy on occasion, but he’s allowed to play in the dirt, climb anything and taste everything. Society these days is robbing kids the fun of being a kid. Yes we need boundaries for children, but not at the expense of learning through trial and error and having fun.

One of the best summaries I’ve read about being a kiwi kid can be found on the Facebook group “I was a Kiwi Kid!” (quoted after the jump below). Enjoy reading it, then stop and think how much of that has been robbed from the next generation…

As for the PC thing, when Santa can’t say “ho ho ho” it’s a very sad day for our society.

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Dumb and Dumber

Time for a tech rant!

Introducing dumb and dumber – Telecom and Microsoft.

First up, Telecom. I can’t understand why they are still advertising their “Go Large” plan as unlimited internet usage with no data caps. If it’s unlimited, why does Telecom limit your usage at peak times through their traffic management policy (aka throttle) and allow you to only download 700MB between 4pm and midnight before contacting you with advice on how to reduce your usage? The Consumers Institute even complained to the Commerce Commission, yet Telecom still continue with the misleading ad campaigns.

Still, this headline – “Telecom ordered to open up lines” – from stuff.co.nz should make a few people happy. The government has just passed a bill forcing Telecom to unbundle the local loop which should (in time) lead to actual better and cheaper broadband in NZ…

And so to dumber, Microsoft and the Zune – their portable music player for the uninitiated. Dumber, because this brand spanking new player doesn’t even work with Microsoft’s own exisiting copy protection scheme “PlaysForSure” which is currently used by online services Rhapsody, Yahoo! Music and Napster. Intstead they’ve introduced a new copy protection scheme which effectively locks out all their existing customers. The Zune even adds copy protection to tracks transferred to another Zune, even if you don’t want it to happen because, say, you created the content and want it distributed freely. Worse, the transferred content can only be played 3 times over 3 days before it is locked down. At least with iTunes I can transfer any music I please onto any number of iPods without further restriction.

My advice? If you’re considering an ISP, support someone other than Telecom. And if you want a portable music player, don’t buy a Zune!