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.

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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.

Vodafone NZ embarrassed by its own plans?

Just three days before the launch of the iPhone here in New Zealand, Vodafone NZ announced some of the most expensive data plans accompanying the phone ON THE PLANET. Like many, I thought $199 was reasonable for the legendary device, until I saw the associated data price tag that is – a whopping $6,000! (see this post).

While browsing the Vodafone website this morning, I decided to see if there was any change in the plans given the general disappointment by the public (see here* and here*). To my surprise there has been a change in the listed plans(!), but not a change I was expecting.

So lets play spot the difference…

The listed plans today:

And the plans announced on July 8:

As you can see above, and for yourself on their iPhone plans page, Vodafone have ceased advertising their exorbitant 1GB data plan – you now have to visit a store to find that one.

So why the change? I can only conclude that Vodafone are EMBARRASSED by their own plans to the point that they are trying to hide the true cost to “heavy” data users. I say “heavy” as I believe that is complete bollocks by the way – 1GB per month is a mere 33MB (or so) a day and trivial to burn through given the richness of the internet. Furthermore, paying $6,000 for 24GB over two years is plainly insane when my ISP can offer me 50GB in one month for $40. Go figure (coz I can’t).

So yeah, SHAME ON YOU VODAFONE – firstly for pricing your data ridiculously high and secondly for trying to hide it.

(* WebCite links to the Stuff.co.nz articles here and here)

Apple backs down, sort of…

Since my last rant about Apple attempting to push new software onto my PC via it’s “update” service, they’ve backed off a little with a newly released version of their software. Following an update to the updater, it now looks like this,

As you can see they’ve rightly split the list into actual updates and new software. However, as the astute among you will notice, the Safari selection box is still ticked by default. This is better behaviour than before, but still not “best practice” in my opinion.

Hey Apple! – despite not wanting your browser, I don’t have a problem with being offered new software, but I want to OPT-IN not opt-out. So yeah, shame on you – again! And don’t get me started on having to install QuickTime just because I want iTunes…

Shame on you Apple

Apple’s Software Update service is trying to install the Safari web browser on my computer.

Why is this bad? Because an “update” service should not be pretending that I should update this software which doesn’t actually exist on my PC! Yes I can opt-out of the install, but why isn’t the process opt-in? That little box should NOT be checked by default if the software isn’t already installed. Shame on you Apple.

If you run iTunes on your computer, you’ll see the same thing if you use Apple’s Software Update. Here’s how to disable it permanently so you won’t be bugged again,

Leave the box ticked for Safari, hit the tools menu and select “Ignore Selected Updates”,

Safari update be gone and don’t bug me again. I’m more than happy with my Firefox install (and I don’t believe the claims in the blurb in that top screenshot).

Ignore Safari. Get Firefox. Smarter. Safer. Better.