Kindle Review – New Zealand

At the time of writing the new ‘international’ version of the Kindle is not for sale in New Zealand, although there are rumours floating around that Vodafone might get involved in selling it.

Undaunted I bought one online and had it delivered to an Australian address and now have it safely back in New Zealand.

The first thing that impressed me, before I even had it, was that Amazon announced a price drop before it had been delivered, and they put a $50 credit on my credit card. When was the last time anyone did that for you? Having just purchased a number of iPhones off Vodafone and was assured they “made a tiny margin on them and couldn’t discount them” I found within a few weeks that the prices had dropped by$100’s, the response from Vodafone was unsatisfactory and amounted to “tough’. Enough of me bitching about Vodafone.

amazon_kindle_21The second thing is that I think the Kindle actually works ‘wirelessly’ here. When Amazon talk about wireless, they don’t mean wifi, they mean that you buy books through the mobile phone network. This will explain Vodafone’s involvement. The top of the screen shows a ‘GPRS’ symbol and connection to a mobile network, although there’s no way of telling which network it is. As far as I can tell you can go to the online store, and buy a book and it’s delivered ‘wirelessly’, this all takes a few seconds. Should I be publicising this? I don’t know, maybe it just works and there’s nothing mobile companies can do about it,but I doubt this, it could be that Vodafone is running a trial and I can take advantage of this… it could also be that I’ve got this totally wrong and it’s getting the books from a pre-loaded list.

If it doesn’t work on the mobile network, don’t panicl. I bought a book from the online store and it took a few seconds to appear on the Kindle with no software required. All you need is a Kindle the USB cord that comes with it and an Amazon account, it’s really that simple.

As far as usability goes, like an iPhone, it comes with a small manual and is fairly intuitive. It’s very slim and light, lighter than a real book, there is also no screen reflective glare and the e-ink is very easy to read, even at an angle on a table, much better than reading a e-book on an iPhone. The styling is simple and sleek with a frosted aluminium back and a matt finish plastic front with flush buttons and a small raised navigation toggle.

Quite simply this is a well designed, easy to use e-book reader, and I can see that long term these are likely to replace paper books, and be used in unexpected ways. While it may be a while before it appears for sale in New Zealand, if you’re going to Australia or can get someone to pick one up, the exchange rate is good and it’ll work just fine in New Zealand. Make sure you get a cover, the only one available in Australia is the Kindle brand cover which is a nicely made, simple functional cover, it would pay to get this at the same time as the device to save freight.


No “compromise” over Maori Seats for Auckland Supercity

It doesn’t matter how the subject is spun by those Maori (and there isn’t a consensus) who want a different and separate form of ‘democracy’ based on race. Separatly elected seats for a group based on some ethnic or racial system is quite simply undemocratic and racist.

ACT and Rodney Hide are quite right to hang tough on this one, not only because it goes against the parties basic principals, but also because the whole local government reform process is a major plant of ACT’s agreement with National.

It’s a bit rich for Pita Sharples to say that it would be a pity for Rodney to resign over this small issue, Pita’s party already got the stuff they wanted from National, like the foreshore, and it now looks like in typical fashion, they are coming back for seconds. I would imagine there would be large amounts of toy throwing from the Maori Party if National had decided to fudge the issue on the Foreshore.

Anyway, isn’t it about time Maori learned to stand on their own two feet? Are they that lacking in confidence that they think Aucklanders wouldn’t vote for a Maori who stood for election and who happened to have good policies?

One wonders whether the real issue is that many things people like Pita really want are so unpalatable to the majority and undemocratic, that the only way for them to achieve this is by having an undemocratic system of them getting power in government, both local and nationally.

At some point Key need to stop being like Tony Blair and compromising with everyone who objects to anything he is trying to do. If they go ahead and compromise on Maori seats, then you have to wonder whether Kay’s government is being held ransom by every noisy minority with an agenda contrary to both National’s and ACT’s core values.

The Maori seats have to go at some point, and Maori who have an undemocratic agenda need to start to get their heads around this issue. Auckland Supercity would be a good place to turn a new page… so let’s just get on with it!

Have New Zealanders become a bunch of whinging girlie men?

Scrolling through the news this morning would give anyone the impression that New Zealanders had become a bunch of PC softies.

As the dedate about smacking rages in the papers and on the talk back channels, and kids assault teachers and everyone wonders why there is no discipline in the class room anymore, elsewhere there is more to show have pervasive political correctness has become here.


Stupid humans, exploring garbage compactors in galaxies far far away.

First off the rank, a former New Zealand teacher, resident in the UK goes on the piss, and decides to sleep it off in the dumpster, the fatal flaw in this plan is that he is crushed to death when the rubbish is collected. Don’t get me wrong, this is a tragedy, it’s awful. But his family are now calling for better safety measures to prevent this from happening again. At first I was thinking maybe they meant some sort of screening program for genetic stupidity, but they actually want something done about the bins t0 make them safer for people to sleep in… Folks, I know this is hard to accept, but that was a r u b b i s h  b i n, they are for rubbish, no sleeping in. Everyone on the planet knows that a huge truck comes along and empties the rubbish into a rubbish compacter, so therefore sleeping in one is just plain stupid. It would be great to legislate against human stupidity, it would save a great many lives, but so far it’s proved impossible – OSH being the closest thing we have to that.

Second, a toy shop somewhere south of the Bombay Hills ran an ad for some toys, which included some soft air guns. Had the store owner been pedaling P, or dolls that looks like Pol Pot or Mao, probably this would have gone unnoticed, his mistake was to try and sell some plastic replicas of guns that shoot little plastic pellets – every young boy’s wet dream. It seems that these days even perfectly legal businesses are not off limits to those that feel they need to control every facet of our lives. A complaint has been made to the Police – what on earth for I don’t know, as no crime has been committed and last time I checked the Police were overrun with work fighting real crime. What’s even more extraordinary, that the apparently overworked and underfunded Police are actually sending someone around to tell the business owner how to suck eggs.

The Police couldn’t even manage a software contract so what they could possibly offer store owner Tony Allen in the way of business advise has me stumped. The Police acknowledge that he has done nothing wrong, but they’ll have a chat with him anyway. It appears the Police are now tools of every PC nutter out there.

And finally today, apparently John Key is worried that some of our… Whenever we are feeling a bit inadequate about our military (with good reason) we love to harp on about how hard arse the SAS is. Highly trained killing machines they are apparently. Just don’t send them where they might get killed.

I’m actually kind of lost for words. Having just returned from the UK where I witnessed a daily MSM led hand wringing about about British soldiers being killed in Afghanistan, and wondered what people thought the army did for a living, it’s remarkable to see that John Key has figured that are supposedly elite armed forces are better off at home because it’s safe and they won’t get killed. As a society we have reached a point where the military is some sort of glorified police cum litter collecting service, as a career there is little risk that you will either fire a shot or be shot at, let alone killed.

John, if this is how you are your government feel, then it’s better you finish the job Labour started and disband the army, navy and what’s left of the air force. It’s just plain embarrassing now. We are pissing off the only allies we have, to the point that we cannot expect any help when the shit hits the fan… and for anyone out there who really believes we live too far away to be affected by countries like China who don’t give a damn about anything other than their national interests, go study some history.

At least with no military we can stop annoying the Americans whom we should be going out of our way to please, and we can start accepting that we will be totally vulnerable to the whims of undemocratic dictatorships like China.

I had personally hoped that the National Government would see that it was in every ones long term interests to warm relations with the USA and Australia, starting with the military. And at least allocating resources and spending in a direction that demonstrated that we understood the strategic importance of an ally like the US. Not only are we consistently failing to do this, but we are provoking the US to the point where they will tell us to go to hell. Currently there is absolutely no strategic reason why they would lift a finger to help us out.

What a bunch of pansies we have become!

The problem with iphone is… Vodafone

except if your'e an NZ customer... then your'e just a cash cow

except if your'e an NZ customer... then your'e just a cash cow

Well, I haven’t given Vodafone a serve for at least… a few weeks, so here goes.

This isn’t a critisim of the iphone, I’m even more happy with it than I was a week or so after I got one last year, but it is a critisim of Vodafone.

The iphone is cool because of all those useful app’s, you can use google maps to find the nearest ATM machine, an currency exchange rate widget to check prices using latest rates, a weather app to check the weather, a subway app to get an update on the London tube (so you can see if they are on strike or not) etc etc. This stuff is really useful when you’re overseas… but

But, only if you’re really really loaded, like Steve Job’s loaded.

Last time I used my iphone in Sydney I came back to a $600 data bill – yep, I used every app on the phone with total abandon, they were great and really useful. Then I got the email from Vodafone and just about had a stroke… yes, that’s NZ$600 plus all the calls etc, for 4 days in Sydney.

This time in Europe I have data roaming turned off and just use the wifi, but it’s not the same, the apps and maps don’t work when I want them, but on the other hand I am not remortgaging the house to pay Vodafone for 6 weeks in Europe.

Vodafone is (once again) operating with it’s head up it’s arse. If it was really sensible it would drop data roaming rates to a reasonable level (even their staff in Auckland say it’s a rip off) then I could use the damn phone the way it’s been designed, I don’t mind paying a few hundred dollars, but by my estimation it would cost me thousands to use data roaming. So Vodafone won’t be getting a cent out of me for data roaming, whereas if they were sensible they would get something.

And before anyone start making excuses about termination rates and the costs other companies might be charging Vodafone, I am using Vodafone in the UK. And that takes me to my second grip about Vodafone.

One of the reasons I use Vodafone is because it’s a big international company.

I notice billboards right across the UK announcing that Vodafone has “abolished” roaming changes across the EU AND NZ and Australia (probably because they were told to by regulators, or a pre emptive action to prevent regulation), so why the hell aren’t Vodafone NZ doing this, or at least dropping them? Who are they kidding with $2 a minute plus your local charge for phone calls??? International mobile phone rates in the UK from Vodafone and other carriers are as low as a few pence, so it’s not the termination charges from Vodafone UK to Vodafone NZ.

If your’e from Vodafone and reading this, get with the program. Ripping me and your other customers who travel off by not offering seamless and discounted charging based on a fair rate with Vodafone ‘International Inc’ is just dumb. It’s so obvious to anyone that Vodafone in the EU has better rates, so as a Vodafone NZ customer why can’t I get something close to these rates?

And what the hell are these rates for Vodafone UK customers on Data roaming???

C’mon, stop treating NZ customers like morons!

Sharples willfully stupid

The Maori Party has come up with some sensible sounding stuff, but then every now and again we get a glimpse of some really, really stupid stuff...

Is this really how they think in the party?

Pita Sharples is either mindlessly being populist, or just willfully stupid. He correctly points out that “Pakeha was more than 20 percentage points higher – 83 per cent of young men and 89 per cent of young women” make it through NCEA vs 63 per cent of young Maori men and 67 per cent of young Maori women left school with at least NCEA level one (given history I’d say that was a good thing as it’s improving).

To solve this ‘imbance’ Sharples says Maori should be given open entry to University.

How does Pita think every other NZder made it into Uni? By being given a free pass??

Not at all, it is a level playing field – the only group that currently gets special treatment is Maori. They already get affirmative action slots for Med school and the like. This means they are not required to meet the same high standards that every other NZder is required to meet.

Say, hypothetically, the rest of us accepted Pita’s logic and gave Maori a free pass to Uni. Is it a finite thing? Does it last for 5 years, 10 years, for ever? Like every other privilege that’s handed to Maori, can it be withdrawn later when it’s shown not to be of any further benefit?

Isn’t this dumbing down of education? Isn’t Pita suggesting that Maori are mentally inferior to everyone else so need to have everything dumbed down so they can get the same paper qulifications as everyone else?

It sure looks like it.

Yet again the Maori Party knows best, and yet again they are treating Maori like a bunch of special needs children that need to be wrapped in cotton wool and given preferential treatment.

Affirmative action is pointless and does not change reality.

Pita would be better to concentrate on pushing Maori parents into taking responsibility for getting their kids to school and feeding them and clothing them properly. Get the basics right, look at what other NZders do to help their kids into Uni and then emulate that.

Kordia should come clean or face consumer boycott

This isn’t some bleeding heart leftie appeal, the military dictatorship in Burma (they call it Myanmar) is the most vile repugnant dictatorship around, probably worse than Zimbabwe.

Captain Orcon, walking all over the 'little' people, destroying democracy, abusing human rights, and treating humans like scum.

Captain Orcon, walking all over the 'little' people, destroying democracy, abusing human rights, and treating humans like scum.

The people in power have no intention of giving up their positions which allow them to systematically loot what is a resource rich country of it’s riches and pocket them.

Once upon a time Burma was the richest country in Asia, by the time these scum bags have finished with it it will be poorer than Cambodia. In connivance with the Chinese (who block any attempt to bring the dictatorship into line) they are raping the countryside of it’s rich mineral, gem and timber resources.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 11 of the last 19 years in prison for wining a democratic election.

This week, she was, once again due out, and yet again the generals have found a pretext to throw her back in prison.

Why aren’t more people pissed off about this? The people of Burma deserve better than to be ignored. There may not be some trendy pop star backing a concert or a kindly man in robes to travel the world raising awareness of the people plight. Burma has been forgotten.

In New Zealand, we should be appalled and demand more action, and that could start with an enterprise we own, Kordia. Kordia owns Orcon which is busy pushing it’s broadband products. You and I as taxpayers own Kordia and it’s subsidiaries through the Government. Kordia has done business in Burma and it should stop now.

Kordia needs to come clean about it’s involvement in both Burma and Laos (another Communist country with a piss poor human rights record). It should immediately cease any business in these countries or face a full consumer boycott.

It’s not good enough for a tax payer owned business to be doing business with the Government of Burma.

Pigs & Pork fuss, what about imported Pork?

I won’t go over the already well done ground of the current pig farming fuss, but I will take this opportunity to point out something that will be lost under the rumble of little trotters as the pigs break free into free-range farms.

Country of orgin labelling.

Pork is very cheap at the moment, in fact if you look at the kg price, it’s cheaper than lamb and beef. 

The only problem with, as with bacon, is we often have nop idea where it’s come from. While we fuss about the condition of pig farms here, it’s relevant only in the locally produced pork context, but what about the imported pork, ham and bacon, how’s that produced?

We have no idea because 90% of the time we don’t know where that products come from, is it Canada or China, if we knew, then we could decide whether we want to eat it and can factor in how it’s produced – I’d hazard a guess that the space the pigs in China are kept in would be secondary to what they’re being fed and medically treated with.

As consumers we should be able to make informed decisions on the food we eat, and in order to do this we need not only nturicional information, which is now of 99% of all foods, we also need to know where it’s made or grown.

I’ve seen the myriad of reasons why it can’t be done, but these look like pretty thin excuses to me. It can be done, sure it might be a bit of as hassle, and it might add a few cents onto the cost, although I personally doubt it. Will it change consumer habits, possibly. But at the end of the day it’s about choice. We deserve to have the option to buy or reject a particular food based on it’s origin. Some countries have very different food standards to us and the Food Safety Authority does not, and cannot, check everything that comes in. The fact that they continually find issues with food, some of it serious, implies that for everyone they catch at the border, there are more that are never caught.

It’s not too much to ask and it’s about time it was a legal requirement.