Jack Yan
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The Persuader

My personal blog, started in 2006. No paid posts.



21.11.2021

Life in the capital

Amazing what sort of press releases come in. I had no idea that Auckland is our capital, and I was surprised to find that Toronto and Antwerp are as well in the same release.
   Essential Living is a British firm, from the looks of it, and no, we won’t be publishing this in Lucire.

   You’d think the PR firm might check as well, but maybe post-Brexit they don’t really care about other countries any more?

Meanwhile, on Twitter. It’s getting nutty toward the end of the year. Just today we saw a motorcyclist come off his Suzuki in Johnsonville, and a Toyota van almost losing control altogether in Tawa. ‘Driving to the conditions’ doesn’t seem to be a thing any more. On Friday, it was this:

Usual story on Facebook. I had better report this fake account with a fake name!

   Facebook says: it’s fine, nothing to see here.

   Why do people continue to believe their user number claims? They’re rubbish.


Filed under: business, internet, media, New Zealand, technology, UK, USA, Wellington—Jack Yan @ 10.42

16.11.2021

The post-Panel podcast

Taking some of the themes today on RNZ’s The Panel with Wallace Chapman (pre-Panel here, part one of the show here, and part two here), I offer a bit more commentary. Today’s topics: the COVID-19 mandate for schools; quitting drinking; Finland planning to let people see others’ salaries; the level of spending above New Zealand Superannuation; Countdown’s toy gifts; and the multi-modal commuter.

   Big thanks to Amelia, Wallace and Julia today for a very enjoyable hour and 15 minutes!
   Please note that this podcast is not affiliated with Radio New Zealand—this has been done of my own volition and from my own inspiration.


Filed under: business, culture, Hong Kong, New Zealand, politics, technology, UK, Wellington—Jack Yan @ 06.16

06.11.2021

November 2021 gallery

Here are November 2021’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.
 


 

Notes
Nice to see BoConcept advertise on Lucire’s website (they were an early print advertiser).
   Triumph 1300, Hillman Avenger Super and Range Rover advertisements via the Car Factoids on Twitter.
   More on the Ford Sierra at Autocade.
   Mindfood advertisement on the Lucire website: it might not be worth a lot but I’m still happy to take some money off my colleagues.
   Aston Martin Rapide, photographed by me.
   Audi R8 Typ 42, more at Autocade.
   More on the 1968–70 Dodge Charger at Autocade.
   Mercedes-Benz 280SL pagoda via George Cochrane on Twitter.


Filed under: cars, China, gallery, humour, internet, media, New Zealand, publishing, UK, USA—Jack Yan @ 21.43

05.11.2021

RIP Lionel Blair

It’s not Harp Lager. It’s much funnier.

   Mind you, I watched this to remember Lionel today.


Filed under: culture, TV, UK—Jack Yan @ 02.55

04.11.2021

Twitter continues playing silly buggers—are they illiterate?


Pixabay

It’s hard to believe, but Twitter is far, far worse than Facebook when it comes to straightening things out.
   They’ve now asked for my ‘government-issued ID’ thrice and I’ve provided it thrice. It meets all their criteria.
   This is the latest bollocks:

Hello,

We’re writing to let you know that we’re unable to verify you as the account owner. We know this is disappointing to hear, but we can’t assist you further with accessing your account.
   If you know which email address is associated with the account, and you no longer have access to that email, please contact your email provider for assistance.
   For privacy reasons, we can’t provide any information about this account’s email address.
   You’re more than welcome to create a new account to get back onto Twitter.
   Please do not respond to this email as replies to this account are not monitored.

Thanks,

Twitter

   I didn’t need to be verified as the account owner. I need the account to be unlocked and you needed me to prove my age. I’ve done that. And I know which email is used, I set it up.
   So that’s 12-plus years and thousands of followers gone?
   I really had expected Facebook to screw up somewhere and we’d lose our accounts there, but not Twitter.
   I’ve now gone to their IP department and lodged a complaint against myself (as the owner of the @lucire handle) to see if it can be assigned to me. Convoluted? You bet.
   And instead of sending them my ID again (I’ve tried passport and driver’s licence), I’m going to send in my USPTO registration. What’s the bet they won’t accept something issued by their own government?

PS.: Maybe their ad department is smarter. Let’s see if they respond to this.

Hi folks:

This is very unorthodox but in practice, the ad department tends to be the best at troubleshooting.
   Last month, our business account @lucire was locked. Now, before you refer me to the locked account people, this is the only one where I’m likely to do any advertising from.
   We were locked for being honest. Twitter asked us to fill in the date of birth, and that it applied even to businesses. At no point did it ask for my DOB, but the company’s.
   That was October 20, 1997.
   The AI came crashing down on us. Turns out that made us underage when the account was opened. Now, I’m 49, so I know I wasn’t underage.
   I went through the process of sending in ID, which met all your criteria.
   Now they’re saying that they can’t verify me as the owner, which wasn’t even the issue to begin with.
   I’ve sent in driver’s licence, passport, even a USPTO trade mark certificate (surely that’ll show I’m the owner?).
   Here’s an account that dates back to the 2000s with thousands of followers that we’d like reinstated.
   We’d really like you to help, as the locked-account process is going around in circles, and we are making no progress. On Facebook, it was the ad “concierges” who sorted us out, and I wonder if Twitter will be just as effective.

Sincerely,

Jack Yan


Filed under: internet, publishing, technology, USA—Jack Yan @ 11.23

03.11.2021

Let’s do some maths on Facebook’s user numbers

Bear with me on some maths here.
   Facebook says it will delete a milliard ‘faceprints’. In The Guardian: ‘Facebook will delete the “faceprints” of more than a[n American] billion people after announcing that it is shutting down its facial recognition system due to the “many concerns” about using the technology.’
   We know that you can turn on (and off) facial recognition in Facebook, to enable tagging. This came pretty suddenly, if I recall correctly. I turned it off immediately.
   The fact it came suddenly suggests that Facebook had already compiled these faceprints, because we all had the feature if we wanted to keep it. They must have been working on it behind the scenes for a while, before introducing it to every user.
   Now Facebook says it holds over an American billion, i.e. a milliard, of them.
   If we all had them, as we could turn them on and off at will, then it follows that Facebook only has just over a milliard users.
   This gels with their own research into new accounts, where they found that up to 56 per cent of them were owned by existing users. I’ve taken the higher figure here but, frankly, I think they’re underestimating.
   Now, Facebook claims it has 2·9 milliard users. Once again, just ask yourself: know anyone who’s recently joined? Exactly. Most of us don’t. So the user base shouldn’t be rising at the rate they claim. (We all know there are tons of bots on there.)
   On the assumption (you may think it’s a wild one) that their research is representative across all of Facebook, that 44 per cent of all accounts are legitimate and the remainder are owned by the 44 per cent, then:

2,900,000,000 × 0·44 = 1,276,000,000

   Remember not long ago I posited that Facebook’s actual user numbers were closer to a milliard?
   I don’t believe I’m far off, and this latest news might, if the logic holds up, suggest I’m right.

PS.: Thanks to Ton Zylstra for inspiring more maths on this. If Facebook finished 2020 on just under 2,000 million users, and now claims 2,900 million, yet the number of social media users increased last year by 400 million, you can pretty easily see their numbers do not add up.


Filed under: business, internet, technology, USA—Jack Yan @ 10.06


John Shaft beats Luke Skywalker hands down

I always had decent pencil cases at kindergarten in Hong Kong and then when I started school in New Zealand. Usually they were car-themed but the pièce de résistance was this one, far nicer than what my classmates in my new home country had.
   While other kids were into Star Wars and things I had no interest in at that age, I could at least show off my badass side with my Shaft’s Big Score pencil case. John Shaft isn’t going to muck around with pussy stuff like the force.


 
I was thinking earlier tonight how cars were the one thing that helped me navigate Aotearoa when I got here with my parents. I might not have understood the culture immediately, and very little outside the faces of my family was familiar to me. But I saw Toyota Corollas (the E20s) and Honda Civics outside. And BMC ADO16s. These at least were an external source of familiarity, since they were commonplace in Hong Kong. A neighbour had a four-door Civic back in Homantin, the first car whose steering wheel I ever sat behind as a child.
   The cars here in New Zealand were much older generally, since there was more of a DIY fix-it culture, and Hong Kong prospered later, resulting in a newer fleet. Those early days were like a history lesson on what had gone before in the 1950s and 1960s, filling in the gaps. But my eyes still went to those newer 1970s shapes. Curves? Who wants curves when you can have boxy shapes and those groovy vinyl roofs?!
   I didn’t say I had taste at age four.


Filed under: cars, culture, Hong Kong, interests, New Zealand, Wellington—Jack Yan @ 09.33

01.11.2021

Twitter responds in the “helpful” way you’d expect from Big Tech

I finally heard from Twitter regarding Lucire’s locked account:

Hello,

Thank you for your report. Your request is still pending, and in an earlier response, we’d requested more information that we need to continue the review.
   If you still need assistance, reply to this email with those details. If the issue has already been resolved, please disregard this message.
   If we don’t receive a response in a few days, this request will be closed. If that happens, or if you need support for anything else, you can always submit a new report.

Thanks,

Twitter

   There was no earlier response, and there’s nothing in the trash (at server level). It’s pretty typical: the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing.
   Since there’s no ticket system you can use to follow up with (despite a case number being assigned), all you can do on the Twitter site itself once you log back in to the locked account is to resubmit the evidence and begin at step one.
   Twitter has taken longer than Facebook now—and to think how often I (justifiably) slam Facebook on this blog.
   I can’t imagine what ‘details’ they still need. What’s the bet that a driver’s licence doesn’t qualify as a government-issued ID in the US?


Filed under: internet, technology, USA—Jack Yan @ 10.51


A smooth upgrade to Windows 11 (so far)

The Windows 11 upgrade arrived on my desktop machine before my laptop, which was a surprise. Also surprising is how uneventful the whole process was, unlike Windows 10, which led me to become a regular on the Microsoft Answers forums.
   A few tips: (a) do back everything up first; and (b) do take screenshots of the pinned items in your start menu. The former goes without saying; the latter is important since those pins won’t be preserved with the upgrade.
   The download-and-install took some time and when I restarted the PC, it actually loaded Windows 10 again! Only when I restarted from there did Windows 11 do the full upgrade process, which was relatively painless.
   First impressions: WordPerfect and Eudora appear to work, and MacType has loaded for the programs, including my Vivaldi browser. So that’s the office stuff taken care of.
   The taskbar is too darned tall and there’s no way to fix it without a registry hack, something I’m not yet willing to do. I suppose I could hide it but Windows can be flaky, and you just never know when its presence (and a right-click to the Task Manager) is going to be needed.
   Muscle memory over years (decades) means that I still want to go to the bottom left-hand corner for my icons, but I’m willing to give centred a shot as it reminds me of MacOS.
   Happily, there’s not much more to report. The icons look nicer to me and the change is positive, and the redone UI fonts have a bit more character (pun unintended). The only registry hack I intend to do is for the sake of decent typography. Hopefully there’ll be little more to report.

PS.: The removal of system fonts (viz. Arial) worked.


Filed under: technology, typography—Jack Yan @ 00.27

30.10.2021

GM and Ford keep falling down the top 10 table

It’s bittersweet to get news of the Chevrolet Corvette from what’s left of GM here in New Zealand, now a specialist importer of cars that are unlikely to sell in any great number. And we’re not unique, as the Sino-American firm pulls out of entire regions, and manufactures basically in China, North America, and South America. Peter Hanenberger’s prediction that there won’t be a GM in the near future appears to be coming true. What’s the bet that the South American ranges will eventually be superseded by Chinese product? Ford is already heading that way.
   Inconceivable? If we go back to 1960, BMC was in the top 10 manufacturers in the world.
   Out of interest, I decided to take four years—1990, 2000, 2010, and 2020—to see who the top 10 car manufacturers were. I haven’t confirmed 1990’s numbers with printed sources (they’re off YouTube) and I don’t know exactly what their measurement criteria are. Auto Katalog 1991–2 only gives country, not world manufacturer, totals and that was my most ready source.
   Tables for 2000 and 2010 come from OICA, when they could be bothered compiling them. The last is from Daily Kanban and the very reliable Bertel Schmitt, though he concedes these are based on units sold, not units produced, due to the lack of data on the latter.

1990
1 GM
2 Ford
3 Toyota
4 Volkswagen
5 Daimler-Benz
6 Mitsubishi
7 Honda
8 Nissan
9 Suzuki
10 Hyundai

2000
1 GM
2 Ford
3 Toyota
4 Volkswagen
5 DaimlerChrysler
6 PSA
7 Fiat
8 Nissan
9 Renault
10 Honda

2010
1 Toyota
2 GM
3 Volkswagen (7,341,065)
4 Hyundai (5,764,918)
5 Ford
6 Nissan (3,982,162)
7 Honda
8 PSA
9 Suzuki
10 Renault (2,716,286)

   If Renault’s and Nissan’s numbers were combined, and they probably should be at this point, then they would form the fourth largest grouping.

2020
1 Toyota
2 Volkswagen
3 Renault Nissan Mitsubishi
4 GM
5 Hyundai
6 Stellantis
7 Honda
8 Ford
9 Daimler
10 Suzuki

   For years we could predict the GM–Ford–Toyota ordering but I still remember the headlines when Toyota edged GM out. GM disputed the figures because it wanted to be seen as the world’s number one. But by 2010 Toyota is firmly in number one and GM makes do with second place. Ford has plummeted to fifth as Volkswagen and Hyundai—by this point having made its own designs for just three and a half decades—overtake it.
   Come 2020, with the American firms’ expertise lying in segment-quitting ahead of competing, they’ve sunk even further: GM in fourth and Ford in eighth.
   It’s quite remarkable to me that Hyundai (presumably including Kia and Genesis) and Honda (including Acura) are in these tables with only a few brands, ditto with Daimler AG. Suzuki has its one brand, and that’s it (if you want to split hairs, of course there’s Maruti).
   Toyota has Lexus and Daihatsu and a holding in Subaru, but given its broad range and international sales’ strength, it didn’t surprise me that it has managed to have podium finishes for the last three decades. It’s primarily used its own brand to do all its work, and that’s no mean feat.
   I’m surprised we don’t see the Chinese groups in these tables but many are being included in the others’ totals. For instance, SAIC managed to shift 5,600,482 units sold in 2020 but some of those would have been counted in the Volkswagen and GM totals.
   I won’t go into the reasons for the US manufacturers’ decline here, but things will need to change if they don’t want to keep falling down these tables. Right now, it seems they will continue to decline.


Filed under: business, cars, China, USA—Jack Yan @ 11.55

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