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    The Persuader

    My personal blog, started in 2006.



    02.12.2014

    Quick Autocade stats

    I was curious tonight to see the rate of growth of entries on Autocade. It hasn’t changed greatly. The initial 500 didn’t take long, but, since then, every 500 entries have taken 18 months to be added. However, the traffic has grown at a much faster rate.

    March 2008: launch
    July 2008: 500 (four months for first 500)
    December 2009: 1,000 (17 months for second 500)
    May 2011: 1,500 (17 months for third 500)
    December 2012: 2,000 (19 months for fourth 500)
    June 2014: 2,500 (18 months for fifth 500)

    March 2008: launch
    April 2011: 1,000,000 page views
    March 2012: 2,000,000 page views
    May 2013: 3,000,000 page views
    January 2014: 4,000,000 page views
    September 2014: 5,000,000 page views

    We’re now sitting on 5,317,738 page views, which means we’re doing roughly 100,000 a month.


    Filed under: cars, media, New Zealand, publishing—Jack Yan @ 14.40

    01.12.2014

    All the Geelys on Autocade


    The Geely King Kong Hatchback, one of the new entries on the Autocade website.

    Not that I blogged it at the time, but Geely’s multi-brand strategy in 2009 felt doomed. Earlier this year, the company retreated, and brought everything from Englon, Gleagle and Emgrand back under its parent brand again.
       It wasn’t unlike Mazda’s attempt to do the same in the early 1990s, when it began selling cars under marques such as Efini, Autozam and Eunos, as well as its own brand. The bursting of Japan’s bubble economy didn’t help things, but the problems went deeper than that. Those who were used to buying a Mazda Capella from a certain outlet were surprised to find that it had become one of these new channels, and there was no Capella or equivalent to be seen. In fact, for those years, there was no Capella—a nameplate Japanese buyers had become accustomed to for decades—as Mazda decided to offer cars such as the Cronos, which went over the 1,700 mm width that landed it in a higher tax bracket.
       We never noticed much of these issues outside Japan, as these cars were simply sold as Mazda 626, and there were fewer signs of the company’s ambitious plans that landed it in such trouble then-shareholder Ford installed a Scot in charge. It was the first time a Caucasian wound up running a car maker there. Mazda felt embarrassed it wasn’t one of their own.
       Geely might not have had the Chinese economy collapse on it, and it may have been buoyed through the 2000s as it went from being a manufacturer of recycled Daihatsus to a major Chinese automotive force, but there was the obvious problem of increasing its marketing costs dramatically. Could it also develop lines for four marques all of a sudden? Remember, too, it would swallow Volvo around this time, giving it a fifth marque.
       The answer was no: Geely wound up shifting various models to different marques, badge-engineering others, and generally confusing the state of affairs for Chinese consumers. There’s a solid argument to be made for Geely at the time though: the automotive market was clearly segmenting, and there was a need to have budget and luxury brands. But it didn’t seem organic, but dramatically forced. I take my hat off to Geely for carrying it out, nevertheless, even if some of the models were lacking: the Emgrand EC7, for instance, had rear torsion beam suspension, and it was supposedly a premium product for the well-to-do upper-middle-class Chinese buyer.
       It all came crashing down earlier this year, when Geely realized that it lost economies of scale in marketing, and the most important player in all of this—the consumer—really couldn’t follow what was what. To top it off, these new brands had no goodwill, just as Mazda’s didn’t 20 years before. Unless you’re willing to push these brands like crazy, it’s a hard battle to win, especially in the most competitive market on earth. China, too, has had a downturn in car sales this year, and the heady days of thinking one can adopt multi-brand strategies without the numbers to support them are over.
       Why has it come up? Today, Autocade has successfully recorded the entire current line of Geelys, and there are quite a few historical models in there, too. It was incredibly confusing, too, tracking the new identities of a lot of the models—did the Englon SC5 get renamed? Which lines were dropped because there was a badge-engineered equivalent? And, as is particularly common among Chinese models we put on Autocade, how on earth shall we translate some of these model names? (The practice is to use the Chinese company’s own translations, where available, and not succumb to using the export names to index them.)
       While some pages had the new Geely names appended to the old Englon, Emgrand and Gleagle model pages, there were new entries for the Geely New Emgrand, the old King Kong line along with the Englon SC5-based King Kong hatchback, the two generations of Geely Vision, and the historical Geely Haoqing (an old car based around a 1980s Daihatsu Charade: to think, at the turn of the century, this described pretty much every car in the Geely range) as well as the new flagship SUV that now bears the name.
       The reason for being a bit obsessive over the Geelys, as well as some other models (we added nearly all the current Cadillacs and a few more Chang’ans), is that with the demise of Auto Katalog, I believe more will go online. If we can present a credible new-car site—although we have a long way to go before we get every current model line up—we may go some way to filling the void with Autocade.


    Filed under: branding, business, cars, China, publishing—Jack Yan @ 13.41

    28.11.2014

    Little Big Man was antiestablishment, as is big man Little: straight talk is what Labour needs

    The Hon Andrew Little MP has had a good first week as Leader of the Opposition. Some are saying what a breath of fresh air this straight-shooter is.
       He’s been an MP for three years. And in the context of Labour, which has factions within, that’s a good thing. A guy who isn’t tainted by the system, of favouring one lot over another, or of having got into the role by playing games.
       He’s also learned not to pick fights that are a waste of time. While some on the left would have attempted to drag on the PM’s latest gaffes over Inspector General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn’s findings, Little is looking like a leader by saying: ‘It’s time to say game over, John. Front up, admit the truth, tell New Zealanders. Say sorry and we’ll all move on.’
       He even acknowledges that once upon a time, the Prime Minister ‘was once a reasonably straight shooter but no longer.’
       That outsider’s perspective that Mr Little has is going to stand Labour well, and already New Zealanders are seeing that it won’t be “politics as usual”.
       Same-again politicians, as both left and right have seen, can be very dangerous to our system, with their tendency to be more and more disconnected from everyday voters.
       Labour might have its first pragmatic leader in years. That début address made good watching, and this is a guy who claims public speaking is his weak suit.


    Filed under: leadership, New Zealand, politics, Wellington—Jack Yan @ 13.10


    Everything’s perfect with those Auckland systems, nothing to see here

    I contacted Auckland Airport through its Facebook on Tuesday over the matter in my previous post, and got an immediate reply from someone monitoring its social media. She tells me that she will ask them to furnish me with an urgent response. I am still waiting. It’s a bit of a worry when this is an airport’s definition of urgent. If your plane is three days late, don’t worry.
       Maybe I am very behind the times when it comes to Auckland. After all, this is the biggest city in the nation and its conventions must drive the rest of the place. I began seeing a lot of red-light runners there some years back, and this novel custom has made it down to Wellington now, where we are ignoring red lights with increasing frequency. Dunedin, watch out: we’ll be exporting it your way soon, as it is the new way of doing things. My Auckland friends all kid me when I observe the no-intersection-block rule from the road code: ‘Ha ha, we can tell you’re from Wellington.’ Get with the programme, Jack: the road code is optional.
       Today, I was asked by one Auckland-based organization about whether I attended an event or not in May, which had a cost of NZ$30, and this was, naturally, overdue.
       I don’t understand why this organization fails to keep records of who attends its events. But apparently this failure is my fault.
       I responded, ‘I don’t recall if I attended but I can tell you that I never received an invoice.’
       Their response, ‘As per below, I note an invoice was sent to you on the 19 June 2014.’
       Well, no.
       I never received it. And I can prove I never received it.
       It is not my fault that they use MYOB and, from an earlier experience, they have trouble sending overseas, where our server is located. It is not my fault that their (and presumably, others’) DNS servers in New Zealand are woefully behind the times—something else we already know. Do they seriously think I would hold back $30?
       My response: ‘I’ve attached a screen shot of the emails that arrived around that period with attachments. This is the first I’ve seen of your invoice.
       ‘I see your invoice is generated by MYOB. From what I understand, their server does not resolve some email addresses outside New Zealand correctly, so that will explain why it has never arrived.’
       Now, folks, remember the modern custom is never to take the other party at their word, and fire back something where they can visualize you are sitting on a much higher horse.
       Always believe in the superiority of your technology over the word of a human being, because computers are perfect. We know this from Google, because Google is honest and perfect.
       This will ensure greater stress, because remember, stress shared is stress doubled, and we can all get on the Auckland bandwagon.
       Incidentally, I have offered to pay because I support the principles of this organization. I realize they could forward invoices willy-nilly to people, but I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt. We’re nice like that in Wellington. I’m such a sucker, keeping those intersections clear and stopping at red lights. How very quaint of me.

    The above was the most sarcastic blog post I have ever written, so no, I don’t believe Auckland has a monopoly on this behaviour.
       Recently, however, I’ve been wondering what’s the etiquette when you receive a bit of bad news.
       I had received some from Hastings recently, and my response was along the lines of, ‘I quite understand. All the best to you,’ albeit with a bit more embellishment.
       I did not know of the context to this person’s change of heart, and there was no point to force the issue when a decision had been made.
       I found myself on the other end recently when a very good friend asked me to help a friend of hers (in Wellington). I initially was enthusiastic—till it dawned on me that if I took on yet another company in a mentoring role, it would be very unfair on two that I was already helping, one of which was a recent client at Business Mentors New Zealand.
       That time really should go to people who are earlier in the queue, and I had to draw the line.
       I wrote back, explaining the above in as polite a fashion as I could.
       I haven’t heard back. This could be due to an email issue, which is always possible, or the silence is intentional. Given that prior emails were working, then I’m going to lean toward the latter, but without shutting my mind to the former.
       Would you reply? I’d like to think that one’s paths could cross again within our very small nation, and you may as well keep the blood warm. Or should we not waste our time, given that that one further email really is of no practical, immediate purpose, and it’s implied, within our very casual, laid-back country, that “it’s all good”?

    In the meantime, I got in a submission for the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill. As it was under urgency, and I only finished reading the bill after 11 p.m., after getting back and eating dinner late, it’s not the best submission I’ve done (and probably the briefest). However, I was somewhat buoyed to discover the following day that my concerns were the same as those of former GCSB head, Sir Bruce Ferguson. Rest assured my day is not spent pondering the etiquette of modern electronic correspondence.


    Filed under: business, culture, internet, New Zealand, politics, technology, Wellington—Jack Yan @ 12.37

    21.11.2014

    Bypass Auckland when you can

    It’s a shame I had to write this to Auckland Airport today (salutation and closing omitted):

    I’d like you guys to know that on Monday night, your inter-terminal bus never came. Passengers (around 20) were waiting at the stop at domestic from 9.45 to 10.15 p.m. The airport staff I spoke to were really surprised at this, too.
       I don’t mind the walk but there was an elderly lady among the passengers who didn’t enjoy the gales blasting through that night. I helped her with her huge bag to international, and I am sure another passenger would have helped her if I wasn’t there, but it’s a shame this had to happen.
       During our walk, we never saw the bus pass us, so it looked like the 10.30 p.m. finishing time that you advertise was not observed that night.
       I hope you can look into it.

       And Novotel, no, it is not cool that if someone orders a drink at the restaurant, pays for it, and decides to finish the remainder in his room, that you would try to charge him again the following morning (note: at 6.30 a.m., before any cleaning crew came) for consuming an ‘in-room beverage’. Thank you for not charging when I disputed it, but, again, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. (Having no free power outlets by the desk but two where the kettle is also seems a bit odd.)
       It’s more reason for travellers to come to Wellington, where we’re fairer.


    Filed under: business, culture, New Zealand—Jack Yan @ 00.25

    06.11.2014

    Top 10 terrible TV show ideas

    I chose my professions because I would be absolutely useless creating TV shows. Here are my top 10 ideas, none of which would likely fly on telly.
       Downtown Abby. Eight Is Enough sequel. Abby and Tom Bradford move to a swanky San Francisco apartment, now that the kids have left home. But good help is hard to find these days. Dick van Patten and Betty Buckley reprise their roles.
       The Fresh Prince of Bel Fast. Set during the Troubles, about an Irish lad growing up in Bogside, a predominantly Catholic part of Derry City, being touted by gang elements. After getting into trouble playing football outside his school, his mother decides to send him to his uncle and aunt in a wealthy Protestant enclave in north Belfast.
       Samantha Who. Doctor Who spin-off, carrying on the adventures of the Doctor’s daughter who was extrapolated from his DNA in ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’. Since the Doctor has left, she has adopted a new name, and is trying to discover more about her father’s past.
       The Apprentice: Death Row Edition. They’ve tried the celebrity version; now it’s the turn of people who have been forgotten by society. The winner gets out of jail. The loser each week, unfortunately, has to hear the words, ‘You’re fried!’
       Life on Veronica Mars. Kristen Thomas wakes up 35 years ago after being struck by a Chrysler Le Baron. Is she mad, in a coma, or back in time?
       The Postman Pat. Pat drives his Royal Mail van in a post-apocalyptic landscape.
       Colombo. In the tradition of the foreign-set Van der Valk, Zen and Wallander, the BBC sets its new cop drama in Sri Lanka, with a glass-eyed, raincoat-wearing detective with a penchant for kottu.
       O’Jack. Similar idea to the above, but set in Northern Ireland, about a bald RUC detective who is partial to Oatfield’s toffee, solving crimes on both sides of the divide.
       American Horror Story. A reality show with cameras following the 2014 mid-term Senate elections.
       Game of Thrones. Yet another home makeover show, but focusing only on the water closet. Participants have to deal with plumbing, toilets, tiles and interior design. Minor appeal perhaps, but you’d never think those other ones would do so well, would you?
       I jest, but I really would watch some of these (except for The Apprentice: Death Row Edition, which is just sick) over some of the crap on television today.


    Filed under: humour, TV, UK, USA—Jack Yan @ 11.55

    05.11.2014

    Shanghai, 1987 v. 2013

    Originally on my Tumblog, but the graphic wouldn’t fit properly with the template.

    Amazing. There’s an entire generation who will have no concept of Shanghai being a city without skyscrapers.


    Filed under: China—Jack Yan @ 12.07

    17.10.2014

    Autocade hits 5,000,000 views: what are its most read and least searched?

    With Autocade exceeding the 5,000,000 page view milestone (it’s on 5·12 million), I thought it might be fun to look at a few of the models on the site: the most popular, the least loved, and the first on the site.
       Looking at the stats, here are the most popular models. These shouldn’t be surprising: for a long time, our page on the E100 Toyota Corolla was the most-read. That’s since been overtaken by the Ford Fiesta Mk VII, the Toyota’s rival, the Nissan Sunny (B14), and the older Nissan Bluebird (910), probably thanks to a link from Wikipedia.

    2008 Ford Fiesta Trend.jpg
    1. Ford Fiesta (B299/B409). 2008 to date (prod. over 1,000,000 Europe only to March 2011). 3-, 4- and 5-door saloon. F/F, 999 cm³ (I3 DOHC), 1242 cm³ petrol, 1399 cm³ diesel (I4 OHC), 1388, 1596 cm³ petrol, 1498, 1560 cm³ diesel (I4 DOHC). Ford’s global small car, part of European Fiesta lineage with nameplate returning to North America for the first time since 1980. Four-door for Asian and North American markets. Regarded as class leader, excellent chassis and handling. Showed small-car interpretation of ‘kinetic’ design theme which débuted on larger Ford Mondeo Mk IV. Minor facelift in 2010, more substantial, Aston Martin-esque facelift in 2012, with Ecoboost three-cylinder and 1·5 diesel added.

    Nissan Sunny 1800 Super Touring Type S.jpg
    2. Nissan Sunny/Nissan Sentra (B14). 1994–2000 (prod. n/a). 4-door sedan. F/F, F/A, 1295, 1497, 1597, 1838, 1998 cm³ (I4 DOHC), 1974 cm³ diesel (I4 OHC). Undistinguished front-wheel-drive sedan with more limited markets; Europe and many western markets were now selling only the Pulsar (as the Almera). No station wagon as Sunny range trimmed. Sold in numerous Asian countries. Sentra in México, with 2·0-litre option. In production in Thailand till 2000. Coupé called Lucino in the home market, a separate line.

    1980 Datsun Bluebird.jpg
    3. Nissan Bluebird (910). 1979–86 (prod. n/a). 4-door sedan, 5-door wagon, 2-door coupé. F/R, 1595, 1598, 1770, 1809, 1952 cm³ petrol, 1952 cm³ diesel (I4 OHC), 2393 cm³ (I6 OHC). Squared-off Bluebird began Nissan’s 1980s’ rise, dropping its alphanumeric model codes in many markets. Badged Datsun for export initially, with Nissan badges appearing in 1981. Sold in US as 810, 810 Maxima, and then Maxima from 1982. Conventional, despite sharp, boxy styling. End of Japanese production 1983. Facelift in Australia in 1985.

    Toyota Corolla (E100).jpg
    4. Toyota Corolla/Holden Nova (E100). 1991–9 (prod. n/a). 4-door sedan, 5-door liftback sedan, 4-door hardtop, 3- and 5-door hatchback sedan, 5-door wagon, 5-door high-roof van, 2-door coupé. F/F, F/A, 1296 cm³ petrol, 1974 cm³ diesel (I4 OHC), 1331, 1497, 1498, 1587, 1762 cm³ (I4 DOHC). Dr Akihiko Saito, in charge of the Corolla programme, wanted to create the most refined Corolla possible, with Lexus-style comfort. To some degree, the team succeeded, but the car’s price went up in Japan during a recession. Roomy, but heavy, and less competitive alongside other small cars, including Koreans. Sales were initially slow. Longer wheelbase. Short-tail hatchbacks still Corolla FX in Japan. Liftback actually part of Sprinter range in Japanese home market. Four-door hardtop coupé from 1992 called Corolla Ceres. Last Corolla built in Australia, where it was also the Holden Nova from 1994 to 1996.

    2004 Toyota Corolla.jpg
    5. Toyota Corolla/Toyota Huaguan/Toyota Limo (E120). 2000 to date (prod. n/a). 3-, 4- and 5-door sedan, 5-door wagon, 5-door minivan. F/F, 1364 cm³ diesel (I4 OHC), 1398, 1598, 1796 cm³ (I4 DOHC), 1995 cm³ diesel (I4 DOHC). Corolla grows to its biggest size up to that point but limited by Japanese taxation requirements (setting the maximum width to 1,700 mm before it goes into a higher tax bracket). Shortened Toyota Vista (V50) platform, 2,600 mm wheelbase. Torsion beam axle at rear, replacing independent rear suspension. Sedans sold as Corolla Altis in some Asian markets. Wagons named Corolla Fielder, with hatchbacks taking Corolla Runx and Allex names (the latter replacing Sprinter). Corolla Spacio denoted a minivan model, sold as Corolla Spacio in Europe. Toyota Matrix, a different small van or tall hatchback, sold in US, renamed Corolla Matrix in 2005. Platform shared with Pontiac Vibe (or Toyota Voltz). Competent small car, hatchbacks in fact quite stylish, though interior design dull. Mid-life facelift 2004 in Japan. Japanese production ended 2006; some other countries 2008; continuing in China into the 2010s as Corolla EX, running alongside E150 successor.

       But what of the least popular? It’s unfair to go to the bottom of the statistics’ page, because you’re going to get a newer page that might become popular later. The following four are models which I’ve seen at the bottom of that page even after they had been on the site for a while, suggesting not too many are searching for them.

    2012 Riich X1.jpg
    1. Riich X1. 2009 to date (prod. n/a). 5-door sedan. F/F, 1297, 1497 cm³ (I4 DOHC). B-segment city car with SUV looks, exported as Chery Beat to some countries. Meant to have been absorbed into the Chery range when the Riich marque was killed off in 2013, and continued to appear on Chery’s export site, though it vanished from domestic listings. Based on the Riich M1.

    1973 Pontiac GTO.jpg
    2. Pontiac LeMans. 1973–7 (prod. n/a, incl. 4,806 GTO). 2-door coupé. F/R, 231 in³ (V6 OHV), 250 in³ (I6 OHV), 260, 301,350, 400, 455 in³ (V8 OHV). Unreliable, thirsty GM Colonnade model line, with poor gas mileage (improving somewhat for 1975). GTO offered as an option for one year only, and more driveable than other LeManses and even previous GTOs, but fans tended to forget this model. Luxury LeMans for 1973 and 1974, renamed Grand Le Mans in 1975. Related to Pontiac Grand Am (1973–5), and other GM intermediates including Buick Century (1973–7), Oldsmobile Cutlass (1973–7) and Chevrolet Chevelle (1973–7).

    2007 Buick Park Avenue.jpg
    3. Buick Park Avenue (WM). 2007–12 (prod. n/a). 4-door sedan. F/R, 2792, 2986, 3564 cm³ (V6 DOHC). Chinese-assembled version of Holden Statesman (WM), but with differences such as visually large grille, different bumpers, and no indicators and vents in wings aft of the front wheels. Smaller Australian-built 2·8-litre unit related to one from Cadillac CTS available on Chinese edition, along with 3·6 from Holden Commodore (VE), later both replaced by 3·0. Otherwise mechanically similar to Statesman. Killed off in 2012 due to slow sales.

    1998 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Z34.jpg
    4. Chevrolet Monte Carlo (W-body). 1995–9 (prod. 376,483). 2-door coupé. F/F, 3135, 3791 cm³ (V6 OHV), 3350 cm³ (V6 DOHC). Chevy brings back the Monte Carlo nameplate for a two-door version of the Lumina. Z34, with extra equipment, featured DOHC V6, replaced by smoother but less powerful 3·8 in 1998. New four-speed auto in 1997. Good value for money, and a comfortable, long-distance cruiser. Average in terms of reliability.

       Finally, the oldest photos on the site tell us which articles I wrote first. A few of the oldest photos have been replaced for quality reasons, but it’s safe to say the following five cars were among the original ten or dozen entered on to Autocade.

    Renault Mégane II.jpg
    1. Renault Mégane (X84). 2002 to date (prod. n/a). 3-, 4- and 5-door saloon, 5-door estate, 2-door coupé–cabriolet. F/F, 1390, 1598, 1998 cm³ (I4 DOHC); 1461, 1870 cm³ diesel (I4 OHC). Surprising shape for 2002 launch, a total departure from earlier Mégane, with Renault designers showing their creativity. Hatchbacks have vertical tailgate with a bustle; saloon, estate and coupé convertible more conventional. Successful seller for Renault not just in home market, but in Germany. Revisions to range 2005. As before a Scénic minivan offered but this time in short- and long-wheelbase (Grand Scénic) versions, though not marketed as a Mégane despite ‘Mégane’ tag appearing in the C-pillar. (See separate entry at Renault Mégane Scénic II.) Turbo model claims 165 ch; RS delivers 225 ch. Hatchbacks replaced 2008 in France, estate in 2009. Saloon replaced by Fluence in South America 2011, though continued in Iran at Pars Khodro with 1600 and 2000 models; Grand Tour (estate) in Brazil to 2013.

    Trabant P601.jpg
    2. Trabant P601. 1964–91 (prod. 3,000,000 approx.). 2-door saloon, 3-door estate, 2-door utility convertible. F/F, 595 cm³ (I2 OHV), 1093 cm³ (I4 OHC). East German subcompact car descended from DKW, made with cotton-based plastic (Duroplast) bodyshell. Sold in UK till 1965. Made with 595 cm³ engine (26 PS) until 1989 when larger and cleaner Volkswagen Polo 1·1-litre engine adapted under licence. Estate variant called Universal. Utilitarian “off-road” convertible model called Tramp. Kitsch value toward the end of its life as a relic of the DDR, but unloved for most years.

    2008 Ford Falcon G6E.jpg
    3. Ford Falcon (E240/FG). 2008–14 (prod. n/a). 4-door sedan, 2-door utility truck. F/R, 1999 cm³ (I4 DOHC), 3984 cm³ petrol, 3984 cm³ LPG (I6 DOHC), 4951, 5408 cm³ (V8 DOHC). Extensively revised series launched in February 2008 with three grilles, for regular Falcon, G6 (which replaces the Futura and Fairmont nameplates) and XR. V8 engine restricted to sporty XR8 model only. No station wagon (EA169 platform carried over on facelifted model briefly). Very little change in fuel economy figures compared with predecessor. V8 produces 290 kW. FG designation supposedly meant to evoke memories of now-defunct Fairmont Ghia nameplate. Marketed as larger than Mondeo Mk IV, but in fact smaller in key dimensions except overall length. At time of launch, petrol models gained a five-star ANCAP safety rating, one up on its main competitor, the Holden Commodore (VE). EcoBoost turbo four from 2012, when FG also had a minor facelift. Smaller 5·0 Miami V8 for XR8 from 2013.

    1970½ Ford Falcon sedan.jpg
    4. Ford Falcon. 1970½ (prod. 26,000 approx.). 2- and 4-door sedan, 5-door wagon. 250 in³ (I6 OHV), 302, 351, 429 in³ (V8 OHV). For half a model year (built January–August 1970), Ford transferred its Falcon nameplate from the compact model to the intermediate Torino–Fairlane bodyshell (117 in wheelbase for sedans; curiously, the wagon was on 114 in), making the Torino’s engine options available. Still marketed as an economy car, the last American Falcon is characterized by its swooping design. After 1970, Falcons were made only in Australia and Argentina (with an assembly plant for Australian models in New Zealand).

    Hyundai i30.jpg
    5. Hyundai i30 (FD). 2007–11 (prod. n/a). 5-door hatchback, 5-door estate. F/F, 1396, 1591, 1975 cm³ petrol, 1582 cm³ diesel (I4 DOHC), 1991 cm³ diesel (I4 OHC). First Hyundai designed specifically for Europe, rivalling Volkswagen Golf. Designed in Rüsselsheim, Germany with excellent dynamics, among the best for the Korean brand. Quality survey in Germany in 2010 put the car at the top. Estate added at end of 2007 and sold in some markets as Hyundai Elantra Touring. Sister car to Kia Cee’d (2006–12), released earlier, but lacks that model’s three-door hatchback style.


    Filed under: business, cars, general, New Zealand, publishing, Wellington—Jack Yan @ 07.02


    The descent of social media as a debating tool

    Jo Komisarczuk referred, on Twitter, this piece by Rory Cellan-Jones. The title, ‘Twitter and the poisoning of online debate’, gives you a good indication of the topic, and it centres around an incident dubbed ‘Gamergate’. While I haven’t followed the Gamergate controversy, I am told that it centres around sexism and misogyny in the gaming industry, to the point where, in Jo’s words, ‘women are now scared to talk about it publicly’. Cellan-Jones refers to Twitter attacks on women, including threats of rape, and:

    And for weeks now women in the video games industry have been under attack. There have been death threats, “doxing”—publishing personal information online—and all manner of insults directed at women who have expressed views about gaming deemed unacceptable by some gamers.

       It’s disgraceful, though sadly not altogether surprising, that this sort of misogyny carries on in the 21st century—but when the gender gap has not closed and the way women are portrayed in media is still generally slanted against them, it reminds all of us that there is a great deal of work to do in treating everyone fairly and respectfully.
       Twitter, however, isn’t helping.

    For a long while, Twitter was different, a place where people were who they said they were and were aware that a tweet was a public statement for which you could be called to account. Now though, a rash of spam and so-called sockpuppet accounts have started to poison this well too. High profile users under assault from such accounts find that they block them, only for new ones to pop up instantly.

       I Facebooked earlier today (ironically, despite my saying I was decreasing my interaction on the service last night): ‘Like so many other technologies (e.g. email) it starts off with new, optimistic early adopters. Then the low-lifes, spammers and bots start coming in.’ You could also add one politician’s wife whose sole intent on Twitter was to launch attacks.
       I saw a lot of trolling in the 2013 campaign but none in 2010, and put it down to mere politics, but to be reminded by Cellan-Jones that this happens to people who aren’t putting themselves out there to be elected is disappointing. Those of us who seek public office should, by the very act of running, expect it, but I never had threats of harm directed at me. If we’ve descended into this, having to field personal attacks and threats, then what is the point of some of these services? These aren’t even conflicting opinions, in the cases I observed last year, but people out there for the sake of shit-stirring, to be reactive—it is effectively pointless. Does this not discourage everyday people from putting themselves out there, at a time when we keep saying we want our representatives, be they political, social or commercial, to be folks who are in touch with us?
       You can see these same arguments apply to the blogosphere and Nicky Hager’s point that attacks on private citizens dissuades others from standing for public office. You can take similar arguments into other areas: if you make a position so unsavoury, then we miss out on good people who could become great leaders.
       We can’t expect people to keep migrating to new services where the trendy, friendly early adopters reside, since they never have the reach. Restricting freedom of speech goes against some of our basic values. Making your account private to only a handful means creating a bubble, and that doesn’t serve you. Confucius might say that education and self-regulation are the key, but that could depend on whether netizens want to be on these social networks to speak out against this negative behaviour in the meantime.
       We might say there is nothing new under the sun, and these latest incidents simply expose behaviours that were prevalent for years. Even if that were the case, it’s not too late to change things. We’d all prefer a level of civilized debate and a decent exchange of views—and it may be up to everyday people to simply ignore the attackers and trolls, and not give them the satisfaction of knowing that got to someone. If it gets to a point where a crime is committed (e.g. a threat of harm is made), then the authorities should be involved. As to the victims, we should convey our support to them.
       Or is there yet another way?


    Filed under: culture, internet, leadership, politics, technology—Jack Yan @ 05.53

    16.10.2014

    Where the action is on social media, and it’s not Facebook

    I’ve blogged several times about the bot problem that Facebook has, and this is an issue that runs alongside the click farms that operate on the website.
       One of my groups has over 12,000 members, and it’s a magnet for click farm participants, who target these bigger ones. And when you look through the Facebook users we’ve blocked, they are predominantly based in Morocco, with a smaller number in Algeria and Tunisia.
       They’re very obvious, and their purpose is either to spam (one that accidentally got through proceeded to do just that) or to legitimize themselves for when they are asked to like a page for a client. This all makes engagement worse, and it helps the bottom line for Facebook and the click farm companies paying these people a pittance.
       When I look through the blocked list, it almost looks like we’ve been racial profiling, although my moderators and I will look through each name to check. Of course we want more members—but we want legitimate ones.
       The sad thing is the number of groups, other ones with membership in the tens of thousands, who accept these click farm contractors. They obviously aren’t as strict, but in accepting them, they become accomplices to their deception. They’re nearly as bad as those who accept friend requests from bots—I found one yesterday who had accepted requests from over a dozen bots. You really have to ask: why would you accept people whom you don’t know?
       All this is getting to the point where Facebook is just another tiresome site, and if it weren’t for the management of groups, the promotion of some businesses, and keeping in touch with a number of friends, I wouldn’t log on. Over the past week I’ve only irregularly updated my status—I compare this to the heavy use I had on Facebook when Timeline came out. I equated status updates to getting instant gratification, that someone out there cared. You can update all you like these days, but you might hear nowt.
       Which is no bad thing as we head into summer. The action, as some predicted long ago, is shifting. Instagram is where that gratification now takes place, at least for me, despite having a third of the numbers following me. Facebook was perhaps wise to acquire it, and while bots are a problem on Instagram, too, presently I encounter fewer of them each day than on Facebook (it wasn’t always this way). Of course some enterprising companies are trying to sell fake likes there, too, but Instagram hasn’t attracted corporate accounts to quite the same degree, yet. Those fake likers aren’t yet hurting engagement, and it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if the site continues to grow.   
       Social media continue to fragment as we head into 2015. Whatsapp, Snapchat, Wechat and Viber allow for more intimate conversations; Instagram allows one to interact with a newer community. Facebook looks very dull indeed at this point, with its bots and click farms plaguing the entire system, no doubt adding to the company’s less and less credible claim of how many users it has.


    Filed under: business, internet, marketing, technology—Jack Yan @ 13.41

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