Posts tagged ‘2009’


What’s at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue again? Maybe Sarah Palin used Google Maps

29.09.2014

I see the media are laughing at Sarah Palin when she referred to the White House being at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue.
   And yet no one laughed at Google in 2009 when it didn’t know what was at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
   Google Maps was new to me then and I installed it. I had heard so much about how you could check out landmarks. So I typed in ‘1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC’. This is what it showed:

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   Mrs Palin and I have very different political beliefs and I’m not a fan of hers, but I’m curious why no one had a go at Google in 2009. Such an error by one of the largest companies in the US deserves more ridicule than whatever she said, which is akin to President Obama’s 57 states and his mispronunciation of corpsman, or Vice-President Biden’s belief that a hypothetical President Roosevelt could go on television in 1929.
   This was not version 1 of Google Maps, but version 5.
   This means that in five versions of Google Maps, no one had checked where the White House was. And do you wonder why I don’t have much faith in Google?
   At the time, I wrote:

Nothing around here even looks like the White House. Can any American readers please explain what I am doing wrong, or is this another one of those computer glitches that only happens to me?
   If I have done nothing wrong, then here are some possibilities of what has happened:

  • the White House doesn’t exist and never did. I only dreamed that it did;
  • the White House only exists in fiction, like Ernie Wise’s wig;
  • the boss of Google voted Republican;
  • the White House has been moved to another location, like they did with the Museum Hotel;
  • the White House has been blocked from Google Earth for a 9-11-related reason;
  • UFOs have beamed up the entire White House;
  • the Manhattan Project has beamed up the entire White House.
  • A Washingtonian confirmed that when they typed the same address into Google Maps, they got the same result, so it wasn’t just me.
       Since 2009, this error has been remedied.

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    Posted in internet, media, politics, technology, USA | 4 Comments »


    Big doesn’t necessarily mean right

    29.04.2013

    Long before Google started pissing me off with its various funny acts (such as spying on users without their consent), it released a program called Google Earth. I installed it in July 2009 on my laptop, and decided to feed in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009, just to see how it had rendered the White House. Other than various Wellington locales, that was my first search query. This was the result, confirmed by others at the time:

    There’s no White House there, unless when the Google Earth people made the program, aliens had beamed up the entire block temporarily.
       Google has since fixed this. However, back in 2009, it didn’t know where the White House was. And here I was, thinking that it was an American program, where those working on it would double-check where its most famous building stood. This was four years after Google Earth was released.
       So any time people say that a big company full of techs must know more than an individual, think of this example, and some others I’ve posted over the years.
       The same lesson, I might add, applies to big countries versus small countries. Big definitely doesn’t mean right. The key for the small countries often is to outmanœuvre the large ones, by being more inventive and more innovative.
       God, I love New Zealand.

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    Posted in business, humour, internet, technology, USA | 1 Comment »


    Privacy Commissioner agrees with my 2009 thoughts: New Zealand Post breached your privacy

    20.06.2011

    A Fairfax Press headline today: ‘“Large-scale breach” of privacy rules by NZ Post’. The Privacy Commissioner has found New Zealand Post breached privacy rules in a promotion in July 2009, which I thought would have been a juicy story back then.
       The reporters write:

    The 2009 survey asked participants 57 multi-choice questions, ranging from their names, addresses, preferred petrol station and favourite magazine to their mortgage rate, credit card limit and partner’s income.
       It also offered participants the chance to win cash, home entertainment and travel vouchers worth thousands of dollars if they completed the survey.
       Once collected, the names and addressees of participants were rented out to “trusted, contracted commercial partners”, both in New Zealand and overseas.

       I thought all this sounded very familiar, so I went back on to this blog to discover this post. I wasn’t alone in thinking that the survey was extremely dodgy, as there was a comment in agreement, and the Fairfax report indicates that numerous Kiwis went to the New Zealand Post blog to complain. (Unfortunately, with the demise of Vox, the image on my page has been permanently deleted.)
       I wrote at the time:

    Essentially, this is a form requesting your details so you can be added to spam lists.
       Ironical that in a country with anti-spam legislation, another government department is prepared to sell our personal information to spammers (including foreign spammers which our law enforcement agencies cannot pursue readily), and believes one’s identity is only worth a maximum of $15,000.

       The pertinent clause, printed in 7 pt type, was this:

    By undertaking the New Zealand Post survey, your and your partner’s name, address and other information you supply (including your email and telephone numbers if you tick the boxes below), may be provided to companies and other organisations from New Zealand and overseas to enable them to provide you and/or your partner, with information about products and services relevant to your responses to this survey. New Zealand Post may also use this information for the same purpose.

    On the back was 5 pt type, saying New Zealand Post disclaims liability for:

    any claims, losses, damages, injuries, costs and expenses suffered or sustained or incurred (including but not limited to indirect or consequential loss), arising out of or in any way connected with the competition and/or its prizes except for liability that cannot be excluded by law

       I concluded then: ‘it can’t really be found guilty of passing on information that a consumer submits voluntarily, and based on this term it won’t be found guilty of contributing to the spam problem that we are all trying to fight.’ I advised that the promotion should be reported to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the Consumers’ Institute—and if I was on form then, I would have done so myself.
       A professor quoted by Fairfax for its story today concluded, ‘the survey appeared to have breached “each of the four information privacy principles that relate to the collection of personal information”.’
       A lecturer said, in the words of the journalists, ‘the survey’s collection of personal information were unfair in terms of the market research code of practice and industry standards.’
       I’m glad to know the Privacy Commissioner was on to it enough to investigate New Zealand Post. But as my friends in Dunedin are finding over its actions to save the Dunedin Metro branch of Post, this government department is led by some very arrogant types who think they are above everyday New Zealanders. To ‘utterly rebut every conclusion’ indicates that Post believes it exists in a dream-land: it was as clear in 2009, as it is today, that it had messed up. Issuing such impassioned, exaggerated statements indicates that it is yet another outfit that has got too comfortable for its own good, like some others in this city that I can name.

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    Posted in business, culture, marketing, media, New Zealand, politics, Wellington | No Comments »


    Christchurch in happier times

    25.02.2011

    Christchurch, as it once was. These are some of the images that appeared on my old Vox blog (or, what is left of that).


    The Cathedral, as shot from my room at the Millennium Hotel


    The Holiday Inn


    The ceiling of the Isaac Theatre


    Taxis and a tram



    Gloucester Street


    Manchester Street


    New Regent Street Mall

       Christchurch was home to a lot of lovely classic cars. Right now, it really doesn’t matter if they survived—more important are the people and the families. These were nice mementos of earlier visits:


    Iso Fidia, one of 146 of this type made


    Volvo 1800S


    1959 MGA, by Latimer Park

       Christchurch, you will be great again. You will outshine the beauty I saw on my last journey, because Cantabrians are among the strongest people in the nation.

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    Posted in cars, New Zealand | No Comments »


    We all belong to the Christchurch region

    23.02.2011
    Good Living
    Above Good Living, November 11, 2009, with Angela Stone and Megan Banks. Or, the day I met Donna Manning, who produced the show.

    I drove in a total daze today. The last time I felt like this was September 12, 2001,* the day of the World Trade Center attacks.
       And then I learned a colleague I had met was among the dead in the CTV building.
       I felt ashamed. Ashamed that Donna Manning was not someone who was top of my list of people to text when the earthquake happened.
       After the first lot of friends all responded to say they were OK, I was playing the probability game: that if seven out of seven were fine, then it would likely stand that the percentage would hold if I contacted eight.
       Not so.
       But, I tried to tell myself, I only met Donna once, on November 11, 2009. It’s not like we were best friends.
       Yet in those few hours I thought she was a tremendously nice lady, professional, and respectful.
       I grabbed her card, which I still have, with the hope that we would continue to keep in touch.
       We didn’t.
       So it’s a bit hard to explain why I feel a friend has been taken from me—even though it was someone I only met briefly.
       Maybe someone can be a friend even on the briefest of meetings. I say to my friends living on the other side of the world that our friendships remain strong, even if we only see each other once every decade. We catch up as though no time has passed.
       And Donna Manning, in her accommodating, welcoming manner, realizing she had a guest and colleague from out of town, might be one of those people who you feel that level of connection with, quickly.
       It’s not a desire to “belong” to a tragedy. I ruled that out quickly. I counted myself as lucky that those I knew well were all OK. I lost a friend and colleague in the London attacks on July 7, 2005, and I didn’t feel a longing to be “part” of it. I didn’t blog about it much, and kept my feelings to myself and our mutual friends. I was sorry I lost a friend, and I felt the pain his widow had when she was searching for news of him. Maybe a terrorist bombing seemed so unreal, while earthquakes are something that are known to us Down Under.
       This case, I think, is part of the humanity in all of us: while we were lucky enough not to have experienced the Christchurch earthquake first-hand, we feel a sense of unity with those who did.
       This is not anything to do with nationality, as the international rescue crews have ably demonstrated by rushing to our aid. Whether they are our Australian brothers and sisters, or whether they have ventured here from Japan, the Republic of China, or Singapore, or even further afield, they see people to help and tasks to do.
       Just as we in New Zealand felt for those in Haïti, or in Australia as floods, bushfires or cyclones reached them in recent times.
       Now, we want Cantabrians to know that we might not know what they are going through but we understand loss and grief. We empathize with them for their loss.
       When I saw a photograph of Donna’s kids and ex-husband in an Associated Press photograph, my fears were confirmed. I wanted to reach out to tell them just how I felt for them.
       I wrote a few words about how I felt at the time, though that’s not much to someone who has lost a mother.
       We don’t have a desire to belong to the tragedy because we already belong to the tragedy. It has affected other members of the human race, and that’s qualifies us for immediate membership of this tragedy. They suffer, and we all suffer.
       On my Facebook and Twitter accounts, there’s no difference in the sincerity of the writer when they wish the people of Christchurch and the Canterbury region well whether they are locals or Swedish, German, Dutch, American, English, or any other nationality.
       On my Tumblr, that universality was felt in one quotation I cited—based on how many people it resonated with.
       There’s no difference in the helplessness we feel, whether we are a ferry crossing and a few hours’ drive away, or whether we are 10,000 miles away.
       If we could come and bring back your loved ones, we would.
       If we could bring back all our colleagues at CTV and The Press, we would.
       If we could bring back those Japanese students who perished in that language school, and to have them go home to their Mums and Dads happy for their Kiwi experience, we would.
       All because we know our feelings of grief that we felt in our own tragedies and we do not wish them on you.
       Yet tonight, the Manning and Gardiner families experience those very feelings of loss.
       I grieve for a colleague, and, I would like to say, a friend. Someone who touched me positively in my life.
       I am so sorry for you all.
       And I am so sorry to all those who are awaiting news, or are dealing with the horrible news that someone has been taken tragically before their time.
       I don’t want you to feel this down, but I know you do. And I wish, I truly wish, you didn’t have to go through this.

    * In New Zealand, it was already September 12, 2001 when the attacks commenced.

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    Posted in culture, internet, media, New Zealand, TV | 4 Comments »


    Toyota’s recent “30-degree” scandal in China

    16.03.2010

    Sam Flemming in Advertising Age mentioned the scandal that Toyota has been embroiled in inside China, before a lot of the bad press it received in the occident over “unintended acceleration”.
       This involved a netizen, an owner of a Toyota Highlander Sport, filming that his SUV was unable to get up a 30-degree incline, something which “lesser” models such as the Korean-built Renault Koleos, and even the subcompact Chery QQ—one of the cheapest cars around in China—could manage.
       The following news item reveals more. It’s in Mandarin and dates from December 22, 2009.   The news investigators show that even a Daewoo Lacetti (Buick Excelle in China) and a Chery van could manage the same slope, and confirm that the Highlander could not do it.
       They are not alone. Jitendra Patel filmed this with his 2009 Highlander earlier last year:

       As Sam says, this issue has brewed thanks to the Chinese internet which, while not as free as it is in most countries, still seems to create active consumers’ groups. People will rally as individuals if the cause is right—and consumers seem to be rediscovering their power, online.

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    Posted in business, cars, China, culture, internet, media, TV | No Comments »