In fact, a traditional manual, one with gears you change with a clutch, comprises considerably less than 20 per cent.
One friend, like me, specifically sought a manual in 2015, and asked me to scan through websites. In the greater Wellington region, cars matching his other criteria on engine size and price numbered a grand total of two, one in Eastbourne and the other in Upper Hutt. He eventually had to go outside his criteria to buy a manual.
I visited one dealership in Lower Hutt where one of the senior salespeople told me that was what the market demanded, so they followed suit, as he tried to sell me an automatic, Turkish-made car. This claim was, based on my own research, bollocks.
Granted, this research was of a sample of my 2,300 Facebook friends, but of those who responded, it appeared to be evenly divided. Some of the comments were along the lines of, ‘I wanted a manual, but I had no choice, so I bought an automatic.’
If I didn’t have a second car (since sold to a friend who also preferred manuals), I could have found myself looking at doing the sameâjust because I needed wheels in a hurry. Or I could have bought a car that did not meet all my needs, one that was “near enough”. But if you are spending a five-figure sum, and you intend to hold on to the car for the next decade, is this such a wise thing to do? A car is an investment for me, not a fashion item.
That earlier Renault took me four months to find in a market that wasn’t so heavily biased against manuals in the mid-2000s, and this time out, I wound up searching for eight. Most people don’t have that luxury.
The most evident explanation for the overwhelming numbers of automatics is that so many used cars are sourced from Japan, but it’s really not what all people want.
I’ve nothing against the half of the population who prefer automatics, but they are just not my sort of thing. These days, the most advanced automatics are more economical than manuals, but generally, you still get a few more mpg from a car you shift yourself. I enjoy driving, and automatics blunt that enjoyment for me, but I’m sure others don’t mind them as much.
In future blog posts I’ll touch on this subject again, and I’ll be penning a story for Classic Car Weekly in the UK on the whole saga of buying a new car. Who knew that, despite being armed with money, it would be such an uphill task to find someone to give it to?
It also suggests that if someone wishes to specialize in manuals, they would be tapping in to a large, unserved chunk of the New Zealand market.
General Motors’ fine in 1995 for 470,000 cars using defeat devices against EPA testing: US$11 million. Volkswagen’s fine in 2016 for 580,000 cars using defeat devices against EPA testing: potentially US$40,000 million (or $40 billion, as the Americans say). The local companies get off far easier in the US. In fact, GM can even get a US$49,500 million bail-out from Uncle Sam. I realize there’s a difference between a settlement and a claim, but I wonder if Volkswagen’s going get away with paying less than a figure in the milliards.
Above: While the Kaspersky scan proceeded, McAfee was knocked out and could not be switched on. Coincidence?
Unlike most people, I have options open to me, so I began to go on to Facebook using several different methods. A VirtualBox containing XP on the same computer was fine, if incredibly slow while Kaspersky was doing its thing. (Think about Windows XP on a 386.) Lubuntu was fine as well, as was Mac OS X. I Tweeted the McAfee community link, and thought it odd that it did not appear in Facebook (I have my Twitter set up to post there). I then tried to paste the link into Facebook manually, whereupon, in Lubuntu and Mac OS, I was told that my computer was now infected with either a virus or malware. Unlike Windows, I had the option of telling them they were in error, and I was able to continue using the machines.
This really sounds like Facebook and Kaspersky have it in for McAfee and, possibly, rival products, if the scan knocks out your choice of antivirus and anti-malware program, and if the mere mention of mcafee.com inside Facebook results in a warning box saying your computer is infected.
Above: On a Mac, I couldn’t even tell people about the post on mcafee.com. The second I did, Facebook said my computer was infected. The same thing happened on Lubuntu. Facebook accuses you of infection on the mere mention of mcafee.com.
Eventually, the entire system froze, and while I could still move the mouse about, I couldnât access the task bar or go to other programs.
I was forced to do a hard reboot.
But youâre asking now: was I ever infected? No. Itâs Google all over again. Peter, the very knowledgeable McAfee support tech who came to my aid many years ago, was present again and put me on to two other programs after this restart. Getsusp analysed my system for malware, and, you guessed it, found nothing. Malware Bytes did the same, and found some PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), all of which I knew about, and I had intentionally installed. Theyâve been present for years. In other words, two other malware scanners told me my system was clean. Malware Bytes did, however, restore McAfee as the correct antivirus program, exactly as Peter had predicted.
He also suggested a system restore, which sadly failed, with Windows giving the reason that an antivirus program was running. Having restored this system once before (after some bad advice from Microsoft), I knew it couldnât be McAfee. The only difference on this computer: I had had Kaspersky doing its Facebook scan. It appears that Facebook and Kaspersky donât want you restoring your system.
I had fixed the newer issues, but the original one remained: I couldnât get on to Facebook. The Kaspersky scan never finishes, incidentallyâyouâre stuck on 62, 73 or 98 per centâand while not having a personal Facebook is no great loss, I have businesses that have presences there.
I stumbled across a Reddit thread where others had been forced to download antivirus programs by Facebook, and, fortunately, a woman there had found where hers resided. In my case, it was at C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Temp\FBScanner_331840299. Deleting this, and all cookies mentioning Facebook and Kaspersky, restored my access.
What to do if you ever come across this? My advice is to, first, run Malware Bytes, but ensure you run the free version, and do not opt for the trials. Once youâre satisfied your computer is clean, head into your cookies and delete all the Facebook ones, and any from the antivirus provider it recommends.This second Reddit thread may be helpful, too. I donât know if this will work completely, but anything is preferable to following Facebookâs instructions and wasting your time. I really need to stop following instructions from these big firmsâyouâd think after all these years, Iâd know better.
PS.: I found this video from last July which suggests the malware accusations have nothing to do with your computer set-up:
In addition, I cannot paste any links in Facebook. The situation began deteriorating after I regained access. Initially, I could paste and like a few things, but that facility eventually disappeared. Regardless of platform, I get the same error I did on the Mac yesterday (see screen shot above). Liking things results in the below error, and the wisdom there is to wait it out till Facebook staff get back to work on Monday.
P.PS.: Holly Jahangiri confronted the same issue as I did a few days later. She was smarter than me: she didn’t download the anti-malware malware. Have a read of her post here: other than that one difference, it’s almost play for play what happened to me for four days. She’s also rightly frustrated, as I am, by Facebook’s inaction when it’s legitimately needed.
P.P.P.PS.: I’m beginning to hear that deleting cookies will not work (April 26). Facebook seems intent on having you download their suspicious junk. In those cases, people have switched to another browser.
P.P.P.P.PS.:Andrew McPherson was hit with this more recently, with Facebook blocking the cookie-deleting method in some cases, and advises, ‘If you get this, you will need to change your Facebook password to something very long (a phrase will do), delete and clear your browsers cache and history, then delete your browser, then renew your IP address to a different number and then reinstall your browsers.’ If you cannot change your IP address but are using a router, then he suggests refreshing the address on that. Basically, Facebook is making it harder and harder for us to work around their bug. Once again, if you sign on using a different account using the same “infected” computer, there are no problemsâwhich means the finger of blame should remain squarely pointed at Facebook.
P.P.P.P.P.P.PS.: January 28, 2017: David has come up with a great solution in the comments (no. 103). You can fool Facebook into thinking you are using a Mac by changing the user-agent. He suggests a Chrome Extension. I have Modify Headers for Firefox, which might work, too.
Surely this remains the only case in the history of humankind where copyright is a multi-jurisdictional criminal matter? And if getting rich off copyrighted material is a crime, then YouTube has a longer history of letting this happen and rewarding users for it. The principal difference that I can see is that YouTube (through its parent Google) dodges paying New Zealand tax,* which seems to be a position our government is comfortable with. Iâm not saying I like Dotcomâwho I think is only out for himself and yes, he comes across as a dickâbut fairâs fair. Nor am I saying I support copyright infringement, but under New Zealand law thatâs a civil matter that should be fought by the infringed, not by governments. (In the US there is a criminal provision but the guy hasnât ever been there nor was his company based there.)
When I read the prosecutionâs case it falls down at some basic hurdles. They say the defendants infringed. But they donât say what they infringed. Youâve got to have this, especially if youâre going to prosecute this as a crime. The guy has a right to know exactly whatâs at issue. And Megaupload stored stuff, they werenât the infringers. Even if they knew about it, thereâs no crime knowing about criminal copyright infringement. If the US position holds true, then when we go to YouTube to view a full-length movie or TV programme that someone has uploaded in order to make money for themselves, it would actually make us criminals. Iâm not comfortable with this.
I see an appalling double standard when it comes to how this bloke is dealt with, e.g. he is dissed for spending money funding a political party but Colin Craig gets a pass for doing the same thing at exactly the same time. He is dissed for showing us how our government monitors us by bringing in Glenn Greenwald yet we all applaud Greenwald when he does it overseas. I find it interesting how he went from Public Enemy No. 1 when he was first arrested, to admired underdog for quite a lengthy period when Kiwis realized copyright law was on his side, and now heâs back to Public Enemy No. 1 again after exposing the flaws in our security services and trying to do us a favour with the flop that was âthe moment of truthâ. Guess we really hate it when a foreign-born New Zealand resident tells us how things should be, but we love telling foreigners about gun laws, imperialism and inequality.
If the guy is to go to prison, then let it be for an actual crime.
* PS.: Yes, itâs technically legal to run things through a Bermuda tax haven and pay yourselves back for stuff.
With Google and Ford announcing they will team up to make self-driving cars, I have some concerns.
Iâm not in Luddite position on the idea of self-driving cars. Potentially, they can be far safer than what we have today. I see so many godawful drivers out thereâNew Zealand has a very high road toll based on our small population, and itâs not hard to see whyâand the self-driving car canât be a bad thing. Active safety, active cruise control, and other features all point to be a better future on our roads.
However, is Google the right firm? You donât need to look too far (especially on this blog) to find some Google misdeed, a company that happily does dodgy things till it gets busted.
Imagine the future.
âą The car has no brakes until you sign up to Google Plus, then log in.
âą You cannot enter the car till you load a Google Play app on to your phone. You have to agree to a bunch of settings which you don’t even read, but essentially you’ve let them monitor you.
âą If you have a car accident in a Google car, thereâs no phone number for anyone to call. You have to sign up to the support forums where youâre told by Google volunteers that itâs your fault for misusing the software. Or they just ignore you. You spend several years trying to get your case heard.
âą Google listens to all your in-car conversations so it can deliver targeted advertising to you, until you opt out of this feature in your Google Account settings.
âą Google hacks your devices while you are near the car, even if you have Do Not Track or other privacy settings turned on. They continue doing this till the Murdoch Press writes an article about it or they get reported to an industry association.
âą Doubleclick targeted advertising appears in the carâs central LCD screen.
âą All routes that the Google cars choose go past advertisers’ brick-and-mortar stores.
âą Google Street View is updated a lot more, which sounds great, till you realize it’s been updated with images from your latest journey.
âą Unless you opt out, Google actually drives you to the store which has the goods you mentioned in a private Gmail message, even though you don’t need the product and it just came up casually in conversation.
âą When US state attorneys-general sue Google over wasted time with the cars driving you to these stores, the penalty is roughly four hours of the companyâs earnings.
Autonomous cars are part of our future. But I’ll opt for the tech of a firm I trust more, thank you. And right now, I even trust Volkswagen more than Google.
Iâve done this a few times now: looked through my yearâs Tumblr posts to get an alternative feel for the Zeitgeist. Tumblr is where I put the less relevant junk that comes by my digital meanderings. But as I scrolled down to January 2015 in the archive, Iâm not that certain the posts really reflected the world as we knew it. Nor was there much to laugh at, which was the original reason I started doing these at the close of 2009.
January, of course, was the month of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, which saw 11 murdered, including the famed cartoonist Wolinski, whose work I enjoyed over the years. Facebook was still going through a massive bot (first-world) problem, being overrun by fake accounts that had to be reported constantly. The anti-vax movement was large enough to prompt a cartoonist to do an idiotâs guide to how vaccines work. In other words, it was a pretty depressing way to end the lunar year and start the solar one.
February: Hannah Davis made it on to the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition by pulling her knickers down as far as socially acceptable (or unacceptable, depending on your point of view), while 50 Shades of Grey hit the cinemas, with one person commenting, âSeriously, this book raises every red flag warning signal I learned during my Military Police training. Grey is a ****ing psycho.â Mission: Impossibleâs second man with the rubber mask, Leonard Nimoy, he of the TV movie Baffled, passed away. Apparently he did some science fiction series, too.
CitroĂ«n celebrated the 60th anniversary of the DS, generally regarded as one of the greatest car designs of the 20th century, while Alarm fĂŒr Cobra 11 returned for another half-season in March. In April, one Tweeter refused to do any Bruce Jenner jokes: âthere are kids & adults confused/bullied/dying over their gender identity,’ said an American photographer called Spike. The devastating Nepalese earthquakes were also in April, again nothing to be joked about. There was this moment of levity:
And the Fairfax Press published a photograph of President Xi of China, although the caption reads âSouth Koreaâs President Park Geun Hyeâ. Wrong country, wrong gender. When reposted on Weibo, this was my most viral post of the year.
In May, we published a first-hand account of the Nepal âquakes in Lucire, by Kayla Newhouse. It was a month for motorheads with For the Love of Cars back on Channel 4. Facebook hackers, meanwhile, started targeting Japanese, and later Korean, accounts, taking them over and turning them into bots.
In June, rumours swirled over the death of Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow, whereupon I made this image:
Microsoft rolled out the bug-filled Windows 10, which worked differently every day.
In December, it wasnât quite âStar Wars, nothing but Star Warsâ. There was, after all, Trump, Trump and more Trump, the only potential presidential candidate getting air time outside the US. Observing the primaries, 9Gag noted that the movie Idiocracy âstarted out as a comedy and is turning into a documentaryâ. Michael Welton wrote, meanwhile, in Counterpunch, âThe only way we might fathom the post 9/11 American world of governmental deceit and a raw market approach to political problem solving is to assume that moral principle has been banished because the only criteria for action is whether the ends of success and profitability have been achieved. Thatâs all. Thatâs it. And since morality is the foundation of legal systems, adhering to law is abandoned as well.â The New Zealand flag referendum didnât make it into my Tumblr; but if it had, I wonder if we would be arguing whether the first-placed alternative by Kyle Lockwood is black and blue, or gold and whiteâa reference to another argument that had internauts wasting bandwidth back in February.
Itâs not an inaccurate snapshot of 2015, but itâs also a pretty depressing one. France tasted terror attacks much like other cities, but the west noticed for a change; there were serious natural disasters; and bonkers politicians got more air time than credible ones. Those moments of levityâmy humorous Jon Snow image and feigned ignorance, for instanceâwere few and far between. It was that much harder to laugh at the year, which stresses just how much we need to do now and in 2016 to get things on a more sensible path. Can we educate and communicate sufficiently to do it, through every channel we have? Or are social media so fragmented now that youâll only really talk into an echo chamber? And if so, how do we unite behind a set of common values and get around this?
Star Wars is in my feed in a big way. To get up to speed on the film series, I had to start with the memorable theme by John Williams.
Thanks, Bill and Paul.
And who better to describe the plot than someone else in the science-fiction world, Doctor Who?
Seriously though, I hope all friends who are big Star Wars fans enjoy Episode VII. It seems to be getting positive reviews, partly because it appeals to our sense of nostalgia. It hasn’t blown anyone away in the same manner as the 1977 original, but then Disney would be very foolhardy to stray for this sequel. If you are building a brand that was at its height 30 years ago, nostalgia isn’t a bad toolâjust ask the team that came up with the 1994 Ford Mustang. J. J. Abramsâthe creator of Felicity and What about Brian?, plus some other thingsâhas apparently been a genius at getting just enough from the past.
One item that is from Star Warsâ past is the opening title, or the crawl. I’ll be interested to learn if they’ve managed to re-create the typography of the original: they were unable to provide perfect matches for Episodes I through III because of the changes in technology and cuts of the typefaces that made it into the digital era. The main News Gothic type is far heavier in these later films. ITC Franklin Gothic was used for ‘A long time ago âŠ’ for I to III; this, too, was originally News Gothic, but re-releases have brought all six films into line to use the later graphic.
However, it could be argued that even between Episodes V and VI there were changes: News Gothic Extra Condensed in caps for the subtitle for The Empire Strikes Back, switching to Univers for Return of the Jedi. (It seems even the most highly ranked fan wiki missed this.) And, of course, there was no equivalent in the original Star Warsâ’A New Hope’ was added in 1981.
Here’s how it looked in 1977:
And if you really wish to compare them, here are all six overlaid on each other:
I wasn’t a huge fan in the 1970s: sci-fi was not my thing, and I only saw Star Wars for the first time in the 1980s on video cassette, but I did have a maths set, complete with Artoo Detoo eraser (I learned my multiplication table from a Star Wars-themed sheet) and the Return of the Jedi book of the film. But even for this casual viewer and appreciator, enough of that opening sunk in for me to know that things weren’t quite right for The Phantom Menace in 1999. I hope, for those typographically observant fans, that The Force Awakens gets things back on track.
When I ran for office in 2010 and 2013, I tried to mount campaigns that were the most effective per dollar spent. If you can’t practise it in your own campaign, you sure as heck can’t practise it when in office. J. E. Bush’s massive spend is exactly what you don’t want to see for the numbers he’s getting.
And unlike the “polls” here in those two local body elections, which had no resemblance to the voters’ reality (got to love sextupling your poll numbers), I trust the Vox one is more accurate, being an aggregate of many US polls with large samples.
The sad thing we can take from the numbers above is that celebrity seems to trump (pun unintended) all else. For those complaining about where all the moderate Muslim voices are when extremists speak out, have a look at this. Where are the moderate Republican voices? Outside the US, we don’t hear any in the mainstream media: the US political coverage has been Trump, Trump and more Trump. Extremism gets sensationalist headlines, and sensationalism sells in a headline culture, whether you’re Stateside or here. Similarly, peaceful Muslims just don’t fit the narrative, as this article in The Independent highlights. American legal experts who say that Trump’s proposal to bar Muslims from entering the country is unconstitutional because it violates their First and Fifth Amendments have parallels with Muslim leaders who say their faith is one of peace, practised peacefully by thousands of millions. They reflect the majority view, but rationality doesn’t sell the nightly news.
No wonder some have called for the media not to give terrorists coverage, and their argument must similarly apply to all forms of extremism.
I don’t know in which media the million-dollar club is spending in, but these numbers might also show that conventional above-the-line advertising can’t work without complementary below-the-line activity. Trump engagementâfor and againstâmust be pretty good on Twitter, if my own Tweetstream is anything to go by, and that gets his name out more. The man has five million followers on Twitter and, for all the predictions about doom and gloom for the social network, it seems there’s life in it yet. At least it stays up an awful lot more than Facebook.
At this point in 2007, Clinton had a 20-point lead over Obama, and four years before that, when his campaign was trying to buy advertising on our sites, the likely Democratic candidate was a pre-âI have a scream’ Howard Dean. We really don’t know how this is all going to pan out, because on the other hand, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were leading at this point in 1979 and 1999 respectively. MSNBC has done the only poll I’ve seen where they’ve put the likely Democratic candidate this timeâwhich appears to be Clinton, who has spent largeâagainst potential Republican ones. Interestingly, only Carson comes closest to her if he became the Republican nominee; but the question among moderate conservatives and liberals must be how Trump still manages 41 against her 52 (below). Either these numbers will not be borne out at the polls should these two face off against each other, or the answer is simpler than we think: the US political media will talk up a creation of the US political media. They don’t want to be proven wrong, because otherwise they risk losing their perceived authority.
What we do know, unless Sanders gets up there through his populist campaign, is that regardless of the outcome, the United States will swear in another right-wing president on January 20, 2017.
I have never seen a program as inconsistent as Microsoft’s Cortana.
We were always taught that computers were very logical, that they all followed a certain set of code each time.
Not so Cortana, which has had more different behaviours than anything I have ever seen.
When I run into technical issues, itâs the fault of certain parties for failing to anticipate the behaviour of ordinary people or for adopting a head-in-the-sand position to bugs that are very real or crooked company policies. These have been covered many times on this blog, such as Six Apartâs old Vox site refusing to accept a log-in, or Facebook ceasing to allow likes and comments; and then thereâs the human dishonesty that drove Googleâs failures on Blogger and Ads Preferences Manager.
This still fits into those categories, as Microsoftâs engineers on its forums are peddling standard responses, none of which actually work. One even damaged my start menu and forced a system restore.
The bugs are so varied, and that to me is strange. Normally bugs will take one form and one form only. Address that, and your problem is solved.
However, Cortana has done the following.
Day 1. Refused to work, with Windows saying US English was not supported (curious, given itâs an American program). I downloaded the UK English language pack. Worked perfectly for the rest of the day. How novel.
Day 2. Refused to work, but prompted me to set up again, and then it worked.
Day 3. Cortana becomes deaf. No prompts to set up again, but I do it anyway. It works again.
Day 4. I play with the microphone settings (by âplayâ I mean clicking on a setting but not actually changing it) and Cortana would work intermittently.
Day 5. Cortana would not work except at night, and I play the movie quiz.
Day 6. Cortana claims my Notebook is inaccessible because I am offline. Clearly I wasnât offline because I was doing stuff online.
Day 7, daytime. Cortana refuses to answer and sends all queries to Bing. The Notebook screen just displays animated ellipses.
Day 7, evening. Cortana works after I plug in my headphones (which has a microphone). After I unplug it, my regular webcam microphone starts picking up my voice again. Cortana works again.
Day 8. Cortana hears me say âHey, Cortana,â but then just goes to âThinkingâ for minutes on end. It might display, âSomethingâs not right. Try again in a little bit,â after all that. Apparently Cortana still cannot retrieve my interests because I am âoffline,â which is amazing that Iâm posting to this blog right now.
The microphones work with other programs. And browsing the Windows forums, this has been going on since July. The November service pack was supposed to have fixed a lot of issues, but clearly not.
Iâll be fascinated to see what it does tomorrow. But I am tired of the BS that their techs are dishing out as âsolutionsâ. I’m being reminded why I don’t use Word or Outlook: because I have a short fuse when it comes to crap.
PS.: Day 9, same as day 8. Day 10, asked a few set-up questions (again) and it works, though âThinkingâ still came up for a few seconds on the first go. Day 11, worked without intervention (amazing!). Day 12, see day 7 (evening).âJY