Posts tagged ‘Vista Group’


It’s nice to be believed

21.04.2011

The bug I wrote about a few days ago that’s emerging when I use Autocade is now filed with Telstra Clear—and it’s been escalated.
   For years I would report various faults, including with Telstra Clear, and I would not be believed. What a difference now that I am believed.
   For around two years, no one at Telstra Clear believed me when I told them that the internet went down when it was windy. They kept blaming me and how I used my computer. I guess the wisdom was that wind caused computer operator misuse. Until one day, I said, ‘I know what your script says. I have done [x, y and z]. Now, here’s what I want you to do.’ The technician came down from Palmerston North and confirmed there was a loose wire. He then called another technician. Zero marks for efficiency, though the error was eventually fixed.
   Or the Vox error, which went on for months in 2009, blocking me from using the service. When I complained to Six Apart, which ran the now-defunct blogging platform, it was apparently my fault. Or my ISP’s. Or the internet’s. Until, again after a long, long time, I gave them my username and password. Only then did they confirm that something was wrong: they could not log on as me even from their own HQ.
   Even Mozilla took its time, though happily, when they got on to it, they were remarkably quick in solving my reported bugs. And these days, I find I am not disbelieved there.
   Now that Lucire is on Cloudflare, I’m also finding that speedy service and, last night, confirmation that they did, indeed, suffer a DDOS attack. There are no doubts there, either—just rapid acknowledgements and very personal service, answering my concerns about various settings, the Google bot, and the way Cloudflare works.
   The latest one is the Google Ads Preferences Manager, though I was told today at our monthly Vista lunch by Jim Donovan that he had been checking his, and found that his opt-out had been respected. I wonder if Google is only respecting the choices of Chrome users.
   I have had a few friends discover their Ads Preferences Manager behave the same way as it does for me, but maybe there are some people for whom it’s working.
   Nevertheless, the Network Advertising Initiative, to whom I have informed of this issue, has not responded, which I imagine amounts to being disbelieved.
   All I can say to the disbelievers is this: I am a reasonably intelligent person. I have been playing and working with computers since 1978. That means, if I say there is a bug with your service, there is a greater chance that I am right, than there is for your belief that I mucked up.
   This time, it’s plain nice for Telstra Clear to come back to me without questioning how I use my computer. Or saying I pressed the wrong button. Or used the wrong finger in pressing that button. Here’s hoping it can be resolved for, as the tech told me yesterday, it’s very hard to identify an intermittent error. (However, today it is not intermittent: I have been consistently unable to get on to Autocade without adding www to its URL.) From my point of view, it’s just great that the right people are dealing with the right issue in my world.

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Civility is a good thing

23.12.2010

Baidu Talk, which launched in September, has netted 1 million users already, according to PC World. Michael Kan reports that thanks to the service’s insistence that no aliases are used (registered users’ identities are verified with the People’s Republic’s government) ‘this has led to more “civil” discussions between users on Baidu Talk.’
   It shows it can be possible. In the past I’ve lamented the decline of each medium as it’s spoiled by spam or splogs. YouTube has been ruined by extremist commenters. In most cases, these people hide behind the veil of anonymity.
   The city blog I proposed during my campaign would have required registration as well. The logistics were another matter but Baidu shows it can be done—and a more civilized discussion is just what we need to make some real progress in society. If dialogue and engagement solve problems, then the medium for both must be where someone wants to go—and not see a whole bunch of swearing going on.
   As I wrote some years back, what I miss about the internet, and this may be rose-coloured glasses, was the collegial feeling that was there in the early days. In the 1990s, we naïvely put our details into online email directories before we figured out that spammers could harvest them. But, importantly, we got quite a few things done. Some of my closest allies in business can be traced back to those early days, before we had to cut through more clutter to find good, trustworthy people.
   Providing a safe forum where the veil of anonymity is gone—where John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F***wad Theory does not apply—is perhaps one of the best things that can be done for so many services. A Small World is one where there’s some degree of safety and security; LinkedIn, by its nature, continues to feel collegial. Since we aren’t talking about sensitive information here, where aliases and anonymity might be key, an online John Hancock can be a good thing.
   The bigger picture is that if China is encouraging this sort of dialogue, I will have to say: watch out. And I did say four years ago that, with Google’s willingness to engage in self-censorship when it entered the Middle Kingdom in 2006, the Chinese people would only be more loyal to Baidu et al in the long term. That influence might yet grow beyond China’s borders.

Speaking of the decline of society, a few weeks ago, Dad and I had to go to the ANZ in Kilbirnie to re-sign some authorities we had on each other’s accounts. (We had to do this with American Express as well: what was it with these big institutions losing the original authorities that we did years ago, all in the same week?) Outside the sliding doors, I heard a very loud female voice. My initial thought was, ‘This is a very loud promotion someone is having on Bay Road.’
   When the doors slid open again, I heard a whole bunch of profanities. ‘You f***ing bitch, you whore …’—you get the idea. I got up, passed an elderly lady on her way in (this was Tuesday, 3.30 p.m., when a lot of elderly are walking along Bay Road), and said, ‘You don’t need to hear that sort of language, do you, dear?’ She said, ‘No.’
   A crowd, mostly of schoolchildren had gathered round to watch these two young women at it outside the local Pricebusters. Or, should I say, there was one abuser and one standing there and taking it. Seeing as neither was armed (I may be stupid, but not that stupid), I stood between them and asked them to stop: that the OAPs walking along minding their own business don’t have to listen to their sort of language.
   â€˜I don’t care. You don’t know this f***ing whore …’
   â€˜I don’t know you, either. I’m asking you to stop.’
   Although this had gone on for some time, it was only then that someone from the Pricebusters store came out. I asked, ‘Would you like to do anything? It’s your shop, but there hasn’t been an assault.’
   Seeing as the abuse continued, I said, calmly: ‘Walk away. Turn around, walk in opposite directions, and walk away.’
   I have a feeling that ‘Walk away’ in these ladies’ mother tongue meant ‘Let’s start beating the crap out of each other and this dude in the middle can get caught in the crossfire.’
   Fists flew, hair was pulled, and I got a little scrape where my watch was and my glasses were knocked off. It was then that various adults—I assume the female staff of the Pricebusters store—restrained the two. I advised the store that they could call the police now. Dad had come out by then and I suggested we finish the transaction inside the bank. And he didn’t need to see his son lose a fight to two women.
   These Streets of San Kilbirnie are tough and even Karl Malden would be surprised.
   Maybe I was the only adult around over several minutes, but I’m surprised that no one else helped out. It reminds me of two other incidents in the last few years where I played “first responder” (with a much larger friend assisting!) to a homeless man getting bullied and to a teen who had fallen off her bike.
   This isn’t about being intolerant of bad language. Most of this junk is on telly now after a certain hour. It’s the idea, which we’ve chatted about at the Vista Group luncheons with Jim and Natalie, that once we tolerate one thing, a worse thing will emerge. Usually this comes up when we discuss public drunkenness, and how, over the last generation, less and less acceptable behaviour becomes the norm.
   The fear that getting involved would drag one into a court case as a witness—that is baseless, too. When the police came (and quite quickly, too), I had finished at the bank. I asked one constable if he needed me to be a witness, and he said that he already had a statement from someone else. So: I tried to do a good deed, and I didn’t get dragged into a prolonged assault case. It’s easier than we think.
   And maybe I did something for the little guy, to draw the line at something that shouldn’t be acceptable in what is usually a very pleasant neighbourhood.

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Posted in business, China, culture, internet, New Zealand, technology, Wellington | 1 Comment »


Wellington needs a new brand for a new decade

21.10.2010

A very good Vista Group luncheon (Jim, Natalie, self), where we discussed: the Gap rebrand; The Hobbit, unions and the BNZ Centre boilermakers’ strike; and my mayoral campaign.
   On the first topic, we concluded that it was down to a simple cock-up. None of us could see any reason for the Gap to rebrand (was there a change of strategy, management, or trend?) though we did see a reason for Wellington to do so.
   â€˜Absolutely, positively Wellington’ has been with us for 20 years. I remember when it was first released, all set in Perpetua Bold, adorning the new office of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce after its shift from Church Street. As Jim pointed out, it was a contrast to the negativity that Wellingtonians had about our city’s own image, as typified by TV shows such as Gliding on: drab, grey, and full of civil servants.
   The one event that might have given us a bit of a boost was Sesqui. And what a disaster that turned out to be: an event that never began.
   I said as much when we discussed the arts and cultural side to Wellington during the campaign. The brand, Mayor Prendergast mentioned, was revamped when she took office. Nine years on, I think we need to move on again: that Wellington’s brand does not reflect our city’s passions.
   Every brand must be inclusive. It must also differentiate. There are many people in the ICT sector, who are an important part of Wellington, who need to be included. We have fashion designers and event producers, who thrive on the notion that Wellington is the most creative city to be in. When the former mayor said that we were now also the culinary capital, I said that we had to define that by way of our city’s creative manna: not just the culinary capital, but the culinary arts’ capital. Everything we do seems to be underpinned by this idea of putting in that extra zing, whether it’s my oft-quoted example of Silverstripe or the quality behind Mojo Coffee.
   There is work to be done, and I’d love to engage with Wellingtonians on getting some kind of framework down for a 2010s city brand. The campaign may be over, but it’s only highlighted the things that need to be done. Let’s start with the strategic ideas and work our way to the operational.

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Posted in branding, business, culture, leadership, marketing, New Zealand, politics, Wellington | 1 Comment »


Vista was just a duo today

18.03.2010

Due to others’ appointments, the Vista Group meeting today was a mere duo: myself and Jim Donovan, Esq., who will give up blogging in 10 days. It meant it was the second-least well attended meeting in our history. Jim has never let us forget the least well attended one.
   I have always said that one should blog when one wants to. If one feels pressured to do so, then stop. Blogging should be a fun activity and, for me, it’s cathartic. With a new venture on the horizon for Jim (from where he will likely blog again), time is at a premium, and I can fully appreciate that he needs to take a step back.
   Of course we will not bid farewell to Jim just because he stops blogging, principally, as Natalie wrote in our emails arranging today’s meeting, we are too incompetent to organize the monthly meetings without him. And he got us in to the Wellington Club for the end-of-2009 edition where we took over the Deputy Mayor’s table. (Albeit on a day that the Deputy Mayor was not there, which made for a less comical time.)
   The Club (the luncheon at which should have been chronicled at the time) has its own gym. Apparently, Club members often talked about how our gym’ll fix it. That is, however, another story.
   There were some in-depth discussions about my mayoral campaign and the Wellington City Council, the fact that Anouska Hempel, a.k.a. Lady Weinberg, is a Wellingtonian and how she is important to anyone who watched various Hammer Horrors, and the Y2K episode of Family Guy and its homage to Dallas—things that we would not have digressed to had Natalie and Mark been there. (Jim had brought up ‘Who shot J. R.?’* on his blog a few days before.)
   However, we covered the boiler-plate approach of some IP law firms, the bad customer service we received from Vodafone and Sky TV, and the lack of clarity over some WCC charges over which Jim got three different figures for the same thing. From what I could make out, the charge varied depending on the person he spoke to, the day of the week, and the flutter of a butterfly’s wings over the Shetland Islands. Need I push transparency again?


Above One of Anouska Hempel’s creations, the self-named Hempel hotel, in London. I believe they want a definite article in the official name, but I can’t be brought to capitalize it in the middle of a sentence. I will only make an exception for residents of The Terrace in Wellington.

* It was, of course, Kristin, Sue Ellen’s sister. Everyone remembers the hype, no one remembers the answer. Back in those days, we found out a year later in New Zealand, and there were no internet spoilers.—JY

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Posted in business, humour, New Zealand, Wellington | No Comments »