Archive for June 2021


Facelifting the Lucire licensing site after 13 years

30.06.2021

After 13 years, it was time to facelift the Lucire licensing website.
   It’s a very familiar template, similar to what we used for JY&A Consulting a few months back. The home page copy we already had from a flier that we created late last year that Susan Ninan and I worked on; and the ‘About’ page’s text was mostly carried over (though it still needs 13 years of updates).
   I am surprised the old site still netted us enquiries but it was looking extremely dated. The 2008 design was positively archæological in internet terms. However, I’m not sure if the new one is particularly interesting, because the web design convention is to do something very simple at the moment.
   The old one was created with consideration for those who didn’t have mouse wheels, whereas these days it seems to be all right, even fashionable, to scroll away.
   Hopefully everything is more fit for purpose though, and the links are more useful. We’ve kept the code very light.
   And if you do want to license an international fashion magazine with an independent, authentic and engaged firm, you know where to come.



Above: The old and the new Lucire licensing sites—to my eyes, the old appears more creative, even in 2021.

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COVID-19 infections as a percentage of tests done, June 28

29.06.2021

I haven’t done one of these since February, where I look at the COVID-19 positivity rates of selected countries. The arrows indicate the direction of change since that post. Happily, I imagine with the vaccine roll-outs, we are seeing drops, though there is a new wave in Taiwan, contributing to a rise; other territories showing rises are Brazil, India, Germany, and South Korea.

Brazil 34·67% ↑
Sweden 10·06% ↓
India 7·43% ↑
Spain 7·20% ↓
USA 6·84% ↓
France 6·21% ↓
Italy 5·98% ↓
Germany 5·85% ↑
Russia 3·68% ↓
UK 2·26% ↓
KSA 2·23% ↓
South Korea 1·48% ↑
Taiwan 0·67% ↑
Singapore 0·47% ↓
Australia 0·15% ↓
New Zealand 0·12% ↓
Hong Kong 0·07% ↓

   This is also a good time to remind people of a Toot that was liked and shared quite a few times on Mastodon. For me, it’s a record.

   As Umair Haque put it (original emphases):

Its creators — researchers — pledged to make it open source, available to manufacture and develop anywhere. After all, this was a global pandemic. And yet — with some helpful intervention from Bill Gates — the Oxford vaccine was privatized. Given exclusively to AstraZeneca, Britain’s key pharmaceutical corporation.
   So instead of vaccinating the world — or at least helping the world get vaccinated — Britain engaged in the stupid, selfish game of vaccine nationalism. It kept its newly privatised vaccine for itself. It prevented even Europe from having the Oxford vaccine. What was being selfish about a vaccine going to do? Breed vaccine resistance.
   In India, meanwhile, there weren’t enough vaccines available. So Covid mutated and mutated, until new mutations could “escape” the vaccine, by altering the shape of the “spike protein.” If all that sounds like gibberish to you, don’t worry — the point is simple. By keeping its vaccine to itself, all Britain did was ensure that variants resistant to it would breed at light speed, in the world’s worst hit countries — like India.

   You can read the rest of his post here. Don’t point the blame for delta at India. It’s been British policy since day one to use the UK as a COVID-19 mutation petri dish. And now it wants to export this tactic to other places. Their friends are getting rich off this. Reminds me a bit of what happened in Zimbabwe when Mugabe and his cronies took everything while tanking the country.

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Why the British people still prefer Boris Johnson

27.06.2021

When you see the utter dog’s dinner the British government has made of COVID-19, namely turning their country into a petri dish for mutations while they plunder the place with impunity, you have to wonder why many there still prefer these current Tories, when even Max Hastings and Sir Nicholas Soames don’t. Is it because Labour has no direction? That they don’t like Sir Phony Blair? The latest balls-up is this, by the Cabinet’s own Karl Pilkington, (now former) health secretary Matt Hancock:

I jokingly Tweeted (italics added): ‘Terrible casting in the Hancock’s Half-Hour remake. I can deal with the sidekick now being a woman called Sydney James but you never saw scenes like this with Tony and the original Sid.’ Not many liked the post so I assume I am getting a bit on the old side for the mainstream to get these references. And I thought I was doing so well matching the grey from the original titles and the Clarendon type.
   The answer of why Boris Johnson still appears to be their preferred prime minister, how he can constantly fall upwards (reference below), appears to lie in Hancock, too, specifically Tony Hancock.

   For those of us old enough to remember Tony Hancock’s sitcoms (note: I saw them as repeats), he played a version of himself, but one who was poorer, more outspoken and exaggerated. (Surely as he was voted Britain’s greatest comedian this side of the 21st century, enough of you must know what I am talking about.) But most of all, he lived in a world of self-delusion, that he was the cleverest man around and if only the right people would just see his genius. This is part of the same British comedy tradition as Alan Partridge and David Brent. As I said in a Toot on Mastodon tonight (inter alia): ‘Audiences sympathize with failures, and none have failed as much as this PM.’

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Posted in culture, humour, leadership, politics, TV, UK | No Comments »


Cream cheese bagels make them angry

25.06.2021

When I was in NYC in the summer of 2001, I stood at a Lower Manhattan bakery trying to order a cream cheese bagel for a friend of mine. The proprietor was busy making something. After close to five minutes’ waiting the counter, I asked if I could be served. His response: ‘You want to fight me?’ My sense is that cream cheese bagels have upset Americans for decades. This is merely part of the trend.

   Note: I am not sure if the words cream and cheese mean the same thing there.

Poking around the bowels of Facebook, I found this. Apparently I had invited some contacts to join Facebook. It’s probably time to delete them, since they were smart enough not to respond.

   I’ve no desire to allow them to create shadow profiles, because of something I did in 2007–8 before I knew shadow profiles even existed. Luckily I do not have Messenger, though I believe I briefly downloaded it in 2012 before deleting it soon after. I must have been careful to not let it import any contacts.

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How to stop tailgating

21.06.2021

I thought if we were serious about stopping tailgating, then the solution in the form of public service announcements would be remarkably simple, as far as the men are concerned. My concept, but not my photos. Since we’re talking lives here, one hopes the photos’ copyright owners will allow me to make these proposals.


   You’d end tailgating overnight among half the population, and arguably more than half the culprits.

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Nine years of promoting DuckDuckGo in Lucire

20.06.2021


Promoting DuckDuckGo: ‘Glancing back’ in Lucire KSA, June 2021.

For some time now, in every print issue of Lucire, and Lucire KSA, there is a mention of search engine DuckDuckGo. But I wasn’t sure how long we had been doing this, till I checked tonight. We started referencing DuckDuckGo in 2012, on our history page, where we look back at what we wrote 15, 10 and 5 years ago. What we do is feed in the year and Lucire, and let the search engine do the rest. It might not have Google’s might, but in my book it deserves considerably more loyalty, and all the help we can give.

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Putting on the breaks

20.06.2021

Being self-employed my whole adult life, I haven’t exactly been let go from actual employment, but there have been some gigs, paid and unpaid, that came to an end without me expecting it.
   I’ve never been sore about losing them, but I don’t agree with the way they were done.
   Gig 1. Did a quarterly task for these folks, which soon became a monthly one. Lasted 14 years and was either the longest-serving or second-longest-serving in that capacity. Let go in a group email.
   Gig 2. Voluntary one, told that I wouldn’t be needed because the organization was going in a new direction. I wouldn’t be replaced because of this new format. Found out later that there was no new format and I was replaced. Would it have hurt to tell the truth? After all, I replaced the previous person, and I would have been fine with them needing a fresh face. It’s not as though I made any money off them!
   Gig 3. Another voluntary one. Hadn’t heard anything but then I usually didn’t till pretty late in the game. Except this time I had to chase them up, given how late things got. When do you need me? Found out I was replaced and that the decision had been made months earlier. I was the last to know. Offered some inconsequential consolation, but no apology. Ironically this happened as my influence in this particular area grew substantially overseas, so the help I could have given them was immense, so bad luck and bad timing to that mob. Bridges burned.
   I’ve let a few people go in the past—one had so many allegations against him (theft, sexual harassment) that with hindsight I wonder why we took so long. Given the anonymous (and ineffective and illogical) letters he’s sent to some of my most loyal colleagues, I think he’s still sore. Others had to be let go when the financial winds blew against us. But I’m pretty sure they all knew why.
   The only mysterious one from our companies was one person who claimed I cut him off and stopped using his writing services. It was a complete lie—he just vanished. At one point we re-established contact. We agreed to put it down to an email glitch (although this person regularly phoned me and stopped doing so, but in the interests of moving on, I let it go). Years later, he did it again—just disappeared. He told a mutual friend of ours the same lie, that I ceased to have anything to do with him. I relayed the above story to that friend but I could see she didn’t believe me—till he did it to her a few years later!

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Autocade hits 24 million page views—a new record

14.06.2021


Above: The latest entry to Autocade at the time of writing: the new Hyundai Tucson (the short-wheelbase one is pictured).

Autocade will cross the 24 million page view mark tomorrow, notching up the latest million views in record time, despite only a tiny increase (14 models, to 4,438) in the database entries. I imagine this is down to a mixture of people finding it useful, and those working from home during lockdowns wanting a break.
   You know the drill.

March 2008: launch
April 2011: 1,000,000 (three years for first million)
March 2012: 2,000,000 (11 months for second million)
May 2013: 3,000,000 (14 months for third million)
January 2014: 4,000,000 (eight months for fourth million)
September 2014: 5,000,000 (eight months for fifth million)
May 2015: 6,000,000 (eight months for sixth million)
October 2015: 7,000,000 (five months for seventh million)
March 2016: 8,000,000 (five months for eighth million)
August 2016: 9,000,000 (five months for ninth million)
February 2017: 10,000,000 (six months for 10th million)
June 2017: 11,000,000 (four months for 11th million)
January 2018: 12,000,000 (seven months for 12th million)
May 2018: 13,000,000 (four months for 13th million)
September 2018: 14,000,000 (four months for 14th million)
February 2019: 15,000,000 (five months for 15th million)
June 2019: 16,000,000 (four months for 16th million)
October 2019: 17,000,000 (four months for 17th million)
December 2019: 18,000,000 (just under three months for 18th million)
April 2020: 19,000,000 (just over three months for 19th million)
July 2020: 20,000,000 (just over three-and-a-half months for 20th million)
October 2020: 21,000,000 (three months for 21st million)
January 2021: 22,000,000 (three months for 22nd million)
April 2021: 23,000,000 (three months for 23rd million)
June 2021: 24,000,000 (two months for 24th million)

   Two months and just over a week, if you want to split hairs. I’m very pleasantly surprised at the increase, and thank all our readers for visiting and using the site.
   I also want to thank Nigel Dunn, Peter Jobes and Keith Adams for their contributions over the years. Now to make sure it stays interesting for me as well as readers—SUVs are just not that fun when they form the majority of new releases!

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You can remove and turn off your off-Facebook activity

14.06.2021

I chanced upon a mention of off-Facebook activity on this page, and here’s a good page explaining what it is. (That first link has a lot of advice on what you can do to improve your privacy if you have Facebook, much of which I’ve mentioned over the years. But it’s very handy to have it all in one place.)
   Apparently, you can now edit your off-Facebook activity—of course it’s something they don’t advertise.
   If you head to www.facebook.com/off_facebook_activity you’ll see all the organizations that have sent your online interactions with them to Facebook. In my case, there were 265 who had sent them activity since the beginning of 2020. Good news: you can delete everything in there (bearing in mind this could break things that you have plugged in via Facebook), and turn off future activity.

   I am very glad to note that Lucire has never sent information to Facebook.

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Why does my landline phone dial by itself?

13.06.2021

As sent to Vodafone New Zealand today. Anyone know what might be going on?

Hi there:

Not really a complaint but since you don’t give any options other than compliment and complaint, the latter will have to do!
   Since moving to Tawa, my landline phone has been calling numbers that no one has called. It does this by itself, usually around 3 p.m. each day.
   I enquired with Vodafone on Twitter about this but we never found a resolution, and Custhelp doesn’t appear to exist any more on your website. As to Tobi, the sooner that vanishes, the better!
   As you read on you’ll see why it’s not really easy to explain on either Twitter or on the phone, and Tobi has no option for landlines at all.
   I suspected there was something wrong with the landline set-up here that causes the phone to dial by itself.
   We don’t exactly have a high-tech landline phone. These are basic Vtech units from Warehouse Stationery. I have never entered any “programming” into them, nor do I know how. Even the outgoing answerphone message is what it came with.
   These are the same phones we had at my old place in Rongotai where they most certainly did not dial by themselves every day at 3 p.m. We moved, I unplugged them, and plugged them into the house here.
   It’s been going on for most of the two years we have been here, if I recall correctly.
   Today we had a power outage, so instead of 3 p.m., the phone kept calling well into the evening after the power returned.
   I went into My Vodafone’s landline section for the first time. If you go in there, you’ll see the phone kept dialling 04 569 3555 and 04 569 3566 very, very regularly. Since 3.07 p.m. and now (11.18 p.m.) it has made 130 of these calls.
   On occasion, I catch the phone doing this and stay on the line. When it connects, it sounds like a fax machine on the other end. My phone then enters some sort of identity code. No human has ever answered these calls.
   It will sometimes do this while I am on the phone to someone else, which is very distracting.
   Today, I filmed a video on my cellphone to prove that the phone does this by itself with no human agency. You can watch this at:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CQDd45HAkkJ/

   Please note that no one at this house is making these calls and the phone is doing it by itself.
   I would like to know why this is happening, how a phone even knows how to do this, and just who is behind this.
   Thank goodness these are local calls that do not bear a charge but this smells of a scam to me.

   Here’s an embed of that Instagram video:

#F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;">
#F4F4F4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;">
#F4F4F4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;">
View this post on Instagram
#F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);">
#F4F4F4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;">
#F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);">
#F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;">
#f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg)">
#F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);">
#F4F4F4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);">
#F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);">
#F4F4F4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;">
#F4F4F4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;">

A post shared by Jack Yan 甄爵恩 (@jack.yan)

   Hopefully from the above they’ll be able to see that the phone is not even sophisticated enough to be programmed to do this. Yet the frequency of the calls (130 today alone) suggests they are automated. I haven’t found anything online about this. This link is the closest I’ve found to my experience, but Vodafone so far does not know.

On a related note, after I published this post, Wordpress created an extra tag that I never fed in, called F4F4F4. Why does it do this?

PS.: This seems extremely plausible, from a friendly Tweeter.

Based on what I was told:

   Who knows? Maybe it is all connected properly. I’ve sent a note to the folks who installed the security system here.

P.PS.: From the security company: ‘If your phone was calling these numbers, it would not be related to the alarm.
   ‘These numbers are not recorded anywhere on the alarm.’

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Posted in New Zealand, technology, Wellington | No Comments »