Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ category


What search engines show in their top 10 isn’t always relevant

09.08.2022

The Bing collapse did lead me to look at some of the ancient pages on the Lucire site that the search engines were still very fond of. For instance, the ‘About’ page was still appearing up top, which is bizarre since we haven’t made any links to it for years—it reflected our history in 2004.

Naturally, once I updated it, it promptly disappeared from Bing! Too new for Microsoft’s own Wayback Machine!

I was always told that you shouldn’t delete old pages, and that 301s were the best solution. I’m enough of a computing neophyte to not know how to implement 301s (.htaccess doesn’t work, at least not on our set-up) and page refreshes are often frowned upon, which is why so many old pages are still there.

However, you would naturally expect that a web spider following links would not rank anything that hasn’t been linked to for over a decade very highly. If the spider comes in, picks up the latest stuff from your home page, possibly the latest stuff from individual topic pages, it would figure out what all of these were linking to, and conclude that something from 2000 that was buried deep within the site was no longer current, or of only passing interest to surfers.

I realize I’ve had a go at search engines for burying relevant things in favour of novel things, but we’re talking pages here that aren’t even relevant. ‘About’ I’ll let them have, but a 2000 book reviews’ page? A subject index page from 2005 that hasn’t been linked to since 2005, and the pages that do are well outnumbered by newer ones? Because, the deletion of ‘About’ aside, here is what Bing thinks is the most important for site:lucire.com:
 

 

Google fares a little better. Our home page and current print edition ordering page are top, shopping is third, followed by the fashion contents’ page (makes sense). ‘About’ comes in fifth, for whatever reason, then a 2005 competition page that we should probably delete (it refreshes to another page from 2005—so much for refresh pages being bad for search engines).

Seventh is yet another ancient page from 2005, namely a frameset—which I’ve since updated so at least the main frame loads something current. The remainder are articles from 2011, 2022 and 2016. The next page comprises articles and tags, which seem to make sense.

Mojeek actually makes more sense than Google. Home page in first, the news page (the next most-updated) is second, followed by the travel contents’ page. Then there are two older print edition pages (2020 and 2012), followed by a bunch of articles (2013, 2014, 2013, 2013), and the directory page for Lucire TV. There’s nothing here that I find strange: everything is logically found by a spider going through the site, and maybe those four articles from the 2010s are relevant to the word Lucire (given that you can’t do site: searches on Mojeek without a keyword, so it repeats the word before the TLD)? The reference to the 2012 issue might be down to my having mentioned it recently during our 25th anniversary posts. But there are no refresh pages and no framesets.

Startpage, not Google, has a couple of frameset pages from 2000 and 2002 in their top 10 which again weren’t linked to, at least not purposefully (they were placed there to catch people trying to look at the directory index in the old days). There’s incredibly little “link juice” to these pages. However, ‘About’ (in 10th), and these two framesets aside, its Google-sourced results fare remarkably well. In order: home page, print edition ordering page, the two framesets, the news section, the shopping page (barely updated but I can see why it’s there), the community page, Lucire TV, the fashion contents, ‘About’.

Duck Duck Go is so compromised by Bing that it barely merits a mention here. Four pages from 2000 and 2005 that no current page links, a 404 page that we’ve never even had on our site (!), articles from 2021, 2018, 2007 and 2000 (in that order), and a PDF (!) from 2004. Fancy having a 404 that never even existed in the top 10!

If I had my way, it’d be home page, followed by the different sections’ contents’ pages, then the most popular article—though if a couple of articles go (or went) viral, then I’d expect them sooner.

Both Mojeek and Google do well here, with four of these pages each in their top 10s. But it’s Startpage’s unfiltered Google results that do best, hitting linked, relevant pages in seven results out of the top 10. Bing and its licensees miss the mark completely. If you must have a Google bias, then Startpage is the way to go; for our purposes, Mojeek remains the better option.
 
★★★★★★★☆☆☆ Startpage
★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ Mojeek
★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ Google
★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Virtual Mirage
★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Baidu
★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Yandex
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Bing
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Qwant
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Swisscows
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Brave
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Duck Duck Go (would give –1 for the 404 if I could)

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Rising popularity on Autocade

07.08.2022

Ever since we had to reset the counter for Autocade in March, because of a new server and a new version of Mediawiki, it’s been interesting to see which pages are most popular.

The old ranking took into account everything from March 2008 to March 2022. With everything set to zero again, I can now see what’s been most popular in the last few months.

Some of the top 20 were among the top pages before March 2022, but what’s surprising is what’s shot up into the top slots.

Over the course of half a day on Friday GMT, the Toyota Corolla (E210) page found itself as the top page, home page excepting. And the Kia Morning (TA) page shot up out of nowhere recently, too.

I know our page on the Corolla is number one on Mojeek for a search of that model but that can’t be the only reason it’s done so well. I haven’t studied the referrer data. A shame that link: no longer works on search engines.
 

 

Corolla fans, thank you for your extra 6,000 page views! It’s helped our overall total, but the viewing rate is still down at 2019 levels thanks to the collapse of the Bing index, and the search engines that it’s taken down with them.

I almost feel I’ve shot myself in the foot for promoting Duck Duck Go so much since 2010! But then I hopefully spared a lot of people from being tracked (as much) by the big G.

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A new video for the home page

23.07.2022

Earlier today, Amanda and I had a wonderful time at Te Papa to celebrate the Chinese Languages in Aotearoa programme. My contribution was appearing in a video, that was on this blog last October.

It dawned on me that despite being on YouTube, this really needs to be on the home page of this website, replacing the below.
 

 

It just never occurred to me any earlier how ideal the Te Papa video was, and how much it speaks to my whakapapa and my identity. But the penny has dropped now.

I know I still need to update the 2018 intro. It needs to be more profound than what appears in these blog posts.

It should also reduce confusion for visitors trying to find out more about my Toronto mayoral candidate namesake, who I note still does not have a declared website or email address on the that city’s official list.

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If corporate America says it, it’s probably untrue

16.07.2022


Le dernier.
 
I see the Le Snak range has now left us, after its US owner PepsiCo cited a lack of demand. I call bullshit, since during 2021 it was becoming increasingly difficult to find them on the shelves. Throttling distribution is not the same as a lack of demand, something you see time and time again with corporate claptrap.

It’s like the myth that New Zealanders all prefer automatic transmissions. No, not supplying manuals will inevitably force people to change. Has the industry done a survey as I have? Last time I conducted one, in the 2010s, we were still running 50–50, with a lot of people saying, ‘I prefer a manual, but I had no choice but to buy an automatic.’

Ford is a useful example of US companies citing reduced demand but doing things behind the scenes to ensure it. The line that no one was buying big cars saw to the end of the road for the Australian Falcon and the closure of its Broadmeadows plant. Did any of you see any advertising for the Falcon leading up to that? Or see many Falcons on dealer lots? It seems to me that a corporate decision had been made, and steps taken to guarantee an outcome. Throttle the distribution (‘We’re out of stock’) and of course demand falls.

Get your tape measures out, and you’ll find the Falcon was smaller than the Mondeo (which at that point was still selling) on key measures other than overall length and, presumably, boot volume. The two-litre Ecoboost Falcon with its rear-wheel drive was promoted with all the energy of a damp squid, but it had all the ingredients for success as a decent-handling sedan. But Broadmeadows was an inefficient plant, from what I understand (from hearsay), and bringing it up to speed would have cost more than a bunch of Pinto lawsuits. ‘But there’s no demand for what it builds anyway!’ they cry. Then they can justify the closure.

Go back to the 1990s and the same thing happened with Ford’s Contour and Mystique twins in the US. People were buying BMW 3-series in droves, cars the same size as the Contour. But Ford claimed there was no demand, leading to its US cancellation after the 2000 model year. Reality: I say the Dearborn fiefdom didn’t like the fact the Contour was part of a world-car project (which gave us the original Mondeo) led by Ford’s Köln fiefdom. Not-invented-here killed the Contour, and a relative lack of promotion also guaranteed its fate. (Ford would wind up contesting the segment again later in the 2000s with the Fusion and Milan, but put far more effort into promoting them since they were US-led programmes. I actually saw advertising for them in US magazines! I saw a Milan in Manhattan with Mercury encouraging us to try it out!)

If you take the line that anything a big US firm utters is an utter lie, it keeps you in good stead. Use that approach with Facebook, for instance, and you’ll find things make sense more often than not. And of course we all knew what Elon Musk meant when he said he wanted to buy Twitter.

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The very simple Maramataka and Chinese lunar calendar conversion table

26.06.2022

When I first started commemorating Matariki a few years ago, I had figured out, since both ancient Māori and Chinese worked out the lunar calendar, that it was roughly five lunar months after ours. I was also told that it marked the Māori New Year.

Maybe it’s due to local iwi, but my recollection was that Matariki was about three days before exactly five months had passed, which would make it today, June 26.

As it’s incredibly common among Chinese people to have calendars that show both the Gregorian dates and our dates side by side, I began looking for a Māori equivalent. In fact, here’s my Windows version:
 

 

I came across this page from Te Papa (our national museum, for those who mightn’t know), which at least gives the names of the months in te reo Māori. And this was a pleasant surprise:

In the traditional Māori Maramataka, or lunar calendar, the new year begins with the first new moon following the appearance of Matariki (Pleiades) on the eastern horizon. Usually this takes place in the period June-July.

In other words, Matariki might mark the start of the New Year for Māori but isn’t the exact date.

From what I can understand, and I am more than happy to be corrected by tangata whenua, the Matariki holiday can encompass the exact first day of Pipiri (the first month of the lunar year under the Maramataka), and this is among the celebratory period.

What’s exciting for me as a person of Chinese ethnicity is that there is an exact parallel between our cultures in how we mark new months with new moons, and that this extends to the year, too.

In the interests of cross-cultural sharing, I’ve taken the Māori months and placed them alongside ours, so we can figure out when each of our people celebrates the New Year.

It’s so delightfully simple and way easier to convert than, say, the Islamic or Jewish calendars to Gregorian.
 

Pipiri 六月
Hōngongoi 七月
Hereturikōkā 八月
Mahuru 九月
Whiringa-ā-nuku 十月
Whiringa-ā-rangi 十一月
Hakihea 十二月
Kohitātea 一月
Huitānguru 二月
Poutūterangi 三月
Paengawhāwhā 四月
Haratua 五月

 

I assume Māori, like us, figure out when repeat months happen in order for Pipiri to fall right after Matariki, which technically makes their calendar lunisolar, too.

It’s then very easy for someone with a Chinese calendar to figure out when the Māori New Year begins, namely 六月初一, and it’s very easy for someone with a Māori calendar to figure out when ours begins, namely Whiro, or the first day, of Kohitātea.

Celebrating Matariki has always come very naturally to me, and even how we observe it (family time, giving thanks to the year gone and for the one ahead) is similar. And no wonder.

I apologize if this is way too simple and already basic general knowledge but I only found out today!
 
PS.: It does mean, for instance, that this page (and presumably, many others) from the Parliament website is dead wrong. January 26, 2017 is not the same as 26 Kohitātea 2017:
 

 
So it seems it isn’t basic general knowledge.
 
P.PS.: There’s a lot more information confirming the above here, including the leap months. However:

The maramataka was revived in 1990 by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission). Instead of using transliterations of the English names, such as Hānuere for January and Mei for May, they promoted the traditional names cited by Tūtakangāhau. However, lunar months were dropped in favour of calendar months, so that, for example, Pipiri became June.

To me, that’s a shame; there’s a reason ancient Māori created their lunar calendar. I can understand why the Commission did it, in order to keep the names of the months alive, and of course these names are preferable to transliterations. (Something similar has happened with our culture, but we don’t have cool names for the months as Māori do.) It’s just that Pipiri isn’t June, and this year, it spans more of July. Therefore, the conversion table only works with the traditional Maramataka, not the one adapted to the colonists.

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My notes from RNZ’s The Panel, Wednesday, June 22

25.06.2022


I write notes for my appearances on RNZ’s The Panel, and while I don’t read them verbatim, they are useful for copying and pasting into this blog afterwards. (Anyone who has ever attended a conference where I’ve spoken might find this familiar: I’ll upload the notes but they aren’t a word-for-word reflection of what I said.)

Last Wednesday’s notes for ‘I’ve been thinking’ are:

I’ve been thinking that we pay our politicians a lot, and in some cases we get value for money. But I want politicians to be pragmatists, not ideologues. No government is perfect, and ours isn’t. When ours makes mistakes, what does the opposition do? Spout more ideology, rather than do the hard yards and genuinely figure out how to fix things. There are some incredibly able MPs in National, some of whom I know well. Yet they’re not the loudmouths who get press. Why are we giving these folks air time when they don’t do their homework, don’t have basic awareness of Kiwi political history, and what makes economies work? Why do some media talking heads fawn over them, looking at them doey-eyed like Stephen Colbert looks at Jacinda Ardern? I thought by the time you’re 25 you have a reasonable understanding of actions and consequences, and spouting ideology in the hope that a little gaslighting might fool voters isn’t going to swing this swing voter. George Gair, whose politics were similar to my own, would not recognize his party, and neither do I.

You can find the three parts here on the RNZ website: the pre-Panel, part one, and part two. Wallace and Sally were in the Auckland studio, while I was in the Wellington one, trying not to change Kathryn Ryan’s desk set-up. I have to say Wallace is a very capable host as he knows I can’t see them, so he’ll give me little nudges where I can chime in. It was nice to be back on after six months and hopefully I kept up the notion that RNZ National is for the thinking New Zealander.

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We have been warned

25.06.2022

Let fellow Tweeters have the say on today’s events in the USA.

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The missing second verse

16.06.2022

The second of three verses of the Scots College school song appears to be missing from the web. I posted them once on Facebook, back when people used Facebook, so of course it doesn’t appear in Google.

We sang it, but I understand that the generation before, and the one after, didn’t sing it. We seem to have been the anomaly.

In the interests of having them somewhere searchable on the web, and as the Secretary of Scots Collegians:
 
We’ll keep our tryst from day to day
And pledge our honour bright,
To follow truth’s unerring way
And march into the light.
Let God and right and the watchword be,
Let Scots have honoured name,
For joy be ours to know that we
Were heroes of its fame.
 

Corrections are welcome; these are to the best of my recollection.

The move to co-education at Scots several years ago means the song has had to change with the times, though I imagine that enough of us remember the lyrics to the other verses as they once were, and the old choruses, for me not to need to record them.

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Political coverage is not based around merit

15.06.2022

How fascinating. Eight years ago, I had high hopes for this Christopher Luxon, according to this blog. Who knew that as a politician, the guy would really let me down?

I Tweeted:

The reality is I see a guy who doesn’t have a full grasp of the issues at hand, spouting soundbites that fail to satisfy any real analysis, yet media are giving him an easy ride.

I’ve recorded my gripes with how some media cover politics before—and I reflect on how suited my 2010-campaign policies, authored in 2009, could have placed this city in such a great position for the pandemic—and once again, we realize that coverage is not meritorious.

In some cases, it will be down to the limited intellect of the journalist or editor to grasp the issues at hand (can I name some names!), and I believe in other cases, there is an editorial slant that proprietors want (and hire accordingly).

We saw it with Tony Blair in 1997 (‘Change’; ‘New Labour, new Britain’), and we’re seeing it again.

I tend to vote for people who do the hard yards, and this bloke isn’t the knight in shining armour that many thought he was. The likes of George Gair would not recognize this National Party.

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Send out warmth, get it back

14.06.2022

I’ve had a nice resolution after reaching out to FashioNZ over their Instagram tagline and a claim made on their website. There was a delay in their response due to the site being sold to its fifth owners (I must be out of touch, as I never knew who the second and third were!), but they addressed all my points, saying that they cared about journalistic integrity, and wrote to me in as friendly a way as I did to them. The tagline has already been changed, and I understand that they’ll get on to the rest.

To be extra-careful, I had two colleagues in Auckland who knew the (outgoing) publisher read through my email to make sure I was being as collegial as possible, and they gave me the all-clear.

I contrast this to an email I received last year, from a US designer who shall remain nameless.

They had asked for an article to be removed from Lucire but did not explain why. I said I would if we had written something factually wrong, or misrepresented them.

No, it wasn’t that: after some probing, they revealed that they just didn’t like our photo of the designer’s work appearing so high up in Google Images. Reading between the lines, they wanted to dominate the search results and were irritated that we were messing it up.

I noted that we were contacted by their firm’s PR people (and before I made that claim, I looked back through my email archives from the 2000s to confirm this—it was a PR firm in their own state, and yes, it was an item published that long ago), to which they countered that they had never heard of us prior to this and would not have issued us the press release. Folks, I have the email.

The whole thing was combative from the get-go, and after they suggested I was a liar, they earned their whole company a block on our email system.

What a strange way for their marketing person to try to get something they wanted, to call the person you’re asking a favour of a liar. I submit that they don’t know much about marketing. And in this country, we have such a thing as freedom of the press.

They have one of our editors’ phone numbers so they can talk to her if they wish—though I had suggested their boss talk directly to me since I wasn’t going to deal with rude underlings. The boss never called.

I won’t name these folks since I consider the dialogue confidential, but sometimes it’s tempting to say, ‘**** may be a famous designer, but they have really shit people working for them.’

There’s a right way and a wrong way to correspond, and I’m glad that a misspent youth, reading some of my father’s Pitman guides, put me on a better track.

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