3 Day Work Week?

Carlos Slim must know a thing or 2, being either the richest or second richest man in the world depending on how you measure it.

And he reckons a 3 day work week is the way to go, I reckon I agree!

World’s richest man urges three-day work week

2:24 PM Thursday Oct 9, 2014
Mexican billionaire also says people should work 11 hour days until they turn 75.
Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim. Photo / AP

Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim. Photo / AP

The world’s richest man is calling for a radical overhaul of our work-life balance that would see people at their jobs for just three days a week.

Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom tycoon worth over US$80 billion ($101 billion), also believes people the typical working day should last 11 hours instead of eight and that the retirement age should be increased to 75.

“You should have more time for you during all of your life – not when you’re 65 and retired,” he told CNNMoney.

Rest of Article



Things Get Really Serious for Mike McDonald

Mike McDonald, formerly of McDonald & Co. Accountants, is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office!

How do I know this? Well for some time the police at Manukau city Financial Fraud Team have been looking into his affairs.  I rang the officer involved a few weeks back to ask if the police were still investigating him.  He said the matter had been referred to the SFO.

So I rang the SFO and someone got back to me to say yes they are investigating him.  That person couldn’t give me any details (understandable) and asked me not to blog about it for 2-3 weeks.  Which I was happy to do since I don’t want to hurt their investigation in any way.

So there we are, this guys is seriously bad news.  According to the SFO website:

- Multi-victim investment fraud
- Fraud involving those in important positions of trust (e.g. lawyers)
- Matters of bribery and corruption
- Any other case that could significantly damage New Zealand’s reputation for fair and free  financial markets minus corruption.

So I would say it would be fair to say Mike McDonald, formerly of McDonald & Co. Accountants, is in a fair bit of trouble.  Of course, innocent until proven guilty, but these guys don’t usually muck around on cases where any alleged offending isn’t of a provable nature.

Time will tell where all of this goes and what, if any crimes have been committed and what, if any charges/convictions will be made.

This is What Happens When You Let Planners Run Things

Stockholm, a lovely place to visit.  I wonder if Auckland Council planners go on holidays there?

The trouble is, housing-wise it’s a disaster.  Turns out you can’t rent a place there for love nor money and housing prices have gone up 300% in the last 13 years…

Here’s the article on it.  And here are a few choice bits:

First, the city wait list for a new apartment is now 15 years on average

Stockholm is today one of the few capitals in the world where you cannot simply move to and hope to find a rental. You either have to wait in Stockholm’s official housing line, which has about half a million people ahead of you, or you can wait in one of the co-op lines, which own 28% of rental properties. Yet, if you look to Sweden’s largest co-op, there are exactly zero apartments available in Greater Stockholm.

In the last 10 years, 35,000 rental properties have been converted to condos with the result that the black market for getting a rental property is $29,000 per room. To be clear, that means paying someone $29,000 just for the right to rent that room.

Either way, with construction moving at a slow pace, and at the highest cost in the EU—72% above the average—the people of Stockholm and those moving in have figured out that with little or no new supply, the only way to make it work might be to move in with somebody, not by choice but by necessity. This is what decades of too little construction have led to: a new Stockholm Syndrome.

We’d have this here if the National government wasn’t taking on the councils.


Auckland Transport Take the Cake. Then the Biscuits, the Drink…

Read this article in NBR today: Auckland Transport takes up the parking challenge.

So what of course a headline like that normally means is that Auckland Transport are looking to make some more money, and are in the process of figuring out how to screw the public out of more their cash – without upsetting the apple cart to the extent that there would be a public backlash.

So I started reading it but then I had to read this 3 times to be sure I was reading it correctly:

“The draft discussion paper suggests possible parking levies being imposed on private car park building providers as a revenue-generating mechanism to help fund public transport initiatives.”

So not only are they going to charge shitloads for their own car parks, they think they might like to start charging revenue on privately owned car parks as well?

Well imagine having a business like this: You don’t have to own property or anything, you just charge rent on it anyway!  But surely you can’t do that you say.  And you may be right, but that doesn’t stop them from trying!

Readers of this blog may recall Auckland Transport tried to take the balconies on my property at Papakura and lease them back to me.  Yep, just annex a bit of my property and then generously lease them back to me.  What a great bunch of guys.

So if we’re not careful, Auckland Transport will try to levy private car park owners in the Auckland CBD, and then presumably roll that out over all of Auckland.

Oh well, one way of driving people out of the CBD I guess.

Freeview Shop are Terrible to Deal With

A couple of months back I decided to buy a new PVR (personal video recorder).  The one we have is for satellite only,  low resolution, we can’t get Prime on it and so on.

So I got a Hyundai decoder from the Freeview Shop, which is an online shop selling under the Freeview brand.  I assume they have a contract with the government to do so.

Under options I got a HDMI cable and a 100GB hard drive.  Until I got the unit, I assumed this was a hard drive inside the unit i.e. builit in.  But it turns out it’s a separate, bog standard hard drive (like the ones you buy at an appliance store) that connects via a USB cable.  I complained about this but was assured it would work fine.

So I set up the unit and tried recording tv.  What I’ve done in the past is just started recording on my Panasonic dvd (via the old satellite receiver) and then come back later and watched tv via this recording so that I can zoom through the ads.

So i thought a single unit that receives the signal and does the recording would be so much easier.  You could theoretically record via the built in programme guide and so on.

The Hyundai decoder doesn’t allow you to record a programme and then watch it delayed but then keep that recording also.  You have 2 options, either record a programme in full, and watch it some time after it has entirely finished.  Or you use Timeshift, so you can start Timeshift, press pause and then come back later to start watching, you can go backwards and forwards, zoom past ads etc.  But once you press ‘stop’ on the Timeshift function, the recording is removed.

But the Timeshift function simply doesn’t work reliably.  I get these faults:

  • Playback stutters.
  • Video and audio are out of sync so for instance people’s mouths move at different times to the audio of their speech.
  • When you press pause, it doesn’t always pause.  You sometimes have to press it several times to get Timeshift to pause.  Sometimes Timeshift completely craps out at this point and you have to stop Timeshift and restart it, losing the bit you thought you had recorded.
  • You fast forward (through some ads say) and then press play and it hangs.  Again, you have to restart Timeshift, missing anything you have recorded.
  • When you first start Timeshift and press pause, you get a little bit of your last Timeshift recording session.
  • You start Timeshift and then it just kinda seems to not be going.  So I press Timeshift again, and it starts up… mysterious.
  • And a bunch of less common things which I can’t remember.

So all in all it’s just really flaky.  It’ll work fine for say 15 mins and then crap out for no reason.

Other issues I’ve had with this unit:

  • The programme guide is really unreliable and slow.  It will often show details of programmes on a Friday (if it is Friday) but then only show a couple of those, and then programmes on Sunday, skipping the rest of Friday and all of Saturday.  This is in a list so you think you are looking at the programmes on Friday night, but you’re not.
  • If you change channels quite quickly, especially to a channel that has bad reception – we have some terrestrial ones like that – the unit will completely lock up and the only cure is to turn it off and then back on again.

So anyway, I wanted to return this item.  Lars Wahlmann who is a director at Webretail Limited, the company that runs Freeview Shop, said to return the unit and they’d test it.  He said to return the unit only, not the hard drive, remote or anything else.

So I did return it.  At a small cost of $13.20.  They’re in Queenstown for crying out loud.  What a place to run an online shop in NZ from!

We then flew out to Toronto.  I didn’t hear back via email so I asked Lars where it was.  he said they hadn’t received it.  So I got my mum and dad to go to my house, find the postage receipt with the tracking number on it and send the number to me.  I plugged it into the NZ Post website and it said it had been delivered.  I emailed Lars with this.  He said “Oh that one, we didn’t know who’s it was, so we sent it off to a different customer”.  I found this pretty amazing: 1) That they would receive a unit and then tell me they haven’t received one, 2) They would send a used one that someone has said is faulty out to a customer.

He then said via email that he’d get it back off the customer, test it and get back to me. I heard nothing so emailed for an update.  He said he couldn’t get it back so he’d send me a new one.  A ‘new’ unit arrived (I took him at his word that it was a new one), I set it up, and then proceeded to get all the same problems!

So I emailed Lars to tell him this, who responded that they’ve never had anyone else complain about these units.  I’ve heard this before about various products, and then you go online and find heaps of negative reviews about problems with products.

So anyway, after more use and more problems Iasked Lars via email if he could recommend another unit.  I was thinking I’d pay a bit more money and get a better unit.  He didn’t reply.

So then I told Lars via email I wanted to send the whole lot back, and that I expected a refund for the unit, the hard drive and the postage costs etc.  There was a bit more conversation to this (I told him his service was unsatisfactory) but in the end I said that either he gave me a full refund or I’d take him to the Disputes Tribunal.  He said he wouldn’t agree to a refund which I find amazing.  Who doesn’t give refunds for products these days?  At somewhere like JB HiFi I can take an item back and they’ll replace or refund my money no questions asked.

So anyway I’m lodging a form with the Disputes Tribunal tonight.  What else can I do?  I either have to put up with a defective unit, or take them to the Disputes Tribunal.  And I’m not prepared to do the former.

So be very very careful in your dealings with Freeview Shop – they will not provide refunds for defective products.  And Lars Wahlmann’s service is hopeless.


Government Creates Inflation, then Stops it by Whacking Us!

Every now and then, Weekend at Bernies, as I like to call him, gets something right.  And he’s bang on with this week’s column:

Bernard Hickey: Rates and power bills to blame

5:00 AM Sunday Aug 17, 2014
Huntly Thermal Power Station. Photo / NZPA
Huntly Thermal Power Station. Photo / NZPA

Local governments and electricity companies are to blame for New Zealand’s inflation rate being much higher than it should have been for the past 10 years.

They have raised their prices between 5 and 8 per cent each year for the past decade, despite being semi-regulated and mostly publicly owned.

Although the rates have trended down since 2004, they are still much higher than the Reserve Bank’s 1 to 3 per cent inflation target. And that persistent inflation has acted like a type of plaque in the arteries of the economy, putting up its blood pressure of inflation, interest rates and the exchange rate.

Rest of Article

The electricity companies raise their prices so that they can pay a big dividend to the government…

And councils, well councils are just known for over spending other people’s money.  They have been doing it since time began.

Some Common Sense Articles on Earthquake Risk from Buildings

The government (via the now disgraced Maurice Williamson) totally over reacted with the law they’re putting into place which will require owners of older buildings to spend billions upgrading their buildings for negligible benefit.

The Herald has some good articles outlining the senselessness of this approach.




Even the experts like GNS Science and the engineering institutions say the risk in Auckland is basically zero:

Auckland Council’s submission included a report from GNS Science, which described the risk of death from an earthquake in the city as negligible. It said the estimated number of deaths was also virtually the same whether or not the city’s supposedly earthquake-prone buildings were strengthened to the 34 per cent standard. To put the risk in perspective, the council added that in the 10,000 year period between major earthquakes, the city could expect to deal with four Japan-sized tsunamis, 10 volcanic eruptions and thousands of floods.

GNS’ own submission said the blanket standard grossly underestimated the real ability of buildings to survive an earthquake. It pointed out that nearly all the older (pre-1976) buildings left standing after the Christchurch earthquakes would have failed the 34 per cent test.

GNS also argued that despite the allowance for local seismic risk, the scales were still weighted against low risk areas because of an earlier change in the earthquake design standard, which effectively meant Auckland had to be ready for a 1-in-1000 year earthquake, compared to 1-in-500 years for Wellington. The cost difference was minor for new buildings, which the standard was intended for, but became excessive for an owner trying to retrofit an old building.

Oh well, hopefully some of the people in charge of this will see that the law is indeed an ass.

Celebrating Life's Little Achievements